Harry Situation Reviews: Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the newest MCU film and the third film in the MCU/Sony Spider-Man series. It features the return of Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, and Marisa Tomei all reprise their roles as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, MJ, Doctor Strange, Happy Hogan, Ned Leeds, and Aunt May. It also features the return of Alfred Molina, William Dafoe, Jamie Foxx, Rhys Ifans, and Thomas Haden Church as villains of Spider-Man movies past Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Electro, Lizard, and Sandman respectively.
After his secret identity as Spider-Man has been revealed, Peter Parker seeks the help from the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Doctor Stephen Strange, Unfortunately, a spell that was meant to reverse the world's memory of Spider-Man's identity goes awry, villains from other universes are brought into their reality, all seeking vengeance on the friendly neighborhood webslinger.
Hot damn, this movie was fucking awesome! Honestly, one of Marvel's best movies to date.
First off, the acting is outstanding. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, does an amazing job. Holland, Cumberbatch, Zendaya, everyone. They're all amazing. And I will admit, MJ was actually... tolerable in this one. Sorta. I'm still not a fan of this character or her personality but she got me to tolerate her a little more than the previous movies.
All the villains are great in this movie. I could talk about all of them but really I just want to highlight three of them. I'll start with my favorite, Doc Ock. It's still awesome. Alfred Molina once again does an amazing job. I still consider this is best role ever. Although it is a shame that his robotic tentacles are all CGI versus being a combination of CGI and puppetry like in Spider-Man 2 but it still looks very impressive.
The other villain I want to discuss is Electro. Jamie Foxx was amazing as Electro. I always felt that Amazing Spider-Man 2 did him dirty. He never had time to shine. But in this movie he's extremely entertaining with a ton of personality and good one-liners. I also dig is updated look too. He looks much more like the comics.
But I think the one villain that was a big highlight is the Green Goblin. Major props to William Dafoe in this movie. I was so happy that he returned as Green Goblin. It's been over a decade since he put on the Goblin suit and he's still got it. He pretty much reminds you why Green Goblin has been Spider-Man's greatest enemy. There's a moment when Spider-Man is beating the hell out of him and he's just smiling and cackling through all that. When I saw that I was like that was it. The Goblin has returned. He's definitely one of the MCU's best villains, and he didn't even start off in the MCU.
Personally, I think they missed an opportunity to have a sixth villain in this movie. We could have had the Sinister Six onscreen for the first time ever. It's something fans have always wanted. It's something I always wanted to see on the big screen. And who would be that sixth villain you may ask. I don't know, it's fucking Spider-Man. He's got a rogues gallery that rivals that of Batman from DC. Pick any of them to be the sixth member. Regardless, the villains we do have are awesome and improved.
The action is fantastic. It's the kind of edge-of-your-seat, fun action you would expect from the MCU. The comedy is on point, balanced with the drama. This is by far the most emotionally charged Spider-Man film to date. There was a scene that actually got me choked up. That hasn't happened since the first Spider-Man film.
Ah hell, might as well get it over with it, since the internet has probably already spoiled it through it's dumbass leaks. But just in case you don't want any spoilers I've set this line for you to skip to the next paragraph.
Alright, spoiler time. You have been warned. Even though probably pieced it together like I did before seeing this movie.
Yes, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire are in this movie too, reprising as their iconic roles of Spider-Man. You probably figured they'd be in the movie as a cameo, but no they serve as supportive characters to Tom Holland's Spider-Man. They actually aid him in defeating the villains. They have major roles in the third act. I'm not gonna lie, when I saw both actors appear on the screen, I lost my fucking mind. I was squealing and cheering along with the audience. It was two veteran Spider-Mans helping out a rookie Spider-Man, kinda like Into The Spider-Verse.
Okay, end of spoiler.
I believe the only thing I have to complain about is some of the ass pulls in this movie. What a mean is that there is a certain character in this franchise who suddenly has the ability to do something, even though it was never hinted or referenced until it was convenient for this movie. When I saw that I was like, "Come on. Really?" I understand what it was for, but it seemed like a half-assed thing to suddenly introduce in the third MCU Spider-Man movie. If you've already seen the movie you know what I'm talking about. I already spoiled this movie once and I refuse to do it again.
This film is ultimately a love letter to all the Spider-Man movies and their fans, much like how Into The Spider-Verse is a love letter to all that is Spider-Man. There's a reason why Spider-Man has become a household name after all these years. He's easily one of the greatest superheroes of all time, and definitely one of my favorite comic book characters. It highlights Spider-Man at his best. His heroism, his courage, his strength, his power, and his responsibility. After this film I don't know if there will be anymore MCU Spider-Man films. But the door is always open. Until then I thank the cast and crew for their tremendous work on making this one of the best Spider-Man movies of all time, going up their with Spider-Man 2 and Into The Spider-Verse. Stan would be proud.
-Great performances all around
-The Green Goblin
-That spoiler moment
-Spider-Man at his best
-A couple ass pulls
Final Grade: A+
So those are my thoughts on Spider-Man: No Way Home. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts? What is your favorite Spider-Man movie? Who is your favorite Spider-Man? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews on Prose in 2022!
Aunt May: "Listen to me. You have a gift. You have power. And with great power, there must also come great responsibility."
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Harry Situation Reviews: The Matrix Resurrections
A fourth Matrix film? Whoa.
The Matrix Resurrections is the fourth film in The Matrix series, this time solely directed by Lana Wachowski. It features the return of Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne-Moss, and Jada Pinkett Smith as Neo, Trinity, and Niobe. It also stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Ricci, and Jonathan Groff as Smith.
Having saved humanity and brought an end to the war with machines in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo lives once more. However it seems he and Trinity find themselves back inside the Matrix, with no memory of their previous lives. Jessica Henwick and a new Morpheus comes in to bring their cyber Jesus out of the Matrix for reasons and I guess we have our fourth Matrix movie.
I was surprised to see that there was in fact a fourth Matrix movie being released. This was a movie that I thought never would be made. It's been eighteen years since the last The Matrix Revolutions, which was set to end the trilogy. There have been rumors that a fourth film was in development but was stuck in development hell. Eventually, everybody had just given up, until now. So was this film worth waiting eighteen years for? Um, not really, if I'm being honest here.
So the stuff I like first. I like seeing Keanu and Anne-Moss come back as Neo and Trinity. They had such a dynamic in the trilogy that it's hard to have a Matrix film without them. And they're still fantastic together. They still have amazing chemistry and play off each other really well.
I do like the concepts this film does introduce. They don't willfully ignore what happened in Revolutions. Humanity and machines have found a way to coexist together. Sure I guess the Sentinels are still a threat in this sequel but there are machines and programs that live peacefully with humans. And there interactions together are a sight to behold. This, however, led to civil war among the machines. Again, it's an interesting concept that can be expanded and explored.
And visually, the film looks really nice. This is the best visual looking Matrix movie since the first movie. Some of the machines look incredible with a mix of practical and visual effects.
Sadly, that's where all the positives end because, as I mentioned earlier, this movie isn't great. One of the problems I had is that while watching the movie I felt like not much really progressed. Not a lot happens in this sequel. There's not a lot of action, only more talking. Hell, there really isn't many Kung Fu scenes in this sequel. Can you imagine that? If there's one thing that comes to mind about The Matrix it's the incredible Kung Fu action scenes. This film only had one Kung Fu scene that I could think that had any significance and that was the fight between Neo and the new Smith.
Let's talk about that real quick. I'm not down with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II replacing Lawrence Fishburne and Jonathan Groff replacing Hugo Weaving. They don't quite offer the same charm or personality as the previous actors. I mean how can you have a Matrix movie without two stars who also helped make up the Matrix along with Keanu and Carrie? To be fair, they weren't bad in this movie. Unfortunately, I just didn't see them as the characters they're meant to be, and I couldn't help but compare them to the actors who had played those characters. They just seem subpar in comparison.
This film goes way too meta. Now I enjoy when a movie or show goes meta on itself, but the way this movie took it was to an extreme. It's revealed that Neo made a successful video game franchise coincidentally called The Matrix. In fact it was a trilogy of video games, most likely based on the three films. And then there's a scene where Neo and this one guy are talking and the guy mentions that Warner Bros. is moving forward with a sequel to the trilogy with or without them. I mean that's way too on the nose right there. I felt like the movie kept winking at me to let me know how meta and self aware it was, but instead of me thinking it was being cute and clever it just gave me a headache. I'm wondering if this was an actual conversation between Warner Bros. and the Wachowskis.
Ultimately, this film suffers the same fate as the other Matrix sequels. It tries to be so much more and so deep and philosophical that it gets its head stuck up its own ass. It's cool to return to the Matrix with our favorite characters but it really doesn't have anything to offer other than nostalgia, which tells be that was what Warner Bros. was banking on. Sadly, the film felt five to ten years too late. It suffers that same fate as the other Matrix sequels: trying to be so much more while falling flat.
-Keanu & Carrie
-Some cool new concepts
-Great visual effects
-Not much happens
-Lack of Kung Fu
-Way too meta
Final Grade: C-
So those are my thoughts on The Matrix Resurrections. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? What is your favorite scene from The Matrix? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews on Prose in 2022!
Neo: "I still know Kung Fu."
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Harry Situation’s 350th Review Special: High Guardian Spice Part Three: Misrepresentation
We've now come to the finale of my review of High Guardian Spice. First I want to thank you all for reading and liking my previous entries, and to thank you all for your patience. If you haven't read my previous entries to this post, feel free to read, like, and comment on those too.
My friends, I have saved the worst for last in this part of my review. But before I begin I want to make some things very clear:
1) This is part will be discussing LGBT representation, specifically trans representation and how this show chose to handle the subject.
2) This isn't a rant about transgenderism. I am not transphobic in any shape or form. Personally, I'm supportive of trans people. I have two trans friends. I feel this show misrepresents trans people and I will discuss in detail why.
3) If you view transgenderism in a negative then please leave. I will not be getting into a debate with you. This isn't the place for that kind of thing.
So going back to the topic of bad writing and lazy story development here is another big example of that. It begins in episode three. In this episode Rosemary accidentally breaks her mother's sword, after foolishly failing to slice a fly with it. She then runs into one of her professors, Professor Caraway, who instructs her to come to his office for a discussion. It is here the audience learns that Caraway was friends with Rosemary's mother, having gone on adventures together. As Rosemary is looking through old photos she notices a picture of her mother with another girl, quickly assuming that is Caraway's sister due to their resemblance. However Caraway explains that person is him and that he is transgender, *sigh* while pretty much giving Rosemary and the audience the very definition of transgenderism.
This scene has been dissected by everyone on the internet. It's been heavily made fun of and criticized for so many reasons. Here's the truth: this show handles representation poorly. It thinks it's doing a good job at representation, but the reality is it's not. This scene involving Caraway explaining what transgenderism is comes the fuck out of nowhere. What does this have to do with Rosemary? What does this have to do with her mother? What does this have to do with the sword she fucking broke? This is a lazy, ham-fisted way to explain transgenderism.
Caraway also explained that he has to take a potion once a month in order to maintain this body. So it's not even permanent. It's not even like a sex change operation. Why not make it permanent? Why not explain some of the risks of taking this potion? Why not explain how Caraway questioned if this was the right path but ultimately went along with it and he's much happier with himself? I mean this show has proven to be lazy with its expositions. I don't think this would be any different.
It's noteworthy that the series creator, Raye Rodriguez, who voices Professor Caraway, is a trans man in real life. And it's pretty clear that, judging how much alike the creator and Caraway are, this is a self insert character. Now to be clear, there's nothing wrong with that. And I get what Rodriguez was going for with his character. The issue is that we know nothing about Professor Caraway other than the fact that he's trans and that he was friends with Rosemary's mother during their childhood. He has no personality. We don't know his hobbies. We don't know his likes and dislikes. His only personality the writers pretty much established is that he's trans. If being trans is the only notable thing about this character then they didn't create a character, they created a caricature, thus making for bad representation. Not to mention the fact that the character had to explain what transgenderism is in a way that he is talking down to the character (and the audience for that matter) like they were two years old is fucking insulting. Who are you trying to preach to about this? We know about trans people. They've always been around. Why is this show acting like this is some sort of new age thing?
And this isn't the only character that's like that. From the get-go, we are also introduced to Sage's cousin Anise and her wife Aloe. Guess what? They don't have any personalities other than being gay. We don't know their likes or dislikes. We don't know what they do for a living. We don't know how they met. They're basically blank slates, just like 90% of the characters in this show.
Also, it's worth noting that there are no gay men in this series, at least none that I've noticed. For a show that's supposed to be very LGBTQ+ positive it seems to focus only on certain members of the community while neglecting others. But don't worry, the writing team is very diverse. So diverse that they're all a bunch of near-sighted white women, who look like they spend too much time on Twitter. I shit you not.
However this isn't all for nothing (although it kinda is). If there is one redeeming factor in High Guardian Spice. It is with the character of Snapdragon. So let's finally talk about Snapdragon.
Snapdragon goes through a personal arc in this series. Believe it or not this is where the show actually shines. As I mentioned in the first entry of this review Snapdragon started off as a bully character, siding with Amaryllis. Though this could be an act to make himself seem more intimidating than he actually is. When he was younger his older brother would bully him and his father would tell him to man up. Then we get to episode 8 where a Halloween festival is taking place. Snapdragon's costume of chose is a mermaid. Unfortunately, Cal mistakes him for a girl and upon realizing this he insults him. This moment lowers Snapdragon's self esteem and makes him miserable. Later in episode 11 he confides in Professor Caraway that he wants small hands and smooth skin. He wants to be a warrior like the four main leads. It leaves him questioning his gender identity.
This actually leads to a good heart to heart moment where Caraway explains his own struggles and tells Snapdragon that he has time to figure things out. It could mean that Snapdragon is trans but it could also mean he likes crossdressing. It's not a hundred percent clear and it doesn't have to be. Snapdragon is the only character who grows in this series and the show actually does a good job representing his growth. It is also here where Caraway explains how his transition helped give himself peace and is happy with who he is. This conversation is played out very well and it helps Snapdragon come to terms with his own identity. Now that is how do you do representation correctly.
SO WHY THE FUCK DID THEY WASTE THIS IN THE THIRD FUCKING EPISODE?!?!?!?!?
They have this conversation twice in the series. The difference at least with Snapdragon it holds gravity to his character. Again, how does this affect Rosemary? It doesn't! What does Rosemary do with this information? Nothing! So why have this Wikipedia definition of transgenderism between Caraway and Rosemary? Because this show is nothing more than a poorly written, unstructured mess. In recent years we've gotten amazing shows with great representation such as The Legend of Korra, The Loud House, Craig of the Creek, Steven Universe, The Owl House, and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Hell even fucking Arthur did representation better. So why can't High Guardian Spice sit with the cool kids? Once again, it goes back to lazy writing and terrible character development. The difference is with all those shows I listed and High Guardian Spice is that those characters that are part of the LGBT community are far better developed and don't rely on their orientation as their personality. Take lesson from those shows, not High Guardian Spice.
Now I know what you're all thinking by this point of my review: who is this made for? Who is the target audience? To tell the truth not even this show knows who is its target audience. Was it made for kids? The animation and tone certainly makes it look like it's for kids. Apparently not because each episode literally starts off with a mature content warning, recommending that kids should not watch this series. Seriously, this content warning is at the start of each episode. I cannot make this up. Trust me when I say that I've sat and watch each episode and can guarantee that content warning is a fucking joke. There is nothing really here that's considered inappropriate for kids. At least until we get to episode 7 where there's suddenly a ton of blood for no reason. Not to mention there are a few incidents where the characters drop a curse word or two, but it's nothing big. The worse you ever hear is 'shit'.
So clearly it's for adults, right? Again, there's not really "mature" about this series. Aside from the aforementioned bloody moments and the very few curse words they use this is, at best, a pretty clean PG-13.
What about anime fans? I mean the show was released on a widely distributed streaming service for anime. Clearly it's for them, right? Nope. It's not anime. Not even close. Anime inspired perhaps, but not an anime. For the LGBT+ community? From what I've gathered they don't really like this show either. I've watched YouTube videos of trans-people and they criticize the whole Professor Caraway is trans conversation.
Again, who is the target audience? Nobody knows. Not the writers, the creators, or even Crunchyroll itself. And that's what's most frustrating about this show. It has no identity. It's not sure if it wants to be for kids or adults. It's not sure if it wants to be a slice of life kind of show or be an epic fantasy adventure with a deeper plot. The bottom line is nobody wanted to watch this show to begin with and nobody is going to enjoy this show.
For a show that apparently has 50% women working as creators and cast members and a 100% writing team consisting of women, not a damn one of them is competent. High Guardian Spice is not a train wreck, but a Chernobyl explosion of a disaster. I didn't want to come off as being too harsh or brutal as other reviews I've seen on YouTube. But the more I watched each episode, the more I got frustrated with this series. I tried watching each episode more than once, but in doing so I constantly find more problems and animation errors that I didn't noticed during the first viewing.
What's sad is that I could see a ton of potential with this series. I get what the crew were trying to do. I get what creator Raye Rodriguez wanted to present. Unfortunately this show was plagued with bad writing, bad animation, bad voice acting, bland and unlikeable protagonists (except for Parsley, Amaryllis, and Snapdragon), one-dimensional male stereotypes, poor LGBT+ representation, poor worldbuilding, little to no story, and overall has no identity. I've seen far better animated shorts on YouTube that are way more competent than this show. This show had no business being on an anime streaming service. I don't believe that High Guardian Spice will be greenlit for a second season, and honestly I don't think it deserves one. Let this show be a lesson on what not to do when creating... anything.
-Bad voice acting
-Terrible writing & structure
-Bland and generic main characters
-Bad LGBT representation
-Explains too much and too little
-Portrayal of male characters
Final Grade: F
So those are my thoughts on High Guardian Spice, my 350th review. Thank you all again for reading and liking my content. If you like what you see here please be kind and check out my other reviews here on Prose. Until then, in case you don't hear from me in a while, have a happy holidays and a happy new year.
Old Triad: "Clearly writing isn't one of your strengths."
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Harry Situation’s 350th Review: High Guardian Spice Part 1: High Guardian Schlock
Hello Prose and welcome to another milestone review. This is the 350th review I've written in the past five years I've been on Prose. Now 350 may not be a sexy number like 100 or 300 but it's a helluva milestone regards.
As per usual for each milestone review I want to review something bad, which has been a while hasn't it? For my 350th review I've decided to do something different. Instead of a bad movie I wanted to review a bad show. And wouldn't you know it a new bad show has dropped online not long ago so it's ripe for criticism. Maybe you're familiar with this show already. Maybe this is the first time hearing about it. Regardless my pick for my 350th review is none other than High Guardian Spice.
High Guardian Spice is an anime-inspired original animated series by Crunchyroll, an online company who has a history of streaming and dubbing anime. It follows four girls - the pink-haired warrior Rosemary; the magically gifted Sage; the dwarven blacksmith Parsley; and the roguish elf Thyme - as they partake as students for an extreme academy called High Guardian Academy for them to fulfill their dreams in becoming guardians. They endure the typical high school drama such as fighting monsters, boy troubles, and uncovering a dark plot that may endanger the school and their fellow students. And that's pretty much it. That's all you need to know about this series. More or less it's your typical magical fantasy world where the main setting is a magical school, much like Harry Potter or Little Witch Academia. The only other detail is that apparently the creative team is 50% women and the writing team is 100% women, as a way to show how "diverse" the cast and crew are.
Believe it or not there was a ton of controversy behind this series and there was major backlash against it before its release. Most of it came from the fact that Crunchyroll was using subscription money to fund the project when they initially said they were going to fund Japanese artists. Also one of the series' lead writers (Kate Leth) has a history of writing a bunch of anti-men tweets, pretty much outing herself as a feminazi. Additionally, Crunchyroll released a promo back in 2018 that showed off how diverse the cast and crew were rather than talk about the series itself, as if they were trying to market on the diversity rather than the series plot, setting, and characters. This is something Disney has been guilty of in the past and are only starting to improve upon now, whereas High Guardian Spice unfortunately falls short.
The series was set to premiere in 2019 but I'm guessing due to all the backlash the project was shelved. I believe I remember hearing about this series years ago and I didn't have any opinions on it at the time. Well now that Crunchyroll has finally released this on their site (which you can view without a subscription I might add) does this show really deserve all the judgment and negative response back in 2018 before it's release? Honestly, I don't believe any product should be prejudged before their release. But since it's out now, yeah, everyone was right.
There's so much that needs to be unpacked that one review alone isn't enough so I'm gonna need to split this review into three parts. Been a while since I did that. Last time I had to split a review up was Cool Cat Saves the Kids, and that was 300 reviews ago.
The first negative to address is the animation. It's pretty bad. It may not look it if you watch the trailer but trust me when you watch the first episode you get an idea how bad it really is. There are so many animation errors and inconsistencies scattered throughout each episode. There are so examples where scale and shadowing don't match of to the next scene. For example, in the first episode Rosemary and Sage leave their homes to attend at High Guardian Academy. To do so they take a travel carriage where an orc or troll loads up the luggage. The orc/troll is made to look bigger than the carriage but in the next scene he's apparently shorter than the carriage door. There's also many scenes where background characters hardly ever move, almost like they were frozen in time while the main characters freely move around. It really gives the impression that none of the focus characters are really part of this world. They feel like they're slapped into this odd Deviant artist's post. Hell, there are even noticeable jpeg images plastered into the background and foreground. Seriously, there's a jpeg image of a set of Hawaiian sweet rolls on a dining table. And once again, these can all be seen in the very first episode. I mean, are the animators just incompetent? Are they lazy? Both?
Now, to be fair, I will say that one positive the show has going for it is that I do like the overall character designs. It does seem that the animators and storyboard artists put some thought in each character. Unique character designs do help make the characters stand out. However that doesn't excuse poor character traits and personalities (more on that in a bit).
Speaking of characters, let's break each of them down. As I mentioned earlier the four main characters of the show are Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, and Thyme. I guess there names are supposed to be a reference to spices, hence the name High Guardian Spice. Problem is that rosemary, sage, parsley, and thyme actually reference to herbs. How do you fuck that up? Sure they can be converted into spices but that's not the point, is it? So ultimately the title of the series doesn't make any sense. Off to a good start
Now let's talk about the characters, starting with Rosemary the warrior. Wow, I kinda feel bad now that one of my characters from my Sins of the Father stories is named Rosemary because of Rosemary from HGS. But at least her name makes sense and is a far better reference to something, unlike HGS' Rosemary. Any who, Rosemary is one of the most annoying characters in this show. She's meant to be this wide-eyed, energetic and clumsy character but she really comes off as a house fly or mosquito, just something you swat at in hopes of making it go away. I guess this character is meant to have the most motivated of the four since her reasoning is that she wants to be a guardian just like her missing mother. The problem is (and this is something I'll address more on in the second part) is that we really aren't given much history about her or her mother, and it's certainly not a reason for the audience to suddenly care.
Next is Sage, the magical mage of the group. At the very least she has the more interesting conflict where she's restrained to using old magic while everyone at High Guardian Academy is using new magic. However her personality (if you can call it that) makes her come off as a total bitch. For example, she and another magical character Amaryllis get into an argument about old magic versus new magic. She gets asked why she cares so much about old magic, to which Thyme also chimes in and seemingly agrees with Amaryllis. Apparently Sage takes offense of this for some reason, runs off to go cry, and then demands an apology from Thyme. I mean, why does Thyme have to apologize? What does she have to apologize for? Another example is when she isn't paired up with Rosemary, who is head-over-heels for some guy, and spends the whole episode going on a bitch fit on why she doesn't like Rosemary hanging out with this guy. She even tried to use the whole "guys don't talk about their feelings" bullshit argument when speaking to a guy. So yeah, she's a bitch and a sexist. But the major problem is that this attitude comes completely out of nowhere. So she's really being a bitch for no reason. Why should I root for this character?
And then we come to Thyme, the edgelord elf. She is easily the most unlikeable character this show has to offer, only second to Sage. And like Sage she comes off as a bitch too. She's always scowling, always insulting the others, and acting like your typical angsty teenager. I'd describe how edgy she is supposed to be but I'm afraid of getting cut. Like Rosemary, we're supposed to care about her situation since her forest is being corrupted by some sort of purple stuff called the Rot, and trying to remove the Rot is the sole reason she wants to be a guardian. The problem with her is her personality and bitchy attitude really makes me not like her nor care about her situation. She is also kinda stupid. In one episode she thought it would be a good idea to summon a demon in order for it to send a message to her father so he can copy the formula of healing water to save her family's forest. Do you see the problem here? That's like me summoning Cthulhu and using him to send a package to a friend on the other side of town. Why couldn't she just send a letter to her father? Why couldn't she go back to get more healing water? Why didn't her brain and common sense think of this before I did?
And finally there's Parsley the dwarven blacksmith. You know, I'll give her a pass. She might be one of the most generic but she's at least the most level-headed of the four, or at least doesn't annoy me as much as the others do. Parsley might be one of the very few reasons to watch the series.
Now that's not to say that all the characters are terrible. The exceptions really are Amaryllis and Snapdragon, two characters who are initially introduced as bullies to our protagonists. Snapdragon's character arc is one of the better highlights of this series. I know, shocking. He was raised to be more masculine and bullied for not being as such, but he's also on a path of self discovery of who he wants to be and what he wants to identify as. Seriously, this kid is probably the best written character because the audience can actually sympathize for him. Trust me, I'll address more on him later. Amaryllis is another character I like. She initially bullies Sage for using old magic. I know we're not supposed to root for the bully but since I don't like Sage as a character I'm rooting for Amaryllis. Personally, I just like how chaotic evil she can be sometimes. It's just a joy to watch. She also has a good heart, in particular when she stands up for Snapdragon. However it's a bad sign when the side characters are much more interesting and entertaining than the main characters.
What's kind of bothersome to me, as a CIS-gender straight male, is that there really aren't any good straight male characters in the show. I mean there is Snapdragon, but again we'll get to him later. There are two male characters that stick out the most in this show: Aster and Cal. In episode six (I think) we are introduced to Aster, who Rosemary develops a crush on. We learn throughout the episode that he is a blowhard, constantly showboats, and talks down to Rosemary. Basically he's the embodiment of masculinity. Someone who is dumb and useless. Now I wonder what reason the writers decided to write Aster as such. Hmm.
Then we get introduced to Cal, the other male character and basically the embodiment of toxic masculinity. This guy is nothing more than a stereotype on how feminazis view men. This character is rude, crude, creeps on women, and just an all around cunt. Also, he's apparently transphobic, as if he wasn't already an unlikeable asshole. But surely there are far better male characters the series has to offer, right? Rosemary does have a father and an older brother, but they're only seen for like two minutes in the first episode and are never referenced again. Oddly they're featured in the intro as if they mattered. Oh, what about one of the teachers from High Guardian Academy, Professor Caraway? Um, yeah, once again, I'll address him in a later part because this is something that needs to be talked about in a separate post. But wait, we do have Slime Boy (that's what they call him in the show). Oh, fucking Slime Boy. Honestly he's irrelevant to the whole plot of this show. I don't even know why he exists at all.
Ultimately, the major issue I have is that all the males in this series are portrayed as one of the four: misogynistic, villainous, incompetent, or irrelevant. Why? Because that's how the writers want to portray men. The same way they want to portray each character, solely by their personality or quirk.
I think this is enough ranting about this series for now, but just you wait. This is only the beginning. Come back next time for part two as I address the other major issue with this series: the writing and worldbuilding.
#harrysituationreviews #film #opinion #animation #fantasy #adventure #magicalgirls #magic #LGBT #ThisMovieSucks #PartOne
Harry Situation’s 350th Review Special: High Guardian Spice Part 2: “Is Sleep a Food?”
Continuing from the last part, if the characters are badly written at least the voice acting is good, right? Right?
Yeah, the voice acting ranges from passable to the worst my ears have ever heard. The voice actress for the main leads do a decent job, however it was clear the one who voices Rosemary didn't have much direction since she starts the series with this raspy voice and then as the series progresses she sounds normal. It's pretty clear that most of the voice actors are new at this because they sound like they're bored as hell or have no clue what to do. The worst example is a character named Slime Boy. Holy shit, this is the Tommy Wiseau of voice acting. The motherfucker that voices him mumbles so much that I can't understand a fucking word that comes out of his mouth. There is no emotion in his voice. There is no tone or pitch. Just unintelligible noise. What's worse is that he sings too. So on top of being a terrible voice actor he's also a terrible singer. Seriously, go to YouTube, search for Slime Boy and see for yourself.
The writing is really bad. I don't believe I've seen a show with writing this atrocious, and I'm not exaggerating. The very first episode has Rosemary and Sage travelling to their destination for half the episode. I'm not joking. The very first episode felt like filler with nothing happening. We don't learn anything about our main characters. We don't know anything about their families or village. We don't learn how exactly they got accepted to High Guardian Academy. Later on in the same episode Rosemary's locket gets stolen by a small rodent creature. After following the creature Rosemary and Sage watch it use the locket to attract a mate, resulting the locket getting broken. But by the end of the episode Sage's cousin said that they protected an innocent creature. Um, did we watch the same episode? They didn't do anything. When exactly did they do any such protecting? Was there a scene missing where Rosemary and Sage save the rodent from predators or something? See what I mean? There are inconsistencies like that throughout the series. Again, this is shit you notice right off the first episode.
I bring this up because the first episode throughout this review because, for any series, the first episode should be your main selling point to get audiences invested in. If the first episode has nothing to offer, doesn't establish the setting or characters, doesn't get me invested in the plot, why should I care? Why should I keep watching the series?
The dialogue in this show is honestly the worst I've ever heard. It is omega cringe. The very first thing Rosemary says is "We'll fight mermaids, explore crevices, and we'll be totally awesome dudes."
You people have no idea how hard I cringed writing all of that. Unfortunately, dialogue like that is scattered throughout the whole show. The dialogue doesn't come off as natural. It sounds like something aliens trying to pass as humans would say. There's a dream sequence where a younger Rosemary asks her mother if she likes being a guardian, and her mother responds with, "Yes, it is hard being apart from you, from my family, but my guardian vows are sacred, as will yours be someday."
What the fuck!? Where did this come from? Who talks like this?
If you want this conversation to sound natural, then it should have been written like this:
Rosemary: "Mom, do you love being a guardian?"
Mother: "Of course I do, sweetheart."
Rosemary: "More than me?"
Mother: "Wha- where in the world did you get that idea?"
Rosemary: "Because you're always gone. And I miss you when you're gone."
Mother: "I miss you too when I go. But sometimes being a guardian means having to make sacrifices. This means having to leave so I can protect other families from the dangers of this world. But know that no matter how far apart we are I will always be with you, even if you can't see me."
There! Sounds better, doesn't it? Sounds like something two humans would say to each other, right?
What pisses me off the most is that this show breaks the central rule of storytelling: show, don't tell. Much of the conversations are explained to the audience. Sage constantly goes on about how her mother hates new magic, but the question is why? Why does her mother hate new magic? Since when does she hate new magic? When was that ever established about Sage's mother? How about show us a flashback of a younger Sage wanting to explore new magic but her mother catches her and scolds her for it. That way the audience is shown her mother's attitude towards new magic and why she restricts Sage to using only old magic. Or have a flashback showing the audience Sage's mother teaching her about old magic and how it has a personal touch whereas new magic is artificial and it doesn't quite have the same effect as old magic. Hell, later on it's revealed by Sage's cousins that her mother dabbled in new magic. So what made her turn against it? Why not show why Sage's mother resents new magic?
There are many moments scattered throughout the show where the characters talk about what's happened versus showing the audience what is happening. Sage mentions to her cousins that the other students tease her or laugh behind her back because she continues to use old magic, but we're never shown this. Sure I've seen Amaryllis mock and bully her, but what about the other students? Sage specifically said everyone at school. What other students have made fun of her using old magic? I guess we just gotta take her word for it.
Or what about Rosemary's relationship with her mother? She keeps saying how awesome her mother is but we hardly get to see that. We've only been given a flashback and a dream sequence about her. And apparently her mother is a famous guardian. We don't know what she's done to be so famous. Again, we just gotta take this show's word for it. We learn that her mother was once a student at High Guardian Academy, so why not show off her accomplishments? Why not have pictures of her throughout the school of her get the best grades, or all her trophies in various sports, I don't know. Better yet have a statue of her somewhere in the school or the city or something. Have bards sing her praises with ballads of how she alone or with others took down a Lich or how she One-Punch Manned a Tarrasque or something. Show what a legend she is and why Rosemary strives to be like her.
What's frustrating, to me, about this show is the worldbuilding. Now I love worldbuilding. I get ecstatic when I'm thrust into a world so cool, so alien, and so fantastical that I wish I was apart of that universe. I want to explore and experience the world as the characters do. The worldbuilding in High Guardian Spice is unfortunately so lackluster.
Let me share with you two recent shows that do their worldbuilding quite well: Amphibia and The Owl House. Both shows are made by Disney and both have well established worlds. In the world of Amphibia the land is shaped like a giant lily pad and all the inhabitants are anthropomorphic amphibians. As the show progresses we learn that each amphibian species represents a different caste system. The frogs are viewed as simple farmers, the toads act as law enforcement and warriors, and the newts are shown as upper class nobility.
And then there's The Owl House where much of the world is enchanted yet so bizarre, since it is inspired by artwork by Hieronymus Bosch. Seriously, check out his depictions of Hell and how bizarre it all looks. This helps give the series its uniqueness compared to other fantasy shows. Hell, compared to other Disney shows for that matter. They also go into detail of how the magic system works, how witches tend to join covens and there are severe consequences if a witch doesn't join a coven.
What does High Guardian Spice have to offer in their world? Nothing. It looks like every goddamn fantasy world I've seen a hundred times. It has warriors. It has wizards. It has elves. It has dwarves. It has dragons. It has mermaids. It has magic. It has every motherfucking cliche you can think of in every motherfucking fantasy movie, book, game, whatever you think of when you hear the word fantasy.
You know what let's talk about the magic system in this series too. There's this constant debate between old magic and new magic. The problem is that we're not really given much information on what the different between the two. At most I get the gist that old magic is more connected with nature and it takes time to learn versus new magic where all you need is a staff or arcane focus to do the magic without major consequences (sorta). But this isn't explained. Even if it was it wasn't explain, or even explored, very well. Just another thing that this show seems to be vague on.
And speaking of being vague, what the fuck is a guardian exactly? Our main protagonists clearly want to be guardians and they go to a special school to become a guardian, but it's never explained what a guardian is in the context of this world. What does it mean to be a 'guardian'? Why does one want to be a 'guardian'? Is there more than one path to becoming a 'guardian'? Are they meant to protect something? If so, what? The school? The kingdom? The local bank? What does one do when they are a 'guardian'? It's amazing how a show that often explains what is happening they also explain very little.
My friends, I'm afraid it doesn't get any better than this. But I haven't addressed the worst that this show had to offer. Those who may be familiar may already know what I'm talking about and wish to know why I haven't mentioned it earlier. Simply because I've been saving it for the final part of this three part review. Please join me next time on how High Guardian Spice fucks up its own representation, and my final thoughts to the overall series.
#harrysituationreviews #film #opinion #animation #fantasy #adventure #magicalgirls #magic #LGBT #ThisMovieSucks #PartTwo
Harry Situation Reviews: Antlers
Happy Halloween everyone!
Antlers is a new supernatural horror film starring Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, and Graham Greene. The film is based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by writer Nick Antosca (who also helped write the screenplay). It was also directed by Scott Cooper and produced by Guillermo Del Toro.
The story follows a middle school teacher (played by Keri Russell) who becomes concerned with the health and mental wellbeing of one of her students, a boy named Lucas (played by Jeremy Thomas). Her concerns are correct when she and her brother, the town’s sheriff (played by Jesse Plemons), learn that Lucas is caring for a supernatural monstrosity that has taken hold over his family.
This film was another unfortunate victim of the COVID-19 fallout, having been pushed back to this year only to be finally released over the weekend. But hey, they picked a good weekend to release it. Halloween weekend. I can’t think of any better time. So let’s talk about Antlers.
The cinematography is great. The lighting, the atmosphere, the overall dark and eerie tone. There’s a bunch of fog and overcast in this small Oregon town. It all looks fantastic. It’s one of the best looking horror films to date.
The cast is great too. Keri Russell is fantastic in this movie. As a teacher trying to overcome her own personal trauma and demons you really feel for her. Jesse Plemons is great as her brother. Hard to believe that this guy is the same person that played that shithead Todd from Breaking Bad, right? But he’s great as the sheriff who is a little skeptic on all that is happening but doesn’t complete shut out the possibility that their is some kind of supernatural creature. And Jeremy Thomas was also good too. I’m sure this is his first film role and he does a great job portraying this kid who is so broken inside because he has to take care of what’s left of his family while they’re transforming into monsters.
Speaking of monsters, let’s talk about the main monster in this film. If you’ve seen the trailers, or can make an assumption based on the title, you probably already put together that the monster in question is indeed the wendigo, a Native American legendary monster that is born from cannibalism. I love the Wendigo monster. I love how it is a cautionary tale about greed and hording, its Algonquian origins, and the fact that this monster is big in my home state of Minnesota. Growing up I’ve heard stories of the wendigo. Hell, it especially impacts me since I have some Native American heritage. I’m currently using the Wendigo as one of the main monsters in a homebrew Call of Cthulhu campaign. I am so happy that the wendigo was used in this film because while it has a stay in pop culture it doesn’t get as much attention as other monsters like vampires and werewolves.
The wendigo is used sparingly in this film. Only showing it once in a while, building up it’s appearance. You only see it in its initial stage with Lucas’ father slowly undergoing the transformation. When the transformation is complete it looks amazing. This is the best looking wendigo I’ve seen in any medium. And it delivers some genuine good scares. There were scenes when this thing appeared that made me jump out of my seat.
I also like how bleak this film is. I mean it. This film does a good job showing how depressed everyone truly is. For starters, we have Lucas who is trying so hard to care for his worsening family while living in a shitty home that probably doesn’t have any heat or electricity, has hinted he’s been abused by said father, is being bullied at school, and desperately trying to maintain some sense of normality. And then we have his teacher and her brother who’ve been abused by their father. The film does a great job of tackling hard themes such as child abuse and poverty.
The film does bring up another theme that I feel is very undermined. It also tries to have a message about humans destroying the planet, or constantly mining and draining resources from the earth, that I feel doesn’t really play well into this film. This theme is mentioned once, with subtlety, but never brought up again so it’s pretty much overlooked.
I also feel that this feel lacks any sort of character connection. Keri Russell has one scene with her student trying to make a connection and then she’s all of the sudden cares for his sake. Granted I wish more teachers showed more concern for their students wellbeing but it feels rushed. Maybe this film could have one or two more interactions and I would have believe that she really cares for this kid.
Overall Antlers is a damn good horror film just in time for Halloween. I definitely give it a recommend. I also highly recommend checking out the short story this film is based on, “The Quiet Boy”. It’s a damn good story. Follow this link to check out the story for yourself: https://www.guernicamag.com/the-quiet-boy/
-Needs more character connection
Final Grade: B
So those are my thoughts on Antlers. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out some much more scarier coming up... my 350th review special!
And have a happy and safe Halloween everybody!
Paul Meadows: “Forgive me but this is just a myth.”
Warren: “For you, yeah. But it’s a cautionary tale for the indigenous who believe.”
#harrysituationreviews #film #opinion #horror #supernatural #wendigo #HappyHalloween