The Giant Claw Review


The Giant Claw is a film that I saw quite a while ago so this review’s been living on the backburner. It’s not particularly noteworthy, but at the same time the film does really succeed on all of the fundamentals of making a giant monster film. You’ve got a solid cast, a good monster, and excellent writing throughout. It’s probably one of the better American monster films and yet you just won’t remember it much when you’re done. After all, why watch this one when you can go check out a Godzilla film with Rodan?

The film starts off with Mitch test driving a plane. He’s more of an electrician than a pilot, but he likes being in the air. Unfortunately he sees a giant monster and alerts the government so some pilots scramble to stop it. This leads to one of them vanishing and everyone blames Mitch. They believe he was making things up. They start to sing a different tune once more pilots start getting knocked out of the sky. Now the real question is whether they can even stop this monster!

I liked the monster’s design. He looks like a giant rooster and has quite the appetite. You should hear the way he crunches up the competition! The film does a good job of introducing this bird as a serious threat and he really does terrorize the world. When you think about it, that’s why a flying Kaiju is the scariest creature of them all. You can’t escape a winged menace and you certainly can’t corral it.

Meanwhile Mitch is a pretty good main character. He’s immediately introduced as a bit of a rebel. Since he doesn’t work directly for the army he is able to get away with a lot more like driving crazy and talking back to the government. Mitch does have the bad tendency of getting awful sulky very quick though. Everyone tends to hurt his feelings and he always starts out talking tough but ends up losing the verbal battle by the end. He does do a good job of trolling the heroes at the end when the machine seemingly blows up though. He didn’t mean to troll them of course, but it worked out just right so he played along. Considering the stakes that was definitely impressive.

It’s just his bad luck that everyone is pretty skillful at arguing in this film. It came out in a time when the writing was absolutely dynamite for these movies. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest to see that this was the case here as well. It really lets you get into the film and fully appreciate the drama and story. There isn’t a very large cast as it’s really just Mitch and the heroine. Sally’s a good character as well and does come up with the best plan in the film. Everyone else forgot that there were cameras in the area that could spot the bird. Of course, Sally was in the best position to realize this since it was her project which involved the cameras. It was a good way for her to contribute and in general she does a good job here. She doesn’t faint or anything and is always right in the thick of the action with Mitch. She even uses a gun herself which was definitely nice. She’s a pretty good shot as well.

Now you may be wondering which side I was on, well I was definitely rooting for the giant bird. The humans end up shooting his eggs to prevent the birds from multiplying and in that moment I knew that the bird was the only creature who deserved to win. The baby birds in the eggs didn’t ask for any of this. As for the Giant Bird, it’s definitely pretty emotional when it goes down for the count. It did a pretty good job and took down a lot of opponents, but in the end the army was just too much for it.

There is one really random scene where a bunch of teenagers show up in a car and start mocking Mitch. Naturally they’re all quickly eaten, but the scene just comes out of nowhere. It’s so random that it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. I don’t think the scene is meant to be for laughs of course, but you definitely knew that the teens were gonna be in trouble as soon as they showed up.

Meanwhile, the army definitely looks good even if they are slow on the uptake by the end. Even after Mitch is proven to be correct and there is a giant bird murdering everyone they still try to act tough. When Mitch comes in with a plan the general immediately interrupts him, starts talking about how there’s no time for nonsense, etc. Did he not remember that Mitch is the one who was trying to talk to them from the start? It seemed to be a bit much. On the whole the army did look really good though. I do like how they’re all down to business and have a pretty gruff exterior as they banter with the other characters. They’re definitely not to be trifled with and while the army does get wrecked for a while they did put up a good fight. (After all, the Giant Bird has a full anti matter shield so there’s not much you can do about that. Definitely a cool power btw)

Overall, The Giant Claw is a pretty solid film. As I mentioned, it really succeeds in all of the fundamentals so that guaranteed that it would be solid. It doesn’t really do anything all that special and it’s pretty basic, but that’s why execution is always so important. If the film is weak at anything it just does have a bit of a rushed climax. Once they get the tech to stop the barrier and confront the bird it’s all over as soon as it has begun. I suppose without the shield the bird isn’t all that strong so it makes sense, but I would have liked for it to have fought them off a bird more. All films have to come to an end at some point though so I suppose it makes sense. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then I would recommend changing that. It’s not a well known monster title, but as long as you like the genre you should definitely be able to get behind this one.

Overall 7/10

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review


It’s time to look at the second Fantastic Beasts film. I’m really still not sold on this series. Try as it might, this title just isn’t nearly as fun or interesting as Harry Potter. I can’t think of a single way in which it matches up. The title doesn’t even make any big mistakes like animal violence or being super violent. There isn’t even any fanservice to speak of. The main problem with Fantastic Beasts is just the fact that there currently aren’t any real likable characters. Everyone’s just fairly annoying and so without anyone to root for the film becomes less engaging than it should be.

The film starts off with a flashback as Grindlewald escapes confinement along with one of his henchman and begins to amass his army of followers. We cut to the present where Newt refuses to join the Wizarding army and has his VISA denied. He makes contact with Dumbledore who tells the kid that he must do one of two things. He needs to either take down Grindlewald (HA!) or he can find Credence and prevent him from turning to the dark side. Newt agrees to do this, but quickly gets sidetracked by a romance plot involving Jacob and Queenie which takes up a large chunk of the film. Meanwhile Grindlewald has to get Credence to he can destroy Dumbledore. To accomplish this he prepares to unleash some spectacles on the world which will wow the people with low will power to his side.

Quickly we’re gonna jump way out of order and talk about the ending. The film had the perfect chance to salvage the whole 2 hour experience with a single line. Grindlewald is explaining to one character what his true name. The final line of the film should have been “I now dub you…VOLDEMORT!!!” and then have the film end with an extremely loud guitar solo followed by some fast paced rock music. The revelation would have shocked everyone to the core because of how little sense it would make but it would have been absolutely amazing. I would have gained so much respect for the film. It would have finally tied into Harry Potter.

See, that’s one of the big problems here. This spinoff is like Attack of Titan Before The Fall. It really has almost nothing to do with the real series. Sure, Dumbledore is here and Nagini finally gets to appear, but their roles are pretty small so far and it’s not like they were huge characters in the main series. I want to see Harry or Snape! Too bad the prequel takes place so far in the past right? So, really the prequels need to try and develop their own series so they can be a solid entry in their own right without tying into the present. the problem is that the story’s just not interesting.

It’s a shame because at the same time I do appreciate the ambitious nature of the film. It may sound contradictory, but I think the overall plan for the film wasn’t bad, it’s just that the execution was painful. This film is clearly trying to throw in a bunch of plot threads which will all get wrapped up in the future. It can work out really well like in the old Spider-Man comics where at one point you had almost 10 different subplots going on in the background. When handled right it makes each issue a whole lot more exciting or in this case it would help the future films. There would be so many characters running around in the background that it would keep you really hyped. The problem is that this only works if you really enjoy the characters or find the plots engaging which is what the film fails to do. It’s more focused on the plot than the characters and you gotta have both. I do think huge fans of the Harry Potter lore may still be excited about all this, but it really wasn’t doing much for me.

The Ministry of Magic is really stuffy and antiquated. There’s no reason to root for them because their rules aren’t very sound. They are determined to keep the magic and human worlds separated to keep the balance so it’s no wonder why people are betraying them. They are trying to rule over everyone and that never goes well. All they do is hold each other back like when they shackled Dumbledore. The cabinet leader admitted that the principal was the only one who stood a chance against Grindlewald and even then he did this. The group makes no sense so I agree with Newt on not joining them. Still, they are the lesser of two evils so lets keep that in mind.

Then we have DUMBledore. All right, maybe not all of this is his fault, but we can blame him for quite a lot. That bloodpact he made a long time ago is really causing him trouble here. Even if he can’t attack Grindlewald directly he can still attack his troops. After all, Grindlewald has absolutely had no problems attacking Newt and every other hero here. Seems to me like Dumbledore is hiding when everyone was counting on him the most. He gets a tremendous amount of hype here, but he has yet to do anything of note. All he does is teleport and run around a lot. He also needed help getting the cuffs off. At this point in his career Gandalf had done more to prove himself so Dumbledore better shape up.

As for Newt, I still don’t like the guy. He’s constantly acting petty and being a downer in every single situation. He never explains himself and always has a sulking expression on his face. The guy’s too timid to be the lead and his magic skills don’t seem terribly advanced. He seems like a nice enough guy, but someone who should really be a member of the supporting cast and not trying to be Harry’s successor. Tina is the main heroine (Well, debateably. In the first film it was unquestionably her, but her role is reduced here) and she is a lot more interesting. At least she is actually being very pro active in trying to stop the villains even if her progress is quite slow like the others.

Then you have Jacob who gets mind controlled in his first scene. Don’t worry, he’s not being used as a hostage or anything, but he might as well be since he was nearly forced into marriage. By the time the spell breaks he tries to recover, but I think he could have been a little stricter with Queenie about not doing that again. He’s just not safe as she can dominate his mind at any point. Meanwhile, Queenie makes no sense here. Why show up at Newt’s place when he would obviously know that a spell was active? She should have gotten married first if she actually wanted to get away with the plan. She also has low will power and makes all of the worst decisions in the film. She definitely had a very different character arc than what I was expecting. It’s handled pretty well, but there’s no way I’ll be a fan of hers after this.

Then we have another plot with Credence and Nagini. Credence is one of those characters that everyone is hunting for different reasons. That can go down an interesting path of course as it’s always interesting seeing what side the character will choose. Unfortunately Credence has about as much agency as a pawn in Chess and just goes where the flashy colors are. In this case they belonged to Grindlewald so that’s it for him. He seems like the type of character who will be manipulated with ease. Nagini’s certainly a lot more interesting although I can see this being the start point for her descent into darkness.

Then we have the main villain Grindlewald himself. The film sets him up as being the big villain right away as even children aren’t safe from his terrors. He’s certainly got big goals, but is taking his time in going about them. Since he’s apparently the strongest sorcerer out there I’d like to see him make some more direct moves soon. I know that with magic there are a lot of convoluted reasons on why they must wait, but he needs to take the stage more. Just look at the climax. He murdered a bunch of spell casters with ease just with a single spell. He nearly took down all of Paris! If it’s that easy he should just keep blasting away. I get the feeling that he’s going to have some pretty big fights coming up.

The effects here definitely look really good. The magic spells are on point and the aerial fight with the lightning bolts coming down was definitely handled really well. More fights like that and the film definitely would have went up. The movie is at its best when we’re getting magical battles like that. Unfortunately they are few and far between. It does show the potential of the series though as we could potentially get more moments like that which would be very cool. It’s definitely jumped up visually from the last film. That’s a good thing since the average scenery in this film isn’t all that fun to look at. It does take place in the 1970s I believe though so that’s likely intentional. The effects are what you’ll be looking forward to.

Overall, I would have liked the film to have had some court scenes given that the title is literally referencing Grindelwald’s crimes. Instead he doesn’t do a whole lot after he escapes. The big climax at the end is pretty great and certainly the best part of the film. The characters all have to make a choice and it does set the stage for the third film to be the big payoff moment for a lot of characters. At the same time, this title really dragged its feet the whole time and still hasn’t given us a reason to root for most of the cast. I dare say that most of the Harry Potter characters had more personality after 1 film than these guys have after 2. I’ll stop comparing the two titles now, but Fantastic Beasts really needs to step it up. The review probably sounds pretty negative, but I’d still give this one a positive score. It just feels like empty world building right now and so there’s very low replay value. It still makes for a good initial watch though. I’d recommend checking it out if you like fantasy titles or are a big Harry Potter fan. That’ll let you really get the most enjoyment out of this title.

Overall 6/10

Fear in the Night Review


It’s time to look at a really old murder mystery film. It’s definitely an interesting noir title, but one that is held back by some issues. The biggest of these issues is naturally the main character who is extremely annoying throughout the entire film. The guy just never knows when to man up and face the music. Still, while this one won’t be winning any film awards, I’d recommend checking it out. It does still have a pretty interesting premise.

So the film starts with Vince breaking into some lady’s house and murdering someone. He then runs home and “wakes” from his dream. The problem is that Vince has quite a few pieces of physical evidence that prove he was at the house. He then gets caught in a rainstorm with his brother in law who’s a detective, the detective’s wife, and a co-worker from his job. They have to take shelter in a nearby house which is the place from Vince’s dream. The pieces all fit together and it seems like Vince did commit murder. Why doesn’t he remember? Vince better think of something soon or he may be put in the chair.

As soon as Vince wakes up with the physical evidence you know that the dream was certainly true. The real mystery is just why he did it. Does Vince have a split personality or was he being manipulated? We find out the answer near the very end of the film, but it really makes Vince look worse and worse. If a strange guy busts into your room at night and starts talking nonsense about you being tired would you just roll back to sleep? That’s what Vince does as locking a door is a foreign concept to him. Then he also displays low will power as someone offers him a mysterious cough drop thing. He declines several times, but then breaks down and haves it. Clearly Vince isn’t all that smart or determined. It’s just hard to take him seriously.

At first I thought he had potential because upon appearing I immediately took note at his striking resemblance to Matt Damon. The guy looks just like him which was crazy. It’s sort of how Lon Chaney looks just like Bill Murray. Unfortunately he didn’t get any of the signature toughness that Matt usually has. He freaks out quite a lot and isn’t any good at acting innocent. When they get to the house he keeps on knowing things that he shouldn’t. Doesn’t Vince have the common sense not to make himself look so incredibly guilty? Probably not because he makes every mistake in the book. Even near the end he decides to try taking a shortcut by jumping out the window. He had been told numerous times that one of the ladies was having a kid so this was a bad time for stress and he was about to jump out while she was right there. Definitely selfish as well as being a terrible mistake. Vince singlehandily weakens the film.

Fortunately Cliff is a much more reasonable character. He really hopes that Vince is talking nonsense, but it is his duty to investigate so the more Vince goes over the edge the more he has to take this seriously. I can see why he’s pretty irritable about the whole thing. He does go off on Vince during one moment, but Vince had been acting so shifty earlier. I also liked the deputy who shows up at one point to aid Cliff. The cops are all on point here which is always nice to see. They may not have cracked the case, but it was a pretty tough one especially if you didn’t really have context for it.

Now, did the film do a good job with how it wrapped things up? I think it’s a bit iffy honestly. A lot of things had to happen conveniently for the villain’s plan to succeed. The first major point is that the main character had to be terribly weak for this to work in the first place. Also, Vince couldn’t even do that right as he would have lost if not for one of the victims giving him a weapon by mistake. Definitely a very sloppy move on her part as she should have just stabbed him directly. Still, this twist at the end did add a bit of a supernatural element to the film since I never bought into this particular technique. Every time I’ve seen it used in person it was complete hooey. Maybe it can work, but not this quickly and not with this particular method.

The film can be quite dramatic, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty interesting from cover to cover. You just have to get past the fact that Vince can’t seem to do anything right. Beyond that the rest of the characters are good and the writing is certainly on point. Even minor characters like the bank owner look pretty good here as they all scramble to do their jobs correctly. When Vince wasn’t home, I definitely agree with the manager checking his books just in case. Don’t want anyone running off with the money right? Fear in the Night plays the noir genre pretty straight. There aren’t a lot of twists and wrinkles, but there isn’t really anything bad about the film either. It’s just pretty low key.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Fear in the Night. It’s a solid movie that you will enjoy so long as you like mysteries or old school thrillers. There isn’t any real action so the whole thing is built up using pure suspense. It’s definitely not the kind of film you could really expect to see nowadays. It’s a relic of the past, but one that has definitely aged well. How much you’ll enjoy it will likely depend on how many other noir titles you’ve seen over the years. If you haven’t seen a whole lot then you’ll really enjoy it. If you have seen a bunch then this one may feel a little more generic. Still, on the whole I don’t think you’ll regret watching it. Just remember that if a stranger shows up and starts acting shifty you should show him the door. That or just don’t be weak.

Overall 7/10

Down A Dark Hall Review


It’s time to look at a very recent horror film that I hadn’t heard of before watching it. This film really flew under the radar. Granted, I’m not the biggest expert on films coming out and all that, but I like to think that I still know most of them right away. This one is actually not bad for a horror title. The genre in general has a hard time succeeding with me, but this one avoided most of the pitfalls.

The film starts with our lead Kit getting into trouble yet again. After her father died she has turned into a bit of a juvenile delinquent and the schools can’t handle her. Fortunately, the head mistress of a school for the troubled shows up and offers to take Kit in. Since at this point it’s between the school and prison, the parents take Kit there. One big red flag is that the entire school is made up of only a handful of other kids who arrive the day after Kit. All of them have one specific talent which appears to be growing fast under this school’s tutelage. Maybe this place isn’t so bad after all!

Of course in a film like this it is never so easy for the heroes. It turns out that the villains have a convoluted plan involving possession and body transfers using the souls of the dead. As the main characters are fairly young it isn’t as if they have a whole lot of willpower. Also, while they have gotten mixed up in their fair share of crimes, they haven’t become total villains yet. It seems like the spiritual villains here are bad to the core and so they have more willpower. It shouldn’t work like that of course but the only heroic spirit here isn’t able to d a single thing. I’m talking about Kit’s father. He shows up once in a while but ultimately doesn’t really contribute. It’s hard to say if he could even see Kit half the time. I want to say that he couldn’t because the alternative is that he was turning a blind eye to the situation.

The film has some intense visuals like the best friend being chained up and turned into a demon and the house being on fire made for a solid climax. However, the jump scares are pretty forced and do not work so well. It’s not really an intense horror title in that sense as the atmosphere may be pretty tense but the film can’t capitalize on it. The good side of this is that the film dodged the animal violence angle and isn’t too violent. It’s more of a slow burner and then in the climax everything starts happening at once. I do think the villains wanted too long to make their move though.

The way their possession works seems highly inefficient. It’s like they have to nurture the kid’s talent which then turns them into a better vessel. Then they just play some more and run around until they have enough power to do something else. Problem is that it is still easy to kick them out when you have a third party helping and then their plan is down the drain. I guess it’s nice for the heroes to actually have a supernatural opponent they can take on for a change though.

Most of the girls don’t really get much in the way of character but the ones who do get a personality are reasonable. Kit is a solid lead, she never backed down when the bully (Veronica) would make threats. She would probably lose the fight but at least Kit won’t run away. Veronica gets a lot of character development as well and is decent by the end but from the initial threats I feel like she is pretty far gone at this point. The others are all red shirts (If you saw the original Star Trek show then you’ll know what I mean) so it gets pretty dicey for them. That’s why you should always try to stick by the main character so her plot armor can protect you. Otherwise it’s basically over.

Kit’s parents are actually pretty reasonable here as well. Sending her to the school makes sense in the context that they tried every other option and they kept not working. Plus, they at least did tell her to stay in contact and rebound guy #1 told her that they’d come get her if she didn’t like the experience. Anything shady happens and they’ll be right over. Instead of actually doing this when given the opportunity Kit just pretends that it’s all okay. She should have spoken up though as there’s not much that the head mistress could do by this point. Even if she slammed the phone or tried to tell the parents not to come that wouldn’t fly. Then they could have done an investigation or something. If Kit was staying to help the other kids and felt that this would put them at risk then I suppose it’s a fine call. Still, I thought it was good that the parents gave her a choice like that and clearly still cared a lot for her safety.

Then you have the teachers who all have their own motivations for being here. The music teacher is the only one who is really out of his depth here and naturally that leads him into the romance plot which fortunately doesn’t get much screen time. It’s all way too sudden to be believable. Naturally the head mistress gets the biggest role out of these characters and she certainly makes sure the characters know that she is the leader. She mostly acts the part of the polite but stern mistress at the school and never really breaks the act to be real crazy. She’s a fun villain and you definitely want to have a composed mastermind character like her at the ready.

Overall, This definitely isn’t a horror movie that you’ll still be talking about in a few days. It definitely could have been a lot worse though as at least it is still pretty entertaining and doesn’t go too far into trying for shock value. At the same time there isn’t really much of a reason to check this movie out in particular. There are better horror titles to watch so only see this if you’re a big horror buff.

Overall 5/10

Dragonslayer Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old Disney film. You’re probably familiar with the name whether you’ve seen the film or not. It’s definitely a very catchy title, although it paints a few warning bells right away. For starters, films with dragons usually take place in the really olden days where so the film won’t really be visually pleasing. Dragon films just don’t tend to have the best track record and unfortunately this one doesn’t really change that melody.

The plot starts off with a group of people heading to the lair of a sorcerer. They have come to ask for his help in slaying a dragon. This is the last dragon haunting the kingdom, but currently it is basically impossible to stop him. The sorcerer agrees to help, but he is quickly murdered by some of the king’s men. They don’t want anyone to try and attack the dragon because if that person were to fail then the dragon would just get even more upset. This band of men also murder the sorcerer’s right hand man so now all that’s left is the apprentice. Galen tells the group he’ll slay the dragon and sets off to do so. Still, he is just a boy…can he really stop this mighty beast?

Galen won’t really leave a positive impression with you. First off, he’s incredibly overconfident. From how he talks and swaggers about you would expect him to have a considerable amount of magical talent at his disposal and yet we see that he can barely even lift a table. That’s certainly not an image that will inspire confidence into your heart. On the contrary, it’ll just let you know that you really can’t trust this guy. Then when the group is just trying to get by the dragon territory so they can make a plan he decides that he absolutely has to see the lair. Galen puts all of their lives in jeapordy just for that. Then he doesn’t even see the job through. He’s just a pretty bad main character and I don’t blame some of the characters for being upset with him.

Of course, the King and his men are portrayed as unreasonable. While they may have some valid complaints, they are completely overshadowed by the fact that they’re petty and corrupt. They just want to keep sacrificing everyone so the dragon will stay quiet. Since the rich are exempt from the sacrifice, it’s of no concern to the King. It only becomes a concern once his daughter is in trouble. Of course, he is a villain, but at least he’s consistent about it. It makes him a fun antagonist since he has no moral compass and only does what is best for him and his family. The leader of his guard who fights with the heroes probably gets the more screen time from the antagonists though. He does put up a good fight each time and in terms of swordplay might be the toughest fighter in the film.

The main heroine gets a big role as well. The twist likely won’t work too well for most since it seemed pretty clear that Valerian was a girl from the start. I suppose as long as the trick worked on the other characters then that’s what counts though. She was definitely helpful throughout and without her the main guy would have definitely gone down for the count several times. The rest of the supporting characters don’t really do much. To go back to the sorcerer though, I can’t say that I liked the guy. Of course towards the end it turns out that he did have some kind of master plan and all, but at the end of the day he still allowed himself to be destroyed and the rest of the group could have easily fallen right after that. He’s just lucky that the villains decided to leave.

For the most part if you take away the fact that this isn’t really my kind of film then it’s not that bad. It’s still a lot more engaging and fun than something like LOTR. The cast may not be particularly strong, but it’s still a reasonable adventure. Unfortunately the film begins to falter towards the second half. It actually gets pretty violent once Galen goes in the cave and starts slaying the dragons. We even see one of the characters get ripped to shreds. It is definitely unfortunate for her since the only reason she was in that spot in the first place was because she tried doing something noble. I was really expecting her to get saved. Still, while offering herself up as a sacrifice was a heroic move, she should have just let the main character save her the second time around. Running into the cave like that just wasn’t good.

So, the climax hurt the film because with all the stabs and the violence it was basically animal violence. Dragons differ from monsters in that respect. The visuals age pretty well though. The fire blasts from the dragon are surprisingly lifelike and I like the shield that the hero used. So if you just take away the dragon part and make it some kind of inanimate object instead then maybe the climax would have been really awesome and overall the film would have been a big success. After all if not for the climax then this film would earn a few extra stars at least. A shame that it had to go down right at the very end.

Overall, Dragonslayer does live up to the title. It’s a pretty long film, but the pacing is pretty decent. Even if the intro is slow, it does set up the characters and does so without a lot of exposition. Then when we get to the action part we get multiple fight scenes. Even the old sorcerer gets to fling a few lightning bolts. I will say that the Dragon was definitely very persistent. He just kept getting up no matter how many people kept trying to strike him down. The film even makes him sympathetic at one point when he sees that Galen is murdering all of his kids. That’s when I remembered that I was rooting for him all along. He should have ended the village ages ago though instead of taking his time. So, I don’t recommend this film, but if you really love old school adventures then you may like this one. Just be prepared for an annoying main character. He doesn’t do the film any favors.

Overall 4/10

Sixteen Candles Review


It’s time to look at one of those films that tries to do a lot of things and ends up not doing any of them well. The humor’s all a miss, the characters are weak, and the plot isn’t particularly interesting. That’s not a mix of elements that you want to have in your film and yet here we are. I’m afraid that this is a film that you will want to avoid, but it does remind you how rowdy school can get.

The film starts off by introducing us to Sam. She is ready to celebrate her 16th birthday, but unfortunate it has been completely overshadowed by the family wedding happening the next day. As a result nobody even remembered that it was such a big day for her. No worries though, the audience won’t forget because she whines about it for the duration of the movie. Sam runs off to school where she embarrasses herself by filling out a risky note and by mistake giving it to Jake. Sam then decides to at least go to the school dance, but this may not actually work out in her favor.

There’s not really anything good about this film and that’s always pretty unfortunate. Right from the start there’s quite a bit of language and so you can tell that the writing was not particularly good. It’s used as a crutch for the humor and the humor isn’t any good either. That’s already a pretty big strike against the film. Slice of life comedies/drama titles really depend on the writing to be good since otherwise there isn’t any other hook that the film brings to the table.

Then you’ve also got the annoying characters which doesn’t help matters. Samantha spends most of the film complaining and digging herself into bigger and bigger trouble as the film goes on. She seems a bit shallow as she only likes Jake for his looks. She literally knows nothing else about him. Then while she does fend off the advances of Ted for the most part, she doesn’t escape the interaction with her dignity intact.

The rest of the side characters are no better. Ted is definitely an awful character. He’s overly pushy and also isn’t afraid to take advantage of someone who isn’t in their right frame of mind. Any scene with him just drags on and on with no end in sight. Then you’ve got Jake who is the main guy. He’s not much better than the others as he basically gets ready to cheat on his current girlfriend. He is ready to move on from her as soon as the next person is available so he is hardly a very sincere guy. Hopefully Sam is ready for when things don’t go well.

There’s also a comedic subplot about the wedding going on, but there’s nothing funny about it. It’s all super exaggerated and a little on the gross side as well. The film tries to make both families look pretty bad throughout the exchange to the point where you are no longer sure if there is anyone to root for. It’s also definitely a little odd that the families didn’t meet until the day before the wedding or how the groom and bride didn’t know much about each other. I guess it’s convenient this way though.

Naturally there is a ton of romance here even if almost none of it appears to be genuine between the characters. It’s just everyone trying to increase their social standing by getting together with someone. It’s seen as a badge of honor in this film’s community and naturally that raises even more questions. Or it would if you actually cared about the film by that point. Most likely you will already have checked out by now. There isn’t anything to hold your interest here. You’ll just be waiting for the film to wrap its run time up so the disaster will have ended. I forgot what score I gave the breakfast club, but this one is definitely around that film’s level. In a lot of ways both films are pretty similar.

I suppose the only thing that works for the film is the crazy array of sound effects and strings of music. I figured it was just the channel trolling, but the movie decides to be bold with a lot of sudden sound effects everywhere. Characters constantly react literally (Like when a light bulb effect plays after a thought) and we even get some horror music. This part actually works a bit at least. If anything it’s a shame that the sound guy probably worked harder on the film than the rest of the staff.

Overall, I’d recommend staying away from Sixteen Candles. You’ll be cringing hard almost from the start of the film. I’d say that the premise was good, but it really wasn’t and the execution definitely didn’t do anything to help improve that film. Just stay far away from this film and you should be fine. If you want to watch a funnier film that still has some drama involved, I’d recommend checking out Groundhog Day. At least that one has a bunch of jokes that land and a time travel plot that holds up today.

Overall 1/10

4D Man Review


It’s time for a retro film with one of those names that will give you a lot of preconceived notions before the movie even starts. 4D Man is just a total B film name and you immediately expect a campy type of adventure. You wouldn’t really be wrong either. The film isn’t inherently campy or cheesy, but it does have a pretty crazy plot and the main villain turns evil for pretty much no reason. It’s fairly entertaining all things considered but it never does anything all that extraordinary. It’s certainly worth more of a watch than the average film of this type though.

The film starts with Tony blowing up his lab again. He does mean to do this all the time, but the experiment he is running is highly dangerous and he has yet to perfect it. This leads to a lot of bad results for him. As a result he is let go so he heads over to his brother Scott for some help. Scott offers him a job there, but Tony doesn’t want any handouts. Plus, Tony is irresistible and knows that if he sticks around then Scott’s girlfriend Linda will soon be his. It’s almost presumptuous of him, but he turns out to be correct and decides to stick around to be with Linda. Scott finds out and while he acts like he doesn’t care, he does deep down. He steals Tony’s research and completes it, turning him into the 4D Man. He can now go through things, but it costs him a lot of life points. The only way to replenish them is to murder someone by stealing their life force. Scott decides to do this and now Tony may be the only one who can stop him.

Parts of the plot can be a bit annoying though. Nothing goes right for Scott. First off, he’s being completely taken advantage of by his boss and then his girlfriend starts going with his brother instead. Scott isn’t very good at dealing with people either so he isn’t able to try to talk his way out of it. As a result, becoming a super villain was the only path that he thought he could take. It’s all pretty tragic even if Scott does go off the deep end almost right away though. After he absorbs the energy of 1-2 people by mistake he seems to start enjoying it. If he wasn’t shot at the end he likely would have kept going. Definitely a very sudden character shift if you ask me.

As for Tony, he’s not bad I suppose, but he definitely should have tried harder to stay away from Linda. She tries to go for him almost as soon as they meet which should have been a red flag from the start. Rather than beat around the bush he probably should have told Scott as well why he needed to leave. Instead neither character listens to the other and it all becomes a mess. I have to give half of the blame to Linda as well though. It’s seems to be like she was giving Scott a lot of signals before Tony showed up. Maybe she didn’t and it was all in his head, but from what we saw it seemed like that was the case. Moving on so quickly definitely wasn’t a great move. She did good in the climax though as she actively defended herself. That’s more than what most heroines did back in the day. (Linda did faint in another scene so this was a good way of making a comeback)

The film pretty much plays it by the numbers as it goes on. The writing is solid and the premise was interesting to it manages to coast by. Having one character work on a material that is unbreakable while the other tries to get matter to go through things is interesting. I don’t think we needed to add in the other jealous co-worker though. His plot ultimately doesn’t really have time to go anywhere and feels like a dead end by the time the film ends. Maybe he was just there to give a reason as to why the boss would have Tony’s idea with him which adds to the climax. Still, it would have been easy to have the scene anyway since Scott had a bone to pick with him from the start.

I don’t think the cops handled the climax well though. Sure, they surrounded Scott, but they knew about his powers so why would the guy get so close to him? Scott’s abilities are pretty dangerous, but against a group they aren’t as potent since he needs to become tangible at some point to grab them. Instead the cops get completely outmaneuvered and it costs them dearly. Even at the end everyone runs off so Linda has to deal with the threat on her own. She handles herself well but I’d probably ditch Tony after that.

Overall, 4D Man was a decently fun film. Parts of the story do feel a little forced though like Tony agreeing to cheat with Linda on Scott or Scott turning evil. I dunno, he just didn’t seem quite crazy enough to go full psycho compared to most of the other characters. The film does hint that the actual radiation and such affected his mind a bit though. That or his mind being different from the start which triggered the transformation is to blame. Either way, I think the film could have played him up more as an anti hero than turning full mass murderer by the end. Still, I’d recommend checking this film out if you want to look at a retro thriller film. It’s like watching a villain about Shadowcat but if she was the villain. Intangibility is a simple power, but a very deadly one nonetheless.

Overall 6/10

Catlow Review


It’s time to look at an old western film. This one doesn’t take itself quite as seriously as the last few and sort of goes for a more classic LOTR adventure type feel instead. It works pretty well and this very nearly became the definitive western for me. Unfortunately it does fall into the animal violence trap by the end which was pretty unfortunate. Still, it does at least still succeed at being pretty entertaining from start to finish.

The film starts off with Marshall Cowan getting attacked by Indians. Just as he is about to be finished off his old friend Catlow shows up. It’s a mixed outcome for Cowan as he is glad to be saved of course, but Catlow is now a wanted man who has been stealing cattle and gold. Catlow’s defense is that he only steals unclaimed things which is true on a technical level, but the town is corrupt so Cowan still has to bring him in. They may have been the best of friends at one point, but right now their jobs are their top priority. This leads to both characters engaging in a back and forth fight where neither one will surrender. Catlow’s ultimate goal is to steal a massive shipment of gold so he can retire nicely while Cowan has to stop him. Meanwhile you have Miller who has a personal vendetta against Catlow and wants to end him. Who will come out on top?

I definitely liked the tone this film went for. The banter between the characters is great and they constantly get the other one to take a humiliating loss. Both Catlow and Cowan can hold their own scenes pretty easy. Even while threatening each other they manage to stay civil. At the same time, both of them are willing to push the trigger if it came down to that. There’s a lot of tension under the words they share which is interesting in itself. At the same time, they’ll also go out of their way to save the other. The film is filled with great moments like this and that’s why it’s a lot of fun. The film could have possibly gone on to be an 8 star title.

Alas, there are horses in this film as it’s a wild west. It’s always a red flag for me. There doesn’t necessarily have to be animal violence in these titles, but typically if you see a horse then you know what’s going to go down. In one of the fights with the Indians they specifically target the horses which was unfortunate. When that happens the film is destined to lose quite a few stars. It’s the number one mistake that most films make and this one was no exception. What makes it tragic is the fact that the film was solid otherwise.

As I mentioned, Catlow is pretty fun. He’s a smooth talker and is great at thinking outside the box. He handles the climax of the film exceptionally well as he gets to act like a sheriff. It was a pretty smooth move on his part. Meanwhile, Cowan may not have quite as sharp a wit as Catlow, but he is able to keep up pretty well. You don’t want to underestimate either one of these combatants. As for Miller, he’s a pretty fun main villain. I’d say his best scene is the first one he appears in. As with the main characters Miller does have a flair for the dramatic. He has fun toying with Catlow although he definitely did get pretty overconfident there and it cost him big time. Still a fun addition to the cast.

In that respect, Miller and Cowan continue to make the mistake of underestimating Catlow and his gang. They often have the thief on the ropes, but take so long gloating that he manages to get away. They seem to forget that he has a whole army of supporters backing him up. He’s also just got a bunch of connections like how every village seems to be under his thumb. I think it all goes back to his smooth talking ways. The lady with him also has a lot of influence. I do question how she managed to beat everyone to one village when they had such a huge head start, but that’s a head scratcher for another day.

There is one scene that really makes no sense though. It’s probably the one main moment that may throw off the immersion for you. Catlow and his gang infiltrate a kingdom and take down a huge chunk of the army one at a time. They wait until the sleepy soldiers are passing through a passageway and then lasso them. Catlow then knocks the guard out and they keep repeating this until they have them all. None of the guards think to yell and they all go down like chumps. Sure, they were sleepy and potentially drugged, but really? At first I thought the guards were all in on it, but they only pretended to be the main 2. The rest should have been able to do something. It’ll probably make you either chuckle or roll your eyes. As this film is mainly a comedy anyway I wouldn’t call it a negative. I don’t think the film meant for you to take it seriously anyway.

Overall, Catlow is definitely a very fun film. It’s probably the most enjoyable western that I’ve seen and the writing is absolutely on point. The main characters all do a great job at being entertaining when they’re on screen and the plot is sound. There’s really only one main negative here which is the animal violence and unfortunately it is absolutely killer. The film just couldn’t recover from this, but the important thing is that it came close. If you can stomach the horse stuff then this is definitely a film I’d recommend checking out. Otherwise check out a different one like Hang em High.

Overall 4/10

Attack of the Mushroom People Review


It’s time to take a look at a really old school Japanese horror film. I didn’t really know what to expect with this one, but it’s definitely a little different from what I could have ever guessed. It’s definitely a slow burner so fans of the atmosphere approach could enjoy it, but unfortunately a very weak cast filled with terrible characters holds this one all the way back. It ends up being a bad film instead of a decent one. There are some good ideas here, but ultimately they cannot capitalize on them.

The film starts off with a group of sailors trying to sail away from the rest of the world. Each one has a different reason for being on the ship, but ultimately they will be heading to another part of the world where they can really live out their lives. Unfortunately the ship crashes and they all land on a foreign island. They quickly learn that there is more to this island than simple wildlife as the mushrooms are deadly. Left with dwindling resources the characters begin to turn on each other and allow their primal instincts to take over. Can any of the crew survive or at this point have they already lost enough of their humanity for it to not matter anymore?

As I mentioned above, the main problem with the film is the fact that the characters are so bad. I understand that the point of the film is about how all of the characters slowly succumb to the situation, but it’s a very negative outlook. The view that all humans will eventually turn evil is a common one, but certainly not an accurate view nor is it a very entertaining one. The characters start to become corrupt almost immediately and the ones who haven’t turned yet aren’t strong enough to defy them. It makes for a pretty mean spirited film where you know everyone is doomed from the start.

That’s not a bad thing per say as it can be fun to have everyone bumped off. There are quite a few good retro films with a plot like that which works out pretty well. The reason why this one doesn’t work well is because we don’t have the mystery angle to work with and the characters aren’t written nearly well enough to pull this off. The writing isn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t call it good either. The film ends up dragging on quite a bit despite not being very long which is always a very troubling sign.

Then we have the fact that the mushroom people don’t appear much at all. When they finally do show up it’s not as if they are all that impressive in a fight. They aren’t bulletproof or anything like that and are quite slow. The only reason they are even able to put up a basic fight is because the main character, Kenji, isn’t very smart and likes to waste bullets. By the time he is surrounded it is naturally too late as well….or it would be if they weren’t so weak. Kenji manages to overcome 20-1 odds which tells you all you need to know about the mushroom people.

From the rest of the crew we have 3 flat out antagonists. One is a girl named Mami who likes having everyone fight over her so she manipulates the men on the crew. That shows how weak willed they are. Ultimately her plan is mainly to call on everyone’s bluff and she still manages to get the last laugh in the end. Then the other two villains like making threats about how they’ll assault the other crew mates. This is the kind of drama that the film goes for and it’s the low hanging fruit on any situation like this. It doesn’t help the film’s writing at all. If anything it just diminishes the experience greatly like here. When nobody challenges the villains initially after the first threat there is no way to regain respect for the characters either.

Then you’ve also got the villain with a gun who manages to get the heroes at gunpoint 2-3 times. Did they really think they could be safe after locking him inside when everyone else is crazy? Their food supply is stolen several times as everyone else gets really greedy while on the ship. The only one who stays strong is Kenji and even then he seems rather naïve the whole time. Some of the characters get brief backstories but there isn’t much time to explore them.

Aside from the villains who are just plain unlikable, the main heroine may be the worst character here. Akiko is extremely timid and lets everyone walk all over her. She does her best to bring down the mood and atmosphere aboard the ship. Getting seasick is no fun so I won’t blame her for all of that but if she doesn’t get along with everyone then getting on this boat was probably a mistake. Even by the end she ultimately ends up cracking with everyone else. It’s possible that she was forced to eat a mushroom so I won’t be too hard on her, but it doesn’t help her case either. Naturally the heroine who was actually outspoken and ready for action turned out to be evil.

Most of the film is a flashback so you already know that at least one guy will get out safely. That does hurt the tension in the scene where villains surround him since you know that he can’t die there or even be transformed. It’s always an odd tactic to have a flashback be most of the film because you already know the ending. It’s just a huge spoiler. Kenji tries to sound deep and moving by the end, but since he’s already mostly crazy you can’t blame the doctors for keeping a safe distance. They are just looking out for themselves after all.

Overall, I guess I have to say that the film was a little disappointing. The film’s set up just isn’t all that great. I don’t mind the idea of a group of characters being stuck on an island and trying to survive, but then you’ve at least got to have a great group of characters who have solid banter with each other. It should be the group surviving against monsters or dangerous elements. If most of the group is either evil or unlikable then that’s going to take everything away from its potential. You don’t want to watch a civil war between the islanders, especially not with the stakes this high. If you want to watch a classic Toho film then I highly suggest sticking to Dragon Ball Z or Godzilla. This one’s just too much of a slow burner and ultimately doesn’t manage to keep its quality levels up.

Overall 4/10

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini Review


It’s time to look at another beach movie. Unfortunately this one doesn’t break the trend of this genre not being particularly good. There’s not a whole lot to work with to start here and the film isn’t exactly going to be winning any Oscars for its writing. No, the film needed to try and win on its own merits and unfortunately it was a losing battle. You can pretty much tell how this film is going to play out from the start.

The film starts off with Frankie going to an island for 3 weeks. He begins to cheat on Dee Dee with the locals over there but then begins to worry that she may be doing the same thing. He hires a witch doctor and some spellcasters to try and prevent this from happening by creating a super model who will block Dee Dee at every turn. This plan works for a while, but then local advertising star Ricky shows up to try and steal Dee Dee away. She wants to stay loyal to Frankie but the more she hangs out with him the more she starts to lose her morals. Can she stay strong or is Ricky right in saying that everyone cheats eventually?

From the start you can see how the plot is pretty dicey. Frankie cheats on Dee Dee in pretty much every film. It’s nothing new and while she gives him a stern talking to he never actually feels bad about it. Even in this film he flat out says that it’s okay for guys to cheat while it isn’t for girls. If he actually believes that then this makes him look even worse as a character. Dee Dee definitely shouldn’t be putting up with this and the fact that she does is most unfortunate. Naturally this doesn’t excuse her from staying true to herself, but it does make you think she should just get over Frankie and find someone else. He strikes you as the kind of guy who’s fairly possessive and not in a good way.

Then you have Ricky who isn’t really any better. He’s very persistent, but that’s where his good traits end. When Dee Dee tests how serious he is, the guy fails. He’s also very quick to move on from her to the next person so you really can’t say that he is super sincere. He would be cheating on her just like Frankie. It’s unfortunate, but this is why Dee Dee can’t trust any of these characters. None of them are trust worthy and they aren’t afraid to admit it.

There’s really only one good scene here and that’s a fight scene that occurs midway through the film. Van Zipper hires a local thug to scare off Ricky and his entrance is admittedly pretty good. He just crashes in through the ceiling and the fight begins. In Ricky’s defense he is actually putting up a good fight. It goes back and forth for a while until Dee Dee steps in. I was surprised to see an action scene that was actually handled fairly seriously so that was pretty cool. I suppose the race scene at the end also wasn’t bad. Any scene away from the beach is certainly a good thing so no complaints from me there.

Of course, the film’s score was already dead by this point. There was just no recovering from all of the beach moments. The film is essentially one long fanservice scene. The camera work ensures this and half of the time there isn’t even a plot in the movie. It’s just all of the characters acting dicey and buying time until the film ends. There’s even a very long stop motion scene at the beginning that was added to fill in time. Even as far as the beach films go this may have been one of the weaker ones. The songs weren’t catchy either. These characters can’t really sing so they weren’t helping their case here.

Even the supernatural elements don’t really add to the film’s intrigue. The giant bird that follows Dee Dee around doesn’t really do much beyond yelling all the time. It somehow works to annoy Ricky most of the time, but he’s just easily irritated. I’d have liked the witch doctor to take a more active role as instead all of his scenes are basically the same gag of him trying to drink some rockets. You can’t keep on using the same gimmick over and over again while expecting it to still be humorous. After a while you’ll just be ready to roll your eyes at the whole thing.

Overall, I’d suggest sticking away from this film. Odds are that the title would already be a pretty big red flag though. I have yet to see a really good beach film and that certainly won’t occur within this franchise. There’s just way too much fanservice and no likable characters. All of them are either not trust worthy or have some kind of agenda. At most the president of the company here was decent and even then he doesn’t really get to do anything. If you’re looking for a good water adventure film then you should watch Aquaman instead. At least that film has good action scenes and the characters rarely spend any actual time at the beach. That’s a winning formula. For this film, the only positive thing you can say about it aside from the fight scene is that it’s short. At least you won’t have to be watching the events unfold for very long.

Overall 2/10