Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic WorldLength: 124 min

Release date: 12 June 2015 

Synopsis: A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the park’s newest attraction – a genetically modified giant stealth killing machine – escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-fi

Studio: Amblin Entertainment / Legendary Pictures

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Writer: Rick Jaffa / Amanda Silver /Colin Trevorrow / Derek Connolly (screenplay)

                Rick Jaffa / Amanda Silver (story)

                Michael Crichton (characters)

Starring: Chris Pratt / Bryce Dallas Howard / Ty Simkins

MPA-Rating: 12

Jurassic World originally began life many years ago when author Michael Crichton penned the novel, Jurassic Park (1990). In 1993, the film adaptations began, and it became a successful franchise, with The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001) later being released. The series of books and films were huge successes and have coined some of the most noticeable moments in film history. This English language film follows up where the books and films stopped, but with great modernisation to appeal to a new and potentially younger audience.

Jurassic World tells the story of brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell as they Jurassic Parkstart their holiday at the newly opened Jurassic World, operating on the old site of Isla Nublar, twenty-two years after the huge incident that happened with the original Jurassic Park. They are due to visit with aunt, scientist and park manager, Claire Dearing, but she is extremely busy with the park’s newest attraction. That is a genetically modified dinosaur, known as the Indominus Rex, which is already proving to be a danger. Claire brings in Owen Grady, ex-Navy serviceman, and Velociraptor trainer, to get his opinion on the Indominus’ paddock. Sensing something is amiss, Owen enters the paddock, to find he has been tricked by the highly intelligent dinosaur, which has now managed to escape and has the whole island to explore, terrorise and maim at its leisure.

Whilst the dinosaurs are a huge part of the film, the characters have depth and connect well with each other. Brothers Zach and Gray play well as part of the family unit, with Zach being older and more interested in girls than a holiday to see dinosaurs, whereas Gray is idealistic, young and excitable.

Owen and Claire work well together – both are equally headstrong, leading them to never approach a second date with each other, but they still hold sexual chemistry. Owen has the military background and deep intelligence and cares for the raptors that he trains – seeing them as his children in a way, since they had an initial imprint from hatching. Claire, meanwhile, has a lack of compassion for her family, pushing her nephews into her assistants arms, whilst she focuses on increasing the park’s profits. When she realises that something must be done, she throws herself into danger, without thinking, admitting that she needs help and that she needs to take a break.

Jurassic World cast

Graphically, the dinosaurs are pretty amazing – there is so much detailing on the teeth, claws and scales. After all, dinosaurs have a huge appeal universally. The films biggest features are the Indominus, the raptors (named Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo), Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Mosasaurus. It is also believable that scientists would go this far to replicate a new species of creature, but the only fly in the ointment is that there are no feathered creatures to be seen.

There is a huge connection between man and beast in the film, which Owen reiterates when the army want to use the raptors as weapons, and create more like them. Owen strongly believes that they are still animals, but they have thoughts and feelings. This is shown in the raptor pen, when Owen saves a young man from being eaten. He is able to maintain eye contact, keep them under control, and in later scenes, when he rides his motorbike amongst them on the search for the Indominus – there is a huge level of trust and love amongst them, which progresses throughout the film. It creates a wealth of emotion in audiences, and makes us question ourselves and how we behave around other animals.

Jurassic World dinosaurs

There is a wealth of dramatic music featured throughout the film and it only serves to build the tension, anticipation and drama that we feel, as the Indominus stalks its prey, and more chaos is unleashed.

Universal Pictures announced in July 2015 that a sequel would be released in June 2018, with Connolly and Trevorrow returning to script, and Howard and Pratt reprising their roles.

We give this – 7.5 out of 10!

Games of Thrones (Telltale Games)

Playback Reviews are Game of Thrones fans, having amassed DVD and novel collections, amongst other merchandising, in relation to their signature houses – Stark and Targaryen, respectively. Fuelling the need for more GoT action, the Telltale Games video game was purchased – here was our chance to become part of that world. Pardon The Little Mermaid reference…

Released December 3 2014, for Playstation, XBox and PC, it’s a series of episodic games that you download as you go, as no full game is currently available. Telltale Games are known for their clever storytelling, and not graphics, and it was the story that drew us in.

Game of Thrones Telltale

Following the events of the HBO show, and the novels by George R. R. Martin, you play as different members of House Forrester, who are attempting to save their family. You play as: Roderick Forrester (first born son, with military knowledge), Asher Forrester (second born son, exiled to Essos), Mira Forrester (eldest daughter, and Margaery Tyrell’s handmaiden), Ethan Forrester (third born son and scholar), and Gared Tuttle (squire, and brother of The Night’s Watch).

A single player game, played in third person perspective, the graphic adventure takes aspects of point and click style adventures, that ultimately determine what happens to you and others around you in the later episodes and narratives, including the use of inter-actable objects. This is where the fun factor lies – with the game being so story driven, it fully engages an audience and gamer. It also helps that there are a wealth of well known (and loved) characters and voice actors present including: Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and brother Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and fellow bastard of the North, Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon), and last but not least, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark).

Each episode, made up of seven chapter arcs, takes around two hours to complete. The episodes are: Iron From Ice, The Lost Lords, The Sword in the Darkness, Sons of Winter, A Nest of Vipers, and The Ice Dragon.

The gameplay is fairly smooth and is built upon a wealth of cutscenes, with minimal glitching. When answering and making your way through the game, you are given four options with time constraints – three different things to say, or say nothing at all. These outcomes will change the story, so think about how you would answer carefully. It’s best to play the game with subtitles, so you don’t miss anything – after all, it’s literally life and death! The controls themselves are easy, with limited hints and instructions.

Graphically, the game runs as 60fps with slow down, with a HD quality of 1080p. It is true escapism for GoT fans, with the game setting you in Westeros. It is almost styled like a graphic novel, with its detailing and style of how people are presented. The characters are easily recognisable too.

Game of Thrnes Multiple Choice

Musically, it fits in line with the HBO show, especially as it encompasses the titular theme song. Having the voice actors around grounds it more into the show and establishes that this is a true accompaniment to the show and books.

As far as replay-ability goes in Game of Thrones, when you die, you are able to replay the scene to change the actions and further the story. You also have the chance to replay the episode, and keep changing the outcomes. You have more choice than Martin’s characters at least!

As far as our complaints go, it takes a while for new episodes to be released, and the graphics take some warming up to, if you’re not used to the Telltale style.

Game of Thrones realistic charactersWe give this – 7 out of 10! We have reviewed this as just episode one, and as it stands, it isn’t bad at all for the first part of a new series.

Big Hero 6 (2015)

Length: 97 minBig Hero 6

Release date: 30 January 2015

Synopsis: The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Genre: Animation / Action / Adventure

Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures

Director: Don Hall / Chris Williams

Writer: Jordan Roberts / Robert L. Baird / Daniel Gerson                

               Duncan Rouleau / Steven T. Seagle 

               Joseph ‘Joe’ Mateo / Paul Briggs 

Starring: Ryan Potter / Scott Adsit / Jamie Chung

MPA-Rating: PG

Big Hero 6 originally began life as a comic book series that debuted in in 1998. Published by Marvel Comics, it is written by Scott Lobdell, with characters created by Rouleau and Seagle, respectively, and drawn by Gus Vasquez. It began life as a mini-series, and later became a five issue mini-series published by Marvel. With Disney owning Marvel, it made for an interesting collaboration for an animated film.

Following on the lines of the original comicBig Hero 6 comic book book, Big Hero 6, tells the story of child genius Hiro Hamada, who is encouraged to study in the robotics department of the prestigious San Fransokyo university, by his older brother, Tadashi. There he realises his true potential, and is introduced to Tadashi’s equally smart friends, and his latest invention – a plus-sized healthcare companion named Baymax. Following a fire at the university killing Tadashi and scientist Professor Callaghan, Hiro sinks into a deep depression, until one night he accidentally activates the sleeping Baymax. Baymax finds a remaining micro-bot that Hiro had invented to earn his place at university, and the two learn that someone is mass producing them, and using them as a force for evil. Hiro and Baymax recruit their friends: athletic GoGo, laser crafting Wasabi, chemistry lover Honey Lemon, and science enthusiast Fred. They form a superhero team, intent on bringing the criminal to justice.

The characters make up the title – they are bigger than they imagined with their intelligence, and they become true heroes. And of course, with Hiro and Baymax, there are six of them. There is more depth to the characters than what the title offers though.

For instance, Wasabi, nicknamed for once spilling it on himself, is neurotic and shows symptoms of OCD. His workplace has a place for everything, and is neat and cultivated. There are even guidelines for each piece of equipment, and shows distaste when others move things around without his permission.

Another interesting character is Honey Lemon. She is bright, bubbly, wearing fashionable clothing, with large glasses with accentuate her large excitable eyes. She is seen as ditzy and crazy – the girlie girl if you like, of the group, but has immense intelligence, being able to create anything with the power of chemistry. She is also the only person in the cast to pronounce Hiro’s name with a Japanese inflection.

Big Hero 6 friends

Graphically, the film clearly distinguishes itself as Disney with its style of animation, and the comedic elements. There are also plenty of Easter eggs, referring to other Disney characters e.g. Mochi the cat in a photograph is dressed as Experiment 626, also known as Stitch, from the film Lilo and Stitch (2002).

The location shows a fusion of San Francisco and Tokyo, which is apparent in the name. It is stylish, with huge influences of Japanese architecture, noticeably on the houses, and the Golden Gate bridges. It’s clever and has all the modern amenities that a city could want, and need, and even more behind the walls.

The film shows a huge degree of warmth between family and friends, the lengths that people will go to to help others, or to even accomplish their dreams, and the concept of right and wrong. It’s amazing really how such a plain styled, robotic voiced, large character evokes such emotions within children and adults alike. With all these combined, it is clear why it has such a huge appeal to families.

The soundtrack also is a nice touch. The song’s main theme is titled Immortal and is performed by rock band, Fall Out Boy. It has catchy lyrics and fits in well with the scene showing how each of the characters can be immortalised with their own superhero talents and powers. The song is also played during the end credits. It is refreshing to have a Disney film that isn’t filled with songs performed by the cast. In fact, the only song to be performed by them, is one of Fred’s invention, which everyone tells him to stop singing as it is annoying.

Big Hero 6 science

Marvel hero Stan Lee recently released this statement with regards any sequels in the Big Hero 6 franchise:

“After Ant-Man, we’re going to start playing around with Doctor Strange, the Black Panther, the Inhumans, and then we have to come back for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Big Hero 6, the Avengers, Captain America…”

Fans are already speculating the possibly return of Tadashi Hamada, and the notorious villain, Sunfire. Of course, there’s always the new title itself: Big Hero 7.

We give this – 8.5 out of 10!

Ex_Machina (2015)

Length: 108 minEx_Machina

Release date: 24 April 2015

Synopsis: A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking female A.I.

Genre: Drama / Science-Fiction 

Studio: DNA Films / Film4 / Universal Pictures

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland

Starring: Alicia Vikander / Domhnall Gleeson / Oscar Isaac

MPA-Rating: 15

Ex_Machina (Latin for ‘a God from the machine’ is the directorial debut from Garland. Garland is best perhaps known for the screen writing for the horror film, 28 Days Later (2002). Garland also wrote on the comic book adaptation of the popular 2000AD title, Dredd (2012), starring Karl Urban.

Garland not only directed this feature length English language film, but also wrote the script. He states that the original idea has a “ten minutes from now”, feel about it. Meaning really that if a company like Apple or Microsoft created artificial intelligence, we would initially be surprised, but then like a fad, the surprise would wear off and normality would resume in our day to day lives. This is believable though, as humans have been experiencing these technological leaps since childhood, and now things like computers, mobile phones, e-Readers etc. are household names and products.

Set in a beautiful, mountainous area of the world, computer programmer Caleb Smith (Gleeson) wins a competition to spend a long weekend with intelligent and eccentric, Nathan Bateman (Isaac), a millionaire, search engine CEO. The research facility only has two occupants – Nathan himself, and his Asian housemaid, Kyoko (Mizuno). Not only is the facility lacking in bodies, it is also secluded from the outside world, but has every type of advanced technology available. And for good reasons… Nathan has been experimenting and has succeeded in creating Ava (Vikander) – a robotic A.I., which he invites Caleb to test with aspects of her humanity (also known as the Turing test). The interactions begin and a certain bond seems to flourish between human and robot, leading us into a darker tale than we had initially envisioned.

Putting a male human opposite a visually stunning A.I. creates sexual undertones, leaving not only the audience questioning why Nathan built her as female, and giving her a gender and alluring physique, but also Caleb as well. Kyoko is also beautiful – her appearance is flawless, and her attention to detail in clothing shows that she is a woman who knows how to attract men, and how to dress for a role. Some scenes are perhaps awkward – Caleb is tall, gangling and monumentality like a teenage boy when faced with Ava. This works on so many levels – it adds depth to the Turing test that he can relate to her, even though she is only an A.I.

Ex_Machina Caleb and Nathan

Caleb is isolated at the facility, which was filmed in Norway – Nathan spends his days, researching and drinking, Ava has her own confined quarters, and Kyoko hurries to cook and clean, and generally keep out of the way of others. This isolation hasn’t been helped by the scenery – it’s lonely, cold, and whilst beautiful, shows a harsh reality that if he were out walking and injured himself, no one would be able to hear him and he would be left alone to die.

The film has a minimal cast of characters, and this works so well for the story to be told. It is effective that it is not a whole company trying to create an A.I., but is the brainchild of one man, and his desire to almost play God, if you will. This adds more depth and says a lot more about Nathan’s character than he actually reveals – he is a loner, likes his own company and prides his intelligence above others around him – this is why it is a solo project. The cast is balanced – two males (Nathan and Caleb), and two females (Ava and Kyoko). Ava and Kyoko are only given first names, almost saying that as A.I.’s that they don’t need surnames, because they are not humans, but some feminists may see this as that they aren’t worth much, and isn’t right.

Ex_Machina Ava and Kyoko

Casting Vikander into the role of Ava, is brilliant, and the filmmakers have used a variety of techniques to keep her as robotic as possible. Whilst she spends most of the film with her circuits, and wiring showing, this doesn’t detract. In fact, it is essential to the plot, so that we are constantly reminded that she is an A.I., and we should not be fooled into thinking she is human. They are incredibly detailed, and may leave audiences a little bewildered! There is some great choreography at work in the film, to enable Vikander to move and sound as robotic as possible.

The film is well paced, and keeps the focus of the action in the various rooms of the facility. On screen, we are shown the day to day interactions with Ava via subtitles, stating what day of the test we are on. It is a climatic ending, and leaves the viewers with questions and ideas which they must figure out for themselves.

Ex_Machina Ava

We give this – 9 out of 10!

Yoshi’s Woolly World

The first that Playback heard about Yoshi’s Woolly World was during Nintendo’s press conference at this years E3 Entertainment Expo. And just like that, we turned into small giggling children. Woolly World looked like so much fun! Released June 26, for the WiiU, it’s a standalone game that takes part in the Yoshi universe. The game can be played either through the WiiU gamepad, or through the television HDMI hook up.

Yoshis Woolly World

In an unexplained time, in an unexplained world made of yarn, villains Bowser and Kamek decide to turn all Yoshi’s friends into balls of yarn, and steal them away from their home. All, except for one plucky little green anthropomorphic dinosaur, Yoshi, and his coloured companion, who decide to right the wrongs and save their friends.

A multi-player game (encompassing single and co-op mode), the game is hugely bright and creative. This is where the fun factor lies! An engaging 2.5d platformer, it’s stimulating, encompassing two levels of layer difficulty. This is especially helpful for younger players, and really reaches to the family market. It also brings in various other Nintendo characters, and if you’re lucky to own any of the amiibo’s for Nintendo, theses are also in-game compatible. Whilst they have no actual player abilities, they enhance the cosmetic appearance of your Yoshi by creating a skin. These skins are also unlocked during completion of a level, such as gaining Yoshi-Melon (a watermelon looking Yoshi). On his quest, Yoshi often finds badges, which give him power ups. And of course, there’s the funny noises Yoshi makes when eating yarn! It’s great to direct him in this third person perspective.

Sadly, Playback has not completed this game, due to this being a recent purchase, so we cannot remark on how long it may take.

However, whilst we have been playing this, we have noticed how smooth the gameplay is. There has been no glitching or bugs. When Yoshi moves fast along woollen roads or paths, it can be noticed the seamless switching of his feet into wheels, for faster travel. Whilst the camera has a fixed positioning on Yoshi, this doesn’t detract from the classic platform style. The downside is that due to the layout of the controller, the controls themselves can be confusing to users, even though the actions are in fact, very simplistic. There is also very limited hand-holding – you are given an instruction and then you are free to rescue your woolly friends. If you are stuck though, you are always free to return to the levels and areas to see the hints that are offered again.

Graphically, Woolly World runs at 60fps, with a HD quality of 720p+. The entire world, including enemies, are compromised entirely of brightly coloured wool and yarn. Whilst it may look childish, it works on so many levels, appealing to the part of the brain that longs for this kind of thing still. It’s fantastical, magical – very sweet, and kawaii, as our Japanese friends would say!

Yoshis Woolly World playthrough

Almost typical of Nintendo, it’s a bright, bouncy soundtrack. The sound effects link to Yoshi’s language and how he moves around the world, such as straining to reach higher places, and how he eats and ejects the yarn.

As far as replay-ability lies, you are able to replay missions for full completion. There are also special zone levels that feature additional content, which ups the fun factor. It’s also good that you are able to have more than one save slot, if you are a solo player, and then want to play with friends.

The sad fact though, is that if you are not a fan of Nintendo, or Yoshi, or multiplayer games, or even platform games, then this is not the game for you. Others may be off put because it is only available on one limited console. Buying the game straight up, in a standard edition, can be pricey. However, prices get higher if you’re looking to buy a special edition, featuring the woollen Yoshi amiibo (which can be created with other amiibo figures if you own them). Buying from the WiiU store, as we did, is also pricey, but does gain you the free game, Yoshi’s Touch and Go.

Yoshis Woolly World charcters

We give this – 6 out of 10! Due to our current uncompleted playthrough status…

Batman Arkham Knight

Ever since it was announced in March 2014 that the latest game in the Batman franchise was in development for a 2015 release, we at Playback, have been very excited. And with its preview at this years E3 Entertainment Expo, it has only strengthened the excitement. Released June 23, for PS4, Xbox One and for the PC, it is the third and final game in the Arkham trilogy. Or so Rocksteady claims…

Batman Arkham Knight

A year after the death of Batman’s arch nemesis, The Joker, Gotham’s villains gather with one goal in mind – to kill the Batman and take back their city. Led by Scarecrow, everyone is set to fulfil their mission, with the help from the mysterious Arkham Knight. Yet, they didn’t reckon on Batman entering the battlefield…

A single player game, the fun factor can be summed up in one phrase: You are Batman. What could be more thrilling, with this third person perspective? Explore Gotham in all its glory, use  a variety of gadgets to aid your quests, test your intelligence and solve riddles that have been left for you by the villain, Edward E Nigma aka The Riddler. Rocksteady also offer downloadable content, including missions from everyone’s favourite psychiatrist Harley Quinn! PS4 can also download the Scarecrow’s Nightmare Pack – dare you face your fears? This content also mean that you get the chance to play as other characters in secondary missions along with Batman, such as anti-hero Catwoman, and clown princess, Harley Quinn.

For a straight beginning to end gameplay, it took us around 15 hrs, plus. Full completion, including solving every single one of Riddler’s riddles, took us 26 hrs, plus.

The gameplay is easier than the game’s predecessors, including the swapping of gadgets (this takes mere seconds). Batman’s aim does snap on occasion, but he himself as a character is simple to control with the analogue stick.  Gliding around the city can be fun, but can be slow. And what’s the Bat do do, if things are too slow? Why, face the road and call the Batmobile into action, of course! It’s fast – super-fast – with all the necessary accessories that the hero of Gotham needs. The controls are too slippery at times though, and sometimes feels much more like a racing game, like Need for Speed. It’s good that there is no six-axis, as this could prove difficult for some players. Overall though, it’s fairly smooth, adding to the full gaming experience.

Graphically, Arkham Knight, runs at 30fps, with a HD quality of 1080p on PS4. Xbox One runs it at 900p. The game is dark and gritty, and at times almost feels like it is set in the New 52 universe of comic books. It’s aesthetically pleasing, with its Gothic appearance fitting the mood and plot-line of the game.  Even with the dark exteriors and weather conditions on offer, it does not affect the players visibility. In fact, it only heightens the detailing of this all true escapist’s world.

Batman Arkham Knight K Conroy

What makes this game all the more impressive is the veritable feast of voice acting on offer, including the unstoppable team: Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne aka Batman and Matthew Mercer as Tim Drake aka faithful sidekick, Robin. Villains make this game work though – voice acting heroes Troy Baker, Tara Strong, Laura Bailey and husband Travis Willingham, Nolan North and – wait for it, wait for it – Mark Hamill, are all present and correct! There is minimal music, giving it a much more realistic play-through. Music usually announces the presence of enemies.

As far as the replay-ability of Arkham Knight goes, when the game has been fully completed, it unlocks a new mode called New Game Plus. This features Nightmare Mode, which is the highest difficultly for the game, in which there is no indication of enemy attack, and new and challenging Riddler puzzles. Playing once more as Batman, you start with everything from your previous game save. It is definitely a game that we would replay, especially if the rumours are true that Arkham Asylum and Arkham City will be remastered and brought to the PS4. No hints have been given though for their re-release on the Xbox One.

Batman Arkham Knight Joker

Overall, Arkham Knight is definitely worth buying.

As gamers though, we have noticed some glitches, but these aren’t overtly noticeable through our game-play. When fighting a thug, Robin kicked him so hard that the thug’s head sank through the wall and immediately ended a fight, but this may not necessarily happen to you! It is an expensive console purchase compared to buying on the online PS4 store, but that is the price you pay to play it in the here and now.

We give this – 8.5 out of 10!

Black Butler (2014)

Black Butler filmLength: 119 min

Release date: 18 January 2014

Synopsis: An orphaned aristocrat summons a demonic butler to aid her, at the price of her soul.

Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Kentarô Ohtani / Kei’ichi Sato

Writer: Yana Toboso (manga) 

Starring: Hiro Mizushima / Ayame Gôriki / Yûka

MPA-Rating: 15

Black Butler (also known in Japanese as Kuroshitsuji) began life as a manga that debuted in 2006. Published by Yen Press for the English market, it is written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. It’s currently ongoing and has twenty-one published volumes so far.

The original manga of Black Butler (and later its popular anime counterpart) is set in VictoriaBlack Butler mngan London. It tells the story of a thirteen year old orphan, Ciel Phantomhive, as he strives to lead household, and solves crimes as the Queen’s Watchdog. He is accompanied by a “one hell of a butler”, Sebastian Michaelis, who is in fact a demon set upon tasting Ciel’s soul once their bargain has been fulfilled.

In 2013, it was announced that the manga would be adapted into a live action film. Filming began that year and was released in 2014. The cast are Japanese and audiences should pay attention to the subtitles that are on-screen.

Set in futuristic Japan, this adaptation revolves around young adult Kiyoharu Genpo, a female orphan, who dresses in males clothing. Disguising herself as Shiori Genpo, the bastard son of Lord Genpo, she is able to lead the family’s businesses. She is accompanied by a butler, Sebastian, who is tasked with protecting her life, after striking a bargain.  Kiyoharu and Ciel begin to solve the latest crime to sweep their nation – mummified bodies are turning up all over the city, with playing cards about their person.

There are some big changes to the original plot – namely, from male to female lead. In the manga and in the anime, Sebastian acts predatory to Ciel – there are sidelong glances, subtle sexual remarks that would lead others to question the true nature of their relationship. With having a female lead, particularly a model like Ayame, she is able to portray male and female well. It also detracts from any “smutty” lines, but sadly leaves something lacking. Their dialogue comes across stilted at times, and there are no looks of desire, for soul or otherwise. Black Butler film still

Another change is the scenery, yet this works well. Having a city (like Japan) gives the characters ease of surroundings. It’s bright and almost cheerful in places, as opposed to the Gothic exterior we had in the manga and anime. The vast Genpo mansion is simply beautiful, with sprawling lawns and floral arrangements, a wide sweeping driveway, and classical interiors. This location is definitely in league with its predecessors.

Characterisation changes with its villains and its sub-characters, but this was a natural step in the way that the plot works. The bright landscape gives scope for the character of Undertaker – instead of a gloomy, joke cracking, mysterious yet wise Grim Reaper. Here, we simply see him as steampunk styled figure that transports dead bodies, not bound by gender stereotypes.

The action sequences that Sebastian partakes in are cleverly manipulated with CGI effects, but they don’t have the finesse that that anime perhaps gave him. However, he is not without his trusty cutlery that he uses to dispatch the villains. They do retain his fascination with cats, but this is something that a casual viewer might not truly understand.

Speaking of action scenes, maid Mey Rin (Mizuki Yamamoto) has some cleverly choreographed scenes. Modern day weaponry comes out to play here, as she wields hand guns as if they are extensions of her arms. She’s sprightly, sweet – and a complete bad-ass. And yes, that’s a technical term.Mey Rin Black Butler

It is probably best to go into the film without the expectations of the manga and anime. There is artistic license at work here for a modern audience. It works well and fans like us have waited to see its transition to the big-screen. Whilst the plot does drag at times, it has its clever moments

For others though, be aware of its changes and go into it with a fresh mind.

We give this – 7 out of 10!