“KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!” (January 2016, Studio Deen) is another isekai title, however it’s one that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This anime follows the loner shut-in named Satou Kazuma (voiced by Fukushima Jun) dying in one of the most embarrassing ways, thinking he was saving a young girl from an oncoming truck, where he ends up meeting the goddess of reincarnation named Aqua (Amamiya Sora).
When “Rocky V” didn’t exactly set the world on fire, the series was put on an over 15 year hiatus. But Sylvester Stallone, who felt unsatisfied with the final product and did not want to leave the series on a low note (see my review last week if you want more details), decided to make one more Rocky movie before officially retiring the character’s boxing career.
That movie would be the confusingly titled “Rocky Balboa” (2006) with Stallone returning to the director’s chair after taking a break from it in “Rocky V,” alongside his usual job of writing, starring, and probably coffee runs.
The current rise of K-pop in the west is called the Hallyu wave: The idea that South Korean culture has grown in prominence to become a major motivator for modern-day culture. From Korean dramas on Netflix, like “Squid Game,” Korean cosmetics, and the epicenter of this widespread craze, Korean pop.
Korean pop is known for its addictive melodies, a distinctive blend of genres, choreography, amazing production values, and attractive South Korean performers who spend years training to be in the spotlight.
When playing basketball a lot of emotions can come up, and the way you show them can affect the way you play and can impact your career. For Stephon Marbury, his emotions affected the way his profession went, both good and bad.
The documentary “A Kid From Coney Island” is about the former NBA player Stephon Marbury’s path to greatness, through intimate interviews with Marbury himself, along with family, friends, and former teammates.
“Call of the Night” (July 2022, Liden Films) is another story about a middle school student’s boring life and how it got turned upside down by a chance encounter with a being thought to be fiction.
This anime follows two characters, Kō Yamori (voiced by Gen Sato) a 14 year old boy and Nazuna Nanakusa (Sora Amamiya) a female vampire. In this world vampires are real and their way of reproduction is making a human falling in love with them and feeding off of them.
If “Rocky IV” represents the peak of Sylvester Stallone’s career, “Rocky V” (1990, directed by the first film’s director, John G. Avildsen) represents the point in which Stallone’s career (that being mainly in the ‘90s) started to go downhill.
It’s right after “Rocky IV” and Rocky Balboa (no points for guessing that he’s being played by Sylvester Stallone) is back in the good ol US of A after surviving his match with Ivan Drago (along with probably ending the Cold War and causing the Soviet Union to collapse.)
The first “Rocky” brought Stallone into the limelight, while “Rocky II” solidified that he was here to stay, and “Rocky III” was the beginning of director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone really hitting his stride in Hollywood, but it is “Rocky IV” when the franchise hit its zenith.
Stallone was about to hit what some might argue to be the peak of his career with both “Rambo: First Blood Part II” (directed by George P. Cosmatos) and the subject of today’s review “Rocky IV” (once again written, directed, and starring Sylvester Stallone, who I’m surprised didn’t do the catering too.)
“More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers” (October 2022, Studio Mother) is an anime about two people who don’t like each other being forced to pose as a married couple.
This show follows Jirō Yakuin (voiced by Seiichiro Yamashita) and Akari Watanabe (Saori Ōnishi) being forced to pair together for a mandatory school project in which couples of the opposite gender are forced to simulate a married life. Jirō’s crush Shiori Sakurazaka (Saki Miyashita) is paired with Akari’s crush Minami Tenjin (Toshiki Masuda), causing Jirō and Akari to work together so that they can switch to the partners they actually want. Will the two succeed in fooling the system, or will they really fall in love with each other?
Courtroom movies are often crowd pleasers when it comes to media; whether it brings up complex moral questions, has compelling drama that comes up from the nature of the situation, an introspective character study, or is just a good mystery, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like at least one court film.
But something rarer to see are comedies that take place in a courtroom. This is mainly because it’s a lot harder than it looks because the script has to be funny, but not so slapstick that it takes out the inherent stakes and seriousness of being on trial. “My Cousin Vinny” (1992, directed by Jonathan Lynn), while definitely leaning more towards the comedy side of the spectrum, still keeps the stakes high.
“Dr. Stone” (July 2019, TMS Entertainment) is an anime about a teenage scientist waking up after being stuck in stone for 3000 years and having to rebuild society with his companions.
The story follows teenage genius, Senku Ishigami (voiced by Yūsuke Kobayashi) and his best friend Taiju Oki (Makoto Furukawa) being petrified after a green wave of light encompasses the planet turning every human to stone. Eventually, Senku breaks out of his petrification to find the world has been reset back into the stone age without any sign of humans whatsoever besides the ominous statues.
“Burning” (2018) directed and written by Lee Chang-dong is an engrossing, bleak, and somber slow-burn psychological thriller based on the short story “Barn Burning,” written by Haruki Murakami. Its unyielding power comes from its earnest and near-perfect screenplay, and it was a promising contender for the Foreign Language Film Oscar race.
Childhood friends Shin Haemi (Jeon Jong-seo) and Lee Jongsu (Yoo Ahn-In) reunite randomly as adults. She and Jongsu develop a strange relationship and she embarks on a trip to Africa, where she returns with an eccentric man named Ben (Steven Yeun).
“The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady” (January 2023, Diomedéa) is an anime about a princess who can’t use magic and her genius assistant who is helping advance magicology.
This show follows a magicless princess by the name of Anisphia Wynn Palettia (voiced by Sayaka Senbongi) working on her shortcomings by making magic tools for an assortment of purposes. It also focuses on the other female lead, Euphyllia Magenta (Manaka Iwami), who was found by Anis when her engagement was annulled by the prince. These two work together for their own interests, like the pursuit of magic and finding purpose after everything has been lost.
“Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” (2022, also directed by Mark Gustafson) is a fantasy, musical, and animated film that brings a dark and intense take on a classic tale that has been told for decades.
The film is narrated by Sebastian J. Cricket (voiced by Ewan McGregor, AKA Obi-Wan), and it follows Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) and his father, Master Geppetto (David Bradley), as they live in Italy in the 1930s when Italy was being embroiled in fascism.
After Stallone proved to the world that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan, with “Rocky II” once again being a big hit with both general audiences and critics along with it being a financial success, Stallone’s career really began to take off.
However, his career wouldn’t skyrocket until 1982 when Stallone starred in the first Rambo movie, “First Blood” (directed by Ted Kotcheff), and “Rocky III” (which he once again wrote and directed).
“Top Boy” (created by Ron Bennett, 2022) is a thrilling crime drama that centers around drug gangs trying to navigate the dark underbelly of East London. While at first seeming like a straightforward story of violence, when one dives a little deeper, they begin to see that it delivers compelling social commentary on issues facing British youth, like gentrification, immigration, mental health issues, single-parent households, gun crime, and exploitation.
Originally titled “Top Boy: Summerhouse,” it aired in the UK in 2011 and became a cult success for many years before it was dropped by the network in 2014. It was picked up again in 2022 due to rapper Drake being a superfan. With his help, the show was picked up by Netflix and rebranded as simply “Top Boy.”
“Umamusume: Pretty Derby” (April 2018, P.A. Works) is a show about a horse girl training to be the best runner in all of Japan for her mother.
This show follows Special Week (voiced by Azumi Waki) going to a school specifically for horse girl racing. Horse girls are human/horse hybrids that excel at running and other cardiovascular activities in comparison to humans. There she befriends several horse girls, joins a team with a Mr. Miagi-type trainer, and creates a heated rivalry with one of her rising star classmates.
“Rocky” was a huge hit for writer/star Sylvester Stallone, however despite the film’s success, many audiences and critics started to believe that Stallone was a one-hit-wonder, due to underwhelming box office numbers in subsequent films he starred in.
To prove them wrong Stallone hit the mean streets of Philly once again, with “Rocky II” (1979) this time not only as the writer and star, but also as the director.
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ exceeded expectations at the time of its release, and years later, it continues to impress and captivate audiences who tune in.
The film introduces non-comic readers to Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a young teenager from Brooklyn, and offers a fresh take on the Spider-Man audiences know and love.
It’s another superhero movie with witty, charming, and enjoyable humor and it delivers as a Marvel blockbuster, but its beauty lies in more than just its plot. ‘Into The Spider-Verse’ is exemplary all-around.
The plot is fairly simple, kid gets bit by a spider, gets powers, becomes a superhero, and has to defeat a villain.
Apple TV+’s “Shrinking” is a comedy-drama series that debuted in January of 2023 (created by Bill Lawrence, Jason Segel, and Brett Goldstein) that’s main focal point is mental health awareness and help.
The show is about a grieving therapist named Jimmy Laird (played by Jason Segel) trying to overcome the loss of his wife. While at the same time trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) and helping his clients become better versions of themselves.
Sugar Apple Fairly Tale” (January 2023, J.C.Staff) is a story about a girl on a journey to become the best sugar artisan for her late mother.
The story starts off with the viewer being introduced to Ann Halford (voiced by Yuka Nukui) watching her mother create a sculpture out of sugar. Once Ann comes of age, she sets off to a city called Lewiston to become a Silver Sugar Master. On her journey she meets Shall Fen Shall (Masaaki Mizunaka) a warrior fairy, and Mithril Rid Pod (Rie Takahashi) another fairy who joins her. She must go through the toils as a woman working towards being a Silver Sugar Master while being ridiculed by other confectioners and making friends with others.
Netflix’s “Shadow and Bone” is an adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling novels, with lethal flesh-eating monsters, superpowers, and childhood best friends turned lovers, and it is an admirable attempt at fantasy, but it falls short.
“Game of Thrones” – the 8-season epic that had the attention of the nation season by season – was one of TV’s major successes with fantasy, a genre that is rarely pried into. After the riveting 8-season whirlwind, the fantasy craze faded away into the background in between poorly written mystery thrillers and cheesy attempts at Gen Z-focused tv series.
Video games movies have a bad reputation in film circles, at best some are fondly remembered as fun cheese like the “Street Fighter” or the original “Mortal Kombat” adaptation or are seen as bastardized copies not worth the film they were shot on, like “Alone In The Dark” or most of the live action “Resident Evil” movies.
But it seems the video game to film curse is starting to wear off, with more recent films like “Detective Pikachu” and the “Sonic” movies doing well financially and getting favorable reviews.
The sequel to James Cameron’s critically acclaimed “Avatar” is a brave, gaudy, visually striking, and simple story encapsulated by shades of blue, green, and white. “Avatar: The Way of Water” (2022) comes 13 years after the first, amping up anticipation years before its release.
The story is well known by now – “Avatar,” released in 2009, was a box office behemoth. In January 2010, days after Avatar made $1 billion dollars, Cameron announced the sequel. He then announced that a third and fourth film were made alongside the second, turning the world of Pandora into a multimillion dollar film franchise.
If there are no delays, the third Avatar film could be released as early as December 2024.
With discussions of the unfair treatment of African Americans in the U.S. and the struggles and prejudices they face being more focused in the day-to-day, many filmmakers and storytellers have started to focus on it to keep the conversations going.
One such series is “Them” (2021, created by Little Marvin). “Them” is a horror anthology series that debuted on Amazon Prime Video in April 2021. The first season, titled “Them: Covenant,” follows a Black family that moves from North Carolina to an all-white neighborhood in Los Angeles in the 1950s. The family experiences intense racism and terror from their white neighbors, as well as supernatural occurrences in their new home.
As the show’s graphic depictions of racial violence and trauma spark controversy, viewers are left questioning the balance between honest descriptions of history and careless exploitation. Will the Emory family survive their new home, or will they become victims of the horrors lurking?
Few films have left a cultural impact as large and as long-lasting as the “Rocky” franchise.
With “Creed III” out in theaters and available on streaming, the “Rocky” series is still going strong. Though there has been some controversy in the newest chapter in the spin-off films, that being that the previously mentioned character of Rocky Balboa is “Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film.”
Why this is such a big deal is made more apparent if one watches any of the original “Rocky” films.