A Rock going Ape: Rampage Review

Dear Island Guests, Welcome back to my attempt to watch all video game based movies ever made. By Arceus, I did it! I watched a video game movie that is not total shit! I mean sure it isn’t great.. but heck it is based on a button bashy game about a wolf a lizard and a ape destroying cities! How did this happen?! Have I killed to many brain cells with bollshit?! Or is this actually a fairly competent movie? Let’s find out together. Also my apologies the changing image format. I watched this on Netflix so I got the screen grabs from IMDB..who apparently takes their screens from everywhere!

It’s not Congo

Rampage came out in 2018 and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as primatologist/former black ops and poacher murder Davis Okoye. He now works at the San Diego Wildlife sanctuary when unbeknownst to him stuff goes awry in space. An evil company by the name of Energy has been making a flexible DNA pathogen on a space station where one of their rats broke out. A lonely scientist trying to escape gets locked in until she retrieves the pathogen samples. She manages to retrieve three samples before fleeing back and escaping the exploding space station. However  the rat has damaged her escape pod and upon reentry in the atmosphere the little window cracks and see is burned to a crips! The pod explodes and the three samples land on several places in the United States. 

One in the Everglades where the Pathogen gets eaten by a crocodile, one lands in the forest lands of Wyoming where a wolf gets infected and one….what are the chances strikes at the San Diego Wildlife reserve. Here it infects George, an Albino Gorilla that happens to be Davis best friend. (That’s kinda sad)  But George is a good boy gorilla who can speak in sign language! …Wait a second.. a Gorilla that is a best friend, whose sign language and Albino Gorilla?! There is a lot of stuff from the movie Congo here!

As George suddenly begins to grow and more  erratic and aggressive a totally legit woman working for Energyne shows up telling she made the pathogen that made George like this. She has a cure but Davis needs to help her proof Energyne is using this pathogen for weapons. Being the evil company they are Energyne builds a radio tower to draw in these beasts so they can retrieve their pathogene.. but that doctor trying to save the world, Doctor Cate Caldwell she has to go! Can our hero use his bond with George to save Chicago?  Can he bring back George from madness. All of these questions will be answered, in a vastly illogical but fun to watch movie.  I mean there are plothoes the size of Kaiju here but hey this is a movie about a albino killer gorilla wrecking some stuff up and being almost immune to everything humans can throw it. Al becomes of some diamonds..wait no that’s not right! No diamonds! Flexible DNA pathogen that’s it.. this movie is not Congo.

A Man and his CG Gorilla

I played a lot of Gampage as a kid and George was never my favourite..but it makes sense to tell the story with him as a hero! A Gorilla that knows sign language makes a lot more sense than a wolf that follows every command or a a story about a man who trained Velociraptors that gone and mutated into something else. In fact I could argue that the interactions with The Rock and George are best thing in this movie. George is a fully CGI Gorilla obviously but there was a sense of bond I got from them still. I did not really feel the Rock was talking to nothing.. There was a legit bond between this Davis and George. Only in the action and funny moments though!

There are a few dramatic moments and here the Rock falters. He has become a pretty good physical comedy actor over the past few years. He even has some comedic timing to his lines. When he needs to be sad for a cgi gorilla though.. he isn’t always there..Still there is this very enjoyable bond between Davis and George I can’t help but like!  Even though George is way too intelligent take seriously for example, this movie really establishes it is going over the top from the first moment! It starts in space! With an evil space rat and super evil organisation shenanigans. This movie practically is a 90’s cartoon including the talking animal sidekick.. but it leans into that.. and for that reason it really works. It’s camp but if you expected anything else after the first 10 minutes or heck even from the beginning you are in the wrong movie more so than the movie being wrong. If you see this movie as a live action cartoon you might have a great time with it!

The movie uses a lot of foreshadowing. After the first scene with Davis and George I was like… oh they better end the movie like such and so or I will be upset! I got exactly the ending I wanted..but also predicted. Well there was one joke I didn’t see coming at the end that made me giggle but all in all this movie is fairly predictable. Yet in a good way. After having seen a lot of video game movies this one at least feels capably made. It isn’t a masterpiece by any means but this movie does deliver what it promises. Character traits in both George, Davis , Cate and heck even the cowboy government agent they meet somewhere along the way are fairly established.

We know why Davis does the things he does even if it is not beneficial to a situation. We understand. Sure making him a former black-ops guy feels cheap and allows him access to a set of skills that are very convenient, yet at the same time he utilizes almost ALL of those skills. So it is not a wasted plotpoint to make him more cool.. it’s a trait so insane action sequences make some semblance of sense. Plus this movie is basically a 90’s cartoon! Of course he is a black-ops!

George is even used as more than just ape, Davis actually learns from him, and while again it is very convenient to the plot it happens for a reason. Davis has a reason to care for George and the fact that George cares for him has deeper implications. Cheap but it’s there.
So every time the Rock interacts with this CGI monstrosity is when the movie really does shine! You can see George sometimes breaking out of it;s aggression because it cares about Davis as well but never so much that it becomes that much more than an animal. In a way this movie creates a symbiosis. Both need each other, and the movie also needs both. it just doesn’t really need the side characters.

A Saturday Morning Cartoon

The weakest point is definitely the villains. Brother and Sister leading Energyne, which by the way is such an generic company name it hurts, are really clearly evil incorporated. I also do not really get their plan. Their plan is basically, make a pathogen that can make Kaijus …..  …… make money!  Clearly there is a step missing there! They have no way to control the big beasties , so they make them freak out with a radio signal to draw them all to the city and let the military blow them up.. so they can take blood from their corpses. Or something?!
They also decide now.. after she got locked up for trying to break the project that Cate has to die… why not when she stole from you?!  Why when she already told the cops about you and is just hanging with a Primatologist, do you decide that now she is very dangerous.
Why would you build that radio signal on top of your own company when you know the military has to bomb these animals to death. The nervous brother and the cold sister again seems like something of a Saturday morning cartoon. They also act a bit like Pinkie and the Brain.. if Pinkie was a corporate weasel instead of an dumb dumb. They are so in your face evil you can tell they are evil by just saying hello.

This comes with a few issues. At one point the heroes realise that Energyne is luring the monsters there into the heart of chicago by a signal on Energyne’s roof. In the middle of Chicago. They don’t care the city gets destroyed.. but your still a company.. if people are going to find out it was you who drew the monsters to Chicago even if they are blown up.. you are in trouble still.. I don’t think you can freely walk about and just take these monsters blood. Also you need to sack another multi billion dollar asset. The space station you blew up cost them 20 billion already and they just shrug it off. I am pretty sure no company can take a 40 billion dollar loss without any consequence. Their plot makes very little sense and their acting is quite poor! Funnily enough .. they end like 90’s cartoon villains. Like really..  (And no this is not a spoiler unless you think the Rock losing in a younger audience movie is actual a viable option)  this brings a charm to the movie but also a makes  it a bit of a guilty pleasure. Why was I so entertained by this?

The action is similarly over the top and delivers you some fun moments such as the Rock swinging a woman in a crashing plane to launch a forklift truck into the giant Gorilla, only to see them then do similar antics to yeet themselves and a cowboy cop out of plane grabbing Parachutes while the plane breaks up. A  battle royal between Lizzie , George and Ralph is pretty good as well and given that there is a fair amount of environmental destruction, which was what the games are all about , it is at least somewhat faithful to the source material. Not that there is a lot to be faithful to. We see the most ridiculous action scenes and they are all fun. Yet they also  recognise the  limitations of their CGI and while it does make things more believable it also makes some of the camera work very unappealing. When a mercenary company is hunting Ralph in the woods of Wisconsin for example we get very dark shots, fog is used to bloom up details and most kills happen off camera. Never do I cringe that much at the CGI but at the same time I do wish that some of these scenes could have been a bit more visceral. There is almost no blood in the movies, which makes sense given that it seems to target a younger audience.. but the actions shots.. do not justify the lack of blood.
I am talking bisections, a beheading and impalement here.. all relatively bloodless. That just seems odd.  But hey  damaged characters do get dirty and get scuff marks… kinda like… you know where this is going.

I tend to use analogies to compare the movie to somewhere around the end of a review and in this case.. the best thing I can compare Rampage to is the game Rampage. Both are just a good bit of fun, with a story that is to dump and makes so little sense to put to words.   Both have scenes that drag on and on but also some great action moments. It can keep you entertained for a good 90 minutes but after that you do not feel enriched or satisfied.. you just had 90 minutes of fun and that is it. I appreciate the movie for knowing that is is exactly that. It never oversteps that and that suits the movie.. yet at the same time that lack of ambition to ever be more is also its greatest flaw. 

It’s like as if the movie makers saw this movie as a school exam. They answered the questions they knew the answer to REALLY REALLY well and got enough points to score a passing grade.. but if they had taken a moment to try to figure out one of these other questions they just might have gotten a better grade by scoring some half points on other subjects. If you ever want a  movie to just turn your brain off with and enjoy stuff blowing up and the Rock doing Rock things.. this is a solid movie to watch! I watched it in this mindset and definitely will have to put it in my top 5 favourite video game movie adaptations. It isn’t anything special but fun can be good enough.

This movie is on the higher side of the fineapple spectrum a nice popcorn-flick that feels like a Saturday morning cartoon. As long as you don’t expect more this movie doesn’t dissapoint. If you do expect more.. you probably have not played rampage before! Did you see this movie? What did you think about it? Do you think Dwayne Johnson might be overused in movies?!
Let me know in the comments! If you want to prevent me from ever starting my own genetics lab to make evil super creatures..please consider supporting my Kofi page! Support money is better than evil super creature money! If you have no money to spare! Just follow the blog, leave a like or a nice comment! I can’t start an evil firm if I never turn evil anyway!

I Totally want a Slime Pet: Dragon Quest Your Story Review

Collectable Monster Enthousiast, Movie Fan, Anime followers and gamer. These are all words I could use to describe myself with. So when a movie shows up that appeals to all of these assets I have to see it! While this movie slipped under my radar a little netflix Browse brought this movie to my attention and I am so glad it did! I loved this movie so much! 

I got into the Dragon Quest series quite late into my life and into the series. The first game I played was Journey of the Cursed King on PS II , but I was blown away by the charm of this series. The art, the music the world building and even the fact that all the spells had such unique names. I love the fantasy genre and a High Fantasy, Anime Like adventure with characters designed by Akira Toriyama quickly become something I could not resist. Now I have played plenty but V eluded me so far. I just never found it on sale or in stores. This movie is mostly inspired on the adventures of that particular Dragon Quest. A game that let you add monsters to your party and fight by your side, but also that allowed you to get married and get characters pregnant and fight along your offspring. While nowadays this is nothing special back in the days of the SNES it was something very unique.

Netflix doesn’t let me capture screengrabs and google did not find me a correct scene.. so here’s just a random game screenshot!

This movie opens with the birth of main character Luca.. depicted as if it was played on the SNES. Seeing Luca’s earliest moments in life in 16 bit graphics with all dialogue happening in text boxes. A nice way to open up for those nostalgic about the game, but in hindsight also a very smart choice given the route this movie takes. We follow Luca trough and in weird ways even beyond the adventures of this iconic Dragon Quest game. We see him grow from a young boy, up until a grown man with an 8 year old son. What immediately stands out is that these characters have lost the design of Akira Toriyama and traded it in for something more akin to the style of the latest Pokémon Movie. A stylistic choice people have kind of critiqued but which I prefer when it comes to 3d animation to be honest.At least when you also go for more real texturing.  I prefer a bit of a western look on characters Alla Disney.. as opposed to how characters look in Jump Force for example.. they feel a bit more natural. More.. flowing. 

After Pokémon this style grew on me! Best of both worlds or something

Luckily in nearly all ages of his life, Luca is assisted by his Sabertooth Purrcy and the adorable slime Gootrude.  Every monster seems straight out of these games and that to me is enough! Especially if we consider the message of this movie. Sure these characters could be more in line with how Toriyama designed them and there would be nothing wrong with that choice either.. but we can play them in in 3d or 2d like that in one of the many remakes. Gootrude especially demonstrates how great these animations are. Morphin, changing shapes and showing so much emotion without barely making a sound.  I love Gootrude! I want one of my own! The iconic slime design is something that should not be missing from a Dragon Quest movie and they know it.  Each scene the slime  wasa highlight for me . From the first introduction where it follows the “party”  escaping from their live in servitude, up to its final scene. It never not made me happy, but simply just being animated, and that is what this movie in a way does.

N’awww I want one so bad I bet it’s really nice to hug in summer

Since this movie spans about roughly 30 years as well as deals with some identity struggles of our hero you can guess the pacing of this movie is a bit of an odd one. We see about ten seperate quests resolve, as well as some side questing that is actually cut a lot in montage like how Bofuri did it. While catering  more towards the light hearted side and a bit of a younger audience.. at first it seems. Lethal spells barely leave an impact and if the main hero is near death he just is a bit charred like how Ash looks when he gets flamethrowered by his Charizard.

The romance is also rather Disney ish. Nothing complex , just winning a girl by telling you love them or wish to marry them. Luca has the choice between two girls who also in the games can both be romanced and taken on as a main companion. I felt his pain at the decision as I am always bad in these sorts of things! It was weird at first, because I did not really feel like watching through a movie..  the way things are told, the way decisions are made it still felt like a video game. 

Would you choose Nera?! Let me know in the comments!

This results in the weird pacing that honestly could make me condemn it as a movie. We get zero explanation how spells work, they just appear.. as if the characters level up, they focus on scenes a game would focus on rather than scenes a movie would focus on. As a movie the blossoming relationship between Luca and the girl he ends up choosing could be a much greater focal point, but we see him discover his feelings through quests, events and poisons. Dialogue feels wooden at times rushed.. as if it is still NPC dialogue. Which might sound like a flaw but I actually loved it. This isn’t as much a game adaptation as it is a movie cut together from cutscenes and gameplay as it were.  It results in a super fast movie which you definitely need to keep an eye on, because many scenes are in fact interconnected that really made me want to play more JRPG’s. Even in it’s plot devices it doesn’t deviate from being a game. Characters can use the Zoom spell to teleport to previously visited areas, healing items are still a thing and motivations do not really change. Spells don’t really work differently as they would in the game.

Or would you rather make babies with Bianca? Let me know in the comments because this stuff matters!

At one point when I saw Luca cast Swoosh I began to tell myself.. I kind of wish they would use these spells a bit more creatively.. you know break the boundaries from Videogame character to actual hero and just seconds later he cast Kaswoosh .. a tornado and rode it up using the storm to move his sword to the enemy. I get an urge and this movie abided.  At the moment I felt the movie might be TOO video gamey, that issue got a resolve as well. A odd plot twist polarised the audience , with people either loving or hating it.. I fell on the loving side. It comes out of nowhere yet at the same time the build up has been there , not just from the writing itself but in the concept of the very movie itself. Whatever gripes I had  were immediately expunged. It was truly amazing and the conclusion this movie ended on was a message I very strongly resonated with. At every single turn.. at every single twist and at every single decision those movie made, that made me doubt, the next scene they explained to me why.. and I was like.. oh clever! I like! I feel tired from watching this high speed train and weird experience but I feel extremely satisfied as well.

Again Netflix ruined me placing a neat tornado action shot here! So here is satisfied family instead

This movie to me was truly something special while on paper not being that great of a movie. This is much more a love letter to the series throughout the  eyes of a fan. While some people found it condescending towards fans I think the writer of the movie basically self inserted himself as the audience and more. In a way we all have been that main character. Not necessarily in this game but if you ever played a JRPG you know so well how these things go you can still recognise the trope. From simple loot quest because they are needed to progress the main story, to moral choices, characters that will never let stuff go because of the way NPC’s are written. It’s all in here! Almost as if I am the player. The combat fluidity, the sound effects used, there is so much to find and love about this that it really amazed me.

The villain of this movie looks way creepier than in the game 10/10 Nightmare Fuel

At the center of it all is the AMAZING Dragon Quest soundtrack that shines in all its glory. The main quest playing when our hero embarks on a new adventure, the fight theme playing when he is fighting for his life. The correct music playing in towns and it also feeling like a RPG town. It reminded me off when I first left Midgar in Final Fantasy and entered Nibelheim for the first time. That same quaint atmosphere, with room for some minor quests that are set in town and in the local nearby areas it just clicked to me. I might not have played this game, but I have played games like this and that is enough to recognise those tropes to love what is going on. When Luca fights a big monster named Björn and the boss theme of the series starts playing I stood up and shouted “Yes YES!” I could have clapped but that would be silly by myself! This movie is Dragon Quest done as a movie.. instead of a movie done about Dragon Quest.

So this makes the fourth smash character that has a video game movie if we omit Pac-man from Pixels

That sounds confusing huh! This is much more a movie about a video game than basicly anything else I have seen so far. Detective Pikachu follows the story of a game, Sonic is a movie about a character of a game, Mario just used the name of a game , Assassins Creed used a mythos of a game and everything Uwe Boll makes… well  I guess that is what happens if you play a video game while taking a poo, then shoving the poo in a movie projector. No this movie is really about the game, I noticed that I kept this movie as spoiler free as I possibly could because I want JRPG lovers to see this gam..uhm movie. I would not go as far as call this the best video game movie of all times.. because.. it’s not that much of a movie. Sonic is better in that perspective.  While I heard some say by changing designs and by carrying this message it is speaking very lowly of the fans I think this is utter non sense. Had they did this exact same thing to my favorite Jrpg ever, Chrono Trigger or one the “Tales of” games I would be so happy.

I feel Purrcy would have really bad breath with all those weird things to eat

This movie made me think like I always do..it made me see the other side of my moral choices in video games, the ones that are normally glossed over. A quest we refuse to take, a romance we do not pursue just because we rather chase another character. It has an impact on an NPC’s life .. can I only be ruled by what I want.. can a character ever  be more to me than it should. In a way a movie like this brings our favorite characters to live. It brings worlds we love to live, despite that there might be pacing issues, odd design choices to accommodate other things, despite not having all that much of a story. On reason I talked about the plot is because it’s a JRPG its kinda irrelevant. Hero has to stop the big evil and save his mother, for this he needs to find a magic sword and a legendary hero.  You can replace all these elements and it would still be as awesome, save a princess, find a special and a mentor to teach him said spell. It would not change a single thing about this movie because it is fully build on atmosphere.

I bet Bjorn has worse breath though

In a way it’s like the slime companion of the actual Dragon Quest V (I looked this up) It may look simple, there isn’t much depth to it and it kind of weird, yet for those who love the genre it is an excellent choice. It doesn’t have the power other movies have, but it makes up for it in spades with spirit. Endgame you can have some doubts about yet it somehow feels right.
This movie made me proud to be me, to be a gamer. It reminded me off the importance of heroes like Luca and great side characters like Bianca, Nera and in my main game characters like Marle and Frog.  It’s easy to see them as just video game characters, bits of programmed blobs of text that feel nothing no matter the choices you make.

When the main character is not in a burning town area, are the people still suffering?

Yet these characters mean so much to many people that in a way they are more real than you and me! To me their feelings always mattered. Like how I nickname Pokémon that I am never going to use regardless, because they should at least get that token of affection. In Sword and Shield I do take my unused Pokémon to camp to play with them so they never feel lonely.I’ll always take Aerith on a date instead of Tifa. The journeys we take make some characters more real to us than we care to admit. I felt more sad for Arche Klein of Tales of Phantasia than seeing a same sort of story on reality tv.

Eeeek Pinkie Watches reality tv?!

This movie is a testament to our experience as gamers, a sign,  that there are others like me out there who feel like this. It confirmed to me that we as geeks, can learn lessons from our favorite characters and that the games we play DO matter. It made me proud to be gamer, because I have fought so many adventures with many amazing friends! I experienced adventures that the general populous can only dream off and to me it’s just as real as what Chad gains in muscle at the local gym.

So now it’s time for my score?! How do you think you did Gootrude?!
Hints of Starfruit in this cocktail, if you like weird endings that are set up well! I had a blast with this movie

A Rare Candy? Pokémon Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution Review

This Pokémon Movie has been on Netflix for a good while now and while I originally planned to review all the Pokemon movies leading up to it, I have felt the call call of nostalgia. Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is the CGI remake of the first Pokemon movie. It’s weird animation style caught the eye.. and the critique of many. So is this movie truly an evolution or did I wish the original had it’s everstone equipped? 

Update: I found out I can’t make Netflix Screencaps! So while I actually had an impressive selection of cool screenshots.. we will have to do with stock google images.

How does it Look?

I think it is best to address the elephant in the room first and that is this movies looks. It uses a fairly strange CGI look that has gotten a lot of fans scratching their heads. Ash looks like a young boy! Also everything looks almost as if we are watching a weird claymation cgi hybrid. Models can feel a bit oily and this doesn’t really match with any pokémon style we have seen so far. After seeing the entire movie twice now though I must say, I am not opposed to this , I am not in love with it but I think it has some big advantages over the old style on the one hand and comes with a few downsides on the other. A mixed bag of negatives and positives.

Let’s start with the negatives as most people out there come in with a negative mindset about this movie, rather than scaring you off by proving your are wrong right away, I will side a bit with the haters first. While modern animation is increasingly moving towards fluidity in motion and stripping things of non essential elements to increase focus on what is important, this is not what can be seen in Evolution. There is a level of clunk to the motions, the models seem to polished and glossy and Ash his redesign seems odd. Brock feels a lot more dishevelled, team rocket seems a bit overly moe and way less “mean spirited” and there are some odd choices  when it comes to certain pokémon. As a result this definitely is a style we need to get used to. It doesn’t feel right and that feeling is indeed hard to turn off. Due to the clunkiness in some motions but the focus on detail it’s flaws really stand out as well.

Yet to me there is a charm to this clunk. A lot of the clunkier attack animations really reminded me of playing Pokémon Stadium again or the later Coliseum games.  There is a level of mechanicalness that conveys something computer game esque.. and for a series that started out as a video game, I actually kinda see a lot of charm in that. I would love to see a pokémon game in this graphic style someday, and while Ash design is weird, for the first time I believed he was 10.  Misty and Brock are visibly older than Ash which validates his demeanour a lot more. While I watched the original run I often find myself annoyed at Ash. Stupid choice!.. Now I see him much more as a naive kid and I feel much more in tune with his mindset. 

The action also feels a lot nicer in this 3d style. While the animations to fire off an attack can feel clunky, these models have more weight to them.. smoke animations feel more simulated, dust clouds more calculated. If Charizard is dropped in the sand.. it feels like someone just threw a heavy creature in the sand. Fire has more “heat” to it, water actually feels wet..instead of being a spirally  blue beam. Pokémon eyes feel more alive, where watering eyes in normal anime style are usually a cycle of frames there is more motion to them. While this does not apply to all pokémon and less to the humans this version had a sense of gravitas in some of it’s graphic design. Which I think is very important in things like these.

I can see people hate this and would not think they are wrong but I can also see people really liking it. It has that Jump Force feel to it and that isn’t for everybody but I do think it makes battles more exciting.. and that’s an important part of pokémon. Now regardless if you like the style or not this movie has some stunning cinematography.  Shots are really beautifully framed. Camera angles are so much more carefully chosen. It feels a lot more cinematic in the big moments. The moment Ash rises from the clone laboratories followed by all the other pokémon nearly dropped my jaw. The end framing and the secret ending again..both beautiful shots! Regardless if you like the style or not, the shot choice was among the greatest in pokémon history.

How does it sound?

Now that you all think I am nuts for being positive on the looks let’s throw my credibility further in the trash by talking about how much I loved the sound design. The weird star trek and star wars stock sounds that were everywhere in the first movie have been replaced by long standing sounds in the pokémon anime. When Mewtwo activates stadium lights we no longer hear the first tones of a lightsaber and when Mew is waking up under water we don’t hear star trek effects from his shield. Explosions sound like proper explosions now and feel like they are canon to the pokémon series but done really well.  It seems all the voices have been re-recorded as well to match the new animation flow a lot better than using the old tracks would…unfortunately that doesn’t always pan out. 

Not all the voice work in this movie is great. Mew firstly feels a bit less cutesy than it did in the original..which was a source of great joy for me. The original mew sounded a lot more dreamy, while this one sounds a bit more kiddy. It isn’t bad just not as great as the original..I kinda cringed while it laughed once. It’s giggle is pretty bad.  Speaking about bad. Jessie and James have been voiced really poorly in this movie. I could not decide who was worse. James voice lines really feel phoned in.. but match the character while Jessie tries harder but really REALLY feels off brand to me. Her normal tones of arrogance and disdain are gone. While the new voice does line up with the cuter model more.. I can’t help to constantly think these are not Jessie and James. It somehow makes them have even less impact on the movie than before. Misty and some of the other trainers are a bit meh as well.The ace trainers who use their Blastoise Shellshocker and a Venussaur called Brute-Root I really had trouble understanding. At least when they called out their pokémons nickname.
Misty was okay but at times she was a bit flat.

Ash and Mewtwo are quite okay and Brock has his highlights but the real star is the voice actor of Pikachu. You can sense Pikachu’s emotions so well from the Pika Pika’s. During the chase by Mewtwo’s pokeballs we really can hear the fatigue in it’s cries, but the best moment is absolutely following Ash’s death/petrification. The anguished cries of Pikachu felt so real.. there was so much pain inside just the word Pikachu being repeated, it was crazy. Never EVER have I felt so much for Pikachu. I could tell exactly how distraught it felt and it’s tears weren’t even show! Instead of constantly focussing on Pikachu.. that cinematography cuts away .. allowing us just to hear its voice as we can hear it’s little spirit break.  Some great sound design in that scene and some incredible voice acting.

The music and the sound design are amazing in general. Gone is “Brother my Brother” that melodramatic song from the first version that I absolutely hated. Instead they choose for much more neutral background music that sound like they could be in a Final Fantasy game.
Which again enforced that video game movie feeling for me. Where the vocal song had issues keeping up with the story beats and felt poorly timed and thus melodramatic this version goes for a different approach. Silence, during a few scenes this movie decides to fade away the sounds only leaving some impact sounds  or for a brief period even nothing at all. It works so well as you see the seen as Ash sees it.. something terrible. The Final Fantasy esque music oddly really fits the setting of Mewtwo’s castle as well and keeps for a much more neutral accompaniment of the story. It boosts the story and scenes rather than trying to explain it on it’s own and overall I’d say this movie does it waaay better than the original.

How did it change?

I am not going over the movies story again because I think this story is so famous it would be redundant and I already embellished way too much again on looks and sound. Are there any significant changes to the story? Yes and no again honestly. The story is mostly a one on one translation of the original. However this time we get the extended cut.. not the Pikachu’s vacation stuff that was placed there to hide the dark and twisted beginnings of the original! This time…. ..it’s darkest part is still skipped. We get a set up for Mewtwo.. but the story about Fuiji’s cloned daughter dying in front of Mewtwo is completely emitted from the story again, so if you want to see that you will still have to watch the first movie, in Japanese.

Missing this however causes a slew of narrative problems that the first dubbed version also had. In the sub version we see a young mewtwo growing up in the tank. Sharing a collective dream with the three starter pokémon and a young girl.  They are happy together and monster 150 learns about friendship. Something goes wrong and all the clones end up destabilizing/disintegrating including the little girl which taught Mewtwo about humanity. Her disappearing is accompanied with him crying.. the girl tells the ultimate pocket monster that he should not cry as she has to go and it can not be helped. However when a Pokémon sheds true heartfelt tears it is claimed to have some healing powers. We then see Mewtwo being picked up by Team Rocket and strapped to another machine.. alone.. his humanity fading away. While the second part is included as we start with Giovanni finding Mewtwo.. we see the evil part.. however the good part.. and the big reason why he has his change of heart are omitted and it is a worse movie because of it. 

However this movie knows it had to censor that important scene so they make their fair attempts to rectify this.  While Mewtwo is the 2 dimensional version of himself they use Mew’s dialogue as a reason to snap him awake more. Mew,although somewhat uncharacteristically , tells Mewtwo that true strength doesn’t come from the advanced techniques his clones have.. it comes from the heart.  This prompts Mewtwo to make his clones attack without using techniques or their special ability he will just win with their presence. This explains why the pokemon suddenly just try to slap each other and why they get so tired and hurt with it.. they don’t have the heart for it. It lifts up one of the weaker scenes in the original and it gives Mewtwo a makeshift redemption arc in the fact that due to seeing Pokémon truly care.. and their heart is more in stopping the fight and everyone siding with Ash that he can acknowledge their strength and stops thinking of himself as a superior. It isn’t as strong as feeling his heart again but at least it’s something.

Other than those changes not a lot has been altered, some lines are a bit different here and there. For some reason Jessie and James don’t show up as vikings anymore.. but now dress like sailors on a paddle boat, which was random.  The best joke from the movie is a alteration when Brock tries to seduce a girl with his “famous Jelly Filled Donuts” hinting at that dubismn and there have been some changes to the layout of the arena. Which makes much more sense the way it is now.  It’s all fairly minimal but I would say that this version has a lot more consistent world building. 

Did it Evolve? 

So is this movie a true evolution? Honestly?! Maybe… It fixed almost all the issues I had with the initial version but replaced them with some others. Storywise it’s a step up from the  dub, sound wise three steps up from the dub and visual.. well that depends on the person. So if I had to say if it is an evolution I’d say yes. However it isn’t a particularly useful evolution. It’s like your typical normal or bug type evolution. It helps your Pokédex out but you don’t really gain that much more from it otherwise.  It’s a more contemporary , cohesive and impactful version of the story. It looks weirder now and packs a bit more punch, but in the end it has the same moveset and really doesn’t add anything to your team. It’s nice that it’s there but the memories you made with the pokemon come from when it was unevolved. Back then it mattered.. right now..only for completing.

Since it is on Netflix I do feel it is the perfect medium to see such a movie, so I do recommend you take a peek at it. I really hope they will do something else with this visual style.. preferably a coliseum like game for the switch or so. For this movie it’s fine, I did not waste time watching it but I also gained little experience. It’s like using an old rod to get a Magikarp in order to train your level 60 Zapdos.  Sure it can be fun to blow the fish away and it offers even some experience, but if we put it in perspective it hardly seems to matter. It’s good with my favorite moment being the “death” scene by the great voice acting. Yet it is also very inconsequential.


The Deadliest Mind Game – Pinkie Watches: Circle

You are in a room, the entire room is black except for a a weird small monolith in the middle. Around it are 50 red arrows, pointing to 50 right dots. On those dots are 50 people including you. If you exit your circle , the monolith zaps you and you die.  If nobody moves for two minutes, you hear a chime signal and after 10 seconds somebody dies. What is going on here? How do you survive? Soon you figure out that through a device in your hand and eye.. you can vote for who will be shot next. How do you play the room until you are the last one left? Do you even want to be the last one left or do you want to save a child, or a brave soldier? These questions are all answered in the 2015 movie Circle.

Game Night

Circle is a movie directed by Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione and “stars” Julie Benz as “the wife” Kevin Sheridan as Man # 1 and David Saucedo as “The Hispanic” man. Straight from the billing it should become clear. This is not your average movie. There is no gore, there is no story, there is no big journey of discovery. We get one room and it’s not even really a room. It’s a black set with red lights and people on it and that is it. There is no story to tell here. In fact the ending is why most people seem to hate on this movie. Here is a “spoiler” for the ending.. since it’s completely and utterly inconsequential to the rest of the movie. In fact it’s so blatantly obvious that anyone who is actually surprised by the ending I deem mentally incapable of judging this movie that I do not mind them hating on it. Here goes… it turns out.. that that black area ..with the monolith firing death beams and people, you know that room where people had invisible devices installed in their eye with augmented reality, invisible forces installed in their hands.. so that corpses can be cleaned up, it was a SPACESHIP all along.

(Defo Earth Tech)

I was so surprised it wasn’t our black liquid like metal shooting instead death beams at people. So yeah.. technically this is an alien movie. Yet there are NO aliens in this film. It’s not what it is about in the slightest.  This movie is basically just Duck Duck Goose or Cards Against Humanity..but instead of voting for the funniest person you choose who has to die. It’s all about how people play this diabolical game. How do you maximise the changes of your survival, who would you kill. It’s the trickiest and most nerve wrecking game you will ever play, and there is not a single thing more to this movie than 50 people playing that game. I like that! Aliens.. are just a flavor slapped onto that and nothing more. 

Judge Jury Executioner

This movie, which feels actually more like a publication of a thought experiment highlights how people think. I do think it nails the thought process during such a game. A lot of the the choices being made are logical, a lot of the strategies being played by it’s players are quite briljant and the conclusion was satisfactory. I felt this mental process was actually quite real. At first the group decides to pick off the oldest people, those who already have lived a full life. They had a good life, now it’s time for others. This makes sense. Yet when you cull down an age group eventually people start to rebel against the idea for simply being somewhat middle aged. They will vote differently and the strategy will have to change. Minorities fear being picked off, for simply being outnumbered. However if you start to kill on a racial basis they can never win.. so they can’t turn it into a race war either.

New strategies have to arise. The game is constantly changing, strategies are dropped when they don’t pan out but later people try again. It’s all rather well done.Never was I sure who was going to die. I would plan how I would strategise to make my own way out of this and what I came up with is not that much different from that of the winner. The movie succeeds in both showing of how cruel humanity can be , but also how our moral fiber can work against us. In a room where 50 people enter and only one can leave, in truth everyone is equal..however only very few will be able to see this.  Everyone has a bias to what people are more important to save. To one person you may be a low life that lives of the coin of others, to another person in the room you might be worthy to save because your pregnant thus count as two lives. In fact what people see doesn’t even have to be true. We see people lie, accuse others of crimes or sins.
We see people trying to condemn a lesbian..because her adopted kid would have a “less normal life” than that of other parents in this room.  We see people play the christianity card because there is a large chance people believe in god. We see atheists try to exploit that very same christianity to target sinners. 

In such a situation in actuality, genders, age, sexual preference, it all doesn’t matter yet it does. You do not face people in this arena. You face gods. Everyone has the power to smite you if you do not smite them first. The writers seem to know this very well and the outcome feels realistic without feeling forced. I think if you ran simulations the one who survived never would have one in a single simulation..but were you find their mirror counterparts 100 times over it would always end the same. Since this movie is all about the game being played and I enjoyed the game being played I can only give them great praise for making it feel so real to me.


Not everything is great about this movie though, the cinematography rarely works out as well. More often than not we miss who died, and while most of the time a offscreen death is of one of the more silent characters sometimes a major character can be killed why you still wonder “Wait who died”.
The sound is very echo-like which makes sense in the room but can be a bit harsh on the ears. We often hear critical lines of dialogue being said while we do not say who says it. Luckily I watched with English Subtitles with fixed this problems but with 50 people in the game I really would not have know who said it based on their voice alone. I would really recommend everyone watching this to watch it with English subtitles for more than one reason. Fairly soon after a woman who introduced herself by name is remorsely gunned down for blabbing she had no children, people decide it might not always be wise to talk and share. At least not names as it will only make it harder to do what needs to be done.

Thusly virtually no one is named. The way the subtitles fix this is by updating themselves. Older Woman #2 can suddenly become “Cancer Survivor”  Hispanic Lady can become “Translator” and so on. Yet many characters only begin to speak when they have to reveal something. Saying too much of course means you can say something wrong. Here is where the true strength of the movie lies.  If you play along with the game, you can find out which lines can condemn someone. You try to find who will be the last person standing based on how they play. You pick your own strategy yet you constantly read the room. However this means that his movie isn’t something you should watch to casualty. You have to at least play along a bit. Keep a focus and think about motivations a bit. The journey from point A to B (being from 50 persons left in a room to 1 )  isn’t very interesting. It’s established early on.. there is no escaping there will be one survivor.The last kill had some scary implications that actually made me shiver when I realised what just happened. Yet all of this would have been lost on me if I would watch something very casually. This movie will do nothing for you if you crave mindless action or an easy watch. You’ll have to feel like playing a game and think on who might be up to something evil

Good Versus Evil

Morality and trying to always be kind and good can sometimes be our own worst enemy. This movie shows us the need to take care of yourself..because no one else truly does so. In the second half of the movie a “good” and “evil” camp start to form, but no one truly belongs in either category it’s all relative. We see people sacrifice themselves only to have their names instantly forgotten. We see  a cleary “evil” characters who trying to vote kill a young kid, and we see that the logic and arguments he uses is completely correct. He gets a following and in fairness I would have sided with him as well. Which brings up other interesting things.

Depending on who I would have replaced in the game it could have been a totally different game. A single different vote somewhere in this game could have changed the outcome dramatically. How long can we be good in the face of death? Will being good be rewarding?  This movie poses some interesting questions and it does a great job in answering them as well. It does a great job in reflecting a randomly grabbed mishmash of people, where no one is really truly the same yet in essence we all are. How do we twist perception to suit our needs? In a way we don’t just to this in a black monolith laser death game. We do this in real life as well. Damn people for being different, take away their chances because it will give ourselves a bigger chance. In essence we are all the same, no good people, no evil people. We just play the game differently from each other, and we can not just refuse to play the game. So in the end all you really can do is play the game in the way you would play it and hope for the best.  This movie is available on Netflix! So take a peek if you are into these kind of things.