Captain Marvel Film Review (2019)

Note: Ignore the hate, this film is a solid entry into the MCU. This review is Spoiler-Free.

I haven’t paid attention to the hate, but from what a friend has told me there’s this general consensus from some people that the film tries to push a political agenda. Going into the film with two other friends, this was his expectation and after watching the film, both of us were confused. The origin story was a fairly solid story arc that was not really different from other story arcs. There was no plot holes or confusing portions either. The Captain Marvel film is a great addition to the MCU and definitely worth watching.

The entire cast does an amazing performance throughout the film. There is no portion that seems exaggerated or unbelievable. And unlike usual Marvel film trends, this film does humor in a balanced and hilarious way with intense action scenes. When scenes are emotional and seem to be threatening the safety of the cast, there’s no forced humor or gaffes that ruin the intense moment. Brie Larson makes a solid performance throughout the film and she does great with what the writing staff gave her. The only really negative portion for me was that we didn’t really get more of Captain Marvel’s personality as either her superhero self or as Carol Denvers. This is not Brie Larson’s fault, but rather the lack of material given to express herself. In fact, all of the side characters felt great and seem to radiate emotion from each scene, but Carol Denvers, despite being the main character, doesn’t seem to get this as much. There’s just this vague “she’s strong” motif but nothing else. This is not to say she is a poor character or that she has no motives or emotions. It just seems like the writing staff didn’t express a definitive personality for her character and Brie Larson was picking up their slack by being as evocative, witty, and emotionally impactful as possible with the vague character that she was given.

Some argue she’s overpowered, but Marvel has had this issue with Thor and even Ironman too. I suspect we’ll see Captain Marvel’s weakness when she faces Thanos in Avengers: Engdame.

Overall, the film gets a 8.5/10 from me. Definitely check it out, if you haven’t already.

Red Line (2009) Review

Red Line gives the full experience of a rush with its intense racing moments and puts you at the edge of your seat throughout it all. The Yellow Line race and Red Line race completely take the cake with the amazing experience of this film because they keep you invested for both races. This film succeeds in delivery, characterization, worldbuilding, and the fantasy Sci-fi elements of the story. It really did blow me away. In particular, I really like the character build-up for the two main characters, JP and Sonoshee from their conversations, to their background motivations, and to their goals. The story keeps it engaging enough that I felt I was rooting for both characters during the Red Line race and felt mixed feelings about either one of them losing the Red Line race as the set-up was being shown to the viewer.

The worldbuilding for why the upcoming Red Line will be particularly dangerous compared to its previous races and the government responses felt surprisingly well-written and believable. The film stunned me with its brilliant use of using what felt like realistic politics to then offer some of the most hilarious and fast-paced action sequences from the use of such politics. It had explosive twists in the literal sense of the term within the context of the story and I felt it was done surprisingly well. Each of the background characters have their own goals and motivations so none of the actions feel contrived at all. Most importantly, there’s no stereotypical bad guy in the race so nothing within the race is meant to fit a boring narrative of fighting evil. Nothing is taken away from the utter rush of the Red Line race. I had expected some forced plot point to ruin the flow of the film, but it never happened. Instead, there was a really good and often subtle worldbuilding that offered a massive punch within the framework of the main plot. It was absolutely worth it! The film uses these serious backgrounds and build-ups for some of the most stunning and hilarious Sci-fi conflicts in an intergalactic race. This film is simply Sci-fi speed racing done completely right. The enjoyment of watching the racers go into death-defying speeds of madness are equally as pleasurable to watch alongside government military interventions sending massive armies, insane weapons, and crazy secret weapons at them and unexpectedly opening up dangerous areas that result in increasingly insane stunts and actions within the races. The danger feels real throughout it all as you do see many of the racers pummeled and some even die in shocking ways during the Red Line as you watch each racer relish in the rush of their death-defying madness with the full support of the audience.

The entire film builds up to a berserk race where it’ll be impossible to keep track of everything going on with all the racers, but that’s part of the pleasure of watching the film. The insane maneuvers to overcome each other, heart pumping extreme speeds to outdo each other through extra throttling power, attacks against each other to be in the top spot for the finish line, facing down an government’s entire military to complete the race, and the constant back and forth of car smashes and banter to create a riveting intensity as they all risk everything to win. I honestly loved the entire experience from beginning to end. And, from a simple plot with all its worldbuilding and arguably a cliche ending, I couldn’t help but love it. The build-up and payoff were done so well for the end of the film that I was stunned and happy by the ending because of how the sci-fi elements, the character development, the worldbuilding, and the heart thumping race itself intertwined so smoothly for such a satisfying ending.

 

A 10/10 score for this film from me.

Ninja Scroll (1993) Review

The film begins relatively strongly and I enjoyed watching it for the most part. The setting is full of gratuitous violence, rape scenes (in the first 9 minutes of the film, no less), and the setting itself comprises of a fantasy samurai period in a similar manner in which Western writers depict settings of magical medieval Europe seen throughout most Fantasy novels and Western films. Samurai and ninja have magical abilities that make them stronger and able to commit otherwise impossible actions. There’s no bellowing of attack names as its just two different sides using powers to kill each other.

The general plot is this Ninja named Jubei getting manipulated by a government spy to fight against a group secretly working to reinstate a fallen Clan, take down the Tokugawa Shogunate (the main government in power), and re-establish their lost glory as an empire. The enemies that Jubei faces have interesting powers and its always engaging to see him and this Ninja working on behalf of another clan, Kagore, fight against these eight different powerful fighters and their unique powers. Its full of gore and nudity, but not without a reason. Even the horrible rape scene contains an important story element that surprised me. The unorthodox ways people use their powers and how many of them, in the context of the narrative, realistically do so because of how fast a person can lose their life in combat is always engaging for the audience. This film doesn’t disappoint in mindless action and violence and the narrative behind the reasons is solid. Each of the main cast has a believable motivation.

Unfortunately, the narrative starts to fall apart by the end. Jubei, while somewhat interesting, isn’t enough to carry the narrative to keep the audience’s attention. He’s okay, but not great. Kagore, the female ninja, is the only character to have any realistic character development, show any semblance of worry or doubt about her positions in society and her ability to accomplish her tasks, and it is genuinely fascinating watching her character as she navigates through a sexist culture where she follows the orders of a Lord as per her commitment as a ninja even when this Lord blatantly has sex with a woman in front of her with no respect given to Kagore or the woman he’s openly having sex with. He doesn’t care how unnerving or inappropriate it is to attempt to have a conversation about a military attack while having sex. Kagore seems to attempt to hold a strong demeanor in a man’s world with her feeling survivor’s guilt from surviving her team getting massacred, to her self-loathing at her own abilities in comparison to her desire to prove herself, and her personal revulsion at what she has to put her body through to kill her enemies due to her unique powers.

Sadly, this narrative and rather intriguing character almost totally falls apart near the end with a nonsensical love plot and the focus being on her wanting to be treated for her femininity and not a desire for equality which completely counters the entire narrative of the beginning all the way to near the end. It’s possible the person stating these things about her is completely lying, but I didn’t get that impression. The finale centers around Jubei and some guy we only vaguely know from his past who has an insane secret ability. The ending honestly felt like a standard hollywood script compared to the relatively interesting beginning to near the end of the film. Overall, I think it is worth a watch for anyone interested in it.

8.5/10.

Royal Space Force / Wings of Honneamise (1987) Review

Note: Spoilers for the film will be below. PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM.

This film is one of the most boring wastes of time that I’ve ever had the displeasure of looking into. I checked it out upon a recommendation of interesting anime films, some of which I had already watched and held highly favorable opinions of, but this film is worthless crap.

There were some mildly interesting portions with the main character recognizing he’s part of a corrupt system, but the plot twist to his gallant actions towards a priestess that he likes and his motivation for pushing the Space Force to complete the project despite monumental hurdles is that he wanted to impress and have sex with the priestess. He acts out commercialized and scripted events in the media to bolster the popularity of the project at the behest of his higher-ups, but its heavily inferred – and arguably explicitly stated – that his motivation for all of this is to fuck the priestess that he personally knows. The public has a sense of mystery and wonder about his motivations; his pilot associates view him in awe despite thinking he’s also an idiot about important political matters. The constant training montages that are re-cut and utterly boring as most of this film is him going on spiels about his boring, disinterested views while you see shots of people working hard building a plane or a spaceship. All of this is for a disgusting shock twist when he tries to rape the priestess. The priestess understands he’s famous and she’s a poor beggar who needs his fame to grow her Church so she “seeks his forgiveness” showing how utterly vapid her faith is and how the “lunkhead” personality is actively dangerous because he thinks that he’s entitled to her body and to rape her however he pleases — only to act like the typical goofball after the horrid encounter the next day. And, honestly, I’m not sure if the girl’s response is portrayed realistically or not. From the standpoint of her situation, her actions make sense, but I would have liked a scene with her alone to show if there was a difference with how she felt about the wannabe-rapist main character.

The final portions of this dull, boring mess of crap is following the idiotic religious prophecy with him going into the stars as a war is going on. It’s absolutely boring. Despite being the main purpose, I was bored out of my mind for this entire trainwreck of a film. What could have been an interesting conclusion about venturing to space is utterly ruined with this potential rapist spewing a sermon about how humanity does wrong, needs forgiveness, and conducts a prayer so that the “evil humanity” doesn’t ruin space. It was disgusting. The shock twist of his attempted rape of the priestess seems to just be there to be a shock to the audience more than not, as his motives could have been changed to literally anything else. You could still make him a horrible person and imply it in subtle ways. It’s arguable that this film did attempt to do that, but if so it was done poorly. His personality was one of apathy to the suffering around him, but then they change him into an outright attempted rapist near the end. As a result, the final scene of a boring monotone with prayer is incongruous with both the twist and the build-up of his horrible personality. I hated this film and I don’t recommend ever watching it. Trust me when I say that it’s likely a waste of your time.

2/10.

Regarding Vic Mignogna’s accusations…

Okay so… if there is sufficient evidence proving any of these allegations then I’ll be totally willing to change my mind, but I’ve just been brought two pieces of information from a friend that show its more a Witch hunt than honest accusations of wrongdoing.

https://twitter.com/CreepHeartPa…/status/1100609621784444928

This woman used CreepHeart/Gemma Black’s video to accuse Vic of inappropriate behavior when she wasn’t actually a minor, the girl didn’t find it creepy within the context of her request, and she stands with Vic and is angry people are using her video to smear him.

This other piece is from a woman who explicitly told ANN news media that she didn’t approve of them using her photo, she was old enough and was with her family in a completely consensual encounter with Vic in which they hugged for a photo, and at no point was she bothered nor did she feel uncomfortable.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1094838706207305731

I’m still on the fence and will await any credible accusations to change my opinions accordingly, but it seems like this has already turned into a witch hunt since people’s photos and videos are being misused by others to claim to be victims when the actual people who took those photos and videos are claiming otherwise.

And, to be clear, this not to disparage anyone who has been victimized by abusers or to diminish any future accusations given to others. But the aforementioned are two specific cases of false allegations by people either impersonating someone else or using footage to slander Vic Mignogna by taking the footage out of context without the consent of the people who are the owners of the footage.

Nietzsche’s Philosophy in Modern Culture

Very few people seem to be aware of Nietzsche’s influence on contemporary Asian culture which dates back to books being translated to Japan shortly after his death, his profound critique and reverence for Buddhist thought, and his influence on US popular culture. In an effort to bridge this gap and show that the surprising amount of influences that his work has made, I’ve made a short list in orders of magnitude from sloppy critiques to the critiques that are based upon his philosophical ideals and arguments. However, it should be noted that the majority of these depictions center around Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ubermensch philosophical concept from the philosophical fantasy novel, Thus Spake; Zarathustra.

Fair Warning: There’ll be massive spoilers for each of the links for their respective games, anime, and so forth.

Continue reading

Islam and the Future of Tolerance Film Review

A concise and clear film on the challenges that Reformist Muslims and their allies face in order to modernize Islam. Sam Harris notes that Maajid Nawaz’s reformist movement is likely the toughest job of them all. The ultimate message of the film is that we, the public, can help with criticizing bad ideas such as in internet forums, twitter, facebook, and other places. This film is recommended for those who want to help reformist and Ex-Muslims into changing the conversation and getting liberals and centrist conservatives to help regain the narrative on the problems of Islam. Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz go into the concentric circles and differences between Jihadism (violence in the name of Islam for a political goal of imposing an Islamist order), Islamism (a movement trying to impose an Islamist order, but not all do so by violent methods), Conservative Muslims (Muslims who don’t want Sharia as the law of the land, but want to maintain their own Islamic conditions in their families; potentially including hatred for Jews, hatred for Gays, and honor killing), and then the smallest group would be the Reformist Muslims that Maajid Nawaz is a part of.

The majority of the film centers around Maajid’s early life, how he was mistreated in British schools by his classmates at a very early age, and how his isolation became more pronounced when Neo-Nazi groups had a resurgence in Great Britain. The immediate consequence of which resulted in numerous beatings, racial epithets hurled at him daily, and witnessing his friends severely injured by Neo-Nazis using knives to stab his friends in the neck or other areas throughout his early life. His safety was constantly threatened and he witnessed the bloodied bodies of his friends far too often. His parents were actually quite normal and did their best, but the political climate of the youth during his time resulted in him withdrawing from others. He spent his time listening to rap music and that’s when radical Islamic recruitment organizations were able to exploit him.

I have to say that this explanation made way more sense than the tripe he had said in the Bill Maher interview. I had been interested in his viewpoints, but I had thought he was lying when he mentioned how rap music got him into an Islamist group. That explanation made absolutely no sense to me and I had assumed that Sam Harris had been duped by a man who was clearly a dishonest actor. It wasn’t until much later – after listening to the Ex-Muslims of North America panel – that I decided to give him a second chance. While Ex-MNA seemed like legitimate actors, I was still unwilling to believe that Maajid Nawaz was until they had mentioned his work in one of their panels because his explanation about rap music was the silliest thing I had ever heard as an excuse to join an Islamist group. His more detailed and honest explanation here seems far more believable and reasonable. To my own chagrin, Maajid Nawaz clearly has difficulty speaking openly about his early life because it was so painful for him. Considering the conditions he lived in and what he witnessed due to the Neo-Nazis of Britain, it’s not surprising or unreasonable to expect that he was easy pickings for an Islamist group at the time.

These next few portions are tidbits from the film and I’m going through them in a messy manner. The film organizes itself coherently and all these details make complete sense within the film, but it’s too much for me to go through in a few paragraphs. He went to college and used the idea of cultural tolerance to his advantage for the Islamist group’s purposes with the administration too flimsy to challenge him because they didn’t want to look like racists. It should be noted that it was not the professors who neglected this, but specifically the college administration that Maajid Nawaz highlights in his explanation. After a brutal murder caused by one of his fellow organizers who killed a black youth at the campus, he and his buddies were all expelled from the college. As an adult, he speaks of his regrets and how the college should have challenged them on a sexist picture they distributed around the campus, but the college administration never did due to fear of being referred to as racist. He mentions how, if they had, that murder may never have happened since they were given free access to do as they pleased in their student organization using the charge of racism as a shield. He speaks of the horrifying experiences in an Egyptian torture prison and how it was Amnesty International’s kindness and activism for his human rights that led to the first cracks in his belief in a Sharia-enforced society. Later on, in an interview on the BBC, when he was challenged on the sexist views of the Islamist group he was a part of where his views on the organization truly started to slip. Eventually, he became a former Islamist and founded Quilliam and joined with Sam Harris for both the book and the film after they had a scathing first encounter.

Sam Harris details the troubles he’s gained for differentiating religions by doctrines and how singling out Islam’s has caused wave after wave of criticism within the atheist community and the Left with clips of his debates with Hedges, Aslan, and the infamous incident with Ben Affleck. Harris explains the issues he’s had and how difficult Maajid Nawaz’s position is in reforming Islam. In fact, Ex-Muslims seem to gain higher yields in getting people to outright leave Islam than Maajid’s own activism and I’m firmly in favor of their cause. However, Harris and Nawaz are still allies in trying to change this dynamic as reforming 1.6 billion people is going to be decades of hard work. Even in the more atheist tolerant countries like the US, atheists are still discriminated against, the Christian Right continues to try to destroy women’s rights, and the Christian Right doesn’t acknowledge the targeted murders of transgender people.

Overall, this film is a 5 out of 5. It’s highly recommended if you want to learn more about the problems of Islam and how to help Ex-Muslims or Reformist Muslims.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Review (PC)

This game has to be one of the worst disappointments I’ve ever had the displeasure of playing. I suppose I fell for the hype train for this game’s release, but only found an unmemorable and awful failure of a story and convoluted gameplay. Tales of Vesperia’s cast is among the most forgettable of them all. Nobody but Karol has any real character development and there’s only one really good twist in the entire story and it’s wasted with no impact. I tried forcing myself to complete this game, but I just can’t stand it anymore. This game is absolutely horrible and it’s positive qualities don’t make-up for its colossal failure in one very important aspect.

Music: The music is great and a pleasure to listen to. It fits the mood and setting spectacularly for the most part.

Gameplay: The gameplay feels like a more convoluted version of Tales of the Abyss’s gameplay, but I think that’s simply my own personal preference. The gameplay is fun, fast, and exciting. There are no drops in quality or any technical issues from my experience, and you do have to think over how to beat challenging enemies like optional bosses on the field or the secret mission system that offers bonuses for preventing bosses from regaining a particular advantage against you throughout boss battles. Overall, the gameplay is a very enjoyable experience and I personally really liked using Yuri Lowell’s gameplay style.

Characters: The characters are all realistic, believable, and really fun to listen to for the most part. Seeing them engage with each other is fun, but as the story slowly falls apart, it’s clear that these otherwise great cast of characters is absolutely wasted on this terrible story. I liked everyone but Rita, who felt more like a one-dimensional character compared to the more complex, upbeat, and compelling characters who have more interesting reasons for what they’re doing. However, apart from Karol, none of them are really developed and the game itself even points out the main character, Yuri Lowell, hasn’t changed at all throughout the journey. Yuri does come close to being a gary stu, but only because of how the entire plot falls in the party’s lap out of an ongoing convenience of there always being danger that needs Yuri’s assistance to beat. The characters motivations and decisions aren’t adequately developed or challenged apart from Karol. It’s a really interesting and likable cast that’s essentially wasted on a terrible plot.

One annoyance though, the new voice actor for Yuri Lowell is totally noticeable and sounds like some idiotic stereotype of a surfer throughout the game, which ruins the enjoyment of listening to him in the English version. People complaining about the voice actor sadly weren’t exaggerating as I had initially believed. It’s awful, but you do get the Japanese audio option. It’s still disappointing though and does detract from the overall game.

Plot: Fans of Vesperia admit the plot is “generic” — but that’s only putting it in the nicest of terms. The fact is this game’s plot doesn’t really exist. It’s a set of events that have no coherence when you try to fit all the pieces together. Around 20 hours of this 50 hour plot is honestly just searching for an answer to Estelle’s question, having the party separate in a town, talking to the party members, Yuri asks Estelle what she wants to do, and then the party setting off for the next dungeon with something totally fucking stupid preventing some character from answering Estelle’s question. That’s 20 hours of the game as the only motivation and it’s a completely stupid one. Ostensibly, Yuri and Karol are forming a guild and doing a job for Estelle, and despite Judith’s suggestion its really following Estelle’s whims…. that’s what the entire game essentially becomes anyway. The plot is non-existent trash. Estelle’s questions could have been answered in one sentence. 20 hours for a one sentence explanation that you can figure out through basic critical thinking skills.

After this godawful clusterfuck of an adventure, some random NPC becomes the villain and Yuri randomly concludes that he’s “behind everything!” — whatever that means. The main villain doesn’t even state his goal, Yuri randomly comes up with an epiphany about what it is. This is honestly the dumbest and most poorly written storytelling I’ve seen since Chrono Cross.

This game’s plot is among the worst writing I’ve ever seen in a Tales game and that is saying something as  I thought Tales of Graces F was the worst. Vesperia is only a better by a miniscule amount. If anyone would like to argue it is a ten-year old game as a flippant excuse, that just makes it worse. Its predecessors Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Symphonia were phenomenally written stories with some of the best plots ever written in all of video gaming. But of course, the writer of those stories wasn’t doing Vesperia’s plot and instead Vesperia seems to have four writers who clearly wanted different things, so this plot is a muddled fuck-up of an excuse compared to those stories.

Apologies in advance, but the flaws outstrip the positives:

Overall Rating: 4/10.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Review

I’m not sure what I can add to what has already been said about this film. I had watched an Angry Joe review before I was even aware of this film and I have to admit that it is everything I had wanted the Toby McGuire Spider-man to be, I had never bothered with the second Andrew Garfield film after seeing the first film’s painful amount of plot holes, idiot balls, and the terrible extent they made Garfield’s version of Peter Parker into a Gary-Stu character. I hadn’t been a fan of Garfield’s acting, but the script and character they gave him was awful and I don’t blame him for the failures of those films. I didn’t bother to watch Homecoming, partly because of the sheer saturation of Marvel films, and partly because I just couldn’t find it in me to view the character of Peter Parker as interesting anymore.

I loved the 90s Spider-man cartoons. Among US cartoons, it and Batman had been my two favorites, but the McGuire films were chalk full of stupid writing compared to the brilliant, analytical, and empathetic cartoon version of Spider-Man. It wasn’t always perfect, of course. However, the writing, plots, scenarios, and characterizations were so far above everything that either the Toby McGuire films and Garfield films always failed to capture. Peter Parker wasn’t just some stupid kid going through puberty; he was a brilliant, analytical, and compassionate individual who thought through serious issues, grappled with life-death circumstances on a weekly basis, and showed compassion throughout. Perhaps my love for the 90s cartoons skewed my views, because evidently that wasn’t Comic-book Spider-Man. I knew I would never see that brilliant version of Peter Parker again, but to repeatedly see from new cartoon series to films . . . this stale, average, and frankly stupid Spider-Man really killed any love I had for the character and series. Over time, I grew to detest the character of Peter Parker too and got sick of the franchise as a whole. I suppose I became a jaded Spider-Man hater, because the writing of all these stories had been so damn terrible compared to the 90s cartoon.

This film has absolutely changed that for me. Miles Morales feels like a fresh start to a new Spider-Man. The comedy is top-notch, the characters have real depth that is shockingly on par with the 90s cartoons, and everything I missed about Spider-Man has been reshaped and re-imagined with this new Spider-Man and the phenomenal writing of this film. I highly recommend Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It captures everything I missed about the 90s Spider-Man, adds genuinely hilarious humor unlike most Hollywood films, it has great music that is executed with wonderfully, it does absolutely stunning work with visuals far above and beyond anything previously done with the Spider-Man franchise and that isn’t a hyperbole, and I loved all the characters and their individual stories.

If you’re even slightly considering watching Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, I highly recommend it. I really feel this film outshines everything before it. Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane are both actually interesting for once, the characters are all exceptionally developed, the origin feels far more fresh than the overused Peter Parker storyline, and Miles is more interesting and brilliant as a lead character than any of the previous Peter Parkers since the 90s Spider-Man cartoon.

Score: 10/10

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