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2023: Year in Review

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Happy New Year's Eve everybody!

We're now on the last day of 2023 and ready to welcome 2024 the next day. But before we close out this year, I'd like to go over this year in terms of media and what we've been through in 2023.

This year has definitely had a lot of crazy and horrible things going on in the world from numerous upon numerous of strikes to the horrors going on with Israel and Palestine fighting one another, the passing of many beloved celebrities throughout the year, crazy weather wreaking havoc as usual and so much more. And we thought the pandemic of 2020 gave us enough crap to deal with these past few years, now it feels like even COVID is small potatoes compared to this year!

In terms of the media, 2023 has been very up and down in terms of what it has to offer. On the upside we had huge anniversary celebrations for many medias such as Disney, Warner Bros., Jurassic Park, Doctor Who, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game and much more, Pixar finally managed to have a hit again when Elemental became a sleeper hit and was Pixar's first big success since the pandemic forced their movies onto Disney+, Pokémon made a change for the better by replacing Ash with new protagonists for its new anime, the pandemic being over is getting people back in cinemas again, The Owl House had a very satisfying conclusion despite being cut short, The Super Mario Bros. movie continues to show the video-game movie curse is broken by being a surprise hit (emphasis on "surprise"), Doctor Who is back with an awesome new Doctor who is already winning over audiences and Spider-Man came back with a sequel to its hit PS4 game that has become one of the most acclaimed games of the year.

But in terms of downs, hoo boy is this a doozy! We had the biggest number of box office bombs this year to the point critics coined up the term "flopbuster" to sum it up, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally seems to be losing steam for even their movies are barely making a profit and in the case of The Marvels, it actually bombed, the DCEU crawled to a pitiful end, Star Wars continues to go downhill, some asshole decided to turn Winnie the Pooh into a horror movie, Disney's 100th anniversary movie ended up becoming a flop, Chicken Run got a sequel nobody asked for, the Barbie movie somehow became a billion dollar hit (yes I DO consider that a downside), Doctor Who continues to be unfairly hated by bigots online who can't handle the fact that LGBT people exist, Disney still continue to humiliate themselves with their live-action remakes and DreamWorks couldn't ride the success and acclaim of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and ended up having one of their worst years yet. So yeah, not a great year overall for media. :/

And so as we say goodbye to 2023 and welcome 2024, here's my end-of-year post once again to recap the year I've had in media and to see what were the highlights and what were the low points. I'm the Media Man and here's my recap of 2023...

In Memoriam

Lisa Marie Presley 1968 - 2023 (Singer/songwriter, known as the daughter of Elvis Presley)

Raquel Welch 1940 - 2023 (Actress/model, known for One Million Years B.C., Legally Blonde and Fantastic Voyage)

Paul O'Grady 1955 - 2023 (TV presenter, comedian and former drag queen, known for The Paul O' Grady Show and Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs)

Paul Cattermole 1977 - 2023 (singer and actor, known as one of the members of S Club 7)

Barry Humphries 1934 - 2023 (actor, comedian and author, known for his Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson characters and for voicing Bruce the Shark in Finding Nemo)

Len Goodman 1944 - 2023 (ballroom dancer and dance coach, most famous as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars)

Jerry Springer 1944 - 2023 (actor, lawyer, producer, broadcaster and politician. Known for Jerry Springer and Judge Jerry)

Ray Stevenson 1964 - 2023 (actor, best known for King Arthur, The Three Musketeers 2011, Star Wars: Rebels, Ahsoka, Punisher: War Zone and the Thor films)

Tina Turner 1939 - 2023 (singer, dancer, actress and author, known for hits like "Simply the Best" and "What's Love Got To Do With It")

Julian Sands 1958 - 2023 (actor, best known for A Room With A View, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Jackie Chan Adventures)

Sinéad O'Connor 1966 - 2023 (singer and musician, best known for performing "Nothing Compares 2 U")

Paul Rubens 1952 - 2023 (actor and comedian, best known for playing Pee-Wee Herman in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Pee-Wee's Playhouse)

Arleen Sorkin 1955 - 2023 (actress, screenwriter, presenter and comedian. Best known as the original voice of Harley Quinn in the DC Animated Universe and Batman: Arkham Asylum)

Steve Harwell 1967 - 2023 (lead singer of the band Smash Mouth, known for performing "All-Star")

Michael Gambon 1940 - 2023 (actor on screen and stage, best known for Harry Potter, The King's Speech, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Amazing Grace)

Matthew Perry 1969 - 2023 (actor, comedian and producer, best known for playing Chandler Bing in the sitcom series Friends)

Shane McGown 1957 - 2023 (Irish singer/songwriter and musician, best known as the lead singer of The Pogues and performing "Fairytale of New York"

Pauline Newstone 1943 - 2023 (Canadian voice actress, best known for voicing Frieza in Dragonball and Airazor in Transformers: Beast Wars)

Tom Wilkinson 1948 - 2023 (English actor on stage and screen, best known for The Full Monty, Batman Begins, Sense and Sensibility and The Gruffalo)

May all those we've lost rest in peace.

Now let's cover everything I've reviewed for 2023 and also what I haven't reviewed but seen:

Media I've Reviewed

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: Talk about starting this year on a high note! For the UK, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish didn't come out until February this year, hence why it's technically a 2023 movie for me. As is, better late than never is the case here for it easily ended up being the best and my favourite movie I saw this year!

The praise it got was more than deserved thanks to its strong story that tackles surprisingly dark and heavy themes that most animated movies in this day and age wouldn't tackle, an important lesson on living your life to the fullest and what makes your life worth living, some gorgeous animation that makes the world look like a fairy-tale come to life, a darker tone that makes the adventure seem even bigger and more dangerous than before, a charming cast of characters both old and new and of course, an absolutely TERRIFYING villain in the form of Death who has already cemented himself as one of the greatest animated villains of all time.

It does have some minor problems that thankfully don't detract from its overall quality and the movie is so good that you'd barely notice them anyway. This movie is a classic and one of the best DreamWorks movies ever created. Puss in Boots gave us a sequel we didn't ask for, yet we couldn't be happier to have it anyway. A high recommendation for any fan of DreamWorks, animated films or the Shrek franchise in general. Full review here.

SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods: We go from a great sequel to a movie to a mediocre one.

SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods had a lot of potential but sadly, it didn't live up to the quality of its predecessor and was far less interesting to watch as a result. With a more paint-by-numbers story that gave us less interesting villains instead of Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind like they teased at the end of the first movie, an over-reliance on humour to obnoxious degrees, weaker character arcs, a predictable story where nothing is surprising, a set-up for the villain that doesn't pay off because someone else becomes the villain instead and an unbalanced tone, this sequel really didn't make lightning strike twice for the DCEU.

The film does have its good points though like the directing, the acting, the costume designs, the action scenes and also the movie gave us Steve the Pen. You can't hate a movie that gave us Steve the Pen, can you? XD

As is, SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods wasn't a great follow-up to SHAZAM! and with the DCEU being rebooted in the future, we're not going to get that eventual showdown with Shazam and Mr. Mind after all so we're stuck with a sequel that won't go anywhere. A pity it has to end this way. Full review here.

The Owl House Season 3: Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Disney's best show they'd created in a while. Was it at least a great final hurrah? Absolutely it was.

The only negative I can give this season is that it was cut short, so we ended up skimming over potential plot lines and character beats that should've been focused on but had to be glossed over for pacing purposes, but that wasn't Dana or her team's fault, it was Disney's for cutting it short so I don't hold that against the show. Even with a truncated episode count, they still made the most of what they had with high stakes, epic action scenes, highly emotional moments between Luz and Camilla, some new developments that reveal new sides of characters like Camilla, Belos continuing to be a threatening and cunning villain who gets a satisfying defeat in the end and also never losing that trademark Owl House sense of humour that made the show so fun to begin with.

It really goes to show that with a short episode count, what makes them work is how you use the episode count and how you handle the pacing and in my case, this season did it pretty well even if a full season would've benefit the season immensely and given us more satisfying character arcs and story beats to pay off. But that doesn't take away how this was one of the most satisfying conclusions to a series we've had in ages and I'm glad one of the best animated shows of the recent era got a great conclusion. Now I wonder if the show will ever continue in other medias... Full review here.

The Mandalorian Season 3: While The Owl House had a great third season, The Mandalorian...did not.

The Mandalorian had two great seasons that were some of the best content to come out of Disney Star Wars and then this season shows up and embarrasses itself by being a mediocre follow-up that makes me want no more of Disney Star Wars. Its story is very unfocused to the point that Din no longer feels like the star of his own show and Bo Katan's stealing his spotlight, we have an entire episode spent on an unrelated side plot, Grogu's presence no longer feels welcome and instead is just forced and annoying now, Moff Gideon is still an absolutely nothing villain, we have a waste of great actors like Jack Black and Christopher Lloyd in a filler episode we didn't need, the story has very strange priorities with what it focuses on so the actual important stuff feels underdeveloped and weak in the end and the tone gets a little too goofy at times.

It's highly possible that the reason this season was so haphazard with its pacing and focus was because of Gina Carrano being fired, they had leftover ideas for the cancelled Rangers of the New Republic show so they tried to cram them into this series, and if that's the case then they only hurt themselves in the end as it gave us this poorly paced, incoherent mess of a season that makes its hero look weaker than before and has a story that doesn't know what it's supposed to be about. The only good things I can say about it are that Bo Katan's story is the most interesting part and the Mandalorians getting a happy ending makes it somewhat satisfying at least.

But still, this season was NOT the way for The Mandalorian... Full review here.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts: With Bumblebee proving that it is possible to give us a good live-action Transformers movie for once, the sequel showed some promise...but it didn't live up to it.

The premise of this movie was great but they used it up too early. Going from Bumblebee to this felt like too much of a leap and it feels like we needed at least two more movies to build up to Unicron's arrival before we got here. As a result we have this plot that went too big too soon and had way too many characters to juggle as we have three factions all at once and the plot just becomes your standard Transformers movie where it's various factions fighting over a MacGuffin, a plot that got VERY stale when Michael Bay told the same story five times in his movies. The choice of characters makes this confusing too with the presence of the Maximals but no Predacons in sight and we have the Terrorcons when they should just be Decepticons. As a result, the movie was super predictable from top-to-bottom with a scope that's too large for a second installment and a cast of characters that's way too large for it to be manageable.

As is, this film is still better than all five of the Michael Bay movies and has some merit to it including the best portrayal of Optimus Prime of all the movies, the human characters being likeable and useful, Scourge being an awesome villain, the action scenes and visuals being as strong as ever and they at least put some effort into characterizing the Cybertronians so they don't just feel like big robots who blow things up. And at least it still feels like it's about the Transformers themselves so that's a plus.

As is, if they saved this film for later and didn't make it the second movie in the new continuity, then the movie would've been stronger and its flaws would've been less glaring. Here's hoping any future sequels can fix that... Full review here.

Nimona: Disney will forever regret losing this movie because it ended up being a hit they missed out on.

Based on the comic of the same name, Nimona has become one of this year's most critically acclaimed films and it more than deserves the praise. While the story is a little familiar with some annoying cliches, an OBVIOUS villain and a set-up that's too contrived to be believable, it makes up for its shortcomings by having fun with its concept, being very funny at times with all kinds of humour on display, strong and relevant themes of bigotry, prejudice and hatred to add more meat to the story, a fun and charming relationship between our leads and of course, Nimona being the most adorable psychopath ever animated. Who knew it was possible to be messed up and still be charming? XD Combine that with glorious animation that has a unique look to it and takes advantage of its premise and Nimona's shape-shifting abilities and you have yourself one enjoyable movie that I'm glad we got to see finished and released despite Blue Sky Studios's closure.

Nimona was a riot and I bet Disney wishes they didn't lose it because then they would've gotten a piece of the pie as well. With its charming cast, fun story that isn't afraid to tackle dark subject matter, great humour, lovely animation and great chemistry with the leads, Nimona is an animated classic that is not to be missed. Nimona sure shape-shifted into a great movie for this one... Full review here.

Elemental: Pixar were really struggling since the pandemic with their most successful hits being the ones that went straight to Disney+. Thankfully, despite a low opening, they got a hit with this one and it proved Pixar can make money at the cinema again.

Elemental was one of the most charming movies we got this year with a familiar yet still touching romance story that may have some annoying cliches in it but they still made it a sweet and wholesome movie to watch. Pixar don't do romance stories very often so it was sweet to see them do one again here and they executed it so well with a wonderful romance that develops beautifully over the course of the movie, adorable chemistry between the two leads, a lot of heartwarming scenes that make for a pleasant experience and a creative world run by the elements. Who knew romance between fire and water could be so touching? ^^ I really enjoy the creative world-building and how they manage to make it logical for a world run by the elements and even give us some creative set-pieces and gags with it. Also add in some allegories to immigration and staying in your own little bubble and you have a movie that's enjoyable yet also very relevant and topical in this day and age, further adding that air of timelessness to the movie.

Brought to life by Pixar's beautiful animation that is gorgeously detailed and very creative with its background designs, Elemental is a wonderful movie and one of Pixar's most touching and romantic features they've so far released. I highly enjoyed it and am glad to see Pixar releasing another hit after the pandemic hit them hard. We can say with this movie, they really stole the show... Full review here.

Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken: The second DreamWorks movie of the year for the UK. Was it any good? No.

Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken sadly falls into the category of DreamWorks's weaker films thanks to a painfully generic story that feels like it's copying Pixar's Turning Red a lot of the time, a premise of krakens vs. mermaids that sounds great but is executed poorly, a message that is sullied by the film's weird need for a twist villain, things that don't make sense, cringeworthy humour and a tone that clashes heavily with itself. This film had so much potential to be great but they just didn't take advantage of it at all and what's worse is that due to the film making Chelsea a twist villain, it ends up having a somewhat pro-racism message as a result. Think about it: Ruby's grandmother is prejudiced against mermaids and her prejudice towards them is justified and proven correct in the end because Chelsea's an evil mermaid. In this current climate we live in, a pro-racism message is NOT OK and DreamWorks should've known better than that! Why they didn't stick to the original draft which had Chelsea as one of the good guys, I'll never understand. That stupid twist just killed the movie...

The animation is nice enough I guess and Ruby's development is decently done but that can't save this bare bones story that has an uncomfortable message that suggests you're justified in your racism. This movie was a shipwreck and it deserves to stay at the bottom of the sea where it belongs. Full review here.

Sonic Prime Season 2: Season 1 was crap so who's surprised that Season 2 wasn't any better?

Season 2 did nothing to address or fix the criticisms I had with Season 1 and in some cases, actually made things worse due to the characters becoming increasingly stupid to the point it feels like nobody has a brain in this show, villains that are impossible to take seriously and only ever succeed at anything because of dumb luck or because the heroes are complete morons who don't do anything (Nine and Shadow are the worst examples of that, mindless non-stop action that gets incredibly boring after a while, a complete waste of Shadow the Hedgehog's presence and a forced as hell cliffhanger to artificially extend this crap so it gets another season when they could've just wrapped it up right now and given us a new story for Season 3. Season 1 somewhat had an attempt at story and character, but this season forgoes any of that in favour of the same repetitive plot structure that further proves why this premise shouldn't be the premise of the show and should've been a single-story arc. The overly goofy tone also does this show no favours.

The animation, while still pretty to watch, is also a bore because the action scenes are so repetitive, and the multiverse aspect isn't expanded on any further so we don't get anything new or interesting to look at and it further exemplifies how they took this concept and went in the laziest direction possible with it. If you have a multiverse story, at least be creative with it! As is, this season was so bad that I've sworn off watching any more of this show. Sonic Prime can be shattered along with the Paradox Prism and lost to the Shatterverse for all I care... Full review here.

The Dragon Prince: Season 5: Season 4 was such a let-down that going into this season, the main thing I was hoping for is that it would at least be better. I can confirm that it IS better...but man is it still heavily flawed!

The Dragon Prince Season 5 is the prime example of too many cooks in one kitchen because this nine-episode season has way too much plot and way too many characters to juggle at once so not all the plot points and characters have their time to shine or get developed properly. Nine episodes just wasn't enough time to give this plot the attention it deserves and it only ends up causing problems for itself as a result. The humour is also at its worst here with a stupid poo joke and a scene of Claudia and Terry wiggling their arses in a comatose Viren's face. No I'm not making that up. They waste too much time on stupid gags instead of stuff that does matter and it only hurts the pacing all the more. It also doesn't help how much of the new characters like Captain Finnegrin die as quickly as they're introduced or Kim'dael is just there but has no real purpose being here. If they just trimmed the fat, this season could've been great.

As is, it's still better than Season 4 thanks to less moments of characters being idiots, some heavy emotional moments between Callum and Rayla as they finally address their issues, Finnegrin was a pretty cool new villain, Kim'dael is given a terrifying first impression, the plots feel more connected with one another and the race to get Aaravos's prison does make for an effective and engaging story at least. Oh and Claudia loses a leg. That's a big plus for me. XD

Still, the overly stuffed plot is holding this show back and they need to trim the fat down a lot if it means giving us a more focused story. There's two seasons left of this show so I wouldn't get my hopes up too much... Full review here.

Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie: It's so funny how the only reason anyone had to want to see this movie was just to see if it was better than the show. And what a shock, it turns out that if Thomas Astruc ISN'T in charge, the quality leaps up by a thousand! XD

The movie is a pretty generic paint-by-numbers superhero origin story so there won't be many surprises for you in this one, but as a former Miraculous Ladybug fan who was put off by the show's atrocious writing and handling of its characters, the movie felt like a breath of fresh air for in its entire run time, the movie executes and handles much of the plot points, character arcs and story ideas way better than the show did. Ladybug and Cat Noir's relationship is actually endearing instead of annoying for once, Hawk Moth is more sympathetic and actually gets to face the consequences of his actions instead of getting away scot-free in the end, Marinette and Adrien's less-than-ideal traits are gone so they're more likeable and overall the movie just gives us a way more fun experience than the show ever did. It's to the point where I now disregard the show entirely and say the film is the TRUE canon of this show. XD

And need I bring up the absolutely gorgeous animation that gives Miraculous Ladybug its best look yet? Seriously, this still ranks as among the best animation I've seen in a movie yet. The musical numbers are OK I guess but I personally wouldn't have made this a musical since it really didn't need to be one.

As a superhero movie, it's as standard as it gets. But as a Miraculous Ladybug movie, it's easily the best thing that's come out of the franchise and a way more enjoyable experience than what the show ever was. If you ever want to get into this franchise then just ignore the show and only watch the movie. Trust me, you'll have a much better time with Miraculous Ladybug that way. Full review here.

Blue Beetle: The last DCEU movie I watched this year and the last superhero movie I intend to watch because my god are superhero movies just getting boring to watch these days...

Blue Beetle is the most generic superhero movie ever made. Absolutely nothing interesting happens in it, which is a shame because a movie based on BLUE BEETLE of all characters should be awesome and intriguing and yet they just executed the movie in the most safe and boring way possible to the point all you can do is list the cliches and tropes as they come. Not helping this movie is the weak comedy and how at times it gets too ridiculous even for a comic book movie. And then there's the confusing choice of villain in where OMAC is here when OMAC belongs in a Justice League story, NOT a Blue Beetle story and the main villain is some evil businesswoman instead of something more interesting and distinctly Blue Beetle related like the Reach and Black Beetle.

The film does at least stay true to the spirit and tone of Blue Beetle with its strong themes of family and togetherness and how our hero's true strength comes from the bond with his family, the actors do a fine job with what they're given, Blue Beetle himself looks incredible onscreen and they give us some cool and creative action scenes that are at least worth a watch. But none of that really matters when the story is this paper-thin and copy-paste that you can't get engaged with it.

If superhero movies are just gonna be this bland and copy-paste nowadays then I'm not interested in any more of them. This trend has reached its end and its time to let it retire or at least simmer down for a while because we've exhausted the superhero movie genre for all its worth at this point. Full review here.

Ahsoka Season 1: My last hope for Star Wars and sadly it didn't fare up in the end.

Ahsoka had no business being as mediocre as it was. I mean you had a job as simple as "make a show about Ahsoka Tano" and Disney couldn't even do that right. The show was a mess from top-to-bottom with a plot that's not even about Ahsoka and instead feels more like a new season of Star Wars: Rebels instead of a show about Ahsoka, characters that we once loved no longer feeling like their old selves and in Sabine's case have taken a hideous downgrade, ridiculous plot-holes that break the story, a lack of emotion in the scenes where it matters the most, a story that requires too much supplementary material in order to understand what's happening, actors that don't capture the feel of the characters they're supposed to be playing, poor pacing and as is typical for a Disney+ Star Wars show, a story that only happens because the characters are idiots. It even carries on some of the things that made the previous shows dumb like characters nonsensically surviving getting stabbed by a lightsaber. When is Disney going to remember that being stabbed by a lightsaber is an instant death? And to think this was the last thing Ray Stevenson ever did before he died. What a sour note to end his career on. :/

The show's few redeeming traits such as Ahsoka's meeting with Anakin, the flashbacks to The Clone Wars, Baylan Skoll being a fascinating villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn's return and the visuals don't save this lost cause. This show was a mess and sadly wasn't able to salvage this era of Star Wars for me. As a result, I no longer wish to check out anything from this era of Star Wars in the near future and I certainly have no desire to watch anymore Disney+ Star Wars content. If the Force will be as weak as it has been with these shows, then I want no part of it... Full review here.

Pokémon Horizons Season 1: By far the most intriguing piece of media we got this year and my favourite series I've been watching throughout 2023. I've already made plenty of posts about it so you know how enthusiastic I am about this show. And given what a strong first season we've had, can you blame me? XD

Pokémon Horizons is the big welcome breath of fresh air the anime has needed for quite some time thanks to its whole new direction that is different than any direction we've had before, a greater focus on story and character development, little to no filler episodes that gives us a much improved pace to the series, a heavier focus on adventuring than competing in tournaments, intriguing mysteries that open up more questions than they answer to keep things interesting, new leads that allow for new developments to be explored now Ash is gone, villains that are actually a threat for once and not annoying running gags like Team Rocket were and a much better execution of the globe-trotting premise that Pokémon Journeys went and wasted.

It's not perfect of course. It has problems with balancing its two leads to the point only Liko feels important while Roy is such a useless spare part that nothing would change if he was taken out of the show and Roy's inclusion only ended up creating pacing issues the show could've avoided if he didn't exist. Also Liko's development is a little all over-the-place where she's given flaws out of nowhere and has this desire to get stronger...and then doesn't put in the effort to do so. But those issues don't stop the show from being fascinating to watch and it's easily the most interesting piece of Pokémon media we've had in years. I wholeheartedly welcome this new status quo and all it does is prove everyone's point that Ash should've been retired years ago because now he's gone, the anime can actually do something interesting for once. I cannot wait to see where this series will go as it continues... Full review here.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet DLC: The Teal Mask and The Indigo Disk: Much like Sword and Shield before it, Scarlet and Violet have ended up getting DLC too. And was it any good? Mostly.

The Teal Mask was a surprising playthrough as it has more of a focus on story than you'd have expected and while the stuff with Ogerpon was interesting, the culture of Kitakami was wonderful to indulge in and Kieran's downfall was a tragic twist in the tale, I feel the story went in too obvious a direction by making Ogerpon innocent and the Loyal Three the actual villains and Kieran's downfall was brought on by a forced as hell plot point that didn't need to happen and only ends up making his grandfather look like the biggest asshole in Kitakami. It also doesn't help that the DLC dries up quickly and is practically barren once you've finished it, thus there's practically no reason to ever go back to it.

The Indigo Disk on the other hand has less of a story that somehow ended up being better written than The Teal Mask's plot and has so much content to do that you can be spending hours just doing it all and it has actual replay value so you've got stuff to come back to when you're done. The gameplay is also some of the best Pokémon has to offer with a challenging Elite Four and Champion that throw competitive level Pokémon teams at us, a huge era to explore and catch Pokémon in, a chance to play as our Pokémon, a chance to rematch characters from Paldea and even trade with them and also a unique way to hunt for Legendries.

Both DLCs offer something with their heavier focus on plot and character than Sword and Shield's DLCs and they're worth the price for the returning Pokémon and the content they have to offer, but it's a shame that one half feels not worth the price in the end while the other does. I can't even say "skip one and play the other" as you can only get both together when you buy the DLC. Still, if you love Scarlet and Violet, I imagine you'll get some enjoyment out of the DLC, especially The Indigo Disk. That one really knocked it out of the park with what it has to offer... Full reviews here.

Wish: This movie doesn't suck and is ridiculously over-hated. There, I said it. =P

No I'm serious, I genuinely don't understand why Wish is getting so much hate because if you actually watch the movie and stop listening to pretentious film critics or letting Rotten Tomatoes influence your decisions, Wish was actually a fun and enjoyable movie that paid a lovely homage to Disney's 100 year legacy. The premise was perfect for a 100 year anniversary celebration, the characters have some charm to them, we got an ACTUAL villain for a change, the voice-acting is really strong, the animation is beautiful and unique to look at, the theme of wishes and what you have to go through to achieve your greatest wish is a lovely theme for the movie and the songs are unforgettable.

Is the film flawed? Yes. The world-building is weak, the story is a tad cliched and they could've made Magnifico more obviously evil since too many people watching the movie somehow think he's the good guy in all this, it ends with an anti-climax and Asha had no business being as generic and boring a protagonist as she is. But that doesn't mean the film is some complete disaster like critics would (wrongly) have you believe. I had a fun time with this movie and sometimes, that's enough for me. Films don't always have to be masterpieces you know. Wish was a fun movie and I don't regret seeing it. I only wish that general audiences and critics felt the same way... Full review here.

The Doctor Who Anniversary Specials While I haven't actually "reviewed" them per say, I did do a retrospective with The Wandering Fox so I think that counts enough for this list.

Doctor Who turned 60 this year and with former head writer of the 2005-2009 era, Russell T. Davies, back in the writer's chair, he gave us...three specials that don't even feel like anniversary specials. It's so weird he did that because it's Doctor Who's 60th anniversary and yet he gave us three specials that feel like just standard episodes of the show. Granted they do call back to previous eras of the show like with following up on plot points from Russell's previous era, mentioning the Flux event and some moments from the Moffat era and even bringing back a villain from the First Doctor's tenure of the show with the Toymaker but again, it's all superficial stuff to make it seem like an anniversary special.

It doesn't help either how only one of them is really good (Wild Blue Yonder) while the other two are outright bad (The Star Beast) or just OK (The Giggle). The quality is so inconsistent here that I have to wonder what was going on during the writing process of them. How do you have quality this up-and-down with the three specials? Still, Wild Blue Yonder made them all worthwhile with its brain-bending plot and how creepy and intense it got at times and The Giggle did at least bring back the Toymaker in the best way possible. Also David Tennant and Catherine Tate's returns were very welcome and Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor is given a very fun and enjoyable first impression. Also the specials look really awesome and have some great cinematography, visuals and effects both CGI and practical, thus giving us some of Doctor Who's best looking episodes yet so you can't fault them for that.

As episodes of the show, they're fine. As anniversary specials, they don't work and that's disappointing. Even Stephen Moffat managed to deliver an anniversary special that actually feels like an anniversary. At the same time, I do look forward to seeing what this new era of Doctor Who will bring us now we have a new Doctor all over again...

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget: If you ever need the quintessential example of a sequel that didn't need to exist, this is it.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is one of the most unnecessary sequels in the history of media. 23 years after the first movie and the best we get is a cliched and uninteresting plot that is basically the first movie but instead of breaking out, the chickens have to break in instead and the whole experience is just nowhere near as enjoyable, memorable or as creative and fun as the original movie was. The plot is one of those movies where it's so predictable and cliched that once you've seen the trailers for it, that's it. You've seen the movie. It's that paint-by-numbers! It also isn't helped by the fact Mrs. Tweedy is just back and we're supposed to accept it with no explanation as to how she's still alive. It didn't work for The Rise of Skywalker so why did they think it would work for this movie?

The movie at least has that charming Chicken Run humour to it that is fun at times, Aardman's classic stop-motion animation is always a treat to watch, the characters are for the most part their old selves even if some of them have new voice actors for no real reason and it does at least stay true to the tone of the original movie with no cringeworthy attempts at being modern or anything, but none of that makes the movie worthwhile or justifies its existence. It clearly only exists not because Aardman wanted to make a Chicken Run sequel, but because some studio executive demanded it. It feels half-baked and is just a downgrade from the original movie with how dull and uninteresting it is. I doubt even frying this thing and turning it into a KFC bucket of chicken pieces would make it taste any better... Full review here.

Media I Haven't Reviewed But Seen

Pokémon: Path to the Peak: I'm still in awe how it's taken us until THIS YEAR to finally get a cartoon based on the Pokémon card game. Like why has that not been a thing already?

At four episodes, it is rather short and thus has to rush its plot a little but for those four episodes, they do give us a somewhat enjoyable story that makes the card game look fun to play, gives us an insight into how card tournaments work and some really lovely animation that brings it to life beautifully. It's nothing mind-blowing but it's still worth a watch if you're a fan of Pokémon and especially the card game.

Pokémon: Paldean Winds: Much like Sword and Shield got a little animated web series with Twilight Wings, they did the same for Scarlet and Violet with Paldean Winds. And as is typical for these web-series, Paldean Winds is as simple and beautiful to watch as the rest of them. Sadly there's only four episodes but they do make the most of them with each one focused on a different character and a narrative of making a video that'll inspire trainers and students into joining the Academy tying them together in a neat little bow. The animation, as expected in these types of mini-series, is also gorgeous and really brings Paldea to life in the most beautiful way and also includes many nods to the Scarlet and Violet games. Definitely worth a watch if you're a Pokémon fan and a fan of the Scarlet and Violet games.

Sonic Frontiers DLC: Sonic Frontiers got the DLC treatment too and I wasn't interested in it until we got the very last update that gave us a brand new story and allowed us to play as Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Sage. How was it? AN UTTERLY FRUSTRATING EXPERIENCE, THAT'S WHAT!!!! X(

I'm not kidding, this was by far one of the most anger-inducing and frustrating experiences I've ever had in playing a video-game. The new characters don't play all that well and the difficulty was ramped up to the point even trying to beat it on easy mode had me feeling like I needed a long rest afterwards! It's so bad that SEGA had to release a patch to tone down the difficulty so it wasn't so overly frustrating! You know it's bad when your customers need to tell you "Oy, this game's too hard! Tone it down!". The DLC also feels like false advertising because it says Sage is playable...and nothing of the sort ever happened. She's not playable at all.

I do like how it gave us a better final boss than what the base game gave us at least and the story is a nice little alternative ending for it, but it wasn't worth playing in the end because of how the experience was more aggravating than fun. This is an example of how NOT to make a video-game...

Once Upon A Studio: Gotta talk about Disney's 100th anniversary special short, haven't I?

As much as I enjoyed Wish, I do agree THIS short was the superior anniversary celebration special. The short brings in all your favourite Disney characters both in 2-D and 3-D and from various eras from the more well-known to the obscure. The simple plot works for a short film and it's just glorious fan-service for all to see as many Disney characters as you can name gathering together for a photo while also singing "When You Wish Upon A Star". It was a wonderful way to celebrate 100 years of Disney and I had a great time watching it. Walt Disney himself would've been so proud of this short...

Mog's Christmas: A very welcome Christmas present, we got a charming animated adaptation of one of the Mog books the same way we got an adaptation of The Tiger Who Came To Tea and just like that one, it was as wholesome and fun as one would expect it to be. It stays true to the tone of the Mog books and the animation is beautiful in how it really looks like the book itself has come to life thanks to the art style matching the books perfectly. I also love the song they put in the short "As Long As I Belong". That was a sweet tune. If you love the Mog books and love Christmas, then this maybe a new Christmas tradition to consider watching every December... ;)

The Church on Ruby Road: Doctor Who came back with a Christmas episode and they really hit it out of the park with this one. This was easily the best special we got all year with a simple story that has strong themes of family and wanting to find out more about yourself, a fun cheesy tone where we get a goblin musical number (yes really), Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson already winning us over with their performances, the 15th Doctor and Ruby having an instantly charming and lovable dynamic together and one of the Doctor's most badass moments ever. I can see Ncuti's era is starting off strong and I can't wait to see how his first full series will play out next year...

DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing: I got this for Christmas so naturally there's no time to review it now, but I may review it in the new year. For the time-being, I'm enjoying playing it. It's rather vanilla as far as kart-racing goes but the DreamWorks theme makes it more enjoyable and the roster of playable characters gives me a lot of fun choices to pick from. The tracks are fun and pay homage to DreamWorks's library of films very well and I like how the weapons system works. I'll cover more should I review it in full but for now, I say if you love racing games and love DreamWorks movies, you'll love this game.

Plans For Next Year

And thus that's 2023 done. The media was definitely a huge mixed bag of quality entertainment and huge duds for me but I'd say I had a good year in terms of content.

For next year, I'll still be running this blog and bringing you all content to enjoy but there'll be some big changes coming for me and my life. First of all, I'll be retiring from uploading fanfics to this website. Nobody cares about them anyway. They get my lowest views of all my posts and you clearly don't care to read them so I won't bother uploading anymore fanfics. I'll be deleting the ones I have uploaded and thus this blog will be focused squarely on the main blog posts from now on.

But the big one is that I plan to write my first book and hopefully get it published and this blog will also be used as a means to promote it. The book will be titled Ruby Silverlock: Supernatural Explorer and will be focused on a girl named...well, Ruby Silverlock, who has a big interest in the strange and mysterious and soon learns that there's something supernatural about herself too. And yes, I know, I'm essentially using my characters from my Pokémon fanfics for this one. I just feel I can take Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire out of my fanfics and put them in their own setting and story completely removed from Pokémon. As is, I hope my book will be published and I hope you'll be able to read it and enjoy it should it ever see print. I currently have eight books planned for this series and I hope you'll enjoy them all should they get published! :D

Becoming an author is my lifelong dream and I hope to achieve that goal in the new year and I hope you'll all support me in this endeavour.

Until then, Happy New Year everyone and here's hoping 2024 will be a great one for us all...

Next week, I'll be giving you a Vs. essay where I'll see which Pokémon games had the superior DLC out of Sword and Shield and Scarlet and Violet. See you then media fans!

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