Prancer Review

When you think of Prancer you’re thinking of a fantastical adventure like with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and his friends. Not a more emotional film about a kid who wants to do the right thing. I think this film had some potential but ultimately the characters can be more on the annoying side and Prancer’s role wasn’t quite big enough. It’s an okay movie but it’s not going to hold its own with the big Christmas hits.

The movie starts with Jessica showing off her reindeer knowledge and having a good time with her friend Carol. She ends up seeing a mysterious reindeer around but it vanishes before anyone else can notice it. Eventually it appears again and she realizes that this is Prancer. Somehow he got injured and has been split up from Santa and the rest of the reindeer. Jessica figures she will nurse him back to health and then set up a meeting spot with Santa to get the guy to take this reindeer back into the group. This won’t be easy though as her father John is going through hard times economically and he is thinking about giving Jessica over to his sister Sarah. Jessica is not happy about this at all but what can she do about it? Also, can she keep the reindeer secret for long?

The deck is absolutely stacked against Jessica here but she never gives up. That’s just not the way she does things. My first main issue with the film is that John can be rather mean the whole time. He never feels very understanding towards Jessica even when she is doing her best. Jessica makes mistakes sure, but she always apologizes and is very respectful towards her father. Usually in these films you see the kid being disrespectful and never apologizing so when he’s still harsh to her despite this it just feels off. The film overplayed its hand with John and makes him far too unlikable so it’s hard to root for him at all or even sympathize to the extent that you normally would. He’s basically an antagonist for most of the movie.

Then you have Jessica’s brother Steve who is also rather mean the whole time. He blackmails Jessica into doing his dishes for a year so he won’t tell their father about the reindeer. Sure he gets his emotional scenes later on where he stands by Jessica but he was a bit overblown in the opening scenes. Surely he could have made the demands a little better than that right? So I think this boils down to the writer where they wanted to put Jessica in a tough corner but they just weren’t good at holding back. So instead of the characters just being a little rude and setting things up for the heart warming second half, they accidentally made them really mean.

It’s a tough balance but you have to walk a careful line in these films or you make the characters go too far past the point of no return and that’s exactly what happened here. The film ends up suffering for this a bit as a result. Then you have the drama with Jessica and Carol as Jessica takes everything super personally. In this case you feel bad for Carol since she didn’t realize she was offending Jessica by saying she didn’t believe in God and Heaven. Jessica’s reactions were certainly not very graceful at all and this is one time where you didn’t really sympathize with her. She never really has a full apology to Carol on this either or at least not to the extent that she should. Carol really didn’t do anything wrong but got treated badly for most of the film.

Then there’s the neighbor Mrs McFarlane who was reasonable enough but I’m not really sure what the point of her character was. When you think about it she didn’t really do a whole lot here. I suppose we got to see that she wasn’t so bad after all but if you cut her out of the movie then nothing really changes. I expected her to have a much bigger role in the second half/climax because that’s how the setup felt. Not saying it’s objectively a bad decision to have her vanish but it just felt like an odd one.

Prancer also should have done more. Of course during the film you are meant to wonder if he is just a normal reindeer or not and that mystery keeps up until the film definitively makes a statement in the final scene. I liked the way that it ended so that worked out for me but I definitely would have given Prancer more to do. Either he was getting into mischief at the house or being kidnapped which isn’t the best role for this guy. If anything Prancer holds the film back as a result.

With a Christmas movie like this you are looking for an uplifting adventure where you can have a lot of fun. That’s the whole point you could say right? Well this one just isn’t super happy most of the time. You feel sad when Prancer is on screen since he’s hurt and injured. Then you feel sad when everyone is picking on Jessica or when Jessica picks on Carol. There are more sad scenes than happy ones here and as a result that makes the movie a bit lopsided. At the end of the day you could call it more of an uplifting film by the end but it doesn’t consistently grab that tone. So instead you have a balance where half of the time the movie just isn’t very fun.

The writing is decent even if the writers don’t know how to make some characters antagonistic without being over the top mean. With better writing I think you could have really done well with this movie. Perhaps have the main characters be grown ups instead even if it does mean rewriting the approach a bit differently. You could have succeeded with the kids though, it just would have taken more effort. Because of that I’d end up putting this film in the middle. I can’t picture myself ever re watching it over another Christmas movie but I still wouldn’t call it bad. I think that would be too strong.

Overall, Prancer may not be the film you were expecting but you can still get some good moments out of it. I found parts of the film to be a little too mean spirited so that can make it difficult to get to the ending though. It’s a fairly unique film as I wasn’t even totally sure what kind of vibe it was going for at times. I suppose you have to give it credit for trying to be really serious while also balancing the Christmas cheer, it just didn’t pull this off. Only watch this one if you really want to see some Reindeer in live action but otherwise you should watch the original Rudolph movie.

Overall 5/10

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review

It’s time for the big Black Panther sequel. The first movie was definitely a big hit and was a fun ride all the way through. Trying to do the sequel without the original character was always going to be an extremely difficult task. Unfortunately it was a challenge that this movie could not overcome where its long length is felt this time around. The movie goes for a very somber tone for a decent chunk of the film and unfortunately this comes at the expense of the film as a whole. It felt very underwhelming as the film ended and I gave it some time until the next day to see if that might help stabilize things but it didn’t really move. Lets go more into depth on this one below.

The movie starts with Shuri trying to save Black Panther but unfortunately she was unable to recreate the heart in time and he passes. A year goes by and she has buried herself in her work to try and make Wakanda safer but her mother Queen Ramonda believes that Shuri is just doing her best not to think about her brother and this will hurt her down the line. So they go off to a quiet place in Wakonda but Namor appears and lets them know that the United States has developed a machine that can find Vibranium and his people are in the crossfire now. He intends to destroy the surface world and wants Wakanda to bring him the scientist and then the two countries can team up. Queen Ramonda will have to carefully decide how to play this or Namor and the Atlanteans might wipe her country off the face of the planet.

I’ll probably bounce back and forth between the positives and negatives as I go through the review so this should be more like a roller coaster experience. The first positive here is Shuri who does a good job as the main character. I wouldn’t say that she fills T’Challa’s shoes here but it’s always nice to have an inventor who can actually fight. She hasn’t wasted the time that has passed and has come up with all manner of defenses and weapons to aid her and the country in battle. Wakanda may have a lot of tech but it is still relatively small so they have to keep developing new items or things will be dangerous.

The film also goes out of its way to explain why the kingdom feels so weak most of the time despite this and it’s a good explanation. Perhaps a bit annoying but it does prevent this from feeling like a plot hole. Basically the country is super big on tradition so they refuse to use Shuri’s mecha suits, energy weapons, and presumably all of the other tech that she has developed over the years. It’s why they still use spears and basic armor instead of anything fancy. They’ll want to change that tune eventually or it may be tough to stay afloat but by the end of the film I feel like things are going in a positive direction there.

Unfortunately I didn’t like Ramonda in this movie. She was thrown into the role of Queen so it’s absolutely all right that she is not very experienced in this role as of yet but she tends to overreact a whole lot. She handles one situation with her subordinate quite terrible and you may mistake her for Odin for a minute there. Ramonda never really fights here and that could have at least helped her establish some authority. She never comes across as a very reasonable person and perhaps to contrast how Shuri was trying to be 100% logical with no emotions, Ramonda was the opposite way.

I was also not very impressed with the designs for the Atlanteans and even Namor himself. That screw stabbed through his face makes it look like he just lost a 1 on 1 to Misogi Kuwagawa the whole time. He doesn’t have that air of dignity and power that he typically does in the comics. He isn’t a big flirt this time so that’s good though. At the end of the day he’s a very selfish king who just likes picking fights. I don’t think the film seriously tried making him all that sympathetic here and that’s fine. Not every villain is meant to be sympathetic and having a big villain to be defeated works well.

They did his power justice though. He looks good and even in an extremely weakened state he is shown to be more than a match for anyone in this film. Namor became more of a Black Panther villain in recent (Relatively speaking since I don’t follow the comics too closely) years but before that he would typically go up against whole teams or very powerful opponents because he’s well above the street level tier. In the first film we saw how the suit could absorb most impacts and yet it doesn’t do much against him here which was a good way to highlight his power.

His two main subordinates Attuma and Namora look good in the fights but they just look way too much like expendable minions the whole time. They don’t feel like they have real designs considering how big their characters are in the comics. I’m hoping a sequel could change that with updated effects. The Atlanteans almost looked like characters out of Avatar and it also takes away from their appearing threatening..because they don’t seem very tough. One lady shoots a ton of them in the opening scene so you feel like they only do decent later on because people keep on hitting their weapons or not aiming properly.

Okoye is always a fun character though. Shuri gives her a hard time but Okoye is always ready for a good fight and does well here. She was definitely a step under Attuma but that makes sense since he is usually a powerhouse. She has a good dynamic with Shuri and that’s always good to see. Meanwhile Nakia gets a pivotal role here as well. She embarks on a tough mission and just gets the job done as needed.

There is a subplot with Ross as he keeps trying to give info over to Wakanda. I liked this subplot quite a bit because he makes for an entertaining character. We also get to see the US Government which is always fun. As always in these movies they want to blow everyone up and get rich so they’re good antagonists. My only issue here would be it feels more like this film is in a vacuum where the rest of the universe doesn’t exist in respect to the government. Over 10 years ago they had very impressive weaponry to take on the Hulk and have consistently improved their tech. Why are they sending normal joes with guns to take out a Wakanda facility?

The scene is there to make the Wakanda defenses look good and all but it would be even more impressive to see them take on some powerful tech. It’s an amusing scene either way as these guys get taken down quick but there just feels like a disconnect here compared to how you would expect the U.S. Government to be at this point in the MCU. Even if it’s a stealth unit then they would carry some kind of super powerful weapons right?

Riri makes her big debut here and as the next generation Ironman we’ve been waiting for her to show up for a while. Right now she was mainly just working out of a small building without big tech so of course she doesn’t have anything ultra powerful just yet but the film shows off her genius well by having her build an Iron-Man suit and also construct the first ever device that can detect Vibranium. She has been putting in the work and it’s nice to finally hear someone yell “Let’s Gooooo!” since that’s one of the best modern sayings. It would be cool if that could become her catchphrase. I look forward to seeing where her plot goes.

Finally M’Baku also looks very good here. Unfortunately the film never gives him a proper win against an important foe but we still get to see his bravery as he jumps into every fight. Personally I think he deserved a good win but either way he had some of the more impactful moments here and it was definitely good to see him. He’s really come a long way in these two movies since where he used to be.

Now with the characters out of the way lets talk more about the film as a whole. I mentioned that it feels a bit long and that’s the biggest issue in the movie. It is going for a very somber tone and the in-universe reason is that Black Panther died so the nation is in mourning. As the film goes on Shuri is supposed to eventually give in to her feelings and cry it out since the main morale in the movie is not to hold things in. The issue is that this destroys the film’s pacing in more than one scene and grinds things to a halt. Every time we have extended somber scenes there is no chance for anything else to be happening.

This may be the first main MCU film where you actually may find some of the scenes to be a bit boring. We have to be explained that Namor is the great sea god twice as even the exposition can get a bit long and this is a movie that could have really benefited from having about 40 minutes taken off the run time. That could have helped the pacing so this could be more of a frantic action film. We do have some fight scenes but there aren’t many so the general action scenes will have to fit the bill for you.

On the fights, there were two standout ones at least. There is the fight on the bridge which is structured similar to the one in Black Widow and while it may not have been as strong as that one, it was a good one on one fight. We got to really see Attuma’s strength here and I just liked seeing a straight up battle like this. Then there’s the one on one battle you’ve been waiting for with Black Panther and Namor in the desert. It’s definitely the best fight in the film and uses a good amount of strategy in addition to the action which makes for a pretty good mix.

The special effects are definitely good throughout the movie though. You won’t have any issues there as the costumes look good and the energy attacks are on point. For the soundtrack, it’s not quite as good as the first film’s but there was one theme I enjoyed during the 3 way chase scene with Riri, Okoye, and Shuri. That song was on point and put a lot of extra energy into the scene and enhanced the chase as a whole.

While the film isn’t one of the funnier ones in the MCU, I would say that M’Baku got the best comedy scene by far. There’s one moment where Okoye and her group start bashing him and his men as usually so he starts making those Gorilla noises and everyone else does too and you have to chuckle a bit along with them because they’re just going in. It was a great way to end the back and forth argument while still having the upper hand with how out of nowhere that was. I thought that was a really excellent move. Still there’s enough jokes in here where you should find a fun one that you like as well.

There is one old character who makes a quick appearance in the film and he looks great. He has a really solid speech and you have to admire how confident the guy is. He just has no doubts about anything and while that is the very same trait which tends to lead him astray, it makes him a powerful speaker. I had a lot of fun seeing him there that’s for sure. It would be nice to see him return in a larger capacity.

There’s also an after credits scene here which is okay. Its definitely on the weaker side but you can see what they’re doing here. I just couldn’t help but think “Another somber scene?”. It also goes on for a while too long which embodies the film’s issue as a whole. For example this scene could have been ended halfway. You already get the context of what’s happening without the film trying to knock the point into you with the last lines. We understand the plot twist from the instant the character appears, we don’t need it spelled out. At least it sets up another plot seed that should be fun in a future film, provided there is a considerable time skip.

If the film really wanted to go the somber route then they needed to change the context of T’Challa’s death in the movie. Out of universe the whole thing was tragic but in universe he didn’t die stopping a giant end of the world threat or protecting his friends so it doesn’t work nearly as well. When you think of emotional deaths that make you teary you think of Mob Psycho, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, DBZ, and titles like that where things really got tragic. Fighting until the end or entering a hopeless battle and then being defeated are the most emotional ways to go out. And then of course you’ll also have had that big action moment to bump things up.

I guess I would have just had Black Panther have a quick fight where he dies at the beginning of the film and then you play the emotional scenes afterwards. You could even adapt the opening moments of Ultimate Avengers 2 and that becomes a whole plot point of what that creature was and of course Namor still shows up so that gets sidelined. That would have been an effective way to kick things off. So at the very least those are some of the rewrite ideas that I would have had. The other route you could go would be to throw in some guest stars.

That would give the film more memorable characters and would automatically enhance the skirmishes and war scenes. Then you’d have a lot of big characters to follow and all. Shuri and Okoye are good characters as I mentioned earlier but they are still known more as side characters and having some kind of power hitter here to help out would have been nice. It’s always a tall bar to try and do a whole film without one of the big characters and it’s almost easier to pick a brand new character and make them big than upgrade the side character. Still, with Black Panther at the ready the third film should be able to jump right into the action this time and I think that will also end up helping the tone as well.

Overall, Wakanda Forever is going for a very different vibe than the first Black Panther. The original film went for a balanced approach of being a classic action movie and just executing on a high level. The villain was very memorable, the action scenes were good, and it was all amplified with a good soundtrack and solid humor. This film is going for the emotional vibes instead and basically using that to hold up the whole movie but you can’t survive on that alone. Without another top notch villain to help keep things up or the other aspects that made the first film so good, this one couldn’t hold up. It just isn’t all that interesting at times and it felt like the movie needed some kind of burst or pop moment to get you back into the mix. As the film throws in a bunch of flashbacks to the original Black Panther you almost can’t help but be tempted to go back and watch the original. It’s still worth checking this one out at least once as you continue the story but it is one of Marvel’s weakest entries into the MCU.

Overall 5/10

Deep Rising 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 for a movie about survival with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. The movie’s got a fairly interesting premise although I wouldn’t say it makes the most of this and a fantastic ending but one that likely won’t be followed up on. So the movie’s in a rather interesting space there but it does have its moments. You’ll just walk away feeling like it left a lot of meat on the bone.

The movie starts off with John and his crew carrying a bunch of shady characters on their boat. John runs an operation where he will take you and your people/belongings to wherever you want. He won’t ask questions as long as he gets his money and so a lot of crooks love this. This particular group is really shady but it’s all going good until John’s partner Joey decides to make trouble for all of them. It’s only the first in what would soon be a whole lot of issues from that guy. Now all of the good will is lost and the heroes know too much so they’re taken aboard the cruise that the villains were going on. There’s just one problem…all of the passengers have vanished somehow. John needs to think of a way off this boat and fast or his group will follow suit.

The villains are led by Hanover as their version of John. This guy is after something within the ship and it’s clearly important because even the disappearance of everyone on the ship isn’t enough for him to turn back. Definitely a massive tactical error on his part to be honest. This is already such a strange situation that you shouldn’t want to get anywhere close. Of course with the ship they had been using already busted by this point, he was between a rock and a hard place.

What I appreciated about the film is how petty this guy is in addition to being evil. There is one moment later on in the film where he is given the option to go out painlessly or try to attack one of the heroes again. Naturally he goes with the latter and I haven’t seen a villain that determined in a while. It definitely shows what kind of man he was even to the bitter end. He was the most interesting villain by far though and had a good dynamic with the heroes.

I already mentioned that Joey causes a lot of trouble and he definitely does get real annoying in this movie. Why would he have to check on what the villains brought on the ship? The whole point of the agreement is that everything is kept secret so the drivers don’t have to know what’s going on. Joey put the whole crew in danger and without any payoff. Okay so the heroes know that the villains are carrying nukes. What are they going to do about it? Sometimes it’s best not to know. Of course the best option would be to not drive these guys in the first place but since they’re already doing that anyway, then it becomes an issue when Joey is putting them in a bad spot like this.

Joey also wastes a grenade later on during clutch time and doesn’t come up big at any points. He’s always got something to say and while this can result in some good lines once in a while, on the whole he just wasn’t very good and I wouldn’t say that he was a big success as the comic relief either. He’s a character that you just wanted out of the way as soon as possible that’s for sure.

Now John was a good main character though. He took a lot of big risks when needed in order to help his crew and stood up to the villains. It’s not like he’s a fighter and he was heavily outnumbered but John wasn’t going to let one of his guys get beaten to death. I appreciated his courage there and throughout the film he is good at improvising and turning losses into wins. He’s the kind of guy you could definitely look up to and a large reason why the film works well enough is directly because of him.

There is also Leila but she actually doesn’t get a lot to do from the main 3. She misses out on the full adventure because she has to stay on the other ship to work on repairs while everyone else goes aboard the cruiser. You can imagine that things don’t go great for her. I would go as far as to say that she’s pretty much a wasted character. I didn’t think that her role really made a difference in the story to the point where you could cut her out completely and nothing would really change. That’s never a good thing for a character.

By far the worst character here is Simon though. He’s one of those traitors who just wants a lot of money and is willing to destroy a ton of people in order to get his big pay day. The guy continues to get worse and worse as the film goes on. It’s pretty crazy just how awful this guy is. He lasts a long time too so once he is around you can expect him to betray the heroes over and over again. If there is a way for him to make the adventure harder then that is what he’ll do.

Meanwhile you also have a thief named Trillian running around the ship. She’s an interesting character. I tend to like the classic thief types. She has some skills but ultimately picked off a bit more than she could chew with this cruise. They have an impressive amount of security measures in place and it’s clear that this is the kind of boat you would be on if you want to be safe. You know..not counting the monsters but that’s not exactly the cruise’s fault. Trillian helps out a lot during the battles and knows how to use a gun so I appreciated that. She contributes a ton in getting the heroes out of a bad situation.

In general the movie had some good humor at times and the pacing was good. I liked the mystery and intrigue of how everyone vanished. Of course you know it involves a monster if you’ve seen the trailers or read the synopsis but if you went in blind then that would really be a compelling angle to be wondering about. The monster itself doesn’t appear for a while but once it does, it actually does get a good amount of screen time. This isn’t one of those films trying to hide the monster the whole time, when it shows up its ready for a lot of action and to claim some big wins.

It’s not the most impressive monster design but either way it’s not a creature you would want to fight in the ocean. That would put you in a bad spot because it’s so strong. It would be nice if it was fully bullet proof though. I feel like making the eyes vulnerable takes away from the giant monster experience a bit. I also would have liked the film to play around with the empty cruise a bit more. Have the characters wonder more about what happened here and slowly get picked off. That was some of the best scenes in the film so stretching it out a bit longer before they found survivors would have been fun.

The movie can get a little violent at times. This creature isn’t holding back after all. I wouldn’t say that it ever gets into Alien territory or anything like that but there are definitely big kills in the film and the monster isn’t afraid to really make the humans suffer.

Overall, Deep Rising is a reasonable monster movie. More films should try this mystery dynamic as it has a lot of potential behind it. It’s just a shame that we’re not getting a sequel because the ending was perfect. I think it would have ended up leading up to a sequel that would have been even better than the original. I would have had really high hopes for that one and I think it would have absolutely paid off. Ah well, either way if you like films with a little creature action and survival themes then this is a good one to check out. It’s on the fence on if I would really recommend it to someone but you can tell more or less if this is your style of movie. Picture Alien but a bit lighter with more banter and a comic relief character at the ready and more of an escape option since they aren’t trapped in space.

Overall 5/10

My Dream is Yours Review

Doris Day returns but this movie is considerably weaker than the other two. The romance is really bad here and while the movie has some decent moments as you’d expect from any comedy, it doesn’t land nearly as well as the other two. You’ll walk away from this film feeling like it seriously did not reach any of the potential that it could have had.

The movie starts with Doug being betrayed by Gary. See, Doug was that music star’s manager and got Gary to be one of the biggest hits in the country. The problem is that Gary now believes that he doesn’t need Doug anymore and drops him like a hat. Doug swears revenge but ultimately loses his job and has to start from scratch. That’s when he runs into a girl named Martha who has a solid singing voice. Doug is confident that he can use her to get his revenge but the problem is that Martha falls for Gary. How can Doug still turn this into a win?

I have quite a few issues with this film but the first is the whole romance with Gary. While Doug could act coy about how the entire schism with Gary started, Martha still knows enough to tell that he’s not a good guy. He acts hostile to Doug the entire time and always acts like Martha is the only person in the room. Gary is incredibly arrogant and full of himself. I just don’t get how she fell for him from the start.

The romance gets worse and worse as Gary’s bad attitude is exposed and he’s blacklisted from the entire industry. Almost literally nobody likes him and people don’t want to hire him for anything anymore. He becomes an alcoholic and just vanishes. Well, even then Martha is still writing him letters and going after the guy. Now here’s the thing, there’s nothing wrong with her not falling for Doug. He’s a great guy who helps her out a lot. He got her rich and really changed her life for the better but gratitude shouldn’t mean that you have to fall in love with that guy.

I’d totally be cool with her saying no to his confession and staying as friends. It’s rough for Doug but that’s just how it goes and it’s not like he did all of this with that in mind. Initially it was to get back at Gary and then after that he just genuinely wanted to help her out. Doug took his chance and asked her out and it didn’t work. It’s actually a bold move by the film and I’m cool with it but then we have Martha still going after Gary and it’s rather annoying.

Doug still wants to help Martha so in the end he gets Gary back on his feet and sets them up together. Very selfless behavior but the whole time Gary is acting like a jerk to both of them and straight up tells Martha to retire since he’ll be the breadwinner of the family. Only at this exaggerated moment does Martha finally realize that he’s no good…and then she grabs the rebound and slam dunks the ball back into the Doug basket. They get together and it’s probably one of the most blatant rebounds that I’ve seen in a long while.

Martha made it clear that Gary was the guy for her and she couldn’t return Doug’s feelings but now she is ready to be with him because Gary is a jerk? That’s just unacceptable and it’s the kind of romance that doesn’t feel real. Of course Doug is thrilled since it all feels nice to him but are the feelings really real? It’s something that he’ll have to think about in the back of his mind and that’s where things get a little spooky for him. It’s not a romance that I can get behind though and it does really sour the film.

If you cut out all of the scenes of her chasing after Gary then things would be better. Honestly I would remove that subplot completely because I still don’t see how she could fall for him given the circumstances. The guy never seemed like a good person so it’s not like the ending was particularly shocking. I also thought the film could have really had an interesting angle with Doug just realizing that they would always just be friends instead. The movie had a good foundation but blew it.

I also thought that while the film showed how hard it can be to break into the industry, that part could be a bit long. We spend ages with Doug trying to get Martha gigs at various places. These moments led to a lot of fun gags as well but the longer this went on, the more it felt even more personal when she went with Gary. The best gag in the movie has to be when Doug is trying to downplay Gary the whole time but it turns out that he was talking to the janitor and not the director. That was a great twist and I really liked the writing there because there was a lot of good wordplay thrown in for the insults. That was handled really well.

One of the guys that they have to try and impress is Felix because he basically owns the main music station and you need him on your side. Unfortunately he also happens to be one of the most annoying characters in the whole film. He is even more scatter brained than the characters that the actor usually plays and can’t focus on anything. He’s always just getting in the way and by the end he may as well just be another antagonist. He isn’t willing to give Martha a fair shot at all.

Martha also lags behind the previous heroines not only for the Gary stuff but because she doesn’t really seem prepared to go all out in order to complete her dreams. One scene that was iffy was when she was going to throw it all away if she couldn’t bring her son with her. She really would have had no time to raise him while auditioning and it’s not like she could drop him off at day care. Still, it was difficult to convince her and she was absolutely just going to give up. Then she also decides to perform at a very seedy bar even while overhearing a lot of the criminal behavior that the owner engages in. It’s clear that things won’t end well for her here but she goes through with it anyway before being saved by the main guy. Her decision making skills were very questionable throughout the movie.

Overall, In the end while the movie does get some laughs, it could also be a bit mean spirited at times. I felt like Gary got off way too easy and so in the end the movie isn’t nearly as good as it could and should have been. I wasn’t really impressed here and maybe it doesn’t help that I saw this one right after two other comedy films that were way better. Either way you will want to take a pass on this one. It’s not really bad or anything so you could always check it out if you really want something light to watch but you could do way better within the genre.

Overall 5/10

The Last of Sheila Review

Now this is a very different mystery movie. It feels really random at times and it’s just hard to get a read on it. The concept is sound and of course having everyone be super corrupt is always a classic way to make things interesting since any criminal could possibly be lying to protect themselves. The film goes a little too far in making some of the characters unlikable though and I think the actual premise could have been tightened up a bit. Still, it is a mystery where you should be kept engaged through to the end in trying to figure out who did it.

So one year ago after attending a party, a lady named Sheila was murdered in a hit and run attack. Now the whole gang from that party has gotten back together on a cruise ship and the host, Sheila’s husband Clinton wants to play a little game. It’s all harmless fun of course but he gives them all a card with a secret like “I’m a murderer” and the goal is to keep the others from finding out what you have on your card while finding out theirs. Everyone’s card has some kind of secret on it that actually seems to apply to them. Is this a coincidence or is Clinton’s little game something a little more serious than expected?

It’s a fun setup and I think I’ve even seen a film like this before. With everyone’s secrets at stake, nobody wants to reveal this but they may be in some real danger. If Clinton wants to avenge his wife and thinks he knows who the murderer is, then nobody is safe. The cruise fortunately does make some stops but nobody really wants to leave either. This guy is a big name in the movie business and they are all ready to keep being in more movies and all. In fairness to the characters, it’s probably also a bit of a reach to think that this game is anything serious for a while at least. Thinking that it’s a coincidence with the secret is reasonable and there is a lot of effort put into the game.

The first puzzle was actually tougher than I would have expected. You had to find a single apartment room based on a ton of super vague hints and when the first character solved the puzzle, I have to say that I still didn’t really understand it. It felt like a bit of a leap in logic but kudos to the characters for getting it right there. I liked the format of the puzzle though. Having to run across the whole island to solve this in time was really ambitious even if it feels nearly impossible to solve.

The movie never gets to do the full island adventure for the rest of the mysteries since the murders start up by the second case and then it’s time for everyone to really ponder what’s going on. Again this is a pretty solid premise and I like where the film can go from there but then it starts to fall off the rails. I can’t go into too much detail on some of this since for a mystery film you definitely don’t want to know any of the twists but one twist didn’t make a ton of sense.

I think you would know whether you bumped someone off or if something felt odd about it right? The twist is very bold but it’s a little hard to buy. There should just be so many ways to tell that you’ve been fooled but lets just say that tricking someone into thinking that they murdered someone is evidently easier than I would have thought. The rest of the plans make enough sense though so I think the film holds up on a logical level even if I didn’t buy into the first twist.

The film can get a little violent with the deaths. Not super crazy or anything but enough to remind you that this is still a bit of an old school film. It’s got that gritty 70s vibe to it that you don’t really see so much nowadays. It’s all in the camera work and atmosphere I’d say. The body count isn’t massive so the violent moments are few and far between. Of course the main issue here is that there’s nobody to root for. Of course some of the secrets aren’t as bad as the others but some go a bit too far.

One guy’s secret isn’t shown or anything so we just know about it but that should have been the first guy to be bumped off if you ask me. It would just be more fitting considering how serious that crime is and it’s a bit fishy that he made it through. I think the best way to handle a film where everyone has done something crazy at one point or another is to have a reasonable explanation for them that doesn’t excuse the action but still allows you to root for the character. There’s no way to get around this reason though or any explanation that could work so he was doomed either way.

By the end of the film you definitely feel Sheila’s influence even though she technically didn’t appear except for a very brief flashback. Once we find out the reason for her getting bumped off it is almost funny in a way at the lack of motive/reasoning for it compared to how intricate the rest of the film is. It goes to show how the past can haunt you for a long while through whatever path it needs to.

Overall, The Last of Sheila is a very dreary mystery film. Everything’s all so dark and it feels like nighttime is eternal. I think the actual mystery is very interesting but ultimately it is bogged down by how unlikable all of the characters are. None of them are particularly interesting either and you mainly just remember them all based on what their secret was. In a way you’re just waiting for them all to get bumped off and if I was on the party I’m telling you that I would have absolutely left the boat and just vanished. It did end up working out well enough for most of them but you don’t want to have been one of the unlucky ones to get taken out. I’m on the fence with this one so I guess you should check it out if you want a really weird mystery film. The whole thing was just bizarre, not always in a bad way but at least you won’t mix it up with any other films.

Overall 5/10

Wanted Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Wanted is definitely a comic book movie that’s fairly obscure. I wouldn’t say it’s hidden but I’m guessing not a whole lot of people would know that it’s a super hero movie right away. Even I didn’t know that at first and that’s saying something. It’s got some pretty good ideas and solid fights but definitely has its share of things holding it back as well.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Wesley who has not had a fun time of it. He’s not very confident at all to the point where he has constant stress attacks just by existing. He’s broke and his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend. This last one’s on him since he could at least just not be friends with them but it all keeps adding up and his boss is always chewing him out for slacking off. (Which he is slacking off but mainly because of all the stress attacks) Well, one day he is nearly murdered at the supermarket but gets saved by a girl named Fox. He’s taken to a shady building where a bunch of people with big knifes and weapons explain that he has super powers. He can use his enhanced reaction times to perform superhuman feats and also curve bullets with his mind. They want him to join their group of assassins to murder people based on names they get from the future. Then down the road he can take out his father’s murderer. Wesley would rather do anything than keep living out life in the way that he has been so he jumps at the opportunity.

Now right from the jump this sounds a bit sketchy right? You’re just murdering names from a sheet of paper? The context for this is that they have a printing press which directly leads to god in the future which lets them know of anyone who is going to commit some kind of crime and has to be murdered right away. The whole thing is on a trust basis of course and everyone has confirmation bias that helps them justify all the murders. Make no mistake though, by their own admission they are potentially murdering people who haven’t committed any crimes yet. In fact it’s very likely.

There are whole debates to be had on this for sure. It may be worth an editorial at some point but in general the consensus is that this is not a good thing because you’re still murdering someone who’s innocent. It’s also impossible to prove that destiny is fixed or that the future cannot be changed. You also have to be confident that the source writing the names is 100% accurate too because a single slip up would cause you to be murdering someone who shouldn’t be murdered.

Wesley does contemplate this for a minute but he quickly gets past that. He’s not the most heroic guy out there that’s for sure. The first half of the movie can go quite far with how the group beats him up to whip Wesley into shape. The only reason it works is related to another twist later on but if I was Wesley I would have gotten out of there asap or taken them out. What they put him through goes way beyond simple training and it’s just abusive the whole time. They’re lucky that he didn’t just snap at some point because he quickly surpassed most of them.

The final 20 minutes or so suddenly feels like they’re adapting the whole plot of a sequel really quick. I was surprised that they squeezed this all into one movie. It did help to make the ending really intense though so I can appreciate that. It ends the movie off on a rather solid note. So even if I had some issues, I didn’t have any with that part of the ending. It just goes to show that you should be careful when dealing with super powered opponents.

Now for the not as solid parts. First up is Wesley because I never ended up liking him. He’s just way too whiny at the start. I know that he’s had a tough road but he only just makes things worse and worse for himself. He whines a lot in his head as well and the whole speech is always very dramatic. It can be a bit funny at times from an outside perspective here but the character himself just needs to try and change things for the better on his own. Then once he gets strong the power immediately goes to his head and he becomes stuck up in all the wrong ways. It’s not until the very end where he is finally a balanced character. So he would be good for the sequel but he’s not quite there yet.

Then you’ve got Fox as the tough mentor type character but taken to the absolute extreme. She is not the person that you want mentoring you. After all you might not even survive such an ordeal. The only traces of romance in the film here also just feel like she’s manipulating Wesley so I wouldn’t consider that to be all that genuine either. She’s a tough fighter to have on your side but certainly not someone that I would trust at all.

Sloan is the big leader of the group so you can imagine that a place this shady would have a shady guy at the top. He’s interesting as it’s hard to really say what he’s thinking until he explains it later on. I would say that he’s an interesting character. Not a standout villain or anything but one that does make you think. I thought that he was more impressive than most of the other characters at least and I liked his grand master plan.

Cross was also cool in the brief time that we saw him. The opening scene was very impressive and he consistently does well throughout the film. I do think he could have played things way differently though and would have been able to do better. After we see what his true objective was, I don’t think it would have been super difficult to establish contact. At least from what we saw I don’t think it would have been too unreasonable to get that started. He just waited too long and got a raw deal but he may have been the best character here.

The film can definitely be a bit violent with all the head shots. Neither the villains or heroes are playing around here that’s for sure. As mentioned, the main character is also annoying the whole time and he really puts up with a lot in the training. I absolutely would have fought back more if I was him. It all makes sense in retrospect of course but it also shows why Wesley should have just done more to protect himself. If the film toned down how excessive it could be at times then it would be all the better for it. It’s not super crazy but enough to be noticeable. Making Wesley a bit more independent and able to do things on his own would have been nice too.

Overall, Wanted had a lot of good fight scenes and an interesting premise. I’d certainly be interested to see how they would build off of this for the sequel. With the introductions out of the way and the main character a little more accustomed to his abilities I think it would probably beat the first one. Assassin films can always be very interesting when done right. They’d need to build up some solid threats for him to face but that shouldn’t be hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more powerful organizations out there. With most of the character cast gone too we’ll have an opportunity for a much better character cast and lets cut out the exploding mice too. Don’t need any of those kind of weapons that make the main character look even worse and more villain-like.

Overall 5/10

Eraser Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version is more negative

Eraser is a very classic kind of action film. It’s a title you just don’t see a lot of nowadays with the solo hero going around proving why he’s the best in the biz. There aren’t a lot of subplots or conspiracies going on, not a lot of subplots or an ensemble cast. It’s just a straight forward action title with one twist that the audience knows almost from the jump. It works well though because the execution is on point and if not for one scene I dare say this one would have been very good. Still, it does hold its own in the middle.

The movie starts by introducing us to John who works as an Eraser. Basically he helps someone erase their identity and go into witness protection. He works alone and that has always worked well since nobody can slow him down this way. He’s like a one man army and always produces at the highest level possible. This time he’s going to have a tougher time though as he has to protect a lady named Lee before it’s time for her testimony. Thing is, she didn’t sign up for such a dangerous job and so she isn’t cooperating too much. John will have to figure out a way to make this work because there are many forces at work trying to prevent her from testifying.

With a film like this I think it’s important that the person who is being protected be a likable character. You don’t want someone who is going out of their way to make things tougher on John or someone who is made to be antagonistic. I suppose there are some interesting developments you can have with that, but I would definitely prefer you just have a good character right from the jump and that’s what this film does.

Lee’s resistance to ditching her old life is understandable since it was all thrown at her as a surprise. The government decided not to let her in on the loop until she was after the point of no return. It’s definitely not a good way to go about it and John calls them out on this. Once Lee is attacked and realizes that she will have to vanish, she gets reasonable from there on. So that’s why I wouldn’t take any point away from her. I thought she was quick on the ball and still a reasonable character all the way through.

As for John, well he’s your classic hero and a really good one at that. This character type is always fun as we really get to see how skilled he is. John does fall for one trap but we can cut him some slack because while the whole thing is obvious to the viewer, he has been working with these guys for a while so you’re bound to make a mistake at some point. Only reason I was a little surprised is I thought that the film was hinting that John had figured out the treachery ahead of time but I suppose it was just showing that he had some suspicions. That’s fair.

I guess I shouldn’t say who the main villain is. The film gives it away early on but it’s still hard for me to say if that’s part of the general premise or if it should still be treated as a twist. I’m not really sure so I’ll play it safe here. I thought the villain was rather solid. He wants to be rich and so he’ll do anything for money. It’s a classic motive that’s as old as time but it’s one that still has a lot of bite to it. I thought it worked pretty well here and the guy does have a certain level of craftiness to him even if he can’t hope to win in a straight fight.

The movie is really fast paced with a lot of action at every corner. The action scenes are cool and there is also a lot of really fun dialogue here. It’s got that proper blend of action and humor that you like to see. The characters keep things light but you can always tell that the stakes are high. We get a lot of different sceneries as the characters are always on the go and so you’re just going to have a lot of fun here.

Of course as I mentioned earlier, the film does make one mistake and that’s when a bunch of alligators showed up. Now, you know as soon as this happened that there was going to be an issue. Any animal appearing means that there will probably be some animal violence. Is that a bit jaded? Possibly I suppose but I’m sure the stats would back me up on this. One of them ends up getting shot dead in a rather brutal scene as we see it close up. That was a powerful shot that directly took two stars off the final score. It’s a shame that one moment like that can destroy so much momentum but that’s just how it can go in these things. Of course as a disclaimer if a scene like that won’t take you out of the movie then I can still cautiously recommend it to you, but I wouldn’t do a blind recommendation like that to just anyone. This scene would quickly prevent that.

As a final note, the film also just looks really good. I wouldn’t say that’s surprising as a lot of old films still look good, but I thought the effects and everything were particularly impressive. In this film the villains use guns that can fire at the speed of light which is rather incredible. A cool shockwave visual is used here so you can see the ripples around each shot. It helps the guns feel really sci-fi based and I would say it works really well. You can definitely see how these guns could upset the balance of the planet although it makes it a little hard to believe that John could keep on standing after going up against such high tech weapons. Just a bit of a stretch when you think about it.

Overall, Eraser is like a blast from the past. It’s the kind of film you’re surprised didn’t get more popular because it really had all of the tools needed in order to break out into the mainstream. Ultimately this didn’t end up happening at least as far as I’m concerned since I’ve never heard of it before. Perhaps the alligator moment knocked it out for a lot of people but that’s not the kind of moment you would typically expect to cause a big stir. Either way this could have had a lot of potential for sequels and stuff but I guess that just wasn’t to be this time. It’s always fun finding fast paced action films like this from back in the day, we’ll see how the next one turns out.

Overall 5/10

Don’t Let Go 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

Time for a movie with a very clear title and message. The whole thing is about never letting go, sometimes you just have to keep on something even when everyone tells you it’s time to move on. When time travel is a concern, moving on is absolutely the last thing you want to do. (Looking at you Flash!) The movie has a fun premise and some good ideas here. It’s very close to being a winning movie but makes one mistake that puts it in the middle of the pack instead of rising above it.

The movie starts with Jack receiving a call from his niece Ashley since her father forgot to pick her up again. He’s always glad to help out though and the two have always had a good relationship. Well, one day she calls him and sounds distressed before the call ends. He runs over and she has been murdered along with her parents. The crime scene indicates that her father murdered her and the mother before destroying himself. Jack knows that he did suffer from being bipolar and also had some drug related incident s in the past but something about this still isn’t sitting right with him. That’s when he gets a call from Ashley and for her it is still a week before the murder. He’s not sure how this happened but he now has a second chance to make things right and keep her safe. Of course there are 3 factors limiting this from being a super easy mission.

1: He can only speak to her over the phone so he can’t physically run to her house to help out. 2. He can’t call her so he has to wait for Ashley to call him. 3. The Jack of the past timeline doesn’t know what’s going on so he needs to keep Ashley from seeing him or she may find the whole situation crazy and not believe him. If he loses her trust at any point then the whole mission is a wash. Will he be able to pull this off and save her life or is the film going to take the awful route that “The past cannot be changed” route?

Well, I can say from the jump that the past can be changed here. After all, there wouldn’t be much of a movie if he couldn’t have any impact right? Definitely a good thing since I never really bought into that approach all that much. If time travel does exist then it stands to reason that you can change anything. That’s a full stop right there, you can’t have one concept without the other and this film embraces it. Without talking about the film too much yet, lets talk about the time travel rules for this movie.

So what happens in the past directly alters the future. So for example if Jack tells Ashley to paint a circle in the back of a house, Jack will suddenly experience a ton of seizures with red lights and then it appears in the present. This one is assuming that time goes linearly which I actually prefer. In some titles you may run into the issue of how the world should have already shifted since the events already happened but this way is much more straight forward and I just prefer it. Gets you away from the loops. The good news about this and having one timeline is that even if Jack dies, if he was able to get her enough info in time then he will be resurrected in the new timeline.

He seems to be the only one actually aware of the time changes through his phone connection to Ashley. We can chalk this up to the power of a wish since he wanted a do-over. Part of why I like the structure here is because it’s all internally consistent and it’s not trying too hard to invent a lot of rules. It’s a simple time travel format that works quite effectively so I’ll give the film credit there. I also thought the writing was pretty solid in general with the mystery angle. There are a lot of twists and evidence to go through but it never feels like the movie is pulling things out of a hat. It’s all planned out and that’s really a good thing.

I don’t think you’ll figure things out too quickly but even if you do, I’d say that’s a credit to your detective abilities rather than a slight to the film. I would personally say it’s all hidden well. Then Jack makes for a solid main character which is important here. He’s certainly desperate to save Ashley and is pulling out all the stops but knows when to be subtle so he isn’t arrested for acting crazy. Now he does have to take desperate measures to get the evidence sometimes like pulling a gun on one of the officers but where other main characters would constantly charge in, Jack at least pretends to play ball like when he told his boss that he would drop it.

Ashley is also a solid character. She gets a handle on things fairly quick for a kid and doesn’t slow things down by asking a lot of questions. She asks a reasonable amount given the crazy circumstances that are going on but again, she handles it well. In general the film was good about making people reasonable. The cast is fairly small though because Ashley’s parents never get much of a role. Jack’s partner is around but you won’t get too many scenes of him throughout the movie. Jack is really in this alone the whole time.

Now the film does make one big mistake which is that the dog ends up getting bumped off. Why include a dog in a film like this when you know how it’s going to play out? The family just shouldn’t have had a dog and then things wouldn’t have been so tragic the whole time. While I won’t go into the twists and all that, either way it’s fair to say that Ashley’s dad did not handle things well at all. He really could have played things out in so many ways that would have led to a better ending for everyone. Even as the film ends, it’s not like it’s a super happy ending or anything. Things worked out but with heavy costs all around.

Overall, Don’t Let Go is a pretty solid film for the most part even if it fumbles the bag with the dog scene. Throw that out and I dare say this would have been going over very well. The biggest slight against it is probably that there won’t be a ton of replay value here. In general that’s something you see a lot with mystery films since once you know all of the twists it naturally can’t be quite as engaging the second time. There are some exceptions to that of course but a lot of the suspense is in not knowing who to trust and what will happen next. If you’re ready for a solid detective movie and can get over the dog scene then you’re all set with this one, otherwise I guess it’s time to let this movie go instead.

Overall 5/10

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review

Now you may be thinking of the newer action film when you see this title, but this one’s going for a very different vibe. There isn’t any real action to speak of this time as it’s more of a romance comedy. I feel like there’s definitely better ways you could have executed this plot but all in all it’s still going to give you a decent time. It’s one of those films that is right in the middle. It’s not particularly good or bad so you’ll have your share of good and bad times with it. Mainly I’d say it’s that there are a lot of missed opportunities and you sense that it could have been something more.

The story starts with Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith having another one of their big fights. They have a rule where neither one of them can leave the room until they have made up. Apparently this can sometimes result in their spending 8 days inside the room. Mrs. Smith has a whole lot of rules with this being one of them and you can tell that Mr. Smith is not too thrilled with them to the point where he says he would not marry her again if given the choice. Of course it was purely hypothetical…until he is told that the marriage actually wasn’t legal since there was an issue with the borders. Now Mr. Smith is being given the second chance he had just considered and is determined to make the most of it.

Mr. Smith decides not to tell Mrs. Smith about this as he is now relishing his freedom but little does he realize that she has also been told this and is quite steamed about the whole thing. Will they end up getting remarried or will this event be the trigger to their doom? One thing’s for sure, they are no longer Mr. & Mrs. Smith but have returned to David and Ann.

It’s certainly an interesting angle here. You like to think that for 99% of instances the couple would just walk to the office and get remarried in a heartbeat. I could see some deciding to make a fun party/event out of the ordeal or maybe even relive their first date. More in the manner that Ann was expecting with David to propose again. Of course we wouldn’t have a movie if that were the case and so this ends up being a whole big deal for both of them. While we mainly saw Ann’s faults from David’s perspective at first, we then get to hear Ann’s list of complaints later on. They certainly had a lot of issues with each other.

The film also reverses course a bit as initially David is the one who seems to not really want to remarry Ann but then when she decides not to get back together David is the one playing the Uno reverse card. Effectively it seems to me that David just wanted a few weeks of being single again and probably would have told her eventually but to Ann that was already a massive slight and so she decided to have a permanent split here. To her defense David definitely should have come clean from the start. There should be no hesitation in wanting to get remarried to bring things back to how they were. It doesn’t help that he had just responded to the hypothetical question earlier that day so she saw his true feelings.

Meanwhile on Ann’s side, she was way too quick to go on the rebound. Now initially she was just messing with David presumably but she actually gets serious about his best friend Jeff. This hurts her quite a bit because it shows that she was actually willing to go all the way to marriage with this guy just to spite Jeff. There’s a limit to how far you should go in a moment like this and she goes well beyond it. At that point it feels like the marriage can never be the same again. Once the rebounds are in play then all bets are off.

So I wouldn’t say that either of the main characters were particularly good. David getting Ann fired was also rough just as she was trying to start things off again. Meanwhile Jeff was no good too. Deciding to actually go through with this and have an affair with Ann was awful. Sounds to me like he was interested in her the whole time even while she was married and just made a move now that she was back on the market. This is another thing that you can absolutely never come back from. Once your feelings are out in the open like that, well that’s it. You can’t put it back in the box so to speak.

He wasn’t very smart either as he didn’t try harder to see through David’s deceptions. The ole pretending to be sick routine really shouldn’t be working like that either. C’mon now, it’s obvious that he was faking with all of the over acting. Jeff seemed to suspect at first but then started to weak on that. Additionally, the scene of Jeff getting drunk was also rather painful to get through. His final straw was in not defending Ann when David put her in a chokehold. Sure, by then he saw how manipulative she was, but it still wasn’t a good look for him.

I guess by the end we see that Ann actually enjoys some roleplay with Jeff as they mess around and presumably have their happy ever after but it’s hard to see this working out. The film has some solid writing and a good script which is all well and good but the characters needed to be a little better in order to make it to the next level. I think this plot really had a whole lot of potential to do something amazing and it just never reached that point. It really could have been more fun than it was. The direction was a little different than what I expected.

Overall, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a film you aren’t likely to forget because the plot is really original. I actually think this is one of the rare times where a modern remake could actually improve on it a bit. It just feels like a comedic goldmine for potential. I would also increase the time frame so they’d have been married for 10 years or so instead of 3. Adds to the drama of the whole thing and you could really play up how each character and their supporting cast takes it. Give their families a bigger role since their “helpful” advice could also really help add to the dynamic.

Overall 6/10

Red Lights Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Red Lights is a bit of a trippy film that has a lot of good ideas but the execution isn’t as good as it should have been. It gives you a lot to think about though and I like the concept. You’d probably never guess the actual story of the film just based on the title though, it’s not one of those titles that makes it obvious or anything. There aren’t a ton of magic films like this one out there either so that adds a little more reason to check this one out.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Margaret and her assistant Tom. Their job is to discredit people who call themselves magicians by uncovering their tips and tricks. They’re quite good at this and Margaret really commands the field. In her day she was only defeated once by the magician known as Simon who was the best of the best. He retired rather suddenly when one of his critics died during a performance. Well, now he’s back but for some reason Margaret refuses to go after him. She even tells Tom not to try because they are hopelessly outmatched and outgunned. Tom doesn’t listen though and wants to take this guy down as the ultimate triumph.

Red Lights shifts gears rather quickly so don’t expect this plot to remain static but right off the bat I like the premise here. The idea of a movie about people busting magicians is really interesting. Particularly if you don’t believe in magic then you’re rooting for them to claim the win. Margaret is also a very solid character with how confident and prepared she is. Of course she isn’t unbeatable and we get a flashback showing how she lost to Simon. It’s not easy to prove the others are a phony, particularly on the spot. Part of her regret though is that it should have been easy for her in that moment.

He claimed that her son’s ghost was around as if he was dead, but only Margaret knew that he was still alive. If she had called him out there then her career would have been perfect but ultimately she hesitated and just didn’t think of it in time. That’s her only loss in the film though. While Tom gives her a hard time during an interview later on, I wouldn’t say that she was actually losing that one. Personally I thought she did fine and I suppose it’s how you look at the interview but what did he really want her to say? I thought he was unreasonable the whole time.

That’s one of the weaker parts of the film since Tom is really the main character here and he’s just annoying all the time. He constantly loses his cool and falls into every trap imaginable. There’s a scene where he keeps on threatening the head researcher so that he can get in and the whole time I’m just thinking that they really shouldn’t let him in now. It’s clear that the guy isn’t stable at all and the film really goes out of its way to show this. He’s just way too obsessed with Silver.

Tom also just isn’t as talented as Margaret is. Intensity and youth can only get you so far, ultimately you also need the technique to go along with that. He’s also rather mean to one of the assistants. He doesn’t even let the guy talk and just keeps on brushing off the guy’s ideas. Tom’s girlfriend acts the same way towards the guy so you start to feel bad for him. He’s the one trying to help out and staying up late trying to crack the case too. He deserves a little more respect there.

During the film you’re also supposed to ask yourself the whole time if Simon’s powers are real as well. It’s a nice angle to the film since it gives you a reason to really think about each scene a lot. Fantastical things do seem to happen a lot when he’s on stage like lights breaking or people dying for seemingly no reason. Of course part of you will think that may be a little too easy in that case. Either way it should give you a lot to think about and Simon makes for a solid villain. He’s definitely not someone that the characters can really afford to take too lightly.

There is a big twist near the end of the film which answers all of the questions and should make or break the experience for you. The twist itself I’m fairly cool with although I wouldn’t say it’s handled super well. One scene is dragged out a bit too much which lowers the impact of the moment. I also feel like this raises some extra questions throughout the movie which don’t do it any favors. It also leads to a rather bad ending so in the end the film starts off a lot better than it ended. It had some good humor and a fun cast but it just made some really big mistakes in the second half that erase a lot of the good that the first half pulled in. I’ll jump into that now so skip the next two paragraphs if you haven’t seen the film yet.

All right so here we go into spoiler land. First off, Margaret gets bumped off early on which is a shame since she was the best character here. Tom isn’t able to fill in for her effectively at all. Then the other big twist is that Simon was a phony but Tom is a real psychic. Yes, all the crazy stuff that happened during the movie was his doing. It seems like he didn’t actually know he was doing this to himself. Towards the end of the film he says he regrets how he didn’t tell Margaret sooner so she could have some closure though.

So that means he knew he had powers but just didn’t know he was using it at those moments? It’s rather sloppy. His whole motivation seemed to be to find some other people like him with psychic powers and he had started giving up on this dream. It’s too bad he couldn’t have confided in her though or at least been less desperate about things. At least the movie didn’t cop out with powers not existing but it just should have been so much better. Also, at the end Tom takes Margaret’s son off of life support so he can die now but that was a very iffy way of ending things. He snuck in there without any consent and just turned it off? Even if it’s meant to be a helpful/hopeful kind of thing, it didn’t turn out that way.

Well that’s it for the spoilers. There’s also an action scene we get in the bathroom that really doesn’t go very well for Tom. The scene is super random and shows up out of nowhere though. On a plot level you get to piece it together real quick on how this happened but the ending of the fight felt really convenient. If you’re going to start a fight and take a huge risk on someone seeing you, then shouldn’t you make sure that the fight is won? Stopping at the end just doesn’t work and makes the whole thing futile.

Overall, Red Lights is a film with a lot of ups and downs for me. The concept is sound and there are some interesting visuals here. On the other hand the ending is no good and it felt like the movie should have trusted its own premise more. The more interesting scenes in the film where about the heroes trying to prove that the magicians are a fraud as opposed to Tom’s obsession. If we focused on that then this would have been pretty good.

Overall 5/10