Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Peanuts Movie Assessment


From left to right: Beethoven, Blockhead, Good Grief and Security Blanket.
Right now the general attitude towards this movie seems to be mostly positive — everyone seems to think that this is, at worst, a bland, inoffensive, faithful adaptation of the original strips.*

However, to me, watching “The Peanuts Movie” was like watching a can of peanuts being dumped on a child’s head in a forest — soon enough, the nits came swarming in, and I can’t help but want to pick them off.**

I don’t like to repeat things other people have said, so I won’t be talking much about the intrusive Snoopy subplot or how thin Fifi was as a character, (it was intrusive, she was thin).

And as usual, spoiler alert.

Cue the complaining!



~ S T O R Y ~

The opening to this movie, that is, the first minute, I thought, was particularly effective. Something about quiet titles always works. It’s like “Why didn’t you do more with these?” but also, “It’s so simple, I can’t complain about it.” It just “gets” me.

Around five minutes after the title, after the characters have done their annual Nostalgic Callback Ice-skating Thing, (which, incidentally, is when I first started to get irritated by the animation in this movie), in lumbers the Main Plot. I already knew the gist of it going in, but I was still surprised by how shamelessly the plot copies the special “You’re in Love, Charlie Brown”, as well as the original arc from the comics. It isn’t a complete rehash by any means, but it does seem outdated in this day and age. I didn’t write off the movie just yet, however. Peanuts is a very introspective property, so maybe the people behind the film had something new to say about typical romance plots, (uncharacteristically optimistic of me, I know).

You're Predictably Attracted to This Unobtainable Ideal, Charlie Brown!
Unfortunately, while I like Charlie Brown enough to somewhat care about his relationship woes, this movie really pushed it. Charlie Brown’s entire drive through this film is to be with the Little Red-Haired Girl, which gives everything an uncomfortable tone. While watching this movie, something felt really off — this was that something. All other dimensions to “Charlie Brown” were diminished or overshadowed or outright removed by this new motivation, and it turned things that were innocent and kind of sweet like him holding on to to her pencil into outright weird obsessive behavior.

All of this isn’t helped by the movie’s fixation on out-of-place dance tracks. A rave party is shoehorned into the proceedings because apparently the only way Charlie Brown will get the Little Red-Haired Girl to notice him at social junctions is by twerking and shuffling.

You're Embarrassing, Charlie Brown!

Speaking of twerking and shuffling, the dance scene highlights a weird incongruity with the film: a desire to be “modern” and “hip” that’s suppressed by the usual melancholic tone of the Peanuts property. Or is it vice versa? I would’ve been much happier with the melancholy, which seems like an oxymoronic statement, but in fact isn’t. The pinnacle of the incongruity was the end credits, where another gimcrack dance number slapped me across the face with its penguin in a desert absurdity.***

Well, maybe I shouldn’t have said “pinnacle of the incongruity”, not just because it’s pretentious, but also because the most incongruous moment was easily the ending. Let me ask you what the most prevailing element in Charlie Brown’s character is… what is the dominant aspect…? I think it’s safe to say it’s that he’s a LOSER — a lovable loser, but still consistently a loser — and for some reason this movie wants to make him a “winner”. At first, when Charlie Brown first started “winning”, I thought it had to be some sort of contrived dream sequence. It’s so completely wrong that I can’t even put the phrases “Charlie Brown” and “winning” in the same sentence without putting “winning” in quotation marks!

We Jumped The Shark, Charlie Brown!
When I walked into this movie, I would’ve never guessed that the final shot would be Charlie Brown crowdsurfing on his classmates as they gave him a resounding “hurray”, but if I had guessed, then I would’ve probably thought, “schlocktastic” as I entered the theater, rather than when I left it, which is when I ended up thinking it.***

This is where I’d normally put a "~ C H A R A C T E R S ~" section, but the only important characters in this movie are Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Spending so much time with both of them and their mirroring one-track plot-lines gave the film it’s regrettable monotone. However, I will add that Peppermint Patty remained her usual fantastic self, as did Marcie.

I think the biggest reason I’m more irritated by this film than other people is the message: be yourself. We’ve all heard it before, how many times are they going to tell us? What is “self” anyway? Is there a way to act that is anything other than yourself? Everything you do comes from your own impulses and thoughts, right? If I was not being myself, and started acting like “myself”, wouldn’t that mean I was acting differently than the self I was already acting as, making the entire thing redundant? I hate this moral. It bypasses everything interesting about Peanuts. Oh well. What was I expecting, getting my hopes up like that? It seems I always set myself up for disappointment.

Pretty much sums it up.

~ T H E  H U M O R ~


The humor in this movie had a tendency to drag it down, and the talent show sequence, I think, was the sequence that suffered the most from it. Charlie Brown sacrifices looking cool in front of the Little Red-Haired Girl to save his sister Sally. That works, mostly. The problem is the “payoff” of the scene, which basically degrades to a bunch of kids screaming and running around. Then, out of nowhere, Lucy starts hitting on Schroeder, which seems incredibly out of place in the midst of all the ensuing chaos. Oh, what “kooky” shenanigans!!

Why Aren't You Laughing, Charlie Brown?

Standing in stark contrast to the unfunny talent show scene, the “War and Peace” book fetching sequence was surprisingly interesting and funny, (well, it wasn’t a total train wreck, anyway). Maybe I have a book-loving bias, but for some reason, even though the scene had the exact same payoff as the last scene, (chaos ensues), it was much more satisfying. The jokes landed, and the delivery was just all-around better. Which was weird, because the last thing you’d expect to be funny in a Peanuts movie is an action sequence. I guess it speaks to how action and movement-oriented Blue Sky is as an animation studio, (I’ll cover that later in the animation section).

Overall, this film is not very funny, aside from a few good jokes. The physical comedy severely overshadows the verbal humor, to the point where I was wondering if the filmmakers thought children would get bored if something didn’t fall on Charlie Brown’s head every five minutes, (now there’s a good drinking game). This is not a film that took risks. I’m not saying I wanted it to be a bunch of cutaway gags and sardonic wisecracks. I think the riskiest thing they could’ve done would’ve been to trust the tone of the source material to keep people’s attention, and the fact that they didn’t speaks to how misaligned the tone actually was.

~ T H E  A N I M A T I O N ~

Why Do Your Thoughts Look Like That, Charlie Brown?
Blue Sky, famous for it’s lowbrow Ice Age “comedies”, usually relies on hyperactive mugging and spastic motion for laughs, and so, I think, misjudged how conspicuous those elements are in a film with a low-key mood like this one needed.

Watching the characters move was like watching someone trying to hide a heart attack. Everyone was bouncing up and down with weird, constrained energy, and the movement segued from jittery frame-by-frame imitation to CGI smooth, an artistic choice that seemed, like everything in this movie, "off". Why not just draw it in 2D? Is it because all animated films have to be CGI now?

I will say that while I don’t enjoy the Ice Age films, the Scrat short at the beginning of the movie was actually pretty funny, with a Looney Tunes sensibility that must’ve been a respite for the poor animators who were essentially asked to animate only the most boring, economical movements for the characters in the main feature.

I ended up being mostly neutral on the style of the movie, but I can see how annoying it could potentially be. The faces of the characters are flat 2D drawn over the 3D bodies, which looks really weird. Yes, they look like the characters. But it’s still remarkably distracting.

~ T H E  M U S I C ~

This, my final whiny complaint about a movie that took more effort and money than I’ve made in my entire life, is about the score. This is an odd one because it seems really easy. Jazzy piano is a recurring theme through every Peanuts special, so they could’ve easily hired a few prominent jazz musicians to improvise over the movie. It’d be unique, it’d be awesome, it’d be Peanuts.
However, instead of that, Christophe Beck wheeled out that old theme again, (it’s in every Peanuts special. And playing in every store at Christmas time. If you must do it, do it in the credits where nobody’s paying attention), but can you blame him? No, I’m more irritated for the Orchestral Score #90 nature of the original tracks. In fact, doesn’t THIS:



Sound a bit like THIS?




Jump to somewhere around the 0:48 mark on both videos for the particular motifs I’m picking up. Anyway, if your score reminds me of Regal Cinemas’s Pre-Show Roller Coaster, you’re probably playing it safe.

Well, there it is, my mostly negative thoughts about The Peanuts Movie. I will say that occasionally, something good shines through the bad, enough that I’m motivated to encourage you to see for yourself whether it hits the mark or not.

I think that, if kids don’t like this movie, it won’t be because it wasn’t bouncy or silly enough, it will be because it failed to deliver the Peanuts’ most endearing quality — the rejection of childhood.

Hey — at least it has a decent character creator!

*Do I need citations for this? Just look at Rotten Tomatoes.

** Horrible, clumsy metaphor. Sorry. I can’t help making these awful metaphors for some reason — they’re like a virus, constantly infecting me, and I’m allergic to the vaccine.

*** I sincerely apologize for this grandiloquent sentence.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

An Assessment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

I always see these movies on opening day. I don't know why, maybe it's because I want to get swept up in the hype before it dies down within the week, or want to stop avoiding spoilers on the internet, or want my friends to stop asking if I've seen them yet. All of those reasons apply, actually.

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to run through my thoughts on all of the Marvel films —at least the ones I haven't covered yet and have something to say about — because this blog has spent a few posts on them so far and I don't see them stopping any time soon, and also because I like to give myself way more work than I need to for no reason whatsoever. So sit back and enjoy my longest post to date.

I originally wrote this to celebrate the opening of Age of Ultron, but whoops, I took too long. Good thing for me a new Marvel film comes out every minute, because now I can pretend that this post was actually written to review Ant-Man. These movies are like mayflies, wow. Anyway, here we go!


In other words, spoiler alert.

When discussing Marvel movies, it's probably best to split them into their respective gimmicky "phases" and arrange them chronologically, because there aren't many other methods of organization that make sense. So far, we're nearing the end of the second Phase, and undoubtedly there will be more.

- PHASE 1 -

THOR
~ verily, I say ~

Thunder Thor, coming soon to thorters.

Thor was the first Marvel film I saw in theaters. It was actually the first one I saw, period, if you don't count Fox's X-Men and Sony's Spider-man trilogies.

I really liked this movie and after I saw it I remembered it so well that I was able to recount the entire plot. And now, a few years later, I still can.

This movie is a lot more solid then other entries in the MCU. The villain has motives — what?! Unheard of! — The humor is on point: not too little, not too try-hard,  and most importantly, it shows a whole new world, Asgard, which offers the perspective that Earth is really very insignificant, which I always like. In films like The Avengers, and its sequel, they make Earth seem much more important then it is, which tends to bother me. I know the big action finale wouldn't have any weight if they pointed out that from space the battle isn't even visible, but it'd win me over. Men in Black is my favorite movie, not just because of that established viewpoint, obviously, but it certainly contributes to a large portion of my enjoyment of it.

Unfortunately, the big action finale is a weak point in Thor. Aside from the Destroyer being a pretty good design, there was more standing and talking and running from explosions than actual fighting.
But when there was, it was well-directed, with a lot of tension, especially when Sif was on top of the Destroyer.

This scene is basically the Wonder Woman movie.
I wish the Warriors Three had more to do, but I'm glad they bothered getting the civilians to safety, unlike certain other movies, (*cough*Avengers*cough*).

Of course, when you watch this movie you still have to suffer through one of the worst onscreen romances ever, and some cheesy, though admittedly fun, filler. If a cheesy filling is the worst you can get, I say you're doing pretty well.

CAPTAIN AMERICA:
THE FIRST AVENGER
~ filler or not? ~

Yes, but is he really, technically the first Avenger?

Curiously enough, what I would expect to be the most outright militaristic Marvel film is one of the least — but it all has to do with the movie's perspective on it. Captain America is a "super soldier", so that would seem to imply that a huge chunk of the movie would be non-stop war battles... but it isn't. Instead, the army-pandering portion is contained within a short montage. The film is also not afraid to show the darker side of war, like when Steve is the only person willing to sacrifice himself for the rest of his team during a surprise training grenade attack, when the general reads through the lists of the deceased soldiers, or when the war-weary troops reject Captain America.

The movie also has a lot of fun with that dark edge, which sounds like an oxymoron but totally works, most noticeably during the big, patriotic Captain America number, which is one of my favorite fake songs ever.

Skinny Steve really works in this film as well. It's one of the few times in these movies that the visual effects help tell a story instead of being bombastic.

Oh look, he's almost as skinny as I am.
Though I really appreciate all these things, that's where my praise for the film ends. The movie is ultimately weaker than most MCU films because of it's seen-before done-again premise and rather bland villain. I felt like there was more they could have done with the Nazi implications of the character of the Red Skull that could've made him more sinister for sure, and maybe even sympathetic if taken down the right path. It's a trend in old comic book stories to have flat villains with evil as a primary cause for their actions and that's probably why so many MCU villains don't have the same appeal as, say, Loki, who is the only multi-dimensional one. It is these films' duty to round out characters for the modern age, but more often than not they fail to do so, and this film isn't an exception.

The setting of the film could've been established better as well. There's so much flavor and culture in the 1940s that was just kind of missing to make way for Bucky dying and other whatnot.

And of course, there's the rather oddly botched finale, where there seemed to be plenty of time for Steve to find a way out of the airplane. Still, despite these flaws, the film is just enjoyable enough to squeak by, and I think the ending makes up for a lot.
- PHASE 2 -


IRON MAN 3:
~ the one that took a risk ~

Oops, is that the Chinese poster? Ah ha ha — my mistake.

In previous posts I've mentioned that my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, (or at least one I enjoyed, I try not to pick favorites), is Iron Man 3, a controversial statement to some fans who swear that's the rottenest banana of the bunch. Well, you can either attempt to eat that disgusting banana as it is, or blend it into a smoothie with other, more ripe fruits, and I did the latter.

Iron Man 3 is more introspective then the other Marvel movies, and for some people that bogs down the story. For me, it felt like I was finally seeing a proper arc. In both The Avengers and its sequel Age of Ultron the "low point" of the movie is basically nonexistent, unless I'm supposed to believe that the team chilling out at Hawkeye's house or being sad over some some random agent in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s death are low points for the characters. Here, Tony's house is destroyed, along with all of his Iron Man suits, (though for some reason not the drone-piloted ones). That's what I think is the true low point for his type of character. Not "his legacy", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean, but his things being smashed. And in the movie, he overcomes that fear by being the one to smash them himself.

The mystery of the movie is also pretty unique and wide in scope. There was probably more they could've done with the human bombs angle, but it was still horrific and intriguing enough to hold my attention. Have I mentioned all the quips this movie had? They weren't anything outstandingly memorable, but at the same time they don't feel too forced because they're often layered, like this exchange here, which includes a slight nod to how they usually write Iron Man in these films:

Brandt: Is that all you've got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?
Tony Stark: Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography.

The movie isn't without flaws, obviously. The fight at the end was kind of a mess, but it did have a  start and end point, some good action shots, and a unique endgame goal, which is something I can't say about Age of Ultron's similarly robotic finale, (and I mean robotic in all senses of the word).

On the whole, I can't remember being bothered by anything else in the film. I've already talked about how the Mandarin reveal didn't bother me, but I'll elaborate a little more here.

What an interesting hair doo.
We should let these films make more mistakes, because it means they're taking risks, and risks are what make things interesting. I should note that "risks" aren't the same things as "flaws". A flaw is an unintentional mistake, a risk is a calculated gamble that may not pay off. When I say risks are good, I also assume that the risk was taken with the anticipation that something good would come of it. I believe that the Mandarin twist falls in this category, which is why I can't count it among one of the film's flaws. (This long paragraph was probably not even necessary, but hey — sometimes you've gotta trudge through the semantics).

THOR: THE DARK WORLD
~ a passable diversion ~

So cool and yet so far.
Oddly enough, this one's up there with Iron Man 2 in terms of how much people name-drop it as a bad Marvel film. To be honest, I see where they're coming from, but if you don't take these things too seriously it's actually pretty good.

I know that sounds hypocritical coming from me, the king of taking things seriously, and it totally is, but let me amend that a bit. These films serve a purpose: popcorn entertainment, and as long as there is both popcorn and entertainment I have no complaints, even if the film has huge gaping flaws. After all, flaws only exist when you look for them, and the only reason to look for them is if you're attempting to explain why the whole wasn't satisfying — you've got to break it up into its components to articulate to others why you didn't like it. (This long paragraph was probably not even necessary, but hey — sometimes you've gotta binge through the bad seasons).

Thor just learned his father is having an old friend for dinner.
Thor as a character in the Marvel Universe isn't very interesting to me, but at least he has a personality, and occasionally his stories delve into actual Norse mythology, (admittedly a perversion of it, but I take what I can get). In his first film they kind of emphasized his fish-out-of-water-ish-ness, and there's some of that to be had here too, but the jokes work, the few of them that there are.

There are two major problems with this movie, and they both come in the form of characters: Jane Foster, (I had to look up her last name), and Malekith the Emo Elf. Whoops, I meant Evil Elf, sorry.

"DARKNESS!! NO PARENTS!!!"
Yes, his goal is: "darkness". But... why? The Dark Elves are established as being from the Dark World, but they can clearly survive even in the light, so it's not like they need the light to be able to conquer other worlds, if they were so malevolently inclined. It doesn't seem like wiping out other races is the intent, unless I missed something, so this plan becomes especially idiotic when you consider the effect turning the sun off will have on everyone else. You can't rule over people when they die from freezing to death.

His plan isn't the only thing that isn't properly fleshed out. He just isn't a very good character, with no personality traits other than "evil", and unclear at best motivations.

Enough about him, though, because the thing people really wanted to see was more forced Jane/Thor romance subplot!

Thor likes to look out over balcony railings a lot in this movie.
The reason for a romance subplot is usually to showcase a new dynamic between characters. If it's a primary character motivation, then it's almost always part of the main plot somehow. Thor 2 eschews those reasons for a lamer one: Romance subplot? [√].

This romance plays out like a mathematical theory, where 1 good-looking person x 1 good-looking person = 1 good-looking relationship. Real relationships aren't as straightforward, and movie relationships shouldn't be either.

They're really more like fractals.
The "just because" nature of this romance is a shoehorning fail, and the shoehorning in question was done for the date movie people. My advice is: stop pandering to them. Every movie is a date movie.

Loki also has a presence in this movie, to varying degrees of success. Least successful was the attempt to fool people into thinking Loki was dead, which was a question that wasn't even worth thinking about during the movie. Obviously, he lives on.

The thing about fan-favorite characters is that they're usually pretty awesome, but because of their fan favorite-ness they get used too often and so everyone gets fatigued. The Loki fandom hasn't died down yet, but it's a few slip-ups short of a fizzle — which could also be said of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.

I found Thor: The Dark World pretty enjoyable, more so the second time I watched it. I think what saves it in my eyes are its humor and action scenes, which never lose focus and are very well shot. The production design all around is pretty good, and while Malekith isn't a great villain, he LOOKS like a great villain, I'll give him that.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
~ as good as it gets ~

Why does Black Widow look completely oblivious to the massive destruction all around her?

Captain America's sequel surprised me a lot. I like how it explores corruption and the seeds of evil, and though I wish Hydra had even more of a presence, it was all around just a really solid film with great action scenes, some humor, and a surprisingly fleshed out villain.

My only nitpick is really with Fury's fake-out death. I never bought his death scene, just like I didn't buy Loki's death scene in Thor 2.  They were just a little too expensive to buy.
Nick Fury is kind of like the anchor of the MCU. Pretending to kill him was a pointless plot point that was only there to make S.H.I.E.L.D.'s position seem bleaker — thing is, we didn't need that, since things were already pretty bleak. Having people undermine Fury's orders would've worked better, storywise.

Wow, really had to stretch for a complaint there. That's how you know this film's good. Don't worry, there's troubled waters ahead! Moving on!

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
~ the pleasure island of the MCU ~


In this movie, the Avengers fight a sometimes amusing, but mostly dangerous Photoshop job. At least that's what I get from this poster.

Ugh, let's get started. So, to the average moviegoer, one who just wants an excuse to eat popcorn covered in soybean oil and beta carotene, this movie is probably totally harmless. However, the idea that someone could see this movie as a Marvel fan and not be utterly fed up with it is difficult for me to grasp.

If I had to denote one problem, the one that bogs the movie down and makes it beyond "okay" to "mediocre" for me, it'd be the Black Widow/Hulk romance, obviously. Not one scene between them works. But other reviewers have already covered this topic in detail — how it betrays Black Widow's cold, black-hearted persona, or how the chemistry is about as good a combination as glycerol with white fuming nitric acid, (it's oily, colorless, and anyone making it should be very, very careful).

Black Widow and Hulk were actually composited together later for this scene.
Instead, I'd like to spotlight the other failures of the movie. For instance, the fact that every bad thing that happens in the movie is really the Avengers' fault. Yes, there's the obvious — Tony creating Ultron. But there's more. Thor has a joke in the helijet, (or whatever it's called), after the CGI casualty now mournfully remembered as Scene 1. He attempts to convince Bruce that he didn't REALLY rend flesh from bone and kill thousands of people during their mission. That's actually kind of interesting! I wish this movie had spent more time showing the Avengers, or anyone really, cleaning up the city, or doing a civilian death count, or anything that further acknowledged how much damage they inflict. There was a definite effort to show Avengers helping people in this movie, but it wasn't really done right. Yes, they were trying to evacuate civilians during the final battle, yet somehow that wasn't a priority during the Hulkbuster fight in Wakanda.

Speaking of, the Hulkbuster fight felt a bit too forced to me. For one thing, all plot stopped so that the fight could happen. For another, it was a product of Deus Joss Machina mind-control, which rubbed me the wrong way. Good fights feel justified. If there's poor justification for a fight scene, you screw up motivation and you lose the arc of the fight, which has to be character-based to work. Here, what does anyone learn or gain from this fight? Does Bruce suddenly resent Tony for knocking his tooth out, (which apparently grew back as soon as he detransformed)? Nope. Does Tony bring up the damage Bruce or both of them caused during the fight? No, partially because they already brought it up earlier! So, in essence, the only reason this fight is in the movie is fanservice, which is one of the worst possible reasons for a scene to exist.

If only there was a word to describe this movie's flaws... hmm, how about "unnecessary"? This film is covered in movie dandruff — dialogue that makes no sense, subplots that go nowhere interesting, characters that don't really matter, plot threads that repeat themselves, character continuity errors in general... please, PLEASE use shampoo next time you write a script! I won't make allegations without evidence for them, though, so here are a few things that really didn't work for me:

~ H A W K E Y E ' S  H O U S E  ~

I was expecting Howard the Duck or Spider-Ham to be on Hawkeye's farm, but THAT never happened. Missed opportunities!
Yes, I love the idea that a huge, high-grossing summer blockbuster can waste ten minutes at a safehouse in the country. But it was just that — a waste of time. Why would Hawkeye bring these high-profile people to his little cabin, near his family, just when a maniacal robot artificial intelligence that has ravaged the entire globe through the internet is after them, and on top of that everyone on the planet hates them? Safe house? No. As a low point, it fails because nobody seems to learn from their mistakes during the downtime when it's time to rise up again. As character development, it fails because all it does is further turpentine the portrait of the Bluce Wanner ship. I won't go over it too much, but yes, I'm pretty ticked off at the line "You think you're the only monster on the team?", because it seems to impart that if you can't have children, you're a monster, which is completely wrong and demeaning. Even if the line is actually referring to Black Widow's past as an assassin, the place it was put in the conversation doesn't make it seem that way.

~  Q U I C K S I L V E R ' S  D E A T H  ~


Slower than a speeding bullet.
So first we get a nice fake-out when Quicksilver gets shot in the arm and walks it off with barely more than a "what's wrong with you?" face. Then he gets shot again and dies — with no repercussions whatsoever. Yes, Avengers 2: The Squeakquel has a large enough cast for a death to matter without mattering, so to speak, and I was honestly looking forward to someone dying just to see the impact it would have on the team. But the person the plot killed had barely any noteworthy dialogue, a backstory that was never paid off or acknowledged, and after he died there wasn't a single character who learned or grew from it. Everyone just shrugged and continued fighting. Not only that, but is Quicksilver really not fast enough to run past a bullet? Really? I don't buy it. My only hope for this is that it helps Scarlet Witch's character.

~  T H E  T O N E  ~

He's got a blanket! Fetal position's at 45°! We are "dark", people! DARK!!

There was a stipulation that this film would be "darker" than The Avengers. Unfortunately, it worked against it in the end. What could've been a fun movie with a sinister villain was a depressing movie with a wishy-washy villain. I wanted to see a legitimately creepy and terrifying Ultron for the Avengers to face. Instead, he's just kind of a joke, a fun guy with a justifiable gripe with the Earth. I didn't want the Avengers to beat him up, I wanted them to sit down and talk to him about the real and definite problems with society — probably not what the movie wanted me to want. Now, why he couldn't have done his repopulating on the moon instead of the Earth, I have no idea. But as motivations go, it wasn't SO bad. A step above "I'm evil", at least.

If you've ever read the series Pendragon, the main antagonist has a similar primary goal. But it's handled better there because he's a creepy, despicable, genuinely malignant person who you want to punch in the face whenever he speaks. Ultron only elicits my sympathy.

Getting back to tone, the dream sequence was probably the best thing to come out of it. Aside from that, it was basically the first Avengers tone-wise but somehow less fun and more tired and exhausting. Apparently "dark" means having Bruce look at people with sad and tortured expressions. The movie wears out its characters, welcome, and subsequently, audience. Oh look, an entire robot army to smash. Oh look, a huge village to prevent from destruction. Oh look, the U.S. Arm — uh, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s back and they're here to help. Well, I do suppose it's clobbering time again. SIIIGHHHH. And speaking of...

~  T H E  F I N A L  B A T T L E  ~
 
From this angle, they almost look like the toys they're selling.
There are some moments that work here, like Hawkeye giving the pep talk to Scarlet Witch, the joke where Hawkeye briefly ponders knocking off Quicksilver, and Black Widow's bleak acceptance of going down with the ship, though they could've played with that idea more. But mostly, it's more missteps again. War Machine and Falcon show up and what do they do? Help the villagers get to safety while the white people blow things up. That doesn't seem fair in the least, I mean, maybe it is to Falcon, since he's equipped for that kind of work and he hasn't gotten used to the team yet, but not War Machine, who is called freaking WAR MACHINE, has GATLING GUNS on his shoulders and has been around since Iron Man 2!! Why should he be helping people to S.H.I.E.L.D. lifeboats?

What hurts the most about this movie is that, with a few more days in the editing room, I would've loved it. The new characters mostly work, aside from Ultron. I liked Helen Cho, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. The action scenes are way too long, but if they were shorter they would've been solid and memorable. Without Wulk Bidow, Veronica Fanservice, or Hangin' at Hawkeye's in the way, the movie would've had a real sense of fun to it. Would've, could've, should've. Too late, movie. Sorry.

My hope is that Civil War does what this movie wanted to do, but better, and I have high hopes for the upcoming Spiderman as well. I'm not the only one who has high hopes around here, though...

ANT-MAN
~ a potentially good picnic ruined ~

Oh look, a well-designed poster for once. Oh right, it's not the main poster.
Siiigghghhhghghh...
So yes, this movie is at a "smaller scale" than the other MCU movies, as I'm sure countless other reviews have already cheekily pointed out. For the most part, it does more good than harm, helping the movie stand out a little and keeping the plot simple. I feel like this film, more than the others, is really aimed at younger audience members. Judging it as a kid's film, it's excellent, really. As a film that can stand alongside other MCU films, however, it comes up short, (no pun intended. Not on this review. You've heard all the jokes before).
The Yellowjacket!
 As usual the biggest problem I have with this film is the villain. Whereas I didn't like the interpretation of Ultron in Age of Ultron for being too tongue in cheek to be threatening, here the opposite is kind of true. I actually like the balance of Darren Cross's character, how one minute he kills a guy and the next he's basically asking if a suit makes him look fat. I wish the film had made him a little more extreme, a little more mercurial and violent. I knew from the second he was onscreen that he was the bad guy, mostly because of the small cast but also because the story wasn't exactly trying to suppress the telegraphing of its plot, so the movie definitely had license to go more over-the-top. A Who's The Villain mystery, this is not. It's a small story, small characters, small world. Once you're used to that, it gets a little more fun.

The most fun parts of the film are easily the parts most influenced by former director Edgar Wright.
Though I can't say for absolute certain how many scenes were directly under his sway, there were definitely more than a few classic Wright-like choices that stood out to me: juxtaposition of quiet/loud moments, situational humor, and humor through movement.

I am extremely saddened, (yes, I get the irony), that he did not end up directing the film. I was in desperate need of someone to punch up the dialogue portion of the movie.

You will see this shot again and AGAIN AND AGAIN!
I feel like during those scenes the cinematographer was thinking "let's get this over with". When I'm watching a movie, I shouldn't be thinking about what the cinematographer was thinking, I should be immersed in the movie. This movie has so many mid shots and medium close-ups that it's easy to forget the characters are wearing shoes or even have legs at all.

It's especially weird how dry those scenes are considering that this movie has some of the best, funniest, well-designed action scenes of any of the MCU films. It's not just punching and blasting. There's real thought to this.

My only other gripe is the opening scene of the film, which feels detached and unnecessary. It's like the writers just wanted to see an old Howard Stark. We get all the information the scene imparts again later, and what doesn't get said again didn't need to be said anyway.

I have no other big complaints here. It's actually a fun movie, if slightly irrelevant. The side characters are great, the action's great, and Scott is actually a pretty identifiable character.
It's good.

 ---

Here are my other reviews of Marvel films, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Amazing Spider-man 2.
The movies that are missing from this list are The Avengers, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk, but because I have Writer's OCD I'm going to just go over them real quick here:

THE AVENGERS: I hope I've made it clear that I love this film and I honestly don't have any nitpicks or complaints.

IRON MAN: Pretty interesting. Overall I enjoyed it. I just don't remember it well enough to give a full review. Maybe in a post update later.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: Pretty forgettable, except for that Blue character. It's definitely more enjoyable than Ang Lee's Hulk, but that's not a hard bar to jump.

IRON MAN 2: It's not that bad, really. I liked Whiplash's design and I wasn't deterred by the "I'm going to invent an element" thing. There was nothing for me to say about it that hasn't already been said, though.

Finally, I'd like to apologize for all the semantic satiation I probably gave you. Count how many times I say "kind of", "like",  "though", "however", "I felt", or "it seems". It's kind of painful, how many times it seems I feel like using the same expressions all the time, however, my apology somewhat makes up for it, though.

This post took way too long, sorry. Hopefully I can get back to writing more assessments soon. Maybe an Inside Out review. We'll see...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Few of the Best Anime OP/ED Themes From This Season

This is just a quick post because I have a much larger one incoming. I thought I'd share what I think are the best anime themes this season.

I mentioned before that I was going to keep my anime content on this blog pretty quiet. That still holds true, and you're not obligated to read this if that's not what you're here for.

Anyway, let's get to the list.



Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is an enjoyable body swapping romantic comedy. I think this opening hits all the right notes. The best opening themes, in my opinion, are the type that make you excited to watch the show, but at the same time could potentially make you cry when the show finally ends. I feel like this theme meets that requirement. I also love the abrupt stop and how the visuals fit the music so well.



Kyoukai no Rinne, though unfortunately the dullest anime I'm watching at the moment, has a catchy opening melody that's so much fun that I actually sit through every time I watch an episode, if only as an anesthetic for the show's snail-inspiring pace.



Plastic Memories has a wistful theme that reflects its sometimes heart-wrenching episodes, even though most of the anime concerns itself with an off-putting romance between a robot girl that looks twelve years old and some twenty-something human male. Recently the show's gotten a little more interesting as it focuses more on its robot side.



My Highschool Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! has an opening theme that some might call typical generic anime music, and I'm slightly inclined to agree. However, this theme benefits from solid, completed melodies and interesting vocalizations, which raises it above themes like Nisekoi 2's.



Finally, who could forget the best theme on this year? It's rare when I feel like the ED is more appropriate and better constructed than the OP for a show, but Blood Blockade Battlefront's jazzy, rhythmic ED easily tops its weird, downbeat OP. It's also the best theme I heard this year.

Well, there you go. Check back soon for something Marvelous...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

After The Oscars (or The Unexpected Virtue of Low Expectations)

Readying the troops!
So, the one prediction that I actually spent time thinking about turned out to be wrong. It's fine, I'm wrong every year, and I wouldn't want to break the pattern.

There are some good things about Big Hero 6 winning. When I really think about it, it seems like the one everyone should've been rooting for. Kaguya wasn't going to win, let's face it, and while I enjoyed Song of the Sea when I finally watched it, I think Secret of Kells was a stronger contender from the studio. Unfortunately, THAT movie was up against Up. Anyway, HTTYD2 and the Boxtrolls were both good movies but there was something risky about choosing either of them, and usually the Oscars don't follow Sadly's Razor.

SADLY'S RAZOR: When presented with any number of options, go with the risky one.

I say usually because this year the Oscars did something I didn't think they'd do, which is to give the biggest award of the night to Birdman. Good job! It wasn't at all what I was expecting.

I could go on about other parts of the ceremony, the "controversial" jokes or that empowering speech about embracing your weirdness, for instance. Instead, I'm going to dish out my own stupid little awards for mostly arbitrary things in movies last year.

So, without any more ado, it's your cue to find something else to read, also known as



STILL WASHING THE TASTE OUT

This award goes to a movie that was so unbelievably bad that it left an unbleachable stain. I considered The Book of Life, but since that was well intended and prompted a lively discussion, I left it alone. Why pick on the small studio films when there's a huge walking junkpile that grossed over a billion dollars, and happened to be terrible, standing right in front of me blabbing about the Allspark?


The worst thing about watching Transformers: Age of Extinction was knowing that money had been spent to see it. I love the Transformers, I think it's a great franchise with really cool toys and at least three good animated shows, if not more. But these live action movies suck. They aren't fun to watch at all.

With a billion dollars, you could end world hunger. Instead, they decided to make a fifth sequel.

Hopefully the next one won't have humans in it at all, and they'll get rid of the robot hair. The robot hair was particularly a detraction.


MADE ME CHUCKLE A LITTLE

So often comedies are overlooked at award ceremonies. Not this time!


In my opinion, The Lego Movie is also the best film of the year. However, I don't have a category for that so it'll have to settle for funniest.

WHY HAVEN'T YOU SEEN THIS

Here is a movie that more people should see, because it's really good. I considered Song of the Sea for this award, but, as I said above, the one people should REALLY watch is Secret of Kells, which is an awesome movie. That said, here's who really won.



Edge of Tomorrow outshone every action film I saw this year, including X-Men, which I really liked but kind of fell apart in the third act. Edge of Tomorrow needed a more aggressive marketing campaign and they should've stuck with the totally awesome original name: All You Need is Kill.
I recommend you watch it if you haven't.

And finally THE WOLF'S SPECIAL MENTION.*


"Oh my, it's been such a great year for kids films, though honestly none as great as my debut film Hoodwinked, which won every award it was nominated for in that much exalted year it came out. I believe the film that is just as awesome as my own is The Nut Job, yes, yes, indeed, quite."



And that wraps up the awards. If any selected film wants to display the I'm Thinking Of You Award Badge they won, they can do so with this image:


More overly long assessments and discussions coming soon. I tried to keep this post short.

* Also known as The Worst Kids Film Award

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frozen Assessment

Elsie, Steven, Hurricane Frank, Eddie and Tracey from Frozen
"Please don't hate Frozen, it's my favorite movie!" a hypothetical person once never said to me.
I don't hate Frozen. It's fine. I'm surprised Disney was able to release something that felt modern without offending all their more traditionally-inclined fans. It's a good movie to watch in the summer when you wish it was cold, or in the winter when you can relate to the characters as they shiver and freeze to death.

This review is a bit late, definitely, but I still need to talk about this film because I haven't heard any professional reviewers say what I feel about it, and that's my only condition for writing a review. I won't go over things others have covered more than enough – things like Olaf's ugly design or how layered the plot is for a children's film.

I'm not sure if I really need to say SPOILERS here, as everyone and their dog's seen Frozen. But I will.

~ S C R I P T ~

The film, for me, feels hastily written. Something about the pacing seems off and I have this overwhelming feeling that the world in the movie is a tiny, tiny place. This is called "small world syndrome". It's when a story doesn't allude to anything beyond what's happening onscreen. Yes, they mention a few kingdoms during the party scene, but do those kingdoms end up mattering in any way? Is anyone, besides the denizens of Arendelle, going to be affected by this "harsh winter", (going by the movie's logic that a harsh winter would be a bad thing to these people)? Small world syndrome can be played to a movie's advantage. Groundhog Day, for instance, uses it to make Phil seem even more entrapped by his situation. But Frozen wants me to think it's an epic. Giant snow-covered mountains, power ballads, Nordic chanting. In the end, they all seem so small to me. It's just a castle and a mountain, for the whole movie.

The characters in the movie are... fine. They aren't relatable to me, but not many are. Olaf is a tolerable comic relief sidekick character who I don't want to say anything more about. Anna is a ditz who never really stops being a ditz. Yes, she has a few revelatory moments, like when she realizes marrying someone you met two minutes ago isn't as great an idea as it might appear to be, but she isn't portrayed as being smart or strong. When Hans locks her away, does she try her hardest to escape? That room wasn't a dungeon. There were ways to get out. All of this makes her very unrelatable to me. But maybe that's the point. Maybe the movie is supposed to be all about Elsa's journey, and Anna is just another comic relief character. It's what the movie treats her like, anyway. And so, this movie's cast ends up being almost entirely comic relief characters, save for Hans and Elsa. Unsurprisingly, Hans and Elsa were my favorite characters. I wish they'd fleshed out Hans a bit more. After the big reveal, he flattened out into a straight-up villain with basically no redeeming qualities. Elsa also could've been contrasted a bit better than Anna. Someone who hadn't socially interacted for the majority of her life would've had a tougher time at that party, which also could have been a better source for her powers going haywire. Missed opportunity.

You may have noticed that I left some very important characters out of my roster. Let me now correct that error. By the way, for your personal health, you may not want to look at the image below.

Meanwhile, down at Fraggle Rock...
Yes, apparently rocks can talk, and unfortunately they can also sing. I don't know why these abominations are in the movie. They don't fit in the world at all. Moss shouldn't be able to grow in such a cold environment. Are we to understand that these rock trolls are just a natural occurrence, or were they created magically, which makes me wonder if there was some sort of Rock Witch with rock powers that came before Elsa and animated all of these rocks. As you can see, they raise more questions than they answer, and the fact that "Grand Pabbie" can only speak in the language of Cryptic Old Man doesn't help. All of that could be forgiven if they were funny, because comedy negates logic. Sadly, these characters are too stupid to be funny. Moving on.

Dialogue-wise, the movie is like someone giving a college tour. It's sometimes funny, mostly awkward, and it doesn't add much to the experience.

"Look at that campus! Isn't it just the most amazing thing ever? I mean, I like to think so. But yeah!"
Maybe someone out there thinks it's an absolute riot, I thought it was padded and unwieldy. The best lines in the movie are sung. I have a whole section for the songs, so I'll cover that later.

As far as problems with the plot go, Hans's villain reveal moment was annoyingly cliché. I also don't think it was as big of a deal as everyone made it out to be. Betrayal is a common theme in Disney movies, (The Incredibles, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, The Aristocats), and this betrayal wasn't especially devastating, considering how Anna had already met Kristoff. This feeds back into the movie not having enough character development for Anna. Imagine how much worse it would've been for her if she didn't have a comic relief snowman to turn to. I'm not saying I wanted a mopey, depressing story, but I don't think that what we would've gotten. Anna is an upbeat character, and we'd have seen her face these challenges on her own, with nothing but optimism for her to lean on. That sounds much more interesting than the "everything's immediately okay" that we got. I have a few other problems with the plot, but I'm saving them for a special section later on.

~ S O N G S ~

The songs in Frozen are a mixed bag, meaning both that they all sound different from each other, and that some are really good and some are really not good. I'll give little reviews for each of them because the film's soundtrack is such a big part of why people like it.

"Frozen Heart"
Though a misleading song to lead with, Frozen Heart is good at getting you excited about cutting some ice, I'll give it that. The lyrics are poetic in structure, and thoughtfully constructed to parallel elements of the plot. The melody IS a bit repetitive, but the song's short so it doesn't really matter. 

"Do You Want to Build A Snowman?"
A very lonely, sad song that builds satisfyingly. To be honest it made me cry. 
 
"For the First Time In Forever"
I don't really like this one. Though the melody is good, some of the lyrics are seriously cringe-worthy, ("I don't know if I'm elated or gassy" being a particular zenith of wince).

"Love Is an Open Door"
This song is bouncy and pretty funny lyrically, and has an ironic flavor to it because of the twist later. I'm not sure what the phrase "love is an open door" is supposed to mean. It's probably best that I don't read too much into it. 
 
"Let It Go"
Brought a smile to my face the first time I heard it. It does bring to mind Defying Gravity from Wicked, though, which is similarly empowering. The melodies could be more interesting, but that's stretching for a nitpick.
 
"Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People"
Could've also been called "This Song is Funny, But Filler". I heard that they were going to make it the final song in the movie. That would've been awesome. As it is, it's one to skip.
 
"In Summer"
A vaudevillian number, brought to you by Olaf. It has a few funny lines, but again, it's basically filler because it doesn't reveal much beyond "Olaf wishes it were summer", and doesn't further the plot.
 
"Fixer Upper"
Atrocious. This is the worst song I've ever heard in a movie. Here's why: The joke is that the trolls are trying to pair up Anna and Kristoff, even though they keep protesting. That's already really awkward, but what makes it worse is that the joke gets dragged out to the point of being extremely uncomfortable. The trolls almost go through an entire wedding ceremony without realizing their mistake! Not to mention all the embarrassing things the trolls were saying about Kristoff. It felt invasive and wrong in general. It might've been saved by an interesting melody or a few clever lyrics, but there are none to be found here.

~ M I X E D  M E S S A G E S ~

True love, everybody.

"Whaaaaaaaatt?"
There are a number of problems relating to the true love twist in this movie. I thought I'd go into more detail about it than I normally would because I'm writing this on Valentine's Day.

Frozen sets up a simple plot mechanic: people who get their hearts frozen need an act of true love to break the curse. I don't have a problem with that, despite Frozen's failure to explain anything about how magic works in its world or why these conditions would apply to the magic.

Here's a rule of thumb for the future: If your movie's magic behaves unconditionally, than you don't need to explain it. Take the Force, for instance. You don't need an explanation for it because there are no rules. You can push things both literally and figuratively, by moving objects and manipulating minds. If, say, a condition was placed where Jedi couldn't use the Force if there was no light present, then you would have to explain why.

Frozen sets up conditions, but doesn't explain them. It doesn't tell us why Elsa has powers or what the source of the magic is or why it can give life to a pile of snow or why it only controls ice and not water or why her ice dress looks like cloth, just to name a few.

But, as I said, I'll let it slide, for now, because it's based on a fairy tale that I'm sure explained about as much. Besides, poor magic system aside, I think they took a real risk on this one by not making Anna kiss Kristoff at the end of the story, like it would've played out in every other fairy tale. Oh, wait.

Chu!
I thought this movie was supposed to surprise us, to usher in a new era of modern Disney films that break free of the traditions of the past. I was almost willing to overlook the technicalities of breaking the curse with sisterly love instead of platonic love, because it's important to me that modern children's movies don't always tie knots around everyone's fingers. This movie made so many interesting decisions – Elsa as a good guy, Hans betraying Anna, tying Olaf into the back story – that having it all wind up with one of my least favorite tropes was like knocking the nose off the Sphinx.

And speaking of those technicalities, why DID sisterly love work? How does the magic measure love? For all they knew, they could've broken the curse by patting Anna's shoulder. And why use the modifier "true"? If they'd said "an act of love", Hans still wouldn't have been able to break the curse, and I could stop thinking about this and put the matter to rest. But they said "true" love, and sisterly love is basically like friendship love, just with the fact that you're related in the mix. It doesn't have anything on "true" love. So does Anna "truly" love Elsa? Fine, but I don't see a reason why she should. Elsa went out of her way to avoid Anna throughout most of Anna's life. It probably wasn't easy to feed herself or go to the bathroom without emerging from her room. I know Anna's an optimist, but it's kind of pushing it to assume she'd be okay with being ignored by her sister for that long. Maybe love I'd buy, since Anna's pretty forgiving, but seeing how Elsa kept pushing her away even after she was out of her room, "true" love just doesn't make sense.

In the end, it all boils down to how much this sort of thing bothers you, and for me, it brought the movie down to a "eh..." level.


~ F I N A L  T H O U G H T S ~

I'm not sure why this movie was such a big success. I think that if somebody made an animated version of Wicked with attractively designed characters that teenagers would want to ornament their notebooks with, it would be met with a similar response.

A small side note: since the Academy Awards is upon us I want to mention something else. This film won the Best Animated Feature Award in 2013. For the reasons stated above in my review, I don't think it should've won. Most of the strength lies in the songs, and not in the movie sections, which is what the Academy is supposed to be about. It was a pretty lame decision, especially since The Wind Rises came out that year. I'll admit that I didn't find The Wind Rises particularly interesting, but that's because I'm young and I can't relate to older characters and perspectives. That doesn't mean it was a bad film, and it definitely earned an Oscar, unlike Frozen, which, like the Academy, chose safer choices.

As usual, I won't give a rating, because assigning a number to an experience is utterly pointless, (unless you use a point system! Ba-dum-tish!). Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion, I hope what I said helped affirm it.

I hope you had a nice Valentine's Day. My valentine this year was my computer, as always. Until next time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

You Should Be Watching: All About Anime


There you go Astro Turf! (sorry if you don't get this joke... And sorry if you do.)

If there's one thing the youth of today is known for, it's probably their self-entitlement issues and texting and ignorance. But I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about their overnight outbreak of the Otaku Virus in 2013 thanks to the success of Attack On Titan, a moderately clever show. Its success was probably due to the fact that it explores themes relating to relevant American issues, like the tragedies of war and Spider-Man-esque webslinging devices. Of course we loved it! I say "we" in the general sense, the show is a bit too one-note for me. Than again, the same could be said about a certain other show with one Note, (well, to start out with. I'm not even sure how many Notes were bopping around by the third season). I'm referring to Death Note, okay? Sorry, I'll stop trying to be cryptic.

Anyway, even though Attack on Titan didn't personally click with me, it took over the world and clicked with teenagers in particular, because the show stars a teenager, and that's something any teenager can identify with, right guys?

Still looks ten to me, though.
It was not long until the more adventurous teenagers discovered that about 90% of all anime is about them and now Otaku culture is booming.

But where was I when this all hit? I was already watching lots of anime. Mostly high-school romance comedies, because I tend to enjoy comedy more than anything else. That might explain why I get so nitpick-y about it. But you don't care about my detailed back story that will eventually get rebooted so many times it'll lose all it's flavor! I'm here to discuss a few key points about anime and help you find the right anime to watch. If you're here because you already like anime, well great, I'm not just going to pander to the uninitiated, these opinions are practically exposition-less! If you're here because you're clueless about anime, well great, I've got some handy tips for you! So let's jump into it!

~ W H Y  W E   L I K E  A N I M E ~

There's one for everyone, and if you haven't found the one for you yet... you just haven't found it. Because it's out there, believe me. To satisfy your afterlife-stuck-in-high-school-forever-sorta-religious-but-not-really-comedy-tragedy-featuring-random-rock-band-concert needs.

Yeah, about that... what genre was this supposed to be again?
The community surrounding anime is incredibly accepting and friendly*. As an illustration of this, the ongoing eternal conflict is dubs or subs. Whether to watch an anime with the original Japanese dialog but subtitled, or to watch it dubbed over with English without subtitles, but also without the original, and sometimes better, Japanese cast. Both subs and dubs are filled with hilarious typos and translation mistakes, awkward or stilted acting, and/or famous voice actors that you can recognize and appreciate. In other words, they are more or less THE SAME EXPERIENCE, (unless you can't read). If you want a flawless experience, go watch the raws. Everyone else just adapts to the limits of the era we live in. In the future, we'll all be speaking an international auxiliary language, I'm sure.

I like how it's this easily resolvable non-argument, which is ultimately a matter of preference, that is the biggest point of contention in the anime community. Who wouldn't want to join a community like that? Now of course, there are other debates to be had, but most of them are similarly up to personal taste, and as such can be easily dismissed if things get out of hand.

*DISCLAIMER: Not always, but mostly.

~  A N  E X T E N S I V E  G U I D E ~

So, it's up to you now to find your niche of anime. I've helpfully compiled a Spent-To-Much-Time-On-This Guide just for you, (it literally took three full days to write), based on the classic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment.

For each personality type I've provided several anime television shows and movies, as well as more specific information about why I think it's right for you. The Rating is kind of like a parent's guide to the anime. I've developed my own system for the ratings. Don't worry, it's easy.

CHAN = Anyone could watch this.
KUN =  Contains slightly disturbing or suggestive material.
KOUHAI = Contains some strong language and disturbing and/or suggestive material.
SENPAI = Contains moderate amounts of strong language and disturbing and/or suggestive material.
HAKASE + Any of the below = This anime isn't a good entry anime and should be watched after some familiarity with the occasional weirdness found in anime so that you don't screw up your first time watching anime.

By the way, the reason no adult shows are included on the list, (like Hellsing or Elfen Lied), is because that's not what this list is for. Look up a different list for that.

There are two main examples for each personality type, a Drama and a Comedy. This isn't to diminish the endless subcategories of anime, but it can be argued that most shows are either one or the other, and people usually tend to lean towards one or the other, despite personality type. Oh, and, before I begin, if you want to find out what your personality type is, here. It's not completely accurate, and I wish they had more choices, but it'll do.

One final note: This list will be continually updated as I learn more about anime.

INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted or creatively out there characters, and the shows they star in offer many points of view and are focused on the emotional journeys of the characters, rather than the plot.

Name: xxxHolic
Rating: KUN
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Psychedelic
Why: You'll relate to the introverted main character, the unique and creative atmosphere of the show, and how most of the show's energy is spent on character-focused drama.

Other Drama Recommendations for INFPs: Shinigami no Ballad (Rated KUN), The Mysterious Disappearance of Haruhi Suzamiya (Rated KUN)

Name: Azumanga Daioh
Rating: KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: School
Why: You'll relate to the intuitive main character, the creative comedy of the show, and how most of the show's energy is spent on character-focused comedy.

Other Comedy Recommendations for INFPs: Tonari No Seki-kun (Rated CHAN), Bakuman (Rated HAKASE-KUN), Ouran High School Host Club (Rated KUN)


INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted or just plain nice characters, who try to help others achieve their dreams instead of stealing all the glory for themselves. The anime they star in are complex, and tend to focus on the emotions of the characters.

Name: Robotics;Notes
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Mecha
Why: You'll be along for an admittedly long but worth-the-wait ride with a robotics club that's passionate about creating a giant robot. It's a show that can be light and fun one minute, and dark and intriguing the next.

Other Drama Recommendations for INFJs: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (Rated KOUHAI),  Samurai Champloo (Rated SENPAI), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Rated KUN), Mysterious Girlfriend X (Rated SENPAI), Gosick (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Rating: KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Supernatural/Slice of Life
Why: You'll relate to the intuitive main character, the creative comedy of the show, and how most of the show's energy is spent on character-focused comedy.

Other Comedy Recommendations for INFJs: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Rated KUN), Fooly Cooly (Rated HAKASE-KOUHAI), Soul Eater (Rated KOUHAI), A Certain Magical Index (Rated KUN)


INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted characters. The plot of the anime is the focus, and it's usually complex and full of twists and turns.

Name: Death Note
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Supernatural/Mystery/Psychological
Why: The show is a wild roller coaster with an intelligent cast of characters, what more is there to say?

Other Drama Recommendations for INTJs: Code Geass (Rated SENPAI),  Neuro: Supernatural Detective (Rated SENPAI), Fate/Zero (Rated SENPAI), Detective Conan (Rated KUN), A Certain Scientific Railgun (Rated KOUHAI), Black Butler (Rated SENPAI), Ghost Hunt (Rated KOUHAI), Psycho-Pass (Rated SENPAI), Un-Go (Rated SENPAI), Steins;Gates (Rated SENPAI)

 
Name: The World God Only Knows
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Romance
Why: A dissection of the romantic comedy genre, it stars an intelligent protagonist and offers a unique, engaging plot, as well as some genuinely hilarious comedy.

Other Comedy Recommendations for INTJs: No Game No Life (Rated KOUHAI), Log Horizon (Rated KUN), Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (Rated SENPAI)

INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted characters, who overcome must overcome complex psychological and/or philosophical dilemmas. The world of the anime is as important as its plot and characters.

Name: Hunter x Hunter
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Action/Psychological
Why: This show offers a realized world with interesting characters. There are numerous fight scenes, but unlike other action shows they rely on logic and psychological tricks to win the day.

Other Drama Recommendations for INTPs: Neon Genesis Evangelion (Rated SENPAI), Time of Eve (Rated KUN), Black Butler (Rated SENPAI), Danganronpa (Rated KOUHAI), Ergo Proxy (Rated SENPAI)

Name: WataMote
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Slice of Life
Why: It's basically a long character study into the twisted psychology of an extremely anti-social girl. The way she perceives the world around her plays into the style of the entire show.

Other Comedy Recommendations for INTPs: Soul Eater (Rated KOUHAI), Blood Lad (Rated KOUHAI), Ouran High School Host Club (Rated KUN), Baka and Test (Rated KOUHAI), Hells (Rated KOUHAI)


ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted characters, with an emphasis on an ensemble cast. The anime puts focus on the relationships between the characters.

Name: Summer Wars
Rating: CHAN
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Science Fiction/Adventure
Why: It's a movie with family and traditionalism at its core, and the concept is unique and fun.

Other Drama Recommendations for ISFJs: Silver Spoon (Rated KOUHAI), Steins;Gate (Rated SENPAI)

Name: The Eccentric Family
Rating: KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Slice of Life
Why: A show steeped in tradition and lore, with family as its number one focus.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ISFJs: Fairy Tail (Rated KOUHAI), Haganai (Rated HAKASE-KOUHAI), Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (Rated KOUHAI), Silver Spoon (Rated KOUHAI)

ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted, varied and artistic characters, with more focus on them than the plot.

Name: Mysterious Girlfriend X
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Romance/Mystery
Why: The quirky characters and the unusual nature of the romance is sure to intrigue.

Other Drama Recommendations for ISFPs: Michiko to Hatchin (Rated SENPAI), Cowboy Bebop (Rated SENPAI), Mushishi (Rated KOUHAI), Accel World (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: Daily Lives of Highschool Boys
Rating: HAKASE-KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Slice of Life
Why: It's a show full of imagination, fully realized characters, and it varies between subtle and outlandish humor.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ISFPs: Fooly Cooly (Rated HAKASE-KOUHAI), Kaichou wa Maid-sama! (Rated KUN)

ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted, grounded and practical characters, where plot places an emphasis on clarity.

Name: From Up On Poppy Hill
Rating: CHAN
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Romance
Why: This Studio Ghibli film is full of hardworking, dedicated characters and displays a high attention to detail.

Other Drama Recommendations for ISTJs: Steins;Gate (Rated KOUHAI), Full Metal Panic (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: Bakuman
Rating: KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Romance
Why: The earnest, hardworking characters and the straight-ahead plot are key elements to this anime.


Other Comedy Recommendations for ISTJs: Shirobako (Rated KUN), Servant x Service (Rated KUN), Golden Time (Rated KUN), Comic Party (Rated KUN)

ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly introverted, practical characters, and focus more on action than sitting around talking.

Name: Michiko to Hatchin
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Action
Why: An introverted, practical character meets a volitional extrovert. Action and chaos follow.

Other Drama Recommendations for ISTPs: Yozakura Quartet (Rated KUN), Cowboy Bebop (Rated SENPAI), Black Lagoon (Rated SENPAI), Code Geass (Rated SENPAI), Attack on Titan (Rated SENPAI)


Name: Soul Eater
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Fantasy/Supernatural
Why: It stars a practical main character who is joined by a large cast of diverse and quirky people and spiced up through many creative action sequences.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ISTPs: Medaka Box (Rated KOUHAI), Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (Rated SENPAI), Samurai Champloo (Rated KOUHAI)

ENFJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, imaginative characters, a with a focus on optimism and the value of friendship, (in other words, 90% of shonen appeal to you).

Name: Fate/Zero
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Action/Fantasy
Why: The ensemble cast offers variety and imagination, with various arcs relating to friendship, and it has at least one really extroverted character, who is worth watching the whole show for. Whether or not it's optimistic is contestable.

Other Drama Recommendations for ENFJs: Yozakura Quartet (Rated KUN), Cowboy Bebop (Rated SENPAI), Black Lagoon (Rated SENPAI), Code Geass (Rated SENPAI), Hunter x Hunter (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: The Devil is a Part-Timer!
Rating: KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Fantasy
Why: It stars extroverted, imaginative, and hardworking characters, and there's plenty of optimism to be found here.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ENFJs: Baka and Test (Rated KOUHAI), Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Rated KOUHAI), Yu Yu Hakusho (Rated KUN), Yowamushi Pedal (Rated KUN), One Piece (Rated KOUHAI), Blue Exorcist (Rated KUN), Agami Brilliant Park (Rated HAKASE-KUN)


ENFP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, imaginative characters who are full of creativity, and underneath it all is a layer of philosophy and deeper meaning.

Name: Baccano!
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Action/Noir
Why: There are plenty of extroverted characters to be found here, and the creativity and philosophy of the show is very engaging.

Other Drama Recommendations for ENFPs: The Wind Rises (Rated KUN), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Rated CHAN), Hells (Rated KOUHAI), Hunter x Hunter (Rated KOUHAI), Death Parade (Rated SENPAI)

Name: Fooly Cooly
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Fantasy
Why: It features many outlandish techniques and characters, who are enhanced by a deeper mystery throughout.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ENFPs: Skip Beat (Rated KUN), Lucky Star (Rated HAKASE-KUN), Kill la Kill (Rated SENPAI), D-Frag (Rated KOUHAI), The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Rated KUN)

ENTJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted characters with powerful leadership qualities. The plots are full of twists and turns and the stakes are usually high.

Name: Code Geass
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Military/Supernatural
Why: Who doesn't want to conquer the world? That's what the protagonist of this mend-bending show sets out to achieve.

Other Drama Recommendations for ENTJs: Full Metal Panic (Rated KOUHAI), Cowboy Bebop (Rated SENPAI), Attack on Titan (Rated SENPAI), Death Note (Rated Senpai), Durarara! (Rated SENPAI)

Name: Agami Brilliant Park
Rating: HAKASE-KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Fantasy
Why: Equal emphasis is placed on leadership and comedy in this show filled with extroverted characters.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ENTJs: Full Metal Panic Fumoffu! (Rated KUN), Daily Lives of Highschool Boys (Rated HAKASE-KUN), Comic Party (Rated CHAN)

ENTP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, clever and imaginative characters, with plot taking a backseat to the world and ideas of the show or movie.

Name: Angel Beats!
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Comedy/Supernatural/School/Military/Concert/Sports
Why: An ensemble cast with multiple personalities and tragic back stories is wrapped in a show full of ideas that isn't always sure where to put those ideas. But it's a wild ride nonetheless!

Other Drama Recommendations for ENTPs: Neuro: Supernatural Detective (Rated KOUHAI), Darker Than Black (Rated SENPAI)

Name: Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun
Rating: HAKASE-KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: School/Slice-Of-Life/Romance
Why: A cast full of extroverted and varied characters and some of the most hilarious, bizarre scenarios you will ever see.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ENTPs: No Game No Life (Rated KOUHAI), My Neighbor Totoro (Rated CHAN), One Piece (Rated KOUHAI), Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (Rated KOUHAI), Assassination Classroom (Rated KUN), Lucky Star (Rated HAKASE-KUN). Fooly Cooly (Rated KOUHAI)

ESFJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, traditional characters, with an emphasis on family.

Name: Spirited Away
Rating: CHAN
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Supernatural
Why: A whimsical, yet dark movie with it's own established mythology, and themes about family.

 Other Drama Recommendations for ESFJs: Whisper of the Heart (Rated CHAN)

Name: Toradora!
Rating: KUN
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: School/Romance
Why: An extroverted ensemble with a romance at its core.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ESFJs: Noragami (Rated KUN), Fairy Tail (Rated KOUHAI), Log Horizon (Rated KUN), Toriko (Rated KUN), Minami-ke (Rated KUN)

ESFP (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, enthusiastic characters who strive to help or find out about others. The premise is usually fun or sensational, but the focus is mostly on the characters throughout. The style of the show tends to be unique and interesting, with a wide range of colors.

Name: Samurai Champloo
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Comedy/Fantasy
Why: Most of the characters are trying to help one character accomplish her goal. The style is also very unique, and the show's outlook is ultimately optimistic.

Other Drama Recommendations for ESFPs: Cowboy Bebop (Rated SENPAI), Attack on Titan (Rated SENPAI), Medaka Box (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Action/Mecha
Why: Full of action with a unique style and extroverted characters. Common themes are friendship and helping others.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ESFPs: Toriko (Rated KUN), Space Dandy (Rated SENPAI), One Piece (Rated KOUHAI)


ESTJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, practical, organized characters to are trying to establish order in a chaotic world. Plot is the focus.

Name: Witch Hunter Robin
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Supernatural
Why: The setting is grim and grounded, and it stars a conservative character. The plot focuses on the characters dealing with multiple chaotic incidents in an efficient manner, (when they can).


Other Drama Recommendations for ESTJs: Death Note (Rated SENPAI), A Certain Magical Index (Rated KUN), Full Metal Alchemist (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: No Game No Life
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Fantasy
Why: In a fantastical world full of rules, the two main characters decide to play by them in order to conquer it.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ESTJs: Agami Brilliant Park (Rated KOUHAI), Noragami (Rated KOUHAI)

ESTP (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving):

The anime listed here star mostly extroverted, energetic characters. The shows tend to focus on action rather than dialogue, and moves fairly quickly.

Name: Cowboy Bebop
Rating: SENPAI
Genre: Drama
Sub-genre: Western/Science Fiction
Why: A lot of time is spent on characters and action, and the plot clips along with only 26 episodes.

Other Drama Recommendations for ESTPs: Angel Beats! (Rated KOUHAI), Daughter of Twenty Faces (Rated KOUHAI)

Name: Trigun
Rating: KOUHAI
Genre: Comedy
Sub-genre: Action/Western
Why: The show has a fast-paced style and lively characters. Most of the humor is physical.

Other Comedy Recommendations for ESTPs: Baka and Test (Rated KOUHAI), Yowamushi Pedal (Rated KUN)


In case you're curious, I've watched all of the main recommendations listed above except Azumanga Daioh, and enjoyed all of them, (at least enough to put them on the list), so take these personality types with a grain of salt. In case you were wondering, my score was "INTJ", which is probably right, as that was the easiest category for me to come up with examples for.

I'm aware that there aren't too many shoujo (anime aimed at girls) on the list. That's because I've only seen two, Maid-sama and Yuru Yuri, and my knowledge extends only to Skip Beat, Love Live, Kamisama Kiss and Fruits Basket beyond that. However, I intend to try those shows in the future, and expand my palate as well as this guide.

~  T H E  B I G  T H R E E ~

One of the most important things to know going into anime is that there are three shows that have dominated the industry for the past several years. They are:

Hori-san to Miyamura-kun


Mushishi


and

The Tatami Galaxy


Ha ha, just kidding. It's One Piece, Naturo and Bleach.

The shows that everybody in the anime world has tried at least once!
These series are all shonen, which means they're full of action and friendship, and they also all have seemingly endless filler arcs and episodes that don't serve any purpose. Basically, if you want to watch one, it'd better be for the characters because the plot gets stretched so thin there's no point in caring about it. The Big Three is the anime community's other big discussion. The general attitude is that these shows are about quantity rather than quality. I've only seen two, Bleach and One Piece. Of those two, One Piece held my attention longer. It has both comedy and characters going for it, which Bleach has little to none of.

Bleach mostly seems to be concerned with being cool, but its definition of "cool" is getting sliced across the forehead with a sword and standing and talking to your opponents for half an episode before attacking them. Each fight kind of had a same-y feel, with the "run past each other and double over" cliché appearing again and again. I've heard people complain that the first season isn't very good, and that the season afterwords, commonly referred to as the "Rescue Rukia" arc or the "Soul Society" arc, is the "best arc in shonen". I have to disagree on that point. The first season explored character and plot mechanics, with themes about death and loss. It moved fast and established the rules of the universe in a pretty fun way. The arcs afterwords are drawn out too long to be enjoyable to me, and I hate battles where there seems to be no thought behind the action. On the plus side, the animation is better than the other two, and it has a cool atmosphere to it.

~ W R A P - U P ~

This blog isn't going to turn into an anime blog from here on out. Most of my thoughts on the subject were in this post. The blog's main focus is still animated films and action films and the problems I had with them.

Anime is a huge world, and it's a world worth spending time in. Hopefully my guide helped point you in the right direction. In case you were wondering, these are my favorite anime, (so you can watch out for favoritism in the list):

1. Daily Lives of Highschool Boys
2. WataMote
3. The World God Only Knows
4. Baka and Test
5. Death Note

Now if somebody would only make a Slice of Life/Mystery/Comedy. That would be something I'd definitely enjoy.