Disney’s Hercules Review by Eugene Alejandro

Walt Disney’s Hercules is a 1997 animated feature film musical very loosely based on the Greek Myths of Hercules. The movie is more specifically about Hercules’s journey into a becoming a hero so that he can re-unite with his original family back in Olympus while facing off against the evil Hades.

With this movie being made and released by Walt Disney Pictures despite being about the Greek character; Hercules, this movie adaptation is toned down in order to appeal to a family audience. Despite that however, this movie still manages to be a very enjoyable movie thanks to a lot good aspects about it that help make it a very fun film.

The most obvious good part of this movie is the animation. The art design was done by the legendary Gerald Sarfe, and the way Disney handled it works well for this movie as a lot of the character designs are very unique and creative, and the movements are very solid (the background work is also awesome).

Another good part about this film is that while the entire voice acting is very good, James Woods as Hades really steals the show as its clearly shown that he matches the character of Hades very well, and turns in some very fun dialogue to listen to.

While the musical numbers aren’t bad, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed them either as while the songs were good, they weren’t all too memorable for me.

So while this movie is a very toned-down version of Greek Mythology (more specifically about Hercules), Walt Disney Pictures still managed to make a very entertaining movie adaptation of the classic Greek hero that both children and adults will enjoy thanks to its beautiful animation, and amazing voice acting (most notably by James Woods).

I give this movie Two Thumbs Up, and 4/5 Stars.

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Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 Review by Eugene Alejandro

Disclaimer: For this review, I am only going to be reviewing the English Dub because that is the version I watched before making this review.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 is a feature-length computer animated major motion picture that serves as both a direct prequel and midquel to the video game from Square Enix; Final Fantasy 15 (which I am currently still playing at the time of me writing this review).

The story in this film is that in the world of Eos, two nations are at war with each other over the planet’s crystal because said crystal grants whoever uses ultimate power (which the kingdom of Lucis has, and the other wants to take). The two nations are Lucis, and Niflheim. The Kingsglaive are a group of elite soliders tasked in protecting Lucis from Niflheim’s invasions. I could go into more detail about this movie’s plot, but I prefer not to because I don’t wanna go into any spoiler territory regarding this movie’s story at all in this review.

For a movie that is meant to be a companion piece to the Final Fantasy 15 universe, I have to say that I found this movie to be spectacularly awesome to watch as not only does it work at benefiting Final Fantasy 15’s overall story, but it also turned out to be a very entertaining movie to watch as far as my opinion is concerned.

The most notable aspect in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 is the computer animation which is meant to have a very photo-realistic look to it. For how it looks, the animation is simply breath-taking and beautiful to look at. The character’s movements regarding facial expressions, lip-syncing, and walking, jumping, etc, are all done very well in order to help all the characters feel alive. The visuals, background animation, and creature designs are also very nice to look at. All of this really shows how talented Square Enix is at making good photo-realistic computer animation.

The English Dub voice acting in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 is another good quality/aspect of the film as each voice actor delivers their lines perfectly, and each voice fits the characters very well. The lip-syncing also helps with the movie’s English Dub because it makes the character’s mouth movements believable.

The soundtrack in this movie awesome. While I should go into more elaboration and detail on as to why I think the music for this film is good, all I can honestly say is that for what it is, its great to listen to while watching the whole movie.

The only nitpicks that I have regarding my experience of watching Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 are that while I was completely entertained by the whole movie, I still felt the movie went on for way too long to where I was worried the film would never end. But even then despite that, the movie is still worth sitting through in order to get the full Final Fantasy 15 story experience (at least in my honest opinion anyways). Another nitpick that I have is that while this film works very well as a companion piece to the Final Fantasy 15 universe, I personally think it would have been even better had it been its own stand-alone movie with the Final Fantasy name and some of the themes and elements from the franchise added to it. Now I shouldn’t fault the movie for being part of Final Fantasy 15 as that is what Square Enix made it out to be,but I still would’ve preferred it being its own movie rather than a prequel and midquel to the game.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 is a sci fi and fantasy action movie that I can easily recommend to Final Fantasy fans, as it works very well as both a companion piece, and as an overall movie.

I give Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.

Trollhunters Part 2 Review by Eugene Alejandro

In memory of Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)

Trollhunters Part 2 is the second season in the Trollhunters animated series which is created by Guillermo del Toro, made by Dreamworks Animation, and officially streamed on Netflix.

As with how I reviewed Trollhunters Part 1, I will only be reviewing Trollhunters Part 2 as only a show because I have not read any of the books it is adapted from. Also, unlike the first season which consisted of 26 episodes, the second season (which I am reviewing right now) only has 13 episodes. I only wanted to mention that last part because in case anybody who is subscribed to Netflix and has this show on their list should be aware of that fact.

Without going into any spoilers for this review, Trollhunters Part 2 does a very good job at being a solid continuation of Trollhunters Part 1, but what I think (in my opinion) makes this second season even better in terms of how its written is how it handles plot twists, and character development. The plot twists in particular caught me off guard as I never expected or predicated them in the slightest.

As with the Trollhunters Part 1, the animation continues to still be amazing in Trollhunters Part 2. While there isn’t much of a difference in regards to how the animation looks for this season compared to the previous one, the animation is still made very well and shows how much money and effort went into it.

The voice acting is also still very good with each voice actor perfectly fitting their characters and delivering the lines very well. I was most surprised by how Anton’s Yelchin’s voice was still kept for this season, but I overall, found his voice acting performance to still be very good like it was in Trollhunters Part 1.

If you are somebody who really enjoys Trollhunters like I do, I can most certainly recommend watching this second season as it is a excellent continuation of the previous season, and show as a whole works very well at entertaining both children, and adults.

I give Trollhunters Part 2 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.

Ninja Scroll: The Movie Review by Eugene Alejandro

Ninja Scroll: The Movie is a 1993 Japanese animated Samurai Cinema, and Period Drama movie that’s directed and written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and was made and released by Madhouse Studios (along with Toho, JVC, and Movic). I should also say that the movie is a homage and influenced by the novels of Futaro Yamada. I haven’t read of any of his novels at the time of this review, so I am very uncertain what elements from the novels were being used when making the movie (the movie even has an alternate title called Jubei The Wind Ninja).

The story of Ninja Scroll: The Movie is that a lone wanderer (Vagabond in the English Dub) named Jubei Kibagami, ends up getting involved with a plot by the Eight Devils of Kimon who were hired by The Shogun of The Dark to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate. In order to now stop the Eight Devils of Kimon, Jubei gets the help from a government spy named Dakuan, and a female ninja named Kagero (I really don’t wanna say anything else about the movie’s story. If you wanna know more, please watch the film).

When Ninja Scroll was first released back in 1993 (and brought over to the USA thanks to Manga Entertainment), it was met with strong critical acclaim and financial success, and also contributed in helping Japanese animation become very common among the USA (with other critical and financially successful Anime movies such as Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995 doing that as well). A TV show titled Ninja Scroll: The Series also aired in 2003.

As far as how I feel about the movie, I’ll go over each aspect of it in good amount of detail like I did with my reviews for Akira and Ghost In The Shell 1995 in order to get my overall opinion about the movie across. With that said, I will be saying a lot, but please enjoy.

-The Story and Writing: While there isn’t anything deep and/or compelling about Ninja Scroll’s story, what works very well is the overall element and feeling of fun the plot has. Ninja Scroll definitely has some very cool and memorable action scenes, but if I am going to nitpick a few things about the story, it is that it does at times like a lot more could’ve been included to the story regarding. An example is that The Shogun of The Dark is only mentioned in the film and never makes a full appearance at all in the film. Another nitpick is that there isn’t an explanation for how and why Jubei’s sword can create and wind slash powerful enough to cut through his enemies. The plot in the movie does at times really feel like it’s part of a much more larger story that didn’t happen, but that doesn’t really bother me as what is presented is still very solid, and works fine. So while I will way that the story/plot in Ninja Scroll: The Movie ain’t as strong, epic, and/or revolutionary as in Akira: The Movie, and Ghost In The Shell 1995, Ninja Scroll is still a very fun movie to watch because of what is presented story and script wise. I do gotta say that the film does indeed have gore and nudity, so please DO NOT have a child under the age of 18 watch this movie.

-The Animation: As expected from an Anime movie by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the animation in Ninja Scroll: The Movie is absolutely amazing (and even more so back in 1993) with all the character designs, movements, and backgrounds looking awesome. While I will admit that Ninja Scroll’s animation isn’t as groundbreaking as the animation in Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995, Ninja Scroll’s animation is still very impressive to look at and admire for what it is.

-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: The soundtrack for Ninja Scroll: The Movie was made by Kaoru Wada. In my honest opinion, the music isn’t as memorable and iconic as the music from Ghost In The Shell 1995, and Akira, but for what it is, Kaoru Wada’s score is works perfectly well with Ninja Scroll’s tone and setting. The best way that I can describe the music is that it really does belong in a film set in the genres of Period Drama and Samurai Cinema as the instruments used to make the score do have the feeling of a feudal setting. So just to recap, Kaoru Wada’s soundtrack in Ninja Scroll: The Movie is very fun to listen to (even if it doesn’t hold up to the epic scores from Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995).

-The Voice Acting: I will talk about both the Japanese Language, and English Dub that was done for Ninja Scroll: The Movie. The Japanese voice acting is very solid as all the voice actors do a great job sounding their parts very well. The English Dub that was done by Manga Entertainment is also very good, but if their was one thing I have to nitpick about the English Dub is the voice actor who voices Jubei (Dean Elliot). While he does a solid job with his voice acting, the accent that he provides for the character doesn’t fit with the setting the film takes place in. But like I said, it’s just a nitpick because the overall English Dub for Ninja Scroll is fine.

-The Subtitles: The English subtitles that I saw when watching Ninja Scroll: The Movie are colored Yellow, and are easy to read and stay on the screen for a good amount of time for the viewer to see them. I do gotta say however that the subtitles seem to be worded differently depending on what version you see. To clarify, I noticed how the words in the subtitles differ from the DVD I own, to the version that I watched on HULU (where is how I first saw Ninja Scroll to begin with). The best example of what I’m talking about is when in the DVD that I own, The Shogun of The Dark is subtitled “The Dark Shogun”, the subtitles on HULU just say “Shogun of The Dark”. But regardless, that really isn’t a massive flaw with the movie itself. It’s just something I wanted to bring up. So if you want to watch Ninja Scroll: The Movie in English subtitles, just expect the subtitles to be worded differently depending on what home video release, and where you watch it from.

So that’s really all I gotta say about Ninja Scroll: The Movie. While it may not be as legendary as Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995, Ninja Scroll: The Movie did achieved a good amount of critical and financial success when it was first released, and did contribute greatly to the Anime rise that was starting in the 1990’s (meaning that it helped people in the USA get into Anime). So if you wanna watch a very fun, and well-animated Samurai flick, please give Ninja Scroll: The Movie a watch.

I give Ninja Scroll 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Ghost In The Shell (1995) Movie Review by Eugene Alejandro

Disclaimer: The version of the movie that I’m reviewing is NOT the 2.0 version. This is a review of the normal version of the film which I own on DVD. With that said, please enjoy the review.

The 1995 Ghost In The Shell movie is a Japanese animated science fiction and cyberpunk film directed by Mamoru Oshii, made and released by Bandai Visual and Production I.G, released into English by Manga Entertainment, and is adapted from the Manga series of the same name by Masamune Shirow (the movie even has an alternative titled called Mobile Armored Riot Police: Ghost In The Shell).

The plot of the film is about an intelligence department named Public Security Section 9 who is on the task of hunting down a massive ghost hacker called The Puppet Master. The world of Ghost In The Shell is that there exists a special technology that allows the consciousness of a human being to enter an enhanced cybernetic body (hence the title of the movie), and for there to be someone who can hack into the cybernetic bodies is a very big problem. The movie mostly centers on the main character for the film; Motoko Kusanagi, who while going along with the mission in trying to capture the Puppet Master, ends up wanting to know more about the hacker (which ends up leading up to a pretty clever and surprising plot twist that I won’t spoil in this review).

In the same vain of other Anime movies such as Akira, and Ninja Scroll, Ghost In The Shell helped introduce Japanese animation into the USA, and was the huge critical and financial success when it first came out back in the year 1995 (the movie also served as inspiration for The Matrix franchise). Does the movie hold up and aged well from it’s grand reputation though? Yes it does. Similar to what I did in my review for the Akira movie, I will talk about each aspect of Ghost In The Shell (1995) in good amount of detail, and then say my overall final thoughts on the movie.

-The Story and Writing: In a very good way, the story in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is very deep and complex, and moves at a great pace thanks to how the script is written. If there one small thing about the story (and how it’s written) that I should mention however, is that because of the complexity of the plot, the story can sometimes be hard to follow, so I would strongly recommend watching this movie multiple times in case you are unable to fully understand the story from just one viewing. As far as the character development is concerned in the story and writing for Ghost In The Shell 1995, while there aren’t any flashbacks that show each of the characters origins in great amount of detail, the characters that are mostly presented in the film do at least have solid motivations for what they are doing, and serve a good purpose in the film. So as far as Ghost In The Shell 1995’s plot and writing goes, it’s excellent. I should also mention before I forget that the movie does have a very good way of foreshadowing things that happen. I won’t go into the specifics about if for this review, but it is something I wanted to bring up about the film’s writing and plot.

-The Animation: One of the truly most memorable things about Ghost In The Shell 1995 is its animation. The movie was (at least to my best of knowledge) the first Japanese animated feature film to use an animation making process called DGA (Digitally Generated Animation). This is the result of combining cel animation, and computer graphics together. As far as how that process of making the animation for Ghost In The Shell 1995 went back then, it was done incredibly well as the backgrounds have such strong amount of detail put into them, the character movements are very strong and help the character feel real, and even the animation regarding character facial movements also does a good job at helping the characters feel alive. The use of computer generated graphics for this movie also help make the animation even better as the visuals are groundbreaking for the year that the movie came out. So without rambling on and on, the animation in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is amazing and holds up very well to this day.

-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: Another memorable part of Ghost In The Shell 1995 is the outstanding soundtrack for it that was created by Kenji Kawai. What’s very fascinating about the music is that a majority of it is actually created using the ancient Japanese language; Yamato. The overall score by Kenji Kawai in the film is beautifully haunting, and helps fit with the movie’s very deep and complex tone. There are moments however when the movie is devoid from the soundtrack, but that at times is actually a good thing because the silent moments in the film actually work with how the overall movie is made. I honestly got nothing else to say about the movie’s score, so let me just say that overall, the soundtrack in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is fantastic.

-The Voice Acting: Both the Japanese language, and English Dub voice acting for Ghost In The Shell 1995 are really good. I do have to say however that because of me watching this movie mostly in the English Dub, I will say that I strongly recommend watching the movie in the English Dub of Ghost In The Shell as all the voice actors in it do the great job with their roles as each voice actor matches the character they are voicing very well. As far as the Japanese voice acting is concerned, it’s done very well, but not as memorable as the English Dub in my opinion. So in a strange way, I will have to say to mostly stick with the English Dub of Ghost In The Shell 1995.

-The Subtitles: The DVD that I own of Ghost In The Shell 1995 includes subtitles that are colored white. The subtitles that I saw when watching the movie in the Japanese language are done very well as all the words are very easy to look at, and they stay on the screen for a good amount of time for the watcher to read them. So if you want to watch Ghost In The Shell 1995 in Japanese with English Subtitles on, be glad to know that the subtitles (at least in the DVD copy that I own) are well made.

With all that I could say about Ghost In The Shell 1995, I’ll finish up this review of it by saying that the movie truly does deserve the strong reputation that it has gotten since it first came out thanks to its deep and complex story, themes, and tones, groundbreaking animation, and breath taking music. To anyone who is a fan of Anime, Sci Fi, CyberPunk, etc, should really give Ghost In The Shell 1995 a watch.

I give Ghost In The Shell 1995 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.

Akira: The Movie Review by Eugene Alejandro

Akira is a post apocalyptic, science fiction, and Japanese animated feature film directed and written by Katsuhiro Otomo, made by TMS (Tokyo Movie Shinsa), and originally released theatrically in Japan in the year 1988. The movie is also adapted from Katsuhiro Otomo’s own manga series of the same name.

The setting of Akira is that it is the year 2019, and Japan (more specifically, Neo Tokyo) is going through a massive economic crisis due to them trying to recover from the aftermath of World War 3, and spending most of their money for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Sports Olympics (the reason for why World War 3 happened in the movie is explained, but no spoiler about that will be said in this review). The movie’s basic plot is about a boy named Kaneda Shotaro who gets worried for one of his best friends named Tetsuo Shima after Tetsuo is taken by the Japanese military after an incident in which the biker gang that Kandea and Tetsuo are members of were fighting another biker gang (to clarify, this isn’t the very start of the movie. This only happens during the beginning of it).

The reason why Tetsuo was taken by the military is because when he got injured in the incident, he ended up getting physic powers (I recommend watching the movie for more details as to how and why he got the powers). Because of these powers he’s gotten, Tetsuo falls into madness, and is determined into re-awaking a character named Akira (who he keeps hearing about in his head) even if it means destroying the world just to do so (and yes, the movie is actually named after that character). Later on in the story, Kaneda finds out about Tetsuo’s powers and goal, and is determined into stopping one of his best friends in order to save the world.

When Akira was released in 1988, not only was it met with high critical praise and financial success, it also served as a landmark in Japanese animation (or Anime to say it more simply), and is also one of many animated products from Japan that helped introduce Anime into the West (with the others being the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie, and Ninja Scroll from 1993). So with all that info about Akira said, does the movie live up to all of that recognition? Indeed it does, and I’m going to try talk about all the aspects of the film so that you can know why I think it is a spectacular movie (also, there will be NO spoilers in what I’m going to say, so you don’t have to worry about that).

-The Story and Writing: While the story of Akira (for the most part) ain’t anything new (even for the time that it was originally released), the story is greatly supported by a strong script that contains solid pacing, excellent character development, and just overall all the aspects good film writing needs. All the important characters are each well-written, and entire movie in general just has an epic feel to it thanks to how the script was written into allowing that. I must also include that the movie also has a satisfying ending to it (and ending I won’t go into detail about for the sake of this review). Earlier in this review, I did mention that Akira is a movie adaption of a manga of the same name by same person who directed and written the movie adaption of it (Katsuhiro Otomo). I bring this up because to anyone who’s read the manga, would know very well that there are a lot of changes made for the film adaptation in regards to some of the characters and the ending of the story (stuff I will not spoil). For how the movie adaptation of Akira was made, the changes work very well, and help the movie maintain its legendary status without alienating people who read the manga. Before I forget now I’ve just remembered, while the story and writing in Akira are very good, the film is (at times) a very dark plot that contains a lot of scenes of violence, so I certainly CAN’T recommend watching this movie if you are under 18 years of age (trust me. The movie is rated R for a reason).

-The Animation: For a animated theatrical released movie from Japan that came out in 1988, It felt more like a movie that came out in 1998. The animation in this movie truly is revolutionary as for the time, this film utilized backgrounds and character designs with strong amounts of detail put into them. All the characters have excellent facial expressions for whenever they are happy, mad, sad, etc. This a good for the animation because it helps the characters feel alive. The animation regarding the movements is also very impressive, and helps make the animation in the entire film work. I should also talk about this movie’s use of colors as I’m sure that even the colors used in the animation for this film were also revolutionary. I say this because there is just so much detail put into this movie’s colors that helped make the animation look even better.

-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: The soundtrack in Akira was made and provided by Geino Yamashirogumi, and Tsutomu Ohashi. This movie’s music is without a doubt one of the greatest movie scores of all time thanks to all the instruments, notes, and how it fits the tone of the film very well. The music is also another novelty as (at least to my knowledge anyways) I don’t think any other Anime film at the time of its release (or possibly even before that time) had music this epic. So overall, Akira’s music is great, and definitely worth listening to.

-The Voice Acting: I must state that for this review that I am going to talk about both the original Japanese language and English Dub. While I myself don’t speak Japanese, I have watched numerous movies made in Japan to the point that I am able to notice how the performances are. With that said, the Japanese voice acting in Akira is great with each voice actor and actress fitting the character they are voicing very well. The English Dub by Pioneer/Geneon is also excellent with each voice actor to voice their characters in English fitting the roles perfectly without a single one standing out. In conclusion, the voice acting in general in Akira is good.

-The Subtitles: Originally, I didn’t feel like talking about the subtitles for this movie that were included in the Pioner/Geneon DVD that I own, but to those who are reading this review, and are interested in watching this movie with the original Japanese speaking language with English subtitles, the good news about that is that the subtitles for this movie are solid. The subtitles for the DVD that I have are colored yellow, and the way that all the words are presented whenever a character is speaking look well enough for the watcher to easily see them. The words also stay on screen for a good amount of time for the watcher to see them without them having to pause the movie just to read the subtitles. So if you are looking for good English subtitles when watching Akira in Japanese, expect the subtitles to do their job just fine.

Now that I have said and pointed out all my reasons for why I believe Akira is a fantastic movie, I can certainly recommend giving it a watch as the film truly is a legendary groundbreaking work of cinematic art that has helped introduce Japanese animation to Western audiences thanks to its very strong story and writing, fabulous animation, and epic soundtrack.

I give Akira: The Movie 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Trollhunters Part 1 Review by Eugene Alejandro

In Memory of Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)

Before I start my review of Trollhunters Part 1, I really want to clarify that I have not read the show is adapted from. So this review for Trollhunters Part 1 will only be me reviewing it as just a show. I also want to mention that Trollhunters Part 1 is a Netflix Original Show, so the only way you can watch it is by subscribing to Netflix. With all that said, on to the review.

Trollhunters Part 1 is an animated series from Dreamworks, and is created by Guillermo del Toro. The plot is about a young boy named Jim (voiced by Anton Yelchin) who is chosen to be the very first human “Trollhunter” a task that has protect good Trolls against evil Trolls. There is much more to the story than what I just said, but I don’t wanna say it because that would just be me spoiling the entire show (which is that I don’t want to do).

For a show that is 26 episodes long, it mangages to work very well with that pace thanks to the wonderful and clever writing it has. When it has be serious, it works. When it’s trying to be light-hearted in some moments, it works as well. Top it all off with a cast of characters that are very well-written, and well-developed.

The animation is really spectacular and solid, and surprisingly looks a little bit theatrical (must be because a lot of money was put into the animation). The animation regarding the character’s movements is also very well done and helps the characters look alive. The backgrounds are also great to look at.

The voice acting in Trollhunters Part 1 is very good and it helps the characters feel very alive. Anton Yelchin also did a very good job in voicing a 15-16 year old male character as he sounds very confincing as a character of those ages. The rest of the voice actors also do well with their performances.

I WILL NOT spoil how the entire show ends, but let me just say it the ending really does demand that Part 2 get made already.

As a show, Trollhunters Part 1 succeeds in being both entertaining for children and adults, and I easily recommend it to anyone who is currently subscribed to Netflix.

I give Trollhunters Part 1 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.