Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Batman Ninja

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! It's Batman's turn to be the white savior in Japan.



Batman Ninja – 2 out of 5

I’m not really an anime guy.  While I think the general designs and the art style of anime looks kinda cool I never really got into the world of Japanese anime.  Every time I say that I’m always told that I’m watching the “wrong anime” but whenever I take the suggestions of the person who makes this declaration I still find it not resonating with me.  So far, I just haven’t found a story in the world of anime that speaks to me and I find a lot of the clichés within them (the static image filled with action lines, the weird facial expressions, the strange stories and all the yelling) not really my cup of tea.  However, when a property I like gets the anime treatment I will definitely give it a shot and that’s what happened when Batman went anime in Batman Ninja.  Long story short:  This didn’t change my status on anime.  Also, I watched the American dubbed version so I did the dubs and not the subs.  I’m sure that will get me killed in some anime circles.

Pfff, dummy.  The movie is called Batman Ninja.

The hairstyle makes for a good argument that you
might be branding too much, Batman.
While battling Gorilla Grodd (Fred Tatascione), Batman (Roger Craig Smith) gets caught up in the villain’s device called the Quake Engine and it sends him back in time to Feudal Japan.  Batman soon learns he wasn’t the only one who made the trip as villains The Joker (Tony Hale) and Harley Quinn (Tara Strong) have become feudal lords and are now battling other enemies from Batman’s rogue gallery for control of the area.  Batman, however, isn’t alone as Alfred (Adam Croasdell), Catwoman (Grey Griffin), Robin (Yuri Lowenthal), Red Hood (Lowenthal again), Red Robin (Will Friedle) and Nightwing (Croasdell again) have also been displaced and they will team with a ninja clan that prophesizes of a bat ninja who will restore order to the land.

He's wondering if he put enough bats on his outfit.

I won’t lie and say I hated Batman Ninja.  There are definitely elements that I enjoyed about it.  For example, the character designs definitely looked cool and the animation styles used in the film are basically fine art.  Simply put, the film is gorgeous.  The film also has some really cool action sequences that used footage of real actors that were animated over so they not only look cool but they move extremely realistically.  Finally, the voice acting for the English cast was fairly decent.  Roger Craig Smith is a great Batman, Tara Strong is fantastic as Harley Quinn and I really enjoyed Tom Kenny as Penguin.  Sadly, that is kinda where my positives end because I found the rest of the project to be too odd for me to enjoy.

How many other people in Batman's life also got sucked into this?  Were any
of them peripheral actors in his life?  Like did a gas station attendant who once
helped Bruce Wayne suddenly wake up in ancient Japan?

I mentioned I like the designs of the characters and found the animation to be great but there were elements of it that I found distracting.  The biggest distraction is how the characters never stop moving.  Even when they are standing around talking there is always some movement going on with their body—and I don’t mean natural body language.  The movements all looked and felt very unnatural as their heads would shake side-to-side as they spoke or their bodies would be slightly twisting.  It’s hard to describe but all the characters had what appeared to be twitches or nervous energy and it looked very strange.
Additionally, the English-speaking cast, for the most part, is doing a great job—especially considering how strange some of the dialogue gets.  One member of the cast, however, I was on the fence on the entire time was Tony Hale as The Joker.  There are times where he is just fantastic as the clown but then there are times he feels out-of-place.  For the most part, it sounds like Buster Bluth doing a Joker impression and it is pretty distracting.

He looks great.  He must be on his way to Motherboy.

The product only gets stranger from there as the time jump somehow makes the World’s Greatest Detective a little thick as he is blind to the fact that Alfred, having fallen through time as well, is literally standing right next to him and it takes the vigilante a full minute to realize it—but that isn’t even the worst of it.  During its third act is when the story lost me with its craziness as we watch all the villains fight in buildings that turn into robots.  I’ll concede that the tech for that all came from the future when Grodd sent everyone back but once all the buildings combine to create a bigger robot the whole thing just became silly—and this is a story that centers on a grown man who dresses as a bat and fights crime.  Strangely enough, however, this isn’t even the weirdest part as the heroes use a large group of monkeys and bats and have them combine together to create a giant version of Batman to fight said building robot.  Is all anime this strange?  Is this an outlier or is it par for the course?

A bunch of buildings formed together as a giant robot versus a giant monkey
made out of millions of armored monkeys.  Can this be any stranger?


Oh wait, it can.  The giant monkey made out of millions of armored monkeys
was covered by millions of bats to form a giant Batman.  Kudos for the bats
who were able to change their shading and coloring.


From a technical standpoint, Batman Ninja is well made and looks great.  The only problem is that I am not the target audience for the feature.  The tale got a little too over-the-top for me (I was officially checked out once the Voltron-monkey sequence happened).  Add in the fact I’m not an anime fan (and yes, there is plenty of screaming in this one and tons of action lines surrounding still images) and this turned out to be a forgettable one for me.  I admire DC’s animated library taking this route and trying something so incredibly different since most of their animated films look and feel the same over and over again but, alas, this one just wasn’t for me.

Oh wait, it gets dumber.  When Batman gets back to his time, he decides to take
a horse-drawn Batmobile to an event for the mayor as Bruce Wayne.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Gotta catch 'em all!



Pokémon:  Detective Pikachu – 4 out of 5

My familiarity with Pokémon is limited, to say the least.  I tried to watch the cartoon years ago but didn’t really get into it.  I wasn’t interested in the card game but gave the Gameboy games a shot (they didn’t grab me).  Pokémon GO, however, sunk its hooks into me and didn’t let go for a good year.  I’m already one to partake in a good leisurely stroll but this game gave me even more motivation to get out and be active.  I don’t really hate nor have anything against the property, the thing is I just never got into it.  With that being said when the trailer came out for Pokémon:  Detective Pikachu I was completely sold.  It looked like a lot of fun and, after watching it recently, my initial reactions proved to be accurate.

Catch 'em all...make them battle for your amusement!!!

So, were they aiming to have Milo Yiannopoulos
in the film?
Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) hasn’t seen his detective father for a while and gets terrible news that he is missing and presumed dead in the large metropolis of Ryme City.  After he heads to the city and visits his father’s apartment, he discovers a mysterious vial of gas that is connected to a case he was working on.  In the apartment, he is surprised to find his father’s Pokémon; a Pikachu, but is more shocked to learn that he can understand it when it talks (voiced by Ryan Reynolds).  This discovery leads him to partner up with a hungry reporter named Lucy (Kathryn Newton) but they soon learn that the mysterious gas—one that elicits a violent and aggressive reaction when inhaled by Pokémon—is just the tip of the mysterious and the danger they are about to find themselves in.

If Pikachu is startled does it result in a lightning attack?  Just be careful
is all I'm saying.

While Detective Pikachu suffers from some minor drawbacks the overall product proved to be a lot of fun and really opens up the world of pop culture for more live-action Pokémon films.  Right off the bat, the world-building that went into this project was pretty phenomenal.  The idea of a reality where there are little creatures that one can capture and have as a pet/friend was pretty damn believable in the movie.  The story also does a great job at creating a dynamic world that has depth and rules to it and it does so with very little obvious exposition.  The tale is able to weave in how this world works seamlessly as it develops Tim and Detective Pikachu’s story.  You’re able to convey a lot from very little and the movie does it by showing you rather than telling you.

Reynolds is stupidly handsome as a man and totes adorbs as a Pokémon...
life isn't fair.  And yes, I am aware that Pikachu isn't real
and Reynolds just did a voice to an animated creature.

My experience with Justice Smith pretty much begins and ends with Jurassic World:  Fallen
Kingdom.  While definitely not one of my favorite films in that franchise, I definitely enjoyed Smith in his role and found it cool to see that he was leading the charge in this one.  Smith does a tremendous job at balancing the film’s drama and comedy as he is the straight man to the Pikachu and is the one going through the lion’s share of the dramatic development. 
Justice Smith’s counterpart; Ryan Reynolds, was a bit hit-or-miss for me when it came to voicing Pikachu.  I like Reynolds a lot but there were definitely times where his (for lack of a better descriptive) Deadpool-esque humor felt very out-of-place and sorta dented my suspension of disbelief and pulled me out of my submersion of the film’s reality.  When Pikachu starts making Seinfeld references in a world where I’m going to gamble that there is no Seinfeld counterpart there is definitely a disconnect.  I won’t argue that Reynolds is terrible or detracting as Pikachu because most of the time he is fun and likable in the role but there are definitely times where he didn’t work.

Bill Nighy is here to class some shit up!

The story works for a maiden voyage of live-action Pokémon movie.  The mystery wasn’t the most compelling to me and the payoff is a touch predictable but I don’t hold that against the overall product at all because it is still a fun ride.  However, there was one thing about the film that works above everything else and could have spelled doom for the feature if the production got it wrong:  the designs and bringing to life the Pokémon.

Hmmm.  Looks like a nice Pokémon.  I'm sure they are very friendly.

In this world does the phrase, "Somebody stepped
on a Psyduck" exist?
Having those cute little things as drawings or digital images in video games is one thing but to render them into realistic looking characters in a live-action film is a whole other ball of yarn.  Sure, if the background Pokémon didn’t work or looked slightly wonky the viewer could probably overlook it as long as entertainment needs were met in other departments of the film but if Pikachu above all others was a failure than this film would have sunk.  Thankfully, the design and computer effects used to bring these things to life are damn impressive.  All of them look like their cartoon counterparts but designed in a realistic-looking fashion and the effects that gave them personality was top shelf.  Not only were all of them adorable but they helped create believability to the world as they had that right balance of being slightly cartoonish but also legitimate enough in order to sell the reality of the world.

It's so cute!!!!  Why can't we have these in our world?  Our world sucks.

Pokémon:  Detective Pikachu may falter here and there with the story and with some of the jokes but, overall, I found it to be pretty fun.  It makes a great case for more live-action Pokémon films but, more importantly, it made me realize that I need my own Pokémon…but don’t tell that to my dog.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Critters Attack!

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I guess the very weak title should have been a warning sign.



Critters Attack! – 1 out of 5

When I heard that 2019 would have both a new Critters movie and a Critters television show (if you can even call it a show because the episodes were less than 10 minutes long), my initial reaction was questioning why on earth a studio would go to such a lame property to resurrect and my second reaction was, “Seriously?  Another movie?  Hasn’t there already been too many of them?”  For some reason, I thought there were a lot of Critters films but, as it turns out, Critters Attack! is only the fifth film in the franchise.  Coincidentally, it’s the fifth film in the franchise that was a piece of crap.  In case, you haven’t guessed it, I didn’t like this film nor do I think very highly of the Critters franchise.

Fascinating.  By using blank license plates that are devoid of any state identification
the viewer can imagine that the action is taking place anywhere in the world.
Brilliant!

I need to point out that there are several times the group
is trying to tell people about the Krites and no one will
listen...and Trissy literally has Bianca in her backpack.
SHOW THEM THE GODDAMN ALIEN!!!
Drea (Tashiana Washington) gets a gig babysitting for a college professor and drags along her brother Phillip (Jaeden Noel), who believes he saw a UFO arrive the night before.  Well, it turns out he is right as those pesky little Krites have arrived again (maybe again, I’m not sure because there’s no real continuity with this franchise).  While babysitting the quiet Jake (Jack Fulton)—he only communicates while texting—and Trissy (Ava Preston), Drea takes the kids to the park and finds a harmless creature they named Bianca but soon find that Bianca’s counterparts are much less benevolent and very much want to kill and eat everything that they can find.  

Critters has always been accused of being a Gremlins ripoff.  Bianca is basically
Gizmo so they are no longer denying the thievery anymore.

I will preface this review by stating that I think the Critters movies are pretty dumb—BUT, I think there is an entertainment value in them because they are so stupid.  They’re basically good for an laugh and are easy to riff on.  Sadly, this film doesn’t have these qualities.  While it is good for a nice Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, this positive only exists because the film is pretty hard to get through due to lackluster performances, a story that feels like it was written over the course of an hour and never given a second draft, and some pretty weak monster moments.  

This is pretty much the level that all the acting comes in at.

As illustrated in a previous picture, the Krites are capable
of punching (or eating?) their way through a trunk
of a car but you never see any of them able to bite
through weak human flesh.  They just latch on and
wiggle a lot.
Basically, Critters Attacks! has all the problems of a low-budget, Direct-to-Video feature and it’s hard to overlook them due to its thrown together story.  The acting feels phoned-in, the practical effects look and feel cheap, the editing, camera work and lighting feels subpar but all these are nothing compare to the film’s barebones and almost amateurish writing.  I don’t sit down with a Critters film expecting brilliance but there is a certain bare minimum standard you want to see in your film and Critters Attack! couldn’t even muster the strength to do that.  You are basically watching Drea and the kids running from one place to the next for an hour and the film tries to act like that is somehow plot progression and development.  At the very least, this time could be used to give the characters some depth or treat the audience to memorable kills by the Krites but this never happens.  Hell, at the very least some of this time could have been taken out and replaced with sequences that develop the character of Aunt Dee (played by the mom from E.T. Dee Wallace—who was also in the first Critters film as a different character).  Who is she?  All we really know is she has a futuristic gun and is hunting Krites.  The apathy and the lethargic nature of everything about this film is almost insulting as an audience member and it really feels like the sole reason this film was made involved some legalities with the ownership over the rights.  

You are hunting a small, rolling creature?  Better bring a large, heavy and
very difficult to wield weapon.

There’s pretty much nothing about Critters Attack! that makes it a working or even remotely watchable movie.  Sure, it can be used for a laugh or two but even riffing on it is exhausting as your riffs just become you yelling out all the times the film lacks internal logic.  Hell, the laughs don’t even come from the movie and this is supposed to be a horror/comedy but, instead, all the jokes are at the expense of the product.  The acting is serviceable but nothing about the performances are memorable, the Krite kills lack imagination and feel entirely lazy, and the story feels like it was made-up on the spot as production started.  Honestly, is Critters that loved of a property that it was worth having this farted out feature made?