Friday, August 30, 2013

The World's End

This summer, we endured a seemingly endless barrage of mediocrity, disappointments, and worse at the movies, including but certainly not limited to...

However, little did we know that there was light at the end of the tunnel, just waiting for us at the end of our cinematic barhop:

And after finally sitting through something that was more than merely "okay", something truly worthwhile to close out the summer on a high note, well, afterwards, words such as "mediocre" or "disappointing" had long been left behind. No, in the end, there was only one word that came to mind, which our theater came together to raise our glasses and proudly chant in unison:

Oh yes! Drink up, guys, this one's on me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower

And now we're finally on the last Naruto movie I have to review, The Lost Tower. Upon my initial viewing a couple years ago, I not only hated this thing, but I thought it was hands down the worst Naruto movie to date. However, my most recent viewing wasn't nearly as hostile, though while I still wouldn't call this movie good, it's mainly just sorta mundane.

This one's a time travel story, where Naruto gets transported back in time and happens to meet his father, Minato. See, where the selling point of Bonds was the reunion between Naruto and Sasuke, the sole selling point of this movie was the inclusion of Minato, but that's not the only thing this movie shares in common with Bonds. The structure is also similar, with half of this thing acting out as one long, ever evolving battle against the main villain, a puppet master who keeps transforming into bigger and stronger robot-like puppet bodies. Unlike the Dragon Ball feel of Bonds, though, this fight feels more like watching someone playing against the final boss of a video game or something, and even has the characters uncovering the enemy's weak spot for massive damage and all that.

Other than the big boss fight, Naruto joins the mission to protect the queen and save the people of the ruined nation and whatnot, and we also see the bond forming between father and son, as the two gradually come to realize just who one another is to each other. And, yeah, there's really nothing all that spectacular here. The action's pretty standard stuff, what little story that's here is very basic, and it all ends with everyone's minds being wiped anyways, so in the end, this is a pretty pointless movie. And equally as pointless was the inclusion of a younger Kakashi, who really doesn't contribute a damn thing outside of merely existing. And that's kinda the problem with this movie as a whole, it's not terrible, it's just another movie that happens to exist is all.

But like I said, I didn't hate it this time around, though it's still not all that great. And the lack of quality really was my major gripe with it the first time around, since the production of this movie was the reason the anime team neglected the actual anime so badly at the time, thus resulting in the complete and total butchering of the Pain arc in the anime, which really is still an unforgivable crime. But in any event, what's done is done, and really, there's not much else to say about this movie.

So there you have it then. And since I have now revisited all of the Naruto movies, I suppose I could go ahead and rank them now. So, in order from best to worst, I think they'd probably go something like this:

Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow
Road to Ninja
The Will of Fire
Blood Prison
Legend of the Stone of Gelel
Naruto Shippuden the Movie
Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom
The Lost Tower

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire

An old shinobi from the Leaf is collecting kekkei genkai users in order to create the perfect body for himself and initiate the Fourth Great Shinobi War, and the last ninja he's targeted is Kakashi and his sharingan. Kakashi has decided to sacrifice himself for the sake of the village, but Naruto, Sakura, and Sai disobey orders and make chase to save him, while Shikamaru leads the remainder of the Konoha 11 as they attempt to halt Naruto's pursuits. Everyone gets their chance to shine in The Will of Fire, which truly does feel like one of the more honest and faithful adaptations to Kishimoto's story.

In some respects, having so many characters showcased feels like it shouldn't work, especially within the confines of a 90 minute movie. Yet, they really do balance things out and give most everyone their fair share of screen time to really show their stuff. And it's not only the Leaf ninjas, they even include the Sand shinobi here, and we get to see a surprisingly awesome rematch between Naruto and Gaara. In fact, all of the fight scenes in this movie are really creative and filled with clever moments, but of all the characters showcased, no one comes out of this thing looking better than Tenten. Seriously, she's a freaking beast here! But yeah, probably the most neglected character in the main series has the most impressive feats in this movie, and as I mentioned in my Bonds review, that's one of the things that actually make me really appreciate the anime sometimes.

But not only do the characters get a chance to show their stuff, but their actual portrayals are pretty much on par with their canon selves as well. There's no overly and obnoxiously goofy Naruto to be seen here. And even with his added screen time, they didn't go overboard making Shikamaru arrogantly smart, like they sometimes do in the anime.

Another cool fact is that, of the shinobi that our main villain has already collected, three of the character designs were actually conjured up by Kishimoto himself, and were used as characters that he revived during the canon Fourth Shinobi War (though the abilities they posses in canon are completely different from the movie's portrayal). So that's pretty neat, and like Road to Ninja, the fact that Kishimoto was actually somewhat involved with at least some of the production of this particular movie probably plays a big role in just how solid it turned out in the end.

However, it's not all perfect, though what I'm about to cover really is pretty nitpicky. But there are some continuity errors that can get annoying, where characters will be wearing cloaks in one scene, only for them to disappear and reappear seemingly at will from scene to scene. And the movie ends with a really lame and forced gay joke that just comes out of nowhere and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But honestly, outside of that, there's really not much to rag about against this movie.

The story is well written, the characters are well handled and well balanced, and the action is top notch stuff. And while this movie really does drive home its themes, unlike previous efforts, they manage to avoid a lot of the cheese in doing so this time around. This movie really is one of the more solid ones, and definitely something that fans of the series will be able to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Character Profile: Colonel Bullet

Colonel Bullet is the commanding officer of Camp Leatherneck, and oversees the operations of the military brig known as The Web. And after the recent mishaps at The Web as a result of the Ninja Kat and her hamster friends, Bullet has been called to stand before the High Council and answer for these blunders and more.

Though he likes to put on a proper and authoritative face, behind the scenes, Bullet is a scrambled mess of a dog. Constantly anxious and in a state of frantic worry, it's no wonder that he appears to be losing control over his own command. But despite any setbacks, he still remains a skilled fighter, and has earned his rank through his undying loyalty to the Devil Corps. And when placed in the position to truly prove his worth, his chaotic nature will make him a near unstoppable force to reckon with.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds

Up next is the big cinematic reunion between Naruto and Sasuke. That was pretty much the entire selling point of Bonds, and though Sasuke's actually absent for most of the movie up until the end, the rest of this one actually holds up pretty well enough on its own nonetheless.

Konoha has been attacked by ninjas from the Land of Sky, and by this point, I'm seriously wondering why everyone doesn't just up and leave the village to go live somewhere else that doesn't come under attack so often. But anyways, after the attack, Shikamaru leads a four man squad including Kakashi, Shino, and Sai to track down the ninjas and form a counterattack, while Naruto, Sakura, and Hinata escort a helpful doctor and his young apprentice to provide aid back in their own nearby village. But things soon take a turn for the worse, and it's up to Naruto with the unlikely aid of Sasuke to save the day once more.

In many respects, this movie plays out much more like a Dragon Ball movie than a Naruto one, with the main villain's appearance and powers more resembling a character from that universe as well. And once the big final battle begins at about the halfway point, the remainder of the film rarely cuts away from it, as our characters go through various powerups and transformations over the course of the fight. And the first time I saw this movie, this aspect really turned me off. However, the more times I revisit this movie, the more I actually come to appreciate it as one of the stronger entries in the series.

Like many of these movies, this one also can get pretty cheesy at times with some of Naruto's preachiness. Yet, unlike the others, this one appears to be aware of its cheese, and even includes a line from Naruto where he gives forewarning that what he's about to say may come off as pretty cheesy. So it's hard to fault this particular one for that, but yeah, some of the lines here are a little cringe-inducing as they really try and drive home the themes concerning the bonds between a master and apprentice.

I also noticed that they really tended to pretty Naruto up quite a bit on a number of occasions, giving him somewhat feminine facial features at times, particularly around the eyes. That, in addition to the more female centric cast in comparison to the other movies, does make me vaguely curious if the writers didn't have a different type of bond in mind as well for this film. Surely they weren't trying to doll Naruto up for his big reunion with his long lost lover, Sasuke, were they? (lol)

Like the second movie, this one recycles the idea of portraying the main villain as a kind and gentle soul at first, though to be fair, the twist reveal is actually a little more surprising this time around. And in addition to that, there are many other ideas that would be recycled in later movies, such as half the film being one big continuous fight, or certain characters' genders being pointlessly in question for a portion of the movie. But hey, this lack of originality has long come to be expected from the guys who write Naruto filler, and these aspects don't necessarily detract from this particular movie itself.

But while that might be a bad habit for the filler writers, something they're actually pretty good at is showcasing some of the side characters that have a tendency to be neglected in the main series. In this instance, as mentioned, they include a side plot including several side characters, in which Sai and especially Shino really get a chance to shine. In contrast to the previous movie I reviewed, here its clear that the writers for this particular film actually do have a clear grasp on these characters, and actually treat many of them with even more respect than the original author himself. So that's something that this movie definitely gets right, and even though Sasuke's not in this thing a whole lot, I still felt like his inclusion was handled respectably enough, and I actually liked that they kept his reunion with Naruto relatively brief.

So all in all, this is an interesting movie. I hated it the first time I watched it, yet, every time since, I've grown to like it more and more, to the point that it's probably one of my favorites in the series. It's cheesy, but it doesn't shy away from that fact, and even so, it's not nearly as unbearable as some of the other movies can get. The characters are handled well, and the animation is really nice and fluid, though the actual art is a bit of a miss at times. But this thing ends on a really calm yet powerful note that still manages to get to me, and brings this movie to a nice closure. I'm not sure if I could safely say that I'd recommend this one to non-fans, but for fans of the series, this movie is a must watch. And if you don't like it the first time around, see if a second watch won't sway your views.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Naruto Shippuden the Movie

The first Shippuden movie is also the only movie in the series that lacks a proper subtitle. It's a flawed movie, and most of the duration is chock full of moments that one would only find in the very worst of filler episodes. However, despite a rocky start, this thing does pull itself around for quite a powerful conclusion, so it's not all bad.

The story here is that an ancient evil has returned with plans to take over the world, but his first order of business is to eliminate a priestess who is capable of putting a stop to his plans. Naruto and Sakura team up with Neji and Lee this time around in order to protect the priestess from her onslaught of pursuers, and upon meeting, we learn that the priestess possesses the power to see how the people around her will die, and she foresees Naruto meeting his demise over the course of this very mission.

This movie's biggest issue lies with the way it handles several of the main characters. This is a prime example of just how out of touch the writers are with some of these well established characters, and how they've failed to see the natural progression of their development within the main series. For instance, Naruto is acting far dumber and goofier than he should be. He's closer to his earlier part 1 persona than anything else, and you'd really never know just how much the character's matured over the timeskip, at least until they suddenly decide to shift his character in that direction near the end. But by that point, it's too little too late.

But bad as their handling of Naruto was, by far the worst offender is Neji. He's back to acting like his old arrogant self, belittling and disrespecting Naruto at almost any given chance. This completely disregards that Neji hasn't acted this way since back when Naruto defeated him during the chunin exams. After that point, Neji had a change of heart, and has only the utmost of respect for Naruto, constantly singing his praises and even looking up to him. However, whoever wrote this movie clearly couldn't grasp that particular development of Neji's and instead decided to go back to making him a disrespectful little asshole, which is completely disrespectful to the source material.

So those are the major problems with this thing, and the fact that they're a constant presence throughout the majority of this movie makes them all the harder to forgive. But that aside, the rest of this thing is actually pretty decent. The priestess is an especially well handled character, I thought. I loved her design, and her development she goes though has a much more natural progression than we usually get. There's no sudden conversion or anything, we merely learn bits and pieces about her hard upbringing that show us how she came to be the spoiled brat that she portrays herself as being, though really, deep inside is a girl who's hurting, not only from how she's been treated, but from her own actions. She's a surprisingly deep character for a movie such as this, but you really do grow to know and care about her over the course of this thing.

The fighting scenes are serviceable enough, and the filler villains aren't too unfavorable. And this is also the first movie where they really try to shoe-horn in as many characters as they can, though it didn't get too out of hand this time around. But overall, despite this movie's flaws, it really does take a turn for the better near the end, with beautiful visuals and touching moments that really lift things up. So it ends on a really high note, and even includes one of the funnier after credits sequences that implies Naruto maybe getting a little action with the priestess, which was pretty humorous. If only the opening acts coulda been nearly as strong, then this really coulda been a pretty damn good flick. But on the contrary, had it not picked up so much in the end, then this movie coulda been truly terrible, so at least as a whole, it's not bad, and is still generally entertaining.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Butler - A Mad Lib Review

So I caught the new movie The Butler this weekend, and while it wasn't terrible, it was far from something I'd consider good, and it basically all comes down to its structure, or lack thereof. Basically, it's the story of the life of Cecil Gaines, inspired by the real life account of Eugene Allen, his successes, as well as his not so successful moments, and it all comes around to a nice happy ending where everything works out just fine in the end. And that's all good and all, but where the potential was there for the truly powerful movie that they were going for, the movie ultimately flounders with its lack of any real focus, and its obnoxiously forced message.

This movie suffers from the same issues as a lot of biopics, where they essentially just want to cram in as much stuff as they possibly can into the movie. They want to tell a little bit about every individual aspect of this man's life, which I can understand, but in doing so, the movie format is so limiting that we ultimately don't get to spend nearly enough time on each of these moments for them to really leave much of an impact in the end.

In comparison, the reason a similar movie like The Help works is because rather than trying to fit in a little bit about every detail of the main character's life, they instead choose to focus on a very specific aspect of their life. And in doing so, this allows for the audience to really spend time growing with and connecting to the characters on screen, and caring about their actions. The Help actually told us a compelling story, and did a far better job at accomplishing what this movie set out and ultimately failed to do. But in contrast, this movie is merely content with showing us a series of events over the course of years, which in the end amount to little more than table scraps.

And I'm not saying that a movie such as this can't be done well. I'm almost certain it can, even if it wasn't the case this particular time. But that's not to say that this was a bad movie all around. While sure, there are many forced moments throughout, and the movie tries way too hard at times, there are still a few bright spots sprinkled throughout the running time. The acting is actually pretty damn solid for the most part. And Forest Whitaker gives a fairly convincing performance as the title character, even if he does go a bit overboard at times, though I'll place the blame for that on the direction from Lee Daniels.

But yeah, there's really not much else to say about this movie. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good, it just was. If it had taken a stronger, more direct approach, then it very well could have been something great. But while the acting might be solid throughout, the poor script and unfocused approach make for a flat experience that tries way too hard at forcing its agenda down your throat.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jobs - A Mad Lib Review

So I caught the new movie Jobs this weekend, and while it wasn't terrible, it was far from something I'd consider good, and it basically all comes down to its structure, or lack thereof. Basically, it's the story of the life of Steve Jobs, his successes, as well as his not so successful moments, and it all comes around to a nice happy ending where everything works out just fine in the end. And that's all good and all, but where the potential was there for the truly powerful movie that they were going for, the movie ultimately flounders with its lack of any real focus, and its obnoxiously forced message.

This movie suffers from the same issues as a lot of biopics, where they essentially just want to cram in as much stuff as they possibly can into the movie. They want to tell a little bit about every individual aspect of this man's life, which I can understand, but in doing so, the movie format is so limiting that we ultimately don't get to spend nearly enough time on each of these moments for them to really leave much of an impact in the end.

In comparison, the reason a similar movie like The Social Network works is because rather than trying to fit in a little bit about every detail of the main character's life, they instead choose to focus on a very specific aspect of their life. And in doing so, this allows for the audience to really spend time growing with and connecting to the characters on screen, and caring about their actions. The Social Network actually told us a compelling story, and did a far better job at accomplishing what this movie set out and ultimately failed to do. But in contrast, this movie is merely content with showing us a series of events over the course of years, which in the end amount to little more than table scraps.

And I'm not saying that a movie such as this can't be done well. I'm almost certain it can, even if it wasn't the case this particular time. But that's not to say that this was a bad movie all around. While sure, there are many forced moments throughout, and the movie tries way too hard at times, there are still a few bright spots sprinkled throughout the running time. The acting is actually pretty damn solid for the most part. And Ashton Kutcher gives a fairly convincing performance as the title character, even if he does go a bit overboard at times, though I'll place the blame for that on the direction from Joshua Michael Stern.

But yeah, there's really not much else to say about this movie. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good, it just was. If it had taken a stronger, more direct approach, then it very well could have been something great. But while the acting might be solid throughout, the poor script and unfocused approach make for a flat experience that tries way too hard at forcing its message down your throat.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Character Profile: The Elder Ham

Huck is the Elder Ham, the leader of the hamster village. He's is a kind old hamster, and he has witnessed many things in his long life, including many of which his own elders would have preferred that he hadn't. And as such, he maintains a certain stubbornness for the "old ways". Though as their situation continues to worsen, he, too, must learn to adapt and let go of old habits.

When their village was attacked by the Devil Corps, he helped as many hamsters as he could in escaping the devastation. And now, hunkered down with his rag tag team of hamsters, he has played a crucial part in organizing a retaliation against the Devil Corps, starting by tracking down the Ninja Kat to aid them in this secret war.

Monday, August 19, 2013

(500) Days of Summer

2013 has been a shitty year for movies. Now, there was a part of me that was wondering if I was just becoming more and more cynical of films, or if the new movies releasing as of late really were just that bad. But after watching and being completely blown away by (500) Days of Summer for the first time this past weekend, I can safely assure you that it's not me. Movies these days have just truly been mediocre almost all around, and it took me going back and stumbling upon a tremendous little gem like this for me to see that.

I honestly don't know why it took me so long to get around to this movie. I've heard good things about it over the years, but my god, this beautiful, touching film is an absolute work of art. This movie had its way with my emotions like nothing else. One moment might wrench right at my heart, only for something to happen seemingly out of nowhere that'd leave me in hysterics. In some ways I suppose you could call this movie a romantic comedy, though I honestly don't believe that that description even begins to do this movie even the slightest bit of justice. It's both a drama and a comedy, so well balanced and perfectly pieced together to tell a tale of the despairs of love that is equal parts adorable and depressing. This movie is just so full of genuine heart and soul, and rings so true on so many levels.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in what I now believe to be his best performance to date, we join him as he meets the love his life, a girl named Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel, and we experience first hand the ups and downs of their complex relationship. The two have tremendous chemistry together, and watching their relationship gradually manifest is an absolute joy to behold. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say that these two are just adorable together. And seeing JGL dancing down the street as a musical seemingly comes to life in his head was a thing of sheer beauty, and the immediate contrast as we jump ahead into his depressive state once their relationship goes sour is just the kind of touch that this movie nails down so perfectly.

The writing and editing is top notch, and in addition to our stars, the supporting cast also does a wonderful job bringing this movie to life. It was pretty cool to watch this and see people like Clark Gregg and Chloe Moretz pop up. But really, I just can't stress enough just how good JGL is in this thing. This is a man madly, obsessively in love, and he absolutely sells the hell out of this role, and believe me, he couldn't possibly have given a more honest and true to life performance if he wanted to. I don't know how he got overlooked for an Oscar nod for this performance, and, looking back, this whole movie pretty much got a big ol' snub, which is really kinda baffling, considering some of the movies that somehow snuck away with nominations the year this came out.

But I fell absolutely in love with this thing. From start to finish, this movie was truly something remarkable. Director Marc Webb spun us quite the web of love and heartache, and brought to us a story that'll stir your emotions to their very core. And it also served to remind me that I can still become truly invested in a movie, during a year where each new mundane release has been leaving me more and more concerned that I was just becoming a cynical ass. But if you haven't seen this one yet, well, here's one more person asking you to please do yourself a favor and witness the magic that is (500) Days of Summer for yourself. It's just so good!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Get Started Writing

Anytime I've done one of my book signing events or conventions, one of the questions I get asked the most, usually from aspiring writers, is how I managed to really get started with writing myself. Well, the easy response is to tell 'em to just do it, but I know that that can be much easier said than done. And besides, it took a little more than to "just do it" for me to get going with it myself. I've always had stories in mind that I wanted to write down, but just never quite got around to it for whatever reason. I was lacking a certain motivation. But what finally got me to really buckle down and take this whole writing thing seriously was a little thing known as NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an international event during the month of November in which writers all over take the personal challenge to write out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I was instantly intrigued when I first heard about this, and decided to use this challenge as my excuse to finally sit down and write out one of those stories I've had floating around in my head for so long. I learned a lot about writing that first November, but more than anything, I learned that writing was hard. That first "novel" I wrote up was complete and total garbage. And yet, I didn't regret the experience, because, in taking the challenge, I learned so much more about the art of writing than anything I've ever read in any "how to" book.

In the years that followed, I applied what I had learned in order to prepare for the next year's events. And, after three years of participating in NaNoWriMo and becoming more involved with the local writing community, one of the things I learned was that the NaNoWriMo style of "get it all down now and go back to fix it all later" just does not work for me at all. In fact, that's one of the most important things about writing that I've learned, is that each and every single writer is different. What works for one person might not necessarily work for somebody else. Everybody has their own different approaches, which is why I've grown increasingly wary of those same "how to" books and writing advice pieces that I alluded to before. So much of the advice out there is presented as strict rules that every writer absolutely must adhere to, when really, they should be presented merely as ideas to keep in mind and give a try, but should you find that it doesn't apply to you, then by all means, disregard that particular "rule".

However, in order to get to that point, you obviously have to start somewhere first, which is why even though the NaNoWriMo style of writing doesn't work for me personally, I still can't recommend it enough as the best possible starting point for any aspiring writer. In those 30 days of churning out word after word, you'll eventually discover your own unique approach to writing. Whether you're an under-writer like me or an over-writer like the majority, or whether you have to plan everything out beforehand or just gotta go in with an idea and see where your words take you, you'll discover all of this and more about your own personal writing abilities when you take the challenge.

I don't actually partake in NaNoWriMo anymore, preferring a much slower, more deliberate and more organized pace over the more frantic nature of November. But if it wasn't for taking the challenge that first year, all those stories I've got in my head would likely still be floating around up there, never to see the light of day. So for those of you who aspire to be a writer yourself, I'd say it's definitely worth a shot. You can find out more on the event at the official NaNoWriMo website, and nowadays there's also Camp NaNoWriMo, which is a more scaled down version of the event that takes place a couple different months out of the year, in case November's not a good time of year for you.

So that's how I got my start with this whole writing ordeal. And for you other writers out there, I'd love to hear from you and learn how you all got your start as well!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom

The last of the part 1 movies was released right in the thick of filler hell, and you can definitely tell. If Legend of the Stone of Gelel was a decent filler, then Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom is barely passable, if even that, and is one of the weakest entries in the movie series.

This one sees Lee joining Naruto, Sakura, and Kakashi on their mission, as they escort a naive prince and his spoiled brat of a son back to their home in the Land of the Moon. But once they arrive, they see that the kingdom has been overthrown, and now it's up to Naruto and the gang to reclaim the throne in the name of Fat Elvis. More so than any of the other movies, this one feels like it was made with younger children in mind. The tone of the movie is just very childish at times, and is filled with overly dramatic and awkward to sit through moments. And the spoiled kid gets converted much earlier than usual as well, at the end of the first act, and that's right around the time that the cringe-inducing moments begin to spring up left and right, as everyone is just way too overly enthusiastic over this whole "friends forever and ever" deal.

But in complete contrast to the mostly childish tone, this movie also packs quite a punch when it comes to the action. In fact, it's actually surprising just how exciting and awesome all of the fight scenes are. And it's a bit of a shame, too, because these fights definitely deserve a better and more fitting movie. But as it is, the action is pretty much the sole thing that makes this movie even worth watching.

The villains and character designs in general are actually not bad, though they decided to switch things up a bit for our main cast. Naruto and friends are all sporting new "summer attire", which I suppose is sorta neat for a bit of a change, though it does beg the question as to why they don't just wear this sort of get-up more often. You'd think that everyone would be getting pretty hot moving all around wearing those jackets like they do all the time, and I'm pretty sure the weather's not exactly cool year round in this world, but I digress.

So yeah, this one's a bit of a bust. While the action scenes are pretty cool, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they entirely make up for the rest of the film, which can be pretty hard to sit through at times. The decision to treat the audience like children and go this immature rout so late in the game, just when things are about to take a much more darker and mature tonal shift, is kind of a stumper, until you remember that this was released when the anime was pretty much at its worst quality state. So as a whole, this is one of the weaker movies in the series, and is very skippable.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Legend of the Stone of Gelel

With no new Naruto manga chapter this week, I guess I'll get my Wednesday fix by reviewing another Naruto movie! This time we're on movie 2, Legend of the Stone of Gelel. And, while it's not a terrible movie, it's a pretty significant drop in quality from the previous flick, and is a fairly generic and typical Naruto filler fair.

The story starts off as Naruto, Sakura, and Shikamaru take on a straight forward mission to retrieve a missing ferret (who Naruto humorously refers to as a cat). But what starts off as an easy enough mission soon becomes much more complicated, as they're ambushed by a group of characters straight out of a more medieval setting. Basically, a typical instance of filler artists coming up with original, uninspired character designs that don't fit in with the Naruto world, though here they at least give some explanation for the drastic clash of styles, as these new characters are from another continent across the ocean. But anyways, the villains are in search of a source of power known as Gelel, which they intend to use to "create a utopian world free from war", or so they'd like for us to believe.

There's really nothing too spectacular about this movie that stands out. Like I said, it's pretty typical stuff, with the same themes being driven home, and Naruto converting a character away from the darkness, all that good stuff. The only thing this movie does that is slightly different is the fact that these new characters come from a far distant land in the Naruto world, one with a bit of a more western style, which lends to the idea of this world being more akin to our own, in its own way.

The fight scenes are decent enough, with Gaara and Kankuro getting involved in the action as well (though the lack of Temari is curious, especially considering the anime team's particular tendency to totally ship her with Shikamaru at any given opportunity). And we also get treated to the most forced Sasuke cameo ever. I figure that since he's technically a main character, the anime team felt compelled to include Sasuke to some capacity in their movie, though thankfully this would be the only instance of this happening throughout the rest of the movie series.

But probably the most interesting aspect of the movie comes from the main villain. After he transforms into his final form, there's several characteristics that are strikingly similar to the current Obito in the manga. Things such as his tendency to refer to others as worthless trash, and the fact that he has shape shifting orbs on his back, which is an ability that Obito has only just recently acquired in the past few weeks in the manga. In fact, it's so similar that it actually makes me curious if Kishimoto wasn't possibly influenced by this movie's villain when coming up with some of these traits for his own main villain.

But anyways, other than that, there's really nothing much else to say about this movie. It's entertaining enough while it's on, and it's not as terrible or as frustrating as some of the other movies can get. But it's a far ways from being something that I could honestly recommend. It's essentially an extended filler episode, just maybe one of the more watchable ones.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Character Profile: Vini

Vini is a venus flytrap who knows how to talk, and he's got a lot to say! After a chance encounter, Velcro decides to let Vini tag along on her adventures, where he spends most of his time planted atop her shoulder and spouting out random banter, though he does from time to time prove himself to be a valuable asset, helping out in ways that other animals can't with his insight on the natural world.

While the two don't start off on quite the right foot, and his loud, outgoing, and oftentimes obnoxious antics do have a tendency to get on her nerves, Velcro and Vini grow to truly compliment one another in their contrast and form quite the unconventional pair. And one of these days when he's sounding off, he might also succeed in telling a joke that won't fall completely flat, too!

Monday, August 12, 2013


me·di·o·cre [mee-dee-oh-ker]
1. of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate: The car gets only mediocre mileage, but it's fun to drive. Synonyms: undistinguished, commonplace, pedestrian, everyday; run-of-the-mill. Antonyms: extraordinary, superior, uncommon, incomparable.
2. not satisfactory; poor; inferior: Mediocre construction makes that building dangerous. Synonyms: meager, low-quality, second-rate; so-so. Antonyms: excellent, superior.

Accurate definition courtesy of

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

So after watching the two latest Naruto movies last week, I've decided to go back and start from the beginning with the very first Naruto movie. And while this series of movies can be a bit hit or miss, it couldn't have started out on a stronger note, as Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is a fine animated feature in every regard.

Since this was Naruto's big movie debut, the writers apparently decided to include a movie aspect to the story, as we see our heroes escorting an actress on the set of a movie as they journey to the Land of Snow to film their climactic scene. However, there's more to this actress than she's letting on, as once they arrive, it's not too long before she finds herself under attack in the villains' attempts to capture her and retrieve the treasure of her royal heritage.

This is a solid movie from start to finish, and adds the perfect balance of action, drama, and comedy. That last one's a big one, too, since the writers usually tend to overdo it with making Naruto more obnoxious than he should be, but that thankfully wasn't the case this first go-around. But this one just has a really top notch quality feel to it. In fact, in many respects, this almost feels like the Naruto version of a Cowboy Bebop episode. The dark, shadowy colors and quieter dialogue moments have a very Bebop vibe to them, and even the original character designs have a bit of a Bebop look. The music might not be nearly as inspired, but the visuals and tone of the movie definitely have that high quality touch to them all around that really elevates the material.

And taking place before the Sasuke Retrieval arc, this is also the only movie to really feature Sasuke for any significant time until movie 5. But even so, neither he nor the rest of Team 7 play a huge role here. No, this one's about Naruto and the Princess, and his constant drive to motivate her not to give up on her dreams. Heh, typical Naruto, but that's part of what makes the main series so great, and this movie truly did a great job in capturing the spirit of the series.

A lot of heart and hard work went into this one, and as such, this is honestly probably the only movie in the series that really feels like a legitimate film, as opposed to merely an extended filler episode. But this one really is great, even beyond being a Naruto movie, and is almost certainly the very best movie of the lot. I'd recommend this one even to non-fans of the series, or anyone who can appreciate anime or animated movies in general. Good stuff!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines

(Originally posted May 7th, 2013 at 3 Guys 1 Movie)

So I'm sitting here thinking of a movie to review for this site when suddenly it hits me: What better movie to review for 3 Guys 1 Movie than one that is itself 1 movie split into 3 very distinct parts? And so with that, let's take a look at The Place Beyond the Pines.

This is a story about having to deal with the decisions we make, for better or worse, and how those decisions can continue to effect the lives of those around us for generations to come. And it's very interesting seeing how the stories begin to parallel each other in ways, almost as if these actions were all an inescapable fate. The movie is slickly shot with long takes and incredible performances that really ground you into their world. And while each segment might not be perfect, this is a movie that highlights the imperfections of people who are just trying to do good, so in that sense, it actually kinda works.

As I said, the movie is split into three different sections that focus on different characters. First, we start off with Ryan Gosling's story and follow along solely from his point of view until Bradley Cooper's character becomes involved, in which case we then shift over to his point of view and watch as his story plays out. We then finish things up by jumping ahead a few years for the final segment of the movie. It's an interesting way to play out the story, and I actually liked it overall for the most part, though there are moments where the film feels a bit disjointed due to this narrative format.

So first, let's start with Ryan Gosling's story. Basically, he's a motorcycle stuntman in a traveling circus who, upon returning to town, learns that an old fling of his had recently given birth to his child. Upon learning this, Gosling quits his job in order to stick around and try and provide for the kid, but it's not too long before desperation sets in and he finds himself turning to a career of bank robbery. This first segment is by far the strongest of the three, and starts this movie off on a very powerful note. And Gosling delivers the kind of performance we've come to expect from him, giving a very raw and real feel to the movie.

We're also treated to some truly awesome chase scenes during this section. We've been getting some especially good car chases in certain movies as of late, such as Drive and Jack Reacher, and the chases here definitely reach that level of quality. It's really thrilling stuff, made especially so by the clarity on display that makes you feel the rush, like you're right there in the middle of the action yourself.

The next segment focuses on Bradley Cooper, who plays a cop who finds himself straddling the legal lines as well after he becomes involved with the case against Ryan Gosling. Where I'd say that Gosling's segment had a more thrilling feel to it, Cooper's dials things down to a more somber level. Things get a lot more tense, and Cooper adds an emotional depth with his phenomenal performance. Seriously, good as he was in Silver Linings Playbook, he absolutely kills it in this role. He's just able to convey so much of his struggle to us at times without even saying a word, which really impressed the hell out of me.

We then jump ahead in time for the third and final segment, which is pretty much the result of both Gosling's and Cooper's actions in the prior two. However, this segment also happens to be the weakest of the three. It's definitely the most choppy feeling, as it changes point of view a few times before finally settling in, where as the first two segments were clearly locked onto their main stars from the get-go. And while the actors here did a good enough job in their roles, I never found myself really attaching to or caring all that much about these new characters. And the mood of this segment also has a bit of an immature feel to it in comparison, though considering the shift in focus to a much younger cast, I suppose that's appropriate. Yet, that said, while I wouldn't necessarily call this segment bad, it doesn't maintain the level of quality that had been established up to this point, and so it ends the movie on somewhat of a deflated note as a result, which is a bit of a shame.

I would say the movie's biggest issue, though, would have to be its running time. At about two and a half hours in length, this is a long movie, and it's one where you definitely feel it. And the fact that each subsequent segment of the movie decreases in quality just that much from the one preceding it certainly doesn't help matters, either. And yet, despite its long length, the performances here are all so enthralling that they keep you engaged all throughout, and at no point in time does the movie ever actually feel boring.

But, as I said before, the imperfections almost work in this movie's favor, given the themes involved. Sure, it could have definitely been tightened up, but even as is, despite its inconsistent quality and overly long length, this is still a really good movie worth checking out, highlighted by some seriously great performances. So don't make the mistake of missing out on this flick, 'cause who knows whose life that'll effect as a result!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen

I originally wrote this a little over a month ago in response to a number of people claiming that, of this year's two White House destruction movies, not only was Olympus Has Fallen the better movie, but that it was the more believable one at that. However, I held off on posting this rebuttal at the time since I figured that nobody really gave a crap. But then, in the past week, a few more people have popped up making similar claims again, so now seems about as appropriate a time as any to go ahead and post my little rant, so here goes.

So I keep seeing reactions comparing White House Down to Olympus Has Fallen where people are claiming the latter to be the more believable movie, which I find to be unbelievable. As I mentioned in my White House Down review, neither movie exactly has the most believable of premises, but of the two, White House Down's is far easier to buy and requires nowhere near as much suspension of disbelief as that other movie. Now, I'm about to go into some major spoiler territory on both of these movies, so watch out for that as I get into why White House Down had a far more believable takeover than Olympus Has Fallen.

So both movies deal with the premise of the White House being overtaken, right? However, the way in which those takeovers go down is pretty different in both movies. Olympus Has Fallen has an international takeover, while White House Down is an inside job. Also, another big difference is that, unlike the local terrorists in White House Down, Olympus Has Fallen's international terrorists' poorly planned attack relied heavily on characters doing very specific things that they wouldn't normally do. Meanwhile, the guys on the inside in White House Down required no such thing, meaning that if they failed, it was ultimately on them.

The main bad guy's plot to take over the White House in Olympus Has Fallen relies pretty much entirely on the President going against protocol in order to allow his international guests to stay locked up in his bunker alongside him. And not only that, but it also relied on the President's Secret Service actually allowing for such a break in protocol to take place under these particular circumstances. Now, I don't know whether or not this is actual protocol, but the film establishes these rules to us, and then also establishes that the President and his staff have absolutely no regard for these protocols whatsoever. And if these two completely unplannable and convenient lapses in judgement never took place, then the entire hostage aspect of the terrorists' plan is instantly nullified. So, literally, the only reason their big plans even began to get underway was because the President and his staff proved themselves to be entirely incompetent at their jobs. I must say, that is some brilliant planning, guys.

And the word incompetent doesn't even begin to truly describe how pathetic his Secret Service was when it took to dealing with the battle on the White House lawn. They literally ran into bullets. No attempt was ever made by these highly trained professionals to take cover, they just kept piling on out right into open fire. Um, yeah, these guys shoulda been fired a long time ago. It's like they were going out of their way trying their damnedest to die.

And then there's the John McClane of the bunch, played by Gerard Butler, the sole survivor who makes his way through the White House and single-handedly takes out the terrorist threat. Except, he's formerly Secret Service, and hasn't been involved in about a year or so. And yet, despite his being relieved of his duties so long ago, he still just happens to know all the codes to get into every hidden vault in the building in order to acquire the tools that help him along the way. Now, I'm not saying that this is the case, but I would like to believe that such codes would get changed after such changes in staff, for obvious reasons, but hey, maybe I'm wrong there. And if I am, then by all means, ignore this point!

But amongst all of the idiocy, what I couldn't take the most was how the terrorists actually succeeded in fulfilling their endgame. The idea was that the President and two other high ranking officials have codes that are all needed in order to destroy all of America's nukes in their silos, thus leaving the country a wasteland. All three codes are needed to pull off the plan, and so the terrorists go to work, torturing each of them for the codes. At first, the two officials refuse profusely. However, our nation's leader orders both of them to give up their codes, adding that they needn't worry, because there's no way that they'll get his.

Cut to the end, where they not only succeed in getting the President's last code, but they somehow manage to do so without the President suffering so much as a scratch or a bruise. So there you have it, folks. The President may have saved his own ass, as well as those two government officials, but guess what? The whole country's about to be fucked anyways, so what the hell was the point? The portrayal of the President was that of a selfish, worthless, cowardly piece of trash, and yet the movie still tries to make him a likeable character who we should get behind anyways. Bullshit.

I've heard some people claim that the idea of the White House being taken over as portrayed in Olympus Has Fallen to be a scary thought. Yet, to me, the scariest aspects of the movie all came down not to the terrorists' actions, but rather, to the actions taken by the President in response. And after this mess, after literally condemning the country in which he has sworn to do anything within his power to protect, his ass deserves to rot in a fucking prison cell for the rest of his days. If this is the kind of President that Harvey Dent was gonna make, then it's just as well that his two-faced ass turned to villainy before he ever made it to office.

"You want those codes that determine the entire fate of the United States of America? Let's flip on it!"

Meanwhile, on the precise opposite end of the spectrum, when actually put to the test to negotiate with the terrorists over the life of a little girl in White House Down, that movie's President actually does his fucking job and calmly explains to the understanding girl that the needs of the country as a whole are at stake, and he can't initiate the strike that would leave the country in ruins just to save her life. And I was thrilled by this decision from the movie. In that one swift stroke, President Foxx proved himself a far more viable movie President than President Dent ever was.

And as for the takeover itself, by making it an inside job, White House Down also avoids needing to tackle any such convolutions or conveniences that may or may not come their way by having it run by people already completely in the know. And the Secret Service being taken out is also more believable as well due to the resulting confusion that this causes.

So yeah, while these aren't even the only comparable aspects that show White House Down to be the more believable movie of the two, they're the ones that stood out the most to me. In fact, that only aspect that Olympus Has Fallen has over White House Down is the fact that an international attack itself does seem like a more believable scenario, if not necessarily as portrayed in this movie at least. But needless to say, I'm a bit baffled by the reactions that Olympus Has Fallen is somehow better than White House Down, and wonder just how much people actually remember of that forgettable movie. White House Down is so much simpler, and makes so much more sense, all the while making our own guys look far less incompetent than they're portrayed to be in Olympus Has Fallen. Not to mention that it's a more fun and charming movie that's far more aware of its ridiculous concept, and with much more likeable characters that I could actually get behind, but hey, that's just how I see it!

And yes, it may seem like I'm putting way too much thought into these two movies that mostly ask of us not to think about them too much. But where as I had no problem accepting the situations as they played out in White House Down, the huge, gaping flaws in Olympus Has Fallen were a constant nag that never escaped me throughout the duration of the movie, to the point where they really couldn't be ignored.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Velcro: The Green Lion - Coming Soon

In order to fight fire with fire in the continued war with the Devil Corps, Velcro heads off for the village of Redfield in search of the rogue Magician, Shiki, from whom she intends to learn the ways of Magic. However, the Ninja Kat's infamous reputation follows her, and as such, the only thing she finds in Redfield is banishment.

But as Velcro departs to hone her skills, Redfield comes under attack, and their leader, the Elder Chow, goes missing. And in the resulting confusion, the citizens of Redfield reluctantly find themselves having to place their faith in Velcro to uncover the truth behind their predicament.

Picking up right where The Ninja Kat left off, Velcro: The Green Lion continues the action packed tale that takes our hero into new lands within the Country of Widows, uncovering new secrets around every corner. In these uncertain times as the world grows more aware of the Devil Corps' evil scheme, the lines begin to blur between who can be trusted. And Velcro will have to go back to her roots and confront her demons waiting at home in order to fully unleash the beast within.

Coming soon...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dog Every August Day?

So as some of you might remember, for April Fools this year I teased the possibility of doing a Dog Every Day event this August, similar to last year's popular Cat Every Day August. I even had a theme set to get things kick started, where I would have said something along the lines of, not amused by my Aprils Fools joke, the dogs of the world are coming for me, and they're not gonna stop until I'm DEAD (Dog Every August Day)! Every dog has its day, and this time it ain't no joke. Except, well, looks like the joke's on them after all.

See, while planning this month out, I realized just how little I know about dogs. What can I say? I'm just not much of a dog person, and there's no way I would've been able to improvise daily dog posts the way I was able to conjure up some of my cat blogs last year. And even concerning the Dog of the Day feature itself, when I did my post about BJ, I realized that I knew very little about his character or personality, and as such, most of the post ended up being more about me trying to take pictures of the dog rather than focusing on the dog himself. And I'm almost certain that that's how most of those posts would have ended up turning out, too, which I could imagine would grow tiresome after a while.

So yeah, sorry folks, but I'm gonna bow-wow out of this one (ow, sorry again!). Dog Every August Day's been cancelled. However, I do still intend to do a normal, gimmickless Blog Every Day August this year. Or, rather, an improvised version similar to how I did it last year, where I'll be taking the weekends off and only posting on Monday through Friday throughout the month. So stick around, and don't worry, I've got some other interesting things planned that'll hopefully make up for my lack of dog posts.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie

The other movie I caught the other night was the latest in the Naruto series, Road to Ninja. I came into this one already pissed off after having sat through the frustrating Blood Prison, and I was worried that this movie was only going to continue to fuel my rage for the evening. However, once the story really starts to kick in, this movie actually takes a nice little turn and proves to be genuinely charming, and one of the strongest entries in the movie series to date.

The story with this one is that Tobi has created a Limited Tsukuyomi, basically a smaller scale version of his Moon's Eye Plan that transports Naruto and Sakura to what's essentially a reflection of our own world. However, like looking at the reflection of the moon against a lake, there are ripples in this new world, and as such, several of the characters act in entirely different ways from how we've come to know them in the real world.

Unlike all the other movies, this one doesn't take our heroes to some filler land or invent new filler characters exclusively for the movie (aside from Sakura's parents, who technically exist, but we've never actually seen them in the manga. And if we ever do, I sure hope that Kishi doesn't stick with the god awful character designs the anime came up with for them. I mean, good god...). Instead, it chooses to explore the changes made to this new world, and let us rediscover these characters in a whole new light.

For instance, gone is the kind, shy, and frail Hinata. Here, she's open and in your face, unafraid to speak her mind, and quite frankly, she's a bit of a bitch. And this world's version of Sasuke has embraced the fact that he's got women tossing themselves at him left and right, and is quite the ladies man as a result. But in other cases, we merely see characters essentially trading characteristics with one another, such as Choji and Shikamaru, or Kakashi and Guy. It's actually pretty neat to see all the differences in this new world, and it makes for some humorous moments seeing characters act entirely differently from normal. However, there are a few cases where the changes do feel a bit forced, such as Kiba being a huge cat person, or Shino spraying bug spray everywhere (though his random as hell "I hate bugs" line was awesome!).

But the biggest changes come in the form of Sakura and Naruto. This world is said to be an illusion that provides you with whatever it is you wish. And so, in this world, Sakura no longer has her nagging parents around, as they were the ones to have died saving the village during the Kyuubi attack. And meanwhile, Naruto's parents are still alive and well, though they're not quite the brave, noble shinobi that he's come to admire. But it's really interesting to see Naruto and Sakura come to terms in their own different ways with the changes brought onto their lives in this new world, only to realize that, now that they have what they've always wanted, they miss what they already had in the real world. So it's kind of a grass is always greener on the other side type of story.

The movie also revisits the Kyuubi attack quite a bit, and in fact, this movie is probably the most cemented in canon of any of the movies to date. Which makes sense, seeing as Kishimoto actually played a big role in contributing this time around. But that's not to say that this one's perfect. Early on, Sakura was quick to get on my nerves, essentially reverting back to her more annoying part 1 self as she complained to Naruto about her parents, and even mentioned how Sasuke would understand, which is bullshit, since one of the very first chapters in the series saw Sasuke talking mad shit to Sakura for complaining about her parents. But the movies usually tend to do this part 1 reverting nonsense with Naruto, so it was interesting to see a different character fall victim to it instead this time around. Perhaps we could look at this as another case of switching characters up, though I really doubt this particular instance was intentional. And there are some other minor inconsistencies, but it's probably easier to just try and not think too much about them.

So I actually liked this one quite a bit. And it ends with quite a few really nice and satisfying twists involving the Akatsuki and the main villain. The animation was solid all around, and the story was actually really well done, even if there were a few hiccups here or there. But it's nothing that'll frustrate fans like what we got from Blood Prison at least, and everything comes together in a nice, touching package. If you're a fan, definitely check this out if you get a chance.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Naruto the Movie: Blood Prison

So last night I decided to catch up on the two latest Naruto movies that I hadn't seen yet, Blood Prison and Road to Ninja. And while Road to Ninja is the first Naruto movie where Naruto writer, Kishimoto, was heavily involved in, the opposite couldn't be further from the truth with Blood Prison. It was clearly written by someone who's never seen a full episode of the anime or read a single chapter of the manga, and has an only limited idea of the story based on watching a handful of key scenes or looking at a sporadic choice of key panels in the manga. This movie doesn't just contradict canon, it flat out breaks several of the rules of how this world works that have been well established in the story. So, as an avid fan of the series, it was a frustrating experience to sit through. Though that's not to say that it's poorly written in general, as, taken on its own merits and removed from the series, it's actually a pretty decent movie.

The story is basically that Naruto's been framed for murder, including the attempted murder of the Raikage, and has been sentenced to imprisonment as punishment. Once he's imprisoned, we learn more of the backstory revolving around an ancient box that requires a sacrifice in order to be utilized to grant its wielder power, and the darkness that lies within it. I actually kinda liked how this one took Naruto away from the rest of the usual cast and placed him in this solitary situation, as he attempts to break out of prison and clear his name. In that sense, it was a nice change of pace, and Naruto's actual character was handled fairly respectably enough, especially compared to how overly goofy and idiotic the anime writers tend to usually make him in non-canon material.

Where the issues come is in how many of the events that transpire just flat out don't make any sense, and really show just how unknowledgeable with the material the writers are. For instance, they clearly saw Naruto wearing that bad ass red cloak of his when he debuted Sage Mode in his fight against Pain, so they figured that, hey, that cloak must be a side effect of entering Sage Mode, right? Because literally every time Naruto enters Sage Mode, the cloak will just magically appear on him in a puff of smoke. And, well, that's not how it works. Sure, Naruto looked awesome in that cloak in the series, but there was a reason behind him wearing it during his fight beyond just looking cool, and he originally wore it along with a big ass scroll, which he carried so as to be able to summon his clones to the battlefield (another inconsistency, as Naruto is just magically able to summon his clones to his side as well in this movie, an ability that he doesn't posses in canon, and is even explained in detail within the context of the series in which this idea was taken from). So the cloak actually serves a purpose in the series. But here? They gave him the cloak because someone thought it looked cool, and clearly also thought that it was surely a part of his transformation, which is just silly.

They also mixed up the way in which one of his signature finishing moves, the Rasenshuriken, is supposed to work in execution. His completed version of the move works in a way where it completely decimates its target, literally wiping them out of existence on a cellular level. However, the writers confused this with the earlier, incomplete version which Naruto used against Kakuzu in the series, which merely breaks down the cells in its victim without actually erasing the victim out of existence. Now, for someone who's only vaguely familiar with the material, this is an easy enough mistake to make. However, for someone writing an official movie based on this series, it's a sloppy and inexcusable mistake that shows a complete lack of care for the source material. And even with getting the moves mixed up, they didn't even fully comprehend how the move they accidentally used actually works, as the characters who get hit by the it are still able to get up and move around after the fact, which should be flat out impossible.

Considering that they messed up so many things with the main character himself, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that they botched up elements pertaining to the history of the world itself as well (such as the Grass Village apparently existing before the village system was ever even invented). So there's those kinds of inconsistencies all throughout this thing, including several other examples that I won't bore you with, but that'll frustrate fans of the series to no end while they're watching. And even as far as fitting the movie into continuity with the rest of the series, it technically takes place before the war, yet Naruto already knows Bee, which is impossible. Now, this isn't that big a deal, however, up to this point, they've actually done a decent job of fitting the movies in with the continuity of the ongoing series, especially compared to some other anime movies, so to see them really start to fumble this late in the game is just a bit of a shame.

However, all that said, if I were to watch this movie as a non-fan of the series, I'd actually have to say it's a pretty decent flick. And it's dark as hell, too. The designs of the new characters actually aren't that out of place within the Naruto world, and are pretty well written at that, with quite a bit of depth to a lot of them. And since the movie removes all the side cast of the main series, it also gives them a chance to really flesh these characters out and allow them a chance to grow on us. And some of the twists this movie takes are actually pretty surprising, too.

As far as the animation goes, this was pretty solid stuff for the most part. Silliness with the magic cloak aside, the Sage Mode battles were pretty entertaining. And I was actually shocked at the sheer amount of gore on display in this thing. I mean, the main series does have its bloody moments from time to time, but good god, this was rated R levels of gore spraying around. The movie more than earns its title of Blood Prison, that much is for certain, and I'm actually kinda surprised they got away with as much, considering that this series is typically aimed at a younger audience, but I'm not complaining!

So overall, this one's hard for me to rate. On the one hand, this is a movie that ignores the established rules and canon and kinda just does its own thing, based purely on inspiration after seeing select out-of-context scenes and images from the series. So in that sense, it's frustrating as hell to watch as a fan, and I found myself yelling at the screen on numerous occasions. However, as mentioned, taking all of these elements and removing them from the series, looking at this movie purely as a stand-alone, it's actually pretty damn solid all around. So take that however you will, I guess, but if you can somehow manage to ignore all of this movie's inconsistencies or, better yet, you're not a fan of the series already, you'll be in for a bloody good time with this thing. Otherwise, you're probably better off watching something else.