Author: willsreviewsblog

Neon Genesis Evangelion review

Director: Hideaki Anno

Writer: Hideaki Anno

Studio: Gainax

Episodes: 26

Aired: October 4, 1995-March 27, 1996

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I’ve had Neon Genesis Evangelion on my watch list for a long time, and it’s about damn time that I decided to check it off my list. It’s one of the most debated anime of all time, some calling it a masterpiece, others calling it overrated, pretentious tripe. My opinion? It’s a classic that deserves just about all the praise it gets.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the confusing, surreal mecha deconstruction anime from the mind of Hideaki Anno and the talent at Studio Gainax. Set in Tokyo years after an apocalyptic event known as Second Impact changed the face of world, three young teenagers named Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu, and Rei Ayanami are chosen to pilot giant synthetic mechs known as Evangelions to fight giant monsters known as Angels to prevent Third Impact, an even greater apocalyptic event that would result in the complete extinction of all of humanity. As the series goes on, the inner motives and psychological torments of the pilots get taken under the microscope and Evangelion goes from merely an anime about robots fighting giant monsters to a dark, psychological character study about the inner boundaries between people and the collective human desire for acceptance.

The aspect of Evangelion most worthy of praise then and now is the characters and their development. It might seem unremarkable now but at the time, a cast with such deep, crippling flaws like these hadn’t been seen before in anime. Shinji Ikari is no badass, escapist protagonist. He’s whiny, self-critical to a fault, and arguably a coward at times. He’s a character whose very human flaws make him sympathetic, but not necessarily likable. Asuka Soryu is an examination of the tsundere character archetype, and what kind of trauma a person would have had to suffer to turn out like that, and what effect it would have on them and the people they care for deep down, but have trouble showing. Rei Ayanami is…well that would be going into spoiler territory that I don’t want to go into, but Rei’s character is mysterious, struggles with her identity, mortality, emotions, and feelings regarding the two most important people in her life, and her past is tied intricately to the overarching plot of the series. Those are just the three main characters. The side characters are just as well developed and psychologically complex. Shinji’s commanding officer and guardian, Misato Katsuragi, is on the surface a confident woman with issues keeping a tidy house, but is just as damaged on the inside as Shinji is. No character is overlooked, and the show takes the time to show you what they’re like on and off the job, and the events that made them the people you see in the anime.

Complementing Evangelion’s great characters is an extremely well written and intriguing plot. The first half of the series is an entertaining and well directed but overall played straight mecha anime, but the second half is where things really get interesting. The series takes a much darker shift in tone, and the focus shifts from giant robots fighting monsters to examining the psychology and motivations of the characters, and dealing with themes examining depression, suicide, identity, love. At the same time we slowly learn the truth about the Evas, NERV, Second Impact, and the goals of the secretive organization SEELE. All of these elements make for what is quite frankly one of the most memorable stories in anime.

I had heard that Evangelion had problems with its animation budget and that Gainax had to cut corners and get creative to compensate for this. After having watched the series, I think there is at least some truth to this, but it’s been exaggerated. The mecha battles in Evangelion look awesome the majority of the time, and still hold up today. The non battle scenes with the characters just talking and doing their daily activities have some clunky animation once or twice, but nothing seriously detrimental. Even in the scenes featuring limited animation, the stellar direction by Anno keeps them engaging visually.

The battle scenes in Evangelion are never repetitive. There is always a unique solution that the pilots have to figure out in order to win, and even when they do, victory will sometimes come at a great sacrifice and leave them scarred mentally and physically. The second half of the series increases the tension and stakes of them with the Angels invading the pilots’ minds and forcing them to confront their deepest insecurities. They never feel stale and are always coming up with new ideas to remain exciting.

Watching the series in English was an interesting experience. While the first couple of episodes can be grating, to the point I was considering switching to the Japanese audio, but by the time Asuka shows up in episode 7, they begin to grow on you. I can’t imagine anyone other than Spike Spencer being the voice of Shinji Ikari, or Tiffany Grant and Amanda Win-Lee as Asuka and Rei respectively. The standout performance of the cast, in my opinion, would have to go to Tristan MacAvery as Gendo Ikari, perfectly capturing the character’s cunning and mysterious nature and his cold, yet still human personality.

Other worthy editions of note are the unique visual designs of the Evas and Angels, and the opening and ending themes being extremely memorable and catchy. Unfortunately, I can’t really recall the rest of the soundtrack being particularly memorable except for some great usage of Hallelujah in episode 22.

The final two episodes

I won’t go into spoilers here but I am going to devote a whole section of this review try to justify the most divisive aspect of Evangelion: the last two episodes of the original series. Episodes 25 and 26 are what can be considered a rough draft of The End of Evangelion movie, which I view to be the definitive finale of the series. They both deal with the same events, serve to wrap up the plot, and spend a large deal of time psychoanalyzing Shinji, but the final two episodes do so with leftover animation, still frames, and monologues from the characters.

The result wasn’t perfect but they still managed to give the episodes a surreal atmosphere and finish Shinji’s character arc. The episodes also still take time to fully psychoanalyze the other characters, and 26 features a charming sequence of what their lives might have been like if they did not have to pilot the Evas. Not great, but not terrible either and you’ll remain transfixed by what you are watching. I recommend you watch these episodes, then move on to The End of Evangelion movie so you can have a better appreciation for them.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is flawed but still a masterpiece. Whatever flaws it has can’t take away from all that it does so well and even after all these years, it still holds up. Any fan of anime, or just a fan of well written and compelling fiction should watch this series.

Score: 9/10

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Justice League review

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Mamoa, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds

Released: November 17, 2017

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Warning: Spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) hasn’t had an easy time. While I consider Man of Steel to be decent, it’s far from the great movie that this cinematic universe needed to start with. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a clear attempt to get to the hyped up Justice League movie as quickly as possible and sacrificed a lot of its potential along the way, even with the also hyped director’s cut that added some context to scenes but still had too many flaws for its own good. Suicide Squad is a dumpster fire Guardians of the Galaxy ripoff and one of the worst DC films ever. Then Wonder Woman came earlier this year and it was so good it looked like Warner Bros. had finally learned from their mistakes and the DCEU could fully realize its ambitions. Now we have Justice League and it feels like they threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Justice League directly continues off from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with the world and Batman still reeling from the death of Superman. To make matters worse, an alien invasion led by the conqueror Steppenwolf is on the horizon that threatens all life on Earth, causing Batman and Wonder Woman to find the world’s greatest heroes so that they can join up and save the world, but they need Superman’s help and have to find a way to bring him back.

Justice League is the most meh and disposable movie I’ve seen this year. Let’s just get it out of the way and mention the notoriously troubled production and discussed reshoots because the movie actively suffers because of them. The scenes that Zack Snyder directed and Joss Whedon reshot can be clearly told apart and never mesh together into a coherent whole. The worst part being the CGI on Henry Cavill’s moustache. Maybe others didn’t notice, but to me it stuck out like a sore thumb. That and scenes of humor that were clearly put in at the absolute last minute by Whedon to bring some humor to the film make the whole thing feel chopped up and stitched together. Some of them are genuinely funny and fit in the rest of the movie fine, but others just don’t work.

The characters and plot are nothing to write home about. The main villain Steppenwolf needs three cubes called the “Mother Boxes” so that he can terraform Earth into a hellish wasteland like his own planet Apokolips is. He’s the most generic comic book movie villain ever, both in motivation and visual design. The heroes fare better, but the character arcs of the newcomers suffer from the lack of solo movies to establish them. Origin stories are just mentioned in passing without being shown, not even in flashbacks. We’re just told for example, how Flash got his powers and the accident Cyborg was in, and that Aquaman was abandoned by his mother at birth. These stories would’ve been really interesting to see, especially in their own movies that would’ve helped flesh out this cinematic universe. The characters that work best are the ones who’ve had their own movies, those being Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. However, even those three are questionably handled since Batman talks about Superman like he was best friends with him (even though he tried to straight up murder Superman out of paranoia in BvS), and is never called out for his callous disregard of life in that same movie. Also, for all that Superman is spoken about as a beacon of hope for the world that inspired people to do good, he was feared and reviled by at least 50% of the world in BvS, and people only came around his way when he sacrificed himself at the end of that movie. It’s possible that’s what they were referring to, but I don’t think it was.

All this said, I do have good things to say. The movie is smart enough not to let Batman off the hook for trying to kill Superman, and multiple characters call him out for being so cruel to him in BvS. On a spectacle level there are some pretty good action scenes. The ones that stood out to me are the scenes with the Amazons in Themiscyria when Steppenwolf arrives, and when Superman finally returns from the dead and the rest of the Justice League has to get some sense back into him. It shows off just how powerful Superman really is, and he has some great moments with The Flash that I’m not going to spoil. For the music they bring back Danny Elfman’s Batman and John Williams’s Superman themes. Pandering? Yes. Awesome? Also yes. The actors and actresses for the most part do a really good job with the material they’re given. Henry Cavill feels like the Superman fans know and love after two movies of Snyder’s more brooding portrayal, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is still the best part of the DCEU, Affleck makes the best film Batman in terms of faithfulness to the comics, Ezra Miller is really entertaining as Barry Allen/The Flash, Jason Mamoa as Aquaman is clearly having a blast, and as much as I rag on Steppenwolf, Ciaran Hinds’s voice acting is very good. The one actor I didn’t like was Ray Fisher. He was just so boring as Cyborg, a character who I don’t even think fits as a Justice League member to begin with. He was dull and felt like he wanted to be somewhere else the whole movie. Cyborg’s awful design and CGI didn’t help at all, looking like he came from Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. Other than him though I thought the special effects were fine, and whenever The Flash uses his super speed you got a good sense of just how insanely fast he was really going. Lastly, if you do go see this movie, the mid-credits and end credits scenes provide some nice fanservice to go crazy over. As dull as the movie usually is, there are some truly outstanding moments in between the long stretches of averageness, but it never manages to take those moments and run with them.

I’m coming down hard on this movie because you can see the glimpses of potential that it has, but never fully realizes. Unless a cut of the movie that realizes Snyder’s original vision is released, we’ll never know what the movie was originally going to be like and if it was better or even worse than what we’ve gotten. I love these characters and wanted Justice League to be the epic super hero blockbuster that it deserved to be, but as it stands now it’s just a lower tier meh. Go see Thor: Ragnarok instead, or buy and watch the animated Justice League cartoon series that aired on Cartoon Network in the early 2000’s.

Score: 4/10

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review

Developer: MachineGames

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Game played on: PC

Release Date: October 27, 2017

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When Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was announced, expectations were quite high. The New Order was not just a very good game, but a game that was much better than anyone expected. It was a soft reboot of the long running Wolfenstein franchise that by focusing its resources on single player, managed to tell a surprisingly well written, dark story with fun gameplay to boot. It was a standout title in the otherwise mediocre gaming year of 2014. So how the sequel, The New Colossus stack up? It’s just about as good as The New Order was overall, with some aspects done better and others not as good as they were before.

The story continues right where The New Order had its literally explosive finale, beginning with BJ waking up from a six month long coma to fight Nazis in a wheelchair when Frau Engel finds him and his allies commandeered Nazi U-boat. Things go from bad to worse, allies are lost and gained, and the Kreisau Circle must rally the American populace to rise up against their Nazi oppressors. Just like in the previous game, The New Colossus’s story is pretty damn good, albeit not as consistently good as The New Order’s was. Having the game take place in America under Nazi rule, and exploring with admirable maturity themes of racism, domestic violence, and mortality put it on its predecessor’s level and then some, all the while never losing its charm or sense of humor that keeps things from getting too depressing. We also get to explore BJ’s past, and private thoughts to a greater extent, giving the game some more emotional weight than The New Order. The returning and new supporting cast are really good too, all being memorable in their own right. It’s not all good though, due to the game having a disappointingly weak, sequel bait ending even in comparison to the first one (The New Order at least had you fight Deathshead in a giant robot, The New Colossus just has you do a quick time event in the end), and some of the new characters are not as fleshed out as the older ones were. Lastly, while Deathshead’s presence as a villain is missed very much, and returning villain Frau Engel can’t quite fill in his shoes due to her not being as much of a personal antagonist to BJ, she’s a good enough successor to motivate the player into tearing the Nazis down.

On the gameplay side, Wolfenstein II builds and improves upon what The New Order. The level design is complex and allows for multiple approaches, the levels themselves are interesting locations, the weapons feel great to use, the enemies types are varied with AI that provide a decent challenge, and some new additions as well. You can now upgrade your weapons by finding parts throughout levels, providing more incentive to explore rather than just moving on to the next objective. Without spoiling anything, at the second half of the game, you’ll be given a new set of abilities to play around with that give you even more options in taking out enemies and traversing levels. Also, remember those Enigma Codes that you could collect throughout the first game? Well now they actually have some use outside of getting you some concept art at the main menu. In Wolfenstein II, you can unlock side missions involving the assassination of top Nazi commanders in previously visited areas of the game with Enigma Codes. On one hand, having this extra content should be a definite plus, but on the other, the side missions feel very forced in within the context of the main story and just amount to the same objective in areas you’ve already been through. It’s a mixed bag and if the game wanted sidequests, they could’ve been put within the main missions you were doing, allowing the game to flow more smoothly. Still, great gunplay, combined with a kickass soundtrack and entertainingly violent death animations, means killing Nazis has never been more fun.

Wolfenstein II’s technical aspects are pretty good, but not perfect. It was a stable 60 frames per second my entire playthrough and the game is absolutely gorgeous in both cutscenes and gameplay. Speaking of the cutscenes, just like The New Order, they’re so well directed and animated it’s like watching a movie from a professional film maker. That being said, I did encounter some technical hiccups such as texture pop in like the previous game, and two levels having screen tearing whenever I would look up into the areas’ skies. It also crashed on me once, but luckily it was before I did any gameplay.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus as a sequel, first person shooter, and a game in general is pretty good, with some hiccups along the way. It’s definitely one of the better games of what has already been a great year for video games.

Score: 8/10

Stranger Things Season 2 initial thoughts

Last night I watched the first episode of the second season of Stranger Things and it was a good way to start things off. The main characters are still dealing with the consequences of the last season, new subplots and characters were established in a timely manner, and the show still has that 80s Spielberg atmosphere we all know and love. Hopefully it keeps up the momentum and is at least as good as the first season was.

Vampire Hunter D review

Director: Toyoo Ashida

Writers: Yasushi Hirano

Studio: Ashi Productions

Released: December 21, 1985

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This will be my first review where I will attempt to give a numerical score based on a number out of ten. I don’t know if I’ll stick with this system but I think it’s worth a try.

There are timeless classics, and then there are works that might have been good around the time they originally came out, but haven’t aged well overall. Vampire Hunter D is the latter.

Vampire Hunter D is an anime movie adaptation of the first novel of a long-running, popular series of post-apocalyptic/fantasy/horror novels from Japan. I haven’t read any of the books so I can’t speak for its faithfulness to its source material, but I’ve read that it is a faithful adaptation for what that’s worth if you’re a fan of the source material.
It’s a real shame that I don’t particularly care for Vampire Hunter D, because there are elements to it that are well executed. It manages to deliver a pretty heavy atmosphere, the soundtrack is decent, the unusual setting is interesting, and the designs of the monsters are creative and genuinely disturbing in appearance. The movie has a lot of potential to be something special, but alas, it doesn’t manage to reach even half of it.

The story is set thousands of years after a series of nuclear wars, the Earth has become a world filled with mutants, monsters, vampires, and other dangerous creatures. A vampire hunter only named “D” is given a contract by a young woman to kill an ancient, powerful vampire that takes young girls from a small town to his castle to be his brides every 50 years. There are a couple of side characters and villains, but none of them are interesting or well developed. Our main character D comes off less like a character and more of a plot device at times with how powerful and underdeveloped he is. As the movie goes along, it will become clear to you that nothing is really a threat to D. Oh, he might have difficulties, but they feel artificial and move along so quickly you’ll barely notice, save for one instance where you think for a moment he might actually be dead (he’s taking a long nap really). He reminded me a lot of Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series in terms of demeanor and occupation: A monster hunter feared by most of the populace, loved by a few, and women will want to sleep with him just after getting to know him. The pacing to the plot is also a mess, moving too fast with some scenes feeling barely connected together, yet with some scenes just dragging on. There’s an attempt at a one sided love on the young woman who hires D that feels totally artificial thanks to the bad pacing. Lastly, while the world the movie is set in is interesting from a concept point of view, the world presented on screen feels very patched together. There’s some advanced technology, but the small town looks medieval in architecture and clothes worn by the townspeople, like a steampunk setting. It’s a unique idea, but the world comes across as artificial and not lived in at all.

The animation for the movie is the most poorly aged aspect to it. The stiff, recycled animation makes the action scenes on a technical level very weak and lacking in tension, and because the characters are so poorly developed there’s no emotional investment to the fights. We know D will win, it’s just a matter of when. The most entertaining aspect to the fights is the blood and gore, which I’ll admit can still be entertaining today. Voice acting isn’t exactly good either. Now after doing some research I found out that the English voice acting I heard was in fact a newer dubbing done by Sentai Filmworks after they got the distribution rights to the film in 2015, not the original 1992 dub from Steamline Pictures. Neither is what I’d call good, but the newer dub is better than the old one. At least the new one has some cheesy camp to it, the old one is just stilted and dull. I did listen to a bit of the Japanese voice acting and it sounded okay by today’s standards.

I’m sure there are some people with nostalgia for this movie, and it is an interesting work from a historical perspective with some redeeming value to be found, but that can’t redeem its flaws. Vampire Hunter D is just an average movie as a whole that isn’t really worth your time. If you want to see some violent, monster killing action that bad, go watch Netflix’s first season of Castlevania. Maybe the sequel will be better and it did get me interested in the original novels, so it deserves some credit.

Score: 5/10

Alien Series review

So for this October I decided to watch every single movie in the Alien franchise. What began as a sci-fi horror movie in 1979 directed by Ridley Scott has now become a massive franchise with sequels, prequels, video games, crossovers across various media, and comic books. I did not watch the Alien vs Predator movies because they are just non-canon fanservice for fans of both properties and I have not seen the Predator movies anyway.

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Alien
It’s been decades since it was first released in theaters and is still one of the best horror films ever made. The story and characters are nothing special but they’re well carried by the actors’ performances and the plot’s pacing. A crew of a commercial spaceship called the Nostromo discover a derelict alien spaceship that ends up housing a dangerous threat unlike anything ever seen. It looks better than most movies in general today thanks to excellent set design, practical effects, and Ridley Scott’s superb direction and cinematography. The eponymous Alien (Xenomorph) is still one of the most menacing horror antagonists ever because of its design (RIP H.R. Giger), and of how there is no complex explanation or backstory for its actions. It’s a predator and the crew is the prey, simple as that. Like the best horror movies, it relies on subtlety and nail-biting tension rather than jump scares and gore. A sci-fi slasher movie where the slasher is a Lovecraftian-esque monster with origins unknown to us. The only negative that drags it down is the characters not being memorable outside of our main lead Ellen Ripley, but other than that it’s still a great movie.

Aliens
This movie is awesome. The sequel that surpassed the original and then some. Ripley wakes up after over fifty years of hyper sleep to discover her daughter Amanda has passed away years ago from cancer, and no one believes her story about how her crew was killed. A Xenomorph outbreak on the colony Hadley’s Hope causes her to team up with the Colonial Marines to take on her old enemy. Directed by James Cameron instead of Ridley Scott, Cameron wisely decided to take the film in an action oriented direction instead of trying to one up the original, thus creating one of the best sci-fi action movies of all time. The universe set up in the original is expanded upon more, the characters are much more memorable, Ellen Ripley cements her status as one of the best female action heroes in history, and it has the best action scenes ever. Like the first movie the story itself is nothing really special, but the characters are vastly better in this one and with Ripley becoming a surrogate mother to the child character Newt in this movie, it’s much more emotionally engaging since it’s genuinely sad to see characters get brutally killed, and extremely happy to see others make it out alive. Hicks, Newt, Hudson, Vasquez, Bishop and then some all make up the best set of characters the series has ever seen. It also has messages about the arrogance of a technologically superior force fighting a seemingly weaker enemy, which was inspired by the U.S.’s bungling of the Vietnam War, so it’s a much smarter movie than it appears to be at first glance. The lines are iconic (“Game over man! Game over!” “Get away from her you bitch!”), the special effects still look great today, it still manages to keep the nail biting tension the original movie had, and the ending has one of the best final battles in action movies ever with the Xenomorph Queen and it wraps up Ripley’s character arc perfectly. You can make other movies in the series but here is where Ripley’s character should’ve been left. Easily now in my favorite movies list, one of the best sequels ever, and the best movie in the franchise. There’s a small but vocal minority of people who hate this movie for moving away from first movie’s horror. Well be careful what you wish for because you get a new Alien movie with an emphasis on horror in the next one…

Alien 3
This is the exact opposite of Aliens. It’s one of the worst sequels ever made because instead of being exciting it’s boring, it’s a slog to get through, the characters are mostly dull and unlikable, has an bad ending and pisses on Ripley’s character. Remember Hicks and Newt? They get killed in the beginning of Alien 3, retroactively ruining the completely wonderful ending of the previous movie! I’m not against movies set after Aliens, but they should have little to do with Ellen Ripley. There are other stories you can tell, as shown with the now non-canon Dark Horse Alien comics and Alien: Isolation video game. There can be a movie about Newt grown up kicking Xenomorph ass, or another movie about the Colonial Marines, but leave Ripley alone. This movie had a notoriously troubled production and was David Fincher’s directorial debut, but not even he can salvage this boring turd. It’s the kind of horror movie that relies on shock value deaths and gore to scare its audience, which gets boring after it happens once or twice. The special effects aren’t even that good thanks to some poorly used and aged CGI, and that’s not even getting into the new prison setting being visually uninteresting with only the colors being grey and yellowish brown. Lastly, Ripley goes from being a badass who kicked Xeno ass to being terrified of the Xenomorph again, then they kill her off at the end of the movie via heroic sacrifice to end the threat once and for all. Some people say the Assembly Cut is a genuinely good movie. It’s not, so don’t watch it for your own sake.

Alien: Resurrection
Accomplishes the impressive goal of being even worse than the third movie. It takes place 200 years after Alien 3 and a new company studying the Xenomorphs clones Ripley. Yep, they didn’t even have the guts to stick with 3’s ending of her character. Even the opening credits are inferior to 3’s, and the worst of the entire series! This is the Batman and Robin of the Alien movies, with terrible acting, special effects, and a campy tone that is disrespectful to its own series. The only good things I can say about it is that its visual style is more interesting than 3’s and Ron Perlman is a blast in it, but everything else is worse. The story I hear is Joss Whedon wrote this script to try to get fired from his job, but studio executives actually took it seriously. If that’s true, then every stereotype of movie executives is pretty much justified. Another Xenomorph outbreak occurs because of corporate incompetence, but this time it’s really inexcusable. The movie takes place 200 years after Alien 3, so they should know the Xenos have acid blood, but their cages aren’t even acid proof! It’s like they wanted an accident to happen! It’s constantly pulling stuff out of its ass as the plot keeps moving that make no sense. Fuck this movie.

Prometheus
This is a prequel to the original movies with Ridley Scott back at the director’s helm. I don’t find it to be the masterpiece it tried to be or the ultimate betrayal of the other movies fans found it to be (Did they forget the last two movies exist?). I’m glad they finally moved on from Ripley’s character so as not to butcher it any further, so that was an automatic plus in my book. I think it has some interesting ideas but the execution left a lot to be desired. It wants to explore the origins of the Xenomorphs and of humanity in general, with an advanced race of aliens called the “Engineers” being the overall antagonists. The problem with this is that it feels torn between being a prequel and wanting to be its own movie, so none of the ideas it wants to explore feel fleshed out. Ridley Scott is still a great visual director that very few can match, and that combined with the much better CGI and special effects for this movie make it utterly beautiful at times. Everything else though, there’s a lot left to be desired. The biggest problems by far are the characters and their stupidity. These people are the dumbest group of researchers that have ever lived. The plot wouldn’t move if it weren’t for their idiotic mistakes, like a biologist approaching a strange alien creature or one of the crew members not telling the others he noticed a parasite in his eye while looking at his face in the mirror. Also, the technology is more advanced despite being a prequel to the other movies, but that’s kind of a nitpick that can be explained by the crew having a higher budget compared to the crew of the first movie who were basically truckers in space. Michael Fassbender’s android character David is pretty interesting, however he’s the only one I liked. Not even the main character Shaw was memorable. I wouldn’t call it good, but exploring the origins of the Xenomorphs with other characters is an interesting premise that a sequel could have built upon. Key phrase being could have.

Alien: Covenant
Whatever potential the ideas from Prometheus had to be fleshed out has gone unfulfilled. It has the same problems as Prometheus but with some new ones too. The characters are uninteresting and make dumb decisions but even more so. David returns from Prometheus and is turned into some cartoonish super villain who created the Xenomorphs just because he could, killed Shaw off screen, and committed genocide on the Engineers between the two movies. The Xenomorphs and facehuggers make their return to pacify the fans who were disappointed that Prometheus had very little to do overall with the actual origins of the Xenomorphs. The best aspect is the good direction from Ridley Scott again, but it’s a very hollow movie overall and at this point I have no doubt he barely cares. The script went through some pretty heavy rewrites, and all the ideas it had before sound way more interesting than the glorified half sequel to Prometheus, half remake of Alien we got.

Overall
This is how I rank the Alien movies from best to worst:
1. Aliens
2. Alien
3. Prometheus
4. Alien: Covenant
5. Alien 3
6. Alien: Resurrection
The first two movies are amazing while the rest aren’t worth watching. Prometheus has its moments but its issues drag it down too much. After the mess that was Covenant, I have no interest in seeing any other movie made in this franchise. They should have called it quits after Aliens, at least in regards to Ellen Ripley’s story. Just watch the first two, then play the video game Alien: Isolation. It’s about Amanda Ripley, Ellen’s biological daughter who died in between the first two movies as she tries to discover the truth of her mother’s disappearance. It’s a pretty good game that actually tells a much better story than the other movies of the series.

Initial thoughts: Star Wars Rebels Season 4

I just finished watching the two part first episode of the fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels and it’s a pretty good start to the last season of the only American cartoon on TV I have had any interest in. It took awhile to get really engaging but after the first quarter of the episode things really pick up in intensity, and it wrapped up Sabine’s character arc in a satisfying way. It also had a character from The Clone Wars return, further bridging the gap between the prequel and original Star Wars universe without feeling like it’s using the previous series as a crutch. The Clone Wars was a damn good show but was never given the chance to properly have an ending. Rebels is just as good as The Clone Wars and if the final season lives up to expectations, may prove to be even better overall since it tells a more complete story. I’m sure you won’t, but don’t disappoint me Dave Filoni and company.