The Siege 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

It’s time for a film about the scary possibility of terrorists showing up to cause all kinds of terror on the city. It’s a pretty intense film to be sure although the heroes don’t make it any easier on themselves with all of the constant infighting. They seem to get in each other’s way as much as the villains do. It’s got a pretty solid premise even if I’d say it has some issues that keep it from being really solid. It’ll still keep your attention all the way through either way though.

The movie starts with FBI Agents Anthony and Frank trying to defuse a pretty intense terrorist situation with a bunch of people being stuck in a bus that has bombers in it. Anthony is able to at least get the kids out but everyone else dies. The most worrisome thing here is that there are apparently several other terrorist cells already active in Brooklyn so more of these disasters are going to happen. The tough part is how to pre-emptively stop these attacks before people end up dying. If you go too hard then you’re inevitably going to be hurting innocent people and if you stay reactive then innocent people are going to die in the explosions. So it’s a tough situation.

The film does a good job of showing that there are no easy solutions in a situation like this. You’ve got millions of people within the state and they are looking for less than 20 terrorists. Of course that’s just the number that they know but either way it is a very small percentage which does not work in their favor. People are not going to be happy with any option. Ultimately the president decides to call in the army once all other options fail and that brings General William to the forefront.

This guy is a pretty interesting character and I liked him. The whole film he is begging the president not to call him in because if that happens then they are going to be in a lot of trouble. As he says the army is like a blunt object. They will neutralize the threat but there will be a whole lot of collateral damage and it won’t be quiet or subtle. On the other hand the quiet ways with the FBI and CIA have not yielded any true results yet to the president pulls him in.

Thing is, William is very serious about succeeding even if it means that he does commit a lot of destruction. He treats Brooklyn as he would any warzone in which case he is kidnapping people and also resorting to torture right away. This guy is not holding back at all. As the film goes on he starts to look more and more unhinged but what adds to his character is the fact that he initially didn’t want to be called in. It was a real last resort so he knew that he would lose control. There’s a whole lot you could say about a character like this.

Meanwhile Anthony is doing his best here but it sure is tough. He’s trying to solve this case by staying within the rules but that means he has no time to make any true progress. He also has to deal with the CIA agent Elise who is not making this any easier by keeping a whole lot of secrets. She is working with a guy named Samir who is a big criminal himself but she figures he can lead them to the terrorists. Anthony is not comfortable with this plan at all but compromises because he has no real alternatives.

Anthony takes a lot of risks and is always in the front lines so you can definitely appreciate him here. He’s a really good main character. His partner Frank also gets a big role but tends to lose his cool a little too quickly. There’s the scene where he punches a suspect and has to be calmed down and then he really loses it when the army takes his son. It definitely is rough to be treated just like the rest of the suspects after all his years of faithful service. You can understand why all suspects have to be brought in even ones with government ties. It’s the only logical approach but because the army is committing a lot of human rights violations and treating people badly it’s just shining even more of a light on that.

I didn’t really care for Elise though. Sure as a CIA member she has to keep some secrets but I think she keeps too many of them and this ultimately comes at the expense of the other heroes at times. The whole way she handles Samir was not good. I never liked the trope of basically trying to seduce the enemy, it’s too heavy a price to move forward. Then you’d also have to acknowledge that the one you’re trying to manipulate could just be enjoying the benefits while not actually being manipulated.

Having informants itself is a controversial move to be sure since you’re basically allowing criminals to run free in the hopes of getting others. Perhaps it is necessary sometimes but choosing those moments and not crossing the line is not an easy task at all. I just thought her judgment was really off here the whole time. Meanwhile Samir is never portrayed as a good guy himself. He commits crimes and just keeps on moving. He has a lot of protection so he’s never really had to worry a whole lot and it’s sort of annoying to see him be to brazen the whole time.

While I think the heroes could have handled this all a lot better, it’s also easy to backseat coach after it’s all over. Ultimately the film delivers on having a lot of political intrigue the whole time and the characters debating what the right thing to do is. William goes a bit far by the end but it also leads to a really tense scene at the climax that is one of the highlight moments of the film.

Overall, The Siege is a film you won’t soon forget. They really did a good job of exploring what it could be like to have active terrorist cells in the city with the government trying to deal with it. It would certainly be a terrifying ordeal and deciding how far to go would be a big point of discussion. Especially with online discourse you know there would be a million opinions right away. I don’t see things ever escalating in quite the way they did in this film like calling out the army and shutting down a whole borough but at the same time you never really know.

Overall 6/10

The Devil Wears Prada Review

This film is a very well known romance/comedy title. Maybe drama would be appropriate to put in there as well but either way people know this one. It’s a classic story with a fun main villain and holds up fairly well in most respects. The romance itself has to be the weakest part of the film though. I’m not really into fashion so I could sympathize with the main character for a while because it all looks the same to me really. Just grab a good T shirt and you’re all set if you ask me.

The movie starts off with Andy showing up for an interview at a very prestigious fashion magazine. It’s not exactly her calling but she just needs something to pay the bills for a while so this will do. She surprisingly gets the job and now has to work for Miranda, the most infamous boss out there. Miranda is not afraid to put you on the spot and humiliate you for almost no reason just to remind you who the top dog is around here. Her demands are outrageous and she is impossible to please but Andy won’t be rattled so easily. Can she prove her own in this pseudo fight with Miranda and if she wins..will she have lost something important?

After all sometimes winning a fight means losing the war. You can win the fight to go to GameStop and buy every game but you’re going to lose when the credit card bill comes in and the IRS comes a knocking. In this case the cost is the respect of her friends as her boyfriend Nate and the crew are very judgmental about those who dress well and have a lot of sophistication. They’re basically the gossiping type and are quick to try and get Andy in trouble or make her feel bad when there’s a work obligation.

I should note now that I have 0 sympathy for these guys and Andy should cut ties real quick. They’re usually not willing to listen to her side of the story anyway and the friendship couldn’t have been so strong if they were so quick to turn on her. It’s just a really bad look for them and Nate deserves the lion’s share of the blame since they were together. Him pouting because she missed his birthday was absolutely the worst. Of course he claimed that he didn’t care…but didn’t act like it.

Now this was in 2006 so I forget how big cell phones were at the time but Andy had one so I assume Nate had something right? I could see him being a little upset that she didn’t text ahead of time but the problem is that they’ve been together for so long that he shouldn’t be causing such a scene over one little issue. Plus, she had even made the heroic call and decided not to go and meet the boss or stay late for drinks because she was hurrying home. It was only her normal job duties that caused her to be so late. So yeah there was no saving Nate and the friends here.

As for Andy, well she did good the whole time. The only instances you may use to go against her is when she goes to the big fashion event over Emily and when she starts hanging out with that desperate guy who was chasing after her. The first example isn’t a big deal if you ask me. Yes, Emily wanted to go but Andy was basically told by the boss directly that it wasn’t happening. Andy protested a bit but beyond that what is she supposed to do? Get fired just to prove a point? I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect her to do anything more than what she did.

For the latter, yeah that’s a big issue for sure. She was still with Nate when the guy started flirting and even afterwards they had just broken up so it’s way too early to be rebounding. That was a weakness on her part for sure but in the end she was one of the better characters here regardless. She put in the work and got really good at her job despite it being so extremely difficult. That’s talent and dedication right there. She earned every bit of her success.

As for Emily, she was more of an antagonist the whole time anyway. She was always taking shots at Andy for no real reason and just liked to feel superior. So when things don’t go well she starts complaining a lot. Ultimately Andy still takes the high road all the time which is another little thing I appreciated about the film. Andy never felt the need to get revenge or anything like that and so by the end she did win Emily over.

Then you have Nigel who was fun enough. He’s been waiting for a big promotion for a long time now and is finally close to the goal. He knows how Miranda works and so that puts him in a good position. He’s great at the job but he always has to be worried since one big mistake could be the end of him. His character arc goes down a more tragic path.

Finally we have Miranda who is fun because the film goes all in with making her the antagonist. There’s nothing half hearted about her. If she wants something done then you know that she is going to say that to your face directly. Additionally she is always on top of things and one step ahead of the competition. I may have seen too many Hallmark movies since for a minute there I actually thought she was going to turn good but then that didn’t happen and that was a good thing. She knew who she wanted to be and the film fleshes her character out so she’s still huma but will always put the job first. That’s just Miranda’s focus and it has turned out well for her. She is quite wealthy and powerful even if it came at the expense of having more time for family.

So the writing here is good and there’s a fun amount of humor as well. The fashion scenes can drag just a bit since fashion is like food. Usually the fancier you get, the more you lose sight of the main goal and don’t turn out as good. A lot of casual clothes easily top the more fancy attires you see in this film. A lot of Andy’s original clothes beat the ones that were made to look glamorous for example but fashion is in the eye of the beholder so at the end of the day you just have to dress in whichever way you think is best.

The film is at its best when we have some nice back and forth with Miranda giving orders and Andy trying to fulfill them. The scenes have a lot of impact and are just fun to follow along with. The film is at its weakest when the friends show up to try and slow Andy’s roll. If they just could have been supportive that would have been great but instead they are constantly in the way.

Overall, This was a good movie. I probably would have tweaked the ending just a bit for Andy and had her make a different choice. I feel like by this point so much has happened that she should see the path through or at least something similar. Still, the ending works out well enough and you will be satisfied by the time you finish the film. It’s a story that is tough to execute but this movie succeeded.

Overall 6/10

Metropolitan Review

Metropolitan is one of those films where characters mainly talk about nothing much and then the film ends. I’ve seen a few titles like that but in general they tend to be quite awful. Hannah and her Sisters is a classic example of a film like this that I’ve seen. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this title but it’s actually better than I expected. I’d say in part because the characters are a little more interesting and some of the dialogue is actually decent. The climax is ironically one of the weakest parts of the film but on the whole I was entertained.

So the movie is about a group of teenagers who all hang out at an apartment and try to feel really fancy. They talk about very complex subjects with each other like politics and general warfare of social customs. Anything that sounds very intelligent like that is something they’ll talk about even if they don’t know what they are doing. It’s just what they’ve always done. One day Tom is invited into the clique by chance. This sort of thing isn’t really his idea of a fun time and he’s not quite as wealthy as they are but ultimately he can’t find it within himself to leave. In a way he’s actually having a whole lot of fun right now. Still this means he has entered the world of romantic drama and scandals so his life may be a bit more complicated now.

There is a general plot in that he likes a girl named Serena who is related to the group even though she has long since moved on. Then you have Audrey who likes Tom and Charlie likes Audrey. It’s a full circle thing here and so you can see how it gets complicated. But while that’s the general plot, this isn’t a film that’s super connected to the story or anything like that. For the most part it’s still about the general day to day operations of what’s going on here and the romance is on the back foot.

The climax involves one of the villains who was mentioned during the film and now Tom has to go and save the heroine (I won’t say who this is to keep up the suspense) but it’s really just a way to quickly have some action. It almost feels out of place and some characters really made a bunch of iffy moves in order to get into that scenario. I should mention that while the characters are interesting, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that any of them are likable. They all succumb easily to peer pressure and just don’t seem like good influences to have around.

Starting off with Tom, in general he has some reasonable views. I’m not much of a party person myself so going to these events where you just sit and talk would have me bored to tears. I can do festive parties where you’re running around and eating. Those are a lot of fun while you’re eating at least but parties with no food? Nah not my cup of tea. Now the problem though is that Tom actually does enjoy them and he’s just jealous. Sure he denies this a whole lot but that’s what it comes down to and Nick calls him out on this at one point. Tom is so busy looking down on himself and throwing a pity party that he doesn’t realize nobody really cares.

It’s one of those things that you have to remind yourself of which is that you aren’t the main character of everyone’s story. If you make a mistake or fall down you may think everyone is watching you but really they’re still just continuing along with their lives. Once Tom gets this into perspective he starts to enjoy himself more. He’s the kind of guy who has a lot of strong views on books that he’s never read and still keeps on going after Serena even when it’s clear that she’s not interested in him and just generally enjoys being in a lot of relationships. I don’t think that means he has to rebound with Audrey of course, if he’s not interested in her then he’s not but my issue is with him still going after Serena the whole time.

Then you have Nick who is probably the best of the main characters. Yes he’s a bit more arrogant and dare I say even a bit rude but the guy knows what he likes and doesn’t put up as much of a front as the others. He just has a good time all the way through and lives his life. I would argue that while most of the characters are worried about their image or fitting in, he just actually is that way. The only thing he denies is how he’s jealous of the main antagonist when he is to an extent but the guy also does seem like he is a creep so I can see why Nick wants to take him down.

Audrey is a little too shy which hurts her character for me. Part of the issue here is that she likes Tom but is of course too shy to tell him herself. So she keeps this in but then also gets super upset when he doesn’t notice her or makes a pass on another girl (Serena). I don’t think she really had much reason to be super upset at him. She could be upset at herself for not making a move but it’s not like she and Tom were actually together so it’s too early to be jealous. Not saying it’s easy to have 100% control of your emotions or anything like that but it’s still not a great look. She can be upset at him for just ditching her though, that was really uncalled for. Then she makes a very questionable decision that could have easily ended badly for her later on.

She seems like a decent person but one without a strong will so it’s easy to influence her. Then there is Serena but there isn’t a whole lot to say about her. She’s very outgoing and can be a bit manipulative with how many pen pals she wrote too who all thought that they were together with her. I guess you could just say that they were gullible which is absolutely valid but at the same time she’s just not a very nice person. It’s a shame that Tom couldn’t just move on himself.

Finally there is Charlie who is a fun character. He likes to be a doomer about everything and is always talking about how their entire generation is destined to fall to ruins. He refuses to accept any examples or evidence to the contrary. The guy constantly goes on speeches about everything and it’s why he’s fun. I liked the dialogue in the movie thanks in no small part to his contributions. Charlie always had something to say about everything and they were actual thoughts so I could appreciate that. He had a way of tying things together that worked and even if you didn’t agree with anything that he said, I didn’t mind listening to the speeches.

That’s where this film had an advantage over most which is that the dialogue was actually interesting as it happened. Most of it is still fluff and everyone outbluffing themselves with crazy theories but they didn’t drag on or feel pointless at the time. I could do without the romance and of course the characters are annoying but they’re annoying in a way that’s fun to watch as opposed to shaking your head the whole time.

Overall, This would be a hard film to recommend to anyone because it’s hard to make a sales pitch for it. I’m not really sure how I’d even market this film to people. That said, I did think it was surprisingly a good movie and one that I could see again. It embraces the fact that this film isn’t really about much at all. If you could do a movie like this without the drama, maybe a group of adults who get together then it would probably be very good. Either way, it’s a bit of a strange film in the sense that there isn’t much of a focus but it works. I wouldn’t recommend other filmmakers to try and replicate this title though because it seems hard to pull off.

Overall 6/10

That Touch of Mink Review

It’s time for a classic romantic comedy film. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen one of the Cary Grant/Doris Day combination films and this is a solid one as you’d expect. It’s maybe a tad weaker than the average film because the film tries to be a little more grounded this time. It’s not quite as crazy as you might expect although you can still expect a lot of shenanigans to be occurring. It may not be near the top but at the same time it is quite timeless so you can really watch this at any time and have fun.

The movie starts with Cathy heading to a job interview. It’s been a trying time for her as she has to deal with an annoying clerk to cash in her unemployment checks named Beasley so she really needs things to work out. Unfortunately she ends up getting splashed with a bunch of mud by the rich Roger who is so rich that he doesn’t even stop to help out. Instead he sends his lackey Roger to do the damage control. Roger has watched as time and time again Philip got his way due to a mix of being handsome and rich. Now that he has someone as upset as Cathy at his side, he figures this is the perfect time to watch someone really let Philip have it. So Roger escorts her up but unfortunately it doesn’t end up working out that well.

See, she has a change of heart as everyone else always does and as a result she accepts his offer to go out with her. Now Roger’s plan is foiled and he may have just helped Philip get another win accidentally. With his mind slowly breaking he starts to seek some help from a psychiatrist which kicks off a whole lot of misunderstandings.

Back to Cathy she is a bit unsure of how to proceed. On one hand she does like Philip but she isn’t sure exactly how serious he is. Does he actually want to marry her or is he just trying to pull out some moves so that she will go all the way with him. For Philip he also starts to see Cathy a bit differently than most of the ladies that he has gone out so he starts to have doubts on if he should break the whole thing off. Both of them are just never on the same page which always leads to a lot of drama and issues. Can they make this work?

So at its core this is a classic romance film and you can probably see how that’s going to play out. In the short term what sets this one apart is that both of them want to be together but have doubts on the other one’s intentions so they play it safe. This results in both characters going in a circle a whole lot which drags things out but there are fun scenes with this as well. I appreciated Cathy having a good friend in Connie who was defending her the whole time. Connie has a bit more of a cynical mindset when it comes to these guys but you really can’t blame her. If a rich guy showed up and then 5 minutes later you found out he was going out with your best friend you’d also feel like this is suspiciously fast. It just doesn’t really add up so you would start to think that it’s some kind of a desperate play.

Unfortunately Cathy usually doesn’t listen to Connie’s advice much but at least she tries. Roger is the equivalent for Philip but the guy isn’t quite as selfless as Connie. Honestly for most of the film he’s really just trying to keep Philip and Cathy from being together just to stick it to Philip. He sort of resents being the sidekick all the time and wants to do something about it but isn’t brave enough to do this directly. It’s definitely what holds him back as a character. He’s fun and fulfils the punching bag role rather well but as a character he’s not the kind of friend you would want to have.

Then we have Beasley who is really here just as a tool to try and make Philip jealous. You know that he never stands a chance here and the guy comes off as so desperate and annoying that he’s basically the villain. He really tries to take advantage of his position to get together with Cathy and that tells you all that you need to know about the guy. He’s far from being a class act that’s for sure. I’d have preferred that we got a real rival but that may have muddied the water here a bit. At least this way there’s no rebound but the climax involves tricking him into thinking he has a chance which is a trope I tend to dislike. Cathy should try to get to Philip without having to use anybody.
As for Philip, he is the kind of guy who never seems all that serious about a relationship. He’s certainly been through a whole lot of them over the years after all so why should this one be any different? Of course you’re meant to see that it will be different this time but I would be completely skeptical all the while. It just doesn’t really add up and it’s hard to change so quickly. Of course it’s possible but it’s not something you would typically bet on. He seems like a decent guy otherwise, Philip is just a chronic flirt. He does have the decency to try and break things off with Cathy when he sees that she’s serious about the whole thing at least.

By the end I can’t say I’m fully on board with the romance but at least there weren’t any real rebounds here compared to most films like this. A lot of times the middle act will have the characters going with a rebound to see if they can get over the other but that doesn’t happen here aside from Cathy pretending at one point. The scenes of each character getting super stressed out and breaking into hives was a bit odd but perhaps a creative way of showing how nervous they were. Philip getting sick at the end was a bit cheesy since he doesn’t seem like the type to get nervous at the end with all of his experience. That seemed to just be to even things up even if it didn’t make a lot of sense.

Overall, That Touch of Mink is a fun comedy film. It’s nothing great or world shattering but it gets the job done with that retro style of humor that works well. Things tend to happen quickly and the writing is on point. It’s a pleasant film that doesn’t drag on and even if some of the jokes may not land, most should. It’s a well balanced film and there aren’t any moments that will really leave you shaking your head. At the end of the day you’ll certainly be entertained all the way through and that is the goal of the film. So I’d recommend checking it out and you won’t be disappointed.

Overall 6/10

Mrs. Santa Claus Review

Santa Claus gets a lot of films so it’s about time that Mrs. Santa Claus gets something too right? This makes for a fun film even if it is a bit uneventful. Santa doesn’t look great here and the kids are annoying but we do get a standout villain that’s actually rather impressive. When you have a villain that can take on the reindeer then you know things are going to get good. There are a few scenes in the film that make you think things are about to get epic but they tend to be false alarms.

The movie starts with Santa ignoring Mrs. Claus as she tries to help him out by making hot chocolate and creating a whole new path across the world. He just can’t be bothered so she figures she’ll travel the world to prove that it works. Unfortunately her reindeer crash and while they are being healed by a doctor she is trapped in New York. Well she figures that at least she can help out with the working conditions for the children and even meets up with a lady named Sadie who is protesting for women’s rights. There is only one man who can stand in Mrs. Claus’s way now and that’s Mr. Tavish. He is the owner of the largest toy company in New York and what he says goes. Can she defeat him?

So what makes Mr. Tavish special is that he can talk back to anyone. When Mrs. Claus tries to make a plan like having the children go on strike or not working hard then he immediately counters by punishing them with not being allowed to leave work early. He’s always one step ahead of her and that’s crazy because usually she is on top of things. There’s even a scene in the climax where he takes over the stables and basically prevented the reindeer from being used. Sure, Rudolph wasn’t around but he still basically stalemated all of them which is quite impressive. Ultimately the powers of friendship were what deterred him but physically nobody was about to stop this guy. That’s why I say that he was real impressive.

Meanwhile Sadie did a good job of petitioning and protesting all by herself for ages until Mrs. Claus showed up. Sadie was determined and wasn’t about to let anyone get in her way. That is absolutely the kind of dedication that you want to see from any character. It was really a credit to her character and she did a good job. It only makes the other characters look bad in how literally nobody was around to support her. You’d think that at least someone else would have taken a risk. Every great movement starts with one person though and Sadie can be proud to say that she was that person this time.

As for Mrs. Claus, I thought she was a solid character. She can be a bit naïve at times as New York takes her by surprise at first. I suppose everyone at the North Pole are rather nice and even tempered so she wasn’t ready for all the big antagonists here. That said, even if it takes her a while to get past this, ultimately she does well. She also gets points for bravery in going on the trip by herself when Santa was too busy with his work. She also couldn’t have predicted that some of the kids would be petty traitors who were too busy looking after themselves to help out with her plans. A lot of times these plans only work when everyone bands together and that was not the case here.

Santa looks bad here though. He seriously could have heard Mrs. Claus out about her plan instead of staying buried in the books. Then apparently he didn’t realize she was missing for several days? No that’s a really bad look for the guy and it was only when the hot chocolate tasted bad that he noticed. I liked when he started walking over to the elf as if to threaten him but sadly that scene wasn’t handled well as he came off as more confused and unsure of himself than threatening. That could have been a really hype scene otherwise but it just wasn’t to be.

This film is also part musical but none of the songs really land. They’re all old but also rather slow paced. A lot of times the songs in non-musical films tend to beat the musical ones and this continues along here as well. I wouldn’t say that any of them are bad or anything like that but they aren’t quite holding their own here. They don’t enhance the film and it has to succeed in spite of them rather than because of them which is a crucial difference. Also we missed an easy lay-up to see Mrs. Santa Claus learn about pizza. I get that she was in a poor area so that might have been tough and maybe pizza wasn’t even around yet in which case I would cut the film some slack but that would have been cool. It’s a staple of New York after all. You would almost forget that the film is in New York considering there aren’t any real landmarks after the Statue of Liberty. I guess that’s how old it is since usually I can recognize it right out of the jump.

Overall, Mrs. Santa Claus is a good movie. I would have liked it to have been a little more daring with lots of iconic moments all the way through though. Maybe have her defeat the villain at the end instead of talking to him or have Santa appear in a rage mode and take the guy down. I could have done without the songs too. It’s not a bad film to watch just since it’s rare to see Mrs. Santa Claus around and there’s nothing really negative to say about the film. It’s short too so it’s over quickly but I would just say that we haven’t yet seen the definitive Mrs. Santa Claus film yet. One day we will get one and we will know it when we see it.

Overall 6/10

An American Christmas Carol Review

It’s time for an American version of the classic Christmas Carol. My main issue with this one is that it doesn’t really change things up all that much from the classic story so it didn’t take advantage of the different setting. It’s not one of the stronger Christmas Carol adaptions either. It’s decent fun but you’re not going to walk away from this one a changed person. You’ll just want to go watch Scrooged again as the definitive version of the story.

It starts off with Slade having his assistant Thatcher help him with taking back all of the valuables he loaned out. Basically he planned it out just right so he would give things to everyone in town and when they couldn’t pay it back he would get everything back with interest. He basically owns the city now but everyone else is dying in the cold. That night he is visited by a ghost and this would be the beginning of 3 more visits that would haunt him in the nights to come. Are these ghosts real or is he dreaming?

You can guess the entire story from that because the Christmas Carol is a story as old as time. It is following the classic beats here. I suppose they changed up the names but that’s about it. Slade was close to getting engaged/married to one girl but he directly sent her father to the grave by convincing someone to lend money to him instead of her father. Slade also began using very dubious selling techniques to get more money and squeeze the value out of the end user. It was all rather rough but that’s just his style. Now he sees just how much he was hurting everyone and how he has to make things right.

It feels like the movie is pretty much on automatic. He does a 180 real fast by the end and agrees to help out. This Scrooge just didn’t go through as gradual a character arc. Having the actual Christmas Carol be a book within the universe was a questionable choice. It’s cliché but I would have liked him to have said Humbug at least once. It’s a staple at this point. I would also argue that this version of Scrooge as Slade was a lot meaner than the others which made it harder to redeem him.

Put it this way, the average Scrooge is someone who destroys Tiny Tim but does so unknowingly. He fires people for nothing and doesn’t donate to charity but otherwise that’s the extent of it. He’s rich and everyone can’t stand him because he’s a harsh boss and doesn’t help the community. At no point in those stories is he actively taking away people’s furniture and possessions. It is a completely different ballgame here with Slade doing all of that. Because now he is actively harming all of their lives as opposed to doing it passively.

We’re in the middle of a great depression during this film’s timetable with everyone dying out as it is and then he’s taking the piano, chairs, and everything else? They have nothing to sell or barter with now so of course everyone’s dying. This Slade already knew that so it’s less believable for him to have a change of heart when he sees the visions. At least usually the main character isn’t going that far so when he sees the end results of his actions then he is ready to change.

Additionally this Slade doesn’t seem very smart. When we get to the future ghost we see people partying because someone died and they’re all making fun of him. Slade has to ask who died several times even though it’s patently obvious from the start. He just can’t figure it out and it would almost be funny if it wasn’t just odd. Scrooge had to be a slick customer in order to get rich and mess everyone over. He should be able to very quickly deduce that the only person disliked enough for this to happen is himself. We don’t need him to be questioning this at any point.

The rest of the characters are about as you’d expect. This version of Tiny Tim is having a really tough time and is getting sicker and sicker. Thatcher tries to stay upbeat about this while his wife is furious at Slade and wants to take him down. Their daughter tends to panic about what’s going on which is rough since they were trying to play it cool. She was just a little too young to handle it. Then you have the ghosts who are here to take a lot of pot shots at Slade as they show him where he went wrong.

While it would have been a bold approach, I think maybe playing this off as a Scrooge origin story could have been good. In fact I’m surprised nobody’s done that yet. The flashback got me thinking about it because it was a little longer and more detailed than I’m used to. Seeing him rise up the ranks and always be ready to make a deal just got me interested. That would make for a very fun film and it would be completely unique. So that’s a win/win if you ask me. Now I want to see a film like that and you can even keep in the supernatural elements if you want but I don’t think you’d need them.

I’ve been comparing this one to other Christmas Carols a lot but I do want to still point out that this is a good film. True it doesn’t hold its own next to the others but if you look at the movie in isolation then it’s still a good story. It’s got a solid beginning, middle, and ending. The supernatural impact of the ghosts is solid and the writing is good. You should be engaged all the way through the movie and that’s the sign of a successful picture. You won’t get bored or anything like that during the movie.

Overall, An American Christmas Carol is an interesting idea in concept but it just didn’t work out compared to the others. The film to do this angle the best was Scrooged as it really took a deeper look into what a jaded CEO type could really be like. To convert him they really had to put him through the wringer and he was even in near death situations like being shot at. Throwing in some spice like that helps to make the story unique and would also have a more American flavor as opposed to just telling the same story again with brand new names.

Overall 6/10

Tenth Avenue Angel Review

Tenth Avenue Angel is a low key slice of life drama with characters having to make some hard decisions in the end. I did have some issues with the film but ultimately it is a fun film. It’s missing the extra step to go to the next level but it’s also so short that it’s over in the blink of an eye. If you’re looking for a fairly light hearted adventure then you should have a good time here but it’s also possible that you’ll find the main character to be a little too naïve which will end up hurting the whole experience for you.

The movie starts with Flavia excited because her uncle Steve is finally back from his long trip around the world. It turns out that he has actually been in prison all these years but her family convinced her that he was on a trip because they figured she couldn’t handle it. Steve wants them all to keep this deception up as well. It’s been tough getting back into the swing of things though and Steve figures that he should leave town to get a fresh start. He’ll then come back to marry Susan when he’s very successful but she says she might not be around when he’s back. Flavia wants Steve to stay but isn’t sure how to do it. Is there any way to stop this?

Right off the bat Steve comes across as an incredibly selfish character. Susan has been waiting for him all this time and he’s just going to run off? Just like that? It’s a really poor decision on his part and I can see why she said that she may not be around. There’s no guarantee that he would return and he might find someone else there. The fact that he refuses to bring her along because he says it would hurt his pride is an awful reason. He’s really not thinking about her at all so this romance is not going to work out at all.

The whole plot did irreparable damage to Steve’s character. Then additionally he gets tempted back into crime later which was really bad. He is not the kind of guy that is easy to root for and so automatically you can tell that I was not on board with the romance. Then with Susan there is another guy who likes her and she starts to agree to marry him. Basically she is ready to rebound immediately if Steve actually does leave which also isn’t a good sign. In this case she needs to make a decision and wait for Steve or pick someone else but she can’t have this whole set up of choosing based on if he stays or not. She does let the guy know that she doesn’t love him but he doesn’t care and says he will be fine with that. Great….

Then Flavia’s mother Helen is a little too quick to tell Flavia crazy lies to get her to calm down. I always thought it’s never a good idea to lie to kids even about simple things like Santa Claus. Why invent fake ideas for them instead of breaking the truth in a gentle way? It would have been so much better if they told Flavia that Steve was in jail because instead as the only person who doesn’t know the truth, that could potentially put Flavia in a really awkward position. They really didn’t think about that much but they should have. The lies catch up to them eventually and it’s not a good look for Helen.

Flavia’s father Joe is barely even in the movie so it’s hard to say much about the guy. Half the time you even forget he exists. Then there is Flavia herself who is way too gullible. She believes everything like about how mice turn to cash. That’s not something that she should fall for so easily and she apparently would believe everything all the time. It’s played off as tragic since she really trusted her mother so this was a big blow but she should have had a little more common sense. She’s young but she’s not That young to be getting fooled like this.

Flavia is old enough to know how to roller skate and even handle the newsstand for her friend Mac. She just shouldn’t be getting tricked all the time like this and it can be a bit annoying. At some points she wants everyone to treat her like a mature adult but then these things happen and you can really tell that she is not ready for it. Her friend Mac is good though. In fact I’d say that he is the only really good character here. He’s blind but he doesn’t let that stop him from doing a good job selling newspapers. It’s really quite admirable how hard Mac works at this.

He has been grinding out the tough hours and doing his best day in and day out. Rain or not, he’s out there selling the papers. He’s also quick on the uptake and is generally a good guy. He does his best and that’s really all there is to it. The other characters could learn a thing or two from this guy. He even bought Flavia her favorite pair of roller skates for her birthday. It was probably the funniest scene in the film as everyone got her the same thing but this time she was quite quick on the uptake and properly thanked everyone. A gift is a gift so I think you should always be gracious about it. Even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, someone worked hard to get it.

Overall, The writing is good and the film is fun but what holds it back are the characters. A good cast goes a long way and these characters were mainly just unreasonable. It means that there aren’t a lot of great dynamics here and the romance is sub par at best. Even by the end Flavia is just not smart enough and I’m not sure that the moral at the end was the best one since it’s sort of trying to give the stories a bit of credit so she’ll feel better. I would have preferred Flavia come to terms with the stories not being real but learning the reasons behind the stories and still being grateful to her mother. That would have been a whole lot more satisfying.

Overall 6/10

The Tomorrow War Review

I remember thinking this film looked pretty good when the trailer first came out. Who doesn’t like a solid sci-fi film with aliens running around right? Throw in a bit of time travel and now you’ve got a recipe for success. It’s a pretty good film with a fun premise and a lot going on. You could definitely have some fun with sequels and other idea to expand the franchise especially depending on what time travel rules you want to use.

The movie starts out with Dan unfortunately not getting the job that he was hoping for. It puts a bit of a damper on things but he tries to keep a brave face on. Then during the World Cup a bunch of soldiers appear from the future. They explain that humanity is currently losing a battle against a bunch of aliens in 2051. They’ve run out of people to die in the present so they need sacrifices from the current timeline. Perhaps if they throw enough bodies at the aliens then they can finally win. This quickly becomes common place and over time there is a global draft where everyone has to participate.

If you are selected then you are warped into the future to be destroyed by the aliens. If you somehow manage to survive then you come back to the present with significant PTSD. Your family is given a lot of money though so they will be well taken care of. People are very jaded with this because of the low survival rate and people begin to wonder if this war is even worth it. When Dan is selected his wife Emmy says he should run away but he doesn’t like his odds and so he goes into the future. Time to blast some aliens!

I think one of the interesting aspects of the film is deciding if you would support the future war. After all I do think the opposing side here has some good points. One, this war has been going on for years and there has been no noticeable victories or reason for hope on the human side. So it really seems like people are just being sent to their deaths instead of being out there to make a difference. After a point, what is the use in sending more people to a war that has effectively already been lost? You also have to take a whole lot at face value from these soldiers because you don’t know for sure that the future is exactly as they say it is. The army won’t even let people see what these supposed aliens look like. What if they’re lying? If this was an M. Night Shymalan film you get the feeling that it all would have been a big trick and they were fighting in another country or something.

So the skepticism is absolutely justified. Personally I wouldn’t be a fan of fighting in the war and would be one of the ones trying to stop it. It’s deeper than a “This isn’t my problem” kind of mindset but just throwing your life away seems like a really bad idea. The army would need to be a lot more transparent about exactly what our lives are being used for before I could actually open myself up to the idea. It would also be a little concerning how the whole world just went along with this idea so quickly. It wouldn’t pass the smell test.

Of course the aliens are real and Dan finds this out the hard way as he goes to the future. These things look like mini Clovers from Cloverfield which seems to be an American monster thing at this point where Clover is used as the base for quite a few different creatures. They definitely look really intense and you would not want to have to fight one. The movie does a great job of really showing just how scary these creatures are and why people would get intimidated and traumatized so quickly. They would absolutely be enough to give a person nightmares. They’re also very durable as the guns don’t do much to them unless you strike at the weak point. A ton of people die during every skirmish for this reason.

Dan used to be a soldier and so he does a good job of adapting. I liked that he wasn’t like your typical rookie who has to ask a ton of questions and is constantly getting into trouble. Instead he puts his military experience to good use and is always ready for the fight. He does well all things considered and does have to make a lot of tough choices the whole time. He’s a character that is easy to sympathize with and root for.

Then you have Charlie who is effectively the comic relief here. He didn’t want to be here but it’s not like you can say no to the draft so he does his best. He’s a scientist which does come in handy later on in the film. Another ally is Dorian who has been through this draft several times at this point. He joins optionally because he would like to die on the battlefield and so he keeps on testing his limits. It’s really impressive that he lasted so long and the guy has great fundamentals. He makes sure to keep on learning from each of his trips and this pays off.

In the future Dan also meets his daughter Muri who is all grown up now. She’s a solid general even if I wouldn’t say all of the plans are sound. It’s got to be a big shock to be working with her father but Muri keeps her emotions grounded and does a good job of continuing to lead. She has a plan to possibly end this whole war but it won’t be easy and so the project is mainly kept a secret from most people. It’s no guarantee of victory after all so she can only hope that this will work out. It was nice to see her and Dan team up.

Dan’s father James also gets a fairly big role. The two of them had a falling out and the reasons for this are explained later on in the movie. Well this is James’ big chance to step up now since Dan really needs him and it’s a life or death moment. Both of them are able to put their history to the side to try and help out which was great. James was a fun character. He could certainly be gruff and is probably not the biggest people person but without him Dan would have absolutely been in trouble.

Finally you have Dan’s wife Emmy who has the tough job of working with survivors through their PTSD. It’s not a fun job and of course that’s a big part of why she doesn’t want Dan to leave since she knows this could happen to him. She was very supportive the whole time through thick and thin so she was a very solid character.

The movie has a number of plot twists and developments as things go on. They help to keep you on your toes the whole time and you expect this since there are aliens and time travel running around. There is one twist about Dan that is a little hard to believe though even if the circumstances had been different. I suppose within the multiverse of timelines it can happen though so you just have to really not think of this Dan as the same with an alternate version. This film isn’t portrayed as a multiverse though as it’s more of a linear timestream in which case I don’t think the twist would hold true.

I liked the time travel rules here though. Basically you can anchor the present and future together. Both are still moving forward so once you pick a spot then you are stuck to it. Additionally if the past you dies then the future you and your kids will immediately die if you were going to have them after the adventure. It’s a direct time travel system with clear rules that are easy to understand. It works well within this context and also explains why they wouldn’t just time travel to a few years ago to win the war quickly. There are rules that they just have to abide by.

It would have been fun to have seen the initial invasion by the aliens though. Maybe that could be for a prequel or something. There are a lot of ways to handle an alien invasion film though and starting off in the middle always works well. There is a lot of suspense here and the battles are on point. The graphics look good as well and the movie holds up well. I think it would have made for a fun theater watch if it had gone there.

There will be some times where you have to suspend your disbelief though when the humans are fighting the creatures. They are so fast and so powerful that you can’t outrun them and Dan has some plot armor to stay alive during some of the fights. It feels like the aliens drag things out against him when they were one hit KO’ng the other characters. The very last fight on the mountain is also hard to buy into. I just have to say that the humans are losing that fight. There’s no way they come out on top especially with how long the fight dragged on.

The final fight is rather brutal with the battle going back and forth but humans are going to lose that battle of attrition every time. It made for an epic climax but I didn’t buy into the outcome. The film can be a little brutal and violent with the humans and aliens fighting. It’s nothing like Alien or anything like that but these creatures are certainly not taking prisoners. You can expect a lot of big injuries and fatalities throughout. It does really show why the casualties kept going up at the rate with which the aliens were slaughtering everyone though. The film doesn’t really linger on any moment too long though so I wouldn’t say it’s anything that should hit you too hard for the most part. Mainly it’s standard thriller stuff.

Overall, The Tomorrow War is a good alien invasion movie. The body count is definitely very high with just about everyone dying in the future and a ton in the present. This was not going to be an easy fight for the human race that’s for sure. There’s a lot of avenues you can take for a sequel so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. The ending probably could have been a bit happier and I probably would have changed one scene but ultimately it’s got a lot of replay value throughout.

Overall 6/10

A Magical Christmas Village Review

Hallmark Christmas movies are some of the biggest staples of quality and consistency in the industry. You can always count on them to be really solid but this has to be one of the weakest Hallmark films that I’ve seen. It’s still a good film so not taking that away from it but it just could and should have been a lot better. The magical angle here just doesn’t work and Vivian is one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in this.

So the movie starts off with Summer’s mother Vivian going through hard times after selling off her house almost for free so Summer says Vivian can stay with her. The two don’t usually get along super well but this time she will make it work. Summer is a very methodical person who likes to plan everything out while Vivian is more about living in the moment. Things get more tense when Vivian helps Summer’s daughter Chloe set up a Christmas village that takes up a lot of space in the living room. All the while with tensions rising, a guy named Ryan shows up and Summer may have fallen for him. But she has no time for romance or Christmas….is this really happening to her?

So lets get the elephant out of the way here which is the magical village. “Do you believe in Destiny?” I’ve actually got an editorial about that coming up sometime by 2024 but this film takes the Yes approach to that in how the village is the controller of destiny. See, whatever happens in the village will happen in real life so Chloe uses this village to set up Summer and Ryan. Yes, she doesn’t realize that she is doing this but everything she does there happens in real life so you start doubting the romance big time. If Summer and Ryan are being manipulated then is this really valid?

You can make a case that the village doesn’t manipulate you emotionally and only does so physically but it still gets them into dicey situations the whole time. I think the village could have been a fun thing if it was limited to being used to help Vivian find a new house and things like that but when it started also being used for the romance then that was a touch too far. It just wasn’t charming and became more on the annoying side. Chloe’s okay since she isn’t trying to use this but I wouldn’t say she is the most interesting character. She can be a little too much with how she goads Summer into romance and tries to act like she’s wiser than she is.

Vivian is the annoying one here. So in the film you’re supposed to recognize that both she and Summer had good points and they needed to meet in the middle but this time I was on Team Summer the whole time. Vivian basically sold her house which was worth a fortune for peanuts because she felt bad for the new owners. It’s great that you want to help out but there’s a saying that you should always help within your means. For example if you buy your friend a house but now you’re homeless, you weren’t as altruistic as you think you were because now you have to freeload at a friend’s or with your family.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with Vivian doing this if she could have survived on her own but now her finances are awful and she has to stay with Summer the whole time. It’s a bad look for her and then Summer does her best to help out. She tries to balance Vivian’s finances, look for a new house, etc. Vivian responds by ghosting her and missing out on multiple meetings. Vivian is not helpful in the slightest nor does she have any intention of being useful. It’s almost like she’s rebelling the whole time but the film never paints her as the antagonist. So that part was always a bit frustrating. I didn’t even think Summer mishandled the situation.

Later on Summer vents about always having to help Vivian and well..she’s not wrong. Vivian doesn’t seem very responsible and just ends up causing more and more problems all the time. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see from someone who is supposed to be in your corner. Ryan at least tries his best to help her out and give good speeches but usually she responds with bad advice the whole time. The one positive quality for Vivian is that she is a very healthy eater. She’s big on smoothies and always buying the right things to live a long and healthy life.

This is Summer’s only flaw as I do think it was a bit uncalled for to throw away Vivian’s smoothies the way that she did. If she didn’t want to drink them or wanted to help Chloe do that then you should really do this in a direct way. Wasting food is wasting food no matter how you slice it. It’s also a bit disrespectful and she’s a grown up. Cmon now. Summer’s character arc is more straight forward about learning to love Christmas and getting together with Ryan. It’s a classic one and while you may not buy into the romance angle, she’s a fun enough heroine. She has a good reason for not being very into Christmas since she effectively lost her childhood by having to look after Vivian all the time.

Finally for Ryan, there’s not a whole lot to his character. He doesn’t see himself as ever being in a family so he has fun with his TV dinners and likes taking jobs that have him travelling all over the place. This way he’s never tied down and has no time to regret anything. Of course you know this won’t last but it’s honestly not a bad idea. You can have a blast when you’re single and just go around seeing the sights and having a ton of great frozen dinners. His lifestyle seemed rather reasonable and he was never whiny about that so I appreciated this. As always I found the romance to be rather rushed but otherwise he seemed like a good character with a clear head on his shoulders.

Overall, This is still a fun film that I would recommend. As always with Hallmark the pacing is quick and the tone is solid. You’ll get a lot of fun Christmas visuals and solid writing throughout. It’s only bogged down a bit by the cast not being very likable relative to the other Hallmark films and the magic angle just doesn’t work. Whenever someone is being controlled like this it just introduces a whole lot of other things to think about like the concept of free will here and the film has no time to really delve into this. So as a result it weakens the movie instead of helps it. It’s a fairly small part of the movie but it’s part of what keeps it from matching up with the others. That and Vivian of course. I feel like Vivian didn’t really learn her lesson the way most of the other characters learned a moral by the end.

Overall 6/10

Obsession Review

Obsession is a pretty interesting mystery/thriller. Things get a little trippy at times and there’s a whole lot going on. It’s got a very unique vibe to it where you just don’t know if you’re expecting a happy ending or not. It’s got that retro atmosphere to it that works well and while the final twist is big and yet not, I wasn’t sure how to feel about that one. It makes some earlier scenes a bit iffy. So all in all….this film is all over the place and you won’t be forgetting it at least.

The movie starts with Michael going through a big tragedy as his wife and daughter are kidnapped. There is a ransom but the police tell him not to pay it so he grabs a suitcase of plain paper and tries to fool them. This doesn’t go well as there is unfortunately no good plan here at all. The cops follow the villains to the base but beyond yelling “Hands in the air” don’t seem to know how to protect the hostages. The wife is murdered in the car crash while Michael’s daughter Amy was left in the house and then vanished. She is presumed to be dead though.

Many years later Michael is trying to restart his life and things are going well on the job at least. On a trip to Italy he meets a lady named Sandra who looks a lot like his old wife. He figures that this is a perfect chance to go on the rebound so he asks her out and the two are getting along really well but is this almost too good to be true? He starts to get obsessed into turning her into his wife as he searches for the part of his heart that is still missing.

You could maybe go deeper into the plot but I like to think of this as the general synopsis before then plot goes deeper or any twists in there. One thing I liked about this one a lot more than Vertigo which had a similar plot was that the main character doesn’t seem as deranged. Yes Michael starts to really go off the deep end here as you can see with him asking Sandra to start walking and talking like his late wife did. The difference is that it doesn’t seem as threatening. In Vertigo you felt like the guy would snap at any second while here I didn’t get the impression that he was downright dangerous. It’s a thin line of course but I don’t think he crossed it.

It does make him look bad regardless though. Michael is clearly still going through a lot of trauma and this is how he’s coping but it’s not a healthy way to go about it. Then of course he also has a lot of regrets about how he handled the original kidnapping case by not bringing the money and wants a chance to do it right this time. The climax gets really intense for him in this angle. He makes a lot of mistakes but you can sympathize with how rough things got for him as well. If he could have kept more of a clear head then the movie would have likely gone very differently for him.

Then you have his business partner Robert who is doing his best to keep the company afloat. He wants Michael to move on and hopes this trip to Italy can help. He’s always rather understanding even when Michael is starting to go crazy but Robert does put the company first. He gets a fairly big role in the film and makes for a very intense character. I would say he is one of the standouts here. The guy does very well in his role.

Finally you have Sandra and of course she is a pivotal player here. The romance may seem a bit easy and she definitely gives Michael too much leeway in ordering her around though. At first things were okay so the instant he started to be a little off she needed to call him out and put a stop to that immediately. You can’t let things escalate and then you’re on a good path. She barely even knows this guy too so letting him take too much control would put things in a really bad place.

Now of course the twists at the end of the film can change some or a lot of what I’ve put in below as far as context goes. I won’t give away the big twist here but basically it was a very longshot plan. Things had to happen just right for this film to really happen. One character in particular had to look very bad unfortunately. I’d say the romance itself also got very iffy by the end of this. The ending is memorable with more explosions and tension than I was expecting though. The film really ended up having a grand climax.

In general deciding whether to give the kidnappers the money or not is always tough because if things go sideways then you will wish you had done the other thing. No matter what option you pick, there is no guarantee that things will go well and that’s what makes it a tough choice. So throughout the whole film you have that undercurrent of regret. The movie is well written and my only real issue would be the weak romance and how Michael starts to quickly deteriorate as a character. On the whole it’s good though.

Overall, What you think of the twist will likely impact how effective the film is for you. Personally I do think the movie tipped its hand to the twist really early on if you pay attention to the opening scene but the good part of that is the film isn’t pulling this twist out of a hat. So it really makes sense both in the moment and in hindsight. The writing there is solid and at the end of the day you will be intrigued by what’s going on. There was a lot of planning here in the movie and it would help in a re-watch as something to think about. Maybe not the greatest thriller out there but I would recommend it to see what you think. It’s a cautionary tale on why you don’t want to ever get to obsessive over anything or anyone.

Overall 6/10