5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Light in the Piazza Review


It’s time to look at a romance film from a long time ago. We get to spend most of it in Italy so it’s always fun to have another location at the ready. It’s definitely a very busy area with a lot of people running around throughout the film. The heroines even come close to getting hit by a car near the beginning of the film. I wouldn’t say it’s all that good, but the film has some unique twists. Ultimately it’s just hard to get behind the romance plots here and Meg has one scene near the end that is very suspect.

The film starts with Meg and Clara enjoying the sights in Italy. Clara ends up dropping her hat but fortunately a nice young man by the name of Fabrizio shows up to snatch it. He has some fun running with the hat before finally giving it back to Clara. He instantly confesses to being deeply in love with Clara but Meg tries to break this off right away. See, Clara effectively has the mental abilities of a child so she always speaks her mind instantly and throws tantrums. She also falls in love quite easily and ultimately has gotten rejected quite a few times once they find out. This is what happened even in the latest relationship before this one which is why they went to Italy. So, Clara is always rebounding with someone and that makes you doubt how serious the relationship itself is.

With this in mind Meg just wants to avert another disaster but Fabrizio is far too cunning. He is fairly wealthy so he pays everyone off so they say where the main characters are at all times. It’s pretty impressive in some respects since this was before the age of cell phones. That means the guy had to do a whole lot of legwork to keep up with them. He’s determined to be sure but can’t really take no for an answer. He works well for a movie but I don’t see this approach working out too well nowadays otherwise. At least he never doubts his love for Clara so even if it started out as purely superficial (Love at first sight can be nothing else as you know nothing about the person at the time) it’s fair to say that it was genuine shortly after. The language gap if anything was actually a good thing since it helped them connect. The film is consistent in portraying Fabrizio as a nice guy.

Now, Meg could have quickly just laid the cards out on the table and see if he still feels the same way. Ultimately she just isn’t able to work up the courage to do so. She bonds fairly well with Fabrizio’s father Signor although that guy is less reasonable. He gives us the worst scene in the film where he convinces Meg to briefly cheat with him and would have gone further if she hadn’t declined. Definitely not a classy guy in the slightest since he is supposed to be married as well. Why couldn’t this guy have stayed classy? He was handling himself rather well for most of the film but definitely messed up the landing there. The whole ID fiasco was also sketchy.

It’s effectively the film trying to throw a quick red herring into the mix. Now if this is a big cultural thing then I guess it could work, but I don’t buy Signor forgetting Fabrizio’s age. I figured there would be a twist about that but the film never really goes into it. When it comes to age, so long as both parties are over 18 a few years isn’t a big deal. I think you definitely can’t go over 10 though or at least I don’t see it going well. Ideally you should be within 2-3 years of each other but I don’t think a few more make much of a difference either. Eventually it becomes a bit relative. Signor seemed more interested in the money by the end though as he perks up when Meg lies about their giving them a bigger gift from the father.

The way the film ends, Fabrizio and his family don’t know much of anything yet. They’ll have to deal with the consequences of the money and Clara’s status at a later date. Perhaps they will never find out as Meg suspects since their days are mostly spent sitting and gossiping but the money will have to be addressed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Noel would just give it though. Now that he won’t have to pay for the school either way he will have extra money on hand so perhaps it won’t really matter. Either way Signor was definitely no good and as I recall his character he would have to be the worst one in the film.

The film’s writing isn’t bad. Again, I can’t buy into the romance because it all feels like a lot of rebounds but in general it is hard to write romances. You tend to see more misses than hits in that field. Otherwise it’s a fun enough script and it’s also interesting seeing the process of learning Italian. I find it to be a little difficult since I’m already a little familiar with Spanish so it just gets confusing with the slight changes. I’m sure if you learned it first then it would be a lot easier or for some it may be easier to learn it after since a lot of it would be the same.

As for Clara herself, she’s an ok character. She can definitely be pretty unreasonable at times like not wanting to listen to any worries about Fabrizio and getting a bit obsessive at times. She definitely put him as the top priority even though they just met which isn’t a good move. Romance shouldn’t be at your top of the list of priorities. It ends up wrecking her day more often than not since she can’t really enjoy any of the other activities on the trip. They all seemed pretty fun too like hanging out as fancy restaurants and visiting the landmarks.

Overall, Light in the Piazza is definitely one of those stories about how love triumphs over all. At the end of the day Fabrizio’s persistence was definitely rewarded. He never gave up and did everything he could in order to win over Clara’s heart. In truth he won it over very quickly and Meg was the only real obstacle in his path. It does show that you have to be careful since everyone can be bought though. Even the hotel manager wasn’t safe as he called right when they left the place. So, next time someone nonchalantly asks where you’re going you may want to think twice before giving out that information.

Overall 5/10

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Battle Angel Alita Review


Now it’s time to take a look at a big thriller film that came out a while back. The trailers for Alita always looked like a lot of fun. It definitely had a solid budget behind it and the story looked to be on point as well. You just couldn’t go wrong with this one or so I thought. As I watched the film I was pretty happy with how it turned out. The movie was easily at the level of an 8 star movie and it’s safe to say that this would automatically put it as one of the greatest Sci-Fi films of all time. Unfortunately then the film jumped the shark with one critical scene that shot itself right in the foot. It’s a shame but at least I can still have a lot of hype for the sequel now since it’s unlikely that it would do the same plot point again. I mean…it better not because that would just be terrible writing!

So the film starts off with a scientist named Dyson finding a broken robot in the junkyard. He repairs her and names the girl Alita. She doesn’t know where she came from or anything like that but she seems to have a talent for fighting. Dyson warns her not to get into trouble but in this corrupt future that’s a tall order. She meets up with a guy named Hugo who quickly takes her to the rowdier spots in town and she also notices Dyson heading off on one of his bounty hunter missions. The more Alita finds out, the less content she is with just observing. She aims to fix this future if it’s the last thing she does.

Lets quickly get some background on this future. There are two main areas of society. Those who live in the air and are considered high class, and then you’ve got the guys on the ground who struggle to survive. The only change you have of ever getting to the rich zone is through Motorball. If you become the grand champion then you will be elevated. Everyone else makes money however they can. It’s a brutal world where you can be murdered just about anywhere. There are no cops anymore and the black market is right out on the open. You’ve got gangs who go around ripping people up and seeing off their mechanical parts. So, no place is really safe which is why I have issues with Dyson not helping Alita get combat ready. Even if he didn’t want her to get in danger, wouldn’t he feel better if she was at least in a super safe body with extra durability?

So lets talk about all of the things the film does right first. The special effects here are quite solid. The battle scenes are all excellent. Right when Alita takes down the thugs in the alleyway you know the rest of the film is going to be a blast. There’s a lot of great choreography here. I also think a good amount of it was probably borrowed from Spider-Man with the poses and landing techniques as well. It all moves very quick with a solid back and forth during each battle. These feel like battles inspired by a manga and definitely hold their own as some of the best live action fights I’ve seen in a long time. You don’t really see this kind of action outside of CBM’s usually so you’ve always got to savor the genre while you can. If we get more manga adaptions like this it shouldn’t even be such a rare thing. This is what a DBZ fight could turn into down the road.

The graphics are so good that a lot of scenes from the film look like they’re straight out of a CGI film. During the whole movie Alita always looked CG although I suppose to an extent that’s because of the edits they did to the face. It reminds me of those phone apps where you take a picture of yourself and get an anime look. The main character looks like that process was done to her throughout the whole film. Mix that in with the interesting sci-fi backdrops and I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me that the whole film was real locations that were digitized and this was low key a CGI film all along. It’s all pretty surreal and unique which works out quite well here.

Battle Angel Alita also makes the most of the sci-fi backdrop. This may be a pretty grim future but at least we kept the tech this time around as opposed to those futures where everything is back to the wild west for some reason. I also liked the Motorball sport. My only question though is if you’re fast enough to get to the lead, once you have the ball shouldn’t you be able to just race to the finish? It seems like whenever someone would grab the ball then the others would suddenly catch up. All I can think of is the ball is that heavy or when you grab it you feel a lot of pressure so you go a lot slower. Regardless, it’s a pretty fun sport. Definitely high stakes since you can get wrecked at any point but I suppose that’s part of the point.

I wouldn’t say I can recall many of the tunes here but I remember them being solid while watching the film. Then we’ve also got a very strong main character in Alita. What I like about Alita is that she’s very quick to jump into action. She doesn’t back down when it gets dangerous and also doesn’t hesitate. Her scene in the alley was pretty powerful as she took down the 3 enemies who stood in her way. When you consider that she had no memories at the time and this was her first fight after being rebuilt, it was pretty courageous of her. You can tell that she makes for a dependable ally. My favorite scene for her was in the bar though when she challenges everyone to stand up or to stay as cowards. She delivered quite a lot of damage to all of them there and I liked this confident portrayal of her character. She started out strong and ended strong. Alita’s not a main heroine you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

It’s not surprising that the film had such great positives. As I mentioned, it was on track for an easy 8. So where did it falter? Well, there’s one scene where a dog shows up and the instant that happened I had a lot of warning bells go off. Unfortunately the villain decides to target him and the heroes all sit on their hands and just allow it to happen. The film tries to minimize the damage by having the dog murdered off screen but it’s still a rather vicious scene and one that was undeserved. We didn’t need this to happen and it also doesn’t make any sense in context since Alita should have been able to block the attack. It’s not like she needed any extra motivation either. No matter how you slice it, this was just for shock value and it completely destroyed the film’s score with a massive 3 point swing.

The writing is pretty good otherwise though. The film decides to go edgy with one line Alita has, but otherwise there’s a good script here. One scene that was unintentionally funny though was the big villain meeting. So you’ve got Grewishka, Chiren, and Vector all in the same room. Up to now we can assume Vector is the leader. Well, he comes in talking really tough and intimidating Chiren so Grewishka threatens Victor…by saying that Chiren shouldn’t be messed with. Vector then feels the fear as Chiren threatens him and hit the ground…then he gets up and threatens Chiren so she backs off. The whole thing had me doing a double take because then who is the boss? Well, once Vector’s eyes started to light up then it all made sense so the scene quickly has more context since this happens right after that but otherwise it was worth a good chuckle.

There’s a little more detail to this at the end of the film. I wouldn’t say that either Chiren or Vector made for particularly solid villains though. Chiren made her choices but ultimately couldn’t live with them which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then you have Vector who’s not exactly the smartest villain around. His plans weren’t terrible I suppose but you’d think that he could have acted a lot sooner once he knew where Alita was. He basically gave her complete freedom until it was too late. I did like Grewishka and Zapan as villains though. Grewishka was definitely determined and managed to put up a solid fight multiple times. While he was critical in destroying the film, as an antagonist he was pretty fierce.

Then you have Zapan who is rather weak to be honest but he was really solid in the scene where Alita beats the guy up. Look, he’s super petty but that’s part of what makes him a fun villain to have around. He gets off extremely easy all things considered though. I just don’t get it. Alita should have taken him out a whole lot sooner so what happened to Hugo was really her fault to an extent. She needed to be more decisive even if he was terrible at explaining things himself. I also liked the lady villain who fought Alita in the android because she had a good amount of confidence but she didn’t exactly last very long.

I had some problems with Dyson though. Again, the guy didn’t do much to protect Alita in this crazy world. He should have prepared her with the new armor right away and taught her more. Why be surprised when she starts rebelling with how restrictive he was right? Then there’s Hugo who is one of the weakest characters in the film. He’s a total villain for a large chunk of it and the romance is pretty weak. Hugo and Alita shouldn’t have connected and even by the end it’s hard to really sympathize with the guy. He always makes the wrong calls again and again. He was definitely holding her back.

Battle Angel had quite the body count though. You may be surprised at how many people get sliced apart. The film’s not super violent or anything as they’re robots a lot of the time and even when a human gets sliced in half the camera quickly cuts away. Still, the deaths tend to happen very quickly and without warning so it can catch you off guard if you’re not ready. It really shows how this world is so dangerous and why you need to be careful. If you don’t have cool robot abilities then you probably should hide at home because it seems like going outside is pretty much rolling the dice. There are just so many crazy abilities to watch out for and a human stands no chance. In a way you want to turn into a cyborg as soon as possible because then at least you have a chance to defend yourself.

Overall, Battle Angel Alita is a very fun movie. You’ll have a blast for about 95% of it. I can’t stress enough how unfortunate the whole dog thing was. It was just not needed but it is what it is. I’d recommend checking this film out if you like Sci-Fi action. There’s a lot of that to be had here and all of the technicals are at a super high level. This is a film with masterful pacing and you are unlikely to find a better Sci-Fi around right now. That said, I have a lot of confidence that the sequel will be just as good. After seeing the hype ending to Tokyo Drift I wasn’t expecting another ending to be quite on that level for a while but this one is also very good. Definitely gets you hyped the right way.

Overall 5/10

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Little Women (1949) Review


It’s time to look at the next adaption of the classic Little Women story. While it will feel very familiar to the last one as they mainly tackle the same events, I’d say that it is executed better. Personally I found this one to be quite a bit more enjoyable than the last version. Some of the plots still aren’t the best and the final romance feels rushed but at least the film tries to address this since there are technically a few time skips. I’ll give the film some points for effort there even if ultimately it didn’t work.

The film follows a group of sisters who are currently having fun times. Their father has went off to war and so the family isn’t doing particularly well financially but they have each other which has always been enough for them. Jo is the main character and she is an aspiring writer. One day she aims to be featured in the papers and to have her books published. In the meantime she writes plays for the family to perform. One day a boy moves in next day and they hit it off but Jo is determined to stay as friends. She believes that none of the main characters should fall in love because then the dynamic will change. She’s not wrong, but can you actually say no to romance in a movie?

Jo’s idea isn’t all that bad. The idea of having a friend is a good one. You shouldn’t always feel pressured to take that to the next step. It’s not really her place to hold any of the other sisters back though. It may be a shame that the dynamic has to change but ultimately that was bound to happen one way or the other. Time is not stagnant and so eventually every dynamic ends up crumbling. You either adapt with it or you’ll spend your time relying too much on your memories of the past. The film’s pretty predictable on if Jo ends up succumbing to romance or not so be prepared for that.

There are quite a few subplot though as each sister gets her own plot. They meet people, one of them grows sick, etc. The film isn’t afraid to tackle some tough themes as well with one character dying. Each character has their own burden to bear whether it be physical or emotional. Part of what hurt in the previous version was that it was really hard to care much about the story. It was all just way too old and the writing came across as rather sluggish. This one does a better job with the writing and streamlining the plot. There also appeared to be a significant age gap in the final romance in the last film which is corrected here. It’s hard to see an age gap of more than 10 which I tend to consider as the cut off. Even that is already on the wider side.

Jo’s definitely the most entertaining character of the group. She’s got a lot of energy and tends to dismiss formalities and just be herself. It’s something that was quite rare back in the day so it really makes her stand out from the rest. Meg, Amy, and Beth are reasonable characters as well although there is less notable about them. While Beth is a lot younger than the others she always composes herself well with solid dignity. Meg and Amy mainly follow the standard path of falling in love right away. They’re solid characters even if one of them does end up rebounding with someone who liked Jo at one point which is a bit sketchy. You’d think that if someone likes the sister you would definitely not start a relationship there. It seems a bit like a betrayal even if the relationship was over. I just don’t think that’s something you should ever do.

There’s not a whole lot more to say that I didn’t already say in the first film. It’s pretty much the same movie only this one is newer. Due to the nature of the movie it’s also not like a whole lot happens. The runtime is fairly long though. I’d say that the writing is fine. It may not be winning any awards anytime soon, but it does the job and everyone feels like a real character which is important. It’s all fairly realistic for its time. That’s why I’d like the next Little Women adaption to get a little more out there. Have it take place in the future or something. I think that would end up being quite excellent as a change of scenery would end up helping quite a lot. It’s exactly the surge of new energy that the film could use and I think it would end up taking it quite far.

Overall, Little Women seems to be pretty faithful to the book based on how similar it is to the last one. It’s a classic slice of life story and if anything may be one of the most fitting installments in the genre. This is exactly what you would expect out of a slice of life if you ask me. There may not be any danger or villains but you do get to see the characters live out their lives and change as time goes on. It’s all quite dramatic in a social way. If this kind of plot really interests you then you should check it out. Personally I think slice of life films need a bit more comedy to really hit it home for me. If you play it too serious then it becomes a bit too close to real life and so I don’t really see the point of the film. A good film needs to be highly entertaining. This film isn’t, but it’s not boring either which is why I place it squarely in the middle. It’s not a bad film but I couldn’t imagine watching it a second time.

Overall 5/10

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Seven Samurai Review


It’s time to look at a classic film that came out all the way back in 1954. People will remember that year as the Godzilla debut but this film also made some waves as well. It would later inspire other big films like The Magnificent Seven which grabbed this formula and improved upon it. Seven Samurai is a film with a decent premise but one that drags on quite a lot with padding being thrown in for most scenes. This film would have benefited from cutting out around 90-120 minutes and would have resulted in a movie with tighter pacing and a more engaging story. As it stands, it’s a reasonable movie if you really like the old samurai setting but otherwise I would highly advise checking out The Magnificent Seven instead.

The movie starts off with the villagers wondering what they should do. A group of bandits show up every year and steal all of their food and crops. If they strike again these guys probably won’t be able to survive. Some of them think they should just roll over and die while others think they should fight. They reach out to the village elder and he tells them to recruit some Samurai. It’ll be tough because they have no money and almost no food but it’s their best option. They manage to reach out to one samurai named Kambei for help. He tells them that they will need 7 Samurai in able to pull this off. Gradually they locate the rest of the samurai and head to the village to get ready to fight the Bandits. Will this group of fighters really be enough to take down the villains or are they all marching towards their graves?

So the main problem with this film is really the length. It’s well over 3 hours and you need to have a pretty good excuse to make your film that long. Very few films have gone for such a length because it’s so difficult. A lot of big blockbusters nowadays could easily stretch themselves out to 3 hours and you could see it working well like Mission Impossible, Avengers, Batman V Superman, etc but even those usually end up cutting content to stay under the 3. 3 hours is just a very long time and you have to have dynamite characters and a great story or it will inevitably drag out. So I always say that having a long runtime is not necessarily a good or a bad thing. All theatrical films should aim to at least be 2 hours but if they really know that they don’t have enough story for it than cutting it down to a shorter length is fine. That’s really what Seven Samurai should have done because the plot isn’t built for 3 hours.

What I described above is really the main plot. It’s very direct and you don’t need a lot of time for it. As a result we get a ton of what I’d call filler scenes. Characters just walking around, making faces, laughing with the locals, etc. There are so many scenes here that could have been cut entirely and other scenes that could have been trimmed down. You could definitely make this roughly a 90 minute film while keeping in all of the key scenes. It’s what the movie should have done because it’s not as if it does many things wrong. My negatives with the film are rather brief other than the length. It just made the film rather boring at times and you would often be waiting for the film to get to the next moment.

Another issue here is really that there wasn’t much of a villain. None of the bandits are given any real character development. They have absolutely no presence in the story and you would be hard pressed to remember any of their names if they even got any. This is a problem because that makes this a samurai film with no real fight scenes. There are general action scenes where the two forces collide, but there is no true battle scene where the heroes use their blades in battle. Every “fight” is just a one and done slice that ends the match in an instant. I would have liked to have seen some actual fights here as that would have made the film a whole lot more exciting.

Seven Samurai also goes out of its way to make the villagers really unlikable. You have one subplot where the father forces the daughter to cut off her hair and physically attacks her when she gets together with one of the samurai. Nobody does anything about this and it makes the samurai look pretty bad for just watching the whole time. I’d have liked at least one character to have stepped in and totally put a stop to it. At the end of the day they yell at the guy a bit but don’t do much more than that. That ties in a bit to the characters angle.

From the main characters the only real solid one was the quiet samurai who is really good at fighting. He murdered his first opponent after being forced into a fight and from there he took down a bunch of other enemies. He is definitely treated as the most powerful samurai in the film and that is pretty clear after his initial scenes. The others are strong enough I suppose as they all contribute. Kambei is also a reasonably solid lead and is good at making the plans. We don’t really get to see him fight much but you know that he is skilled.

How much you enjoy the film will probably also depend on how you enjoy the setting. This is taking place in very old times of course so don’t expect to see any sleek buildings or a modern Tokyo/NYC type environment. The characters are struggling to survive in a poor setting so everything can be pretty muddy and desolate. You definitely feel the desperation in all of the characters here since they’re about to fight in a life or death battle and the people they’re protecting don’t even trust them. It really puts the Samurai in a tough spot.

I’d say the best part of the film is the soundtrack. It can be a little overly dramatic for the scenes that are playing but I think a good soundtrack works even if it is misplaced. For example, a cool rock song will sound just as awesome whether it’s played during an emotional scene or a battle moment. So either way I liked the classic opera theme that would play when the characters were thinking. It was like a subtle darkness approaching kind of message. This theme shows up quite a lot and I was always happy to see it appear.

Overall, Seven Samurai is a decent film but one that is incredibly dragged out and is best to watch in short batches. The writing is okay and the film would have been greatly improved with some more action scenes and more interesting characters. With all the time we had I think you could have developed all of them with more personality. I’d like to see some in-fighting and that would have been a good way to accomplish both goals at once. Ultimately I don’t think you’ll remember most of the characters much after finishing this one but at long as you have one standout character that’ll help. So check this one out if you want to see a classic team up film but otherwise you can just jump ahead in time and check out a different title.

Overall 5/10

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The Firm 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.

It’s time to look as a retro Tom Cruise thriller. It’s always fun watching a film with him as the lead because you expect some craziness will ensue. This one was before he became more of an action star so he isn’t actually doing a lot of fighting here. Still, this film does have its share of action and intrigue as dealing with big business can be difficult. It’s an entertaining film that does have its share of issues, but still ends up being worth the watch.

The movie starts with Mitch graduating Law school and now everybody wants to hire him. He gets quite a lot of really great offers and ultimately decides to go with a small firm. The reason for this is they offer him a ton of money and there are a lot of nice perks to the job like a new car. It’s all pretty perfect so naturally the group turns out to be shady. Whenever someone tries to leave their firm they always have an “accident” which doesn’t end up well for them. Anyone who looks into the group is shot falls off of a boat. Either way the message here is that you are not getting out of The Firm alive. Will Mitch be the first to survive or will he fall as well?

The tricky part here is once you’re in then it’s hard to get out and Mitch went all in. He moved and has presumably started spending this money so there’s a lot on him at the moment. He then makes a huge mistake and has an affair even though he was just recently married to Abby. He was literally away from her for a single day and he couldn’t control himself? That was just pretty terrible and it made things awfully easy for the villains to blackmail him. It’s a lot harder to sympathize with Mitch after that because there was just no excuse for the cheating.

Mitch stumbled out of the gate so at least he was good at strategy. Near the end of the film he has to come up with a plan to fool both the FBI and the Firm and that’s no easy task. Fortunately he has the help of a lady named Tammy. After her friend was murdered by the Firm she’s decided to help take revenge on them. She is key to winning this battle as there’s no way Mitch could have done this on his own. She does a lot of the legwork and actual printing of the materials to get back at the villains. Abby also ends up helping although Mitch isn’t aware of this.

Unfortunately her part of the plot isn’t quite as good. Naturally the film decides to go with the trick of having her woo Avery to get into his apartment and steal the files. The whole thing’s pretty bad. In part it’s revenge on Mitch and in part just because she wants to do whatever she can to contribute. It’s still not the ideal plot though and I’d have preferred that she just brought a gun and kept Avery away with that. It would have been a good way to still get in the apartment and steal what was needed.

We also have a plot involving Mitch’s brother Ray. Ray is in jail for murdering someone. The film never goes into detail but Mitch mentions that it was a bar brawl that escalated so ideally let’s say that it was accidental. Mitch decides to bust Ray out of jail while he’s at it and comes up with an elaborate deal to do this. He certainly keeps the FBI busy throughout all of this. The Firm is definitely at its best when it’s juggling all of these plots. A lot is constantly happening during the film and all of the plots are connected which is definitely fun. The writing is pretty solid here and the film has good pacing. This is a thriller that will keep your attention from start to finish.

There are a lot of firm executives and they’re all pretty fun. Avery certainly gets the most screen time and he’s portrayed as a pretty nice guy but that’s really to hide how deep into the business he is. The guy’s just as complicit as everyone else even if he may not act the part. Standing by and doing nothing just makes you another villain. The film did well with the humor though. He has some nice scenes along with Mitch when convincing their first client. I also enjoyed the opening montage of Mitch getting offers from everyone. The first half of the film is pretty light with its tone and the film does a good job of balancing this. It never really gets too dark although there can be a lot of drama at different times.

This is one film that could have ended a lot sooner or gone over more smoothly if Mitch had just talked to Abby near the beginning though. Since they all might have been in danger then he should have let her know right away. By the time he went to a detective he already suspected something might have been up so he should have kept her in the loop. If anything by not telling her it made everything more suspicious like when she went to the office looking for him. He had no real reason to keep that a secret. As a main character Mitch really just wasn’t that good.

Overall, The Firm is a decent movie. It’s got enough holding it back where I wouldn’t be tempted to give it a re-watch at any point for quite a long time, but I still wouldn’t call it a bad film. It feels like there’s more they could have done with the concept though. If anything the first half feels like it could have gone on longer with Mitch not suspecting that anything was wrong with the organization before they started showing him stuff. If anything they make it a little too obvious that they’re crooked from the jump with constantly pressuring the characters into having kids, Abby can’t have a job, and the employees die right as Mitch gets there. It’s a bit convenient to get Mitch suspicious rather early. I’d also make Mitch a better character and switch Abby’s subplot. Those things would all help but if you do want a thriller film dealing with the Law then this is still a decent one to check out.

Overall 5/10

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The World, the Flesh and the Devil Review


Well, you certainly can’t say that the title isn’t unique. It’s an attention grabber although admittedly in the opposite way of what the film is going for. If I walked into a theater and saw a film with this name I’d do a quick 180 and head back to Sbarro’s. Still, the film is reasonably good. I had some major complaints with the main characters as none of them were particularly likable but it made for a solid plot nonetheless.

The film starts with Ralph getting stuck underground. After a few days it seems like everyone has given up on him so Ralph reluctantly heads back to the surface on his own. The problem is that everyone is gone. Far as Ralph can tell, everyone has died somehow. He makes the most of it, but it can be pretty lonely. That’s when he runs into a lady named Sarah who is the last lady on Earth. Ralph is happy to at least have someone for company and they grow pretty close. He is reluctant to get romantically involved though despite her attempts. Things change when a third guy shows up named Ben. Ben is also interested in Sarah but unlike Ralph he is pretty aggressive about it. Who will Sarah choose?

I always like the setting of a world where humanity has been taken out of the picture. It’s always very thought provoking to see how you would try to survive like in Dr Stone although this would be a little more similar to The Last Man on Earth. Either way, you have to find a way to not just survive in the short run but also long-term. That means growing your own food and finding renewable sources of energy. The film doesn’t really focus on this aspect although I think it would have been very interesting. One tough part about these films though is how you end them. It’s really easy to run on the premise for a while, but eventually you do have to start a goal. It’s why to an extent titles like Dr. Stone, Resident Evil, and other survival stories have their best parts near the beginning. The longer you can keep up the mystery the better. That’s not to say that the series go down when the mystery is gone, but nothing beats that early peak.

This film goes from there into total romance territory which is something I often warn against doing. There are already thousands of romance stories, can’t we just have a survival one instead? The romance is pretty bad in part because of the characters. Ralph is determined not to make a move to the point where he keeps declining Sarah’s advances. Ben is pretty obsessive about how he likes Sarah and brings it up a lot. Then you have Sarah who clearly likes Ralph more than Ben but is fine with rebounding with Ben if necessary. At the end of the day it does seem like she will go with whoever is the last person standing so that doesn’t fill you with a lot of confidence on how loyal she’ll be.

Ralph’s reasoning for declining Sarah isn’t because he likes the friend zone, but because of the racial barriers between them. He believes that Sarah wouldn’t have given him a chance before the world blew up or she may not have even had a chance to meet him because of how society is. He is likely correct, but it is a whole new world now. It’s still a big assumption on his part to assume that she is racist. Assuming it was the latter and she just wouldn’t have had a chance to meet him, that’s not to say that she would have disliked him initially. It’s still fair to decide not to get involved with her, but then he should be direct about it from the start and explain that it’ll never happen. Instead he sulks an awful lot and still gets jealous with Ben which makes him too wishy-washy here.

My complaints with Sarah are really more of the same. If she likes Ralph then that should be game over for Ben or vice versa. Instead she does hang out with both and seems to encourage Ben throughout all of this. She knows that he likes her so if she isn’t interested then she should just say it. Leading Ben on when he has no chance is pretty awful. She gives him hope in quite a few scenes and likely enjoys the attention but it’s still pretty bad. Meanwhile Ben is pretty terrible from the start. He knows about the tensions between Ralph and Sarah and doesn’t care. Additionally he even plans to murder Ralph to get closer to Sarah. While this may actually work eventually, it’s still a pretty bad plan.

We get a prolonged gun fight near the end of the film to fill the action quota. It’s not bad although it could have been a lot more exciting. Imagine a live action Fortnite type showdown where both of them are running around the city. If anything the tough part is that if your battlefield is an entire city that is empty you could run for days, years, or forever and never find the other person. Just think about how huge these cities are and now shrink that down to 2 people. There’s absolutely no way to find each other without one person being really loud. The ending’s also a bit on the cheesy side but it could be worse I guess. They’re basically just pushing the problem off for a few months and then off screen one of them is probably going to get it.

Overall, This is a film with some interesting ideas but it doesn’t go into them enough. The premise of humanity being wiped out is already pretty great. Just focus on that. Instead we get a love triangle that takes up the whole movie and it’s not nearly as interesting. I think you can make a good triangle plot with two guys who both have their good qualities and a girl who isn’t sure how to shut them both down because she likes guy C. That would make for a pretty great plot. What we get here is more of a head scratcher. The writing is good on the whole, but the movie does drag on and the missed opportunities stand out. If the premise still sounds interesting to you then you should check it out. Just be warned that after the opening act the film forgets about the apocalypse angle.

Overall 5/10

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The Odd Couple II Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the original Odd Couple film. It’s definitely nice to see the two together again but the sequel ultimately couldn’t manage to keep a lot of what made the first film so much fun. I don’t think it was a bad idea to get these two out of the house for a sequel. You need to experiment with sequels to see what the next big thing could be. The main problem here is that it just didn’t work out which is always a risk in these kind of scenarios.

So Oscar was enjoying a nice game of poker with the crew when he gets a call that his son is getting married. Oscar’s excited for the kid and gets ready to hop on a plane, but there is one catch. His kid is getting married to Felix’s kid and Felix naturally doesn’t have a ride so Oscar is going to have to drive him over now. Oscar knows this isn’t going to end well but tries to make the most of it. The problem is that Felix immediately needs a lot of breaks to use the bathroom or to go eat. Will Oscar still make it in time for the actual wedding or is he doomed now?

In a film like this both parties will ultimately make some mistakes but there is usually one party who is clearly more at fault. In this case that would be Felix. He was just a little too unreasonable at times as he always tends to be. On the plane he couldn’t sit next to anyone and having to take so many breaks on the car is a problem. Maybe once you’re 90 or something you need to constantly stop but Felix isn’t that old yet. He can wait an extra hour without eating and then things would work out better for him. He also seems to get upset awful fast in this one as he even threatens Oscar a few times. Felix has definitely let himself go over the edge in these latter years.

Oscar is a lot of fun as always though. He tries to have a good time and has a good one liner comeback for everything Felix says. Oscar is always ready for what comes next and he just seems like a much more reasonable guy than Felix. He makes his share of mistakes like forgetting Felix’s luggage and blowing up the maps of course. I blame Felix halfway for the luggage though but the maps was all on Oscar. Oscar just seems like an easier guy to get along with. If you have a good time then he will as well. Felix is the one who always tries to make it personal.

There’s not much to say about the kids, but Oscar’s son definitely comes across as a pretty terrible character. You just can’t have second thoughts about the wedding on the last second before walking up the aisle. That’s just terrible and the worst time to have a crisis. Considering that the guy only gets a few seconds of screen time there also isn’t time to get to like the guy or to understand why he is having doubts. Maybe there are legitimate concerns but based on his scenes…probably not.

The film fumbles a bit around the halfway point with Oscar and Felix heading to a bar and flirting with some locals. The whole scene has nothing to do with anything and the age gap here is so large that its just sad. These scenes have no point being in the film and they should have been cut. I suspect they were only added in to give the heroes another scene with the cops but we definitely could have found other ways to do that. We don’t have to make Oscar look this desperate.

The police subplot was actually entertaining. It was fun to see the heroes go back to the station over and over with new crimes. That’s the kind of running gag that makes sense for a movie like this as it can ultimately tie into the ending and connect the various plots. I was half expecting to see all of the cops at the ceremony. Maybe the writers felt like that would have been a little too cheesy though. I dunno, I think it would have worked out just fine.

In terms of writing the film trips up a little as well. Felix drops in some pretty intense language which was incredibly forced. I can’t think of any time an f bomb was thrown in that wasn’t forced to be honest. It just never works no matter what the context is. Keep the language under control and your writing will always be better for it. The movie has a lot of funny moments and a lot of scenes that don’t land as you would expect for most comedy films. The pacing is solid so ultimately you stay entertained. One thing that would have helped the film further would have been to remove the random romance plot for Felix at the end. Not only is it making him look desperate again but there is not enough time to establish a relationship. I don’t care what the scenario is, a 3 hour flight is not enough time to really get to know anyone. It’s especially no good if your only reason to make conversation is because you are looking to get into a relationship.

The only organic way this can work is if you are chatting to someone because you actually just want to pass the time by. The two of you have some shared interests and that leads to being friends so you trade facebook profiles and stay in contact. Maybe 10 years later you pursue a relationship but by then both of you will have realized that nothing beats being facebook buddies. Basically what I’m getting at is that this was yet another plot that didn’t need to be in the film. It should have focused more on the banter between Felix and Oscar with scenes like driving the truck or making a bunch of stops. After a point there are too many distractions that take away from the main focus of the actual film.

Overall, The Odd Couple II is a film that should give you some laughs. The pacing is solid and it’s fun to see the main two bickering again like the good ole days. The film just should have trimmed some of the subplots like the finale which comes out of nowhere and the hanging out with two girls at the club part. Work on the writing a bit and then you’ve got a very solid film. The premise is still good and I think a reboot could possibly still work to improve upon this one. I suspect we’ll have to wait a little while for one of those though. If you really like the first Odd Couple film then you should check this one out. Just don’t expect it to be quite as good as the original.

Overall 5/10

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The Pink Panther Review


It’s time to look at the first Pink Panther film. This one surprisingly doesn’t actually have the famous Pink Panther in the movie though which was definitely an odd decision. I don’t think it ultimately worked out well and really you could have called this movie anything else in that case. There is really no connection to the show outside of the credits and such. The movie can be pretty fun and quite a lot happens here. The humor has aged well and it’s a blast and a half, but I do think some of the jokes ultimately cut too deep for some of the characters with all of the cheating going on.

The movie starts with explaining that Princess Dala now has a legendary jewel known as the Pink Panther. The government wants it, but she believes that it is hers and refuses to relinquish it. She has gone on vacation for a while to relax and take her mind off of this. Charles is a world famous thief and he’s decided to take that jewel away from her. To do this he’ll have someone kidnap her dog and when he manages to save it he’ll become her friend and get close enough to snatch the jewel. His girlfriend Simone is also here because her husband Jacques is a big detective and that guy is here to stop the Phantom (Charles) from stealing this gem. He has never succeeded in the past but there’s a first time for everything right?

Let’s start off with the positives. For starters, the film is definitely a lot of fun. Pretty much any scene with Jacques fumbling around is a blast. The guy definitely means well so you do feel bad for him when things just don’t go his way. It’s downright tragic at times. Then you’ve also got the extended car chases which are pretty neat and the party mixups with everyone having the same costume. There’s a lot of snappy dialogue and banter to be found here as well which is always a positive thing. The movie moves at a very quick pace and it isn’t afraid to go completely crazy at times. This isn’t a comedy that is trying to be super realistic.

This is just a fun movie and that’s important. Unfortunately the elements against it are just as strong. First we’ve got to get into the fact that the romance plots here are pretty iffy. So Jacques is married to Simone but she has actually been cheating on him for years with Charles. We don’t know how long this has been going on, but it’s been a very long time indeed. She’s effectively an undercover agent and the whole thing is pretty messed up. Then to make things even worse Charles’ nephew George shows up and he likes Simone too. I guess everyone just tends to like her a lot and she plays along at times to keep him distracted. All of these scenes are pretty bad and you’re just waiting for the film to resume again.

Not to be satisfied with 3 romance plots, the film throws in a 4th with Princess Dala. Charles decides to further the plan along he’ll get even closer to her so he pressures her into getting drunk and they have an affair. The scene takes forever and a day to get through and is definitely the worst scene in the film. It also makes Charles look especially bad since he intentionally got her drunk in order for her to lower her guard. There’s no way you could root for him after this. The cast is very charismatic and the characters are fun, but you just can’t get around the fact that they’re all total villains. These scenes/plotlines ultimately held the film back quite a bit.

So to recap the characters, here’s where they stand. George is one of the worst characters here and his only motivation is to cheat on his uncle with Simone. Simone’s pretty bad as she just wants to cheat on her husband with Charles. Meanwhile Charles is trying to get Dala drunk so he can cheat on Simone. The only reasonable character by the end of all this is Jacques who is just trying to catch a criminal and do the right thing. He’s a very nice guy who does everything Simone asks of him without complaint or hesitation. He’s pretty much portrayed as the perfect character but of course the film uses that against him here.

As I mentioned, it does make for a fun plot whenever Jacques acts like a klutz and messes up. He just can’t possibly hold the film on his own. At least he does get a bit of a happy ending. I’d argue that he’s still not in a great position but at least now his reputation will be improved quite a bit. Charles is even going to make sure that he gets out early by committing another robbery so it’s obvious that he’s innocent. It’s a nice thing to do, but then of course you remember that Charles is the reason he is being arrested in the first place so it ends up balancing out.

Overall, The Pink Panther is a pretty intense comedy. At times it can be a bit tragic for Jacques and the film does dwell on the various romance plots a bit too much. Throw out all of that cheating and the film would be many times better. It’s a film that is held back by all of this, but it’s still worth watching at least once. It’s too funny to pass up and they just don’t really make films like this anymore. I’m hoping the sequels can keep the humor and then improve upon the rest. I’m confident that they can do so because I don’t think the movies would be re-using these various plots so odds are that it would be a fresh start. Only time will tell though so we’ll see if that is the case.

Overall 5/10

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The Magnificent Seven (2016) Review


It’s time to delve into the world of the Wild West once more. While the film is definitely way better than how the first series ended it doesn’t even come close to matching the original. On the whole it’s not a bad movie as most of the scenes are fairly sound but there’s a very questionable scene near the middle and the ending also falls flat with a very sudden backstory. This film tries really hard but just isn’t able to capture what made the original so fun.

The movie starts Bartholomew taking over a town and deciding that he will get rich this way. The townspeople don’t end up fighting even though they all have guns until it is far too late and they have absolutely no chance of victory. It’s always interesting to see this go down when everyone is armed because then there is seriously no excuse not to at least do something. Ah well. Emma then decides to find some gunmen so they can avenge her husband and save the town. She runs into Sam and he agrees to help after rounding up a posse. It ends up being 7 people total and they prepare to deal out some justice.

One thing the film does do right this time around is give time to introduce all of the characters. They all get a few scenes to make us aware of who they are and their personalities. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that they are all very likable. First off, the main character isn’t bad. Sam is a reasonable main character who does his best to keep a level head as they approach the villains. He really only panics at the end when the film decides to get gritty for no reason with his motives for why he took the mission in the first place.

Then you’ve got Joshua who definitely has the most fun out of the characters. He actually enjoys being a gunman and is always messing around with everyone. He also seems to be the most skilled fighter of the group if you ask me. I’d have liked him to have been the main character because he was easily the most enjoyable to have on screen. Then you have Goodnight who is traumatized and can’t fight very well. I wasn’t particularly a big fan of this guy. He isn’t nearly as bad as the character he was based off of in the older films but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

His partner Billy was a lot better. That guy had real skills both with a knife and with a gun. He was one of the most talented fighters in the film and you could always count on him to take down his opponent. Then you have Jack who is the worst member. He seems pretty crazy from the start and the guy doesn’t even use a gun much. I struggle to see why he was included in the film and if anything he just waters the group down by association. There’s nothing exceptional or magnificent about him in the slightest. It almost takes you out of the film when he is taking people down with an axe while they have guns. That doesn’t make any kind of sense.

Vasquez’s initial scene immediately makes him pretty unlikable here. The guy’s motives certainly aren’t the best. He has skills but that doesn’t automatically make him a quality character in the slightest. Finally you have Red Harvest whose opening scene throws him out of the picture immediately. We see him destroy an animal and then eat it which is such a pointless an unnecessary scene to have in the film. I was shaking my head the whole time. We really didn’t need this and in a way it delivered one of the final blows to the film. It was hard to come back from that.

The writing in general can’t keep up with the originals. There is a lot of friction between the characters but rather than it be because they all have big egos and a lot of confidence it’s more because they’re all portrayed as jerks. They tend to make insensitive comments to each other and flat out bully each other in other scenes. The scene of Joshua stealing the guy’s whiskey comes to mind. Then you have the fact that these 7 characters aren’t as great as they act. The main villain does a good job of taking them down for a while and they miss the shots that count. Joshua gets a great ending but most of the gunmen go down pretty easily otherwise.

Emma was a good heroine though and I was glad that she was able to fire off a gun. It’s always good to see people helping out at least a little because it’s your town so you should be defending it. If you just stand around then you’re not helping anyone except the villains for slowing things down. She should have been the one to get the original hero theme but it doesn’t really appear here. There is one scene where I feel like it was meant to be a bit of a homage but the music is very soft and it’s hard to say for sure. Either way I wouldn’t say it’s handled all that well. The main villain is given a reasonable role though. Bartholomew was pretty solid so I have no qualms with him.

The movie has a lot of little tributes to the various past films so that’s nice for fans I suppose. Since I watched them all recently it was a lot easier to pick up on them. Homages are nice to see but they don’t help to hide the flaws of this one. I’ve already talked about those so for a positive I’d say that the gun fights are pretty solid. There’s not a whole lot you can do with a gun fight after a while but they’re still pretty entertaining so the movie did a good job with those.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven remake is not a film that I would particularly recommend. It makes enough mistakes where I just can’t put it in the higher ranks. There’s no reason to watch this one over the original. It could have been worse for sure I guess so it’s not a terrible movie either. If you want to watch a modern wild west then this is probably better than a lot of the alternatives I suppose.

Overall 5/10

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Battle at Big Rock Review


It’s time to look at a very quick live action movie that came out a while back. It’s always nice to see franchises push out a little something like this to expand the universe. It gives you something to look at while waiting another 4-5 years for the next big film after all. The plot is pretty self explanatory. A family is enjoying a nice BBQ when a few dinosaurs show up and start to fight. The main characters have to try and be really quiet but the baby is constantly crying so it won’t be easy. Can the humans escape with their lives intact or are they doomed here?

I do have a question on this though. The heroes clearly know about the dinosaurs from how nonchalantly they talk about seeing one and they reference the radio as well. This takes place after the last film so dinosaurs are everywhere. Why would you possibly have a BBQ outside during such a time? The main guy mentions that bears are around so they get the food in pretty quick but you should be more afraid of the dinosaurs. His wife mentions that the dinosaurs aren’t supposed to be this close yet but I don’t think you should be taking any chances.

There aren’t a lot of safe spots elsewhere either though. The film gives us a lot of meanwhile scenes where we see Dinosaurs around every corner sizing people up and destroying the food chain. The film fortunately handles this as well as possible with no explicit animal deaths. They all die but it doesn’t get gritty or graphic. Even the main dinosaur battle is interrupted before either of them can get seriously hurt which is good. It still does hold this back from being a higher score but it doesn’t make it bad either.

There isn’t enough time for the film to really go all that up or down. It just goes by in a flash and reviewing something this short is also pretty tricky for those same reasons. As far as I’m concerned it’s basically middle of the road. It has enough going for it where it’s not bad but there’s not enough here for me to give it a pretty good score or anything. The dinosaurs look great and this could be a scene in a real theatrical film. That’s definitely for sure.

Overall, if you’re a big fan or Jurassic Park or just want to see some dinosaurs in action then you should enjoy this. It’s only about 8-10 minutes so you’ll be done with it very quickly. It doesn’t take much time to watch and it’s solid enough where you should check it out. The humans aren’t too annoying either although I didn’t like the kids or the baby but it’s hard to develop them into likable characters in such a short time span. This special does show why a whole film about surviving in the age of dinosaurs will be pretty interesting. It’s a very dangerous premise so it’ll be hard for a whole film to get out unscathed but it’s worth the attempt.

Overall 5/10