Sunday, March 26, 2023

REVIEW: Jujutsu Kaisen 0: Feature Film (anime movie)

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a movie prequel to the Jujutsu Kaisen anime TV series. I bought my copy brand new.


Several years ago, an accident took the life of Yuta's childhood friend, a girl named Rika. Since then, he's been followed around by her cursed spirit, which comes out at unpredictable times to destroy anyone and anything that means Yuta harm, whether he wishes it or not. An incident with a group of bullies brings Yuta to the attention of the world of jujutsu sorcerers. Gojo takes Yuta on as one of his students, alongside Maki, Toge, and Panda.

Unfortunately for Yuta, he has also attracted the attention of Geto, a man whose goal is to create a society of only jujutsu sorcerers. Geto plans to take Rika from Yuta and use her massive power to get his way.

REVIEW: Werewolves Within (live action movie)

Werewolves Within is a blend of mystery, horror, and comedy based on the video game of the same name. I bought my copy of this movie new.


Forest ranger Finn Wheeler is newly assigned to the small town of Beaverfield, which is currently divied over a proposal to build a pipeline. Some of the residents welcome the pipeline because they'll be well-paid for it, while others feel that it would mar the area's natural beauty.

As a severe snowstorm blocks the way out and something busts up all of the town's generators, the town is suddenly faced with a killer in its midst. Chachi, a small dog owned by one of the residents, gets taken, and a local man everyone had thought had left with his mistress is discovered dead, partially eaten, and stuffed under his house. As the town devolves into paranoia, the new ranger tries to figure out what's going on.

REVIEW: One Cut of the Dead (live action movie)

One Cut of the Dead is...well, let's just call it a zombie comedy. It's not quite accurate, but I can't really explain without spoilers.


A director is filming a zombie movie that gets crashed by actual zombies. The actors and production staff are horrified. The director, meanwhile, is thrilled - he's finally getting the realistic performances he wanted from his actors.

There's a lot more to this than that, but saying too much would be spoiling things. Just trust me, as long as you're okay with occasional mild bodily fluid humor (there are a couple on-screen moments when someone gets vomited on, and one person spends time battling diarrhea but doesn't actually do anything on-screen), this is a surprisingly good movie.

REVIEW: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (live action movie)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a comedy. I bought my copy new.


Nicholas Cage stars as Nick Cage, a depressed (or just unstable?) and unfulfilled workaholic actor who's so willing to take whatever role he can get that it's ruining what's left of his relationship with his daughter, Addy. He reluctantly agrees to be paid to go to a millionaire's birthday party and ends up roped into an effort by the CIA to spy on Javi, a supposed arms dealer who has kidnapped a young woman in order to fix a presidential election.

REVIEW: The Menu (live action movie)

The Menu is a horror comedy. I bought my copy new.


A group of wealthy people pay somewhere between one and two grand for a dining experience at the Hawthorn, an exclusive island restaurant. For the duration of the meal, the guests can't leave the island - it's meant to be an experience in which they tour the grounds where the food is grown, caught, and prepared, before getting to eat each exquisitely crafted course.

As the evening goes on and the group is served increasingly odd courses, things take a very, very dark turn.

REVIEW: See For Me (live action movie)

See For Me is a home invasion thriller. I bought my copy new.


Sophie Scott had plans to be an Olympic skier until she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes blindness. She now spends her time house/pet-sitting for the wealthy - and stealing and selling their wine for extra cash on top of her sitting fees. Unfortunately, her latest job goes bad and she finds herself in a home invasion situation. Although she's able to call the cops, the house is fairly isolated and it will take a while for them to get there. She somehow has to stay hidden until then, or escape the house. All she has on her side is the See For Me app, which connects blind users with sighted volunteers.

REVIEW: The Men Who Stare at Goats (live action movie)

The Men Who Stare at Goats is inspired by the book by Jon Ronson and is a black comedy war movie. I bought my copy used.


Bob is an investigative journalist who goes to Iraq in an effort to prove something to both himself and his ex-wife, who left him for his editor. While there, he meets Lyn Cassady, a man who he realizes is connected to a guy he thought was a crackpot, who'd claimed to have once been part of a secret military project devoted to psychic abilities. Figuring that a huge story has potentially just fallen into his lap, Bob decides to join Cassady on his mission and learn more about the secret military program he was part of.

REVIEW: Nope (live action movie)

Nope is a sci-fi horror film. I bought my copy new.


The Haywood family trains and handles horses for television and film productions. There's been less and less demand for their horses and expertise, and after Otis Haywood Sr. is killed by a freak accident involving falling objects from a plane, things are looking even more bleak. His son OJ has resorted to selling several of the family's horses to Jupiter's Claim, a nearby theme park, although he hopes to one day buy them back.

OJ's sister, Em, sees an opportunity for the family to get fame and recognition when she and her brother realize that there's something weird hanging out in the skies near their ranch. They figure it's some kind of UFO, and if they can just get good video footage of it before anyone else finds out about it, they'll be set for life. However, it's not quite that easy, and there's a bit more to the situation than they initially realize.

REVIEW: Pokemon Detective Pikachu (live action/CGI animated movie)

Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a blend of mystery, fantasy, and comedy. I bought my copy new.


When Tim Goodman was younger, he wanted to be a Pokemon trainer. However, he left that dream behind after his mother's death and his estrangement from his father, Harry. He viewed his father as being more interested in spending time with Pokemon than with him. After receiving word that his father has died in an accident, Tim goes to his place to find out details and take care of things, only to discover a Pikachu who can talk (but only to him) and who claims to have been his father's partner. The two of them team up to discover what happened to Harry, restore the Pikachu's memories, and stop whoever is distributing R, a drug that makes Pokemon confused and violent.

REVIEW: Notting Hill (live action movie)

Notting Hill is a 1999 romantic comedy. I bought my copy used, I think.


An ordinary English travel bookshop owner has a chance encounter with famous American actress Anna Scott, which turns into a second chance encounter that ends with a kiss. The two are attracted to each other and Anna seems to like Will's family's awkward friendliness, but it's uncertain whether their budding romance can survive Anna's fame.

I'm slowly rewatching movies I remember enjoying years ago, and this was one of them. Wow, was this a weirder movie than I recalled it being. I completely forgot about the kiss at the end of Will and Anna's second encounter, for one thing, a moment which was made even weirder by the fact that she was the one who initiated it, for no apparent reason. Literally all Will had done up to that point was be awkward around her, give her a free travel book, spill coffee on her, and give her a place to get changed into clothing that wasn't coffee-stained. Why this made him stand out to her, among all the awkward men she must previously have met, I don't know.

REVIEW: Violent Night (live action movie)

Violent Night is an action/dark comedy Christmas movie. I bought my copy new.


A rich and just plain awful family gets together on Christmas Eve, only to be interrupted by armed robbers who plan to steal millions from war profiteer Grandma's vault. Luckily, Santa is there to save the day (although initially he just wants to get out of this situation as quietly and quickly as possible). Through conversations with Trudy, an adorable child who recently got to watch Home Alone for the first time, Santa gradually morphs from a bitter, lonely, drunken disaster into the murderous Norse warrior he used to be, all in the name of ensuring that good girls like Trudy get the wonderful Christmas memories they deserve.

REVIEW: Event Horizon (live action movie)

Event Horizon is a 1997 sci-fi horror movie. I bought my copy used.


Seven years ago, the Event Horizon starship went on its first voyage and disappeared. It has now (in 2047), mysteriously reappeared, and a rescue crew has been sent to the source of its distress signal. As the rescue crew tries to figure out what happened to the ship and find potential survivors, they gradually begin to see and hear horrible things linked to their darkest thoughts and memories.

This one gets a content warning for: suicide, cannibalism, and mutilation.

REVIEW: Happy Death Day 2U (live action movie)

Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel to Happy Death Day, although it switches up the genre a bit - this time around, it's more of a sci-fi comedy than a horror comedy. I bought my copy new.


This picks up less than 24 hours after the end of the first movie. Ryan, Carter's roommate, is killed by someone in a Baby mask shortly after checking on the experimental quantum reactor he's been working on with a couple other students. He then wakes up and reexperiences the same day all over again - when he tells Carter and Tree about this, they, of course, immediately know what's going on. They had assumed that everything was finished after Tree closed her time loop. Now they discover that Ryan is accidentally responsible for the time loops, and he's stuck in one himself. Just as they figure this out, things go even more wrong, and Tree ends up stuck in her original time loop...but in a parallel dimension. As Tree figures out the differences between her current dimension and her original one and tries to close the time loop for good, she realizes that she's faced with a choice: staying in her new dimension or going back to her original dimension. Both choices require personal sacrifices.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

REVIEW: The Voices (live action movie)

The Voices is a horror movie with dark (very very dark) comedic elements. I think I bought my copy new.

Even my synopsis gets into spoiler territory, but I felt it was necessary in order to get across how dark this becomes.


Jerry is a cheerful guy who loves his job working at a warehouse in a bathtub factory. He's had some problems in the past, but he's now seeing a court-appointed psychiatrist and is doing great...except that he doesn't have any friends or a girlfriend, just his dog Bosco and cat Mr. Whiskers. But then he falls head over heels for Fiona, one of the office ladies (in Accounting, I think? I can't remember) at his company.

Unfortunately, she isn't nearly as enamored with him as he is with her and stands him up when he invites her to dinner. He sees her later when she's having car trouble and assumes that this is what kept her from joining him for dinner, so he picks her up and starts taking her home. Unfortunately, he hits a deer, which goes through the windshield. He hallucinates the deer begging him to put it out of its misery, which he does, slitting its throat with a knife, much to Fiona's horror. Fiona runs off and Jerry goes after her, accidentally tripping and stabbing her. He then "puts her out of her misery" as well, stabbing her repeatedly while apologizing.

When he goes home, Bosco, who Jerry hears as the good part of his conscience, tells him to go to the police. However, Mr. Whiskers, his darker side, doesn't think he should feel bad about killing. Although Mr. Whiskers pretty much wins this battle, there's still the issue of Fiona's body, which Jerry eventually collects, dismembers, almost entirely stores in Tupperware containers throughout his home. He keeps her head in his fridge, where it continues to talk to him.

This is, of course, not the end of Jerry's troubles, as various people start worrying about and looking for Fiona, and Jerry begins to fall for Lisa, one of Fiona's coworkers.

REVIEW: Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (live action movie)

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is a found footage South Korean horror movie. I bought my copy new.


Ha-Joon, the owner of a ghost hunting streaming show, aims to get to a million views by setting up a live broadcast at the abandoned Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital. A team of people (three guys, three girls), each of whom have cameras attached to them, will go in and explore while Ha-Joon holds down the fort at a nearby location, watching the footage and managing the stream.

The show was supposed to be scripted - two (or possibly three? I can't remember) of the guys were in on it, along with Ha-Joon. They planned to genuinely scare the others and use their reactions to increase their show's views and overall popularity. However, it soon becomes apparent that there are things happening in the abandoned facility that are unplanned.

REVIEW: The Black Phone (live action movie)

The Black Phone is a supernatural horror movie. I bought my copy new.

My review includes spoilers.


This is set in Denver in 1978. A serial killer called "The Grabber" has been abducting and killing kids in the area. 

Finney deals with an abusive, alcoholic father at home and bullies at school. The main people he's got in his life to back him up are his sister Gwen, who is unfortunately also one of their father's targets, and his friend Robin, who deals with bullies by publicly beating them up so that they're less likely to attack him or his friends at other times.

The Grabber strikes, takes Finney's friend Robin, and, not long after that, Finney himself. When Finney wakes up after being abducted, he finds himself in a dark room that contains only a toilet, a mattress, and a disconnected black phone. As the days pass, the Grabber comes by several times, bringing Finney food and water, and giving him chances to escape. However, Finney has begun receiving phone calls from the ghosts of the Grabber's previous victims, and he knows from their warnings that if he tries to leave and doesn't succeed, he'll definitely be killed. As he follows their advice and tries to figure out a way to escape, his sister attempts to bring on the psychic dreams she inherited from her mother in order to find her missing brother.

REVIEW: Chronicle (live action movie)

Chronicle is a found footage superhero (or supervillain?) movie. I bought my copy used.


This movie focuses on three teens: Andrew, Matt, and Steve. Andrew is a loner who's constantly bullied by his peers and abused by his alcoholic father. His beloved mother is slowly and painfully dying of cancer. His way of dealing with all of this is to make a video diary chronicling his life and the things going on around him, which is the source of most of the movie's "found footage."

Matt is Andrew's cousin and the closest thing he has to a friend. Matt takes Andrew to a party in an effort to help him mingle - it goes badly, but Matt and Steve (a popular and charismatic student) have Andrew come with them to film their exploration of a large hole they found in the woods. They discover a glowing crystalline object and, several weeks later, the three teens film themselves displaying amazing new telekinetic abilities.

For a brief while, Matt and Steve help Andrew use his new abilities to make friends and become more popular. Unfortunately, things don't turn out quite the way Andrew hoped, and his behavior rapidly becomes more erratic and violent. Only Steve and Matt have any hope of keeping Andrew from harming others.

REVIEW: Bride of the Barrier Master, Vol. 1 (book) by Kureha, translated by Linda Liu

Bride of the Barrier Master is a fantasy romance Japanese light novel series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


I'll start off by saying that I finished this weeks ago and waited far too long to review it. There may be details here and there that I've gotten wrong.

In this series, Japan is protected by five clans wielding powerful barrier-weaving magic. Hana and her twin sister Hazuki are members of a branch family of one of those clans. From an early age, Hazuki was known to be a powerful barrier practitioner who might be able to restore her family to its former glory. Hana, meanwhile, displays only weak abilities at least until her 15th birthday. At that time, for some reason her powers suddenly awaken. However, after spending years being viewed as the lesser twin sister, Hana has no desire to tell anyone about the change. 

That doesn't stop Saku Ichinomiya, the new head of the Ichinomiya clan, from noticing her, however. He needs a powerful wife to help him with his duties, and Hana seems like his best bet, even if she won't publicly admit to her powers. 

REVIEW: One Cup at a Time: A Cat's Cafe Collection (graphic novel) by Matt Tarpley

One Cup at a Time is a collection of strips from the Cat's Cafe webcomic. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


I don't really have a lot to say about this collection, other than that I enjoyed it. As usual, the characters and their interactions are enjoyable, and readers will probably be able to relate to several of the characters and situations depicted. There's lots of mental health-related rep in this comic: dealing with stress, depression, over-stimulation, not knowing what to do when friends are going through a rough time, etc. This particular volume also touches on the pandemic a bit.

If I had to pick, I'd probably say that I liked the first volume more, if only because of the COVID-19 strips. They weren't very frequent and were most noticeable to me for what they didn't cover as what they did. I was surprised that feelings of isolation didn't come up more - then again, this series is so focused on the value of community and supporting others that I suppose there were things it couldn't really do without becoming...not itself.

Overall, this is a largely comforting and enjoyable series.


Some pages at the end for readers to write down their thoughts and feelings (nice idea, but if I'm going to do that, it will be in a notebook I've devoted to that purpose), as well as two pages of stickers featuring Cat's Cafe characters and designs.

REVIEW: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, Vol. 1 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, translated by Suika & Pengie, interior illustrations by Marina Privalova

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is a danmei (Chinese m/m) series. I bought my copy of this volume new.


At the time of his death Wei Wuxian was widely known as the Yiling Patriarch, the feared and skilled commander of a vast undead army. Thirteen years after his death, Wei Wuxian reawakens in the body of Mo Xuanyu, a young man who was expelled from the Jin cultivation sect for being gay. After a bit of investigation, Wei Wuxian figures out that Mo Xuanyu was abused to such a degree by his family that he turned to demonic cultivation, freely offering his body in exchange for revenge. 

This essentially means that Wei Wuxian is being given a second chance at life, but it's not long before he's once again drawn into the orbits of those he knew during his first life. The Yiling Patriarch burned a lot of bridges, and Wei Wuxian figures most of these people would want to kill him if they knew who he really was. Unfortunately, for some reason Lan Wangji, a cultivator who was his polar opposite when they were growing up, seems determined not to let him out of his sight.