Double Feature: Your Name. (2016) & The Guardian Brothers (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time, we are looking at two foreign animated films. The first is one that was previously reviewed as a part of the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon and originally posted over at my co-host Drew’s Movie Reviews’s blog for Your Name. The second is a Chinese animated film by Light Chaser Animation Studios called The Guardian Brothers (on Netflix, but called Little Door Gods everywhere else), which is their debut movie from the studio before getting to one of my favorite movies of 2019, White Snake (review).

Your Name. (2016)

your name

Director (and writer): Makoto Shinkai

Voice Cast (English ver.):  Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Kyle Hebert, Cassandra Morris, Ben Pronsky, Ray Chase, Laura Post, Glynis Ellis, Catie Harvey, Scott Williams

Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart? – IMDB

There’s no doubt that when we think of Japanese animated films, Studio Ghibli is the first one that gets the most recognition. Yet in the sea of Japanese anime, there’s a lot of smaller films with a lot of great ideas that are starting to appear on the international film market and Your Name is one that definitely had a lot of recognition when it was released. Adapted from director Makoto Shinkai’s novel of the same name which was published only one month prior to the film’s premiere, Your Name stands out because of all its elements being done very well: story full of reveals and twists, emotional moments, music score and of course, its rich animation.  

Your Name has incredibly rich animation. Each scene has a lot of intricate details. Whether its setting up how the sunlight beams through a scene or how the night sky and the comet and lights contrast in its night scenes, every scene is set up to look beautifully authentic, especially in its outdoors nature scene that almost looks like a realistic snapshot full of colors, instead of an animation. Paired with its music score by Radwimps which runs fittingly throughout all the scenes, especially during the montage moments between the two main leads and the little things that happen to go through time quickly, it adds so much to each scene and tone. 

The story here written by the director Makoto Shinkai is based on his own novel which makes it even more of a personal offering and easier to portray the film the way that he wants. Your Name carries a rather complex story packed with swapping bodies, time elements and a few surprises along the way. Its execution is possibly the most important element put to the test in order to make each of its reveals timed perfectly to make it have the most impact and Shinkai does it so masterfully that it manages to make each one unpredictable and pulls the story into another direction and packing in a lot of emotions and tugging some heartstrings as this is at the centre of it all, a love story by the end. At the same time, props to Shinkai who also starts off the story in a light and fun way of introducing these two characters, Taki and Mitsuha with their different backgrounds, locations and genders who learn to discover each other physically and emotionally, adding a lot of charm and humor. At the same time, every supporting character also has its own purpose in propelling the story forward and making sure that some conversations help explain the odd predicament that they find themselves in. 

Overall, Your Name is an outstanding animated film. While I only managed to listen to the English version and would have preferred to see the original Japanese version with English subtitles instead, the story doesn’t lose anything because it has some unique ideas and excels in so many elements that put together, it becomes a memorable movie experience. Yet again proving that 2010s brings forward an eye-opening offering of international films and expands into some unique ideas outside of the big American studios like Disney and Pixar offerings. 

The Guardian Brothers (小门神 , 2016)

  The Guardian Brothers

Directors: Gary Wang & Paulette Victor-Lifton

Voice Cast (Eng. Version): Dan Fogler, Edward Norton, Bella Thorne, Nicole Kidman, Mel Brooks, Meryl Streep, Steve French, Cristina Pucelli

There’s a crisis in the Chinese Spirit World — humans don’t believe in gods anymore! A Door God, facing unemployment, ventures into the human world to prove his worth, leading to unexpected encounters and transformations for humans and spirits alike. – IMDB

Much like its recent film offering, Light Chaser Animation Studios creates stories that play with certain Chinese beliefs, traditions as well as stories. In this one, it uses the belief of spiritual guardians  just like how American movies would use Santa Claus and the loss in belief, affect the future in the human world and pulling the two worlds together. At the same time, it also surrounds the story during Chinese New Year and a familiar tale of a creature called Nian that is the origins of why many Chinese New Year traditions are now used like firecrackers and such. Light Chaser Studios, using these source material, creates a rather fun story which is very much fittingly a fantasy comedy and has equal doses of both, while still managing to add some family drama in between of a mother and daughter relationship and carrying on their family restaurant against the more popular commercial restaurant.

The English version of The Guardian Brothers is packed with a great cast. Right off the bat, Meryl Streep has a unique voice that I’ve always loved and she does a stellar job as the narrator which carries the story really well. The brothers are voiced by Dan Fogler and Edward Norton who fittingly also has one who is more funny and the other much more serious respectively. While Bella Thorne definitely does show up in a lot of different movies more and more and her voicing the role of a little girl, Rain really has its own fun. I talked about her roles a little when I reviewed Midnight Sun (review) and yet again, it is wonderful to see her take on something other than the norm and further breaks her out of this acting box that she was stuck in for a while. Of course, it does help that Nicole Kidman is casted to voice her mother. Of course, I can’t leave this without talking about the villain or just the evil corporate businessman voiced by Mel Brooks, which really is present but more as hurdles and gets whats coming to him as with most animated films aimed towards children (maybe not too young as some darker elements here and there) do to emphasize the importance of being good.

If there was anything to criticize for this one, it might be just the pacing and at times the execution feels like the story jumps around a little too much that pads out what could be a fairly straight forward story. However, the animation is really colorful and imaginative. It manages to grab a good color palette suitable to the atmosphere and what is going on. Its a nice offering and one that is incredibly suitable for Chinese New Year (which was actually when I first watched it not knowing that it was a Chinese New Year movie).

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these animated films?

What’s Up 2020: Week 13

Moving right along now into Week 13 of 2020! This week’s recap was the first official week of self-isolation. While life didn’t change much except for moving work to my home office and its been a whole more of deliberately staying at home, the good thing is that writing is definitely more on track and I’ve found more time to do other things in these different categories. On the positive side of things, we’re progressing!

READING

Blackthorn

Currently reading: Blackthorn

Blackthorn is moving forward FINALLY! I’m finding time to read again, although not quite as much as before. However, I’m definitely hitting the meat of the story as I hit almost halfway. I do plan on finishing it soon as I have another book to start reading very soon in preparation for the next blog tour.

PLAYING

where the water tastes like wine

Currently playing: Demon’s Tilt, I Love Hue, I Love Hue 2, Happy Color, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Definitely moving forward with a lot more games this week. Still mostly focused on mobile for relaxation and then checking out other games on Xbox Game Pass for PC. I’m debating to keep it a little longer than the three months since I have a few other games to check out that might take some time to finish like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Guacamelee 2! As for this week, I started up Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, an indie game that is really narrative and part choice-based to direct the story in a different way. I just realized that the game is fairly long (like 10 hours) and I’m only like an hour into it so I still have some gaming to give more thoughts on it. On another note, I’m trying to use this time to get more gaming posts up. First line of business is the revival of Mobile Games Roundup!

WATCHING

aliens

  • A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
  • The Guardian Brothers (2016)
  • Aliens (1986, rewatch)
  • Alien 3 (1992, rewatch)

A ton of rewatches this week and really only one new watch. I had postponed The Guardian Brothers so long that I felt like I wanted to rewatch it to get a review out. We’re really ahead for Movies and Tea recordings so you can kind of guess who we chose for Season 5 seeing as I went ahead to revisit some Alien movies. The husband actually did watch all the first 4 but I actually fell asleep (because of fatigue and not the movie’s problem) for Alien and then I’m not a fan of Alien Resurrection so, no surprise, I actually dozed off also. Either way, it helped to catch the little details. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t reviewed the Alien franchise yet. I had thought that I did so I might be doing a Sunday Lists posts to rank the movies thus far!

BINGING

The Circle Brazil

  • The Circle Brazil (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Skate Into Love, Me To Us, Youth is You 2, The Singer 2020, J-Style Trip

Lots of TV back on the radar now. Three Week Event of The Circle Brazil wrapped up and its still such a great concept as a show. With different countries and different players, the game changes and its a refreshing way to see the outcome. Its great since The Circle France is around the corner and what’s even better is that now I can watch it with more ease as I understand French!

As for currently watching, J-Style Trip released its next episode with guest star JJ Lin exploring Singapore in a 2 part trip. The first part is whats available and pretty fun since I’ve liked JJ Lin as a musician as well and fits so well since he had just did a live online concert with friends for his birthday. I finally got started with Me to Us and I love it SO MUCH! Not hard to since I can’t help but fangirl over Nicholas Tse who in his late 30s is still AWESOME! So much style on stage! As for Skate Into Love, this series is one of my most anticipated this year since I like Janice Wu as an actress in TV series and she was pretty quiet in 2019 and so far, its been really fun! Its supposed to be the part 2 of a trilogy following Ashes of Love (review). Plus, its only 40 episodes, which is fairly modest for Chinese dramas.

That’s it for Week 13’s recap! 
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Double Feature: Dog Soldiers (2002) & Hell House LLC (2015)

Welcome to the next double feature! Something of a horror double feature as we start bouncing between Shudder and Netflix more (so more horror in the horizon..a lot more). The first to appear is a pairing of one movie that I’ve been wanting to watch the finally go on Shudder, Dog Soldiers and the second is a random choice by my husband, the first of three movies called Hell House LLC. Let’s check it out!

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers

Director (and writer): Neil Marshall

Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson

A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness. – IMDB

Werewolf movies are rather hard to come by and its nice to see that here and there they do come up even if a lot of times, it sometimes still feels a bit lacking. Dog Soldiers has my praise for tackling this subgenre in horror films but at the same time, the movie itself is something of a slow-burn. It plays up on the unknown of who is hunting them and why this military team is at the location at the time and that takes a lot of time to build, probably longer than I’d have wanted.

There are some decent scenes and yet, while the script tries to give all the characters something more, its main players do dial down to 4 of the characters especially when they end up trapped in the house. The two military exercise leaders of sorts is Sean Pertwee’s character Sergeant Wells and Kevin McKidd’s character Private Cooper who takes over when Wells ends up injured rather seriously. The next two is a woman who lives in the area and knows of these odd events happening played by Emma Cleasby as a character of Megan who gives them a lot of the information as she saves them from the wilderness  while the last is a Captain who won’t talk about what happened but was involved in the last attack that killed his team pretty much.

Dog Soldiers itself has a decent premise. The story its trying to tell and the way they want to add in the twists and answer all those mysteries. Even some of the attack scenes and werewolf designs, despite its budget, still works alright. The biggest issue here dials down to execution where the first half seems to lag a little and when the reveal happens and things get serious (even though there were attack scenes and other scenes before that), it seems a little late in the game making the second half definitely stronger than the first.

Hell House LLC (2015)

Hell House LLC

Director (and writer): Stephen Cognetti

Cast: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke, Danny Bellini, Theodore Bouloukos, Jared Hacker, Ryan Jennifer Jones

Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened. – IMDB

Found footage films are always a somewhat interesting horror genre to see. They usually all reliant on the execution and finding how to create the right atmosphere. With Hell House LLC, its the first in what is now a 3 movie franchise. We’ll be looking at the other 2 later on as a double feature. This is an independent movie and yet somehow, found footage films are usually still very good with a smaller budget. This first movie does a great job in its execution and especially in using its cameras and background to have this lurking horror atmosphere. There are a few little jumpscares here and there but they are also very effective.

What does shine here is in the premise of looking back at this documentary that five crew members have joined together for their next haunted house tour in this abandoned hotel called Abaddon Hotel located in a small town . It shows the entire lead-up through the surveillance cameras and other filming cameras that document the whole making-of up to the night of the malfunction. It uses its lighting and darkness pretty well and also builds a decent lore with the story of the hotel and its previous hotel owner. It all makes sense but lacks enough information to keep it a mystery and how these characters one by one change in their own ways and it becomes a question of whether its because of the hotel and whatever seems to be haunting it or just the haunted house weighing down on them for other reasons. 

Overall, Hell House LLC is a strong found footage film. It has enough of a creepy factor and helps itself by having all these mysterious stories and how it brings in different horror elements in the background. There’s a change in the characters as well as the entire haunted house deal making it have a lot of opportunities to play with these suitable horror elements to appear amidst the haunted house props that also play well with the whole premise. Its one location makes Abaddon Hotel a worthy horror setting. Its definitely worth a watch if you  haven’t seen it yet!

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

What’s Up 2020: Week 12

Week 12 everyone! I’m guessing everyone is starting to settle into having more time at home. Last week, aka this week that we’re covering right now, was my last week having to commute to work and under a lot of stress of how to make as many preventative measure as possible so that actually affected a lot of writing. However, I did try to stay on track with doing as much as I can. Next week will definitely bring some difference hopefully as work shifts home.

READING

Blackthorn

Currently reading: Blackthorn

As I’ve mentioned before, most of my reading is done via commute. Due to the preventative measures during commute, I actually stopped touching my devices on the bus so hence, no reading was done. Blackthorn is still on my mind and as this goes up, I’m back to reading. However, absolutely no reading progress last week. I’ll talk more about it in next week’s update!

PLAYING

Demon's Tilt

Currently playing: Demon’s Tilt, I Love Hue

Not too much of change in the gaming department either! I actually have been pretty obsessed with these two games. Pinball games just bring out the challenger in me apparently and I keep wanting to beat the game and beat my own high score. I’m actually improving in it which is pretty nice. Hopefully that I don’t peak at a certain point, but that tends to happen. We will see as I do also need to move on and play something else.

At the same time, I Love Hue is perfect for downtime. While I’m still loving this one, I realized that they recently released a sequel called I Love Hue Too and I can’t wait to try it out! I’ll report back next week to talk about it once I give it a go.

WATCHING

blair witch project

  • The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  • Blair Witch (2016)
  • Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel (2018)

Unknowingly, we ended up watching all horror movies this weekend. The one thing that was unexpected was finally catching up (for both myself and my husband) to the very talked about The Blair Witch Project when it was first released and probably put found footage films on the map back then. I still remember hearing all kinds of talk about it back then about the shaky camcorder style and such. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only person who hasn’t caught up with this one. While I can’t say that I’m completely enthralled by it, there are quite a few things that I did like about this one.

Of course, this was all lead by my husband’s random choice to start 2016’s Blair Witch thinking it was 1999’s Blair Witch Project so we just decided to rent the first and check both of it out. Of course, we also decided to continue on with the Hell House LLC franchise onto the second movie, which isn’t as good as the first one.

BINGING

restaurants on the edge

  • Restaurants on the Edge (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: The Singer 2020, Youth is You 2, The Circle Brazil, Skate Into Love, J-Style Trip

TV binging is just all kinds of new things that updated daily or weekly with one to four episodes depending on the series. The Singer 2020, Youth is You 2 are both variety shows from Mango TV and iQiyi that I watch via their international apps. I’ve been watching those the past while so nothing new there. Still very fun. The Circle Brazil aired its 2nd week of its 3 week event (so it will all wrap up next time) and you can see the difference of the competitive vibe in this one compared to the US version. I’m going to talk about it once the whole thing ends. Its definitely a fun concept. J-Style Trip is also a new Taiwanese variety show with Jay Chou and his buddies exploring the world. Suitable for now as a lot of us are sitting at home. Its pretty fun especially since the first episode is was Jam Hsiao, a musician that I’ve really been loving the past few months, but its only updated one episode per week. Good things come in small doses, I guess, and makes us appreciate it more. Finally, a series I’ve been waiting for to start finally aired called Skate Into Love and its update daily and 5 episode in and I LOVE it!!

We switched things up a bit this time and talked about the currently binging before what I finished. Restaurants on the Edge is a Netflix series about making over restaurants. Its something of a Queer Eye concept but targeted at restaurants around the world as the three hosts help with making over the interior design, food as well as bringing in the culture for the owners and the vibe of the restaurant. Its really nice because it may be a makeover but its so much more than that, which is what I appreciate about the show and I’ll talk about it more in the TV binge. Working on that soon..but as usual, the TV binge is piling up right now.

That’s it for this What’s Up 2020 for Week 12!
What are you reading/playing/watching/binging?

 

Double Feature: Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) & What A Girl Wants (2003)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time is a rather female character driven combo with the Barden Bellas final hurrah in Pitch Perfect 3 and Amanda Bynes in What A Girl Wants. It seems like a decent pairing, don’t you think?

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

pitch perfect3

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnet, DJ Khaled, Ruby Rose

Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices. – IMDB

Pitch Perfect 3 has really just been riding on the success of its first film (review) but for myself, it feels pretty much like the Step Up franchise. In Pitch Perfect’s case, its all about the acappella musical elements and the charming cast of Bellas that come with it. Pitch Perfect 3 is a farewell movie and while the story itself is rather disposable as its yet another competition that they need to try to win but this time, its a little different because its about finding closure for all of the main players: Becca, Chloe, Amber, Amy as they move on with their lives from this family to each seeing those problems that make them who they are. Its a bit messy and brushed over quickly for all those involved, mostly because for most of them they never had tackled personal problems for these characters.

Looking at the cast here, which retains itself from the Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect 2 (review) but as they exit their lives after university and the many struggles of finding their own identity and purpose after their success, each have their own path right from the start and of course, their own issues that make them want to go on this final hurrah for them to compete again together. In many ways, Becca has gone full circle from the beginning to the end of this film where she finally finds success in what she wanted at the start in some form but now its her loyalty to the Bellas that holds her back, a bit of a reverse situation. Bellas is a wonderful little group of friends as they are unique in their different ways and different backgrounds, nothing more apparent than in this one, even if it does piece it together oddly.

Of course, aside from the Bellas, we still have the supporting characters including the staple characters of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins characters who have that additional comedic relief. On top of that adding in some other talent from DJ Khaled playing himself and a few side characters with Matt Lanter as the Bellas military guide and something of a bodyguard. The other groups competing for that one spot include Ruby Rose playing the lead singer of Evermoist. I remember that year, Ruby Rose ended up in three different movie sequels which was pretty fantastic as I love her style even if the Bellas were the main focus here. Of course, you also had John Lithgow sporting an Australian accent as Amy’s dad who “isn’t a very nice man”(quoting the line she uses to describe him).

Overall, Pitch Perfect 3 is quite a mixed basket but the musical elements are still there if you like these movies. The Bellas are still quite fun to watch and they get themselves into some serious trouble and Amy really steps up. At the same time, Its the right time to wrap this whole thing up and they do it really well in the credits with what looks like bloopers and extras from the production of the three movies together which is a nice path down memory lane.

What A Girl Wants (2003)

what a girl wants

Director: Dennie Gordon

Cast: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Eileen Atkins, Anna Chancellor, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver James, Christina Cole

An American teenager learns that her father is a wealthy British politician running for office. Although she is eager to find him, she realizes it could cause a scandal and cost him the election. – IMDB

If you put together a dash of Mamma Mia (review) and then adds in a dose of The Princess Diaries, you will get something like What A Girl Wants but maybe a little less refined. Rightfully so because this was movie before Lovewrecked (review) earlier than the movie that I knew Amanda Bynes from, She’s All That. However, it does feel that Amanda Bynes always has that same type of character that she played really well in the 2000s teen movies that just seemed to work for her. Along with that, she did have Colin Firth playing her father with does boost this movie a little despite its rather run of the mill story.

With that said, Amanda Bynes plays Daphne, an American teenager who ends up reaching out to his British wealthy politician father who doesn’t know he exists. While she doesn’t want to lose her unique personality and herself in this new world, she soon realizes that to exist in her father’s world, she may have to in this part fish out of water story as well with adapting to some of the British terms and upper class etiquette. Colin Firth playing her father actually is an opposite type of character who is more reserved and contains his feelings and affection as well but soon also shows the side of him that Daphne’s mother loved, especially as the whole secret of who broke apart her parents in the first place comes to light and a few secret motives, that are actually quite obvious reveals itself.

There’s not a whole lot to say about What A Girl Wants. For people who like Amanada Bynes, this should fit the bill as its an earlier roles of more popular roles like She’s The Man but its still very much her style of humor and acting. At the same time, there are some very predictable moments and the script isn’t that great but it has some fun moments and Amanda Bynes’ character Daphne has some good empowering characteristics that I did like. Some good, some bad, I’d say its somewhere in the middle: pretty much one to save for a rainy day.

Thats it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

What’s Up 2020: Week 11

Week 11, friends! Last week was a bit of a crazy phase that hit everywhere, I’d wager. We all know what’s going on around the world and I’d like to keep this space a little safe haven away from it. Whether you joined into the toilet paper shopping or grocery stocking up in preparation, it was all a crazy development of events when the week ended. More time at home over the weekend gave us a chance to catch up on TV, movies and gaming and well, surprisingly, a very slow blogging week. It has been a long time that I’ve taken so many days off.

READING

Blackthorn

Currently reading: Blackthorn

I’m going to say that reading hasn’t quite gotten the attention that I’d like mostly because I’m trying to not touch too much of my devices when out and about, especially on the bus. I’m in one of the few businesses that haven’t gotten to stay home from work. Either way, final thing is I need to find time to catch up on some reading and it didn’t go quite as quickly as I’d like. Blackthorn is intriguing so far.

PLAYING

i love hue

Currently playing: I Love Hue, Demon’s Tilt

Playing some really quick games lately. I still am on the I Love Hue mobile game that I like to play to calm down. There’s a lot to calm down about especially since our situation is possibly the minority currently so its all a bit nuts. Lots of things to chill out about as there’s also been a lot on my mind. I’ve also gone to check out Demon’s Tilt which is a pinball game on Xbox Game Pass. I like winning at these things so its addictive in that sense where one game never is one game, more like ten. Good thing is I’m somewhat getting better..yay! Both games are pretty fun in their own ways.

WATCHING

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal

  • Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal (Interactive 2020, Review)
  • Child’s Play (1988)
  • Child’s Play 2 (1990)
  • Child’s Play 3 (1991)
  • Child’s Play (2019)
  • Paradise Hills (rewatch 2019, Review)

While everyone (in Netflix Canada, at least, seemed to be on a Contagion film watching phase, I guess to see whether we are living a movie, we spent this weekend watching Child’s Play. Sure its not the entire franchise but we watched what we could (except for Cult of Chucky which didn’t seem to correlate to any of the others anyways..but I might be wrong). Its all because I had rented the remake and wanted to finally catch up with Child’s Play, which had been in line for Halloween theme so we’ll be doing those earlier and I’ll fill in the missing movies from the franchise later.

Aside from a rewatch of Paradise Hills for Movies and Tea, the fun movie of the week went to Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or  Not to Steal, which is the latest interactive game/movie on Netflix, more geared towards children and people who like the new series, I suppose, which I’m in neither category but still liked it a lot.

BINGING

ugly delicious

  • Ugly Delicious (Season 2, 2020)
  • Unrequited Love (2019)
  • On My Block (Season 3, 2020)

Currently binging: The Circle Brazil, The Singer 2020, Youth is You 2, Me To Us

Netflix’s new TV series was really landing hard last week when it had Wednesday which released the 3 week event for The Circle Brazil with its first week and then Ugly Delicious Season 2 landed with a mere 4 episodes which was pretty quick to binge and then wrapped up the week with Season 3 of On My Block which was as usual, 8 episodes. On top of that, I finished up Unrequited Love which is a pretty decent series although it seems a lot of people didn’t think so which is why this year, they are releasing a  remake of it with new casting. Its only been a year so I find that kind of crazy and maybe a little ridiculous because Yitian Hu is heading right back into a role similar to his in A Love So Beautiful (review). We’ll see since there isn’t a release date yet.

While all three of the completed series could have been picked as a highlight, Ugly Delicious was half the length of its previous season and yet, I really enjoyed all 4 episodes and the depth and message each of them wanted to deliver and I learned quite a bit from all of the episodes.

On the currently binging side of things, a lot of new things there. Youth is You 2 started on iQiYi app (with english subtitles). I liked the first season when it was called Idol Producer and produced the now disbanded Nine Percent and never finished Youth is You which created UNINE. Its still preliminary ratings but there are some pretty talented girls if not memorable and unique as well. While I’m hoping to catch up with the new series as I only watched the prologue episode for Me To Us which has Nicholas Tse (fangirl here!), Jam Hsiao and Karry Wang (from TF Boys) grouping together to create a band with talented artists from all over China. It looks really fun but then, it all depends how they execute this show.

That’s it for Week 11 of What’s Up!
This recaps last week but this week, I’m sure everyone has been up to more if you are part of any quarantine process (I’m not so let me know what you are up to). What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal (2020)

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal (2020)

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal

Director: Jos Humphrey & Kenny Park

Voice Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Abby Trott, Michael Hawley, Liam O’Brien, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Toks Olagundoye, Sharon Muthu, Kari Wahlgren, Charlet Takahashi Chung

You drive the action in this interactive adventure, helping Carmen save Ivy and Zack when V.I.L.E. captures them during a heist in Shanghai. –IMDB

Running at 30 minutes per run through, Carmen Sandiego is a bite-size animated Netflix game/movie. While I’ve never gotten around to watching the actual Netflix series for Carmen Sandiego, the red-coated long hair sleuth marks a lot of nostalgia and its why it seems like a fun idea to use animated film into a little interactive game type of movie.

With each run being 30 minutes or less, seeing as you could reach an unfortunate ending before its actual end and have to take a step back to make another choice, which I had to do a few times, leading to a total of eight endings (which I managed to get 5). The interactive elements of it are decent and come up frequent enough for it to feel immersive. In essence, this is an interactive additional episode for the show which is directed to kids unlike the previous two interactive movies which were more directed towards an older audience. Despite the choices, it does feel rather on rails. Its this or that situation. However, it feels smooth enough and the step back to the previous one is already made for you as a choice to restart the movie or to start from the previous step. In the end, it is an animated film so it still has to be fairly simple to comprehend and stay fun.

The voice acting here is done pretty nice. Perhaps not something to talk too much about since they are generally the same cast as the TV series (but I haven’t seen it). Carmen Sandiego is a fun character to watch and keeps to her character and well voiced by Gina Rodriguez. Finn Wolfhard voices Player, the offsite technical support for Carmen. The characters in general from Carmen’s crew, ACME agent and VILE villains are all fairly entertaining. What does take the cake for being entertaining is the ending sequence that you get to choose to watch or not as a bonus which is an addictive and really awesome song for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

Overall, while a little more geared towards kids and has that straight forward simplicity in its story that comes with it, Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal is a fun interactive game/movie. I’ve probably said fun a billion times in this review and honestly, I don’t have any other word to describe it. It did its job to entertain while keeping the choices consistent and frequent enough to make it feel immersive enough. There’s not a whole lot of revival of animated characters that I like (My Little Pony for example..not a fan of the new ones) but Carmen Sandiego works for me. Definitely going to find some time to catch up with the series!