Movie Review: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Hello there, my friends! I hope you’re day is going well. Anyway, it’s once again time for Akira Kurosunday. So let’s chat about this movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Hidden Fortress”.

The story follows Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), two lowly peasants trying to get by. But then one day they get the opportunity of a lifetime when they meet a man and a woman (Toshiro Mifune and Misa Uehara) who promise the pair a bunch of gold in exchange for helping escort them across hostile territory. What the pair o’ peasants don’t know though is that the man and woman may be more than meets the eye. “The Hidden Fortress” is slightly different from the previous Kurosawa flicks we’ve covered so far. It’s not an examination of truth and lies, or a deep dive into the darkness of a man’s soul, or even a four hour epic about different people coming together. This is a more straightforward adventure story, going for less of a deep, nuanced thing, and aiming to be more of a fun affair. And I think it succeeds at that quite well, telling a very entertaining story with enough little turns to make it a little more interesting. I do feel that the pacing isn’t the best in this movie, as it drag a little in parts for me. It doesn’t completely break the experience for me, but it’s noticeable enough to bring it down a little bit. But otherwise I highly enjoyed the story told here.

The characters in this are all colorful and entertaining. First up we have the two peasants, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They have a very fun dynamic, and they help add a lot of comedy throughout the entire movie. And Chiaki and Fujiwara both give really solid performances. And I think it goes without saying how good Toshiro Mifune is in his role. And Misa Uehara does a solid job with her role too. It’s just generally a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think he did a really good job with the music here. It very much fits the fun adventure style that the story is going for. It has enough grandeur to add some weight to proceedings, but it also clearly never goes for anything too serious. It’s just a fun score that works very well for this movie.

As you already figured, “The Hidden Fortress” was directed by Akira Kurosawa, and as per usual he of course knocked it out of the park. This was also his first venture into widescreen filmmaking, and he took full advantage of that fact. He has stuff going on throughout the entire screen, giving us a lot of beautiful wides of both action and stillness. He and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki really outdid themselves here in giving us a lot of breathtaking shots and sequences. Must’ve dented the floor with how many times my jaw dropped.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

While the pacing drags a little bit in parts, I still find “The Hidden Fortress” to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hidden Fortress” is an 8.87/10. So I’d say that it ‘s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Hidden Fortress” is now completed.

Fortress: Hidden
Movie: Very visible.

Movie Review: Seven Samurai (1954)

Hello there, and welcome back to Akira Kurosundays! That’s right, every Sunday (unless something comes up in my life) I’ll be talking about a movie from this Kurosawa box set I have. It started last week with “Rashomon”, and it continus today with… this.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Seven Samurai”.

When a poor, defenseless village is threatened by a league of bandits, the villagers decide that they can’t stop them on their own. So they hire seven samurai to help them out with this situation. It’s a simple setup that leads into a surprisingly nuanced narrative that I like a lot. And when I say nuanced I don’t mean that it’s some ultra deep mindbender of a story, but rather that it takes its simple adventure story setup and adds to it with elements of war drama and comedy. It balances a lot of tones on its plate, but I feel like it succeeds wonderfully at all of them. And despite that mastodont of a runtime, it moves at a surprisingly fast pace, never really getting boring at any point. It does admittedly threaten to buckle under the weight of its runtime and content thickness at times, but it doesn’t take long for it to then pick itself back up and continue on the path of greatness. Seriously, this is a great samurai story.

The characters in this movie are for the most part pretty interesting. There are the titular swordy boys, all of which are colorful (ironic, given the color palette). They all feel unique to each other and have some interesting dynamics with each other. A few of the villagers are also alright, rounding out the cast nicely. And among the actors you can find people like Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Kato, Keiko Tsushima, Isao Kimura, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and I think he did a really good job with it. His score just works very well in conveying the mood of the various scenes, and even elevating certain parts. When the music needs to be eerie and ominous, it gets eerie and ominous. When it needs to be more on the epic and exciting end, it does that. And when it needs to be a bit more lighthearted and comical, it succeeds at that too. Just like the story, it captures and balances all tones wonderfully while feeling like an engaging and cohesive whole.

As made very clear in the intro, “Seven Samurai” was directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. And good god damn, he really knocked it out of the park here. His control of the camera and the actor is simply masterful, giving us direction that creates a wonderful flow from moment to moment, whether it’s in a slower character development scene, or in the action scenes that appear throughout. Speaking of which, those action scenes are excellent. Exciting, tense, fun, and frankly just stunning to look at. It all just comes together spectacularly.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positing rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #19 on the “Top 250” list.

So yeah, “Seven Samurai” is terrific, not much else I can say on that. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and excellent directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seven Samurai” is a 9.76/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Seven Samurai” is now completed.

Seven samurai, many butt cheeks.

Series Review: Dragon’s Dogma – Season 1 (2020)

I love animation. I love video games. So the two smashed together should be heaven, right? Right? Why are you so quiet?

Ladies and gents… “Dragon’s Dogma” season 1.

Ethan (Greg Chun) lives a nice, relatively quiet life with his wife. This peace doesn’t last however when the entire town is destroyed and Ethan’s heart gets eaten by a giant dragon. Shortly after our hero finds himself resurrected by a mysterious magical lady (Erica Mendez), and vows to find and slay the dragon that ruined his life. It’s a mostly classic fantasy/revenge setup with elements that we’ve seen before. Where it tries to stand out somewhat though is in its storytelling… keyword being tried. The idea with each episode is that as Ethan travels the country in search of the big spooky lizard, he encounters different monsters and situations mirroring the seven deadly sins (which can even be seen in each episode title). And while they have some wonderful ideas for how that will work, I feel like they undercooked this heart steak a bit. While the show’s fast pace keeps it from getting too stale, it does hurt the storytelling. Nothing really gets to simmer. They have interesting developments and ideas within each episode, but I never feel as invested as I could be given the interesting subject matter. So instead of getting the nuanced fantasy narrative that I know the crew’re striving for, we get a story that never reaches its full potential, bar one thing in the final episode.

Where the story does falter… the characters don’t do much to help. I will say that Ethan, our main protagonist, does have some interesting stuff going on. Each episode we see some mild developments on his side, and it does make him a somewhat compelling character. And Greg Chun does a great job with his voice work there. Then we have the pawn (also known as Hannah), the mysterious magical lady I mentioned earlier who resurrected Ethan. She is a little bit of a blank slate, only there to serve as a somewhat logic-driven sidekick to Ethan. There is great potential with her character, but it’s never fully achieved. At least Erica Mendez does a good job with her performance. The rest of the cast aren’t necessarily as great though, because most of them attempt some form of British accent (‘ullo gov’nah), with a majority sadly falling flat on their face.

The score for the show was composed by Tadayoshi Makino, and I think his music here is great. It is of course based in a lot of the brass, strings, and piano we have heard in fantasy before. But Makino puts his own spin on it to some degree, making for a score that is exciting, emotional, and ear candy of the highest degree.

Based on the 2012 video game from Capcom, “Dragon’s Dogma” was animated by studio Sublimation for Netflix, with Shinya Sugai handling direction. Aaaaaand I have mixed feelings. Lookign at the overall shot composition, you can tell that these guys have a good eye, there’s a lot of good “camera” movements and nice ideas for stills. This is however brought down by the studio’s choice to go with a pseudo 3D style of animation. Now, in the few instances I’ve seen this styles pop up in other things, it hasn’t been very good. And while it certainly looks slightly less shit than some other instances of this weird 2D/3D amalgamation, it still doesn’t work. All the characters look lifeless dolls, and movements look really janky. This is almost even worse with some of the creatures in this show, who get these pretty murky textures draped over them, which makes them look really bad. There are moments of good animation however. Fleeting moments of regular, hand-drawn 2D animation. And it’s a shame that these are such brief moments, because those instances look amazing. But overall, the animation here isn’t great.

This show’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a critic rating of 100%, but an audience rating of 50%. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.3/10.

While it has a lot of potential for greatness, Netflix’s “Dragon’s Dogma” sadly doesn’t live up to the potential. It has a mediocre plot, okay characters, good acting, great music, and bad animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dragon’s Dogma” is a 4.89/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Dragon’s Dogma” is now completed.

Hopefully the game’s better…

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 7)

Only five days until this little series is over. Which also means only five days until christmas… it’s celebrated on the 24th here in Sweden, don’t argue with me. Anyhow, shall we get on with today’s holiday film?

So today we’re talking about “Arthur Christmas”, a 2011 animated holiday film from Aardman animation. Except you’d be forgiven for not realizing it was Aardman, because this doesn’t use their traditional claymation style. Anyhow, “Arthur Christmas” is about Arthur (James McAvoy), the clumsy son of the current Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent). However, when Santa misses one present, Arthur teams up with his grandfather (Bill Nighy) to deliver it, despite being told that it’s a futile quest. What we get is a charming little fantasy adventure with themes of legacy and overcoming your fears and all those other familiar things we’ve seen in family holiday films. But the execution here is really good, giving us a fast-paced and generally well-written story that I had fun with. It’s also very funny, especially whenever grandsanta (the grandfather) is on screen. He is a goofy, hammy, and a little crazy old man that serves as a comic relief, and does so really well. And with Bill Nighy hamming it up with his vocal performance, you get some absolute fucking gold from grandsanta. The rest of the cast is great too, with people like James McAvoy, Imelda Staunton, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and many other awesome people filling out the cast list.
I guess I should also briefly touch on what I said at the start. This is an Aardman film, except it doesn’t look like it. “Arthur Christmas” is completely CGI, with hints of the typical Aardman visual style. And while I am slightly sad about that, I’m not complaining. The movie still looks good, it’s a very well animated movie, filled with plenty of nice colors and movements.
But yeah, “Arthur Christmas” is a charming and funny little holiday adventure. I’d recommend sticking it on if you got 90 minutes to kill and want something lighthearted.

On the seventh day of christmas, Markus spent no money
Lucky for him, he could still watch Bill Nighy be funny

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 6)

Can you believe we’re halfway through this little series of themed posts already? Time sure flies when things happen. I was gonna say “when you’re having fun”, but frankly as I’ve gotten older, days just fly by like a coked up hummingbird. So anyway, let’s talk about something green and nasty. And no, I’m not talking about that moldy loaf of bread you have on your counter.

So as you probably figured out from the header image, we’re talking about “The Grinch”, a 3D-animated reimagining of the Dr. Seuss classic. It was released in 2018 and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular green git. And as in the other adaptations, he’s a little cranky about Whoville being excited and cheerful about christmas. So he may or may not start plotting to ruin it. But then you also have Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely) as she plots to find a way to talk to Santa Claus. Superfluous subplot much? This suffers from some of the same issues as the Jim Carrey movie, but somehow manages to still be way less interesting than that. At least the Carrey movie was weird and batshit insane enough to be interesting. This one plays it like a lot of modern kids’ films with some pop culture schtick, lazy dialogue, and no sense of edge or personality.
And then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch. I like Benedict Cumberbatch, he’s a terrific actor. But good grief, he is actually kinda bad here, and I’m not entirely sure it’s his fault. But his performance here can never truly know what it wants to be. Is it a scheming, dickheaded affair? Sometimes. But it’s also really wacky and goofy and not befitting of either the title character of Cumberbatch’s skillset. The Grinch doesn’t feel like the Grinch, and the lead actor (who I think could make a great Grinch) feels off. Also, his design here is too cute and visually appealing. Grinch is a monster, not a plush- oooooooh, now I get it… merchandise.
So yeah, “The Grinch” 2018 is a toothless, dull, overlong, and frankly unfunny reimagining of a classic story. Maybe if you have kids or grandkids they might enjoy it… but it’s not exactly what I’d call good.

On the sixth day of christmas, Markus watched another Grinch
A version that didn’t grow his heart an inch

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 2)

Hohoho, and a good evening to you (it’s evening where I am at the time of writing, shut up). So anyway, shall we continue with this silly little series of mine.

’twas the night before christmas and all throughout the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Okay, that was not right, as there were actually two siblings up all night. Waiting for Santa all of his toys, so to not get caught by him they shouldn’t make noise. But for there to be some plot, their plan works out not. So now the siblings must give a hand, to help Santa save christmas all across the land. Aaaaaand I can’t keep that up anymore, back to non-rhyming jackass Markus. But yeah, I think you get the gist of the plot for “The Christmas Chronicles”. It’s a fairly standard kids’ christmas adventure film narrative, that has some nice moments throughout. And the two kids playing the siblings are really good in their roles. They deliver their lines well, they have good chemistry, and they even bring some nice charisma to proceedings. But that’s enough of that, let’s talk about the main event here.
KURT FUCKING RUSSELL PLAYS SANTA CLAUS. I swear, the pitch meeting probably went something like
“So imagine Santa Claus… ”
“Yeah?”
“But Kurt Russell!”
“Here’s moneys”.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong. But it sure feels that way. Like I said, the narrative doesn’t do much to stand out, but it manages to still pop a bit within the crowd of holiday hijinks thanks to Kurt Russell. He brings that rugged charm of his to this role, and it is endlessly entertaining to watch. Every time he was on screen, I smiled. He is terrific, I don’t know how else to put it.
So to try to tie this present together, “The Christmas Chronicles” is a fun enough family adventure that stands out thanks to Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. It is maybe a little too long, but overall it’s still a fun enough little holiday adventure on Netflix.

On the second day of christmas, this film in my mind seared
The image of Kurt Russell’s glorious beard

Series Review: Blood of Zeus – Season 1 (2020)

I love Greek mythology, have been since I was a kid. Okay, I love mythology in general, but Greek has always been at the top of the list for me. And now we have an animated Greek mythology series from the studio who gave us “Castlevania”? Sign me up!

Ladies and gents… “Blood of Zeus” season 1.

Ancient Greece. A young man named Heron (Derek Phillips) lives a fairly mundane life as a peasant. This however gets turned on its head when he learns that he is in fact the spawn of Zeus himself (Jason O’Mara), and that he now has a duty to stop a demon (Elias Toufexis) from taking over the world. So yeah, for as colorful and weird as Greek myths can be, this is a fairly standard narrative. If you can predict a part of Heron’s arc, it most definitely happens. That said, it’s still a fun story, with decent stakes and plenty of spectacle. A big, epic tale of betrayal, family, finding oneself, and ol’ thundercrack not being able to keep it in his toga. They don’t try to do anything too weird or unique with the narrative, but what we do get here is still an enjoyable, if slightly shallow, piece of Greek spectacle.

The characters in this range widely in terms of how interesting they are. Let’s start with Heron, our protagonist, a kind, heroic young man whose world gets changed after learning about his heritage as another bastard son of King Lightning dick. And I found Heron to be fairly bland. If you’ve seen a kind, heroic, skilled protagonist in a thing before, then you know what you’re getting, especially if those previous ones had some sort of destiny they weren’t too sure of at first. Anyhow, I guess he works fine, even though he’s not the most engaging character. At least Derek Phillips does a solid job with his voice work. Next, let’s talk about Electric dong himself, Zeus. A father figure who loves his son and wants him to fulfill his destiny, even if he’s not always the best at expressing some of that. He makes for an interesting character here, and Jason O’Mara is great in the role. And then we have Seraphim, our main villain for the show. He actually has kind of a fascinating arc that I don’t wanna spoil here, but I do think he is quite an interesting and compelling character. And Elias Toufexis is great in that role. We also get performances from people like Jessica Henwick, Claudia Christian, Chris Diamantopoulos, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Matthew Mercer, Adam Croasdell, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Paul Edward-Francis (triple first name, hell yeah), and I think he did a great job. His score is big, bombastic, dramatic, and badass. If you’ve played a “God of War” game, you know exactly what kind of sound we’ve got in this score. And if not, you can probably figure it out if you’ve seen some big, epic movies with heavy brass and epic choirs and such. But just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s bad, because like I said up front, it’s great!

“Blood of Zeus” was written and created for Netflix by Vlas and Charley Parlapanides, with Shaunt Nigoghossian handling all the directing. And I think they, along with everyone at Powerhouse Animation did an excellent job crafting this show. This show is incredibly well animated, giving us some beautifully handled action scenes that flow marvelously well. And even in slower, less action-packed scenes it looks beautiful. The eyes of the characters took a little getting used to, but overall I have no complaints about the visual style of the show.

This show/season has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

Season 1 of “Blood of Zeus” may be a little generic in some of its characterization and drama, but overall it’s still a highly entertaining show that I recommend. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Blood of Zeus” is an 8.65/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Blood of Zeus” season 1 is now completed.

FYI, Norse is a close second in terms of the mythology rankings.

Movie Review: Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

You know that Universal Monsters box set I’ve been going through this month? Yeah, this is the last one in that. I decided to skip reviewing “Phantom of the Opera”, because I had nothing interesting to say about that boring movie. But I am dedicated to at least cover this here. The last one. The big shebang. The one with all the water.

Mermaids and mermen… “Creature From the Black Lagoon”.

A group of scientists are deep within the Amazonian jungle, studying Devonian fossils. What they don’t know however is that there is a living prehistoric creature roaming the area, about to cause them a lot of grief. What I appreciate about the story of this movie is that there are no lofty ambitions, no aim to make it a thoughtful experience. It’s justa simple creature feature, a fun popcorn flick. Don’t get me wrong, I love the contemplative tone of the two “Frankenstein” movies, and I do love me some  depth in my fiction… but sometimes you just need to see a strange amphibian messing with some people. This does however come with the backside of it feeling very disposable. It’s an easy watch that one can easily enjoy on a slow evening, but it’s also very surface level. It’s basic entertainment, never engaged beyond a “I enjoyed that, that was alright”.

The characters in this are alright, they’re nothing special. They serve the story just fine. And Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Whit Bissell, Richard Denning, and Antonio Moreno all do very well in their respective roles. For fans of this movie, I did indeed leave out Nestor Paiva as Lucas, the boat captain. And that’s because he deseved his own little section, because he’s a ton of fun to watch. By far the most entertaining character/performance. And then there’s the double act of Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning as the titular creature, with either actor used depending on if the creature was in the water or on land. They both did a solid enough job with that.

The score for the movie was composed by Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, and Herman Stein. And it was pretty good. For a lot of scenes they’ve composed tracks that overall just work decently enough for whatever is going on in the scene, whether that is going on a boat in the jungle or serenely swimming. Then they’ve also composed a leitmotif for the creature, and it awesome. It’s basically just three notes, but the combination of those notes, and the intensity in which they are played makes for a phenomenal little theme that adds a lot to the creature’s appearances.

“Creature From the Black Lagoon” was directed by one Jack Arnold, and I think he did a good enough job. Scenes flow nicely, and he has a good way of shooting both slower talk scenes and more intense monster appearances. But I must also give a lot of credit to James Curtis Havens who helmed the underwater sequences, which are terrifically well made. Speaking of well made, the creature design is iconic as fuck. Eyes look a little wonky, but the suit itself still holds up quite well. The craft in general is just good here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.0/10.

“Creature From the Black Lagoon” may not be anything special compared to some of the other movies in the Universal Monsters box set, but it’s still an enjoyable little monster flick. It has a decent story, decent characters, good performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Creature From the Black Lagoon” is a 7.45/10. So it’s certainly worth renting.

My review of “Creature From the Black Lagoon” is now completed.

For other lagoon recommendations, I point you to the anime series “Black Lagoon”. It has nothing to do with the monster, but it’s a damn good show.

Movie Review: Mulan (1998)

Confession time: I have never actually watched this movie before. I know dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow, blah blah blah. But I then thought that since Disney recently released their live action remake, I might actually give this animated version a go (finally). So let’s get down to business.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulan”.

Fearing that her father might die if he goes to war, young Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) steals his gear and pretends to be a man so she can take his place in the army. We all know the basic setup at this point, even if you haven’t seen this movie. And the way it’s handled here I quite enjoyed. It’s not without fault however. There are parts of the story that I feel they glossed over a bit, kinda rushing through some aspects in an effort to get to the “good stuff”. That’s not to say that the story here is bad, it’s still a fun family adventure without a good message at its core. I just wish it maybe slowed down a little more to let certain moments simmer more. But as it stands, the story and the way it’s told is still quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, fun, and surprisingly nuanced at times. First up is Mulan, title character and very relatable person. While the people around her want her to be a fancy girly-girl to honor her family, even though she’s not like that at all. And to see her development in the movie from somewhat clumsy and insecure to someone a bit more tough and confident, that’s engaging. And Ming-Na Wen does an excellent job voicing Mulan. Next we have Mushu, a guardian dragon who sets out to help Mulan become a hero… even if he’s only doing it for his own gain. He’s mostly there to bring laughs, but I think the filmmakers found a good balance in that and making him a valuable part of certain emotional developments. And while it might seem slightly jarring to put Eddie Murphy in a role like that at first, I must say that he was great in the role. Then you also get supporting work from people like B.D. Wong, James Hong, Harvey Fierstein, Soon-Tek Oh, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, Frank Welker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music of this film is quite good. The main score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s an absolute treat for the ears, creating a lot of emotion through the various tracks, giving us a some great background ambiance. Then you have the songs (’cause you know, Disney) that were done by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel. While I don’t think that all of them are among the upper echelon of Disney musical songs, they still generally work pretty well for the movie. The peak of the tracks is of course “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (sung by Donny Osmond), a most excellent montage song. So yeah, overall this movie has good music.

Based on a Chinese folk legend, “Mulan” was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (with writing credits given to a shitload of people, good grief). And I must say that the craft on display here is absolutely superb. The art style for example takes inspiration from traditional Chinese artwork, and blending it with traditional Disney animation to create an absolutely stunning look for this movie that feels wholly its own. The animation is especially breathtaking in motion, where it shows great fluency that is a treat for the eyes.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

While its storytelling isn’t the best, due to its fast pace, “Mulan” is still another winning movie within the Disney catalogue. It has a good story, good characters, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mulan” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Mulan” is now completed.

Sometimes you just a need a film that can make you smile. This one did that for me.

Series Review: Transformers Prime – Season 1 (2010 – 2011)

Hello. My name is Markus. I’m 22 (soon 23) years old, and I watch kids cartoons. And you can’t fucking stop me.

Ladies and gents… “Transformers Prime” season 1.

A heroic group of alien robots known as the Autobots secretly reside on planet Earth as they try to fight off the villainous Decepticons. The setup is basically the same as any other “Transformers” adaptation, Autobots fighting Decepticons, Autobots having some human friends, yada yada yada. No need to dwell on the setup stuff, as it’s basically the same in most shows. However, “Transformers Prime” transcends its well-trodden premise in its execution, which is pretty damn good. While it’s still a kid-friendly action cartoon, it sports a fairly serious tone that isn’t afraid to go to some surprisingly dark places at times, making for a show that can give kids the colorful action fix they might want, while also featuring some surprising nuance for any potential adults (AKA me) watching. Even the filler episodes help further develop the world and characters, while still retaining a relatively closed off plot for those specific episodes. Am I saying this is the deepest plot for a show ever? Of course not. But it’s still way more compelling than I actually expected, leading me to be genuinely invested in what was going on without solely relying on my nostalgia for this franchise.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and surprisingly nuanced (kinda like the plot). The cast is a bit too big to go into detail for, so here’s just a quick rundown (starting with the core Autobot team). You got Peter Cullen back as the ever inspiring Optimus Prime, you got Kevin Michael Richardson as the strong but not too smart Bulkhead, you got Sumalee Montano as the fierce and loyal Arcee, and you got Jeffrey Combs as the ever cranky but lovable Ratchet. Among the bad guys you got Frank Welker (fuck yeah) back as the menacing Megatron, you got Steve Blum as the ever scheming Starscream, you got Daran Norris (who possibly gives my favorite performance in the show) as the sassy and clever Knock Out, and you got Gina Torres as the sinister Airachnid. As for human characters, you got Josh Keaton as aspiring cool guy Jack, you got Tania Gunadi as the almost annoying, but luckily endearing Miko, you get Andy Pessoa as the young but bright Rafael, and you get Ernie god damn Hudson as Special Agent Fowler. Sorry I won’t go into more detail on each character, but I don’t have the time or willingness to ruin some interesting developments that occur.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler and Matthew Margeson, and I think they did a good job with it. For the most part it is of course the cool action brass one might expect, but it does get a little more somber when needed. There is also frequent use of the main theme as well, but I’m fine with that, because it’s great. Really, this score is solid.

“Transformers Prime” was developed for the Hub Network by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Duane Capizzi, and Jeff Kline, with writing/directing by a whole load of cool people. And I have to say, this show is way more well crafted than I expected… those last three words seem to be coming up a lot in this review. The first time I saw the art style, I wasn’t really a fan. But when I watched it in action, I grew to really like it, with only a few minor niggles regarding some of the human designs. But the overall animation here is great, showing plenty of detail without sacrificing good movements and such. Usually I tend to lean towards preferring drawn 2D animation, but here I think the animation team made great use of 3D animation to create a lot of fun angles and camera movements, making for some spectacular action scenes.

The show doesn’t really exist on my sites I use for this “other ratings” section. But on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

Season 1 of “Transformers Prime” surprised the hell out of me, it’s one of the best action cartoons I’ve seen in recent years. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Transformers Prime” is a 9,62/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Transformers Prime” season 1 is now completed.

Roll out…