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

The Magnificent Seven Review


It’s time to take a look at a classic western from a while back. The Magnificent Seven is known as one of the all time great westerns and I can see why. It may even rank up there as my favorite one in the genre as at the moment it beats all of the others that I can think of. The fights are very good and I liked seeing the team get former Avengers style. This is a movie that has held up quite well.

The film starts with a village getting harassed and robbed by a group of bandits. They show up every year to steal all of the crops, livestock, and possessions that the village has. The village is fed up with this but they don’t know what they can do against such foes. 3 farmers head off into town to find some good guns to buy and see two impressive gunmen. The farmers ask one of them for help and the guy agrees to do so. Furthermore he will look for 6 more so the 7 of them can team up against the bandits. They will wait at the village until the villains arrive. The odds aren’t great at 40-7 but each of these 7 is worth a full squad.

One of the best aspects of this film is how it takes time during each aspect of the plot so you really get to know all of the characters. Each member gets a full introduction scene where you immediately get a feel for what kind of person the character is. The first two to be introduced are the two most important characters, Chris and Vin. They manage to survive an onslaught of villagers so that someone who died can be buried. The village hadn’t let him be buried earlier because the town was quite racist back in these days so the heroes showed them what was up. Another gunman is introduced as the quickest shot in the west who just wants to better himself. Another one is hard on money, one’s a fugitive, etc. Each of these shooters is given quite a lot of hype in their debut appearance.

Then you’ve got Chico who isn’t a pro like the others, but he really wants to be acknowledged as one of the more powerful fighters. He gets humiliated by Chris early on but doesn’t let that get to him. As the film goes on he shows more and more why he can be relied upon as well. By the end of the film I’d say he probably isn’t even the weakest member. He’s probably be around 5th place out of the 7. Not amazing or anything, but considering how young he is that’s pretty good.

The writing in the film is definitely on point. We get a lot of snappy dialogue and all of the characters are written well to be realistic and professional at all times. They’re just fun/charismatic characters to have around. The pacing of the film is great as I mentioned as well. I also enjoyed the gun fights. They last for a while but there is always something happening so I wouldn’t say that they dragged on at any point. If I have one complaint, it’s that the 7 should have done a little better based on how good they all were individually. It felt like they were mowing the villains down but by the end they were still heavily outnumbered.

The film also did stretch your disbelief a bit towards the end. The main villain captures all of the heroes and instead of shooting them all he spares them all…and gives them back their guns. Naturally the heroes return and slaughter all of the villains so it makes you wonder…why would the villain do this? It made no sense. The villain tries to justify this by saying that if he murdered them it’d be more work but I can’t buy that. He was prepared to murder them just a few minutes earlier. It was not a smart play and it felt like the writers had written themselves into a hole and took this as their quick out. If you ask me it’s not a situation you should put the heroes in. The villain deciding to spare everyone is usually pretty cheesy as it is. Giving them back their weapons is a whole other level of this.

The ending is definitely pretty emotional though as the body count gets quite high. It’s a pretty ambitious ending as you can’t always have everyone make it out in one piece. This is the realistic outcome of a big war type event. You can tell that this kind of film really doesn’t need a sequel. It got a few anyway but this film works quite well as a stand alone. It’s long and so there is a lot of content here. Everyone has a satisfying character arc to go through as well.

Chris was my favorite character. He’s just a solid leader in general. He’s all business and a great shot. While the film hints that he may not be the best shot out of the 7, he’s certainly one of the best. His partner Vin was also very likable. He was the first person to aid Chris in his quest and was also pretty fearless. While Chico had a rough start with getting drunk and all, he did prove himself by the end of the film. With him to protect the village you figure they would be safe from now on….in theory.

Harry’s the worst member of the 7. Not only are his skills not all that impressive but he’s only here for the money and doesn’t seem to care about anything else. I wouldn’t trust him at all. Bernardo probably gets one of the smaller roles in the film but he was a likable guy. He was sure to protect the kids to the end and seemed to quietly be quite a good shot as well. Britt was the most impressive marksman to me thanks to his quick draw skills. The guy could hit someone from a very long distance and was also good with a knife. Finally you have Lee who was more in line with Harry. Based on his intro I was expecting a whole lot out of Lee and he really didn’t live up to any of his potential. Even by the end I wasn’t really sold on his character. So I really liked 5/7 of the gunmen with the other 2 being fairly weak in comparison.

As always though the villagers were the most annoying characters. It seems like in every wild west film it’s a given that they will betray the leads at some point. They want to give up halfway which is the worst time to give up. Don’t they realize that this will just make the enemies go at them even harder? They try to say that the villains won’t hurt them if they give up quietly but we know this isn’t the case. They’ve already been harming the village from the start and it would only get worse. These guys lack any real intelligence at times like this. The only good ones were the village elder and the main 3 guys. The girl at the end of the film was also good. The rest of the men would just hide when the villains showed up and cracked pretty quickly so I can’t say that they ranked.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven was quite impressive. The horses managed to live through the fights which is usually my worry with the genre and in general the film avoided making any key mistakes. It wasn’t gritty and the characters were actually quite solid. This is definitely the gold standard for westerns and if you haven’t watched this film yet then you should definitely change that. It’s going to be very difficult for the sequels to quite match up to this one.

Overall 8/10

Please Murder Me Review


It’s time to look at an old noir film with a pretty interesting plot. Right from the title you can probably tell that this will be an interesting case though. You don’t really see titles like this much anymore and it does leave an impression. I was expecting the film to be good but I can safely say that it exceeded expectations. This will ultimately go down as one of the definitive Noir titles out there.

The movie starts with Craig heading to his office and beginning a recording. The actual recording is basically the rest of the film so lets head into the past. Craig heads to his best friend Joe’s office and lets him know that he is having an affair with the man’s wife. Well, Craig’s character is officially ruined. Craig wants Joe to have a divorce so he can marry Myra properly. Joe wants a day to think it over, but the next day he is murdered by Myra. She says it was in self defense and since Craig is a defense attorney he agrees to take over her case as she is being tried for murder. If Craig can prove her innocence then they can finally be married but will it be so simple?

So I have to tackle the romance part of this film right away. There is no way you can root for Craig or Myra here right from the jump because they were having a relationship while she was married. No matter how you slice it that is cheating and nothing should have happened until she was officially split. Craig tries to say that he didn’t mean for it to happen, but the reasoning doesn’t matter. You can never put yourself in a position where you may have an affair with a married person. It’s just not done and it’s even worse to the fact that it was Craig’s best friend. It’s the ultimate betrayal and it was a pretty tough way for Joe to get bumped off there.

Craig is a good attorney and pulls out all the tricks, but he still comes off as a bit of a sucker. Without getting into plot specifics he misses a lot of signs in the face of love and by the time he realizes what is going on it is pretty late. That’s why his plan is pretty clever and not one that you would expect to see. Usually the plot is completely reversed in terms of framing and paying for crimes you didn’t commit. This one flips that in a full 180 which was unexpected. The ending actually plays it straight and is a solid conclusion to a great film.

Meanwhile Myra is just as unsympathetic as Craig. She’s really just looking out for herself and in court the prosecutor (Ray) quickly drills down into what actually happened. He was definitely my favorite character in the film. He did a good job of connecting the dots and wasn’t falling for any traps. At the end of the film he does come across as possibly being a little naive but I like to think he was going to figure things out in a few moments. He was likely just trying to make sure that the others did not suspect what happened.

In general the film is a pretty good cautionary tale. You should always have a healthy amount of trust but when weird things happen left and right you do need to think about it a bit. Karma hits like a truck in movies like this where people get their just desserts right away but in real life it’s not always like that so you can’t afford to make the same mistakes as the characters in the film. Craig basically got what he deserved here along with the rest of the characters and if he had stopped to do the right thing in the beginning then none of this would have happened. Another character in the film is Carl who seems just as gullible in his short time of appearing.

The writing is quite good here with the characters all making quite a lot of threats as the film goes on while being subtle about it. I miss how everyone would always pretend to be quite polite back in these days with veiled threats behind every word. The film also does deliver on the noir aspect with a lot of narration from Craig and a bunch of dark scenes. He even works in the dark at times just like you would expect from this era. The film’s pacing is solid as things move quite quickly and I greatly enjoyed the court scenes as always. It’s all played pretty seriously with both sides looking competent in their arguments.

Joe could have played this whole thing a lot better though. Getting murdered aside since it would be hard to avoid that, he probably should have had some more details in his will or something to protect against what happened. Especially if you’re well off then putting extra contingents in your will or in various paperwork before getting married is just a good idea to cover your bases. It probably will put a strain on the relationship right from the start, but it’ll also ensure that you’re with someone who actually wants to be with you and isn’t just in it for other reasons.

Overall, Please Murder Me is a great film and I recommend it to anyone that likes a good thriller with some twists along the way. I believe a lot of viewers will suspect what happened right away but that’s fine because there is a good chunk of film left after the event happens. Technically in my plot summary I probably stopped a lot earlier than most summaries would because you could make the case that the twist is part of the plot and even on the poster. I’d argue that the film works even better if you don’t know this, but regardless you will like it. It’s just a very complete film with a compelling beginning and a satisfying ending.

Overall 8/10

The Super Inframan Review


It’s time to look at an old school Power Rangers type film. I have always been a big fan of the Rangers, but never really got around to checking out any of their shows. Well, this is the next closest thing and it does reassure me that this type of series is definitely up my ally. The Super Inframan is a great film that is a lot of fun from start to finish. It’s hard to go wrong with a nice array of monsters and hand to hand fights like we have here. The film may not be all that long, but they fit in a ton of action and quality scenes. There is never a dull moment to be found here.

The film starts with the Dragon Mom returning from her long slumber and she decides to destroy the world. She has amassed an army of powerful monsters ranging from spellcasters to more traditional creatures. Her second in command is a normal humanoid though and while she may sound out of her depth this character is actually a good fighter. The heroes realize that they need some power to counter this so a scientist gives Lei a shot that transforms him into the Super Inframan. In this form there is nothing that he can’t do. Lei decides to stop the villain group no matter what. It looks like this time he will actually have to try.

It’s hard to know where to start here since the film is really good on a lot of levels. I guess we should do the obvious first and that is the fight scenes. They are all really well done with a lot of excellent choreography. One of the standout fights is when one of Lei’s friends attacks the villains on his own. He actually does a great job of taking down dozens of them before he is eventually defeated by one of the monsters using a net ability. All of the other fights are good too though like the climax where it is a big battle royale or the various fights as Inframan. Aside from one match that was just beam spamming from side to side all of his fights were hand to hand as well.

Inframan also has a good array of powers which served him well during the matches as well. He can turn giant, fire off his fists, use laser blasts, etc. It’s really hard to defeat someone like this and Inframan is definitely shown as the strongest fighter except for possibly the Dragon Mom who was dominating him in the fight. Granted, Inframan was a little weakened from his other battles. Lei is a solid lead and I dare say that his dynamic as Lei and Inframan was more enjoyable than Hayata and Ultraman. This is due in part to the fact that Lei has more personality and is just a likable guy. He’s pretty quick on the uptake and always ready to help out. He also doesn’t hesitate to transform and take on the villains at any time.

Then you’ve also got the soundtrack which is pretty fun. Inframan’s main theme is suitably heroic and gives you an extra jolt of energy whenever he is getting ready to join the fray. Now there is one technical level where the film falters and that is the fact that it uses a lot of recycled footage whenever Inframan transforms. This is likely intentional as part of the camp factor, but it’s still got to be noted. Recycled footage is something you really don’t want to use as it feels like stalling for time. I also question why the footage was the triple flip. It’s not like that’s something that Inframan does a lot furing the movie.

The villains are also very solid which speaks to the solid writing and character cast of the movie. The Dragon Mom is definitely one of the best ones. I like her confidence and she is quite merciless. I was not expecting her to actually murder one of the heroes so that definitely surprised me. It’s not every day that you see a villain make a move like that. Whoever did her English voice did a solid job. Then you’ve got her fighting abilities which were sound. Her minions had a cool uniform and the other monsters at her disposal all put up valiant fights. While you aren’t likely going to remember their names you’ll remember the designs and their determination. The human also put up a great fight against Inframan and it was brave to even attempt to fight him. The villains were surprisingly loyal and I also liked how upbeat they were. You’d see them dancing in the background whenever the Dragon Mom was talking.

The heroes are solid as well. There’s less to say about most of them since they stay on the sidelines, but as I mentioned one of Lei’s main friends did a good job holding off the enemies by himself. The other members can also fight even if they never got a big moment to shine. They were still able to contribute and that’s the important thing. There are no annoying characters here. There’s nothing even remotely negative to say about the film. The pacing is on point, the writing is great, the fight scenes are amazing, this is just a very well rounded film and one that I could easily re-watch. There’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’s a shame that they just don’t make movies like this anymore.

Overall, The Super Inframan is one of those super obscure films that deserves to be more well known than it actually is. You’d have a lot of fun watching this movie for sure. On one hand it plays on your nostalgia as you remember what great fun this era was and on the other hand you get to see a new superhero taking down legions of monsters. I liked the suit they used for the Super Inframan and the ones for the monsters as well. It feels like this was probably a pretty big budget film back in its day. Hopefully the Inframan gets revived in some form or another at some point because this franchise still has a ton of potential left in it.

Overall 8/10

Aladdin Review


It’s time to take a look at the remake that came out recently. The original film was one of the weaker Disney classics for me so I was ready to see if the remake could fix that. Fortunately it was up for the challenge. I’d actually put Aladdin as one of the best remakes and holds its own/even beats other heavyweights like the recent Maleficent film which I was impressed with. Aladdin’s a very high energy film and it paid off.

The film starts with a guy telling his kids a story about the olden days. We cut to what is a normal day for Aladdin as he slips through the streets grabbing whatever he can. He’s a thief who needs such things to scare by as his country isn’t exactly one of the more luxurious ones. One day he notices a lady having some trouble so he helps her get out of the jam. Unfortunately due to a misunderstanding with his monkey stealing her pendent she dashes off. Aladdin tried to repair the damage but he is soon captured by the Jafar and forced to enter a dangerous cave. He secures the lamp and will now get 3 wishes, of course Jafar won’t forget about his wishes for power anytime soon. Can Aladdin impress Jasmine and stop the kingdom from being plunged into chaos?

Right away the film got off to a really strong start here. The chase scenes with Aladdin right from the beginning are great. The scenes have a lot of energy and with the song it all flows together nicely. It’s always risky to have the best scene show up this early on in the film, but I think it’s good because first impressions are important. It’s just nice how casually Aladdin is basically taking on a full platoon of troops and singing about it. He also does a good job of directing Jasmine as well and showing how well he has mastered the city and all its alleyways. He’s basically a genius.

Aladdin definitely makes for a really solid lead even if he does weaken a bit towards the end of the film. He gets corrupted awfully quick when he becomes a prince and I feel like there were a lot of ways he could have gotten himself out of the situation earlier. If he was going to lie anyway, why not just admit that he was pretending to be a prince to impress Jasmine later on? I think she probably would have been impressed as to how he could pull that off since he had such a large troop of fighters behind him. I’d also argue that Jafar even deciding to mess with Aladdin is super risky because if those troops were real than Agrabah would have been doomed from the start.

Jasmine’s a fun heroine and definitely a character who has also been very improved from the original. She’s very determined to become the next sultan and also stands up to Jafar and the others. Jasmine gets a fun song towards the end about how she won’t be quiet anymore and gets to quickly exhibit her time stop powers until the song ends and you realize it never really happened. The thought is what counts though. She may not have grown up in the streets like Aladdin, but she’s definitely got that toughness about her.

Then you have Genie who steals the show as expected. It was a tall order to try and top Robin Williams from the original so I think adding in Will Smith was the perfect option. His style of humor is very different, but ultimately very charismatic and fast which works really well. His powers are still impressive although the way that his powers work is still awfully loose. At the end of the day he can still do whatever he wants and is just pretending to have to work on the rules. It seems to me like he just can’t go against his owner, but otherwise he can do what he wants. If I were Aladdin I’d be tempted to ask for a wish back, but at the same time he is still alive so being grateful is more important in this scenario. Genie is definitely here to look out for Aladdin and does a great job of looking after him. Without Genie Aladdin would have been doomed.

The film does a good job of mixing in a lot of good humor to supplement the action and adventure. The jokes land and the film is just written really well. They certainly didn’t phone it in here which is key. It would have been easy for the movie to just try and borrow all the original jokes and such but coming up with a completely new script is always good. The film’s still a direct remake and all, but it brings its own unique flavor to the mix.

Then you’ve got Jafar who is a much better villain than he was in the original. In that film he felt more focused on the marriage to Jasmine than his actual aspirations. Here it is flipped and he really just wants power to capture everyone else. He’s the kind of villain who while not relateable is just very interesting. It makes sense why he would have a bit of a power complex here since he started at the bottom of the social totem pole and now wants to go to the very top. I also thought his character had more layers here since he actually kept his thief skills and is a legitimate threat to the other characters. The scene of him pick pocketing Aladdin was handled very well.

There’s the Sultan but there’s not much to say about him. He gets mind controlled the whole time as expected. Abu doesn’t get to do a whole lot and mainly just gets Aladdin into trouble. He does save the lad from making a critical mistake in the cave of wonders though so I’ll give him some props, but he basically nullifies this after that by actually falling for the trap.

Iago doesn’t get the witty dialogue that you’ll remember from the original which is unfortunate. I think the film could have gone all the way with him if it really wanted to. At least he did get the super form though so that was neat. Then you’ve got the character made for the film called Dalia. She’s basically Jasmine’s best friend and just like how Genie supports Aladdin she helps Jasmine in this journey. I’m not sure about the random plot with her and Genie though. That romance was a bit weak, but for the character Dalia was definitely a standout. She’s definitely the kind of character that you want to have by your side. Dalia is very loyal and supportive.

Then you’ve got Hakim who also gets a bit of a big role here. He is quick to change sides though and while the characters gets his redemption arc it doesn’t work all that well. It just seems a little too late in the game for him by this point. He’s not really my kind of character but I’ll still give him some credit for making the right call even if it was late.

The first half of the film is definitely more dynamic than the second half, but I wouldn’t say there is any part of the film where it totally loses steam or anything like that. The dance scene with Aladdin being manipulated was also pretty fun. I don’t think that the back flip was overdoing it to be honest, but he definitely did show everyone up. All of the songs are also a blast. It seems like the film is using some kind of auto tune or audio adjustment to give everyone a certain kind of voice though so I wonder if the characters actually sound like that. It’s a sound that works well though so no complaints here.

Aladdin doesn’t hold back on the special effects either. I think part of what makes the film work so well is that it just looks great. The musical numbers feel grand as a result and especially the “You’ve never had a friend like me” song is awesome as a result. The special effects are really akin to that of a big blockbuster movie (Which this film basically is) and I dare say that this may be the best musical out there. I don’t really know how you would go about topping this one.

Overall, Aladdin was definitely a success. It’s a very fun film that has a lot of replay value. I think a good bit of credit here goes to the great script/writing. There are a lot of clever moments and even some callbacks to the songs. One good scene is when Genie points out that Aladdin’s never had a friend like him as opposed to vice versa. The only annoying part here is really how quick Aladdin was to betray Genie. It’s definitely something that will be annoying on a re-watch and all since Genie was so helpful the whole time. Still, if you’re looking for a great film to watch then this is the one to check out.

Overall 8/10