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Star Trek: Picard (2020– )
1/10
This is not Star Trek
25 February 2020
As with Discovery, this is not the Star Trek Roddenbury envisioned. The setting is dark, gory, profane and disgusting. The characters-- including Picard-- have severe issues. Gratuitous F-bombs are dropped regularly. There is torture and gore enough to make some users turn away in disgust. I lasted until the "eyeball removal" episode... then gave up on the series (I should have given up on it earlier).

This, like STD, is the Star Trek concept at its worst. They're successfully pulling in an audience by bringing back old characters such as Seven of Nine-- but these are not the characters we knew. This is not the show we knew. This is not an evolution of Star Trek, but rather a de-evolution, a dumping ground of perverse concepts and needless gore.

They had a chance with Picard to bring back a Star Trek fit for family viewing, a Star Trek that taught morals and ethics and presented hope for the future. Instead they followed the same recipe that made Discovery unpopular with so many. This is such a shame; it could have been so very much better.
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My Holo Love (2020– )
5/10
Another "That's a shame" series
25 February 2020
This series would have been a good family-worthy romantic film... except for the fact that in episodes 2 and 11 for no discernible reason the writers / directors decided to throw in a lot of gratuitous language. The rest of the series is pretty clean. Likely the language was added in the American voice-over version; it certainly has no place in this series. It's a shame someone had to put their dirty fingerprints all over the nice paint job.

Beyond that I'm not going to honor it with further review. If film makers and translators want an honest, decent review... give us an honest, decent work. There was no excuse for fouling up an otherwise good series and making it unsuitable for family viewing.
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Xiao men shen (2016)
4/10
Missed by a mile
22 February 2020
When it comes to children's animation I usually like to cut the film makers some slack for making an attempt at family films. But there is little to love about this film. From the poor choice of music to the head-scratcher story (what exactly was the moral trying to be portrayed here?) to the ultra-cliche characters, this one misses on just about every cylinder.

The real problem was the plot and story line. Exactly what were the writers and directors trying to teach here? That the way to accomplish good is to create extreme bad? Such philosophical nonsense is not a story to teach young children. It's a little difficult to tell who is the good guy and who is the bad here. The sub-plot of the bad-guy competitor is unnecessary to the main story... or is the main story a sub-plot of the evil competitive restaurateur? Hard to tell.

While the sight-gags are understandable for young children (the fart gags might gain a laugh from the 7-&-under audience), they might leave older children and adults cold. (Characters fighting over a lone bathroom because they all have quote "diarrhea" unquote... isn't all that funny.)

The cliche characters and questionable theme serve to make this an hour and a half wasted. The animation is good, the sound is well-mixed (except for the iffy American song choices). Beyond that, one can give this a pass. I don't know whether this is a case of Asian film lost in the Americanization... or if it was simply poor to start with, but it was a yawner by the 20 minute mark and didn't much improve in the remaining time.
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7/10
Quite good-- entertaining throughout
21 February 2020
I have to wonder what some neg-rating reviewers here are thinking, or what they were expecting. The acting in this movie is fine. The directing is good, as is the CGI. It has a story, a moral, teaches a good lesson. What, not enough sex, violence and foul language to suit some people? Those slamming this as a terrible movie really need to move on to something more to their taste.

This is one of the better of the DragonHeart movies. I am as quick to call a bad flick as anything, but this is simply an enjoyable film. The characters are well-developed, the bad guys properly bad, the dragon concept rather interesting. The negative reviews are no more than jaded rants. This is a decent older-children family film well worth watching.
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Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995–1996)
5/10
Disappointingly mediocre
17 February 2020
I have heard for ages that Evangelion is the best there is. So I was quite surprised to find it sub-standard in just about all aspects. Admittedly it's 2020 and this was made more than 20 years ago. Still, this is basically giant robots against impossibly powerful giant (and very wierd) monsters. By episode 10 I was starting to yawn. Episode 12 was definitely the breaking point.

Honestly, there are far better anime, far better plots, better story lines, better character development. Currently this has a rating of 8.5 on IMDB; I am puzzled to understand why. The only thing I can figure is that it appeals to a specific area of anime fandom. I have the same opinions regarding Transformers; no matter how popular it is, I find both the TV series and especially the movies just over the top absurd.

The 12 episodes I slogged through on this basically boiled down to repetitive elements: stick teenagers in skin-tight costumes and put them in a giant robot (or naked, inside a giant robot, which seems like a silly contrivance since nothing but bare shoulders are shown). Launch the giant robots. Barely destroy the giant monsters, garnering extreme damage to surrounding countryside and the robots themselves. Retrieve robots, fix robots, lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over.

The characters are 2-dimensional, from the emotionless girl to the clueless boy to the extremely obnoxious girl to the domineering father to the... well, it's a whole pot full of stock characters. There are many anime I have enjoyed immensely; this is not one of them. Trite, boring, redundant. By the time I finished episode 12 I really didn't care what happened next.
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Knights of Sidonia (2014–2015)
5/10
Split feelings
14 February 2020
While the anime itself is excellent and the graphic design superior, the entire two seasons seems to be an extremely repetitious theme: attacked by space monsters, killed by space monsters, destroy the space monsters, over and over.

The characters are reasonably interesting but very cliche... and as with many anime the most socially and romantically inept creatures in the universe.

It kept my attention, but near the end (last 3 or 4 episodes) I found myself getting bored by the repetitious theme and very repetitive fight sequences.

The biggest problem is only 2 seasons in an anime obviously intended for more. So while the story does have a climax and conclusion, there is a LOT left hanging at the end, a whole bag of character resolutions left unresolved, a bunch of thematic elements that never have the strings tied. The repetitious nature of the theme and the premature ending at the end of the second season knocks it down in stars for me. There is nothing like watching a lengthy series only to discover it incomplete and unfulfilling. That said, it was considerably more interesting than Evangelion (which in my opinion is one of the most highly over-rated and hyped anime series of all time).
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Solver (2017)
2/10
Extremely stupid and slow-moving Davinci Code wannabe
11 February 2020
The puzzles are ridiculously simple... or just ridiculous. The premise is as absurd as some of the solutions. Guaranteed cure for insomnia. The plot is plodding, the acting barely tolerable, the script apparently written by high schoolers (no wait, high schoolers often do a better job on YouTube).

This puzzle-solving movie is a real yawner. I was surprised to discover it's not an Asylum film... it's that bad.
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Two Kates (2015)
9/10
Unique and interesting
3 February 2020
This short 7-minutes-per-episode series presents the imagined experience of an intensely insecure woman who has herself cloned so she has someone to talk to and perhaps make her life happier. That's part of the trailer and no spoilers there... as it's just the basic premise of a rather ingenious show.

There are elements of "amateur" in the filming of this, but that adds to the reality of the situation rather than detracting from it. The acting is excellent considering the part portrayed. Directing is good, writing good.

What really shines here is the concept and insight in carrying out this project. I'd like to see more, but it's totally satisfactory as it ends. Note: it's likely the audience will not be expecting it to end where it does. The 8th episode is actually the final one, with the 9th episode (on Amazon Prime) simply a trailer. Would have liked to have been aware of that ahead of time.

I would give this 10 starts but it's not quite "superb"... but it's a 9-star enjoyable in my book. They might have done a little more with it, but it's fine as it is. Definitely on my "recommended watch" list. That they did this with no profanity, no nudity, sex, violence or other such and still maintained an excellent story is a two-thumbs-up achievement. Overall an excellent presentation. Just prepare yourself for something off-the-wall. It's unique.
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8/10
Excellent follow-up to the series
31 January 2020
Reference the series for good reviews of the movie; they're pretty much identical. The movie is not chunks of the series patched together, but rather a brand new plot... if the same plot can be considered new. It's still high school girls in heavy-competition tank battles, played to the gills for humor. Better than might be expected at first glance. Once one gets the idea that this is intentionally ridiculous it's a fun ride.

It's good to see the 12-episode series first, but it isn't essential to enjoying the movie. The series will fill in the concept of "Tankery" and why it exists. The movie hits the ground running and takes it for granted the audience will follow along. That's not hard to do in this romp.

I understand there are different tastes, but anyone giving this a low review just. doesn't. get. it. This film is a lot of absurd fun.
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Girls und Panzer (2012– )
8/10
Surprisingly fun
31 January 2020
When I first saw this on Netflix I almost chose not to watch it. It just looked too absurd. But after the first episode I was greatly interested-- mainly due to the humor of the one liners and setup of characters. By the 2nd & 3rd episode I was hooked.

This show starts with a ridiculous concept-- that girls in tank battles is the ultimate of high school femininity-- and jumps the shark from there, repeatedly and intentionally. Typical line: "It's just that tankery is the very essence of femininity. I don't think I've ever seen guys driving tanks."

Creds have to be given to the research staff. Obviously the creator and staff of this thing are *really in to tanks*. I'm no expert so all I can speak from is audience impact-- but it seems they have the tank models, weights, armor, maneuverability and power down pat. I think just about every tank ever made is featured in this 12-episode series and the follow-up 2 hour movie.

Ridiculous? Yes. Strategic? In some parts very much so, in other parts ludicrously so. If you're in the mood for anime girls, heavy weapons and ridiculous humor all in one series, this might be just the ticket.

On the downside: I have to say some of the rules of the tank competitions are a bit lop sided. In the drama of the show it's intended as an underdog sympathy trick... but pitting 5 tanks against 10 just doesn't seem cricket. One would think balanced sides would be a requirement. But then, one doesn't go into a high school girl tank battle expecting fair play and realism, eh? ;D

Fun watch that exceeded expectations.
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The West Wing (1999–2006)
7/10
Best writing, poor directing
29 January 2020
I would rate this 10 stars except for the on/off brilliance/blunders of directing.

The acting is excellent. The writing and scripts are great. The plot, story-telling, emotion and basic presentation is some of the best we've seen in prime-time.

One thing it did teach me on a personal level: politics in an area of insanity I wish to avoid like plague rats. Seriously, if this show is anywhere near realistic (and I believe it is), it convinces me that nowhere on this planet is there such a thing as "good government". As Churchill quoted, "Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried."

The primary negative: the directed pace of the show is often so extremely fast that the actor's words are mumbled and difficult to understand, the super-fast constant-fact-reference story line can be nearly impossible to follow without a rewind button, and even for someone born in the USA and extremely fluent in English, the dialog can often be difficult. There are often times that slowing it down a little bit, taking a tad more time to speak the lines, and giving the audience a bit more time to absorb what is going on would have done this show a lot of good.

Since this problem begins with episode 1 and lasts through the entire 7 seasons, I have to knock it down three stars. A brilliant script, terrific (multiple) plots and great acting is somewhat lost when the average viewer has difficulty following what is happening. Throughout the series I felt as if I were watching the show set on fast-forward, which at times was mentally exhausting. To late to fix it now... but one might wish for a video player with a variable speed control (while maintaining audio pitch) and slow this thing down 20 percent.

So great show, too fast a pace, often-confusing storyline (mainly because of the excessive pace). That sums it up for this review.
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6/10
Great effects and directing, ludicrous story
21 January 2020
The title of this review says it all. If you're looking for good directing, acting, audio and special effects, this film has it all. If however, you are looking for any coherency in scientific reality, you might as well watch Cinderella. We're not discussing just questionable scientific concepts, but ludicrous ones. I won't spoil anything here in the review. Suffice to say there is enough illogical and physically ridiculous presentation here as to make just about any other sci fi concept shine in comparison.

But if you're willing to totally suspend your expectation of believable plot and just go along for the ride, it's quite a ride.

Negative: It is a real shame that those responsible for English subtitling are finding it "necessary" to insert gratuitous language in the text. Dropping multiple F-bombs not present in the original language not only spoils a film where such is absolutely neither needed or warranted... but betrays all integrity to the original film. It is a trend that is inexcusable, and dropped the American release two stars based on that alone. If one is fortunate enough to view the English audio version, any such use is so subdued as to be easily missed. I'm all for freedom of speech-- but not intentional abuse of speech. Whoever is responsible should be shamed into upgrading their professional integrity.

Beyond that, I only give it six stars because of the ludicrous premise. It's a "good film" for the most part, but there's only so much fiction one can tolerate in science fiction. This significantly jumps the shark from beginning to end. Still worth the watch however. Some of the best cinematography and costuming we've seen in a good while.
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Clannad (2007–2008)
3/10
2D cliche boring characters
14 January 2020
With some 6,800+ "ratings" but only 17 reviews (most of them oh-so-glowing and in oddly-similar writing style)... one can't help but wonder if the rating system has been gamed here. Those kind of numbers just don't happen in normal IMDB reviews.

I am not an adrenaline junkie. I didn't like Transformers, and don't require action/adventure in my anime. I can appreciate slow-moving, emotional story lines as well as cerebral work. I am not easy to bore.

That said, by the end of the 3rd episode of Clannad I was bored to shutting it off. The extremely cliche 2-dimensional characters as well as a story line that makes you wonder if they're ever going to get to the main plot simply leaves the viewer cold. If they can't establish the main plot within three episodes, one has to wonder if it is any more than a one-joke story (arrogant guy keeps getting beat up by a girl).

I wasn't willing to invest any more time in a "wonder if it's going to get any better" venture. Wasted too much time on such films that no... didn't get any better. I am highly suspect of the glowing 9 & 10-star reviews here... and that there are so very few (almost non-existant) negative reviews. Unless the story and characters made an almost miraculous improvement in episodes 4 and onward, this is a "spend your time on better anime" production.
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Fireworks (2017)
4/10
Flawed story and no-ending spoils the film
5 January 2020
Cliches, questionable plot lines, and a goes-nowhere ending makes this a disappointing anime. It's moderately interesting as they seemingly build up a mysterious plot... only to have a no-resolution sudden-stop ending that leaves the audience hanging. Had potential, but blew it with poor story telling. The characters gain no development or depth, making it difficult for the audience to identify with anything that goes on.

The story tries to build a true romance out of what is basically fantasy infatuation with no real basis or background behind the forming of such... and in doing so fails to build sympathy for the characters. It's a "stuff happens but nobody can figure out why" flick that can be given a miss with no great loss. In short... it really doesn't add much to the field of anime in its mediocre, head-scratching presentation and wrap-up.
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Erufen rîto (2004)
1/10
Extremely gory and twisted
3 January 2020
It is a sad comment on society when someone makes an anime this excessively gory and twisted-- and then the community in general give it high ratings. I'm not discussing censorship; I'm discussing good taste and basic sanity. It would take a warped mind to enjoy the incredible gore presented in just the very first part of this anime (at which time I shut it down). This is some of the worst representation of anime genre. If normal audience were first introduced to anime via this series they'd likely never watch anime again.

Would this have been a better anime without all the gore? Sure it would... except in the opinion of the gore-addicts. That's the shame of it: it could have been a better show.

That there are people who think this is "entertainment" and enjoy such stuff explains a great deal of what is wrong with this world. I expect a whole lot of neg-rates on this review. Don't care. This is unnecessarily gratuitous tripe.
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8/10
Well-done survival film
3 January 2020
It's a shame there are so many low reviews on this film, but that's a result of today's CGI adrenaline-junkie generation. If someone is looking for action/adventure, gore, sex, constant violence or any other post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" type nonsense... give this a pass. That's not what this is about.

This is a slow-moving but reasonably realistic survival film of the life of an 11-year-old girl following a high-sky EMP nuke strike that kills all the electricity in the U.S. (No spoilers there... that's all spelled out in the film description and trailer.)

Unlike so many films in this genre, it is refreshingly devoid of excessive violence, gore, nudity or language. I won't say anything about what happens during the film, but it has a theme, climax and believable ending... which is better than other such films I've seen.

Word is it was done on a $6500 budget. If that is true this provides a heavy kick in the tenders to Asylum films, since it proves that a good film can be made on a very low budget.

It is a slow-moving film. The directing fails in a couple of spots and it becomes a little dull, which is why I give it only 8 instead of 10 stars. For the most part the slowness is warranted. It's not intended as an action film; it's intended to provide a fairly realistic portrayal of what life might be like after such an event. Boredom and tedium is part of that scenario; throughout most of the film the director and actress gets that idea across while still maintaining interest and integrity to the film concept.

If anything, the film is a little too tame; in such a situation things would probably be far worse than portrayed here. But it's conceivable that, given a small corner of society and the right situation, this is how things would go. It's not intended to be typical nor ultra-realistic; the girl is in a special situation and the director sticks to that idea throughout the film. The directing and acting is good, surprisingly without jump-the-shark or just-for-the-action moments. It's just a story of survival from the viewpoint of one girl. If one is tolerant of films-that-tell-a-story, this can be quite a decent watch.
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2/10
Asylum film, yawwwwwn....
30 December 2019
The moment one realizes this is an Asylum film, all expectations pretty much leave the building, screaming. And rightly so.

The acting wasn't bad, considering the poor script and bad directing. I mean, actors can only do so much with 3rd grade play dialog.

General summary: idea straight from Jumanji. Worst. boss. fights. ever. (These "bosses" could pretty much be beat with a small pointy stick... or maybe giving them a wedgie.) The girls did as good a job as they could given the ridiculously slow-moving script, amateur dialog (however, not the worst we've seen from Asylum) and yawner situations. Seriously, halfway through the viewers want to enter the game ourselves with a baseball bat and take out all the adversaries in about... oh 5 minutes or so. It's. that. bad.

Not the worst Asylum film I've seen, which is why I give it 2 stars instead of 1. Favorite line of the movie: "You think this game was designed by guys?" Yeah, pretty sure the movie was too.

The really sad thing here is that even with Asylum's limited resources, they could have come up with better boss fights than presented here. One felt like shouting, "Just kick him in the tenders and get on with it!" So we have to wonder why someone in the effects team didn't put in just a little more effort and make it a lot more interesting. It really wouldn't have been more expensive or more difficult to put some of the special effects we've seen in other asylum films into this one. They started out well enough with the sharknado... and then it just stops.

If one goes in expecting yet-another-Asylum-film... that's exactly what you'll get. The three actresses are a bit more talented than usual, but that's about al that can be said for this. It's not exactly a train wreck, but the train comes to a very slow, limping halt about a mile short of the station.
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Magic for Humans (2018– )
5/10
Entertaining but bogus
21 December 2019
I agree with nmardle and other reviewers here, that while the "magician" is legitimately gifted, charismatic, talented and fun to watch... his shows are bogus.

Like many, I've engaged in the study of illusions and tricks much of my life. Some of the tricks he does are legitimate illusions and they're done reasonably well, even with excellence. That's an old propaganda stunt of TV magicians: do enough legitimate tricks to make people think that everything you do is legit, then throw in a bunch of fake stuff in addition.

There are many tricks that he does that are simply impossible, bogus stunts that cannot be done without camera trickery. Other tricks are done using actors, while others use a fake member in the audience (someone who is in on the trick and helps it work). There's nothing wrong with the later; magicians have used accomplices for decades to pull of tricks. It's a legitimate method of illusion. But camera trickery or entire groups of people who are reacting to fake illusions... that is "television magic".

For the average viewer it's impressive, entertaining, amazing. It's the old Barnum Bailey philosophy: of course I'm conning them... but they still have fun. But for those who have some idea what's going on... well, that's what knocks the rating stars down.

I generously give him 5 stars because he is entertaining and charismatic. But I knock him down to 5 stars for using TV fakery, which spoils part of the show for me. I would rather see legitimate, real "street magic" than bogus stunts that only work in the editing room.

Because bottom line: if he was really able to do the things that appear on this show, as shown, without any television trickery, he would not only be the greatest magician of this day, but the best who ever lived. There are too many of the tricks that are simply not believable... especially to those who know how many of the tricks are done to begin with and recognize "jumping the magic shark" when we see it.
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ID-0 (2017)
6/10
Well done but convoluted
21 December 2019
Summary: interesting and captivating for the first 10 episodes then digresses into a convoluted mess.

The anime is very good. The voice acting is excellent as is the directing. The writing is anime-acceptable. It's understood that when one watches anime, it's likely to have anime qualities. That includes cliche, standard anime tropes, and a bit of goofy. That's part of its charm.

The story starts off unique, slowly building on the characters and story line. At the beginning the lead character (a whiney teenage girl) comes off pretty much as a whiney teenage girl. There is growth in the character, but not in any way that is truly important to the story. The other characters are more interesting, but about half of them unnecessary to the plot.

It's a "giant robot" story so one can accept typical giant robot plenty-of-action. Unfortunately the story line although interesting, remains rather simplistic. Just as one is expecting everything to be explained and sewed up, they pull a typical "What is going on now?" deeply-emo "plot twist" too often seen in anime, and the story just plops into a disappointingly unoriginal end mess. Two of the characters become so confusing in nature, the viewer loses track of who is intended to be the good guy / bad guy, or if both are both.

It is worth watching, but only just. Parts of it are very enjoyable, other parts not so much. A better and more logical ending would have gone a long way in making this a more enjoyable overall animation. As it is, it runs along for a good sprint but then trips at the finish line. In the end I found myself thinking, "I'm glad it was tied up in 12 episodes"... and wishing it had more thought put into the final two.

Extra note: if you enjoy English lyrics being sung in heavy Asian accent, the theme song will be a real prize. ;D
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Mars (2016–2018)
10/10
Rating 10 stars for good reason
19 December 2019
I am rating this 10 stars for many reasons, but one stands out above all: it is an extremely unique approach to a series... and they pulled it off.

Some don't like the regular switching between current-day documentary and futuristic drama. I find it fascinating. The correlation between modern-day facts and history with what is likely to happen in a planetary colonization attempt makes the series even more alive and realistic. It's also educational. I had no idea about the anthrax outbreak in northern Russia, or the extent of the SARS outbreak or the fact that it was due primarily to political agenda. The documentation is fascinating and revealing.

Of the show itself: story is great. Acting is very good. Sets are small and simple but very well done. Photography and portrayal of Mars is top-notch. One quickly identifies with the characters, making it easy to emotionally buy in to the show. That achievement while mixing it with valid documentary footage is something we've not seen prior.

Anyone expecting a perfect television series is expecting too much. An exceptional television series-- that's something we can always look forward to. If anything, this show is exceptional.

Additional note: the relatively brief theme song is excellent. Really sets the mood.
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9/10
Star-torn, so...
14 December 2019
The upside and downside of this series is that it is 40 episodes. Anything of that length is likely to have its ups and downs. King's Avatar is no exception. To its credit-- and the reason I give it 9 stars instead of 8-- is that the large percentage of its episodes are very good, with lesser episodes countable on one hand. Even the poorest of its episodes are still pretty good.

In this case, the downsides first: First the #1 peeve: English captioning. The worst part of the series is the English captioning, which is very poorly done. The captioning is tied to actual spoken timing rather than readabiity, which doesn't give viewers near enough time to read what is said. Very often the captions merely flash on and off the screen. I found myself constantly keeping my finger on the pause button and was regularly forced to rewind just to see what the blazes they just said. Not the worst captioning I've ever seen, but pretty close to it. I didn't discount the series because of it, but if I did I'd have given this 4 stars based on that alone. The captioning is that bad.

Reviewing the show itself: At times it can be a bit slow and emo-bound. On rare occasions the plot leaves the viewer wondering what just happened. Although strings are mostly tied up and revealed later on, sometimes the timing is poor, creating a weak story line. This was rare, but confusing when it happened. (No details on that: spoilers.) For the most part though, the story held together.

On the plus side: just about everything. Excellent sets, interesting characters without cliche, and top-notch game-emulation animation. They did go a bit overboard sometimes in that area, putting player emotions into the game character's actions (such as the game character sighing when the player was unhappy) but we can cut them some slack for dramatic license.

The general plot and story was interesting, if perhaps a little sappy toward the end. The series retains its momentum. One thing I did like about it is that the featured game team was not invincible; as would be the case in real life, they had their wins and losses. That bit of realism added to the show. People sometimes complain about the "unbeatable heroes". No worry on that score here.

The individual characters, acquired on the team person-by-person, gave viewers time to become acquainted with each and to be involved in their singular stories and personalities. We could feel the concept of team-building and the difficulty in overcoming obstacles... as well as individuals making blundering mistakes. This kept the viewer a bit off-balance so we didn't take anything for granted... and added to the drama.

It wasn't a perfect presentation; thus the general ratings of 8-9 stars. But for a series of this magnitude and length, 8 to 9 stars is a sure win. I binge-watched the whole thing on Netflix in just a few days, and pretty much enjoyed the whole thing.

I would have enjoyed seeing a more imaginative ending, which is why I didn't give it 10 stars. Would have given it 8 for "needing a more creative final episode"... but it was good enough up to that point to deserve the extra credit of well-done overall.

The King's Avatar has a rather unique presentation and story line. As a bonus, it presents (or so I imagine) a decent inside look at professional eGaming, even if a bit of drama-com was thrown in. Good series, well worth watching.
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5/10
Cute and original, but repetitious
28 November 2019
The first few episodes of this make an interesting watch as they establish the basic plot, build the individual characters and begin establishing relationships. This lasts through most of the first season, but by the second season it becomes a repetitious one-joke story line. One waits for some kind of climax or resolution that simply never arrives... with the end episode as flat as the beginning of the season.

Parents should note that there may be a little too much "Dark Lord" magic (even if imaginary) for their comfort zone. Why they chose to make nearly all of the characters dark/evil magic oriented is a puzzling factor of the series. One could have wished for a little more diversity among the "players" (only Mori Summer has any diversity and her character is seldom used). The two-dimensional nature of the characters remains two-dimensional throughout the series, with little growth or change. The characters claim to learn lessons about life all the way through, but their actions prove they really don't.

Just about when the viewer is expecting a major change in the plot line, that change is negated and the characters remain exactly the same as before. This is one of the more disappointing aspects of a series that could have been much better with a bit more story and character development. The foundation was there, but someone forgot to finish building the house.

This series had potential, but never truly achieved it. The actions of the characters are often over-arching. Absurdity is fine in an anime, but the same absurdity repeated over and over can become stale. I wanted to give this a higher rating, but in the end this struck me as a "mediocre" anime that is cute and at times endearing, but more often simply the same story told episode after episode.

Had the relationships of the characters been more strongly established or had they taken the story line further and in more progressive directions, this may have been an exceptionally good series. But as it stands, it ends with a weak plot, non-developing characters, and a same-old, lack-luster final episode.
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7/10
Well-executed movie with some issues but a decent story
21 November 2019
The story has been semi-done before, but that is nothing unusual with movies. The issue is: how well is the story done?

In this case I would say very well. The sets and scenery are superb. The characters are decently fleshed out and the acting excellent. Directing is spot-on as is the script, which is always the essential foundation of the film.

The reason I give it 7 stars rather than 10 is two fold, both of them conceptual:

1) The question is (without spoilers), WHY would this situation occur in the first place? There is no logical reason that this extreme a step would be taken when much less drastic options are available.

2) There is a scene near the end that is out-of-sync with the entire movie, jumping from pure sci-fi to inexplicable fantasy. While interesting in presentation, it makes no sense, is not explained, has a rather hokey resolve.

Other than that the movie is well-done in every way, from the cinematography to the soundtrack. Decently executed movie with enough of a twist ending to make it worth the watch.
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5/10
Yes intelligent people can be stupid
18 November 2019
I am going to do my best to include no spoilers in this review.

This is about an intelligent teen who makes some very foolish decisions. A computer wizard, she invents an algorithm that could change the face of police work. What she does with that information is what this movie is about.

Unfortunately, the film is very slow paced. It has a decent climax and an okay ending, but fails really to say anything, make a point, and as a morality play falls way short. It's basically about an intelligent teen doing stupid things. Perhaps the director thinks the point trying to be made came across to the audience, but all in all what we're left with is "What was she thinking?"... and not much more.
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Gnome Alone (2017)
6/10
Cute family film
15 November 2019
This is a cute, predictable "cookie cutter" family film that is fairly well done. Good animation, good voice acting. Somewhat weak ending; would have been better with a stronger story end.
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