So, I’m a huge MGK fan, and his latest album Tickets To My Downfall is one of the main pieces of media that helped me survive 2020. I’ve been obsessed with the album since he first tweeted about it as an idea back in 2019, and it’s probably my favorite album from last year. So of course I had high hopes for his debut film Downfalls High, and after watching this morning I can say that while it’s not what I expected, I did very much enjoy it. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that it’s not the visual album experience I was originally expecting, something kinda like Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock & Roll project, but it doesn’t have the full realization that I think it deserves either. The project was made in four days in pandemic conditions which is truly amazing, the story and characters are well written and performed, I just wanted more of it. It felt unfinished, there’s no real sense of closure. It’s a rushing flood of different emotions that hits for the entire runtime and then credits. It feels like a show that’s season finale was a cliffhanger and then didn’t get another season.
I had no idea what this show was about, but I’d heard from a lot of people I respect that it was, at the very least, really pretty. Holy shit! Not only is every single frame of this show drawn in great detail, but the mixture of 3D models works so well it’s barely noticeable. I’m generally not a fan of using 3D elements in anime because it can look weird and be a bit jarring to my eyes, however, every frame of Violet Evergarden is a masterpiece. I never looked away from the screen because it’s just so unbelievably beautiful. The story structure as well is a kind of one off episodic style I usually hate because it reminds me of sitcoms, but Violet Evergarden uses this formula in a way I’ve never seen before. The main plot of this series isn’t a mystery, or a great evil, it’s Violet herself, so everything that happens is important, no matter how trivial it may sound. This series might honestly be in my top 5 of all time, just waiting to see the final film later this year.
So I sat down to watch Soul last night, and I have to say it was really incredible. I was absolutely delighted at the artistry and the unique depictions of many black characters, as well as how genuine the writing felt. This was a genuine depiction of blackness used to tell a marvelous story. Also, to those who were worried, no, Joe doesn’t spend the whole movie a blue blob. Jamie Foxx plays the best version of himself he’s probably ever done and I loved hearing so many black voices I recognized like Daveed Diggs, Questlove, and more. My only complaint with the film is a deeply personal one, it was actually too relatable.
I suffer from a myriad of mental illnesses, and my biggest fear is death. Not the act of dying, but what happens when we die. Do we go somewhere? Does our existence just stop? I’m fighting a panic attack just writing these words. The finality of existence is the one thing I have never been able to come to terms with, and it’s something that we all face no matter what choices we make while we’re here. I believe in some kind of higher power but organized religion just never worked for me, and my greatest wish in the world is to be immortal, or to have someone from the other side tell me what’s coming. So a movie all about death, and the finality of life, especially one done so well, was honestly deeply uncomfortable for me. I’m glad I watched it but I don’t think I could ever watch it again.
So let me start by saying I love the first Wonder Woman film. I’m also a fan of Wonder Woman as a comic book hero, though admittedly it’s been a while since I read any of her solo stories. That being said, I’m definitely not an expert, so I won’t be critiquing this movie as a comic book nerd, I’ll be critiquing it as a movie nerd. In my opinion, it’s a bad movie. I won’t go as far as to say awful, but I will say it’s on the same level of quality as Thor: Dark World. Remember that one? No? Don’t worry there wasn’t anything great in that, and there isn’t anything great in this movie either. There’s some special effects that look twenty years old, a plot that’s nearly as contrived and convoluted as Spiderman 3, and the movie takes place in a time period that has almost no real relevance to the story. The biggest reasons I can see for this movie being in the 80s is nostalgia humor, references to old conflicts, and so that all this craziness can happen in a world without the rest of the Justice League. Honestly I went into this movie thinking Kristen Wiig as Cheetah would be the worst part but her story shouldhave been the main plot. But the final look for her reminded me of the Cats movie, and that the ending was a major letdown.
I’m sure because it’s a movie about a powerful woman the internet is going to explode with pissed of man-babies and incels, but in that regard the movie did a very good job. While it’s not the focus of the film, there’s very honest portrayals of men’s behavior toward women that is still a problem today and was definitely worse back then. Again, I think that if this movie had only been about Diana and Cheetah it could have been great.
The best part of the movie is the acting. The dialogue is hit or miss, the effects and overall camera work is inconsistent, but all of the main cast act their asses off in this movie. It honestly felt somewhat uncomfortable to get such an animated performance from Pedro Pascal, since I’m used to seeing him as Mando, but it was a very good performance. I just wish the material they’d been given to work with was better. In all honesty it’s such a stark contrast from the first film that it’s hard to believe it had the same writer and director. I’m really glad this premiered on HBO Max, cause if I’d wasted money and risked covid to see this in a theater, I’d be furious.
Yeah I said it. I don’t like Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. While it is true that they’re the best live action Batman films we’ve gotten thus far, that doesn’t make them good. The earlier Batman movies were absolute disgraces that I could rant about for hours, but in all honesty those don’t make me nearly as furious as the Nolan trilogy. A reminder that this is just my opinion based on my own taste, I am not a professional critic in any way, and if you hate my opinion and think I should go fuck myself that’s completely valid. I’m going to go film by film and address my biggest problems with each one.
Let me start by saying that casting Liam Neeson, a middle-aged Irishman, to play Ra’s Al Ghul, a 600 year old Chinese man raised in North Africa, is fucking ridiculous. But the role Ra’s played in this movie was equally ridiculous. I don’t want to waste time going over Batman’s origin story, so I’ll just say that Ra’s was not nearly as involved as the movie suggests. I understand wanting to include a major villain, but a well written story of Batman’s fight against mobs, mafia, and even still using Scarecrow, would have been really cool. This movie felt like it didn’t really know where it was going, or rather, that it was trying too hard to be a “serious” film. I think Nolan wanted to set his trilogy apart from the whacky disgraces of the past, which is understandable, but this movie barely succeeds as an origin story. Also, the ending sucked!
The Dark Knight
Let me start by saying that Heath Ledger has given the most comic book accurate portrayal of Joker we’ve ever had in live action cinema and that he is truly missed. He did everything he could to take this poorly written mess and turn it into greatness. I also have to admit that while I’m not the biggest fan of this movie, it’s the best live action Batman film thus far. I’d say it starts out strong and gets weaker the further you go. What begins as mob bosses cowering from Batman turns into Joker causing random destruction and misery to point out the “joke” of law and society, and trying to make Batman commit murder, which is very true to his character. Personally I think the worst parts of this movie are the parts that try to set up a Two-Face origin story, Joker’s scars bits. the makeup, and the ridiculous ending. I know Nolan was determined not to be “comic bookey” but I think if we can have a good man with half his face blown off turn evil, we can have the joker face be more than just makeup.
The Dark Knight Rises
Look, this movie is absolute garbage. There’s nothing redeemable about this movie. From the very first scene it makes no sense and it only continues to snowball. If I tried to list everything wrong with this movie this opinion piece would turn into an obnoxiously long essay, so I’ll just say the things I hated the most: Bruce’s broken and then mechanically fixed and broken again body, the fact that Bane is supposed to be Middle Eastern in the movie even though his character his Latino and the actor playing the role is British. The pointless callback to the League of Assassins, Joseph-Gordon Levitt playing a twenty something year-old cop whose real name is apparently Robin, etc. Also, another completely stupid ending.
I still stand by the fact that these movies are better than the Tim Burton fever dreams of the 90s, and that they’re the best live action Batman movies we’ve had so far, but that doesn’t make them good. Ask yourself this, as great as The Dark Knight is, how often do you rewatch it? How often do you think about it when you think about superhero movies? If you chose to watch The Dark Knight, does it make you want to watch the other two? This trilogy is one gold bar mushed between two turds. But, if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that great superhero movies can be made. After all the bad movies we had to go through to get good Spiderman films, the fact that we’re getting a good Fantastic Four movie for the first time, maybe Batman can be saved!
I found out about this anime from Tiktok, and it was a great way to spend the day. Started it in the afternoon and couldn’t keep myself from binging. I’ll admit the series surprised me. I thought I was getting a comedy about an anti-social girl and a hot guy falling in love, but it turned out to be way more in depth, and it also subverted my expectations every time it started to fall on tropes and clichés. I can’t say much without spoiling but I will say that the modeling plotline was my favorite conflict simply because I deeply related to it. Each character starts of as something that felt familiar but by the end of their episode was unique and had subverted my expectations. Excited for a second season.
So, Disney just gave a huge peek at their upcoming Star Wars projects for Disney + and it’s honestly quite a lot to get through. Before I give my opinion I do want to be upfront and tell you that my favorite Star Wars movies are Episode V and Rogue One, and that the best piece of Star Wars visual media is Clone Wars. So, if hearing this makes you want to light me on fire, you probably won’t agree with what I’m about to say about these new projects.
Star Wars: Kenobi
Ok look Disney I get it, Billy Dee and Donald Glover are some smooth MFs and definitely the coolest brothers you ever put in space (Sorry Windu) but I don’t know a single person who wants this show. In all honesty I’m still pissed about how you jerked the blerd community around with Jon Boyega. Having the creator of Dear White People in charge isn’t a place of comfort either since he’s not exactly original. In all honesty I can’t think of a single direction you could take this that wouldn’t make the whole franchise retroactively more offensive. If this isn’t about that runaway trooper, I refuse to even watch the first episode.
Star Wars: Andor
Ok listen guys, you only got away with Rogue One because of years of memes, Donnie Yen, and getting to see a perspective that wasn’t a desert kid carrying a laser sword. Rogue One worked as a one-off, but building a whole series around it is completely insane. I’ll definitely watch the first episode, but I’m expecting disappointment.
Star Wars: Kenobi
No! This is a HORRIBLE idea ok? We know his story already. We saw all nine films, Clone Wars, and some people actually suffered through Star Wars: Rebels just to see him kill Darth Maul. You’ve squeezed every last drop of reasonable content out of this character. The only thing you have left to explain to me is how he lost the ability to use telekinesis, do backflips, or even use the lightsaber fighting style.
Star Wars: Ahsoka
So, I love Ahsoka Tano. She might be my favorite canon character in all of Star Wars. That being said, her story hasn’t made sense to me since she popped up in Mandalorian. How did we end up depending on a half-trained desert boy with a laser sword when Anakin’s apprentice is still running around. I genuinely believe she should’ve died in the fight against Vader in Rebels. Keeping her around, in my opinion, invalidates the original trilogy. I’m apprehensively looking forward to this series because maybe it will give me an explanation that makes sense and isn’t just a cash grab and a cheap cop-out.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch
This! This is gonna be good! I loved seeing this team in the Clone Wars series and following their adventures in the wake of Order 66 is genuinely interesting. It wouldn’t be hard to screw this up, but it’s highly unlikely they will. Waiting and buzzing with anticipation.
This anime took forever to get through, because I honestly didn’t want to watch it after probably the third episode. I usually enjoy well-made disaster movies, and I genuinely love when the opposing force in a story is something as unstoppable as nature, but I couldn’t stand this anime. While it’s main characters were decently written, the dialogue was fairly terrible. I can confidently say this is the worst anime I watched this year. The highest praise I can offer this series is it’s title. Japan Sinks, getting right to the point of the story, and 2020, because just like 2020, this anime is an endless stream of disappointments.
I’ll be the first to admit that stories inspired by Greek mythology are incredibly hit-or-miss, mostly because of how overused it is as a foundation. I was skeptical going into this for that very same reason, but considering the art style reminded me of Castlevania, I gave it a try. Thankfully, I was not at all disappointed. While the origins of the story rely heavily on familiar Greek tropes, the inclusion of Japanese anime tropes and some unique American elements creates a fairly refreshing experience. As always, Zeus is a whore, and our heroes journey is the consequence of that, but unlike most times, this time we actually see Zeus pay for his actions. Rather than a typical American take on Greek myth that villainizes Hades for no reason, this series provides a well-written villain who you honestly root for in the beginning. In fact, the only main character who isn’t well crafted in my opinion is the protagonist, but that works in his favor. The first season was definitely entertaining and I’m eager to see what happens next.
So I know that Adventure Time ended years ago, and it may offend some people when I say I followed Steven Universe week to week but not Adventure Time. Truth be told I’m not sure why it took me so long, I’ve known for years that this show was more than I expected. What originally looked like a stoner/vintage gamer fever dream turned out to be a beautiful story with some truly wonderful characters.
I’m not sure how to write this review, mostly because Adventure Time is such a massive series there’s no way I can cover everything in a few paragraphs and I definitely don’t think anyone would care enough for a season-by-season review. I do know that The Lich is my favorite of all the villains, Flame Princess was my favorite princess before PB got proper development, and Prismo might be my favorite cosmic entity in all of American cartoons. The only episodes I really disliked were the fillers focused on Tree Trunks or LSP. My favorite character is definitely Marceline, but anyone who knows me probably saw that coming. She’s a punk icon!
To everyone who ever told me to watch this show, I’m sorry I didn’t listen. I’m even sorrier if I said “Steven Universe is better” or something similar to that. Maybe it’s because Steven Universe decided to get too real in it’s epilogue series (still hurt!) But I think at this point I prefer the chill and empathetic Finn to the pacifist turned trauma victim Steven. Both shows were blessed by the genius that is Rebecca Sugar and both revolutionized cartoons forever, but Adventure Time was the catalyst. LGBT representation in cartoons may never have happened without Adventure Time. Every show we watch now that treats our community with respect likely wouldn’t have been greenlit were it not for this megahit. So, I guess all that’s left to say, is that the music is wonderful, and Thank You Adventure Time.