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Movies & TV

Halo Series (Season 1 and Season 2)

I’ve finished up watching season 2 of this show. I really hope it gets a Season 3. With COVID and the strike and everything else, who knows. It hasn’t officially been renewed but also hasn’t officially been canceled. I’m not sure what that means overall besides it will probably be several years before the story continues, which kind of sucks. I really love the whole short-season aspect of modern TV, but I don’t understand how that means it also takes 2-3 times longer to make the seasons.

There will be some spoilers for the series in this little write-up, though I am not sure how major they are, mostly because the plot is alright, but it’s nothing super unexpected overall. If anything there may be spoilers for the future via discussion of the game plot.

But enough about that, let’s look at the show itself. And to some extent Halo and the Halo lore. I had some doubts and worries after the first season. I have less doubt and worry after the second season. i am also not some sort of “hardcore” Halo fan, though I’m not sure there are any real die-hard Halo Fans, at least not in a way that would really affect any enjoyment of this show, especially after season 2.

There are reasons to dislike the series I suppose, especially based just on season 1. It does not directly follow the game lore being one. I have not read any of the books, I’ve just played through the games. From what I have read online, the books mostly work with the games and the show isn’t a direct adaptation of any of it.

The game timeline has it’s major beats. The UNSC headquarters planet is taken by the Covenant, commonly referred to as The Fall of Reach, Master Chief (John) then uses data from Cortana to go to the first Halo Ring. The Flood is discovered on the Halo ring and is awakened. Master Chief destroys the Halo ring by overloading the Pillar of Autumn’s core. That’s just through the first game and the later released prequel Halo: Reach. Eventually, there is a civil war inside the Covenant and there are more Halo rings and the Forerunners who created it all get involved etc etc.

The series, so far, has only barely made it to the Halo Ring itself from which the series gets it’s name. The first season sort of just amounts to setting the stage and introducing all of the characters of the series, and their relationships. The second season actually starts to get into more familiar lore. I can only speculate, but I do wonder if this was the original plan and direction, or if they steered this way after some of the iffy backlash from Season 1.

I’m reminded a bit of the Sonic the Hedgehog movies. The trailer for the first movie was revealed, and everyone HATED the design for Sonic. The studio went back and fixed Sonic’s look and the movie came off much better for it. Despite that Sonic was now “less realistic”, he still, just worked, and was familiar, in this world of humans. The plot was still a bit iffy, but they tried. And they learned. The second Sonic movie, was much much more thematically closer to a Sonic story than the first movie and, while the humans were still present, they were literally relegated off to the side by sending them all off to an island, only to have them check in occasionally.

Somewhere, someone learned that for a video game adaptation, while a straight adaptation in many cases won’t work. Who would watch a movie of a CGI Sonic just running fast and collecting rings. Sticking tight to the core concept and aesthetics helps a LOT.

Which is one thing that I think helps the Halo series a lot, especially in Season 2. It really sticks to the aesthetics of Halo. They didn’t give Master Chief some goofy sleek black stealth armor or something, they didn’t turn the Warthogs into Jeeps or something they could use as ad placement, they didn’t change the Covenant to be some weird human-looking aliens in armor so something to make the CGI easier. Everything, visually, is very much Halo.

Though I keep feeling like the CGI budget really is holding things back a bit here. I know, that probably feels odd given just how much CGI there is, but a lot of the CGI is static backdrops and cityscapes. There is action, but it’s often set up in a way that masks the, likely expensive to produce, Covenant. This is a lot more obvious in the first season. The series spends a lot of time getting people to talk in rooms, or have fights between humans.

Which kind of brings up probably the most controversial part of this whole series. Though it’s one that is fairly easy to get over.

Master Chief removes his helmet. Not only that he removes his suit. We see him completely out of his suit more than we see him in his suit. I can already see how they will remove him from his suit in Season 3 by having 343 Guilty Spark do some repairs on the armor or something after the climactic battle at the end of Season 2.

In general, it’s kind of a necessary evil for a few reasons.

One, unlike the game, where Master Chief serves as an avatar for the player, here, he has to stand on his own. Like the Sonic example above, just having Master Chief shoot aliens for 8 episodes each season wouldn’t make for a very compelling series. A series needs characters and drama and interaction between them to keep engagement. Of course, it’s easy to point to The Mandalorian as a way to make this work, but even there, he takes off his helmet. He shows us he is a man underneath. He also has Grogu hanging around to provide visual context to the audience for reactions the main character cannot make.

But then, this is a game series, where there is a scene, of Master Chief removing his helmet, to reveal, a SECOND helmet underneath.

I went through the fake outrage moment of the helmet reveal, and I still feel like there are several places where “Maybe you should have kept your damn armor on John” in the story for sure. But it’s honestly, easy to overlook because it helps us care about this Master Chief.

And that’s kind of the key, It’s “This Master Chief”. He is not the Master Chief of the games. Heck, this Master Chief feels almost like someone the game Master Chief would see as a villain. The game Master Chief kind of felt like someone who was gun-ho patriotic with the UNSC but this Master Chief is rapidly transforming into a sort of rogue agent outlaw.

His lack of armor also helps keep the story interesting. Master Chief is undoubtedly very very strong when armored up and at full strength. Almost unstoppably so. He is still strong without it, but it helps create that conflict and drama that the show needs. Because Chief can’t just walk into any room and destroy everyone inside without breaking a sweat, he needs to rely on his team and his friends. It helps push that he is a good leader. In the games, you pick up plenty of faceless marines along your journey to serve this purpose, but this really doesn’t work in a show format for the same reason Sonic just collecting rings for 2 hours doesn’t.

I’ve started to ramble a bit, but I want to shift gears a bit to some other changes. One of my biggest problems with Season 1 was the character of Kwan Ha. Not so much because she is a bad character, but because she kind of felt like her entire plot line was just, completely random and had nothing to do with anything. If my previously mentioned speculation is at all accurate, it feels like maybe the showrunners ended up realizing this as well. Kwan sort of feels like she gets a bit of a new direction in Season 2. There is brief mention that her planet, Madrigal has fallen to the Covenant early on, but she was made out to be too important to just be dumped, so she lives on as a character living in the subplots of the show. There is some “mysterious things” going on with Chief and Makee (more in a bit) and the Covenant and the Forerunners, etc. It kind of feels like maybe Kwan Ha is being set up to fall into this Mystery as well. She ends up being kind of important to working with Miranda Keys and Halsey on unlocking some key plot points that will certainly become important in the future. I see why they can’t just write her out, and hope they can make her a bit more interesting and meaningful though.

Then we have Makee. I actually completely forgot what happened to Makee in Season 1, though they mention that she was assumed dead by Kai’s hand. Apparently not. Makee is another “show only” character. She is kind of the only real major “show-only” character besides Kwan Ha. Sure, John also has his Spartan Team, but Spartan Teams are not uncommon, and giving Master Chief a team with personality isn’t really that weird. Makee is still kind of weird. She is basically like John, a human with Forerunner genes. But it’s not super clear why she continues to hang out with The Covenant. The Covenant clearly do not want her around beyond manipulating her for control of the Halo. Most of them just want to go ahead and off her. She seems to have to spend a lot of effort to manipulate the Covenant into thinking she is worth keeping around, and it kind of feels like simply, defecting to the humans would really be the better option.

Granted most of the Humans in charge are kind of shitty assholes. I mean, they are trying to actively kill Master Chief and all and… well, maybe defecting wouldn’t actually work out any better… I guess.

She just strikes me as a weird character in a weird place, and half of her purpose is to maybe eventually be a love interest for Master Chief because the showrunners don’t like that Chief basically only loves Cortana. Good news, now he has like, 3 potential love interests, with Kai, and Perez and Makee!

I want to address possibly the biggest actual spoiler of this little write-up briefly. I’m mentioning this and adding a little buffer for anyone who really wants to avoid all potential spoilers. Basically, I’ll throw some filler lines in here after the warning, then just start talking about it. Skip ahead if you care about spoiler spoilers, probably for the next few paragraphs because I’m going to make some Season 3 predictions, but it’s also nothing new to anyone familiar with Halo lore. The Flood has been introduced a bit earlier. And they are pretty Floody. I wondered if and how they might handle the Flood. Mostly because, in general, the Flood is not real popular, even in the game lore. The Covenant are an interesting opponent, they have a whole society based very very heavily around their alien religion, they have hierarchies, and interesting designs etc. The Flood are just, annoying blobby hoard-mode zombies. They are kind of a necessary evil though, because the entire purpose of the Halo Ring as a weapon is to destroy the Flood’s food source (All life in the galaxy).

So where does the show go from here?

My Season 3 Predictions

Just based on things that have happened and things that are, elements of the games, that would work better with the pacing and needs of a television series. We finally made it to the Halo Ring, and we know that 343 Guilty Spark will exist (The robot eye at the end that controls the Halo Ring for the Forerunners that was interrogating Master Chief). We have the Flood now on Onyx. I doubt Kai is actually dead, I feel like she will wake up floating in space and end up on the Ring with John. Master Chief’s armor was pretty banged up during his fight with the Arbiter, Guilty Spark will take it and do some repairs/upgrades, as a way of getting John out of his armor for most of the season.

The UNSC will fight the Covenant on the ring, mostly off-screen while John and Makee have some chats inside the ring about its purpose and their own purpose as “Blessed ones”. Eventually Chief will emerge again and he will need to stop the Ring from activating. Or they will maybe use it to purge the Flood from Onyx. Eventually though he will need to stop the Ring from wiping out humanity as Guilty Spark chooses to side with Makee instead of John. Kai still has the spike device and will destroy the ring by using the Spike on a covenant ship, similar to how in the game’s Chief destroys the Pillar of Autumn.

I suspect the Flood will be limited to Onyx. Zombies are kind of popular in media, but they are kind of on the way out a bit. Plus nobody likes The Flood. Halsey was infected but put into cryostasis by Miranda. Soren will get his chance to be a Spartan again to rescue her, and they will end up having to flee to the inside of the planet where the Forerunner city is located. This will mean more lore dumps. Because they are inside the shell of the planet, they will be protected from the Halo Ring destroying the Flood on the planet. This will also set up a Forerunner arc in Season 4.

Also, we will be introduced to Thel ‘Lobdamee, who will become the new Arbiter, and take up his part as the “good guy Covenant” from the games. To replace the Arbiter killed by Chief at the end of Season 2. I had some thought that maybe the existing Arbiter may play this role, and he may have survived being stabbed, but Chief would never forgive him for killing Vannak so that really wouldn’t work out in the long term. I’m also not sure they will ever actually introduce this character, since Makee kind of serves this role in the lore. Makee isn’t really a fighter at all though.

The budget seems to get better each Season so far, so hopefully if there is a Season 3, we will see a lot more Covenant fighting across the Halo Ring. Also Grunts. WHERE ARE THE GRUNTS. Maybe they just, don’t fit thematically with the seriousness of the show.

One last thing I want to add for the potential success of this series is that my wife, who is not a gamer, and doesn’t know anything about Halo, seems to mostly enjoy the show. Which is goes to show that it’s a pretty good adaptation if it’s able to keep someone who isn’t in it because they like the game, at least somewhat interested in it.

Star Wars Ahsoka Season 1

Note: This ended up way longer than I expected it to.

Despite efforts to convince me to do otherwise, I can’t handle watching shows in weekly episode instances anymore. Sorry, I just can’t. So the method these days is to simply, wait for them all to be available, then binge them all in a few sittings. I can barely spread these sittings out. For Ahsoka, I watched 4 episodes one night, then a few nights later, I watched two more. It was getting close to my normal time to go to bed, because that’s how old people work. I said to my wife, “I don’t know if I want to watch the last two or wait to watch them later. Then after like a minute, I started the last two. I say the last two because I definitely wasn’t going to watch just one more and leave ONE hanging out there.

This sort of dilemma comes up pretty regularly, though usually it’s already late so waiting wins out.

I want to throw out that this will mostly be a sort of free flow of thoughts with occasional bad jokes and probably quite a few spoilers. My overall spoiler-free thought is that I liked it, though it feels very different from the core Star Wars. There were a lot of new interesting angles. But sticking those angles into the larger picture of the movies feels weird a bit. It’s easy to do this with like, Mando, because he is just some bounty hunter in one corner of the galaxy. This…. Is way more involved, with fleet commanders and the senate and Mon Mothma and Leia-ish, etc.

I should preface also, for the sake of the show, I have not watched Star Wars Rebels. I have seen maybe, half to three-quarters of Clone Wars. I am generally familiar with the characters of Rebels through osmosis of other discussions. I’ve also seen all of the other live-action Star Wars. So, I am familiar with Ahsoka, everyone else is pretty hazy. For my part, Rebels had a Jedi dude, a younger dude who is apparently also a Jedi, a girl Mandalorian (also a Jedi apparently), and a green Twi’lek chick who is somehow not in the profession of “sexy space dancer”. Because every Twi’lek seems to have that job.

I also have plenty of familiarity with Thrawn, mostly from Heir to the Empire, but also I’ve read some of the books in the “current canon”.

Also, FWIW, after watching Ahsoka, it seems Ahsoka is not in Rebels nearly as much as I had assumed. Aside from Rebels, there were a few nods to Mandalorian with mentions of Moff Gideon and nods to the Original Trilogy and Clone Wars with Anakin, including possibly the best episode of the series.

In case you’re reading along and don’t care about spoilers, a general run of the plot is probably in order. Ahsoka is searching for Thrawn, the last of the Empire’s Grand Admirals, suspected dead, due to an event in Rebels, where one of the main heroes there, Ezra Bridger, traps Thrawn and they are basically abducted by space whales to parts unknown. I have not watched the show, I did find this clip on Youtube. I was surprised about the Whales, which also show up in Ahsoka later. Anyway, rumors are flying that Thrawn is alive and has been communicating with a local loyalist named Morgan something, or something Morgan. Ahsoka discovers a special map Macguffin, and meets up with her old friends from Rebels to get help deciphering it. Basically bringing them in with the promise of “Ezra is probably there too.” She goes to Hera, who suggests she go to Sabine.

Ahsoka doesn’t really want to see Sabine, because apparently, Sabine was briefly a padawan of Ahsoka. Sabine doesn’t really want to help Ahsoka, but she’s got a plucky rebellious attitude and wants to find Ezra, whom she sees as a brother. They crack the code, the bad guys get the code after Ahsoka is defeated and Sabine joins them as a prisoner, and the bad guys head off to a distant Galaxy, one that is Far Far FARTHER away.

Ahsoka uses some sort of hyperspace traveling Space whales to follow along, Thrawn honors the bargain made and lets Sabine go onto the distant planet to find Ezra, which she does, Ahsoka finds Sabine, and they all fight Thrawn and Morgan and some sort of Force Witches, though mostly they just fight Morgan. Thrawn escapes stranding Ahsoka and Sabine on the planet with noway back to the proper Star Wars Galaxy.

That’s the gist, there is also a sassy droid, because it’s Star Wars, of course there is. Actually, there are TWO sassy droids but one only hangs around with Hera. Someone invented helpful droids and programmed them for all these specific tasks. Then they decided that was boring and droids should all be sassy and kind of rude and gave them personalities to match this need.

Ahsoka herself is…. Kind of boring honestly. I didn’t watch Rebels but did watch Clone Wars. And she seems a lot more energetic there. I suppose having your former Master become the galaxy’s biggest asshole kind of fucks a person over though. I found her kind of dull in Clone Wars as well. I’m not sure if this is an issue with Rosario Dawson or not either. I think she was just written to be too unemotional, which feels weird because what I remember of her is, that she is pretty impulsive and fairly excitable and she trained under Anakin, who is, well, basically the same. There is a sort of, sub plot where she seems to worry that she will end up like her Master, and become evil, but it really doesn’t shine through as well as it could.

The show’s secondary main character is Sabine Wren. My wife asked if she was related to “the other guy”, which I assumed she meant Mando, because she asked when Sabine finally dug out her armor. She meany the other Wren, Kylo Ren. She may have actually meant Mando, but got the names mixed up a bit. Anyway, no, she isn’t. I don’t know anything about Sabine before, but I assumed with he Mandalorian armor, she was kind of a bad ass warrior type. Turns out, Sabine is kind of a massive fuck up, like all the time.

Like seriously, I kind of want to like her but god does she constantly screw things up. Also, I get that they wanted to show the actress, but she could really take a page from Mando and keep her helmet on more, at least during combat. You have armor that is essentially indestructible, including against Lightsabers. Maybe use it? Anyway, the actress does fine, and the character is fine, I just didn’t think the character was so bad at everything. The main issue I have with this is it makes her age, really unclear. She was in Rebels, which was before A New Hope, not by much, but A New Hope to Jedi is like 4 or 5 years and I think this show is 5 or 10 years after Jedi, so basically, we’re looking at 15 years, probably. Even if the Rebels characters skew younger, I would guess she is like 15 or so minimum in that show, so this Sabine is 30 something, and she is hailed as a hero in battle (literally during Ahsoka her introduction is a ceremony in her honor), and she has had plenty of time to sort of, hone up her abilities.

She should be better. She doesn’t need to be perfect, or super amazing, but even during basic combat she feels weak.

Hera seemed cool and I generally like Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It seems a bit irresponsible to drag her kid out on a secret mission though. He seemed to mostly exist for fanservice. She actually added some unexpected change of pace dynamic to the story that I liked though. Unlike Sabine, she is competent, and in charge of a New Republic Security force. She helps the heroes and shows up frequently, but she also is often doing it, from afar, because she does have a job to do. She does run off at one point to provide assistance against orders, but it, reasonably, doesn’t go so far that she heads off on the whole “special trip to another galaxy” after Thrawn and Ezra.

I mentioned above trying to decide if I wanted to watch the last few episodes, and when deciding, my wife harassed me that I, “Just want to watch the hot chicks some more,” while also making a comment about Hera’s tentacles, and wondering if she uses them for “other things”. Considering every other Twi’lek seems to have the job of “sexy dancer”, then I would have to assume, the answer is yes.

The last of the hero characters we care about is Ezra Bridger. But I’d like to side not about how weird it was that they kept using everyone’s full names. “Ezra Bridger” and “Sabine Wren” being the most repetitious. Anyway, he only shows up for the last few episodes. I liked him overall, it was fun watching him fight along side Sabine without a saber like a Jedi Monk. I do wonder why he so adamantly refused to take the saber from Sabine, given it’s apparently his old saber. I’m sure there is some backstory there from Rebels. I sort of thought maybe he was just, maybe beyond the need of a saber in his Force use, but later he slaps together a saber aboard Ahsoka’s ship so he can have a weapon.

Something also worth mentioning that I really liked, after Ezra was introduced, it really gave a lot of interesting Dynamics to these different levels of Jedi. You have Ahsoka, who is effectively a fully trained Jedi Knight, I know at some point she got excommunicated from he order during Clone Wars, but she’s basically, fully, officially trained. Then you have Ezra, who seems to be pretty well trained, but trained after Order 66. They used a term for this in the show but I forget what it was, but Ezra (and Sabine) are Jedi trained outside the official structure. Luke would actually be one of these as well. Anyway, Ezra has had a lot of training, in an unofficial capacity. Then you have Sabine, and what I gather from Ahsoka, is that Sabine has, some really light training, and is force-sensitive, but she is basically a newbie. This shows up in a few ways in character actions. For one, despite that he is not nearly as close to him as the other characters are, Ahsoka immediately trusts Ezra in combat. She knows he is capable and competent, despite that he has been stranded on this planet a galaxy away. He’s probably a little rusty, but he knows what he is doing and Ahsoka recognizes this. It’s also interesting to contrast these three with say, Anakin and Obi-wan. Fully trained Jedi Masters. or even Luke, who was trained by two of the best Jedi and comes from a family who is strongly aligned with the force. Ahsoka, Ezra and Sabine fight, they use sabers, but they aren’t nearly as elegant about it as the trained Jedi Masters. There isn’t lots of other stuff flying around, they aren’t really whipping through enemies and slashing them up. Granted it’s all likely a side effect of “show budget vs movie budget”. During the climax, there are these Zombie Stormtroopers, and all I could think was, Anakin and Obi-wan would have hacked right through this group, especially since they are no longer living. Like, literally hacked, limbs, legs, and heads, to disable the undead threat.

On a side note, I hated the zombie Stormtroopers. They were not zombie-like at all, except I think maybe one point, but I just, don’t care for the zombie gimmick at all, and I don’t care for bringing the concept into Star Wars.

This seems like as good of a time as any to bring up the villains. The evil lady, Morgan, was pretty meh. The Witches stuff felt a little too much in the realm of, “You needed to watch Rebels” in terms of needing back story. They could have fixed this by, I dunno, implying they were basically force users of a different style. Which is what I assume at this point. Anyway, she definitely fell into the realm of an unknowing pawn in the grand scheme of things. She acted as if she was important but she never was. At one point these other witches give her some sort of magic sword, and I turned to my wife and commented, “Oh look, now she has something to fight Jedi with”. She never really does anything very witchy though, maybe some Force Lightning would have been nice. The zombie troopers were the product of the three other witches who were hanging around with Thrawn.

Oh right, Thrawn. They needed a better actor. Thrawn is known for being a strategic mastermind, and not so much a combatant, but he also himself looks menacing. This Thrawn looks… not so menacing. His face is way too soft. Every Thrawn depiction in comics, books, toys, etc, he has very structured cheeks and a long tall face. Here’s something that makes this more annoying. So, they picked this guy, because he does the voice of Thrawn on Rebels. Which is a questionable choice given that visuals matter. But I went off to IMDB to check this, and based don’t he actor’s headshot there, he actually DOES have the look to make an alright live-action Thrawn. So basically, it’s a makeup issue. It’s a dumb thing to be hung up on, but all they needed to do was highlight his cheeks a bit more so his head didn’t come off so flat and round.

I also found the way they discussed Thrawn really weird. And I say this, as someone who is familiar with who he is. It’s always been a bit of a weird thing I suppose, it almost applies to all of these characters, but everyone else at least gets little side nods to who they are and how they relate to each other. Thrawn is mentioned in probably every episode, he doesn’t appear until, I think episode 5, out of 8. He spends all of his time hanging out on his Star Destroyer. He is mentioned, repeatedly, as this great threat that could bring about the return of the empire. He does not appear in any of the movies. In his original incarnation, he was primary a post OT character, in the new canon, he is a pre OT character. This series sort of sets up a potential to sort of, re-adapt the “Legacy” books of Heir to the Empire. Basically, his original incarnation.

Anyway, even knowing who is was/is, it’s hard to really feel the weight of his supposed menace, because he just, isn’t very menacing. Maybe part of the problem is that his primarily skill, is just, boring for TV versus a book. He also is very limited in resources here, which he actually brings up a few times. He’s been stranded on this planet for like 10-15 years or something, and his group counts and resources are low, he just has one ship and some witches. He also kind of pushes a few times that his primary goal is to return home, to regain resources, above all else. This is probably the closest we really get to seeing how ruthlessly single focused he can be. There are a few other parts, like how he releases Sabine, making it seem like a nice gesture, but in reality, it’s just more strategy. He can kill her and inflict the wrath of her allies, or he can send her off on a fruitless quest in the wasteland and at worst she serves as a distraction to any other potential problems that may come to find her.

Anyway, the show ends on a cliffhanger where Thrawn returns (along with a hiding Ezra) back to the main galaxy, leaving Ahsoka and Sabine stranded. There is no indication of his plans once he returns, it would be kind of interesting if they had him start setting up the First Order and the grounds for the return of Palpatine and maybe some of this universe can be fleshed out a bit to help maybe redeem the garbage ball that was the Sequel Trilogy movies.

I also have not mentioned Baylan and Shin, at all yet. Which is kind of a tragedy because Baylan is by far the best character in this show. And a bigger tragedy is his actor has passed away so they will have to replace him for the follow up season. Maybe they could CGI something then give him a “Sith Mask”. Sith seem to like masks. Baylan and Shin are not sith though, not explicitly anyway. Baylan is a sort of, disenfranchised survivor of Order 66, and Shin is his apprentice. She is definitely more sith like, having been trained entirely under Baylan after his fall from faith. Baylan has selfish motives, but he also has a lot of decorum about him. He reminds me a LOT of Count Dooku, whom is probably my favorite Star Wars character,. I kind of jokingly referred to Baylan initially as “Fat Dooku”, between his personality and his cape he had early on, and his beard, he really felt like Dooku, except not as slim. He isn’t even particularly “fat,” it just felt like a bad joke. Shin is pretty cool as well, I expected her to fully betray Baylan but it didn’t happen. She seems reasonably skilled, but also is heavily driven by anger and hate. She would definitely be a full sith if there was a sith to join.

He and Shin serve as enforcer mercenaries working for Morgan. Both weild red light sabers, neither uses the Force itself that much. Baylin has some ulterior motive plans for going to the distant planet, which aren’t ever explained, it’s more of a set up for the second season. The pair also have a bit of a split, as Baylin kind of abandons Shin to work on his plans while she faces off against our three hero Jedi. At one point he says to her a line that was something like, “I was around your age when I lost everything” may come back around and bite him in the end. She has kind of been extra screwed over by everyone at this point.

The last thing worth mentioning is probably the little rock crab men. Ok, also maybe a quick nod toward the shogun warrior looking Tusken Raiders. Technically they aren’t Tusken Raiders, but they really come off as just being, “Tusken Raiders in Samurai-ish armor”. The little crab men were basically Ezra’s friends for the last many years of his life. He seems to care about them a lot, though he does sort of abandon them to leave for home as well. This is actually something that comes up sometimes in movies that annoys men, and there is probably a trope name for it. I get that Ezra wants to go home, and I am not sure of his age, I suspect it’s similar to Sabine at “30 something”. At this point, he has been potentially living with these guys for close to half his life. Any real person, will have attachment to these little alien guys. It’s also more recent, so it’s arguably likely he would have MORE attachment to them than his previous life. But then his previous life shows up and it’s like, “See ya later rock crab men!”

Well, sort of.

When the last episode started, I was sure there would be a cliffhanger ending, because there wasn’t enough time to resolve all the plot threads. When they spend half the episode basically, slowly flying their ship along protecting these slow moving crab dudes walking below, it cemented this thought. For some context, they pretty much knew that Thrawn was prepping to leave as soon as possible. Morgan arrived with a Star Destroyer sized Hyperspace ring for long range travel, and Thrawn was all over loading up to leave. I am pretty sure Sabine was around when they discussed this and should know they had 3 days tops to accomplish their mission of Stopping Thrawn. We’re on the last moments of the last day, and they could fly right on over, very rapidly, but instead, they are creeping along protecting this little colony of crab men.

The ship crashes after a battle protecting them, and Ezra says something like, “that’s probably going to slow us now.” Ironically, it actually speeds them up, because at that point they abandon the crab men and head out on the wolf dog mounts that are native to the planet and arrive very rapidly.

Before wrapping up, I want to mention one of my main actual complaints with the plot. It has a lot of “too convenient timing” moments. Ahsoka goes to investigate a shipyard, JUST as the enemies happen to be collecting their illegal large hyperdrive engine. Sabine runs into the crab men, and just HAPPENS to meet the one wearing Ezra’s rebellion insignia necklace. This sort of thing happens, several times throughout the series.

Anyway, overall, I enjoyed the series. It does a good job of feeling a lot like “Old Star Wars” which has a very distinct sort of, Sci-Fi Fantasy feel. It’s not a perfect world Star Trek future, or a near future Earthlike future. It’s basically, a fantasy story, with some technology. There is a bit where they are searching for Ahsoka by basically flying ships around looking for her body.

Oh, which reminds me of the last thing I wanted to discuss that I completely forgot. Anakin Skywalker. They had Hayden Christian back as Anakin, and it was such a good little series of moments. Ahsoka gets defeated by Baylan and has a sort of, “standard movie moment of reflection” vision quest. Where Anakin shows up. He isn’t quite a “Force Ghost” because some of the things he says implies that he has no control or idea what’s happening with the vision quest, which involves flashbacks to some of Ahsoka’s past. He also doesn’t seem to really know that he falls to the dark side, he’s more just a hallucination guiding her. Part of her fear, and why she gave up teaching Sabine, is that she (Ahsoka) might become like her master. Anakin of course, becomes Darth Vader, the most menacing Sith in the galaxy. Ahsoka knows they share a lot of similar personality traits. To some extent, this also kind of shows WHY she is so sober in her later years depicted in the show. That history is pretty traumatic. But the whole sequence is great especially these moments where Anakin flashes to Vader briefly, and later when he sort of turns on her and suddenly has a red saber. It’s all just some great symbolism of Ahsoka’s fears.

Review – Movie – Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Pokemon ventures into the live action realm that’s popular lately with Detective Pikachu. It’s loosely based on the 3DS title of the same name, though there are quite a few changes to the plot and characters. The film follows Tim Goodman who teams up with a talking Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds as a wisecracking PG Deadpool. They set out to solve the mystery of Tim’s father’s death but end up unraveling a larger conspiracy.

The general plot is pretty straight forward and predictable. There are very few real twists and none of them feel particularly shocking, even probably the biggest one that happens at the end. The trip though is pretty fun. There are quite a few funny jokes and moments, the Mr. Mime Sequence shown in the trailers is pretty great, and pretty dark in it’s humor, for example. There is a lot of “Loony Tunes” style humor, that is, jokes that are funny for kids and adults but for different reasons.

It’s visually well done. The live action Pokemon all are very recognizable, and look pretty good in their “flesh and blood” style. The little Easter egg moments and little bits of Pokemon doing things in the background that really make the world feel alive. The city where this movie is set is, by way of the plot, special. Special because it’s dedicated to helping Pokemon and people live together in harmony, so there isn’t any battling or people throwing Pokeballs around. Everyone has a “buddy” Pokemon and they all work together to do their jobs.

Pretty much all of the flaws land in the 3rd act, when the villain is revealed, and his motives are a little dodgy, which makes the whole thing feel kind of odd. It’s executed well, it just could have been better. It’s also not particularly groundbreaking in any meaningful way. It’s essentially Rodger Rabbit with Pokemon.

It’s a good movie, it’s not an amazing movie. It does a good job at what it sets out to be.

Additional Spoiler Thoughts Beyond Beyond This Point

In tradition of how I tend to do reviews, I’m going to add a few additional thoughts that contain spoilers below. Read at your own risk.

So, like I said, it’s a lot of “predictable” so most of this will be about the endgame bits of the movie. So, the main villain Twist. This was probably the one real surprising twist, though it’s been done before so it wasn’t really shocking. Also, he’s not a huge actor, but you don’t pick up Bill Nighy to waste him on a throw away character in a wheelchair. That said, why the hell did he want to merge everyone with their Pokemon, aside from being “crazy evil guy”? I get why he wanted to do himself, but forcing it on everyone felt a little random and out there.

Not to mention it felt underused in it’s execution. Basically, all the humans vanished and the Pokemon all just sort of stood around doing nothing. This would have been a prime opportunity to do a few gags about the Human/Pokemon not knowing how to act or what to do. Especially say, Yoshida and Lucy, whom we have watched throughout the movie and can relate to.

This plot point also made the second twist of Tim’s father being Pikachu extremely predictable as well. Actually using Ryan Reynolds was a nice touch. It kind of sucks that they can’t really make a sequel with Ryan Reynolds Pikachu though, not without retreading the same plot ground.

A few other thoughts, the Torterra scene felt really pointless. The Greninja could have injured Pikachu and moved the plot ahead in the same way. I mean it was kind of neat seeing the massive Pokemons, but they basically just stood up and laid back down into the scenery. I guess the writers decided they needed an action sequence for the film.

Speaking of the action sequences, the other two Action scenes were both pretty good. Pikachu vs Charizard was cool, though Pikachu didn’t really DO anything. the final Mewtwo vs Pikachi was good but the whole Evil Ditto bit was what really made that scene. Plus it was a nice way to push the twist with the Father instead of the Son being the villain. Since the Son actually did something useful in the fight.

Review – MCU – Captain Marvel (2019)

Spoiler Free Thoughts and Review

Infinity War and Endgame are, not surprisingly, coming out very close to each other.  At least when compared to the previous Avengers outings they are close to each other.   This is kind of understandable given how disruptive the end of Infinity War was.  Even Agents of SHIELD essentially took a prolonged break to wait for things to be fixed.  A couple of films have squeezed in between, both featuring things that will likely show up prominently in Avengers End Game.  The first was Ant-Man and the Wasp, which according to the post credits scene, effectively happens simultaneously along side Avengers Infinity War.

Captain Marvel gets around this problem by taking place in the past.  Only the credits scene happens during “present day”.  This is kind of a first for Marvel films which have always taken place “Present day”.  Captain America: The First Avenger got around this by having it’s current day scene happen at the end of the film after Steve wakes up from his long cold sleep.

The core of the film is an origin story for Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, aka Vers (pronounced Veers).  The majority of the film takes place in the mid 90s with some flashbacks to Carol’s past life 6 years previous.  It sort of mixes up the standard “origin” concept this way since it doesn’t just start with “here is how she got her powers” then “here is how she learns to be a hero”, which is nice.  Her original also ties heavily into the plot itself.

The real show stealers of this film are Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a CGIed younger version of himself as Nick Fury, and Carol’s cat Goose.  Ben Mendelsohn also does a pretty good job as the Skrull leader Talos throughout the film.  There are some good funny bits, mostly involving one or more of these three characters though it’s not a constant joke like Guardians of the Galaxy.

So how is the movie?  It’s… alright.  There has been some controversy with the film getting brigaded with negative reviews on review sites.  It’s not the best Marvel film by any stretch, but it’s certainly not god awful like some of these “ratings” suggest.  It’s like a pretty solid 7/10 or so probably.

Synopsis and Spoilers

The film opens with Carol, at this point known as Vers (Veers), living on the Kree home world and training with Yon-Rogg to join an elite Kree Commando force known as the Starforce.  We get a brief look at how she has no memory of her past but has dreams of it occasionally through a brief dream sequence where she is injured on the ground along side Annette Benning’s character and being attacked by a Skrull.  The Starforce and Kree are at war with the Skrulls.  The Kree should be fairly familiar to anyone following the MCU, they have showed up in a few movies and the Agents of SHIELD show quite a bit.  The Skrulls are new to the MCU though.  Basically, they are tricky aliens who can shapeshift.  It’s not a plot element in the movie but Super Skrulls can also replicate the abilities of super heroes.

Anyway, Vers gets summoned to meet with the Supreme Intelligence, leader of the Kree, who takes the form of “something important to each individual”.  In the case of Vers, it takes the form of Annette Benning.  Vers is recruited into Starforce and the little party of fighters head off on a mission to rescue someone on a Skrull planet.  They arrive, we get to see the Starforce in action a bit when they are ambushed by Skrulls, and Vers heads into a base alone to look for the hostage.  It turns out it’s a trap and the hostage is a Skrull, and Vers is taken captive.

We get a few flashes of her past again, as the Skrulls scan her memory for information.  They find a memory of Vers and Annette Benning together on an airfield on Earth, after reviewing the memory several times they discern the location of the airfield.  Around this time Vers manages to break free of the system and starts fighting her way out of the Skrull ship.  She escapes as the ship explodes and crash lands in a Blockbuster video on Earth.

This brings up my first kind of problem here, we later find out she was out for a few hours, but it’s not really explained when the Skrulls traveled to Earth from wherever they were.  I mean, obviously it happened, but the way it was presented felt a little random and convenient. 

After using the Earth’s phone system and some Kree technology, Vers manages to contact Yon-Rogg and sets out to find out why the Skrulls were looking for Annette Benning.  Not before being confronted by SHIELD and Nick Fury, with Agent Coulson in tow as a rookie agent.  Fury doesn’t seem to quite believe Vers’ story about aliens and Skrulls and Kree.  They are interrupted by an attack by a Skrull whom Vers chases down on foot with Fury and Coulson pursuing in a car.  Vers fights with the Skrull a bit on an elevated train as the SHIELD agents follow on along behind.  Fury gets a call on the radio of his car from Coulson, who wonders where everyone went from the Blockbuster, which alerts Fury that Coulson in the car isn’t who he thinks it is.  After a brief fight he wrecks his car, killing the Skrull who reverts back to his normal form.  Vers loses the Skrull she was following in a crowd. 

After changing to some normal clothes from her fancy Kree suit, Carol takes to searching the internet for clues about Annette Benning’s whereabouts.  Coulson gets some information on the Skrull body at the SHIELD base before, in classic Fury fashion, showing up randomly to talk to Vers.  Since he now believes her story, they agree to team up to figure out what’s going on and head to a secret base where Annette Benning was working.  In the base they find that the person they are looking for has been dead for years.  They also find a cat that appeared previously in Vers’ memories and some information on the Light Speed drive that had been worked on there.  Vers also discovers that she is in a photo of the test experimental test plane.

Meanwhile, Fury has contacted SHIELD to let them know where he was, only it turns out that his boss has been replaced by a Kree.  In a bit of a clever bit, he discovers this when his boss calls him “Nick” instead of “Fury”.  He previously made a huge point to Vers that no one calls him anything but Fury.  No one.  He tricks the Skrull into splitting up by commenting “Just like in Haiti”, which I only mention as it comes up again later.

Anyway, Fury reunited with Vers, who is not happy at all about him alerting SHIELD to their location.  There is a brief battle before they escape in a Quadjet, which looks a lot like a bulkier and older model Quinjet.  They discover that the cat managed to stow away with them on board the jet.  They set off to visit Maria Rambeau, who was listed as the last person to see Vers alive in her past life. 

It turns out Maria was best friend to Vers in her past life.  They bond, we learn that Vers is from Earth (which we all kind of expected given the flashbacks).  We learn that her name isn’t Vers, it’s Carol Danvers.  There is a half a dog tag that reads “Carol Dan” on it.  Carol had a jacket that apparently Maria’s daughter wears sometimes.  Maria is a little town since she is happy her friend is alive and a little irritated that she was off on another planet. 

This is all interrupted by the arrival of Talos, the Skrull commander, now in his normal Skrull form.  He wants a truce, and to talk, and to reveal… the plot twist.  It turns out that Annette Benning wasn’t human, but was a Kree scientist known as Mar-Vell.  He plays back a recording of the crash Carol was involved in, the one that’s he had been dreaming about.  Mar-Vell and Carol are piloting the experimental craft and get shot down by some alien craft.  Only instead of being attacked by Skrulls, it turns out she had been attacked by Yon-Rogg.  The Kree were the ones after the Light Speed Drive all along, not the Skrulls.  During the confrontation, Mar-Vell had revealed her secret to Carol.  Carol then fires a Kree weapon at the Light Speed drive, causing it to explode.  Somehow the energy is absorbed into Carol’s body.  Seeing this power, Yon-Rogg abducts her, her memory is wiped, and she is recruited to Starforce.  We also see him pick up the other half of the dog tag which reads only “vers”, which was the missing half of “Carol Danvers” on the complete dog tag, and the reason she is called “Vers” early on.

Carol is a little pissed that she has been lied to of course. 

This recording also leads to the secret coordinates that aren’t on the Earth, but are actually in orbit around Earth.  The Skrulls modify the Quadjet for spaceflight and they all (Carol, Fury, Talos, Maria, the Cat) head into space.  Once there they discover Mar-Vell’s secret cloaked space station, which, surprise, contains a bunch of Skrull refugees.  Specifically, Talos’ family, who had been working with Mar-Vell.  It also contains the source of power that the Kree are after in the Tesseract Cube.  Carol gives the Tesseract to Fury for safe keeping, or specifically, Goose the Cat eats is with a bunch of tentacles that spew out of it’s mouth, because it’s not a cat it’s a Flurgen. 

The Starforce squad shows up and use an implant in Carol’s head to force her to power down.  Carol is then, once again, confronted by the Supreme Intelligence.  The Skrulls and Fury and Maria are locked up.  Carol confronts the Supreme intelligence who kind of taunts her about how weak she is.  This pretty much causes her to overcome the implant and unleash her full power.  She wipes the floor with the Starforce Squad.  Meanwhile, Talos has disguised himself as a Starforce grunt, and alerts Fury with a comment about Haiti, which is once again, kind of clever.  They overpower their captors and escape with the Skrulls to the Quadjet.  Along the way we get to see more of Goose’s true power as the Cat eats several of the guard whole.

Carol and Yon-Rogg blast out of the station in a shuttle, but not before Ronan arrives to cleanse the Earth of it’s Skrull infestation.  His starships launch several missiles at the planet.  Carol uses her newfound Super Saiyan powers to fly into space, destroying the missiles along the way and easily dispatching one of Ronan’s ship.  Ronan turns tail and exits the area to go off and get killed by the Guardians of the Galaxy later.

Carol returns to the surface to confront Yon-Rogg.  Realizing he is no match for her, he goads her into proving she can fight him with no powers, but she blasts him anyway.  Because she is “the hero” she tosses him into the escape pod, programs it to head back to the Kree home world and tells him to let the Kree know she is coming for them.

She says her goodbyes to Fury and Maria, leaving the Goose and the Tesseract with SHIELD.  She makes it her mission to help the Skrulls find a new home world and to combat the Kree, and she leaves with the Skrulls to parts unknown.  Before leaving she leaves Fury with the modified pager he can use to summon her in case of emergency.

There are two end credits scenes.  One with the Avengers in Avengers HQ, lamenting their loss at the hands of Thanos and pondering the meaning of the Pager, which was activated by Fury at the end of Infinity War.  The pager has mysteriously stopped sending a signal and they don’t know why.  Suddenly, they turn and a very angry looking Carol is there, and asks ‘Where’s Fury”.

The second scene shows Fury’s desk, Goose jumps up on the desk.  Anyone who has owned a cat can probably predict what happens next in the context of the film, I know I did.  I mean cats like to eat things they shouldn’t like plants, or Tesseracts, but these things don’t really flow through the digestive tract.  Goose starts hacking and coughing before ejecting the tesseract out onto the desk.  It’s pretty funny.

How it’s Connected

So, there’s a fair amount of connected here, but the biggest and most obvious is the Tesseract which first appeared in Captain America: TFA and later in the first Avengers film.  It also made a brief appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, since after Avengers it was stored in Asgard, where it was saved from Ragnaros by Loki.  Then again in the opening for Avengers: infinity War where it was taken by Thanos and inserted into the Infinity Gauntlet as the Space Stone.

The Tesseract is shown to be the source of power for the Light Speed drive that was being developed by Mar-Velle which exploded and infused Carol with her super powers.  It makes sense that this would be able to power a super powered space engine since it’s the Space Stone, which has the ability to let the user travel across space.

Fury gets his eye scratched out by the cat Goose, which is supposed to explain why he has an eye patch in the future.  It’s kind of cute since it’s bad ass Nick Fury and you expect it to have happened by something more than a cat.  In this same line, it’s a little lame, because you expected it to be more than a cat.  Ok, technically Goose is a Flurgen or whatever.

Near the end of the film, the Kree general Ronan makes a brief appearance.  His small fleet of ships shows up to destroy Earth but are stopped by Captain Marvel when she goes Super Saiyan.  Ronin, you may recall was the primary antagonist of the first Guardians of the Galaxy.  He isn’t the only character to show up in Captain Marvel from GotG, Korath (“Star-Lord Man”; “Who?”) shows up as well as a member of the Kree Star Force squad that Carol is a part of.

Then of course there is Agent Coulson, whom Fury refers to as “Rookie”.  His roll isn’t very big but it’s nice to see him show up again in the films and not just Agents of SHIELD.

There is also a slightly cheesy brief bit at the end that implies Fury got the name for The Avengers from Carol’s pilot nickname of “Avenger”.

Then of course the credits scene, where Carol answers the call of her pager sent out by Fury at the end of Infinity War, and shows up looking rather pissed.

One other note that may or may not become relevant later, Carol’s friend has a daughter named Monica Rambeau.  She is like 10 maybe in the film.  She carried the Captain Marvel mantle in the comics briefly, and even lead the Avengers briefly.  I doubt she elevates to that level in the MCU, but she may show up again “present day” as an adult.  She is also a member of the slightly niche with a cult following group Nextwave.  I would be pretty happy if they opted to make a Nextwave film.

Thoughts on what’s next

Captain Marvel will show up again alongside the Avengers in the next film, Avengers: Endgame.  Her massive power level will definitely be a strong addition to whatever fight happens in that film.  I look forward to seeing her go toe to toe with Thanos.  I also wonder how well she will play with the rest of the characters.  In her own movie here, she comes off as pretty single track on her goals.  I can see her showing up, discovering what has happened to Fury and everyone else, and jetting off to beat the shit out of Thanos as soon as she discovers his location, despite protests from anyone else (Steve Rodgers). 

I can also see her getting along with Thor in interesting ways.  Thor already outclasses all of the other Avengers in power level, which became supremely clear in infinity War, but I feel like Carol may actually be stronger than he is in a straight fight. 

Final Notes

There isn’t a lot of the larger picture that is advanced here, but it does introduce us to a new hero which will add a new dynamic to things going forward.  The film does a fairly decent job of sort of explaining where Carol has been since her time in the 90s and the present day time.  So far, nothing has happened that would have given Fury cause to summon her before either.  The invasion of New York was handled by the Avengers and Ultron was a problem, but not one that he really knew about until last minute, and once again, the Avengers managed to keep it under control.  Ultimately, it’s a nice introduction, but it’s kind of unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.

Review – Movie – Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

When this film was first announced, I have to say I was both kind of excited and a little worried. Excited because it looked pretty awesome, worried because, manga to live action adaptations tend to be kind of hit or miss. I also felt like even if it was good, it wouldn’t really have enough mainstream appeal to actually be successful.

While I really liked this movie, its not perfect. It has a lot of weird pacing issues and the ending left a bad taste but the visuals are amazing and the action sequences were all well done. The story is alright as well, though if anything it’s a little overly complex for the duration of the film. In preparation for the film I read through a lot of the original manga. The manga, is sort of a series of separate stories involving Alita, one event happens, then another happens, then another, and so on. The movie is sort of a remix of these stories where they are a bit more intertwined together. This Blending helps make things feel a little more like one big story, but it can make things a little harder to keep track of which characters are important to which storyline.

There are a lot of parts that are pretty faithful to the manga, and others that are toned down and others that seem to be new. For example, the first real story in the manga involves Alita and Ido tracking down a killer who is obsessed with eating people’s brains. The same killer shows up in the movies, but the brains part is removed and his role is expanded a bit so he shows up several times throughout the movie. There is a big set piece of Motorball, which is all in later story elements of the Manga, but in the movie, it’s introduced as a plot device earlier on, and we see less of Alita rising through the ranks of the sport, probably to save time. There are however plenty of other sequences that are lifted directly from the pages of the Manga.

As much as I like that they tried to make things more cohesive, it also kind of hurts the story a lot. Alita’s evolution from innocent little girl amnesiac to bad ass warrior is basically explained away by “mysterious past”. It feels a little unnatural. In the manga, she joins Motorball because she is mad at Ido and upset over a recent personal loss and essentially wants to forget her new past life. In the movie, she joins more “because it’s cool” and vaguely because the winner gets to go to Zalem. That personal loss moment doesn’t occur until the end of the film and she never really turns away from Ido. I found this a little disappointing since Ido and Alita competing against each other’s Motorball teams while pretending to be strangers was kind of a fun bit in the manga.

The next paragraph involves some spoilers for the film. There is also a lot of subplot involving Demi Moore’s character Rose, and the mysterious Nova. I really feel like the parts about Nova should have been seriously toned down or trimmed out, with more emphasis on Vector being the main villain of the film. The plot points for Nova literally go nowhere except to set up a sequel and the plot would have felt more contained without it. Demi Moore also has this weird tendency to just sort of show up a few times, to either be a snide bitch or to help out randomly. She exists to sort of give more backstory for Ido’s connection to Alita, but overall she just sort of feels uselessly tacked into everything.

This leads to my main disappointment with this film, which frankly, is only a disappointment if there is never a sequel. The movie just sort of… ends, with no real resolution. Things are set up for a sequel, but I worry it may not do well enough to get one, leaving the movie with a very meh ending. My one optimistic hope is that that the producer, James Cameron, best known for Avatar and Titanic, two of the largest films ever made, has such a huge hard on for the material that he’s been trying to make this movie for like 20 years. I feel like he may push a sequel out even if this first film is a flop.

One other thing I definitely want to address is the eyes. When the trailers first dropped for this, the one main topic of discussion were Alita’s large eyes. In the actual film, it’s really not an issue, at all for a few reasons. First, a lot of the cast has some sort of cyborg augmentation. Hell off the top of my head, I think there were only a few notable characters who didn’t have some level of cyborg going on. There are character with robot arms, characters with robot skulls, characters with robot legs, there are robot parts, everywhere. That’s part of the world of Iron City, where the film takes place. Also, during some flashbacks of Alita’s past, other characters with these same eyes are shown, which implies that it’s part of where she came from, and not just a gimmick to make her character look more “anime”.

Speaking if Iron City, it’s a really interesting setting for the story. I really like these sort of dystopian future cyberpunk settings, and Alita has a lot of great atmosphere to it. The story takes place in Iron City, which is basically a huge slummy junkyard that sits under the flying sky city of Zalem. Nothing is really shown of Zalem aside from it’s underside. Many of the characters have dreams of reaching this city, which is believed to be some sort of utopian paradise, and it’s a central plot element motivating several of the characters. The lower city is cluttered and crowded and full of cobbled together buildings, constructed from scraps dropped by the city of Zalem.

I also wanted to touch a bit on the violence as well, more for informational purposes than that I really have a problem with it. The movie itself is rated PG-13. There isn’t any sex or nudity, there isn’t a lot of swearing, but it’s fairly violent. The manga is extremely violent. It’s full of pretty detailed art of people getting their heads crushed or brains ripped out and eaten. The movie tones this down quite a bit, but there is still a ton of dismemberment. On one hand, it’s all cyborgs, so, they are “like robots”. Except as “cyborgs”, they ARE people, with robot bits. If a human has his head removed and put on a human body, just because it doesn’t have a bunch of blood, doesn’t mean it’s not a little graphic in nature.

Wrapping up, it’s a good cyberpunk film and manga adaptation. It’s more faithful of an adaptation than some other recent manga adaptations for sure (Ghost in the Shell). That said, it’s based on an old Manga, which means it’s not really going to be everyone’s cup of tea due to some of the cultural oddities that come along with that. It’s visually nice but it’s not nearly as accessible plotwise as say, a Marvel movie. Fans of Sci-Fi and cyberpunk should definitely enjoy it.