Inside Man 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.

The Inside Man is a classic bank heist kind of film but with it taking place around Wall Street that’s a pretty fun twist. You’ve got everyone trying to make a move so there are a lot of plans and counter plans going on. Effectively this is exactly my kind of film because I like to see how the debates play out as each side tries to take the lead. Most of the film keeps you wrapped up in the suspense so you won’t get to see the answers until near the end.

The movie starts with everything being rather normal at a bank until a few people show up and take the whole place hostage. They do it rather quickly, so quickly in fact that nobody even dies. Clearly these guys are professionals so Detective Keith is called in since the usual guy is on vacation. Keith tries to discuss terms with this guy but Dalton, the leader of the criminals, isn’t talking. He is sticking to his demands and does not want to change his terms. He wants a jet, and a lot of assurances before he does anything. Keith can only do so much on his end but time is not on his side. After all, the hostages currently hang in the balance. Which side will give in first?

And that’s really the tone the movie is going for here. Both players are effectively facing off against each other in a game of poker. They each have an ace or two up their sleeve and a whole lot of bluffs to work with but at the end of the day one of them is going to have to make a move sooner or later. There are also a few other players in the arena though since you can’t have the film go so linearly.

First up, we have the owner of the bank Arthur. He is hiding something important in the bank and is worried that the robbers may end up leaving with it. He is forced to call in the mysterious Madeleine. She is willing to help him out since that’s basically what she does. She doesn’t concern herself with the moral implications of what is going on so long as she is paid. There are some good back and forth conversations with these two characters though as she does also make it clear that if he is hiding anything relevant to her mission then the deal is off. She does need to know a certain amount in order to claim victory here after all. It’s not as if this will be an easy or safe job for her either since she has to deal directly with the bank robbers.

For Keith this is also pretty stressful since it is effectively his first big case. There’s a whole lot riding on this one and he is given a tempting offer from Madeleine involving how this plays out. Can you in good conscience take a bribe like that? The film opens up with an exchange where Keith basically says that if you’re doing your job most of the time and take a bribe at some point, you still did a net good for society so it works out. Foreshadowing or something to subvert? It’s just something extra to think about.

The film always gives you a whole lot to think about in each scene which is part of why the film is so good. There are many different plots and storylines going on here at once and all of the characters are quite solid. It makes for a very engaging film from start to finish and one that does not have any weaknesses. The climax does not disappoint and the actual journey is also a lot of fun. There’s a lot of replay value to be had here just because the writing is so good. It’s properly engaging and all of the characters are pretty reasonable. Even the random hostages all have a good amount of personality between them so you aren’t likely to mix them up at all.

Throughout the movie, we get flash forwards where we see Keith and his partner talking to the hostages and trying to figure out if any of them were in on it. It’s a dangerous tactic because for one thing, it means that we know some details about the case. Clearly the hostages survived and the thieves were not stopped or at least the heroes suspect they weren’t. In some cases it could wreck the suspense like a certain George Clooney film I saw a while back but in this case the execution was good enough where this worked out.

The standout character here would probably be Madeleine. Her confidence is just a lot of fun and I like wild card characters like her who come out of nowhere to shake things up. The villains were also pretty solid. Dalton’s definitely a thinker and has some pretty good plans throughout the movie. He was clearly one step ahead of the other characters the whole time. There are a lot of twists involved of course so I can’t really go into the motivations of the robbers but lets say that Arthur’s secret is indeed a big one.

The film certainly paints him as a pretty bad guy relating to what’s in the box. It’s not the kind of mistake you can really just walk away from. Keeping the proof of this was also a horrible mistake on this part. Even if a part of him wanted to keep this in order to atone for it…it definitely didn’t pay off this time. It’s also hard to really feel if the guy is sincere or not. Personally I assume he probably is not. Even the shady mayor in this film seems to be a lot more trust worthy. Just about everyone is hiding a few skeletons in their closet in this film though so they all fit in rather well together.

Overall, Inside Man is a great film. It really tells a complete story with a lot of compelling elements and characters along the way. The writing is fantastic with all of the various exchanges between the heroes and villains being quite compelling. The movie even throws in a decent amount of humor here and there that works well within the scene like the debate about the trains. As I mentioned, the film has no weaknesses which is a big deal for a mystery like this. It means you can just watch straight through and really have a blast here. Even something like the hold up itself which can usually be rather vanilla was handled really well as we saw exactly how much the robbers had already planned like the scene where they split everyone up. It’s like something out of Liar Game, only the heroes don’t have a genius of their own to counter these guys. The ending to the movie is satisfying so if you like mysteries or heist films I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 8/10

The Best Man Review


It’s been a little while since I’ve seen a political thriller so this was sure to be fun. A lot of times these old school films tend to be pretty fun with both sides trying to one up each other. The writing is strong here and so the film ends up being pretty great. There’s a few things I definitely would have done differently but at the end of the day you’re definitely going to be quite engaged the whole time.

The movie starts by first showing us William’s side of the story. He is a guy who wants to be President but isn’t quite as aggressive as the other candidate. He prefers to think things through slowly and then get to the right answer. He tends to hesitate a lot more when it comes to using the more under handed kind of tricks and wants to win in a clean fight. The issue is that he doesn’t like his rival Joe and believes that the guy isn’t the right man for the job. William is having troubles with his wife who is really only here for the power but it looks like things are going to break down between them plus William has had a troubled history of cheating and a breakdown.

Then you have Joe. Joe believes in the ole attack first in all situations and you’ll be okay. He tries to find dirt on all other candidates so that he can knock them out of the picture. He has no hesitation about using illegal means to find these items as well. Naturally that’s why he doesn’t like William since he feels like the guy isn’t tough enough to be President. Joe really serves as the main antagonist of the film since I would say at the end of the day William seems to be the true main character although both of them get a lot of screen time.

I should say that both of these candidates are from the same party so whoever wins the nomination will then be fighting the other party’s candidate. In theory they will all need to band together after this, but whether they will or not is another story. That’s really the premise of the film so you can imagine there is a lot of back and forth debate between them. I would say the only weakness in the film is that the characters only meet up twice and don’t really get to mix it up much beyond that. As it is the first time mainly had a third character in the mix so they weren’t actively debating each other and in the second meetup there wasn’t much time.

I would have set this film a little earlier so we could have had an actual debate with both of them fielding questions and attacking each other. I think there’s a whole lot they could have done with that. Still, their meetings are solid and the writing is just top notch here. Each character is desperately trying to win in their own ways which just are not compatible with each other. No matter what, one of these guys will have to lose.

Art is a big character here since both candidates want his nomination since it could tip the scale either way. William tries to nudge Art in his direction while Joe openly threatens him. Again you can see the big difference in each of their respective styles. Art’s a solid character and he does pick one side over the other. He does get quite frustrated with both characters as the film goes on though since Joe doesn’t pick up on hints well enough and William just doesn’t act. I’m sure Art wishes he could have just run again instead.

He was always a good voice of reason though so I liked the guy. Ultimately I would say Joe was the best character in the film though. He just made for a great antagonist with how over the top he was and how determined Joe got. Joe was willing to do anything he could such as in a long scene where we see him detailing the dirt he has on every candidate. He is also quick to break the rules if it helps him get what he wants. It’s all done in a rather serious fashion though so don’t think he is suddenly getting cartoony. The guy is ruthless but also quite smart about it.

Then you have William who does try to take the high road a lot of the time. He does seem to regret a lot of the mistakes he made early on his career and that is probably why he wants to stay on the up and up now. His approach of going through things slowly does seem like it would be dangerous though. He’s a good foil to Joe either way since they are polar opposites but it’s why he also doesn’t stand out quite as much.

There are a few supporting characters of course like the wives for both candidates. Joe’s wife was easily the more supportive of the two and she was fun to be sure. William’s wife made it clear she wasn’t thrilled about any of this but at least she was ready to support him in public and by the end they have a bit of a character arc. There’s also a lady who follows both of the candidates around a lot as she represents the woman’s division and gives advice on what the first lady should do. She made for a fun character on the side and at least the characters know she will always be there if they have a question on what they should do next.

Naturally the worst character here is Sheldon who seems like a con artist the moment he walks in. He takes years to actually get to the point and is always trying to start his sentence over. His nervousness is so over the top that you can’t help but distrust the guy. It just doesn’t feel like what he is saying can possibly be legit if he’s acting like that. It was interesting to have a guy this shaky running around but he couldn’t compete with the other characters.

Overall, The Best Man is definitely a great title. I liked the back and forth as we saw both candidates talk about their plans. Having dual main characters is always an ambitious idea that can pay off big time when it is executed well. As for the ending, I feel like the plan would ultimately backfire in most cases but here it sounds like it paid off. Bravo I suppose, but it always feels like such a decision is betraying everyone who was in your corner. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you like to see a classic battle of wills. It’s a shame we couldn’t have a formal debate but you still get a really good understanding of each character’s position in this thing.

Overall 8/10

Woman on the Run Review


Woman on the Run is a very old school noir title that makes for a good thriller. The film definitely feels like it ends rather quickly but the movie has fast pacing so something is always happening. You’ll also have to decide who you’re rooting for since in this case each character has a reason for why they’re either running or in pursuit.

The movie starts with Frank walking his dog when he witnesses someone trying to arrange a solid deal for himself. It clearly wasn’t the right move as the guy gets shot and Frank almost meets the same fate. The cops quickly show up and explain that this is relating to a mob investigation and the guy who died was going to be the big witness. They now want Frank to be the witness. When he askes if he will have any real protection they basically say no so he dashes out of there. Inspector Ferris is forced to ask Frank’s wife Eleanor for help but unfortunately the two are having a bit of a rocky time in their marriage and she is very uncooperative.

Despite her front with the cops, Eleanor is a little concerned particularly when she finds out that Frank has a relatively serious health condition and needs some pills as soon as possible. She heads out to find him only to be caught by a reporter named Danny. He decides to tag along with her since he really wants a scoop. Will they be able to find Frank before the cops do or are his days of running over?

First off, while I understand this is an important case for the police, I absolutely get why Frank would bolt. The fact of the matter is that he wouldn’t have much protection. If the case falls through or the guy doesn’t get convicted, they will hunt him down right away. Even if he is convicted, depending on the size of the mob they will certainly retaliate to send a message. In both scenarios Frank is taking an awfully big risk whereas if he escapes, as long as he stays out of touch until the trial is over then he’s set.

Escaping for so long would probably be tough nowadays but back then without cameras and such it wasn’t such a tough plan for him. What helps is that Frank has a lot of friends all over the city. It’s a case of Frank’s good deeds ultimately catching up to him here which worked out well. We don’t see him for most of the film but the guy’s a likable character. He’s got a quick wit as well and just does a good job of staying one step ahead of everyone.

Eleanor is really the main character here and she does a great job. She gets a lot of the best lines in the first half of the film as she constantly has something sarcastic to say about about Frank. It’s clear that she isn’t even trying to help solve the case either. She is very much a person who likes to do everything on her own and this is what leads to her own personal investigation. It also helps her understand Frank more and leads to a solid character arc there.

As for Inspector Ferris, he’s a good guy. He may have the rather unpleasant task of having to search for Frank right now but he seems like a good guy. Ferris is also thorough in his searching and does pick up on a lot of clues. The ones he doesn’t quite win are clues he couldn’t possible understand since they are based on experiences only Frank and Eleanor would know. Ferris also has good aim with his weapons and doesn’t freeze up under pressure. He’s someone that you will want to have in your corner.

Then there’s the reporter Danny. Well, he’s fairly clever in his own right but I can’t say I was a big fan of the guy. He was openly flirting with Eleanor quite early on despite the fact that she is married and has a hard time recovering from that. He does come in handy with helping get her through the plan to find Frank but that’s about it. He’s a crucial part to the story and it was nice having someone who was trying to compete with Eleanor intellectually but he doesn’t quite stack up against the other characters.

Where the film really shines here is with the writing. It’s a classic race against time with everyone trying to find Frank. The film isn’t doing anything wildly different or being super ambitious but the execution of the plot is quite strong so it really works out. The movie has no real weaknesses. Everything adds up and turns this into a great film. Each character comes out of this stronger. Frank was a little over the top with trying to be a perfectionist even if it meant bringing no money in so by the end you feel like he’ll be better with this. Eleanor didn’t always take the right message from things but wouldn’t actually talk about it and now I think she would be ready to have more of an open dialogue. I don’t think Ferris would really change but he doesn’t need to anyway since he already did well.

Overall, Woman on the Run is a great film. Sometimes it’s a simple film like this that can really shine because then everything is all on the writing and this film delivers. If you like a solid thriller then I’d recommend this film. Don’t expect a ton of big action scenes or things like that though as this is more of a low key adventure. We do have a real climax though but you shouldn’t be here for the fights in this case. It’s more about finding Frank and getting some answers out of him.

Overall 8/10

Godzilla vs Kong Review


Crossovers are always quite hype. It’s always an excellent way to increase the hype for the movie plus it gives you a chance to pick a side. Are you Team Godzilla or Team King Kong? The staff also confirmed early on in the production cycle that this film would have a true winner since the biggest cop out is when you have a crossover with no actual winner. Longtime fans will remember I’ve been on Team Godzilla since day 1 tweeting out funny memes about how Godzilla would win and why he would. Atomic Breath is a deal breaker before you consider his physical advantages. Of course nothing’s a certainty leading up to a big fight like this so I would just have to wait and see. The monster verse has been going strong and this would have to be the strongest film in the series. We get a solid amount of action and the writing was on point.

The movie starts with showing how the government has managed to build a dome around Kong’s island to watch over him and prevent Godzilla from taking notice of him. Both of these titans have defeated every Kaiju who would dare stand in their way. Godzilla is determined to prove that he is the best so he will approach if he ever senses Kong while Kong will not submit to any other being. This delicate balance has been held for 5 years but the dome continues to take damage from Kong’s attacks so the humans have decided to change tactics. They will have Kong lead them to the Hollow Earth but can they do that before Godzilla attacks?

Meanwhile you have the more light hearted plot where a conspiracy guy named Bernie who is trying to uncover the secrets behind Apex. He believes that this company is why Godzilla has been getting more aggressive lately so he is on the case. He meets up with Madison and her friend Josh as they try to help out. Now, I’d say it’s clear from the start that the Kaiju are going to have all of the exciting scenes while the humans are here for the jokes. So you just want to make sure that they are funny and fortunately the movie does succeed here.

Bernie carries all of these scenes and is easily the best human I’ve seen in the monsterverse. Single handily you could say that due to him most of the human scenes are actually quite solid. He gets a lot of great lines like with the whole tap water test, tricking the guy with the apple, and trying the old janitor trick. He’s a very quick thinker and also grills Josh quite a lot. Without him the human scenes would have been a little dull or at the very least just felt like filler. Thanks to him I can actually say that this subplot doesn’t hold the film back from the action segments.

Josh is a very weak character though. He’s really just in the film to get roasted by the others. So in a sense it’s good that he’s here since some of the better lines are at his expense but as a character he’s the weakest one in the film. Madison is decent and at least she is able to hold her own with Bernie. I wouldn’t say she stands out much more beyond that. The other human plot is the one that’s going for more of a serious vibe.

You have Nathan who is trying to get past a tough situation since his brother died a while back. You may wonder why that is even relevant since it never really gets brought up after that or affects his character, but the film does want to make you emotional there I guess. Ilene is also a scientist who gets a big role along with Nathan since her daughter Jia is a central figure here. Again, she doesn’t have much personality like Nathan though and doesn’t get to do much in the film despite all the screen time.

Jia is a solid character though. Her bond with Kong is handled well and the idea of them being friends is fun. It’s similar to Gamera’s bond with the psychic from the Heisei trilogy. The other characters are always trying to get her to manipulate Kong but I’m glad that she never put him in any bad spots. Then you have the main villain who is your classic villain for this kind of film. He’s dealing with forces that can’t be controlled and all but at least he’s always ready with a speech and absolute confidence. You definitely need that when you live in a world where Kaiju are running around.

Now with the humans out of the way lets talk about the Kaiju. For every crossover the build up is important so you see both characters before the fight. Before the film even starts you already had some hype as every monster sent to Skull Island was vanquished during King of the Monsters (A scene that they should have put more emphasis on if you ask me since that was a really solid feat) and the whole lore about their races being at war in the past. As you could probably tell from all of the promos and such the film was playing Kong out to be the main character and that’s true here as well. He’s effectively the underdog in the fight so usually as a result you want to give him more of a focus. He gets more sympathetic scenes and is just shown to be a nice guy thanks to his relationship with Jia. Compared to Godzilla who is going around trying to prove he is the strongest, Kong is content to be on his island if the humans would just stop bothering him. He’s certainly got a great portrayal here so I’m sure his fans will be satisfied.

Meanwhile Godzilla definitely looks solid as well. He gets a lot of hype destruction scenes and he is actively seeking out all of the other Titans to conquer them. He’s clearly looking for battles which is nice because he is supremely confident in his abilities. The film shows what a monster he is too as he takes a ton of punishing shots and always gets back up. Most of the time it seems like he isn’t even injured and given that he survived a fall from orbit in the last film, it makes sense that not much would actually keep him down.

Naturally I can’t talk about the fight itself much without going into spoilers but it definitely delivers. The film was true to its word with a clear winner in both fights. Both combatants got to show off their strengths with Kong utilizing his dexterity and agility to really land a lot of punishing shots while dodging Godzilla’s atomic breath. Meanwhile Godzilla showed off his massive power and durability as he eventually just overpowers his opponents. This was the fight everyone had been waiting for so the back and forth action is quite intense.

Of course I can’t say who wins but you will be glad to hear that there is a significant amount of action here. Sometimes of course you can get worried that the Kaiju wont appear enough or for a while like Godzilla (2014) where you had to wait until the climax for the big fight but here we get multiple action scenes. You’ve got the really big fights of course but then smaller ones with other Kaiju as well. Low key there’s a bat type Kaiju that looked really good with the strangle hold it has. It was a nice showing of how even an unassuming Kaiju can be deadly if you let your guard down.

The special effects are also really on point. We’ve come a long way with the designs. Godzilla’s design is the most streamlined yet. I also like how Kong’s design reflects how he is a lot older than in his last film since many decades have passed since Skull Island. You can feel the passage of time. The energy blasts are excellent and the neon backgrounds of Hong Kong made for a really excellent battle. The film clearly had a high budget and was ready to use it. The soundtrack is also really solid. Kong gets quite a few songs to himself and of course we have a remixed Godzilla theme. If I have a slight nitpick it’s that I would have liked a more energized theme for when the two were actually fighting. Despite a really solid soundtrack throughout, the film seemed to get really quiet when the two were fighting each other and a nice rock song there would have been ideal.

While the film is great I think you could cut out a few scenes here and there like Kong eating the innards of another monster and a fish eating scene that were a bit more on the gross side. Fortunately we don’t get any real animal violence though. Trust me, I was sweating bullets whenever we went to Skull Island or any of the warmer climates since having a random wolf pop up or something would have been the last thing I needed. Luckily none of that really happens here. The eating scenes can be a bit much but not enough to really take a dunk on the film’s overall score though.

That’s really the only small weakness I can say the film had. It’s just a great all around film. It sets a high bar for the next films to top. Since this is a spoiler free review there’s also quite a lot that I can’t really touch on here. With the extra details this review would be quite a bit longer easy but there’s a lot of fun things to experience going in blind. It’s not so much about twists and such but just seeing exactly how the battles play out and how each of the plots end is something you’ll be interested in following along. Each act of the film is really on point. Definitely a lot of big cheering type scenes where I’m sure the audience would go crazy in the theaters.

Overall, Godzilla vs Kong is definitely a success. Both stars really got a lot of great moments that you will remember long after the film is over. The climax is fantastic with Apex’s plot-line closing out in a nice way and getting exactly the respect it earned there so the film ends on a great note. Even the humans are better than expected mainly thanks Bernie who was just a great character through and through. Sadly there is no post credits scene but I’m hoping the Monsterverse continues. Bringing in Orga is the natural next step to escalate the stakes and get a new feeling of danger in but there are a lot of great Kaiju options at the ready that you can use too. Either way I’m confident that the next installments will keep up this high level of quality so I look forward to seeing that play out. I’m hoping all of the films going forward can keep the vs format as well even if they’re not crossovers but as a nice way to hype up each opponent.

Overall 8/10

The Santa Clause Review


The Santa Clause film is certainly a pretty well known one from back in the day. It’s an entire trilogy now and the idea of being forced into the Santa Claus role is pretty intense. There’s a good amount of humor and fun characters here so the film stays operating as a pretty high level. In particular Scott gets a lot of good insults in against Neal which are always fun to see. That guy really didn’t stand a chance here.

This film picks up with Scott running late to get home after a big party but ultimately arriving home. It’s his day of the week to hang out with his son Charlie. Charlie isn’t thrilled about being at Scott’s place during Christmas season and thinks they’re going to have a bad time. It doesn’t go extremely well at first with dinner getting burnt but then Santa Claus falls off of the roof and Scott is forced to take up the mantle. Yes, completely forced here as he didn’t want anything to do with the Santa gig but the sleigh just ended up taking off with him. Now this adventure is poised to ruin his life and possibly get his son taken away. Can Scott prevent this from happening?

A lot of the fun in the movie is all about the snappy dialogue. Scott has a lot of clear disdain for Neal and you can’t be surprised by that. Who ever ends up liking the replacement? Not to mention that Neal’s always pretty full of himself and tends to talk down to everyone else. Scott just ends up flipping this around and makes Neal look silly each time. Neal just can’t even begin to keep up with Scotty’s retorts which is probably part of what makes him get so furious. The banter just can’t be beat and the film keeps the humor operating at a high level throughout.

Another great moment is when Scott’s company starts to prepare their marketing campaign for Santa being in a tank. Scott points out the obvious flaws in such a marketing tactic but does so in a very comical way which I definitely appreciate. The whole gag of him growing to look more and more like Santa is also handled well and you can even see how that would be rather scary since nothing he tries works when preventing this new design. There’s just no way to avoid his fate and the worst part is that people actually think he’s doing this intentionally to delude Charlie into seeing Santa as being real.

Of course the film is a comedy first and foremost so the characters don’t tend to take a very rational look at this kind of thing. They just all pile on Scott and give him a hard time here. Even the court case is pretty rough towards him although I blame Charlie on that one. So Scott’s definitely a very solid main character. He tried really hard to give Charlie a good Christmas. He may have taken a little while to really get in on the action on how being Santa can be fun but at the end of the day he did really well.

What I have to give him extra credit for is ultimately not agreeing with the rest of the characters and trying to convince Charlie that the whole thing was a dream. He came close to doing this a few times but each time he ultimately ended up finishing strong and resisted the temptation. That’s why he’s a quality character here. He didn’t let Charlie down and he also helped make sure everyone got their presents. He adapted pretty well to the evolving technology at the North Pole as well and by the end of the film you could even call him an expert.

As for Charlie, he’s definitely not my favorite character. He really let Scott down at the hearing and gets very emotional throughout the movie. At least he’s a nice kid though. Charlie does his best to do the right thing even if he doesn’t always make the smartest decisions. Then you have Laura who definitely doesn’t get along with Scott super well at times although their various disagreements tend to feel pretty minor. They have some good banter as well and she’s a lot more agreeable to everything going on than Neal. It’s hard to see how she ever got together with that guy in the first place. He’s always getting completely dominated by Scott in all of their meetings. He also has a lot of resistance against Santa Claus to the point where he really tries to get Charlie away from that.

That said, I can’t fault Neal for that. I don’t think it’s necessary to have your kids believe in Santa from the start. He is fake so getting your kid to learn the true meaning of Christmas can be a good starting point instead of all the fables. As long as you break it gently then I’d say that’s fine. While I mostly describe Neal as a punching bag, it’s part of what makes him a quality character here. No matter how many times Scott insults and humiliates the guy, Neal is ready to get right back up again. Now that’s some solid determination if I’ve ever heard of any.

One of the more enjoyable scenes of the film as well is when Neal and Charlie have a discussion about Santa Claus where Neal brings up all the classic counters as to why Santa doesn’t exist with Charlie countering each one. His counters make a lot of sense after all since the whole time manipulation is a crucial part to Santa’s character. It is absolutely essential that he be able to stop time if he is to visit every child on Christmas in one day. So the fact that Charlie already knew about that trick was really good. If I were Neal though I would have quickly brought some receipts for the items Charlie had asked for in the past to prove that I had bought them instead. I think that would have been a winning argument.

I haven’t talked much about Scott’s adventures at the North Pole but there’s less to talk about there. Bernard is one of the chief elves there and he makes sure that all tasks are being performed correctly. He’s good at his job and a stern, but nice guy. Then you’ve got another elf who is really good at making hot chocolate. Both of these characters do well at the North Pole but I have to say that whenever the heroes are there I’m ready for them to just head back to Earth. We even get some scenes where the cops get involved and start causing mayhem against Santa.

Overall, The Santa Clause is a really solid movie. It’s definitely a title that I would highly recommend checking out. This is a Christmas comedy that has aged exceptionally well. The idea of Santa being a binding contract is very interesting. You’ll be having a great time watching the film because it just has a lot of fun moments and quality character interactions. The whole thing goes by in a flash. I’ll have reviews for the sequels up soon but they fail to quite capture the exceptional balance that this film had. In large part this is because this film ironically didn’t focus on him being Santa Claus for too long. If you’ve noticed, all of the positives that I have listed above barely have anything to do with that job. It’s really more about Scott doing his best to make the end of the year fun for Charlie and the hijinks that comes from this is really what makes the film work so well. Watching this for Christmas is ideal but you still have time to check this out for New Year’s if you haven’t yet.

Overall 8/10

People Will Talk Review


Cary Grant has definitely been in quite a few great films at this point. He’s quickly turning into one of the better old school actors. Well, this film is no different as it holds its own quite nicely. I still have His Girl Friday as Grant’s best film as that one was pretty much flawless with an excellent game of cat and mouse. This one would likely rank right below it though. As always Cary plays a character with a quick wit who gets a whole lot of burns in there. It’s a very complete movie with a solid beginning, middle, and ending. There’s a lot going on so you’ll definitely need to stay focused,

The movie starts with introducing us to a Dr. Rodney who is jealous of Dr. Praetorius’ success. He wants to dig up some dirt on the guy to use against him. He gets a tip from the Dr’s maid from a while back and begins to look into the Praetorius’ current assistant- the man they call the Bat. Praetorius meanwhile has continued to heal people all across the land with his exceptional medical talent and skills. One day a lady named Deborah shows up with a serious problem. She is pregnant and can’t let anyone find out. Her life is even in danger as she plans to end everything to avoid the consequences of what will happen next. Praetorius has always done his best to help others but how can he possibly help Deborah out of her predicament?

First off, the film immediately displays its quality writing with the opening scenes of Rodney trying to find things out about Praetorius. The guy is definitely a pretty petty fellow so when the maid keeps taking shots at him you can’t help but find it amusing. Now granted, if he were doing this investigation for legitimate means then it is good that he is making sure things are on the level. You just know from the start that this isn’t the case. He even vanishes from the film for a long while I suppose he was using this time to build the case. Ultimately the film keeps you wondering what the scandal he found out about was until the end. As it’s a main plot point I won’t say what it is, but it’s a fairly minor thing. The whole time you’re wondering what a nice guy like Praetorius could possibly have hiding in his closet.

Well, while it may be slightly deceptive I can’t say it was anything too crazy. If you’re qualified for something but hide this fact to earn more but the end result is still the same what is the major harm? There is an honesty issue at play here of course but something to be fired about years later? Of course you’ll need to see the specifics for yourself. Meanwhile all of the characters get a lot of fun lines. The script is top notch and the film has really fast pacing so there is never a dull moment. With so many plot lines to pull that only makes sense though. Every character needs a turn.

It goes without saying that Praetorius is an excellent character. He really is a great doctor and someone you can count on to step up when needed. Deborah questions the motives behind one decision he made later on. I believe Praetorius when he says the accusation was false but it would still be pretty impressive if he went to such lengths as a doctor. Praetorius is someone you can rely on as he doesn’t sell out his friend even when prompted to do so and he always does his best to see to everyone’s best interests. Then you have Deborah who is a solid heroine. She did take some rather drastic steps at first though and certainly wasn’t in a great headspace. It’s good that there was a doc around. Later on we learn more about her backstory and why it was imperative that she hide the fact that she was pregnant. I question the situation a bit. Despite how obsessive her uncle was surely something could have been worked out? I dunno, maybe it wouldn’t have been that easy but of course dying prematurely is never the answer. Deborah is quite loyal at the end of the film when Praetorius is accused and sent to the council. She doesn’t waver in this.

The supporting characters are good as well. Praetorius’ friend is likely the weakest one but he’s a good guy. He doesn’t talk a whole lot but he’s always got the Doctor’s back and is also good with animals which is definitely a nice touch. They’re always a team. Then you have Deborah’s father who is always in good spirits. He’s another fun guy to have around and we can’t forget Praetorius’s friend Lyonel. It’s nice to just have a group where everyone gets along here and they have a lot of banter the whole time. Praetorius is close to quite a few people and developing such strong bonds isn’t easy. In particular I would give Lyonel a lot of credit because he defended Praetorius even in front of the grand jury where things could have gotten tricky for his career depending on how things went.

Overall, At its core this is just a very fun movie with a great cast of characters. All of the plots are quite interesting and the conclusion is satisfying. You feel like all of the characters act quite reasonably the whole time. I had no qualms with the movie and thought it was quite strong in all areas. It’s rare to have a main character get blackmailed with the past and not rise to the bait. Praetorius handled everything quite calmly only offered as much information as the council needed. Oversharing is definitely a recipe for disaster and he realized that early on. I also liked his abstract speeches about life and death near the beginning of the film. If you want to check out an upbeat romance film with a good amount of comedy in it then I would recommend checking out this film. It’s bound to leave you feeling pretty good. Virtually everyone has a happy ending with the only exception being Roddy.

Overall 8/10

Tron Legacy Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the original Tron. I remember how impressed I was when I first saw this title. The effects just looked flawless and the film as a whole really had a great high energy feel thrown in. The characters were cool and this really felt like the series was completely on the right track. It’s a shame that the third one is taking so long to come out. Well, the film definitely holds up and is just as great as I remembered it to be. It’s certainly underratted.

The movie starts by explaining that Kevin has vanished and so his son Sam had to grow up without him for a long while. Sam is now the chief for the company but he just doesn’t really see the point. He wastes his days away doing nothing until one day Alan shows up and tells Sam that he received a buzz from Kevin’s pager. Sam heads to the arcade and is blasted into the grid. There he meets up with a program named Clu who rules the Grid with an iron fist. Kevin has been exiled to the wastelands and resides with another program named Quorra. Quorra helps Sam escape and now they must think of a plan to get out of here. The main issue is that the heroes are completely outnumbered here.

Things tend to happen very quickly here which is always nice. There is no dead time here. The heroes are on the clock and have to do what they can. The film shows right away how much the Grid has changed since the first film. The “graphics” have gotten a lot better so the programs now look like people. Time travels differently in the system so it makes sense that everything has been updated. We now have more action scenes on the Lightcycles and disc throwing games. Those are still a lot of fun and I wish we could get more games with that kind of gameplay. It’s one thing I really liked about the Tron Evolution video game back in the day. It’s fun to watch as well and is just a fun way to race.

The hand to hand action scenes are also on point. We see one flashback where Tron was taking on a lot of opponents this way. I do question how he was overpowered so easily with the final opponent though. That guy didn’t seem so skilled. Of course I blame Kevin more since the guy didn’t do anything to help that time. He was okay with just watching the whole time which was definitely no good. In the present we get a lot of action scenes like this as well such as in Zuse’s bar. That was a fun action scene for sure and the mysterious right hand man of Clu always provides some good action.

As I already mentioned the film just looks great as well. The Grid really stands out in every scene it is in. Any scene in the Grid is bound to be a good one and that’s definitely really good if you ask me. Whenever I talk about films needing to have interesting backgrounds to help the story along, this is exactly what I am talking about. Legacy is ahead of its time in many ways to the point where it’s hard to see many other films topping this one. The outfits just hold up so well and everything about the film still feels futuristic even many years later. The writing is also on point here as we have a solid cast of characters.

Sam is the lead this time around and he’s defintiely solid. It’s easy to see why he has decided to goof off nowadays since with his Dad missing he doesn’t see much of a point in anything. It all just happened too suddenly for him. In the Grid he quickly gets caught up to speed and comes up with some plans. I’m glad that he wasn’t as passive as Kevin was with the ideas. Sam just wants to save the day and he’s ready to take some risks to do it. Kevin is a far cry from his older self. The whole battle with Clu just broke him I guess. He’s now quite scared of going back in to fight. He should also be ashamed due to the fact that if he had helped Tron out in the past then none of this would have happened in the first place. His Star Wars esque abilities are fun to see though.

Tron is definitely a great character even if we don’t see him a whole lot. We learn what happened to him since the first film and it makes for a great role. He’s still the definitive character in the series to be sure. I don’t see any of the other characters really coming close to matching him. At the end of the day Tron is just a really impressive character and the best fighter in the series. It’s the reason why he is known as the hero of the grid. Then you have another hero in Quorra. She’s definitely good and has several pivotal moments in the series. Quorra is a lot bolder than Kevin and certainly wants to help out even if she isn’t quite as aggressive as Sam. She makes up for this with her superior fighting abilities though. She certainly gives the villains the work on several occasions even when she is outnumbered. Without her Sam would have definitely been in trouble several times here.

For the villains I’d say that we really have Clu as the main one. He shows up rather quickly and gets involved in the action personally. Right away that’s when I knew he would be a good villain. Good villains aren’t afraid to get into the ring themselves. It’s what separates the truly feared leaders from the guys who just sit in the chair. I was very satisfied with his portrayal and his reason for fighting was also a good one. He saw some flaws in the world and was trying to fix them. At the end of the day isn’t that exactly what you want the program to do? The only miscalculation was that the program would be so effective in its mission but who could have predicted that right?

Then you have Zuse who definitely likes having fun with the case. He’s not the smartest character in the film though. The guy acts like he is intelligent sure, but that’s not really enough when his actions are so weak. When you enter into a deal with the main villain you should always make sure you have some kind of leverage or a backup plan. He had neither but it did make for a cool visual and a fun scene in general. Clu’s right hand man is pretty great. He’s a man of few words but really delivers on the action scenes and gets a great arc/final scene.

Yeah there’s definitely a lot to like here. The soundtrack is also pretty stellar with some 80s type songs spread into the early part of the film as a tribute to the original. In some ways it embraced the era more than the first film did. Don’t expect to see the present timeline much since most of the film takes place in the game. That’s definitely okay with me though. The game is where all of the interesting things are going on so that’s really what I’m interested in seeing and it delivers. I sort of thought the board would have a bigger role or at least the main one who seemed to be leading the company down a corrupt path again. Maybe that’s something for the third film.

Overall, Legacy is definitely a great follow up to the original Tron film. It’s got great action, characters, a solid plot, solid soundtrack, etc. It really manages to get just about everything correct which is definitely good. I highly recommend checking this film out. It takes place far enough after the first film where you don’t need to see it to understand what is going on, but it does help you recognize the various Easter eggs here and there. It was fun to see this one have so many tributes to the first. Well, supposedly the third film is finally coming out sort of soon so I hope it’s able to maintain this level of quality. It’s definitely a tough act to follow.

Overall 8/10

Scorpio Review


It’s time to look at a film about espionage. Whenever you try to leave an outfit that involves murder and national secrets there isn’t an easy way to do so. We see films like this pop up quite a bit and the main character either needs to have a really incredible plan set in motion or things just aren’t going to end well. Things don’t end well for just about anyone here but it does make for a pretty great film. It can get tragic at some points for sure though.

The movie starts with Cross finishing yet another mission. He gets back home and realizes that he has finally gotten to the point where he knows too much. The CIA want to bump him off so he decides to go under the radar for a while. He lets his wife know he will have a plan set up to get her out of the country soon. The CIA can’t let him get loose though so they enlist the help of Scorpio, one of the best assassins in the business. This guy definitely never loses his target so they are pretty confident that he will get the job done. Scorpio isn’t thrilled about this assignment since he has always gotten along with Cross quite well. Still, he isn’t given a whole lot of options and it is a job so he has his reputation to think about. Sorry Cross, but this is the end of the line.

It reminds me a bit of a comedy film I saw with this plot. Of course in this case Scorpio plays it very serious. Cross really steals the show here. He’s definitely portrayed quite well as an experienced CIA agent who has seen everything play out before and knows exactly how things work. It’s part of how he knew exactly when to leave and how to go about it. His plan isn’t perfect and at times the government gets close but with the odds stacked against him he did do rather well for himself. He also keeps trying to get through to Scorpio during the film such as letting him know that the CIA aren’t his allies. Of course, Scorpio is pretty smart but not quite as smart as Cross so I wonder if he could make such a clean getaway.

Scorpio was a very solid character for most of the film but I do have to say that the ending hurt him quite a bit. He didn’t wait for any kind of explanation and jumped right to the worst assumptions straight off the bat. I suppose at this point he probably doesn’t trust people much anymore but considering that he’s known some people for years you’d think he’d listen. He mentioned earlier in the film that Cross never steered him wrong so you’d think he would at least give him a chance. Of course, with a man as deadly as Cross if you have any doubts on if you can trust him then it does get tricky. I dunno, it’s a tough one but Scorpio handled it very poorly. I still appreciated all of his rebelling in the first half of the film and he gets a lot of witty dialogue throughout. He’s just a fun guy, it’s a shame he couldn’t close out better.

The ending of the film is definitely very solid and poetic though. Quite a lot happens in the final minutes of the film and it really just goes to show why listening is so important. The ending makes one character look pretty bad with how it goes. It’s just the perfect way to end the film because it really could not end any other way. This was how you bring everything back around to the beginning of the cycle as it prepares to start anew with some fresh faces. A thriller always needs to have a good ending to really make it feel like you had a solid experience and that’s exactly what this film does.

Another fun character was Zharkov. He’s definitely had quite a long history with Cross and the two of them have a lot of mutual respect for each other even if they’re on different sides. At the end of the day their politics are quite different and they can never truly just hang out but the guy helped Cross a whole lot. They had a strong bond. It also shows that Cross was just a nice guy who was easy to get along with. He has another friend in the film who did a lot of the legwork for him such as delivering packages. Unfortunately things don’t go very well for him and it’s definitely one of those scenes that makes it even easier to root for Cross since the CIA come off as quite corrupt and dangerous. At times they seem to be the real villains here like how they handled the situation with his wife. Pretty bad all around.

The best parts of the film are really enjoying the cat and mouse adventures with Scorpio and Cross. Scorpio really knows how Cross thinks and that makes for a lot of good planning. He definitely takes quite a lot of shots at the CIA workers who are supposed to be helping him work on the case as well. Those guys just don’t seem to be able to keep up with Cross at all and fall for every trap. In a way it does mean they were smart to get Scorpio involved though. Without him they really wouldn’t have been even close to tagging Cross in the end.

Overall, Scorpio is a very solid thriller film. It’s easily one of the best in the assassin game. I think this sub genre of assassins going after another assassins adds a nice twist to the genre. When you have a pro going after an innocent civilian who doesn’t even know how to protect himself it can only be so engaging. With a movie like this it’s a lot better right off the cuff because you’ve now got a lot of strategies and counter strategies to consider. Both characters have to stay sharp because one mistake could be fatal. That said, Cross was handling Scorpio with kid gloves the whole time and had numerous chances to finish him off. Cross is trying to get out of the game so he doesn’t murder people without a reason anymore but the film would have been very different if he hadn’t made that decision.

Overall 8/10

The Commuter Review


It’s time to take a look at a fairly recent thriller film. At least to me films from 2018 still feel very recent. I remember the trailer for this one looking pretty solid at least. I’m always up for quick thrillers with a mystery angle and having it on a train is always a good idea. This isn’t really anything you haven’t seen before but I still thought it was fairly great. There’s a good amount of replay value here and the writing is definitely up to par.

The movie starts by introducing us to Michael. He’s had a pretty good career and a solid life. He has a complete family and has gone on the same commute to work for so long that he even knows all the regulars on the train. One day he is suddenly fired with no real reason behind it. This comes at a pretty tough time since now he won’t be able to pay for his son’s school and the family were just skating by financially. He doesn’t tell his wife what happened yet and boards the train. That’s when a lady named Joanna shows up and insists on talking with Michael. She gives him an offer. There is 25000 dollars hidden in the bathroom that is Michael’s to keep as long as he finds someone on the train who doesn’t belong and puts a tracker on them. Additionally, he will be paid another 75000 after doing this. She dashes out at the next stop.

Michael ponders the offer a bit and decides to take the money while not doing the job. He is prevented from leaving the train though and warned not to tell anyone or it’ll be game over for him. Michael may be a regular but can he really identify one person in a train this large? One thing going in his favor is that the person he is after won’t be getting off until one of the last stops and he has until the stop before to get the job done. If he doesn’t then his family is forfeit but if he does this then does that mean that the person he tags will be doomed? Trading lives is not something that you’re supposed to do and Michael has gotten himself into a jam.

You can definitely fault the lead a bit here for entertaining the offer. If he wasn’t willing to commit this crime then he just should have left the train or stayed aboard and done nothing. (The latter may not sound smart but if you never go to check the bathroom you’d just assume the person was crazy right? He probably would have still been doomed with the latter option but he wouldn’t have done anything wrong) Trying to grab the money and leave is still pretty bad. At best you’re trying to cheat some criminals but at worse you’ve just become an accessory to murder. You don’t want to be accepting blood money right?

Most of Michael’s moves are pretty smart in the film otherwise. He does a good job of limiting the suspects while also trying to contact the cops and his family. He handles the situation like a pro after the opening act and it makes sense since he’s Ex NYPD. His only really sloppy scene though is how he tries to exit the train. So, what he does is he waits until the very end when everyone has already left and then tries to exit. Naturally the villains notice and stop him. My question is…why wait until everyone is already off? Wouldn’t it be better cover to exit along with everyone else? It would have effectively been impossible to stop him. I’m sure they could have still coerced him back in with a phone call of his family or something but it would have been difficult to do that in time. If he left with the crowd he would have gotten away completely and it was the one scene in the film where I raised an eyebrow at him. Otherwise he did well though.

It’s always interesting to see the main character get involved in fight scenes now since he’s so much older. The film is definitely playing it out as Michael being too old to really engage with someone in a 1 on 1 fight. He tries his best but is on the losing end of each encounter here. It makes sense that he wouldn’t be able to beat someone who’s probably around 20 years younger than he is. It would look worse for the young guy as opposed to being a really good thing for the lead. Still, that’s where creativity comes in and Michael did good in still putting the scanner on during one of his scuffles.

As for Joanna, I have to admit that I expected her to have a much bigger role. The circumstances of what is going on with her character remain a mystery to the end. She makes for a fun villain but I have to admit that keeping her on the train the whole time may have made for an even more enjoyable mechanic. Of course, it would be difficult to do that without writing yourself into a whole lot of trouble so I can understand why that did not happen. There isn’t much of a supporting cast otherwise. You’ve got the various guys on the train and Michael’s friend from the police. That guy is around for the occasional call. Otherwise Michael is effectively on his own here. The various train characters are pretty fun. The best one is probably the insurance agent. I liked his confidence and how openly antagonistic he was. Naturally he’s not the kind of guy you want to be sitting next to on such a ride though. He’s better in a film like this than in real life.

Overall, The Commuter is a pretty fun film. The movie makes the most of the limited environment. I’ve never been on a big train like this one and have never had any interest in doing so. I came close once but the train derailed before I got on so that’s one ride I’m fairly glad to have missed out on. The characters are good and the writing is on point. The film is a thriller with mystery elements thrown in which is a pretty great mix. That gives you all the elements you need in order to construct a solid story. The movie isn’t super action packed or anything but you do get the occasional fight scene here. The climax is pretty intense as well. You may question the likelihood of some things occurring or nobody noticing things in other moments but this film did a great job of covering its bases. It’s hard to be 100% at any point but this film comes really close and even if you have some questions, I don’t expect any would be major or actually feel like plot holes. You could put in a reasonable explanation for what goes on. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out.

Overall 8/10

Hopscotch 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 look at a more comedic kind of spy film. It’s a pretty clever premise and one that the film executes pretty well. What you’ve got here is effectively a parody of those big films you tend to see about spies like James Bond or Jason Bourne. The fact that this one predates some of those installments just makes it all the more impressive. I think the whole scenario lends itself pretty well to humor as there’s quite a lot you can do here. It also reminds you why when you are in a pretty tricky position your boss really ought to actually show you to the door on the spot so things don’t get dicey. It wouldn’t have done much in this case though so the film handled itself well there too.

The film starts with the CIA working on a Russian case. That’s when Kendig walks in and busts the operation while also letting Yaskov go. His boss isn’t thrilled about this while Kendig explains that he always lets the boss go so they can read their movements a little better. That is a risky gambit in itself so I can understand Myerson’s reasoning for being upset to an extent but either way he’s not portrayed as a reasonable character here. He just wants to sack Kendig and is willing to do whatever he has to in order to do it. This was the excuse he needed so he demotes Kendig to office work. Kendig decides to leave in retaliation and decides to write a book exposing everything about the CIA to all of the other intelligence agencies.

Just to torment the CIA, Kendig decides to send in the novel one chapter at a time to the newspapers. Now the CIA wants to silence him and Russian intelligence definitely wants their hands on Kendig. He’ll have to try to outwit everyone as he keeps on travelling around the globe. He’ll need some help though so he visits his old friend Isobel and convinces her to get on board with this plan as well. She’s reluctant at first but finds the whole thing rather amusing and ultimately agrees to assist. They’ll have to tread carefully. They’re mainly dealing with the CIA so it’s not like they’re fighting some random villains but if they’re caught it’s definitely game over.

Isobel is definitely the standout character here. She’s a really great partner to have and does a good job of supporting Kendig the whole time. She’s also got a whole lot more to lose than Kendig at this point as she has built quite a nice life for herself. Everything was on the upwards trend but with the CIA she could end up losing out on everything. Still, she stays strong throughout and even helps out on the missions even if it means losing out on sleep. The movie wouldn’t have been quite the same without her.

Kendig is also a solid main character. It’s fun to see how sarcastic he is the whole time and always has a witty comeback at the ready. I think it goes a long way into also showing just how solid the writing is in the film. It’s consistently good all the way through and this film could not succeed if the writing was not on point. The humor plays a big part into the execution and the movie manages to nail that. The characters are just a lot of fun.

Myerson makes for a solid antagonist. He just wants to take Kendig down no matter what he has to do. Even at the end he shows no real remorse for possibly shooting Kendig down. That really solidifies the fact that he was completely on the other side of the fence by then. He would do whatever he needed to do in order to stay on top. The man he had in charge of the Kendig case was also pretty good. His name was Cutter and he looks up to Kendig so this was pretty tough for him. There’s also not a whole lot he can do here since Kendig always seems to be one step ahead of him. Cutter’s still learning after all and it’ll take him a while to make it all the way to Kendig’s level.

If I had a complaint, it’s that I would have liked to have seen the international reactions a bit more. I think they could have really played that up quite a bit. The closest we got was the European response as their Prime Minister couldn’t stop laughing at the whole thing. I wanted to see more of that because it would make for a lot of great interactions. One scene that was also handled really well was when the CIA arrived to try and blackmail the paper into not publishing the novel. This publisher was pretty intelligent and wasn’t about to fold. He already had a lot of plans underway and that’s exactly how you have to handle such a situation. He was determined to let the freedom of the press do its thing.

Overall, Hopscotch definitely surpassed my expectations and ended up being a great film. It’s really got everything you could want in such a title. The humor is on point and the writing is solid. The pacing is on point and quite a lot happens without the film ever dragging out. Kendig always finds a new way to keep on humiliating and embarrassing the other characters. You have to admire the guy’s creativity here. He’s able to think quickly even when he actually does get stopped by one of the police groups at one point. It’s clear to see that he was quite the field agent which shows how he would know all of these techniques in the first place. Yes, if you want a good spy thriller taken from a different angle than the usual fare then this is definitely one you should check out.

Overall 8/10