The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Review

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It’s always sad when you’re known as a chicken among the community. Just think of how rough it would be when it’s a small community so you are going to be seeing the same people everywhere. Well, that’s the case for our lead in this film (Luther) as everyone openly mocks him. It’s almost admirable how despite this he keeps adding for fuel to the flame. Panicking in the opening minutes certainly didn’t help his case.

Well, the film starts off with our reporter in training driving down Main Street at night. He hears someone scream and comes across a dead body. The excitement starts to overwhelm him but before he can faint the main character stumbles over to the newspaper office/police office. Luther tries to explain what’s happening but goes hysterical so his colleagues have to insult and mock him a little bit to calm him down. Just as he tells them all about the murder, the “dead” guy shows up as he was apparently just hit on the head with a branch and fainted.

Now Luther’s reputation has shattered even more. The newspaper is on tough times though so they need a scoop and have to take a break from mocking the main character. Their best bet is to send someone into the haunted house. Luther is essentially dared into going inside and he decides to do so to show everyone that he isn’t a total chicken. The problem is that ghosts keep messing with him and he even faints. On the verge of tears he tells everyone what happened, but can he prove that this was the case or will he also be known as a liar now?

It’s definitely a really fun film. You don’t really see comedy films like this one anymore and it’s a shame since they work so well. You can’t sympathize with Luther but I suppose you can at least sympathize with the fact that he held his own in court and wasn’t humiliated as badly as I had thought he would be. He doesn’t do a great job of improving himself at all and is basically content with going through the same motions that he’s always gone through. It’s why he is perfect for the role.

Ollie is definitely a pretty mean character who tries to undercut Luther at every corner. Still, he never gets too extreme and due to the nature of the film he can be pretty entertaining. If the plot was handled seriously then there is a good chance that he wouldn’t be likable at all but as it stands he was probably the best character in the film. You can make the case that he has more reason to dislike Luther than the other way around since from his point of view Luther took the main heroine away. Ollie also did offer to go into the haunted house with Luther, even if it was only to mock him.

An underrated character is the head of the newspaper company. Not only is he one of the only characters who gives Luther a chance but he even defends the guy in court. Honestly you’ll just feel bad for him since he does a great job but then Luther keeps on sabotaging him. The supporting cast was just really good in this film and naturally that makes a big difference. The judge was also pretty fun and it made the scene of everyone going into the haunted house pretty fun. Actually it was pretty surreal to see the Judge come up with that plan.

As for the ghost moments, I think it was safe to say that everyone probably guessed what the last second stinger would be. Ignoring that little moment I would have definitely said that there was nothing supernatural about the place. It was all things that could have been explained naturally after all. Even the painting although you have to suspend a lot of belief for Luther not noticing the blood would be fake. Well, it is Luther I guess.

The plot with the corporate gangster trying to muscle in on the place and discredit Luther was a cool contrast since that plot was played completely seriously, the guy wasn’t afraid to destroy Luther either if necessary which made for an intense final fight. You rarely see these rich business types actually enter the realm of combat themselves nowadays so that was certainly unexpected. It helped give the film some action to balance out the comedy and it worked quite well.

I have to say that the romance was pretty weak though and the only underwhelming part of the film. For starters, Alma was seemingly already taken with the rival Ollie but it didn’t stop Luther from flirting and hoping they could be together. Sure, later on in the film she says that they weren’t really together and all, but given how the had apparently been eating lunch every day, driving together, and Ollie had been calling her things like Sweetheart which she was fine with….it seemed rather clear what was going on. Even Ollie was shocked when she basically ditched him out of nowhere. It’s nice for Luther that if all worked out but this is definitely not how you build a romance. It really just fell flat and took up too much time.

Overall, This was a really fun film. The humor was on point and the cast was pretty good. The tension of whether the mansion was really haunted or not will be tearing you up inside until they announce the verdict. Ollie is a fun rival and gets a lot of standout lines while Luther’s panicking is always pretty intense. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend it. It’s not the most popular movie out there but it can definitely hold its own against any big comedy film.

Overall 7/10

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Thor: Ragnarok Review

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The MCU has been consistently been getting better as the phases go by. Captain America 2 was better than 1 and 3 was better than 2. Thor 2 was better than 1 and now this latest Thor film has arrived and is the best film in the trilogy. It’s a very fast paced film with a lot of action and hype throughout. It also does a great job of showing how great of a fighter Thor is with or without his hammer. It’s going to be hard for the next Thor film to top this one.

The film starts off with Thor seemingly being held captive by Surtur. Of course, the whole thing is basically just a ruse to get information. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since think we all found it highly unlikely that Thor can be bound by mere chains. Unfortunately Thor has not stopped Ragnarok by defeating Surtur as the true source of despair shows up. Hela is the goddess of death and her abilities are the real deal as she easily beats Thor and Loki. Thor is going to have to form his own team to defeat her.

The heroes definitely get around in this film as Thor goes to Earth, Surtur’s Domain, Asgard, and the Grandmaster’s planet. It’s fun to see all of the different locales as they all worked quite well. The weakest one design-wise would be Grand Master’s HQ, but the arena looked quite good. Earth may win out since it was great to have a Dr.Strange cameo. He looked really good in that scene and they’re definitely building him up to be one of the team’s power hitters. He’s also one of my favorite Avengers in the MCU so I’m ready to see him get more of a role. He’ll have to keep his list handy since a lot of threats are certainly coming to Earth in the near future.

Thor has a lot of fun in this film as he openly mocks the villains and just tries to enjoy everything he does. He’s a good lead and this is probably the best that he’s been portrayed. He’s a lot wiser than he used to be while still keeping his strength. This is Thor as a leader in addition to being a warrior and it makes him a more complete character. Seeing him fight off an army at the end without his hammer was definitely impressive. It’ll be very hard for me to get used to his new hairstyle though. I’m going to miss the old one until it grows back, but it’s not the worst redesign I’ve seen as it’s still miles above the Joker.

Going back to Thor having fun though, it keeps showing how Marvel is just good at writing comedy. The Iron-Man films have always been pretty fun as the humor is just handled well and this film does a great job with it as well. It’s not forced and most of the jokes land. The only film I can think of in the MCU that failed at being even remotely funny was Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Age of Ultron could be really forced at times, but it was still entertaining, it would just throw you our of the movie for a second. As DC is trying to emulate Marvel with their current movies, hopefully they’ve been taking notes. Wonder Woman wasn’t funny and Justice League’s jokes don’t really seem to be working, but it’s possible they’ll turn it around in the film or by the sequel. It takes time to be funny and writing jokes has always been the hardest part of developing a script if you ask me. That’s why it’s not really a problem as long as the jokes aren’t downright terrible, but if there are a bunch in the movie, then you want them to be good. Again, Thor: Ragnarok did a really good job with this.

Loki was a fun ally to have around. Naturally you can’t trust him at all and the film’s pretty self aware on that, but at least it meant Thor didn’t have to be alone the whole time. It’s always good to have at least one companion on a journey. He didn’t look quite as impressive as usual though since everyone he meets ends up beating him up quite badly. He really took his lumps in this film but always manages to keep his confidence. I’d really be on board with him finally being an ally, not a hero as that’ll never happen, but someone who helps out once in a while and doesn’t try to destroy the world.

Now I’ve never been the biggest Hulk fan. He’s a decently good character and all, but I typically just like him in his more intelligent depictions. The only exceptions are some of the really old Stan Lee era comics where he was pretty sympathetic. The film has a good portrayal of him. He’s not too annoying or anything and can put up a good fight. The writer seems to definitely know who he thinks is the stronger fighter (Thor or Hulk) and I tend to agree with him. Brute strength is great and all, but when you’re about as strong and have a variety of other techniques at your disposal, it’s game set and match. Surprisingly the film gives Hulk a backseat role for the entire climax as he doesn’t get to face off against Hela or anything, but it’s a good way to ensure he doesn’t steal the show or get humiliated in front of his fans. It was not what I expected from his role, but it worked well enough.

Unfortunately, this is probably Bruce Banner’s worst portrayal. He’s really slow on the uptake and panics about everything. He is constantly in a state of shock and just holding everyone back. You almost can’t help but wish for the Hulk to return and maybe this is why Hulk wants to stay out 24/7. It’s also interesting how each side can’t remember anything after they turn so for Bruce it’s like 2 years passed in an instant. That’s actually pretty tragic so I should feel more sympathetic for Bruce…but I don’t. I miss his self assured/over confident version from the first Avengers film. I will always look to that as the definitive Bruce Banner portrayal. The only other one that’s close is from the Indestructible Hulk mini series.

Valkyrie is the main heroine of the film and fulfills the role pretty well. She actually doesn’t get on board with the heroes until near the end of the film so her role isn’t huge or anything but she’s pretty tough. Balancing fighting and drinking is tough but she manages to pull it off. I can’t say that I was a huge fan of hers since her backstory basically involves being a traitor and turning evil. You’re sort of supposed to look past all of that, but it’s a little tricky and I think she would have worked better as a villain like Loki who occasionally helps the heroes. I give the film major props for not going for a romance angle here though. I’m sure the writers were pressured by Hollywood into doing this, but they refused.

Heimdall has his own filler subplot where he beats up a bunch of minions and helps guard the Asgardian survivors. He’s a good character even if he doesn’t get much of a role here. He’s the kind of character who makes more of an impact if you’ve seen the first two films. Since this is the 3rd one, there’s no excuse not too. I miss his classic armor, but his new Bishop redesign works quite well and he lasted quite a while considering how outnumbered he was.

Hela is the main villain and also the best character of the film. She’s a great villain because her goal isn’t crazy or just evil. It’s a pretty rational goal as taking over the multiverse makes sense to prove your supremacy. I can get behind that and I can also buy into her taking over Asgard since it is hers by birthright. She looks extremely impressive in all of her fights. I would have liked a longer round 1 fight with Thor and Loki but seeing them fight while on the light speed tunnel was certainly entertaining. I’m also glad that Thor didn’t back up when they all started hyping her up. As long as you stay on Hela’s good side you’re okay since she doesn’t seem to be in the habit of randomly destroying her minions for no reason. She may very well be the best villain in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point although I’m expecting big things from Thanos.

Scourge is her right hand man and he gets his own emotional character arc. He starts off as the guy that everyone pushes around and eventually levels up to janitor. I liked him well enough at the beginning I guess, but he’s just not my kind of character. He’s one of the weak links, but his actual scenes aren’t bad so it’s not like he hurts the film. I just didn’t care enough about him to be sympathetic. Surtur appears for a bit and gets his own fight scene, but he’s definitely not as impressive as he was in the comics. Everyone basically uses him the whole time and I have to wonder what his ultimate plan is. He better appear in Thor 4 or I’m going to have to remember him as the villain to have the worst plan in the MCU. He may not have thought it over very carefully.

The Grandmaster was interesting and way better than the Collector. It helps that his actor makes the character pretty entertaining as opposed to simply being quirky. There’s a big difference between the two and you always want to be the former as opposed to the latter. He’s definitely a villain through and through but tries to hide his evil intent through jokes. Hey, if Spiderman can do it for the heroes, why not have a villain with that gimmick as well? It does make sense after all and he was a fun guy to have around. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

Korg is one of the quirky supporting characters from the Arena. While I didn’t find his voice quite as hilarious as by theater seemed too (They laughed at just about every one of his lines) it did work pretty well for the character. It’s been a while since we got a very to the point character who speaks softly but always manages to keep everyone in check. Definitely the best portrayal of Korg in all of Marvel. Stan (The Man) Lee also shows up to clean shop. His cameo may be quick, but he really sets the tone in his appearance and also shows that he fears no one. You have to have nerves of steel to have his job after all.

Ragnarok’s soundtrack is absolutely great. The themes are all very sci-fi and fast paced. They help to amplify the fight scenes and make the whole film better. Good music helps make a scene more memorable so as you would expect it also has the same effect on the movie as a whole. Most films don’t insert a big song when a fight scene starts. It’s a popular trope in anime but that’s about it despite this being a fantastic way of building up energy for the scene. Well, Thor pulls it off for both the first and last fight. The last fight in particular is handled extremely well as Thor gets one last vision of a certain character and then unlocks his true power. Aside from maybe Avengers and even that is close, Thor definitely has the best soundtrack in the MCU and is high up there for all of Marvel’s theater films.

The action and effects are certainly on point. The monsters of the fire world certainly looked very impressive and it made for a very good opening fight. Surtur’s design was modernized for the new age and while he was rather skinny I still liked it well enough. Hela’s fight scenes were solid as well and her costume was very faithful to the comics. Thor’s style of combat with his electricity will remind you a lot of Cole McGrath or Starkiller and it’s certainly the most efficient way to fight. When you’re using electricity to enhance your range and strength, it is very hard to dodge or counter that. Now that Thor can fight at this level the only Avenger who can reasonably give him a good fight would be Dr. Strange. I don’t think the others could keep up.

Naturally the film has a scene after the credits so make sure you stick around. There are 2 scenes, but the first one is really the only one you need to worry about. It’s easily one of the best post movie scenes in the MCU as we finally have a significant plot development here which works as a great tease for Infinity War. It’s hard to imagine that the big crossover film is so close, but it is certainly approaching fast. It’s also why it makes sense to beef up the Avengers roster since they’re going to need all the help they can get. I’m not sure how some of the street level fighters will be useful, but maybe they can at least distract the villains with one liners while the real fighters take them down.

Now, there is a little plot hax at the end. It’s nothing major but the final fight’s outcome should have been reversed. On one side we have a giant opponent who is extremely slow and can only attack in a straight line. On the other we have a very nimble fighter who can move quite fast and also has a lot of durability. All the character needed to do was move just a little bit and that would have worked as a dodge. I mean, the planet may not be too stable so surviving some intense energy would still have to happen, but I think the character could pull it off. At the very least, losing due to ring out would have been preferable. I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free so I’ll keep that part vague.

I’d like to say that I’ve covered everything, but with a film this big there will always be something that I’ve missed. As far as the MCU films go, It’s easily top 5. Avengers is better and I’ll also give Civil War the edge but this very well could be the third best film. Age of Ultron gives it a run for its money, but I dare say that Thor beats both Winter Soldier and Spider-Man Homecoming. Either way, it confirms that Thor is certainly top 5 and we’ll see how long it can stay there if Marvel keeps raising the bar. I’m still hoping they go all out with Infinity War and have just about everyone appear. Bring in the old villains, Agents of Shield, even throw the Netflix crew a bone with a portrait on the wall or some kind of cameo. Make this the big event that it should be.

Overall, The film was just about perfect. There’s not much to really say about the film in the negatives department. It did pretty well with keeping the power levels consistent. Not perfect, but basically no film is. I felt bad for the poor dragon who fought Thor, but at least the film didn’t destroy Fenfir as in my head canon he can certainly survive a fall. That was nice. Thor himself has also come a long way since the older films and makes a few speeches about what it means to be a hero. The action scenes are first rate and the graphics are quite good. The film’s also just a lot of fun the whole time and has a ton of replay value. It’s not everyday that you get a film as satisfying as this one. I teetered between an 8 or a 9 for this film for a while, but at the end of the day I think it definitely earns the extra star.

Overall 9/10

Insidious: Chapter 3 Review

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It’s time to step into the final part of the Insidious Trilogy. This prequel helps fill in the gaps from the first two and leads into the first one. It’s a pretty solid horror film and still sets a nice bar for others to follow. It’s a shame that most horror films still manage to mess it up and stumble down the finish line. As long as this series continues, there is hope for the genre though.

So, Quinn visits an old psychic’s house because she wants to talk to her mom. The psychic is named Elise and the old lady warns Quinn not to do this. Elise breaks down and decides a few minutes couldn’t hurt though. Unfortunately she was wrong and instead of the mother, a demon answers. Quinn is now being haunted by it. Unless the spirit is defeated quickly, it would appear that Quinn’s days are numbered.

Quinn is essentially the main character but you can also say that she shares the role with Elise. She seems like a nice enough person even if her plan to talk to her dead Mother is probably not a good idea. We do have the phrase “rest in peace” for a reason after all. Quinn does her best to help around the house as well while also making time for her singing career. Naturally once the spirit is after her this all gets a little tricky. I didn’t really have any qualms with her.

Her Dad Sean is also all right. He probably gives Quinn too many responsibilities which stresses her out, but I don’t feel like he was being malicious about it. He’s also being overwhelmed at the moment and trying to cope with raising two kids on his own. He certainly could do a better job of it and listen to Quinn more though. He has more faults than Quinn but at the end of the day he is a lot better than he could have been. I am glad that the film let him find out that the demon was real very quickly instead of just doubting Quinn the whole time since that gets old fast.

Elise has been a big character during all of the Insidious movies. Naturally this one was no exception but as it took place before the others she isn’t as powerful initially as you may expect. She is plagued by doubts and a lot of hesitation but gradually gets back to being on top of things. Re learning that being alive gives you a good advantage over the dead was definitely something that makes a lot of sense. While the fight scenes weren’t heavily stylized like an action film or anything, it was cool to see her throw some of the demons around.

You rarely see the humans do much of anything against the spirits so it is always satisfying. She uses trapdoors to her advantage and resists the choke hold that the demons have at their disposal. At this point Elise quickly became the strongest human in the series and basically feels untouchable. At least until the ending of course. As with most horror films this one has a twist ending. Let’s just say that one of the future villains decides to pay his respects and remind her of the pecking order. It was definitely a little unfortunate for Elise since she had just gone through a whole character arc of getting her confidence back along with a boost in strength but it was all negated in an instant. It’s good hype for the villain of course, but you can definitely see how it’s tragic for her.

The villains from the past films also completely overshadow the main one the instant that they appear. I really couldn’t take this villain too seriously because of his underwhelming design. He just doesn’t look like he can put up any kind of fight and the weak design prevents him from being scary as well. You just can’t imagine this guy taking anyone down in a fight, especially since he can barely breath without his mask. The guy just doesn’t stand a chance against any of the real opponents in his path. While I don’t like the old lady villain, it was interesting to see him make a cameo. He definitely got some hype since it didn’t really seem like Elise could take him down even in her prime here. She is definitely lucky that they didn’t have to fight. The Red Mask villain also looked pretty good in his appearance and it’s safe to say that she wouldn’t have been able to beat him either. It’s definitely impressive how formidable the series has made its villains.

As always, the effects for the spirit dimension are really solid. The rules that are established for the place are thought over pretty well. If I have any gripes, it’s that all of the normal ghosts seem pretty powerless while only the evil ones stay strong. Why can’t we have a hero who died and then decided to be a heroic ghost? That’d be a neat twist and even if the films suddenly became action thrillers instead, I could roll with that. As it stands, the idea of demons camping the spawn points of the humans for the rituals is a cool idea too though. Elise stayed away from it for years, but the instant she went back the villains were still ready. That’s definitely a lot of determination there.

There aren’t a bunch of jump scares or anything, but we get a reasonable amount. The only real weakness for the film would probably be some of the supporting characters. The random guy who waited until Quinn broke her leg to unleash his pun felt like filler. Quinn’s best friend also didn’t have much of a role. Giving these characters quick cameos instead of drawn out scenes is the best bet I suppose, but they didn’t really need to appear. All of the human scenes just don’t feel eventful next to the hype supernatural stuff.

The two comic relief supernatural experts are always interesting to have around. In a sense it’s impressive how they can suddenly make the whole atmosphere light and happy when it was super serious just a moment ago. It’s hard to feel scared when they’re around. After all, the guys may be incompetent, but at least they can still serve as shields if the demons come along. Moreover, it’s just hard to imagine the comic relief characters being destroyed so it lightens the atmosphere.

Overall, Insidious 3 was better than I thought it would be. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised since the series was always more memorable than other horror films and rarely went for the low hanging fruit. Give the film some extra credit for having a dog appear in various scenes, but nothing happens to him. Now that’s quality. This is a horror film that I would actually recommend and you know how rare that is so it says a lot about the film.

Overall 6/10

Dracula: Prince of Darkness Review

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Time for more Dracula! This film actually had the best beginning out of all the Dracula films which was quite impressive. For a little while there, I actually began to think that this film could actually be good. The second half falls back down the rails into terrible territory but at least it actually tried this time. If only the film had stuck to being a slice of life with a few jump scares instead of a nitty gritty vampire film. Don’t we have enough of those anyway?

The film starts off with a bunch of savages about to impale a girl who’s already dead. They want to make sure she stays that way. A passing preacher/evangelist stops them with his pocket gun and tough negotiating skills. He then heads to a cabin where we meet the Kents. 4 people are going on a big tour of the world and are having fun stopping at all of the various bars. He warns them not to go to a castle coming up since it’s evil. To their credit, half of the party listens. The 4 people are Alan, Helen, Charles, and Diana. Helen really doesn’t want to go inside and Diana isn’t fond of doing so either. Luckily a carriage comes along so Charles proposes that they get on it and head for the next town. Unfortunately the Horses are uncontrollable and quickly take the heroes to the castle. It appears to be empty, but a butler remains.

Helen continues to believe that something bad is going to happen and her fears are put to rest as Alan is destroyed and she goes next. Unlike Alan, she is at least given the pleasure of becoming a fellow vampire who will serve Dracula. Dracula wants Diana next, but Charles intends to put up a fight to save her. Charles and Diana head to the old guy from the intro and hide in his church, but the Church has a traitor who works for Dracula and the guy invites him in. It’s now a desperate battle for time, can Dracula be stopped!?

I really did like the intro. The first 30-40 minutes are basically the heroes bickering among themselves and just enjoying the hospitality once they get into the castle. You know that it’s not going to end well for them but at least they are having fun in the meantime. Charles is a pretty good character as he’s not a nervous wreck like the rest of the heroes and doesn’t mind taking charge. Diana may not be as brave, but she always stands by Charles. Alan and Helen aren’t quite as good. Helen is extremely nervous of everything to the point of paranoia which gets old fast and Alan just barely seems like a character. He’s just along for the ride for the most part. Still, it’s a fun group dynamic. These are actually characters that I can get behind and it’s just an entertaining intro.

Then Dracula shows up and things get messy. First of all, the film is quite violent. The Hammer films in general are always a little more intense and this one is no exception. One character basically bleeds to death which takes a while and it’s on screen. Another character gets impaled with a stake on screen. Ironically, Dracula’s death at the end is the least violent since he simply slips on some ice and freezes to his doom. Not exactly the way you’d imagine the famous Prince of Darkness to go out. I’m aware of the Garlic and the Cross as counters to Dracula even if the former never works. I never heard about Vampires drowning in clear water though. I never assumed they could breath underwater, but it’s actually a weakness now? The deck is really stacked against Dracula since he is quite slow and is weak to just about everything under the sun. Good luck beating any more humans at this rate count.

The traitor inside of the Church was annoying as well. He’s a prisoner as they even say to take him back to his cell, but people still take orders from him? Clearly the guy isn’t the only crazy in the place. It’s also awfully convenient how many empty rooms are in the Church so it’s easy for Dracula to sneak around. I was hoping there would be more people running around trying to stop him. It’s also annoying how quick the hypnosis works on Diana. It’s essentially instantaneous which isn’t surprising, but still not all that great. Where is the will power in all of this?

As a side note, this is probably the worst Dracula design. The red eyes just make him look super weak and then the actual movie certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade you of that notion. Anyone can out run him and while he has super strength, he tends to let his opponents go. He’s also lucky that Alan was quite naive and not too smart as he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten resurrected in the first place. The heroes make a bunch of bad calls throughout the movie. In another scene they see the butler with a baseball bat or some kind of knife, but just shrug. All 4 of them agree that the butler seems crazy and likely dangerous, but they are still fine with sleeping in the manor. At worst they should have just overpowered him and then gone to sleep. They could have woke up the next day with a “Nothing personal” story and that would have worked. Well, I suppose at least some of them got the last laugh in the end so that’s a start.

Overall, This film is really just more of the same. Once Dracula shows up you can switch the footage with any other Dracula film and it’s basically the same. The film goes through the same beats as he takes the heroes down one by one but then plot armor comes to help the heroes. Dracula gets Charles in his grasp at one point, but then throws him away. He completely had the victory sealed up there, but lets him get away. Why would he do that? Seems like it was a bad move to me. Ah well, I’d recommend staying away from this film. You can watch other Dracula films that aren’t as over the top violent and at the end of the day, vampires are past their prime anyway. If you don’t mind stopping early, then the film is quite good if you just watch right up til Alan says he is going to check downstairs. Stop the film right there and it’s a solid 7/10 with a good cast and solid writing. If every film ended as well as it started, a lot of scores would be quite different in the horror genre.

Overall 2/10

Son of Dracula Review

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Given that I’m in the middle of a vampire arc in Detective Conan, it seemed like a good time to review a Dracula film. It’s definitely pretty odd to see Lon Chaney playing the role, but this way he continues to play all of the Universal monsters at some point so I can roll with that. Unfortunately, not even his acting can save the film as it still ends up being your standard Dracula film through and through. It’s just hard to make a good Dracula film whether it be in this day and age of even in the past.

So, the plot starts with a mysterious man moving into town. The main farmer dies very mysteriously during this time frame. That’s when Dracula shows up and suddenly Katherine marries him despite being seriously engaged to Frank. Frank suspects something is up and grabs his gun, but this Dracula fellow appears to be bullet proof and intangible so the bullet goes through and destroys Katherine. Frank is quickly arrested, but it appears that Katherine is still alive. She is now going to be doing experiments with Dracula at night and says she won’t be available during the daytime anymore. Something’s fishy here, but Frank’s in jail so he can’t do much about it. It’s going to be up to Lazlo and Brewster to see what’s happened. Can they really deal with two vampires though?

The film does have a unique twist that I can get behind. Usually the main heroine falls head over heels for Dracula due to mind control and just generally looks terrible the whole time. The twist this time is that Katherine actually went with him willingly as part of her own plan. She plans to murder him once she is undead as well but to do that she will need Frank’s help. She’ll bust him out of jail so he can go to Dracula’s coffin during the daytime and destroy him. Technically it’s a full proof plan, but he makes one big mistake…he goes outside while it’s still night time. Heh…..heh…..hahhahahahahahahahaha!! Of all the mistakes to make…..why is Frank so terrible? I mean, we finally have a good plan and then he messes it up. He even destroys Katherine afterwards because he doesn’t want to be a vampire. I wish I could say he made the right call, but I really can’t. He comes across as a very ungrateful guy who’s of no use throughout the entire film. While Katherine’s plan was extremely dangerous, risky, and probably not good at all, she did pull it off. Frank got the easy job and he still messed it up. That’s got to be a downer.

Dracula doesn’t look very good here. I mean that’s to be expected considering how many weaknesses he has, but it’s still sad for his fans. It’s gotten to the point where just being in the same room as a cross is enough to get him sweating and the doctors always handle him without too much trouble. Dracula is at his best when he’s just uttering threats as opposed to trying to follow up on them. At any rate, at least Dracula is fun to listen to. Seriously, Chaney has one of the best voices in cinema with ease. Most other actors can’t even get close to his level. Dracula is just not a good character though.

I felt like the rest of the cast were pretty slow on the uptake here. Katherine’s sister made a few half hearted attempts to see what was happening, but didn’t play her cards right. She basically told Frank that the cops were onto him and took forever to get out of harm’s way. Brewster noticed right away that Alucard is just another way of saying Dracula, but just brushed it off and didn’t remember until we were deep into the film. He could have saved lives if he had acted with a little more urgency. Lazlo was experienced at least so that was nice to see. He may have been the best character here even if that isn’t saying a lot. At least he was making a real effort to do his best.

The Sheriff meant well. When he investigated the place and found the dead body, it was certainly reasonable for him to suspect Brewster as an accomplice. It’s also hard to take their word for it that a vampire is on the prowl since that doesn’t seem all that reasonable. At least he was better than the other cop who couldn’t guard a man if his life depended on it and got scared of everything. If you’re going to be a cop, I feel like there’s at least a minimum level of bravery that you should have and it should be enough for you to not be scared of vampires.

Overall, Son of Dracula is more of less what you’d expect from the series. There’s not a whole lot to say about the film that I haven’t already. At least there was no animal violence this time. That’s certainly a nice start. The supporting cast was also quite reasonable for a change even if it could still be annoying how they wouldn’t realize anything until it was too late. The cops were a nice addition. I wouldn’t recommend this film and you should probably stay far away. Just remember for the next time that while Dracula can be scary, it can always be worse. You could be dealing with the Wolf Man who has less obvious weaknesses. With Dracula you can hold up to sticks and cross them and that’s enough to deter him. The ending to the film was pretty weak and here’s how it should have happened. Frank becomes a vampire along with Katherine and then they play it off like she was in the woods or something and that’s why her body vanished. She explains that they were just imagining they saw her dead body and this way everyone lives happily ever after. Sure, Frank didn’t get a choice on if he wanted to be a vampire or not, but it can’t always be perfect for the guy.

Overall 4/10

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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It’s time for a film based on a controversial case in Germany. Essentially there was a girl who was having visions and started acting crazy. Some believed she was possessed by a demon while others believed that she had psychosis and needed medication. She decided to go with the exorcism strategy instead, but it failed and so she ended up dying. The film focused on the court case which followed this while relying on flashbacks to fill in the gaps of the past.

It’s definitely not my kind of movie. Well, to address the case, I’m going to assume that she was simply very sick and not possessed. The topic of possession is always very complicated. I’m personally of the opinion that Christians cannot get possessed. At least not in the current age. It’s possible in the past that a Christian could get possessed as a test of faith or a way to illustrate God’s power to others. A child was possessed in the old testament after all, but there are two reasonings for it that wouldn’t necessarily go against my theory. One is that as she was a child, she had not yet become a born again Christian. As such she did not have any protection yet. Of course, even if she died while being possessed that wouldn’t doom her to Hell as another belief I have is that if you have not yet been given a chance to become a Christian before your death, then you still may if you would have become one. Since God knows the future, it’s conceivable (And probable) that he takes this into account. After all, it wouldn’t be very fair if you died in a bombing when you were 3 years old and must now go to Hell. It’s an exception depending on how you look at it or just simply a case of God knowing where you should be going and sending you there.

The other way the child could have been possessed is simply because Jesus had not yet died and so we weren’t given the Holy Spirit. I believe that our protection is a lot stronger now since through Jesus death on the cross we all received the Holy Spirit. Before that, times were certainly tougher even though you shouldn’t worry about the tribulations since it will all be worth it in the long run.

The girl was stated to be a devout Christian who was a Catholic. In this case that means she still believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also believes the Pope and the Church to have greater power than the average person and can be a way to salvation. That gets a little murky since Jesus is the one and only way to Christ, but I’m not here to debate Catholic vs Christian beliefs and haven’t studied up on it enough to ensure I wouldn’t make mistakes. I’ll just say that all of this gives me plenty of reason to doubt that she was possessed. I personally think she was just suffering from psychosis and had a lot of bad hallucinations that caused her to believe this. The mind is pretty powerful so hallucinations can absolutely seem real to the individual who is being affected by them.

It’s definitely a sad story and a pretty awful way to go. I suppose the film does a good job of showing how bad the whole situation is. Naturally the flashbacks go for the “demon is real” route since if it went too ambiguous it wouldn’t be much of a movie and this can also make the scenes more intense. The dream of sacrificing yourself to help others see the light doesn’t really seem like something the Virgin Mary would say. I also don’t remember her becoming an angel…..but it made for an intriguing scene. I believe that self sacrifice and suffering is a big part of the Catholic religion but hopefully that doesn’t fall into the being saved by works as opposed to repentance but again I’m starting to digress. Lets move on from that.

Back to the film. The court scenes are handled pretty well with the lawyers getting sarcastic and the Judge being fed up with both of them. It leads to a lot of back and forth even if some of the witnesses do seem kind of eccentric themselves. I just like court room scenes and whether the witnesses bring up valid points or not, I just like the atmosphere. If the whole film had been the court scenes then I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more.

Overall, This film is based on a real event enough so that I won’t give it an actual score. If you want to learn more about the case I’d recommend watching a documentary or following along through online. After all, if you watch the film you’re simply getting a very dramatized enactment of the story where you can’t trust the facts quite as much. I suppose the theatrical visuals will make it more entertaining but if you really want to learn about the topic, odds are that you’ll want to go straight to the source. 90% of the time that’s the best way to go about it. It’s not a super violent film or anything, but it does go into detail and again, it is trying for shock value and gritty realism so bear that in mind. As for me, I’ll just keep being thankful that my court case wasn’t too graphic. It was kind of rigged…but that’s a story for another day.

Halloween Review

This review is of the edited TV 14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
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Uh oh, it’s time for Halloween. It’s one of those iconic films that always makes you feel bad. After all if it did not exist, there’s a chance that we wouldn’t have nearly as many slashers as we have today. I’m sure they would have found a way eventually but it would have bought humanity more time. As it stands, this film did happen and it’s about as terrible as you can imagine. It’s hard to see how the sequels get worse than this one, but where there is a will there’s a way.

The film starts off with two weak willed individuals driving a van into the asylum. The brave guy keeps cutting off his partner and dashes out of the van to use the phone to call the warden. He doesn’t want to park too close so they can drive off faster so it’s a bit of a journey. In the meantime, the other driver notices someone jump on the car. She panics and decides to open the window to let this possible psycho in the car. He obliges her and throws her out so he can have fun making a get away. He proceeds to drive it back home and that’s the opening to our film. The mass murderer who was put away for life got back…because the trained professionals didn’t realize that opening a car door when someone is on the car is not a good move. The asylum is also interesting since the patients have complete free reign to do whatever they want. I suppose the justification is that this place is far removed from humanity so if they try running away they’ll never make it to the next town, but I don’t buy that. It seems like a pretty dangerous idea either way. Try not to think about the opening too much as it’s just foreshadowing for how bad the writing is.

We cut away to the main character, Laurie. She has a few more morals than the rest of the kids in school which makes her an outcast. She has to decide if she wants to stay with the cool crowd or be on her own. Her friend helpfully asks someone to take her to a party at some point and puts Laurie on the spot. That’s when she notices that she’s being followed by someone. Nobody else seems to notice though so Laurie puts it in the back of her mind. Even when a kid tells her he saw someone she laughs it off and drops a few more IQ points. I blame the drugs. It’s a shame that Laurie got into drugs, but it just reminds you that there are no good characters in the film. Will Michael Myers destroy the whole town or just part of it before they catch him?

Where to start right? Well, how about Laurie taking drugs? That was just so random and sad that it made you wonder why the film would do this. Building off of this, the characters are just really bad. Basically they’re portrayed as “mainstream” teenagers who only care about scoring and being the bad kids the adults think they are. Pretty much all of their lines are bad and none of them put up a fight against Myers. They just go down without a fight and their deaths usually last quite a while for extra grit.

The film is definitely pretty violent. Almost every character is choked and stabbed and the deaths just go on and on and on. There is also animal violence here as a dog dies so that definitely didn’t help the film’s situation at all. Honestly it was just another nail in the coffin. The film would have gotten a 0 either way, but it helps it sink down amidst the other 0 titles. It would be interesting to add negative scores, but there wouldn’t be much point and I just do that as a meme once in a while. Why did the film have to pick on the dog? He didn’t ask for this!

It’s also hard to believe that Myers has a lot of super strength and stuff just because he’s a mean guy. The film plays it off as if he is possessed by a demon of sorts which is at least a better explanation than none. Still, the heroes should be able to take him and the guy constantly escaping gets old fast. The “professionals” do a bad job of finding him since he goes just about everywhere in the city and yet they don’t see him. The doctor’s reason for not allowing the main cop to call in backup was terrible as well. Quite a few characters died so would they still be alive if the whole police force had shown up? Given the film we’re talking about I’m sure they would have all been defeated but at least they would have been around. It would at least make sense unlike this scenario where the doctor is basically an accomplice for Myers.

Ugh, you’ll be shaking your head as you watch this film the whole time. There’s nothing fun about it since it’s dark and gritty the whole time. There are no characters to root for and the only good theme in the movie gets played out. It’s catchy and iconic the first time around. It’s passable the next two times it shows up. By the rest of the dozens of times the film uses the theme, you are definitely over it. You can tell that there was a very limited budget since it seems like the film’s whole soundtrack was just made up of that one single song. Pretty underwhelming if you ask me. Unless a theme is completely amazing and one of the best ever, you can’t spam it for every other scene.

Overall, skip this film as fast as possible. The plot is paper thin and you can tell that the writers just wanted to make a slasher film and built the plot around that. Every character is annoying the film takes itself so seriously with the constant dark tone that you just want it to take a break already. The film is quite long so you’ll be here for a while and that’s why it’s impressive that there are basically no good scenes. It’s just edge after edge after edge. Think of any kind of bad scene and this film has probably got it.

Overall 0/10

Willard Review

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It’s time for one of those films that you know will be bad from the start. It has Rats in it which is a problem since it’ll lead to animal violence and the main character is super whiny. You can barely ask for a worse combination to start the film off with. Add in the gratuitous violence and you’ve got yourself another 0 to roll with. There are no redeeming factors in this movie so we may as well just jump in.

The film starts off with Willy heading home when he’s cornered by his boss (Al) and a co-worker. They mock Willy for a while because he forgot his papers once again and then they drive off. Willy is part of the sales department so he has to get the orders or the company can’t earn money. He doesn’t seem to care though because he only gives everything 10% of his effort. Any more than that and he would actually have to try. His father used to own the company but Al helped expedite his death with business pressure and took over the company. Willy’s family says that he should try to take the company back, but that doesn’t seem possible in his current state. If anything, it seems like he may be getting fired if he doesn’t clean up his act. Willy decides to start taking care of some rats in his spare time. Not out of any noble gestures, but so that he can satisfy his inferiority complex by being superior to something, in this case the rats. Willy goes on his power trips right away and edges closer to insanity. Will he live through this?

In case you couldn’t tell, I didn’t like Willard from the beginning. I never found him sympathetic because a lot of his failings on the job seem like his fault. Even if he has a lot of work I want to see him put an effort into finishing it. If he was truly overworked, I would have liked for the film to give some evidence on that. We know Al doesn’t like Willard, but we don’t know that the work was too much for the guy. He didn’t handle any of the situations well either. The party scene is a good example of this as he just leaves instead of talking things out with the guests. They didn’t seem all that reasonable, but Willard basically just lets everyone walk all over him until he snaps. He is all about extremes with no middle ground. Willard also takes his frustration out on the rats which essentially makes him no better than Al. It’d be nice if he could see that, but that wasn’t in the cards. Willy is essentially a bully as well so there’s no rooting for the guy. He murders and yells at rats just to satisfy his ego.

I was actively rooting against him, but the problem is that there aren’t really any characters to root for. The main heroine is the only decent character and even she can be a bit odd. Buying Willard a cat out of the blue is not something you do. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people aren’t looking for a pet and couldn’t just accept such a responsibility out of the blue. Still, she meant well at least so I’m glad the film let her go without getting eaten or something.

Al’s the main villain and he’s a pretty mean guy. He likes humiliating Willard and getting the last laugh. He pushes the main character around for quite a while until plot hax sets in. Willard breaks in with his rat army which is cool and all, but Al could have just pushed through the door and ran off. The rats could chase him, but it would be tough to down the guy. Instead…he just stands still and begs for mercy. It works well if this was Willard’s big delusion as he finally gets his revenge on everyone, but it’s hard to see it all going so smoothly.

Then Willard’s neighbors turn out to be burglars who like stealing everything. It was a pretty intriguing subplot and she still beat a lot of the other characters. In another subplot, Willard wants to keep his mansion as a matter of pride even though he isn’t earning enough money to support it. Now this is just selfish as he goes around asking for money when there is no way he will be able to return it. He should have just gotten a smaller house and a lot of the issues here could have been resolved.

As for other factors that doomed the movie, there is a considerable amount of animal violence here. Rats are smashed, stabbed, and drowned. It’s unfortunate that Rats are always used for all of these vile experiments. Even in real life everything is tested on them and I somehow don’t think they were treated well in this film. I try not to think about those aspects while watching, but the actor does throw quite a few of them around at various points and since they were using live rats throughout the film, it just doesn’t bode well. The whole film is just very distasteful and mean spirited. Even the Rats banding together and murdering everyone by the end isn’t fun because it’s just continuing the mean cycle. Sure, they got their revenge through more violent scenes, but where’s the happy ending? I’m glad Willard didn’t get a happy ending since he didn’t deserve one, but after a while there’s just no high road for the film to take.

Overall, another issue is that this film also feels like it goes on forever. It just keeps on going and going. Since I didn’t like the characters, that only made the feeling even worse. I don’t know what else to say except that you should absolutely avoid this film. Even as far as horror films go, this one is quite terrible. It’s only good for taking a nap since it’ll put you to sleep. I suppose it can be good as a coaster, but then you’d have to see the cover every time you reach for your drink and that would get brutal very quickly. So, you’re better off just staying out of this film’s way and forgetting that it exists.

Overall 0/10

Tales of Terror Review

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It’s time for a horror anthology. If there are any two words that should strike fear into your heart, it’s those last two words. Horror films don’t have a good track record and the same can and will be said for anthologies. Merging the two results in a lot of opportunities for the film to get ruined. Unfortunately this one is no exception and you’ll find yourself wondering what the point of this film was. The first of the shorts is easily the best one, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

The first segment sees Lenora get home. She has visited her father to guilt trip him one last time before she moves away. He doesn’t want to see her because he blames her for the death of his wife. They argue quite a bit with Lenora constantly explaining how she never should have come here and her father insulting her. Eventually the ghost of her mother wakes up to murder Lenora and then take down the father. They all die together in the mansion. It’s a pretty somber ending to what was overall a somber special. The whole time you just have to wonder why Lenora would possibly want to come over. It’s well known from the start that her father had never even talked to her because he was so upset at what happened in the past so it all came off as rather strange. I couldn’t understand Lenora’s motivation here.

Even worse is the fact that she made sure to come after the last bus had left so she would be stuck there for the night. It’s almost as if she came over purely to start complaining and egging the father on into doing something he might regret. I thought the film was going to have him murder her which would have been super dark so I’m glad they didn’t go that route. It was the best special of the 3, but that’s really not saying much at all.

The 2nd segment is about a drunk guy named Montresor. He is always mean to his wife and cat (Points deducted instantly!) and keeps on stealing money from them. He doesn’t care if they starve as long as he gets his beer. He breaks into a wine testing convention and manages to snag 2nd place. Fortunato doesn’t like being humiliated so he quickly gets together with Montresor’s wife in secret. Montresor finds out and murders them, but luckily the cops come and put him away.

Another rather grim story and one that is completely unenjoyable from start to finish. I don’t want to see the cat getting threatened with murder and being thrown around the whole time. Those scenes are just terrible and the cast puts up with Montresor the whole time. Why isn’t the guy in jail yet? It’s all rather hard to watch as you are tempted to go and rent something a little classier at the special is playing. Sure, they caught Montresor but only after he murdered the two of them. Justice was a little late to say the least. The sad thing is that this wasn’t necessarily the weakest story as the third one also gets a little dicey.

The third story probably has the least intelligent characters of the bunch. An old guy is on his death bed and agreed to let a scientist hypnotize him at the very end. The experiment is to see if the hypnosis can prevent his death for a little while. The scientist quickly launches into his experiment and sure enough, the old man won’t die. Finally the living corpse begs for death, but the scientist merely laughs. Months pass and he is still forcing the corpse to live. So in this time…everyone just allowed that to happen? Geez, some friends.

The main heroine then decides to confront the scientist on her own even though she knows that he is dangerous and criminally insane. Her friend even comes along with his gun to protect her but she tells him to leave and then locks the door. In the most predictable move ever, the scientist then decides that he’ll take her by force and she’s only saved when the corpse wakes up and murders him. That still has to take the cake as one of the worst decisions out there. Why would you knowingly put yourself in such a terrible position. Going 1 on 1 with someone far stronger and confirmed to be dangerous? Clearly this heroine wasn’t very smart and the low quality attempt at creating tension in the film was just pitiful.

Overall, This film was pretty bad. I’m pretty confident now that Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are not nearly as good as you’d suspect from his reputation. I’ve now seen two anthologies based on his stories and they were both pretty dreadful. They’re just not good and while making good horror stories is difficult, it can be done. You just have to construct quality stories with no short cuts or characters making terrible decisions. It shouldn’t be a story about everyone dying just for kicks or to see the spirit slaughter them all. A good story should give the heroes a chance. Sad endings definitely can work as well so long as they have a purpose. This film just didn’t have one and comes across as incredibly mean spirited the whole time. So, like pretty much every other Roger Corman film, you’ll want to skip this one.

Overall 1/10

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

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It’s time for another Pirates of the Caribbean film. This series has never been synonymous with quality and this film certainly doesn’t change that. It’s a bad mash of characters trying to be funny along with crude humor. I’ve never been able to get along with the franchise and at this point I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s dead in the water at this point. I like to think that the sequel will be better…but it won’t be.

The film starts off with Jack attempting to rob a bank. Unfortunately it seems like he let the door hit him on the way out so he fell asleep while getting drunk inside. The cops open the bank vault and notice him, but don’t do anything about it so Jack gets away. He gets kidnapped and captured several more times after this until he eventually runs into Henry and Carina. Carina wants to find this legendary treasure and Henry wants the treasure so that he can bring his Dad back from being an undead zombie. Jack just wants a good beer. Meanwhile, Salazar and his crew are hunting for Jack. They want to destroy him once and for all since Jack defeated Salazar back when he was just a kid. The race is on!

Yes, we finally get Jack’s backstory. It doesn’t add anything to the film though so we can skip that. Jack is still a very terrible character. He’s always drunk and everyone ends up pushing him around. He can fight to an extent, but usually just remains alive due to plot armor and writing shields. He helps people cheat on their significant others just because he can and seemingly has no morals. He’s always joking but since the writing isn’t good the lines don’t work well. It’s just a mess and that’s putting it lightly. There really isn’t anything likable about Jack.

As for the other main lead, Henry is fairly generic. I guess it’s admirable that he completely ignored Salazar’s threats and went to go get Jack anyway. Saving his father is a noble goal as well, but getting mixed up with these pirates may not have been his best move. He didn’t do a great job of saving Carina either. Henry is a huge step up from Jack, but he’s just pretty generic and there aren’t any really great character traits that he possesses to make him memorable either. You’ll just remember him as another pirate with a sword.

Carina talks a good game as the main heroine, but can rarely back it up. The defiant personality trope can be quite good when handled well, but you can’t just talk the talk. She insults everyone and is constantly bragging about how smart she is, but at the end of the day she doesn’t contribute a whole lot. Her inclusion into the film seems to mainly have been for fanservice and iffy dialogue so I definitely don’t think the film used her all that well. As with Henry, she can just be rather generic.

Next up is Salazar, the main villain. He tries to toe the line of being a funny villain as well as a super evil one. Unfortunately he falls down as a result. His funny scenes aren’t very funny and while he does murder a bunch of people, it’s hard to enjoy him as a villain. Between his design and the fact that it has taken him forever and a day to get revenge on Jack, you have to wonder what he’s been doing all these years. An old villain/rival, Barbossa shows up as well and gets his character arc. I wouldn’t say it’s a great one either as I just don’t like the character. It’s probably a good thing that he didn’t mention the plot twist out loud because that would have been very shocking for all parties involved.

This franchise may try hard, but at this point it’s probably going to need a full reboot to get good. One of the main problems as I mentioned earlier is how there is so much crude humor here. The characters are all rather grotesque. It’s not as extreme as in previous films but enough to make you shake your heads. The designs for the villains prioritize looking dead and old as opposed to scary. The writing is very bad and that ends up hurting the film as well. Throw in the fact that the film is super long and you don’t have the most pleasant of experiences.

I mean, the film also takes place in the olden times for extra salt. Can’t I at least have cool buildings to look at in the meantime? Part of the problem is that pirates aren’t interesting and this whole historical period isn’t very interesting to watch. Everything is very old and dirty. The ocean looks the same after a while and I just miss my neon glass towers. At least we did get an evil ship that had fangs and ghost sharks. Those were interesting enough I suppose. Jack and friends probably should have died during the encounter but the villains can’t catch a break.

There is an after credits scene so if you actually watched the film then I guess you should stick around for it. It seems like the MnMs villain is back which isn’t very exciting. Again, it was a crude humor gimmick where he litters everywhere as he walks with old candy and stuff. I guess they’re going for a horror element with that ending, but this series won’t be able to pull it off. It’ll be back to comedy mode before you know it.

Overall, The writers for the Pirate series must like playing it safe. I feel like just about every Pirates film is the same and they just don’t do anything new. It’s the same old story of Jack making a mockery of everyone and somehow managing to live into the next film. It’s a cycle that just never ends and the films keep making money so that’s not going to stop anytime soon. I just don’t even remotely see the appeal of the franchise and until I do, it’s probably a lost cause for me.

Overall 2/10