What’s the Matter with Helen? Review


What’s the matter with Helen? Is one of those films where you know from the jump that it’s probably going to be bad. You’re hoping that maybe it’s still decent or something, but the odds aren’t in its favor. It goes for the usual extreme amounts of shock value the whole time and throws in some animal violence for good measure. The film may not be particularly long but you will be shaking your head the whole time without a doubt.

The movie starts with showing us Adelle and Helen who are the mothers of two kids who became murderers. The world is blaming them for not raising the kids properly and so they have to discard their old identities and go into hiding. Unfortunately, someone seems to have followed them. They get calls from a mysterious man who says that he will be murdering them later on. Helen is terrified of this and wants to just stay home in hiding with Adelle. Adelle isn’t taking this as seriously and says they should just move on with their lives. Both of them are rather extreme in their views but Adelle is taking it a little better.

So, Adelle is right in the sense that you should not live your life in fear. I’m totally cool with that but she takes it pretty far when she starts forgetting to close the door behind her. Now that’s just common sense, why would you forget to do that each night? It’s even worse when someone is threatening your life as well as your roommate’s. It’s a lack of common sense on Adelle’s part.

Still, at least Adelle is trying her best to move on. She started her romance with Lincoln rather quickly but that may have been another way of coping. If she married him and they move off somewhere, perhaps she will be truly safe. Towards the end of the movie she is a bit slow on the uptake though. Lets face it, Helen’s been quite unhinged for a while at this point. Adelle continues to turn her back to Helen though even when things don’t seem to be in a good spot. Rule number 1 of any film even if you’re not a horror title…don’t give your back to someone when they are standing right next to a conveniently placed butter knife.

Now for Helen….I’ve got a lot of issues for her. She starts turning crazy very early on in the film to the point where the movie may have tipped its hand a little too early. You’ll be tempted to think that there never was a phone call if Adelle hadn’t heard it. You’ll be considering how Helen could have faked the call or if she hired someone. Neither option makes a lot of sense though so then you have some potential here.

I forget the exact name of the movie, but it might have been the Crow. Basically the plot is that there’s a villain who has decided to rob a bank and next he is going to murder Vincent Price. If you’ve seen any old film you’ll know…you don’t just bump off someone like Price without a fight. What the murderer didn’t count on was the fact that Vincent was also a criminal and he turns the table in an instant. The would be victim has now become the villain himself. I still remember thinking that was a brilliant twist. It’s why Willie’s Wonderland always looked fun in that sense.

There are so many horror films where the villain is just an ordinary person and yet they’re murdering dozens and dozens of people. After a while you hope that there will be a film where this killer runs into the wrong house and has to deal with someone just as crazy. You probably can’t do this plot too often or it would get old but once in a while? Absolutely that’s an excellent twist and a good way to subvert expectations. Now this might seem to be unrelated but here’s what I’m getting at.

The film could have had a really interesting dynamic with the mysterious caller breaking into the house only to find that Helen isn’t some powerless old lady. That would have made for a great confrontation. Instead the film doesn’t go that route and it’s unfortunate. The route we do go through is pretty much exactly what you would expect from the very beginning of the film. Helen gradually goes more and more insane as she consistently raises the body count.

It’s not a cool kind of insane either so she’s not exactly a villain you could root for. No, she’s still crying a lot the whole time and isn’t intimidating in the slightest. She only claims victory against others who were not expecting a battle or animals who couldn’t possibly fight back. It’s not entertaining at all and is just annoying to see everyone go down so easily. The cast is also pretty small so it’s not like supporting characters could save her. Lincoln is probably the only other real character here and he’s just around for the romance. You shouldn’t be trying to romance a teacher the first time you meet so I didn’t have a great first impression on him.

To wrap this up, it’s a very classic horror type film. It gets rather violent as Helen imagines dead bodies in front of her and stabs people quite a lot. There’s a surprising amount of blood in these murders as well. Then you’ve got the animal violence which really comes out of nowhere and is pretty awful. The film doesn’t have any particularly good scenes to bring it back up either. There’s no line of dialogue that impressed me or a sub plot that was interesting. It’s a movie that flops from start to finish.

Overall, What’s the Matter with Helen is a film that I would highly advise staying away from. Just take a look at the poster so you know how the film will end and then you can save yourself the full experience. A slow decline into madness is the kind of plot that may be easy to show in a film but it’s hard to execute well. This one just went through the motions with no real soul and as a result it was doomed to fail.

Overall 1/10

Ranking all of the Black Clover openings


It’s time to rank all of the Black Clover openings. I recently made it up to the final ending from the Toonami broadcasts and it was quite excellent. It made me think, could this be the best opening? From there I figured if I was going to check out the rest of them anyway that I might as well make a quick editorial/rankings out of it. Typically it can be very tough for an ongoing show to keep churning out consistently great openings. You’re bound to hit a snag at some point or some shows just start keeping the same song for a while but Clover was always good about changing it a lot. Some of these openings I totally forgot about while others are as clear as they’ve ever been.

The only franchises that I would say have been able to maintain a similar level of quality for so long would be the Railleratordex franchise (Railgun, Index, and Accelerator) and Sword Art Online but they would be firmly fighting for second place. Black Clover has 1st in the bag. So without further adieu, lets take a look at the 13 openings from worst to best. I’m ranking them based both on the music as well as the animation contained in them. For any openings that may have more than one version, I’m using version 1 as a reference. Click here for a link to all of the openings in case you want to check them out for yourselves

13. Opening 11

So my least favorite opening is 11. It’s certainly more of a happy opening compared to the others as an arc just finished so the characters are finally getting to relax a bit. The main reason why it loses to the others is that there isn’t a whole lot going on. It’s calm which is nice and all but I would have still liked to have seen some more quality animation here. It just felt more like an opening that was thrown together without any style to it.

12. Opening 12

Next up is 12 so I suppose you can say the ending started to weaken for the series. Following up on 11, we’re still in an era of peace so the opening is more about the characters working out and just having fun. I’ve never been a big fan of that as the action for the openings. Give me some extra fights or something. I do like that part of the music has a very Kingdom Hearts feeling that appears now and again. It’s not quite enough to put this one higher though.

11. Opening 7

I really liked the opening animation here showing the contrast with Asta and Yuno. Both of them have come a long way by this point and still see each other as rivals in the center ring. It’s a great start but the opening starts to lose steam as we get a lot of stills after that. On the flip side, the music really turns up in the second half so this one just didn’t find the right balance to go higher.

10. Opening 5

This opening’s going for full sad vibes. The characters are all dealing with a lot at this point and the music reflects that. It all pairs up well and that helps this opening join the top 10. It’s still not quite energized enough to go higher up but it does serve as a nice change of pace from some of the other openings.

9. Opening 9

Cool that the 9th opening is in 9th place right? This one feels a lot different from the others with how much of a focus the elves get. This almost feels like a story opening as it takes place with Asta and Yuno beginning their counter attack after showing the Elves off. It’s a pretty high quality opening and my favorite part is definitely near the end with the fire fights for the Fuego siblings and Noelle. It was a very strong opening to be sure.

8. Opening 8

This opening really shows how differently the past was for Asta and Yuno compared to the Elves. They didn’t have a care in the world while things were not going quite so well on the rest of the planet. The climax has some big fights as well. What gives it the edge over 9 really comes down to the song. The images are fairly close but this one did have the Asta and Yuno fight and the music just had more energy.

7. Opening 3

It’s really great seeing all of the Black Bulls hanging out and then fighting together. The song itself is also one of the strongest ones from all 13. While the images may not have quite as much weight as some of the ones coming up, this was a good example of how to do a more laidback opening for several sections while still keeping up the tempo and a lot of energy.

6. Opening 6

They went all out with the animation here as we see the various tournament battles. The music works perfectly here and it’s why this opening is so high. It’s got really strong fundamentals with the opening tunes and starts out incredibly strong. The art style effects at the beginning are also pretty unique. Not something you want to see long term but it works for short bursts.

5. Opening 4

This may have the best intro animation to an opening aside from 13. The first shots look amazing and the music has a solid intro. Sadly it seems like they spent the animation budget on the opening so the majority of this one is all stills. It’s why despite having such an amazing song, I have to bump it down a few slots. It’s an opening that’s more fun to listen too than to watch.

4. Opening 1

This one’s an excellent mix of happy and sad moments. You get a nice sense of adventure here but with things not going very well for the heroes on multiple fronts. It’s a very classic opening though and one I’ve heard many times. The song is very strong and I like the dynamic with Asta and Yuno in the opening moments. Age has not held this one back at all.

3. Opening 10

As I mentioned I’m looking at the first version of the opening for ones that have multiple. Version 2 of opening 10 actually looks very happy which shows what a quick background change can do. The original version is incredibly sad and somber though. The opening did a great job of showing how tough things were getting on the heroes. The music follows along with slow beats before speeding up. It works exceptionally well and is definitely one of the best openings.

2. Opening 2

This was the first opening to really go all in with the action scenes. It had a lot more intensity than the first opening. It loses the more somber elements for the most part and focuses on the heroes claiming victory and decimating their opponents. I was really close to putting this one in the number 1 spot but ultimately it has a slower intro than the 1st place intro which never misses a beat.

1. Opening 13

What can I say, the series ended on an absolute high note with this opening. The beginning is a perfect homage to the first one. It’s cool to see how far Asta has come over the years. The music has a very consistent beat and the animation has never looked better. The shots with the Dark Triad are great and the animation even seems to have a bit of a different style with Zenon vs Yuno that worked very well. Yeah this opening could not be defeated and I’ve already heard it dozens of times at this point.

So those are the rankings for Black Clover. Once we get a sequel anime it’ll be fun to hear how those openings turn out. There are several videos that merge all of the openings on Youtube so just put that on loop for a while and you’re set. I probably won’t be doing another opening list for a while but I’ve definitely got a bunch of completely different editorial ideas I’ll throw around here and there. So I’ll see you on the next one!

Final Fantasy II Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 19h 43m
Steps 49366
Gil 372999
Bestiary 68% Complete

Character Levels

Firion

Fist 10
Dagger 1
Sword 6
Staff 1
Axe 1
Spear 1
Bow 1
Shield 9

Maria

Fist 10
Dagger 1
Sword 2
Staff 1
Axe 1
Spear 1
Bow 5
Shield 10

Guy

Fist 10
Dagger 1
Sword 3
Staff 1
Axe 6
Spear 1
Bow 1
Shield 9

Leon

Fist 4
Dagger 5
Sword 8
Staff 6
Axe 10
Spear 7
Bow 4
Shield 5

Wicked Stepmother Review


When you have a film about a wicked witch who joins the family you know that things are about to get rocky for the whole household. Unfortunately the witch tends to take everyone down pretty quickly so you don’t expect a lot of likable characters. I would say that’s true for this one as well. By the end of the film most of these characters just don’t stay strong. It’s a film that will give you a good amount of laughs but doesn’t overcome its negatives.

The movie starts with Jenny and Steve finally heading to her father’s home. He had been pretty quiet lately so they want to make sure he’s okay. Well, it turns out that he married an old lady named Miranda and she has completely changed him. Sam loves watching TV all day now and has stopped being a vegetarian so he could go back to meat. The two of them seem pretty content but Jenny doesn’t like this one bit. She wants her father back to his old self but to her dismay even her husband Steve is getting along with her just fine. Making matters worse is that Miranda’s daughter Priscilla has shown up as well and may try to break their marriage apart.

I’ll give the movie this, the opening scene is legitimately filmed as if this was a horror title. You have a lot of suspenseful music the whole time as an inspector walks in a house and we learn that the tenants have vanished. Apparently someone has been going around bumping people off across the country. We then find out that the family was shrunk into tiny dolls and nearly died since they could have easily been stepped on. At this point we learn that Miranda really does have super powers so this doesn’t bode well for the heroes.

Now, this is a comedy film so don’t think that the whole movie is going to be suspenseful though. It’s because this is a comedy film that they can effectively use horror scenes like that. It’s a great amount of contrast. There’s probably a name for this kind of scene but it’s a scene that’s so serious you can’t help but find it funny since you know the film as a whole isn’t a horror.

The scene with Inspector MacIntosh trying to find the culprit among a group of old ladies made for a fun scene as well. These ladies were really tough as they were beating people up and did not act their age. On the whole I would say the film had a lot of its best gags in the first half. You also have a scene where an old lady throws Priscilla out of the phone booth since she had dibs on the next call.

There’s a fun scene where Priscilla pretends that she is melting as well before revealing that the Wizard of Oz made that up and it doesn’t work on witches. MacIntosh actually going to a school for wizards was genius as well. Honestly, if I found out that witches were for real then it wouldn’t be a bad idea since all the things that I thought were hogwash would suddenly have some merit. It’s just a shame that he didn’t actually learn anything but I would say he had to be the best character in the film by far.

So we’re off to a good start but once we get to the actual film that’s where it falters. So with an evil step mother throwing a hex onto Sam you already know she is going to try this again. She messes with Steve as well. Honestly you expect that he’s going to cheat on his wife with her early on in the film since even as an old lady Miranda seemed to be flirting with him. With Priscilla around…well Steve never stood a chance. The guy faltered quicker than the poor guy in the Cinnamon Toast Crunch parody commercial. Steve didn’t seem devoted to Jenny for more than a few minutes.

The film plays up the fanservice angle with Priscilla quite a lot. Outside of the affair with Steve she gets a very random dance where she also seduces the private investigator that Jenny hired. So much for will power right? Priscilla is able to dominate any man that she sees in moments since as a witch she also has absolute hypnosis in addition to her other abilities. The heroes have no shot right from the jump.

Let me quickly explain the Miranda and Priscilla situation. So, they are mother and daughter, however they can’t inhabit the same body so one of them always jumps into a cat. The body seems to change around the soul so they still look different. It’s a little odd and you’d think that with their magical abilities Miranda could just make herself look young anyway though. If not for the issue of needing another actress in the first place the plot would have made more sense to just have said that Miranda was shape shifting.

Actually…that would have made more sense anyway. Just say she is constantly shape shifting to make it easier to seduce everyone. It also removes some of the plot holes from later on. Alas, the film didn’t go that route. Neither Miranda or Priscilla are all that likable or even logical. With the kind of abilities they have, there is no reason for them to even go through with the theatrics. They could have taken Sam’s money at any point. They could probably conjure it up, but if that’s not possible just mind control him to sign something giving her the money. With witch abilities this would be easy.

Well, we’ve established why Steve’s a pretty bad character and Sam’s in the same boat. He is mind controlled by Miranda rather easily. That leaves Jenny but I didn’t like her either. She really doesn’t give Miranda a fair chance. Yes, we know that Miranda is the villain from the opening scene but she has no reason to believe anything negative about the old lady. Yet from the start Jenny is antagonistic towards her and acts rather rude. It’s hard to find any scene where Jenny isn’t being mean to her.

The film has a lot of fun at Jenny’s expense that’s for sure. It’s all just done so drastically that she ends up being royally unlikable. I liked the investigator she hired except for when he suddenly fell for Miranda’s tricks. That was a low moment for him. At least he got the last laugh in the end I suppose.

We do actually get a real climax for the film though so that was pretty hype. There’s an actual magical battle filled with a building blowing up and both sides actually using their abilities. I wasn’t really expecting much action at all so I’ll certainly take this. The ending even leaves room for a sequel which would certainly be interesting. There’s always potential with witches and magical attacks, the film just needs to focus more on that and less on the homewrecking aspect next time.

Overall, Wicked Stepmother is a film that really does have a lot of good jokes but it’s not enough to distract you from the unlikable cast. Seeing Miranda/Priscilla seduce all of these guys without effort can be a bit much. Tone down the romance/affairs/fanservice and focus more on the actual comedy part of the film. More scenes with McIntosh would have done wonders for the film since he was actually on top of things. The scene of him quitting was pretty powerful and seeing more supporting characters would have been nice. There’s a lot of potential for interesting dynamics here but none of them ended up appearing. Maybe a reboot would have better luck.

Overall 4/10

Only The Brave


It’s time to look at a film based on a true story. As with any film in this style you will probably get the maximum effect if you don’t know about the event it’s based on. I’m not familiar with it myself so I get to be along for the ride as we get twists and turns. I assume it should be pretty accurate to what happened, maybe just some extra drama at most. It’s definitely a complete story either way.

The movie starts by introducing us to Eric who has been trying for years to get his group certified. Right now they can advise the fire fighters on how to handle a fire but they have no actual power and just get ignored all the time. Well, they finally have a chance to do this but they will have to handle the fires really well and impress the top brass. Eric is going to have to do this with a team that has quite a lot of new members on board as well. Hope these guys are ready because it’s time for the Hot Shots to do their thing.

In part the film can also work as an educational one since the movie discusses the different type of fire fighters. The Hot Shots for example are the guys who are allowed to fight fire with fire and actually get on the ground to do the job. You’ve got the planners who stay from afar and do directing as well as many other functions. Considering that these kind of wild fires are so dangerous and move with tremendous speed, it’s easy to see why there has to be so many rules and protocols here.

Even now people will die if they’re not prepared for a fire. Nature is one of those things that never fully gets conquered. Eric’s main challenge to get through is that he is currently having a lot of arguments with his wife. Originally when they married they agreed that they wouldn’t have kids and she didn’t mind being home alone while he would be out all day. Amanda has since changed her mind though and wants kids now but Eric doesn’t want to sacrifice his firefighting career.

There’s a lot of drama here to be sure. Eric doesn’t handle it very well at times to be sure. He tries to avoid the issue most of the time. Still, I do think he’s right when he says that they had an agreement. They both decided not to have any kids so it’s a bit late to be changing your mind on such a huge topic. It’s one of those things you always want to discuss before marriage for this precise reason and why you shouldn’t do so in the hopes that you’ll change the other person’s mind eventually. It just gets risky without a doubt and there’s constant tension in this plot between the two characters.

Then you have Brendan who is the other main character. He’s had a very checkered past involving a lot of drugs and affairs. He finds out that one girl he would hang out with named Natalie is pregnant and about to have a kid. Now he has to try to finally be responsible and help her out but she isn’t particularly interested in being with him. Brendan’s family is also ashamed and have kicked him out. Being a Hot Shot member is all that’s left to him now but perhaps it will be the stability he needs.

Brendan is doing his best to turn over a new leaf and that’s the bulk of his plot. He doesn’t have nearly the same kind of preparation and years of training that the others have but he has determination and a drive to succeed. He is trying his best the whole time so you can certainly root for him. Natalie also did well to survive on her own for so long and she gives Brendan a second chance. This subplot definitely appears as a much more positive note than the first one.

There are other members of the Hot Shot crew but the focus is certainly on the main two. The rest seem like reasonable members. Of course you have the one guy who’s a jerk to Brendan at first but he eventually mellows out and never gets too petty about it. Not everyone on the crew is necessarily a nice guy and a lot of threats are thrown around but they usually come through when it counts.

The visuals for the fire are definitely intense. Some of this would work rather well in an end of the world kind of film. The soundtrack is also good. There’s one theme in particular that even sounds like it could have come out of Tron. It’s got a bit of an electronic vibe to it which is nice to see.

For the most part, Only The Brave is a pretty light hearted film. It tends to touch on a lot of serious themes and gets grim at times but by and large I would call it light hearted. As for the ending, well if you know how the story ends then you’ll know if it’s happy or sad. It’s certainly not a cliffhanger type ending so no sequel here.

Overall, Only the Brave is a drama film with quite a lot of fire going on. It can be happy at times and it can be sad at others. Films based on true events certainly vary a lot depending on what the story is. You’ll know right away if it’s your kind of film or not. The characters tend to make a lot of mistakes here and go at each other but you don’t really know if this is for extra drama or presumably we knew this about them. Knowing that the film is based on a true story always adds another layer to the experience. It’s a lot to take in but you should know more about how to deal with fires by the end of watching this. So if this sounds like a story you want to watch then check it out and if not, then you can always read a news article about it instead.

Final Fantasy II Review


This game has certainly been sitting on the backburner for many years. After beating the original Final Fantasy I tried to get in on the action with the sequel but I just couldn’t pull it off. The gameplay didn’t click. Well, I finally played it from start to finish and I have to say that my view hasn’t changed a whole lot. The story is the strongest part of the game even if it doesn’t touch the newer ones.

The basic plot is that the world is under attack by the Emperor. He has decided to rule over everything just because he can. The heroes are in a rough spot so the queen will now rely on a talented swordsman named Firian, a mage known as Maria, and a strong axe user named Guy. The three of them will need to travel the world and get strong enough to defeat the Emperor. Do they actually have enough strength to do so though? The Emperor has many powerful allies as well as pretty impressive tech at his disposal as well.

This is one of the first games where it took me way longer to complete than the estimated time on the “How long to beat” site. My time nearly doubled it I think at around 20 hours. It’s pretty difficult and that’s due in large part to how the level up system works. See, you don’t have straight level ups like 1, 2, 3. Instead you level up your proficiencies and stats in battle one by one.

Lets say you defeat a minion but you took a hit in the process. You have the potential to increase your max health, speed, defense, and attack power. If you used magic during the battle you may increase that as well. You passively level up your weapon skill as well depending on which kind you have equipped. You can already see how a lot of this is luck based. You increase the chance of increasing your proficiency but it’s not guaranteed. There are a lot of other factors here as well like the strength of your opponents and the duration of the match.

It’s not a very satisfying way to level up though because it’s hard to see when you’re really getting better. You also need to make sure you choose the right spells and weapons or you’ll be wasting your time leveling up something that you’ll never need. Your 4th member of the team also tends to change every other chapter so don’t get too attached. Often times when they leave they will never return so say good bye to any level ups you got.

The weapons also don’t seem very balanced to the point where I discarded them entirely by around the halfway point of the game. Instead I focused on using the barehanded techniques for the climax and honestly they seemed better than weapons anyway. I would always deal heavy damage while the weapons would falter at the worst moments. I have little doubt that the weapons would ultimately be better than bare handed but at least to the point where I was up to this did not seem to be the case.

The final boss was very difficult to defeat like this though. RNG is partially what got me through. See, his attacks were strong enough to not only finish me in a single hit but also replenish almost all of his health. Of course, that was only with physical attacks. On one of my runs I got lucky because he kept spamming magical spells which deal far less damage. I was able to buy just enough time to defeat him before he healed. Even now I think I would have a very hard time trying to defeat him again. It’s rare for things to work out in quite the same way they did here.

I don’t understand why the game went so far as to also make the equipment work against you. Wearing heavier items makes it harder to dodge but you can’t see how heavy something is without going to your character status page and leaving the item screen. Everything just did not feel very intuitive at all. Perhaps there was an easier way and I just didn’t find it. It seems like Final Fantasy II was meant to be very experimental but in this case I felt like it just back fired completely.

FF II’s spawn rate is also extremely high. Enemies are constantly attacking you every few steps. I was able to get in a lot of good reading during every dungeon. I would just keep spamming the attack button as I read through the God of High School chapters. I finished over 100 chapters as I played through this game because the battles took forever and there were so many of them. It was also uniquely useful to multi task in this game since I didn’t need spells and could just use normal attacks for every minion encounter. If I had nothing to distract myself with that would have hurt though.

Final Fantasy II also suffers from being unclear at times. You just don’t know where to go or what to do in order to advance the plot. The worst is when you’re supposed to talk to someone again and forgot to do so. So you go to the next temple but it’s still closed so you have to travel the world again in order to open it. You don’t get to fly until the very end of the game so prepare for a ton of walking. The game doesn’t give you any real shortcuts either so you really feel like an explorer. Just not in a fun way this time.

I could go on, but as you can tell pretty much none of the gameplay elements worked for me. It’s just a title that offered no qualify of life features. The graphics are good though. The character portraits are on point and I did like the minion designs. The game has a very retro sprite look which works well enough. The soundtrack is also very classic Final Fantasy with how each tune sounds. It’s all got a lot of energy and works really well.

As for replay value, by beating the game it seems like you do unlock some kind of new game+. I’m sure that will take you quite a while. Considering that the game is 20 hours long to defeat once, this is probably a 40 hour game or so. I’m not sure what the price is nowadays but it was pretty cheap before so I doubt it would set you back all that much.

Overall, Final Fantasy II is one of the weakest Final Fantasy games for me. In fact, I would have to say it loses to Final Fantasy VII and is my least favorite title. VII has the better gameplay, characters, and stories so II loses around the board to me. Don’t get me wrong, the story is fun and all but it just doesn’t make up for the game’s weaknesses. I don’t really see myself recommending this title to others as well. I’m glad that it helped continue the franchise into its current state but this is an entry you can skip.

Overall 5/10

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Review


It’s time for the remake to the film I just reviewed. When you watch both of these films back to back you can really compare their strengths and see which one comes out on top. Ultimately I would say this one definitely beat the original. Both of them are solid and so I wouldn’t say the gap is big or anything but I was really able to get behind the remake. I felt like the main characters were stronger and with the added time you could do a lot more. Although ironically the villains have almost 0 development.

The film starts with Ben and Jo on vacation with their son Hank. They’ve had a pretty fun time of it so far and have a few more stops left. They nearly get into a fight with someone on the bus though when Hank steals something from a lady. They are saved by the intervention of a guy named Louis who is eager to know everything he can about Ben. He asks a ton of questions and every time Jo tries to ask him something the guy ignores or and asks Ben some more questions. Ben loves talking about himself so this is a fine set up for him. After telling Louis where they are staying, how long they will be staying and where they will go next, Louis leaves.

Jo warns Ben that he’s making some big mistakes with giving all the info away but Ben’s confident he’ll be okay. Louis ends up getting murdered but quickly tosses Ben a note. Ben thinks about telling the police but then he gets a call warning him not to tell them anything or Hank will die. Turns out that they swiped Hank away under the guise of a nice neighbor taking him home. Ben tries to gently break the news to Jo but she doesn’t take it very well. The two of them are going to need to try and track Hank down but it’ll be difficult since they aren’t exactly used to dealing with the underground. All they’ve got as a clue is a location from the note.

Like in the first film we get the return of the Church led by one of the villains. This time they aren’t worshipping the Sun though so it’s not quite as outlandish. It’s interesting because this could have been game set and match for the villains if there was any way to leave the Church without being noticed. Unfortunately for the heroes that isn’t exactly possible. In a small setting like that, everyone notices when you get up and the villains have a plan for everything. It was fun to see the various stare downs in there as well.

This time around we don’t get a big shootout climax. In fact, the climax is very low key with things happening quickly but quietly. The ending just sort of happens as we cut away from what would have presumably been the full climax. It’s a solid ending but I do think the first movie has the edge in that area. I was glad Ben went for the shove at one point since it’s always something I feel more heroes should do. Look, if you are being held at gun point and the guy is at your side instead of behind you, just quickly shove into him.

At that angle he can’t hit you in the head and a heart shot is unlikely. So now you’ve got him on the ground and even if you’re wounded perhaps you can hold him down until someone arrives to help. At the very least Hank is safe no matter what so you’ve accomplished your main objective. It’s certainly a whole lot better than just accepting your inevitable death. Because if you follow this guy into a car or a dark alley that’s all that awaits you. At least this way you have a chance.

Hank doesn’t do a whole lot in this film. He’s just a kid after all so he gets kidnapped and tricked but that’s about it. Jo’s a solid main heroine. I wish she wouldn’t panic quite as much when she learns about Hank going missing but after that initial scene she handles the rest of it pretty well. She was key in helping out at the opera as well as executing the big plan at the end involving her songs. She took a fairly large role in getting Hank to safety.

The same can be said for Ben who does his best to take on this criminal enterprise. He may not have experience but he’s got determination which is important. In this version of the film he’s with Jo a lot more while in the first film he was teaming up with the older fellow. The change makes sense since this way both parents get a sizable role here.

As mentioned before, the villains aren’t very memorable though. You have the old lady who starts to think that maybe she’s on the wrong side here. It’s way too late if you ask me though. She was completely fine with kidnapping the child and it was obvious what would happen to Hank in the end. Getting cold feet now doesn’t make her more heroic. The other villains are mainly just here as part of the story but don’t have a lot of character. At best you have the friend of the prime minister who had an interesting personality. He certainly doesn’t excuse failure a whole lot but as a political head he can’t go around shooting people either so he’s in a bit of a bind.

Overall, This was a pretty solid remake. The writing was very good as expected and I thought the characters were an improvement over the first film except that the villains were not memorable. The film had a little more humor than the first film and it all landed pretty well. One of the better gags was the main characters having to rush out all the time to the confusion of their friends and family who had gone over to have some fun with them. It wasn’t quite the house party they had in mind that’s for sure. I’d recommend checking this one out. Unless you want to compare both titles directly and just want to watch one, I would say this is the definitive version of the movie to check out.

Overall 7/10

The Man Who Knew Too Much Review


Whenever you know too much it can be tricky. Knowledge is hidden away for a reason after all and when you find out what it is, you’ve just put yourself in a whole lot of danger. It’s something that the lead characters learn quickly here although it’s not knowledge that they tried to learn so you can’t blame them. It’s a pretty solid suspense thriller with a surprisingly action packed climax.

The movie starts with Bob and Jill enjoying a nice vacation with their daughter Betty. Unfortunately Betty does wreck Jill’s chances of winning a shootout though by causing a lot of noise and distractions. She was goaded on by another character but it was still a tragic way to start the day. Bob and Jill head back in to have a good time but then a mysterious person they didn’t know very well hands Bob a letter and quickly gets murdered. Bob is about to tell the police about this when he reads the letter and sees that it’s a threat. If he tells anyone what he knows then Betty will die.

Bob confirms that Betty is gone and so this threat cannot be taken lightly. Bob needs to find these guys and fast so he heads out with Clive. The reason for urgency is that the cops are slowly gaining ground on the villains as well and if they do catch them, the antagonists may believe that Bob spilled the beans and take out Betty. The heroes will have to go to some dangerous places and dark alleys to find them. Meanwhile Jill has to do her best to stop another assassination attempt from taking place.

There’s a lot going on here which is something you always want to be able to stay about a thriller. Bob goes to different places from street corners to dentists to corrupt churches. In the dentist scene I was impressed with how he turned the situation around. Usually when the villain grabs their tube and starts to hit you with the knockout gas, the character will immediately fall to the ground and have no tolerance for the stuff. It’s not a very impressive look for them but Bob was able to rip it off and take the villain down. Now that was impressive.

In general I thought Bob was very good. He did a lot of the legwork in trying to find Betty and put himself in peril many times. He didn’t crumble under the pressure and kept a cool head about everything. His partner Clive also deserves a lot of credit for sticking with him on the adventures. He had a particularly rough time at the dentist’s office and was still able to keep it moving. He was certainly a loyal companion.

Meanwhile you also have Jill doing her best to handle this. We saw in the opening scene that she is good with a gun so the whole time you’re waiting for the payoff on this. Fortunately it does arrive and as the film’s climax is a giant shootout, that makes sense. This way each character got to contribute which was good. Only Betty didn’t I suppose but as a kid there’s not a whole lot she could do. The villains treated her pretty well at least so the experience wasn’t too traumatic.

The climax was extremely explosive though which is still surprising. The villains decide that they won’t go out without a fight and the nonstop shooting between the heroes and villains commences. The police didn’t look very impressive with their counter strategies though. If you see that your guys are going down one after the other you should probably rethink your strategy of plunging forward. They don’t and so by the end of the film a few villains have managed to take down almost 2 dozen cops. That was pretty crazy and I wish we had seen more tactics.

The main villain here is Abbott who looks shifty from the start. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll figure he is the villain almost as soon as he appears. You have the sinister music/atmosphere when he shows up and there aren’t a whole lot of other suspects anyway. Abbott does make for a good villain though. He seems a little insane but that’s not surprising for a villain like this. He’s the brains of the operation and the rest of the villains are fairly expendable to him. He made it pretty far in this plan.

The only character who didn’t seem to have much of a clue the whole time was Louis. I dunno, I suppose the whole thing wasn’t his fault since he had a mission to achieve but it felt like he didn’t act too cautiously. You’d never know that he was a professional agent with the risks he took. The guy thought he was James Bond with how he would party and hang out. I’m mixed on him since a decent amount of that may have been his cover. If he could have taken a few villains down before going out that would have helped.

The film is very strong all around though. The characters are good and the script is really solid. I’ve probably said this a thousand times but I love the good banter in the old school titles with the heroes and villains. There’s always a very fake polite type dialogue going on between them. If you read the text through an emotionless machine you could think the characters were friends but it’s all in how they talk to each other. The pacing is on point as well.

Overall, The Man Who Knew Too Much is a solid thriller. It is pretty tense with the child being kidnapped and all. We also get some rather atmospheric locations like the fake church. The characters balancing their attempts to save their kid while also being subtle or they will put her in more danger was effective. The cops also looked decent here as they were beginning to find Abbott, I just wish they had looked better in the climax. There’s no scenario where running into a stronghold filled with guns is a good idea without some kind of cover. You gotta be ready to adjust and then fight back.

Overall 7/10

Saboteur Review


It’s time for a film that I saw quite a while ago so it’s about time I did the review. It’s an engaging thriller with a lot of fun characters and a good conspiracy angle. It will definitely hold your attention from start to finish. The film feels short while you’re watching it but the length is on point.

The movie starts out with a few guys at an army base ready for another day. Barry bumps into a rather ill mannered guy named Fry who doesn’t seem to want to be here. Barry doesn’t think much of it but then a fire breaks out. Fry hands Barry a fire extinguisher that was actually loaded with fuel. This would have been the end of Barry but his friend offered to help stop the fire and got the booby trapped device. He dies and now everyone thinks Barry is the saboteur. Barry needs to find a way to clear his name and to do that he will need to find the man named Fry. Fry conveniently escaped at the time of the explosion though and there’s no trace that he was ever here.

You could say that the majority of this film plays out like an adventure film. Barry is on the run from the world and the only hint that he has is a post card Fry dropped that references a farm somewhere. He hitches a ride and makes it over there but it’s not so easy or the film would be 30 minutes long. Lets just say that this is a global conspiracy and Fry isn’t a 1 man army. He has friends that are helping him achieve his goals and Barry finds this out the hard way.

Barry ends up getting captured and put into a tough spot more than once. What makes a lot of these adventures fun though is that the dialogue is really good here. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you but the script is on point and it helps to enhance the pacing. The characters have fairly layered discussions on the situation. Barry questions why they are even doing this a few times. The villains say they can’t stand the U.S. but as Barry points out, they’ve done rather well for themselves in the country.

I wouldn’t say any of the villains are particularly memorable as far as their names go aside from Fry, but I did like the owner of the ranch a lot. He was really smooth with getting Barry to drop his guard down. He acts nice enough and even has his kid around despite being ready to take Barry out at any moment. Even his maid has a gun at the ready. See, a lot of the villains in this film have a good amount of political influence and have positions aside from being mobsters. It’s part of what makes them hard to stop like in the party scene near the end.

It’s hard for people to believe that these guys are spies. It’s also a hard sell to believe some random person you’ve never met before over people you have lived and chatted with for decades. Barry only has one ally and I hesitate to call her that. Early on in the film he ends up heading to a shack where a blind man allows him entry. They get along pretty well and the guy figures out what secrets Barry is hiding very quickly. He’s without a doubt one of the best characters in the film.

His niece Patricia is not quite as reasonable. She just wants to arrest Barry at any cost and doesn’t believe him one bit. Now, it’s fine that she’s skeptical, it’s not a story that just anyone would buy. It’s all quite incredible but then she shouldn’t lie about it. Be straight with her uncle that she doesn’t believe Barry or let him go but pretending to take him to the locksmith and going to the police instead is pretty fishy.

Now, the uncle’s lock picking friends turned out to be a little dicey as well but leave that for Barry to figure out. Instead it takes a lot longer to get to the destination and gets risky. Right through to the end Patricia is still making calls. I’d give her more props for being heroic if she handled things differently but as it is she just gets in the way. By the time she weakens and joins Barry for good it feels like it’s a little late in the game.

Barry’s a decent main character but I wouldn’t say he’s great either. He could have done a much better job of explaining himself. When Patricia says she’s cold he immediately uses this as an excuse to start flirting as well which just doesn’t seem like a very heroic thing to do. I’d like to see him focus more on trying to stop Fry and saving the world. He doesn’t tend to enter the situations very well prepared but fortunately luck is usually on his side.

Overall, The Saboteur is a pretty good film. The plot is interesting and the dialogue between the characters is a blast. I would say the villains tended to be more interesting than the heroes though. I liked the Uncle a lot with his brief screen time though. Barry and Patricia could have been stronger but I wouldn’t say they were bad either. They just needed some kind of boost to make them better leads. If you’re up for a good spy thriller then this is definitely a solid one to check out.

Overall 7/10

Nagisa Kaworu vs Ironman



Suggested by iKnowledge Nagisa Kaworu has now entered the fray. He’s got a pretty tough mech unit at the ready and shouldn’t be underestimated here. At the same time, he does make for an easy target and Ironman is no stranger to using robotic suits. His speed will be enough to land solid blows on Nagisa throughout. Nagisa may have the edge in terms of offensive firepower, but it won’t be enough here. Ironman wins.