The Spooktacular Eight Return & starting a Dead Island Retrospective

Yeah i know this is the older logo and art.

Since that thing i improvised last October did okay… let’s try to make it a yearly tradition, why not?

8 selected horror reviews sparkled through the whole month, in a pick-n-mix fashion!

Also, starting from October onwards, each month i will have a full lenght, in-depth review for each installment of the Dead Island franchise, with the retrospective culminating on the release of Dead Island 2 in February 2023.

Yeah, since this time we actually have real gameplay footage, Deep Silver isn’t waiting for a topical release date anymore for its zombie game, and wants this out before the unthinkable happens and they’re forced to restart the project from scratch for the 4th time or something.

Or before Goat Simulator takes further piss of that old E3 trailer with Pigeon John’s The Bomb playing to the sprinting dead.

The ONLY game i won’t be reviewing it’s the smarthphone spin-off Dead Island Survivors, because aside an old EXPRESSO review made in italian years ago (which i’m not unearthing or reusing in any way), i don’t have much written thoughts on it, as i didn’t play it that much when it released, and the game shut down in July 2020, so…

It wasn’t bad either, it was a top down action rpg with tower defense elements, free-to-play with all the shingle that it entails, but it was basically akin to Orcs Must Die, so it’s kind of a shame i can’t revisit it anymore.

That’s free-to-play smartphone games for you.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season Two) (2022) | Cup Me Twice

Since i didn’t proper disliked the first season (see the previous review, if you would like), yeah, whatever, i watched all the Shaman King’s Netflix adaptation, i can watch this, while i wait for the complete physical release of the game to come into existence.

Continuing up from the first season’s cliffhanger, we have Cuphead and Mugman thrown into jail after they were basically set-off by the charming con-maister Chalice to enter the cookie factory on the hush, and then.. they escape/get out of it in the first episode. So much for that.

Yeah, a strong, over-arching narrative wasn’t the forte of the first season, but despite hinting at the focus being on the character of Miss Chalice, introduced right at the end of the previous season, hanging around with the boys… even that gets resolved quickly, so any kind of plot is thrown out of the window for episodic adventures.

Mundane, episodic, adventures.

Yep, if this sounds familiar, it’s because i ultimately i have the same feelings (and criticisms) about this second season as i did for the first one: short episodes that look good but lack any real substance or interesting stories, while not being outright bad or offensive, and once again it’s clear the target audience isn’t adult fans of the videogame, animation buffs, but just… kids.

I did bother with this second season to see if it was better in any significant way, but honestly it would have been worse if the Devil (and with him a semblance of story, fun and wit) didn’t eventually come back for a couple of episodes, but thankfully he does.

But again, it don’t matter anyway, since Netflix ordered 36 episodes overall, there’s a cliffhanger, so it’s pretty much a given we’ll see a third season/slice/part.

Yay? Maybe? Whatever, later!

[EXPRESSO] Full Metal Alchemist: The Final Chapter – The Avenger Scar (2022) | Alexander “Ahoge Cum Head Tumor” Armstrong

As you might be aware, more live-action Full Metal Alchemist films were on to way to make it a trilogy, actually a two parter, announced last year to celebrate the manga’s 20th anniversary, directed by Fumihiko Sori (Ping Pong, Vexille) and both already released theathrically this year in Japan.

Now we’re getting the first part of this “Final Chapter”, The Avenger Scar, internationally via Netflix, so let’s talk about it, i did review the first FMA live action film back in 2017.

It follow directly from when the 2016’s FMA movie left, and – as the title lays out – it’s about a nameless serial killer that is roaming about Central City offing State Alchemists, dubbed “Scar” due to his “X” shaped headwound.

The brothers encounter Scar but suffer defeat and have to escape, while the intrigues surrounding the military and the Homunculus unfold..

Like the previous movie, you’ll ask yourself why bother making live-actions like these, for the obvious reasons, which include some character designs clearly never meant for real people.

I wasn’t ready to see live-action Alexander Armstrong, nor could i ever be. Jesus.

If you can get over the many absurdities that come from the “anime/manga to live-action” transition, you’ll find a decent, fairly faithful adaptation of this part of the series, with some changes to the plot that basically relocate some events earlier or later and some fairly necessary concessions that had to be made anyway to have a 2 hours film.

It’s not the bad adaptation you think it is, nor it does the material quite the justice it deserves, but it’s a decent retelling, acting it’s ok, and it does what it sets out to do.

With some questionable effects at times, but at least it’s definitely better than the Bleach live action movie.

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #14: One Piece Stampede (2019)

Oddly a movie title that could have also worked for Chopper’s Kingdom on The Land Of Strange Animals, since that actually has bull-like animals going into stampedes, while walnuts are disappointingly missing from the 14th One Piece film, One Piece Stampede, which doesn’t really have a “wild west” theme of sorts, despite its title, but delivers with a smorgasboard of characters from the series.

Fitting as its main raison d’etre was to celebrate the animated series 20th anniversary.

And indeed in retrospect its become even more clear the main goal of One Piece Stampede was to bring together an all-stars ensemble of One Piece character, especially the ones rising in popularity and that make their film debut here, like Trafalgar Law, Kidd, Boa Hancock or some oldies-but-goldies, like Smoker and Tashigi. Yep, in case you forgot or didn’t read the review of Episode Of Alabasta… they were actually absent from that one, absurd as it sounds.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #14: One Piece Stampede (2019)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #13: Film Gold (2016)

*cue crazy prospector’s laugh *

We’re finally getting to the One Piece films i’ve actually watched in theathers while they were new, and coincidentally audiences also had to wait a while before seeing a new One Piece film, 4 years to be precise. Most likely as they realized they couldn’t keep cranking them out on annual basis because otherwise Toei would find even more of its staff overworked to death. Just a hunch.

An upside of this 4 year gap is that audiences were gonna be even more eager and ready to get hyped at the prospect of a new One Piece film, one that had a very huge marketing campaign behind it, and was definitely ready to rack in the titular auruos substance, so much it had a world premiere on Jule 15th at the Emirates Palace’s hotel in Abu Dhabi, then released a week later in Japan. Not THAT surprising, considering how a Saudi fan pretty much singlehandedly funded the documentary about Dinosaur War Izenborg, simply called The Return Of Izenborg.

But today we’re talking One Piece Film Gold, so back to that!

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #13: Film Gold (2016)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #12: Film Z (2012)

After the very brief and very odd interlude of Straw Hat Chase, Toei “came to their senses” and the next year released another proper One Piece film, surely having learned that these movies are at their most successful when you have extra side-corn to market them, as in OVA and small filler arcs for the TV series, alongside the eventual promotion with retailers and shit.

So yeah, this had a tie-in filler arc in the TV anime, and an OVA set slightly before the events of the movie, Glorious Island Z, aka Nami and her big floaties taking more screentime (and “choice angles”) than Luffy eats meat during any meal of the day.

Fitting title, though.

Even if viewership can be spotty as some people got bored or tired of the TV series’ pacing (especially if they already know what’s gonna happen from reading the manga), you can bet chances of these people taking a look at the trailer for a new shiny One Piece film, even more if you market it by saying that this will pit the Straw Hats against one of their most powerful enemies ever.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #12: Film Z (2012)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #11: Straw Hat Chase 3D (2011)

Strong World was such a step up in terms of One Piece movies, such a big deal that in 2010 they didn’t release any new One Piece film, but that can be – partially – attributed to the fact Strong World was delayed to December 2009 from its original spring release windom that same year.

Clearly it was a bit too good or too much, as for the next installment Toei basically went back to the roots so hard it did a 360°, heck, arguably even more, since this is the shortest One Piece released so far (and probably will forever hold that distinction), just 30 minutes, to the point one would struggle to even consider it as such, despite being included in many One Piece films collection.

Even the first 3 movies were each longer than this, still films, but we’re basically back to that type of dealio, complete with the fact it was a double bill screening, so you would see this and Toriko 3D Kaimaku! Gourmet Adventure, which also marked the first movie for that series, but not the last time One Piece and Toriko would crossover with each other, and some space ape warriors too…

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #11: Straw Hat Chase 3D (2011)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #10: Strong World (2009)

First teased during the screenings of Episode Of Chopper, Strong World was immediately treated as a big deal, not only as was the tenth film for the series, but it was also made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the TV anime, and for the occasion Eiichiro Oda himself wrote the script, instead of just providing character designs and approving story ideas as he did for the previous movies.

Also, in what would become a trend for future One Piece movies, Strong World features an original villain that was an acquaintance, crewmate or contemporary of Gol D. Roger, and previously was detained in the Impel Down prison complex. That alongside making the Marine (or the World Goverment aligned) characters more prominent – if not integral – to the story at hand.

The villain here is the pirate Shiki, dubbed “The Golden Lion” due to his mane, a legendary pirate from the Golden Era that escaped from Impel Down by cutting off his legs, and had basically vanished from existence, only to show up 20 years later in order to take revenge on the entirety of East Blue, and force the Goverment into surrender by using genetically enhanced animals, engaged into a constant battle for survival over the islands (the titular “Strong World”) that fly thanks to Shiki’s Devil Fruit ability.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #10: Strong World (2009)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #9: Episode Of Chopper: Bloom Into Winter, Miracle Sakura (2008)

The year after Episode Of Alabasta, Toei decided to do it again… but also not quite go full recap/abridged retelling of a canonical One Piece story arc.

I guess some complaints about the previous movie eventually made their way up to the committee, but as usual, the wrong lessons were learned.

As in, nothing was learned, but they decided to both innovate and compromise at the same time with Episode Of Chopper Plus.

Chopper was already the focus of the third movie, so i think i somehow understand why chose him again, but this time we have an even weirder gaggle of creative choices.

With Episode Of Alabasta the team was tasked to do the impossible due to the lenght of that arc, so i guess they figured it would make for a better movie if they decided to set a more realistic target to adapt in the standard feature film lenght, and the Drum Island arc was certainly a bit easier in terms of “digest recap”. Arguably, a bit too much, which i speculate led to the choice of changing a lot of stuff and adding new original material specifically for this movie.

It’s an odd pastiche of new and old that also kinda baffles and bamboozles, but for different reasons from Episode Of Alabasta, honestly kinda the opposite.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #9: Episode Of Chopper: Bloom Into Winter, Miracle Sakura (2008)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #7: The Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle (2006)

Always felt some sort of pity with this one, because it had the unbelievable “luck” of coming out after a far more ambitious, creative and artistically impressive take on the same series, and while almost anything was gonna be looked down upon as a “follow up” to Baron Omatsuri and The Secret Island… going fully back on the formulaic and “mild” didn’t help, even it was “inevitable”.

Okay, that’s a bit cruel, but i guess the mixed reviews Baron Omatsuri received were taken into consideration, so the experimental period was basically declared over, time to slip back into the comfort zone and play it super safe, despite that movie being as successful as any One Piece film was.

Not that this is necessarily the sign of a bad movie, i do like “regular” One Piece after all, of course i do, but i’m not exactly impressed when a film series based on a super popular shonen series is playing to the familiar tunes immediatly after an entry took risks, and was mostly rewarded for it’s ambition, the desire of director, screenwriter to make a very different film while still playing within (& with) the established world and characters of said series. A different, risky vision.

Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle is another cuttle of fish, as in, the usual for One Piece feature films, we’re back to the regular scheduled fair, for better or worse.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #7: The Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle (2006)”