A Raisin in the Sun Review

A Raisin in the Sun is a film that decides to bet everything on its writing. The entire film is structured around a few characters having a lot of disagreements with each others. Tensions grow pretty high the whole time. I’ve seen a few other films with this style but they have consistently failed in the past. Usually the issue being that throughout the arguments all of the characters will expose themselves as just being awful people so you can’t root for them anymore. Where this film succeeds is in keeping each character likable no matter how tough things get which is important.

The film starts off by introducing us to Walter. You could argue he is the main character since he is the only character who gets scenes by himself without the other characters. It’s close though since all of the characters get pretty big roles. He wants to open up a liquor store. Right now he is not satisfied with his current job or living conditions where his family is always low on money. Well, his mother is about to receive a check for $10,000 for life insurance from her husband. Walter believes that she should give him the check to put into the store. She isn’t keen on doing this though because she believes opening up a store like that would be luring people over into drinking a lot of wine and becoming alcoholics. Walter’s wife Ruth doesn’t think this is a good idea but Walter puts a lot of pressure on her to be on his side.

Ruth’s sister Beneatha meanwhile just wants to find someone she can marry and also enjoys getting involved in a lot of hobbies even if she ultimately tends to ditch them pretty quickly. One of her goals is to attend medical school which will be expensive so she hopes Lena may help contribute to that. Then you have the Mom Lena who wants to do what’s best for the family but at this point it’s clear that there is no way to make everyone happy. What can she do to ensure the family doesn’t go off on the wrong path?

From the main characters the weakest one would have to be Beneatha. Mainly I’d say the issue here isn’t so much that she wants to try out a lot of hobbies but that she is aware of how broke the family is right now. In light of this, she has to realize that buying so much expensive equipment all the time is a bit of a burden there. She definitely has the biggest personality of the group though as she always makes her thoughts known. Aside from Lena, I would say Beneatha is the most straight forward with everyone as she speaks her mind. That’s a good quality.

In comparison I’d say Walter’s not as good at that. Several times when he’s making his case about the liquor store you feel like he could make a better case for why he wants it. He clearly knows why he needs the store but a lot of the time he isn’t really able to explain why that is. In his head it’s because he has already explained it a ton of times but that should be good practice. He tends to give up more than the other characters and is quicker to compromise on his morals. While you can understand this in large part, I do think his final mistake in the film is pretty inexcusable. Once you’ve made a promise and are given a lot of responsibility you can’t just throw it all away like that. He wasn’t really able to recover after that and he had already been on shaky ground with his reaction to Ruth’s baby.

As for Ruth, she’s a very solid character. She does her best to make ends meet and works as hard as she can. She doesn’t want Lena to have to do everything for them so Ruth tries to be as pro active as possible. She’s patient with Walter as well and may have the biggest workload here. She’s also able to talk civilly with everyone and doesn’t get drunk so she stays mature throughout. The best character though is Lena. She is always ready to offer the correct advice and has always lived her life in a way where she can keep her head high with dignity.

Lena probably has a lot of the more emotional scenes here as she watches her household effective start to get torn down with the decisions they are making. She was clearly disappointed on many occasions. The film does end on a high note after all of the trials at least but it was definitely a tough road for all of them. The movie did a good job of adding a new obstacle to the family every time they would get past one. It’s good because it also keeps the conversations fresh and there is also some pretty good set up here.

For example, from the start we know that Walter wants the money but the check doesn’t actually arrive for a while. Even after that you have to wait until Walter arrives for the big confrontation. So the plot is pretty dynamic and the story is constantly adapting for the new challenges. You could easily make a sequel for their experiences in the next home but at the same time without one you can at least hope that things finally went smoothly for them and they didn’t have to worry about any extra drama this time around. It’ll be good if they can finally relax here.

Overall, A Raisin in the Sun is a solid movie. The dialogue is pretty strong all the way through. The movie may only really have the one main backdrop of being in the house but the characters are all written well so this doesn’t feel like an issue. Lena is definitely the standout character here. When Beneatha tries the whole “God is dead” argument Lena quickly shuts that down and establishes the ground rules that this won’t be allowed in the house. She consistently pushes the characters to make the right choices and without her they definitely wouldn’t have made it through this experience. If you’re up for a good drama as the characters discuss how the family should move forward then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

To Sir, with Love

Time to continue the films with an education battle this time around. Students definitely love to give teachers a hard time and in this film that’s the entire premise so you can bet that they aren’t going to go easy. It’s always nice to hear the British accents in a film because they’re just fun. It’s part of why Dragon’s Den tends to be pretty fun. This is a solid all around film that has a pretty satisfying ending.

The film starts with Mark getting hired as a teacher. This is a pretty tricky school though that’s not in the best neighborhood so a lot of the students have their own share of personal issues to deal with. As a result school has become more like a game of rebellion where they can cut loose and do whatever they want. The other teachers don’t exactly want to be here either so that leads to a bit of an endless cycle as you might expect. Well, Mark is determined to crush this cycle once and for all before leaving for another job but will he be able to stick around?

Right away the film does a nice job of showing the defeated atmosphere among the teachers. The very first teacher he meets is a very sarcastic guy who doesn’t even bother trying anymore. The children broke him so now he just slacks off and watches the days go by. He made for a pretty fun supporting character though with how consistently negative the guy was. He definitely wasn’t about to change his tune, not anytime soon that’s for sure.

The other teachers are a lot more reasonable of course. From them, the teacher with the biggest role is definitely Gillian. She’s also pretty new at this and does her best to support Mark when he’s trying to surpass the system. She was quick to volunteer to go to the museum so his project would pan out. Definitely a solid ally to have around the whole time. The principal was a lot less helpful since he gave up immediately despite not helping out at all. That’s just how it goes I suppose.

Mark makes for a solid lead because he’s pretty careful and puts up with a whole lot without cracking. He does a good job of engaging the students and always trying to stay a few steps ahead. I also think it made sense that he kept applying to jobs the whole time as well. No sense in boxing yourself in when there are other options at the ready right? In the meantime he didn’t give up though and just kept on going. He’s the kind of teacher you would probably want to have in school since he is sure to make the topics interesting. His down to Earth approach was quite solid.

School tends to have a lot of different kinds of teachers. Fortunately nowadays you’re more likely to find relatively relaxed ones but it’s still anyone’s guess at the end of the day. As for the students, you would hope that they wouldn’t be quite this tough. Most of them become quite receptive to the lessons though aside from Bert. The way his plot ends out was pretty solid though. Sometimes the quickest way to an understanding there is with a quick spar and Mark was able to get his point across without seriously getting involved in the fight. That definitely could have easily gone sideways but he handled it well.

The other student to have a big role here was Pamela. She’s one of the only kids to give the lead a fair shake pretty quickly in part because she hadn’t been around a whole lot of respectable people. Her home situation was rather difficult and most of the kids were being pretty sketchy at ties so he served as a role model. The film does a good job of giving all of the students a presence though. They all get a lot of dialogue and while you may not recall all of their names by the end, it was a memorable class of students.

One of the most important things a film like this has to have is strong writing. You can’t have a solid drama containing a battle of wits without it. Both the teacher and students are given a suitable amount of respect here and the back and forth is handled well. You’ll be kept engaged the whole time. The story moves pretty well and the film never drags on. It’s a very tight story after all without much room for fluff. All of the scenes are pretty important. There was one subplot with Pamela that I’m glad remained just a vague subplot as that could have definitely been some extra drama that we didn’t need. The film remains rather upbeat throughout though and knew how to add in tension without going overboard.

Overall, To Sir, with Love is a good movie. It’s aged pretty well with a solid cast to hold it up. The dialogue is good and it doesn’t drag so there’s nothing really negative to say about it. The film also avoids the typical rushed romance here by hinting at one but not actually doing anything with it. A romance just wouldn’t have made sense with how much was going on and how short the timeframe here was. So it was the correct decision and the movie was better off for it. The ending also leaves room for a sequel and apparently it did get one so it’ll be interesting to see how things go on there. This is the kind of plot that you can do over and over again but I imagine it’ll be tougher and tougher to execute each time. Either you try to make the kids double trouble this time and go too far in making them edgy or you have everything go too well and people wonder what the point is. Well, sequels have a lot of pressure but of course if it works out well then that’ll be good.

Edge of the City Review

When you think of the Edge of the City odds are that you’re thinking of either IHop in uptown Manhattan or the Domino’s at West 4th street if you’re in NYC. Those two places seem to be around the edges of each direction before you feel like you’re not in the city anymore. Well, in this film we have a warehouse near the water so you feel like you’re on the edge. Most of the film is rather good but the ending is definitely one of those film crushers. It really takes away from the feeling of accomplishment that you had in the film up to that point and it just felt unnecessary. There’s no way back at that point.

The movie starts with Axel arriving in town and needing a job. He uses an old connection to force his way in but now works for the corrupt Charlie. Charlie doesn’t treat any of his workers well and bullies Axel quite a bit since he has quite a lot of leverage there. He’s also racist towards Tommy but doesn’t have as much leeway there since Tommy is also one of the bosses in the company and doesn’t put up with anything like that. Tommy befriends Axel and convinces him to shift departments. They have a good working relationship and things are going well but Axel’s past is slowly catching up to him. Can Axel stay afloat or will it be time to flee?

From the start it’s clear that Axel is hiding a lot of secrets and those never stay buried for long. It’s a shame because due to this everyone seems to have leverage over him. In particular Charlie uses this to his advantage as he first takes money away from each of Axel’s paychecks and then only escalates his behavior from there. It’s why they say once you start running you will never stop. My main issue with Axel is how secretive he is about all of this until it’s too late. I think he could have at least told Tommy his story a little sooner instead of breaking it up into chunks over and over again until he could finally piece the whole thing together.

Axel acts tough but is never able to keep his cool. His empty calls to his parents were also a bit annoying after a while. Calling without saying anything doesn’t help either party. They were a lot more understanding about the situation than he had been giving them credit for as well. Still, the biggest slight to Axel’s character is how he handles the ending. That’s the part that really gets him. To go any further with that would be a spoiler so I’ll have to leave it at this. He is given multiple opportunities to ensure that justice is dealt and each time he decides instead to stay quiet and to flee. He absolutely should have fought hard to break through the people holding him back since this was all on him. Even after that though, he absolutely shouldn’t have just sat there and did nothing. When things got tough Axel didn’t step up and that’s a big shame.

Meanwhile Tommy is a good character. He adds a lot of good humor to the film and is also the voice of reason. He does his best to keep pushing Axel in the fight direction. Nothing gets him down and he is always determined to have a good time. He breaks up a whole lot of fights in the film so the situation would have definitely escalated a lot more without him there to oversee things. He’s easily the best character in the film. Meanwhile his wife Lucy is also a very solid character. They’ve got a good dynamic going. The other heroine gets less of a role. She seems decent but the romance with Axel seems rather fast and forced. Particularly since he does little to actually try and further the romance without a lot of prodding from his friends.

Charlie is the main villain of the film and he makes sure to remind you of this in pretty much every scene. He plays the part rather well as the guy clearly has something over just about everyone on the force. It’s why he can get away with so much since he can expose anyone who gets in his way. It makes you see why it would be so hard for one of the characters to rebel against him. After all, if you cross him then you’ll find yourself out of a job real quick. Still no excuse for Axel’s actions but you can see why nobody else would step up.

The writing is good and the movie does a solid job of balancing out the serious tone with more light hearted moments. Most of the film you could say is rather upbeat but at the same time you know things are going to take a turn. That feeling of dread is why I wouldn’t call this a cheerful film outright. It’s like watching Resident Evil or something. Even if there are a bunch of happy moments at some points like that scene in the town, you know that it won’t last so was it really a happy scene through and through? At the very least Axel and Tommy had a lot of great scenes.

The ending is one of the most important parts of a film though and this movie just couldn’t stick the landing. The last event just feels unnecessary. It would work better in an action blockbuster kind of film because with a lot of battles and going up against big enemies it’s reasonable for this to happen. For a more down to life film like this it’s just pretty tragic. It’s not like this is a movie where you would expect a sequel so there’s no reason to end it like this. What should be a triumphant film at the end just feels like it’s too little too late.

Overall, Edge of the City is a film that I would have recommended for most of its run but after that ending I would have to give it a thumbs down in the end. It’s just not the way you want to end a film like this. Switch the ending and the film instantly rebounds but as it stands you don’t feel like the heroes really got a proper win here. I’d suggest checking out a different film instead like To Sir, with Love which has a more wholesome ending or A Raisin in the Sun. Both of those films are complete titles that do have endings which hold up well.

Overall 4/10

Kirby Star Allies Review

This game has been on my list for a while at this point and now I’ve finally gotten to give it a whirl. Nintendo always delivers when it comes to quality platforming and naturally this game is no different. Kirby has a lot of solid level designs here and there definitely aren’t any real issues or glitches to speak of. The game is quite short though so you’ll be done with it very quickly. While there is a lot of replay value to be found here through other modes, it does keep the game from reaching the next level.

Star Allies starts off with a new threat attacking the world. Everyone is being mind controlled at the moment so they can’t help but embrace the dark power of a shadow heart. Kirby is the only one who can resist so he now has to go through various worlds to stop all of the corrupted. Along the way he will mind control a bunch of villains so that they help him in this quest. Will that really be enough to turn the tables though or will his quest end as soon as it has begun?

You get to see a lot of the familiar faces of Kirby such as Whispy Woods and the thunder cloud. It does remind you that Kirby has had a lot of enemies over the years but at the same time I do think the game could have had a little more fun with this and introduced some new characters. No reason you have to stick with the tried and true opponents right? One addition I liked was seeing Whispy’s father show up to take some names. The boss battle goes in much the same way as the first but it was a change of pace.

Like most Kirby games you can choose to run your way to the end of the level as you absorb enemies and use their abilities or you can cheese things by flying to the top of the level and staying there until you reach the end. It is encouraged to grab some abilities though as they come in handy for the boss fights. Additionally you can mind control up to 3 other characters at a time so that you have some backup going into boss battles. If you die that’s it but these guys can die as many times as needed and you will always be able to revive them. Their attacks do as much damage as yours so they can really be a good help in this game. Ironically the only boss fight I didn’t have them for was in the final level since they all got squashed by a block earlier. Those guys would have been pretty handy.

The graphics are definitely on point as you would expect. This is definitely a Switch game that feels like it’s modern gen. Nintendo doesn’t tend to spare any expense for how good their AAA titles look after all. The game goes all out here and especially in the final level we get some great cosmic backgrounds and even a bit of an energy battle. Meanwhile the soundtrack is definitely on point as well. You should definitely recognize some of the Kirby remixes and of course there are also new tunes to enjoy as well. When you factor all of this in together it makes for a very complete product.

As for the length, as mentioned this game is around 4 hours. You shouldn’t have a problem beating the levels because the game is pretty easy for the most part. I wouldn’t say you’ll see any difficult levels until the final boss which should actually give you a bit of a challenge. Not to much the final, final battle since we go into 3D so that’s more of a cakewalk but the final 2D battle goes all in. There is a good amount of replay value though like the various extra modes you can unlock. Effectively this allows you to play through the game in a lot of different ways to spice things up. There have also been a few free DLC patches since the game came out so this helps with the character roster.

I’m now one step closer to getting all the way through the Kirby series. I still have a few more I have to get but I’m definitely ready for Nintendo to start coming up with some more titles because I am absolutely ready for them. The end of the game has some interesting ideas with a quick villain trio forming their own group as well as their boss. The game feels like it’s just about ready to crossover with LoZ with the final boss’s name even being directly related to Hyrule. I’m always up for crossovers so that would be fun someday.

They were pretty fun villains and I can see why they may get pretty big among Kirby fans. The thunder minion from the main 3 was definitely the best one for me, even surpassing the fire opponent. The sheer speed was quite impressive. As for the main villain himself, his final form has some Undertale vibes there. He was a very interesting opponent and in a way it’s a look at what could happen to the world should Kirby ever turn to the dark side. There definitely wouldn’t be a whole lot that humanity could do at that point and that’s probably what scares them. Kirby is absolutely instrumental to the safety of the universe to the point that there are no other defenses. No Kirby and there is no hope left.

Overall, Kirby Star Allies is a pretty fun game. You’ll be through it in a flash but the platforming is on point and Nintendo definitely has this system down. If you were buying this for 60 you may think that the content is just way too small and that’s fair but now if you can get it for around 30 that’s not too bad. At the very least you’ll enjoy the boss battles and it reminds me of why the free to play game was so fun with all of those endless bosses running around. Experimenting with Kirby’s abilities is always cool and he has so many to choose from that it just works out pretty well. I do hope Kirby keeps up the tradition of every climax suddenly getting super high tier and cosmic, it helps the titles standout and who doesn’t want to save the universe at the end right? It just makes the experience that much more satisfying in the end. We’ll see how the next Kirby game stacks up to this one.

Overall 7/10

Enough Review

Enough is a film where we finally have a heroine trying to frame the main villain as opposed to the other way around. Typically you always see the villains going for this trick so it’s a nice reversal of sorts. At the same time, the film’s tagline and whole promotional campaigns feel like they spoil the ending right off the bar. There isn’t any actual fighting until the very end of the film. If anything it would have been more interesting if we could have had more of a setup to the fight from the start like the lead saying to give her 2 years and she’ll come back with masterful skills. The villain would accept the deal since he’s overconfident and then you’ve got like a Rocky climax. It didn’t quite happen though but that would have been neat.

The movie starts off with Slim working the usual shift at a restaurant when some guy starts flirting with her. This guy’s clearly been desperate for a while as he keeps trying to talk to her and unfortunately Slim humors the guy. That’s when a guy called Mitch shows up and explains that the other guy made a bet that he could get with Slim. Slim’s shocked and the guy runs off. Slim then decides that Mitch must be a good guy so they quickly get married but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Mitch is an abusive cheater who just wants to do whatever he wants while keeping Slim and their daughter as a hostage. Slim manages to escape one day with some help from her friends but Mitch is in pursuit. Can Slim stay one step ahead of him or should she change course and bring the fight to him?

Right away though yo can see how the romance was a bit rushed. Slim knew nothing about Mitch except that he was someone who helped prevent her from getting into another relationship that could have been tricky. It seems like the old hero error. I forget the name of the complex but it’s where someone saves your life so you mistake your feelings of gratitude for love. This seems like that kind of scenario because Slim was ready to date this random guy but then quickly moves on to Mitch and they get married after a montage so presumably a decent amount of time has passed. The issue here is that you can’t be falling for more than one person this easily. Still, clearly it worked out for a while until Slim found out the truth.

She’s a pretty solid main character. Slim tries a whole lot of options before escaping such as visiting the cops and doing research. The tricky thing is that they aren’t really able to do much of anything for her until something actually happens. It’s a pretty big issue in general which is why these kinds of situations aren’t easy even in real life. Particularly in this case since Mitch is rich and has contacts inside of the police so there isn’t a lot that can be done. Pretty much everyone ultimately forces her into becoming a vigilante but Slim deserves credit for trying other options first.

As for her plan, it’s a pretty solid one. Slim figures she’ll break into his house without his knowing about it, and then destroy him. As the poster says, this will be in “Self-Defense.” Naturally if the jury knew about her breaking in and starting the fight then this wouldn’t hold up in court but she makes sure there is no evidence. Stacked in her favor is the fact that she planted a note saying she had accepted his invitation to come in and have a talk. To the jury this will make it look like this was a trap set up by Mitch. Additionally she’ll have testimony from quite a few people that Mitch was a little crazy and she also has the name and identity of at least one person he was fooling around with which will help establish motive.

It’s why framing in general always seems to dangerous because unless you have a Sherlock Holmes or such to crack the case then it’s hard to beat. For example, in this situation the cops have no reason to believe that self defense isn’t the case here because for one, they have no reason to suspect Slim would actually attack this guy and the fall makes the whole thing even more believable. Slim better make sure she actually removes all of the tech and such from the house though. That was the only area where I think she may have made a mistake. The film ends rather suddenly of course but she presumably still left everything inside like the phone jammer, her suitcase, lockpicking tech, etc. If the cops see this it may raise some eyebrows.

I guess we can assume she maybe moved it later or pinned it on Mitch. Either way I would say that the deck is stacked in her favor in this respect. Slim may have had some hesitation at the end and I didn’t like the fact that she pulled movie trope 101 of turning her back to Mitch mid fight to take a phone call which was almost fatal but otherwise she was a quality character. She did her best to protect her daughter and constantly keep on moving. Things were rather grim for Slim but she never gave up and now she can finally have some peace.

One of the side characters here is a guy named Joe. He’s a good friend who steps in to help Slim. I was glad that he didn’t bend to the pressure of Mitch’s hired help. I definitely recommend not opening the door when people come in claiming they have a warrant though. I mean it’s a tough decision because either way you’ll probably get beat up but you can’t trust anyone nowadays. Police uniforms can be forged and warrants can be faked so there’s no true way to know that someone’s on the level. You just have to hope that you aren’t in that situation I guess. Only thing I’d say against Joe is I think his trying to start up a romance with Slim is a little too quick. She’s in an emotionally tricky spot right now and is literally dealing with an evil husband so maybe waiting til after that is settled right?

At least he served as a good ally for her to have around. In general it was nice that Slim actually had some good friends for once. Usually in these films the heroine is all alone but this time you had the buddies from work. In particular they came in clutch early on when Mitch nearly foiled Slim’s escape attempt. Since he knows where they all live they were all taking pretty big risks of their own so now Slim can know that they’re all true friends.

One of the standout characters near the end was Slim’s father. At first he’s your average gangster father who doesn’t want anything to do with Slim but once Mitch threatens him then the guy jumps into action. I like the idea that he only helped just to stick it to the other villains. It’s one of those chaotic kind of moments that just so happens to help the heroine in this case. He may not be a hero but he definitely came in handy when it counted.

Meanwhile Mitch is definitely a bad character as you’d expect. He’s one of those villains who just operates completely on desire and doing what he wants. He is tough when he has a gun and such but otherwise that’s about it. I will say at times he looked a bit like Tom Cruise so it was a bit odd to see him as a crazy villain like this. Cruise has been a villain before but not really a crazy one. Naturally it makes the final fight pretty solid where Slim is taking him down. The film resists the urge to make this a big martial arts battle with a ton of high speed choreography out of a Mission Impossible film but I admit that would have been fun to see. Instead it’s more of a desperate fight with Slim getting to use her training. Her coach deserves a shoutout real quick because he prepared her really well for this moment.

Enough has a solid climax to be sure as things end off on a good note. The journey is also solid as Slim keeps on going from place to place and establishing new identities. Even her daughter was pretty reasonable the whole time as she tried to take things in stride. It’s definitely not easy on a kid to be running around like this. She may have gotten a bit careless with the basketball but you can blame Joe and Slim a bit on that one for letting her out of their sight even for a minute. One other character in the movie is Mitch’s ally who happens to be a cop but there’s not a whole lot to say about him. He lets Mitch threaten and push him around a lot so this isn’t exactly the toughest villain out there.

There’s one character in the film that’s a bit annoying though and that’s the attorney Slim visits. He basically blames her for not going to the cops earlier even though the film already established why that wouldn’t work and you’d think this guy would have known it. At least he let her know that the court date was a trap but she knew that as well. I thought he was going to be more helpful. I guess it was good as a twist of sorts that he wouldn’t help her out at all but you’d think he could have offered up some advice. At the end of the day Slim basically had to do everything herself including thinking up the plan to get a coach and learn how to fight. Definitely the best possible investment she could have made though.

As with some thrillers like this you may have to suspend a little disbelief with how much pull Mitch has. The guy has friends with the cops, mafia, personal security force, he can trick phone operators, etc. Slim literally travels to many different cities and he catches up to her almost immediately. The guy is clearly obsessed and insane so while I don’t think anything he does is completely impossible, at times it feels a little too fast. Right now you can use the internet to find just about anybody but if they move away it’ll still take some time to track their next position, especially with a new identity. That’s just the way it goes though.

Overall, Enough is actually a decent film. This genre can usually get a little dicey like Sleeping with the Enemy which didn’t get the highest of scores. This film allowed Slim to get out a little earlier this time though which was helpful. She didn’t have to put up with quite as much so by the same token Mitch didn’t get away with the same amount of things before her escape. Additionally Slim actually getting to physically beat him up was a nice way to close things out. It’s definitely a vigilante move but the film did show that she tried to use the official channels first so it’s hard to fault or blame her in any way for these steps. Realistically if she didn’t choose to take the attack to Mitch and finish him off then she would likely be dead. I can safely recommend this if you want to check out a pretty intense thriller. Although if I were the film creators I would have marketed this as a normal slice of life romance film because then the twists would be that much more effective. I still don’t understand why the film’s premise spoils almost the entire first 70% of the film but at least it makes it easy to review the film since I can talk about more than usual.

Overall 6/10

The Fastest Gun Alive Review

It’s fairly rare to have a western without much travelling or gunfights but The Fastest Gun Alive manages to pull this off pretty well. It’s more of a down to Earth story about a guy trying to walk away from the business. Unfortunately the main character doesn’t end up being a likable character though as he makes the wrong decisions consistently throughout the movie. The movie survives despite him though and it’s a pretty solid experience. You’ll be kept interested throughout.

The movie starts off with the main villain Vinnie searching for a man named Fallon. Fallon is said to be the fastest gun around. Well, Vinnie takes him down in a gun fight and is now satisfied as the best. Meanwhile, news travels around to a small town where everyone is fascinated by the idea of someone being this fast. This annoys George because he is actually a very good gunman, but he doesn’t let anyone know it. He prefers to live as a very meek shop owner who just minds his business. The issue is that this all starts to get to him more and more. Will he remain strong or is it time to show everyone what he’s got?

Needless to say, George definitely doesn’t stay strong and quickly tries to prove himself to everyone. Part of what makes the character annoying is that he lets everyone get to him rather easily. He doesn’t help matters either by deciding not to dance or constantly going out on walks instead of actually minding the store. He basically leaves all of the work to his wife Dora. We find out later on that George also lied to her about getting rid of his gun when he kept it the whole time. He just made every kind of mistake possible and either got drunk easy after his half a cup or his desperation made him drunk. Either way he definitely did not look good during the whole saloon scene where he is making fun of everyone.

I can maybe get past that except then at the end he is too afraid to go out and fight Vinnie when the villain hears about this. Not only is this directly George’s fault for showing off but he is willing to let the entire town burn if it means that he doesn’t have to fight. It makes sense that some people don’t want t fight in a gun battle of course and George would usually have the right to refuse a challenge but not in this circumstance. It’s only when another member of the town tries to go in his place that George finally works up the courage to act. A lead who wants to be recognized but then immediately regrets it is just too wishy washy to be a quality lead. He should have just been content with the life he had with Dora. She did her best to help out and he wasn’t grateful.

Meanwhile Dora is a solid character. She does her best to keep George on the straight and narrow but at the end of the day she has her limits too and made sure to hold her ground. Moving again wasn’t going to be an option for her. She definitely didn’t support the gun business in the slightest. As for the rest of the town, they all seemed pretty friendly except for one guy who was always getting on George with some passive aggressive comments. It’s clear that the guy had some strong views about guns but at the very least that’s as far as he went. With the rest of the town seeming pretty supportive to me I still say George had a great gig here that he was willing to blow for a few minutes of fame. Even the older man who kept recounting the story about the gunfight was having a good time. It was a pretty thrilling experience for him so why not enjoy it a lot right?

We get one long dance scene in the film where one teen gets to show off his moves. It feels like the potential start to a romance subplot that never actually happens. I feel like there was more that was cut out from the film or something. Still, it’s a pretty solid scene because the moves are quite impressive. He’s able to use all of the objects in the room to his advantage with some tight footwork and clearly he has spent a lot of time honing his skills at the barn. So while the entire scene is really filler to be honest, it’s a pretty fun scene to watch. I’d say it even beats a lot of the more classic dancing scenes you would typically see because this felt more like an athletic exhibition.

Meanwhile Vinnie was a solid main villain. He has an honor code which I like and he was also smart enough to make sure that none of the other two villains would stab him in the back. The guy’s gun skills were also the real deal so he makes for a very complete villain. The icing on the top was the fact that he has a good honor code where he doesn’t attack kids or dogs. You really couldn’t ask for much more out of a quality villain like this. There is a lot of build up to his big fight with George and it makes for an epic way to end off the movie. The ending to the film is quite solid and a great way to wrap things up.

The writing in the movie is on point as you would probably expect. The dialogue is pretty strong and there are a lot of quality discussions the whole time like deciding how to handle the situation with Vinnie getting ready to burn the town. I may not have liked George but he was still written well and never got crazy or anything like that. All of the characters are pretty reasonable and even minor characters like Vinnie’s right hand man get some personality in their brief appearances.

Overall, The Fastest Gun Alive is a solid western film. I like the idea of several characters all fighting it out to prove that they are the fastest. It’s a title they clearly all want to own since it’s a matter of pride. Even George was more into it than he would let on. At the same time as a blind character in the movie said, there is always someone faster. Your opponent could have a jammed gun like someone else mentioned or maybe just a bad day. In a gun draw where both characters quickly try to fire off their shot, there are a lot of ways that things may not plan out as you figured. Every bit of speed comes in handy in those ties though. I would definitely recommend checking this film out if you like the Wild West. It’s an all around solid title.

Overall 7/10

Battlestar Galactica Review

Battlestar Galactica is one of those games that should have been good by all accounts. It’s a Sci-Fi game like Star Fox with a direct plot involving aliens and a main character who’s already showing some sass in the first level. How could it fumble the ball this hard? Well, unfortunately the controls are pretty bad and the game design is even worse. You have to be prepared for an incredibly long level and if you die at any point during it there are no checkpoints. That’s exactly the kind of thing that you don’t want to do.

The game starts off with a bunch of alien robots showing up. They want to destroy the Galactica. Your mission is to stop them and prevent the Galactica from being destroyed. Simple enough right? Unfortunately not really and this was the last level I would see. I gave it a whirl for around 3-4 hours but it was just not enough to get through. You have to see the same cutscenes and dialogue each time too which can get old. The main character constantly saying that he’s not a cadet but the other characters mock him anyway gets old pretty quick. It’s a shame because the main guy had some potential here.

The core gameplay is that you’re in a 3D environment where you have to fly in and start taking names. You have your main weapon, your sub weapon, boosters, and a few other tricks up your sleeve. You can reallocate your stats to increase attack or speed. Additionally you have charge missiles and other weapons by holding down each button. I think this may have been part of the problem though. The game just got a little too ambitious with all of this. At the end of the day the main issue here is there are too many controls. You have so many different attacks and movement options that none of them are actually reliable.

Then you have the fact that the levels are massive so it feels like you are never making any progress. I’m telling you, I’ve gone through that exact same intro so many times in this game that it’s incredibly old at this point. It’s just the same dialogue options over and over and over again. You really need a checkpoint system in this game or in any game with long levels for that matter. The worst feeling is dumping a few hours into something without anything to show for it. While minor, I’d say at least adding a play time ticker somewhere in the game would do it wonders. Then I could at least put that down somewhere as a quick achievement. Without it, the game feels like an empty experience.

The graphics are really good at least. The game looks surprisingly solid for the PS2 era and you could make a case for this looking like a PS3 game. It’s got full voice acting and the soundtrack is on point as well. On a technical level this game can hold its own and that’s more than I can say for other games at this level. That’s part of why the whole situation is tragic since at least some of the departments working on this game seemed to try hard. Just not hard enough to really make this a good game.

So, how would I fix this? Well, aside from adding checkpoints I would remove some of the control options. We shouldn’t have 3 different ways to boost. Make R1 the boost option and otherwise you are accelerating by default. L1 will be to slow down. Square button will fire the homing rockets. No need to have it twice. I would make the lock-on system a whole lot more pronounced so you don’t have to be wondering where the enemies are. Remove the team strategy options or just make it something you control from the pause menu. Same for redistributing your skills in the level, that should be through the pause menu. Now with this we’re cooking with gas.

Next up, instead of making each level 20-30 minutes and only having 7 levels in the game, make it 21 shorter levels. Each level is the objective so the length is more akin to what an average Star Wars or Star Fox level is like. Bite sized levels like that are perfect for objective based games like this one. For that matter they make a lot more sense as well. With these changes I think you can instantly bump this game all the way up to a 7. It would feel like a completely different game in a good way.

Of course at the end of the day that’s all just wish fulfillment. The game exists and nothing’s really going to change that. Perhaps if the developers see this they can use it for context on their next game though. For some reason sci-fi games just tend to have a lot of issues I’ve noticed. Star Trek hasn’t exactly hit it out of the park and then you had that game about visiting planets a while back. Star Wars has had its hits but it’s also definitely had some titles that didn’t hit people the way you would have hoped they did. I don’t get what’s so hard to make about a space shooter. Just look at Star Fox Assault for a good idea of how to handle it. That game is quite old by now and yet to this day it is easily the best sci-fi shooter I’ve ever seen. It could handle both aerial combat as well as on the ground. It’s a true legend.

Overall, Battlestar Galactica is not a franchise that I’ve ever started and this game definitely wouldn’t help me to turn around on that. It’s just not a very well developed game with the level designs being too long and the controls are overly complex. The series in general always seemed like an alternate version of Star Trek so there’s a lot of potential there. We just need a modern game version to really adapt the series and give it more respect with the fundamentals. I think if you handle this right then you may definitely have something here. Until then though, stay far away from this game and buy Star Fox Assault instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Overall 3/10

Sounder Review

Sounder is a film that came out quite a while ago at this point. Whenever a film’s title is the name of a dog in the film you wanna be a little careful because those films can get a little dicey. I’m thinking of the Marley and Me, Lassie, Eskimo Dogs, Old Yeller, kind of titles. They usually tend to fumble the ball and destroy whatever potential they had. Unfortunately this one also massively fumbles the ball at one point which holds the film back. Things were going pretty well but then you enter the point of no return. The film did its best to salvage the situation at the end so it didn’t lose as many points as it could have but it was a shame.

The movie starts off by introducing us to David and his father Nathan. They hunt with their dog Sounder to try and get some food so their family can stay alive. Unfortunately it has been rather difficult as of late and so everyone is starving. Nathan grows desperate enough to steal a steak from one of his neighbors. The Sheriff ultimately finds out it was him so Nathan is sentenced to a far away prison for hard labor. His wife Rebecca now has to really take care of the family by herself with David helping as much as he can. They need to know where Nathan is though so David and Sounder go on an adventure to find him. Can they locate and bring Nathan back?

Lets get the obvious elephant in the room out of the way first. Sounder is the reason why the movie treads on thin ice. He’s a pretty happy dog and a very loyal companion who always does what he can to help. When Nathan is being taken away Sounder steps in and unfortunately gets shot in the process. You do not shoot dogs in a film, that’s just a pretty bad idea. It never has any upside and any kind of plot development you’re trying to tell could have been handled a different way. Sounder lives which is the only reason why this film didn’t sink lower.

The idea seems to be that this traumatized Sounder so now he refuses to bark again until Nathan returns. You could have easily still done that idea with Sounder not barking anymore because he misses Nathan without adding the whole bullet angle. I suppose this is a quick way to build up tension and establish the sheriff as one of the bad guys but it’s not worth the cost. Sounder was certainly a standout character all the way through though.

Meanwhile Nathan’s a solid main character. Naturally stealing the steak was a mistake and he ended up paying for it pretty quickly but the film does a good job of establishing why he made the decision. It’s not like he just decided to be a thief out of nowhere. He’s a fun character and always sees the glass as half full. He has a lot of good banter with the other characters. Rebecca is also a really solid character. She works quite hard to make sure that the family has enough food to survive. Managing the house and working on all the outdoor tasks is certainly a lot of work but she accomplishes it all without any issue.

The kids don’t really get much of a role outside of David. He’s good as the lead kid. I’m not big on having kid main characters for the most part though as they just can’t be as interesting as an older main character. There’s nothing bad about David but there’s only so much he can do to have interesting scenes because he isn’t old enough for banter or to really talk up to the other characters. He’s just a little too young but he does his best to hang in there and try everything he can to find Nathan.

Sounder’s writing is pretty solid. The characters are all established well and the pacing is on point so the movie never drags on either. It’s a very direct adventure with a beginning, middle, and end. The supporting characters hold their own such as the neighbor who supports David in finding some information as well as the school teacher who helps him out and also gives him a lot of hope for the future with education. She doesn’t appear until fairly deep into the film but has a good role. It’s always important to at least have one ally when you’re travelling and this way David finally had somewhere he could rest since pretty much everyone else in that area was acting kind of dangerous. People were very quick to attack him when he was talking around. There isn’t really any filler or stalling, the film just goes straight through its plot.

It’s why it’s still a shame about the shot connecting with Sounder. The film already had established some good tension and a feeling of danger so why shoot the dog? It’s not like it makes their situation significantly worse since they weren’t catching many animals to eat anyway. Knocking Sounder out of play just felt really forced especially since it sidelines him for a good chunk of the film despite the name.

Overall, Sounder is a movie that I can’t really recommend. It comes close but sometimes even one big mistake can hold a film back if it’s big enough. The drama and writing are on point otherwise so if you can get past this then maybe give it a shot. If you’re big into dogs and want something where the dog manages to get through without issue then you may want to check out Underdog instead or something like that. Since this film has other versions I’m hoping Sounder manages to get through without injury next time. He is pretty fit and a solid lead so I would even be cool with the sheriff trying to shoot at him but Sounder just jumping and rolling out of the way of each bullet. That would be pretty satisfying to watch and would still establish the Sheriff as a pretty fierce villain.

Overall 4/10