The Snowman Review

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

It’s time to take a look at a horror film that you probably saw some promotion for back in the day. It’s certainly not ready to be one of the popular big leaguers like Halloween or anything like that but it was trying to do something a little different with the whole snow theme. Unfortunately it’s just a pretty bad horror movie that falls into all of the usual issues associated with the genre.

We start out with a kid being forced to witness his drunk father attack his mother after his lessons did not go well and then we cut to the present. You’re probably wondering what the point of that intro scene was but it’s all to set up some motivations later on. So our main character here is Harry. He’s supposed to be a brilliant investigator but unfortunately he’s always drunk and passing out in random places. He got divorced a while back and is unable to really connect with his kid. They get along but he always ended up having to cancel their chances to hang out since he loses track of time.

That may be happening again as a brutal serial killer is on the loose. He’s only targeting ladies so Harry needs to figure out what the connection here is. His partner on the case will be a lady named Katrine who knows of him from his rep but isn’t too impressed. Harry doesn’t even have a license anymore at this point and barely contributes to the case until the murders intensify. Then it’s time for him to finally get involved but can they really take down this villain?

Well, I’ve got a ton of issues with the film as you would expect. First off to get the obvious out of the way, the movie can be quite violent. You actually have bodies completely torn apart and such. The snow hides the details a tiny bit I suppose but not really, it just throws an artistic touch on the whole thing. The villains whole gimmick is dismembering his targets which is certainly quiet gritty. Not even Harry can get away from this guy without some kind of injury.

To that effect it’s probably hard to write a film with a mass murder villain without things getting a little intense but this one goes as far as it can. We also get some super random animal violence with one character chopping up some chickens out back. The scene has no real point to it except to make the heroes look a little sloppy. Got a call saying that this character was missing and they leave her alone? Sure, it could be a crank call some days but with a mass murderer on the loose and leaving Harry pictures that seems like a long shot.

Additionally, there’s a sub plot about a rich guy taking pictures of women and basically doing a lot of sleazy things. This plot comes out of nowhere and to this day I still feel like it had absolutely no purpose in the film. It doesn’t really change anything nor does it actually give us a proper red herring. I don’t think anyone thought for a moment that this old and rather overweight guy was the true villain here. I mean it would have certainly be a twist but he doesn’t even work as a red herring.

Harry isn’t a particularly good main character either. I refuse to believe that he’s some kind of genius because he never shows it. The most humiliating thing here has to be when he finds some guy in his house and doesn’t question it. He accepts the story that it’s just someone in here to make repairs to the house. Hmmmm….nice. Doesn’t matter if the guy is legit or not, that’s a huge red flag. Then Harry goes back to the house later on and the guy has broken in again and is singing a lot.

The whole drunk angle is also annoying. The main villain could have literally murdered him in one scene but instead chooses to take a picture of Harry and tell him to stop falling asleep. When the villain has to give you a pep talk you know that you have sunk rather low. Harry really needs to step up his game and by the very end of the film maybe he has…maybe.

He also participates in a brief affair with his ex wife Rakel who is currently re-married. Yes, she instigated but he allows it to happen without any real resistance which is just bad. So I did not like Harry as the main character one bit. Likewise as you can probably guess I was not a fan of Rakel either. Rakel is actively cheating on her husband and doesn’t seem to get along with him much for no real reason. She can be very slow on the uptake as well. If you take a few scenes away then sure she could be a good character. At least she tries looking after Oleg as best she can but even that doesn’t really work.

As for Oleg, well you always need to have a kid character running around I suppose but he doesn’t really add much to the plot. He’s around but that’s it. Then you have Mathias, the new father on the block. He does his best to help Harry adjust and doesn’t seem to mind how close the main two are which is good even if the trust backfires in this instance.

As for Katrine, she’s a good detective and really does a lot of the legwork here. At first Harry is no help so she really has to do everything. Unfortunately she does take some huge risks by the end and is also forced to try and use her charms to get into the possible villain lair. Always a horrible tactic I must say since I prefer the characters just use their spy techniques to get to where they need to be.

The whole scene just feels a bit mean spirited the whole time though. The way she goes out is rather dragged out and painful. It would have been nice if it could have at least been a quick end instead but the Snowman really puts the characters through the wringer the whole time. As for the Snowman himself, well it goes without saying that I don’t like the guy. He’s just your average psychotic who has a whole snow theme about him. The guy is pretty fast and always manages to be in the right place at the right time though.

Maybe if Harry had been drinking less he could have prevented a few more of the murders. Unfortunately the body count is rather big by the end so any victory feels like a hollow one. The Snowman isn’t a particularly long movie but it does feel that way at times. There just isn’t much to like with how grim the film is. There aren’t a lot of good things to say about it, but I do like the backdrops.

I’m a city guy first and foremost when it comes to cinematic backdrops, but the snowy wilderness works very well in the movie. The snow has a very natural feeling of intrigue to it and really supports a mystery film. I think if this film had leaned more into being a mystery film than a horror title that it could have gone places. Focus less on the actual murders and more on picking up the clues. That would have worked out fairly well.

The only other effective moment for me would have to be the very final scene of the movie. I thought this was good and could have even worked as an after credits scene. Lets just say that it completely sets up the sequel and this next case sounds fairly dangerous as well. Presumably Harry is finally back to peak condition and won’t be drinking anymore as well. If that is the case then the sequel would already have a better main character so that would be promising. I seem to recall a good musical theme here so I’ll give that to the movie as well.

Overall, The Snowman is basically your average horror film. While the actual murder weapon is rather creative and the Snowman angle is interesting, the film just doesn’t work. It’s all over the place like with the whole filler plot about the corrupt mayor/town official guy. I still say all of those scenes could have been cut out and the heroine should have gotten a better death rather than the brutal way that she went out. The film is going for a lot of shock value and brutal deaths when it really should have been trying to captivate us with the mystery itself. I would say to give this one a definite pass.

Overall 2/10

Grandia II Review


It’s time to take a look at an RPG that’s a part of a series I know the name of but that’s about it. I certainly had no idea on the plot or anything like that. It’s certainly a great RPG and one that has lasted throughout time. You’ll have a good time with this one as there are a bunch of likable characters and solid gameplay throughout.

The game starts out by introducing us to Ryudo. He’s effectively a solo hunter/bounty hunter that nobody likes. His career choice isn’t exactly a popular one and Ryudo isn’t known for his winning personality either. Well, one day he finds himself in a village where his next assignment will be difficult. He has to guard a girl named Elena as she heads off to a mysterious castle to perform a ceremony. It doesn’t go well though and she ends up absorbing the Wings of Valmar.

Elena is now considered corrupted and must find a her way to the master church in order to cure her affliction. It won’t be easy though so Ryudo will have to stay on the job a while longer. He doesn’t believe in either Granas or Valmar as the two gods and just wants to live his life as best he can. The two heroes will ultimately run into several allies, enemies, and even a whole conspiracy. All they will have is each other as the group of heroes prepare for their ultimate confrontation.

The story goes through a whole lot of twists and turns so this is really more of a basic summary. The main thing to remember here is to always watch your back. Ryudo has a pretty good sense of danger about him and usually suspects everyone at first. It’s a wise policy since most of these characters always have some kind of agenda at the ready. It’s impressive just how antagonistic Ryudo is at first. He insults everyone and is clearly not having any fun.

As the game goes on we learn more about his past and why Ryudo is the way that he is. He gets a lot of memorable dialogue throughout the game including a variation of Bully Maguire’s famous line “You missed the part where that’s my problem.” Ryudo is a very different kind of protagonist and is written very well. He’s memorable and not a lead that you are likely to forget anytime soon.

As for Elena, she’s a bit of a weaker heroine. I wasn’t on board for her during most of the game as she always follows the bosses even when they’re acting rather suspect. She’s slow on the uptake in that front and just takes a lot of time to get used to the real world. She finally does, but not until the very end of the game so it took some time.

Her counterpart Millenia was a lot more fun. Effectively this fighter is the embodiment of the Wings of Valmar and one of the most powerful demons around. Naturally that means that someone like Elena who is incredibly focused on the church of Granas does not take too kindly to her. They are polar opposites in personality as Millenia is very forceful and takes what she wants while Elena is a lot more passive.

Roan is a kid who joins the group as well and he’s got quite a few secrets to hide. He’s a nice enough kid even if you feel like he’s too young for this adventure for a while. Ultimately he does end up helping out the group when it counts though. He was also one of the first characters to really trust Millenia which was great for her character arc.

Then you have Mareg who is the power member of the group. He wants to destroy Melfice no matter what due to a tragedy that happened in his origin story. Mareg is always speaking in riddles and trying to be fancy. It may make his dialogue a little stiff but I wouldn’t say they overplay this angle too much. He may not rank quite up there with some of the other characters but he gets the job done.

The final main hero is Tio and she’s an android who has to try and develop a heart. That’s not an easy tasks for anyone but she gives it her all. She comes a bit late in the game but makes the most of her screen time and quickly became one of the more enjoyable members. It always makes for a powerful character arc to have a robot truly become alive like this.

There’s also Ryudo’s pet bird Skye but he doesn’t do as much as you would expect despite technically being around for the whole game. He likes to tease Ryudo once in a while. Selene is one of the big members of the Church of Granas so she gets a sizable role here. From the start she comes off as very forceful in trying to keep people safe so you don’t want to be near her when the knights come strolling in. I’ll give her this, she was very dedicated to the cause.

Then you have Melfice, Ryudo’s long laost brother. This guy was a difficult fighter and certainly not someone to take lightly. He’s one of the more interesting villains even if he isn’t around for a big part of the game. Ultimately he chosse power over everything which is rarely ever a good decision. It was interesting to see how in his village this was a popular idea though in the sense that you can’t create justice without power. To an extent that is true but it’s definitely easy to lose focus and start obsessing over power too much.

Zera is a big player in the story for sure. I’d say he’s your classic old guys in one of these RPGs. He has big plans and will do anything in order to make it to the end. Not the kind of guy you want to trust and he loves showing off with his big speeches and everything. It’s just what he does.

Towards the end of the game things get rather cosmic. One of the best cutscenes is when we actually got to see the origin of the big battle between Valmar and Granas. Typically this is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear about but never actually see so I was impressed when the game threw me a curve ball and actually showed this on screen. That was very impressive and a prequel could easily work with this concept. There’s a lot you could do for that war.

Throughout the game the graphics are definitely impressive. We even get some good soundtrack themes during the game. I like the battle themes and boss music. It’s not surprising that a big RPG like this could have a solid soundtrack but it’s always worth noting. It makes the battles all go smoothly as you would expect.

In the end the game took me over 30 hours to complete which is a very solid length. I had to train for several hours before the final bosses because of how difficult they were though. Once I got a certain character back into my party then things eased up though. I’m not sure if there is any replay value here though as it seems it’s the kind of game that takes you back to right before the final boss when you load it up. So this will be a game you just aim to beat all the way through.

The only two areas in the game that could be improved are that the cutscenes can’t be skipped as well as the attack options. The latter may not sound like a big deal but quite a few of the attacks here are very fancy so during the final battles you’ll be having to wait for many attacks to go trough. I would usually have reddit open or a manga while I was waiting between attacks. So if the game is ever remade they should definitely add a skip feature in and that would be perfect.

It may go without saying but the combat system is that of a turn based combat mode. It’s a lot like Mega Man X Command Mission where your turns are based on speed as opposed to things always going in the same order. So that makes investing in quick equipment well worth your while. Each character can also equip 6 skills from the books you collect as well as an egg which grants you the ability to use magic. Leveling all of your techniques up takes time so I recommend saving your points for the abilities that you will really want to use.

Overall, Grandia II is a great game. It’s got a very satisfying story to it and a good cast or characters. It’s also fairly long at over 30 hours so this is certainly not the kind of game that you can just complete in an instant. You’ll really have to apply yourself here and I recommend fighting enemies as often as you can because it will certainly catch up to you by the end. I cleared the game at around level 57 and it was still fairly difficult. So I definitely recommend this to any RPG fan.

Overall 8/10

Madden 20 Review


It’s definitely been a long while since I played a Madden game. It’s always somber waiting for the next one because even if there aren’t any big changes, the series just has fantastic gameplay. To date it has to be one of the all time greatest series out there. This one’s certainly no different even if I wouldn’t say that it is quite able to compete with some of the older ones. Mainly I feel like scrambling has been nerfed and the deep ball is still nonexistent. Still, if you’re looking for a quality Football game you can’t really top this one.

Right off the bat you can jump into a ton of different modes like franchise, story mode, play now, online modes, or the skill trainer. Of course for me the first stop is just the quick matches to get a feel for the game. I always make sure to do one game on each difficulty level before I review the game so see how I stack up.

I was able to defeat most of the difficulties but I did get stomped in All Madden. I kept it rather close in the first half at 17-6 but as I got more and more desperate the A.I. would take advantage of that and ultimately go on to score a total of 40+ points. All Madden is as tough as it ever was but this time it did feel pretty legit. Usually I walk away shaking my head but in this instance I thought it was fine. I just got out played there.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as always. The goal in Football is to carry the ball across the goal line. At that point you will have claimed victory and will be in the home stretch. If you allow your opponent to do this, then you have to do it again as well. Whoever scores the most points at the end of the game is the winner and then that would be a wrap. It’s easy to understand if you’re familiar with the sport but otherwise Madden would not be the best place to start learning. I would recommend watching a real game first to see this in action.

Granted, you won’t be calling plays as if you were a real team but it’s still helpful for learning the fundamentals. As mentioned the game is a blast but there are a few aspects that are weaker than in most of the other titles. One of those is the QB scrambling which is when you decide to make a break for it instead of throwing the ball.

I can see how this could be a little overpowered in some of the games but I just love doing it. Often times I will make a break for it instead of throwing the ball because I don’t really have anyone open. Now you have to be a lot more careful because it takes a lot longer to actually start running and that’s an issue for when you just want to take off. I’m thinking it’s the game’s way of telling you that you should be throwing.

The QB throwing accuracy has also been given some more in depth features such as your ball not being thrown where you want it to be if you’re under pressure. You’ll suddenly throw in odd directions and while this is an interesting way to factor pressure in, I don’t think it’s needed. It should all go to your individual skill and where you throw the ball. That’s definitely a lot more straight forward.

I also just miss being able to toss the deep ball around. Find a receiver in a 1 on 1 matchup and just throw the ball over. Nowadays if you try that it will be incomplete 6/10 times and intercepted the other 3/10. Actually completing one of these balls is never worth the risk and that’s a shame because they’re the most fun to complete. Instead it’s often best to go for most short length passes and chip your way to the goal.

Running the ball is as solid as ever though. I don’t typically run a lot but it does make me feel like I’m using some real plays so I’ll do it here and there. You always get that feeling of being so close but so far away when running the ball because every time you get tackled you’ll think about where you should have run instead. It’s definitely a blast making your picks.

A lot of the modes also have the ability to skip all defensive drives which is pretty cool. Defense isn’t bad but I definitely do prefer being on the offense so that’s definitely more my speed. You have control of the ball and what you do with it at that point which is what makes the game fun. There is a lot amount of RNG in most of these plays.

As for the other modes, well there is a classic Story Mode once again but as always the cutscenes are completely unskippable. This has been the case for 3-4 years now and that’s unacceptable. Surely the devs have heard of the complaints before now so there’s no excuse for not being able to skip these. Especially since the story mode just isn’t all that engaging. You’ll really only be playing through the mode for the trophies.

Outside of the story mode the graphics are very solid though. It’s always great just loading up the game and seeing how nice the uniforms and backgrounds are. This is where 99% of the effort goes into so it makes sense that this part would look good. The soundtrack is very forgettable as while you’re in the games you won’t be hearing it anyway. You’ll just have the classic Football sounds at that point which is really what you want to have to focus on anyway.

Beyond that there is naturally a whole lot of replay value here. You can play games endlessly with a variety of different things to do. If you have the PSN subscription you can also take advantage of the head to head battles which is probably the most enjoyable mode. There’s nothing quite like battling others online. It’s why I would snap up a Switch version if that ever came out, but alas it doesn’t look like EA and Nintendo are ever going to mend the fence here.

Overall, Madden 20 is definitely a blast. While there are some specific changes that make it weaker than some of the other installments, ultimately it’s the core gameplay that you know and love. The series gets a lot of shots fired at it for not changing things up between years and keeping in every glitch which is valid. Still, you’re unlikely to see much of that while playing normally and it’s just too fun to put down. So ultimately the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.

Overall 8/10

Tom & Jerry Review


Tom & Jerry have returned at long last. It feels like a while since they got a big film, certainly since they’ve gotten a big budget production like this. It is nostalgic to see the old duo back in action although ironically, I was more invested in the human plot. I’ll go into detail on that later on but ultimately this is a pretty fun show and I would recommend checking it out. It’s not soaring into the next dimension or anything like that but it’s a well rounded product.

The movie starts with Tom finally becoming a master pianist and really excelling in Central Park. Jerry can’t have that though so first he humiliates Tom by immediately surpassing him and then breaking the guy’s piano. Jerry breaks into a legendary hotel while Tom is stuck out in the back. It looks like Tom has finally been defeated once and for all and even has to watch his back as the alley cats are quite fierce.

Meanwhile we cut away to the main human character named Kayla. She desperately needs a job and manages to steal someone’s resume so she can be hired at this fancy hotel. Kayla figures she can fake it until she makes it and the timing is fortunate since a super fancy wedding is about to happen between Preeta and Ben. If she can help plan this to perfection then she will be good. The only obstacle in her path is Jerry. The little guy is making a mockery of the establishment as he lives in total bliss. Kayla will need to team up with Tom to stop him but will their combined efforts be enough?

Now I’ve always been on Team Tom. He is typically on the losing side but if anything that makes it easier to root for him because who doesn’t appreciate an underdog? I’d also argue that Tom has been shown to be far more compassionate over the years as he expresses real sadness when Jerry is seemingly dead while the reverse is almost never true. They each have their moments of course but 9 times out of 10 I’d be banking on Tom to take the high road. Like in this film where he was really minding his own business until Jerry stepped in.

Maybe Jerry just wants to be friends and doesn’t know how to express himself but either way it’s tough for Tom. Tom & Jerry are consistent with how they usually appear and it’s nostalgic to see them fight. I would say the reason it just doesn’t totally capture me is because it all seems a little played out. I feel like a lot of specific instances here were grabbed from the old cartoons. I don’t think the slapstick itself is just over the hill though as there are ways to make it work but this one was not able to pull it off. They aren’t bad scenes but I guess they feel like filler as you wait on the human side.

On the flip side, the human sides are strong enough where you could see this as being more of a strength to that section as opposed to being a weakness on the other. Kayla may be taking some rather radical shortcuts like when she suckered the actual interviewee but that was also a good demonstration of her people skills. The interviewee was also shown to immediately be antagonistic and rather stuck up to make it harder to feel bad for her. Seriously this lady was getting ready to interview for a job…isn’t that the worst time to be getting an attitude since staff could be watching?

Once she’s in, Kayla does a good job of quickly getting into the swing of things. She has some good ideas and if not for the fact that Jerry is supremely powerful (even able to break out of a sealed, chained up box in an instant since he was already behind Tom before it finished moving) Kayla probably would have been able to claim victory here. There isn’t a lot more to her personality beyond just being a good worker and earnest so don’t expect a big character arc or anything but she makes for a good main character.

Then you have the two people who are to be married and I can’t say that I was a big fan of either to be honest. Ben was definitely the weaker of the two though as his whole character arc is that he wants to impress Preeta’s father even at the expense of Preeta not getting the wedding that she wanted. Yes, she could have spoken up more but at the end of the day it’s really his fault for not picking up on any of the obvious signs. He just got too obsessed to the point where he allowed this to cost him everything.

As for Preeta, she was unhappy the whole time but wouldn’t speak up. Instead she effectively blows up at the end of the film but if she had confronted Ben more at the start then this could have been avoided. She takes less of the blame here but I found that trait to be annoying, particularly as they are about to be married in which case they should certainly be close enough to have a conversation of this level. How will they handle more difficult topics if this one poses such a challenge?

Terence is really the main villain here and I would absolutely say that he gets off too easily. Keep in mind that the entire reputation of the hotel is riding on this wedding and that it has cost a small fortune. Keep that closely in mind whenever this guy is on screen. Now, as an antagonist he is great though. The guy has a lot of solid lines and was the only one to suspect Kayla at the beginning. He doesn’t even seem like he was always going to go down the villain route as he is a tough boss but one who does get along well enough with the staff.

There don’t seem to have been any complaints previously so that is worth keeping in mind. He just gets progressively more and more obsessed as the film goes on until he has totally lost his mind. Meanwhile Cameron is way more of a laidback kind of character who serves as a contrast to Terence. He’s just having a good time serving the drinks and cheering Kayla on. He doesn’t ultimately get a ton to do, but I think the humor there is mainly supposed to be in how calm he is while everyone’s panicking. I like this addition because I do think some people would take this whole situation in stride.

Joy is the comic relief character who does not work. Her thing is she’s very socially awkward and takes forever to get to the point. I understand the character trait and what the movie is going for but it just doesn’t work. None of her scenes are entertaining at all and just end up falling flat.

Dubros is the boss of the hotel and I liked this guy. He’s very open minded like when he allowed Tom to work at the hotel and does a good job of running the business. He’s not too controlling and just makes sure that things are working on a macro level. You can see why the hotel is as well known as it is. There are a few other characters around like Spike who is still portrayed as the strongest animal in the film but that’s about it for the main cast. Ultimately it’s a fun group of characters.

I’d give the writing a thumbs up here. There are enough well written scenes to make you smile and have a good time. It’s really the definition of what I would call a pretty good film. It’s playing it very safe and not doing a whole lot of things outside of the box but at the same time that means it’s also not trying too hard to be the next big thing. Whether or not you’re a big fan of the Tom & Jerry aspects, I’d say there is a lot you can get out of this.

Overall, Tom & Jerry is worth checking out. It’s not the kind of film that would really be amplified in a theatrical experience so you could certainly just went it or catch it on TV when it’s around. It’ll be nice if they could continue to make more films in the series but it is crucial that the human aspect stays rather solid or they find some way to make the Tom & Jerry parts a little more creative. I do think there is a whole lot more you could do with that dynamic after all like maybe a full fledged team up. Not a small one for a small part of the climax but I mean a full cinematic adventure where they team up. Maybe someone kidnaps that little friend/cousin Jerry used to hang out with in the TV show so he asks Tom for help. That could make for a great story.

Overall 7/10

Fast & Furious Showdown Review


Fast & Furious Showdown is one of those games that is easy to forget about. I didn’t even know it existed until I was on Ebay looking for the new game and came across it. That said, this should not be mixed up to say that it isn’t a high intensity title. The racing is solid and while the game is short enough, there is a tough level or two that should take you some tries. Ultimately it’s a good racing game that is hindered by its short length.

The game takes place before film 6 where the heroes had their big team up with Hobbs. So the campaign follows the introduction of his new partner who is trying to learn about Hobb’s objectives and enemies. To do this, the heroes basically talk about how great Dom and his crew are as well as Shaw and the villains. As they continue defeating us in each encounter, the partner gradually sees why Hobbs wants to recruit Dom and his gang since Shaw is unbeatable otherwise.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard racing game for the most part, but throw in a bit of Need for Speed type combat as well. After all, either the cops or the villains will always be trying to stop you depending on what side you’re playing as. So you have to move as fast as possible and always stay one step ahead. For the traditional driving levels, the gameplay is on point and you feel like you’re going rather fast. The toughest levels are when you have to win through drifting which is not a mechanic I use a whole lot in any title.

Then you have the double driver levels where one person jumps to the top of the car and blasts away at the others while someone drives. I would always switch myself back into the driver’s seat because I’m not the biggest FPS fan. Additionally, I found the A.I. to be a pretty bad driver in most instances so driving on my own was the best bet. Otherwise you’re just crashing all the time and at times it also feels like you’re just moving really slowly which was kind of odd. I don’t see how that would have an effect on anything as long as the A.I.is holding down the accelerator.

There is one level where the obstacle feels a bit odd though. That’s when there are these little bombs on the ground and the shockwave feels like it’s a whole lot bigger than the animation. It doesn’t matter where you are, the bomb will ultimately catch you. I thought this was a bit much and died numerous times but I suppose I eventually got out of there which is the important thing. That’s the only time I let the A.I. drive so I could snipe as many bombs as possible.

There are also some quick time events where you have to jump on a truck once in a while. I like quick time event type scenarios but this one does feel like there is no true purpose to even have it here. It’s a small instance once in a blue moon for something that will not actually affect the level since it usually ends at that point. I’ll give the game credit for coming up with new modes and all but I think you could have done more with it. Imagine quick time events for some hand to hand fights among the main characters? Now that would have been pretty awesome.

As for the graphics, well they’re fairly standard stuff. Not as good as you’d find in one of the big AAA titles but I would say they are good enough not to be called bad. So they’re fairly passable and better than what you would find in the Madden cinematic moments. The soundtrack is more on the bad side. It’s going for an EA kind of feel with a lot of modern lyrical songs but most of them definitely felt more annoying than good. They’re loud and all but the lyrics don’t work so well and I wouldn’t count this as a net positive.

In terms of replay value, there doesn’t seem to be much of anything here. No extra levels or big collectibles to grab at all. I suppose that means you will purely be here to re-experience the story levels again but the thing to note is that you cannot skip the cutscenes. So that will present a bit of an issue I imagine. There may have been some kind of challenge mode so hopefully that will help but for the most part this is definitely the kind of game that you play for the story and after that you’ll likely leave it around. The story’s around 4-5 hours so it’s good enough if you find this for a small price. For full pricing it would not have been worth it though.

Overall, Fast & Furious Showdown is a fun title. I’m always up for a good racing game and the combat part is also nice since it expands on the concept a bit. What’s more thrilling than trying to turn the corner as someone is blasting as you right? The A.I. uses a lot of rubber banding though so they tend to catch up to you no matter how far ahead you are. Definitely makes it difficult to truly get away without defeating them so you always need to be on the attack. It should have had more of an in depth story mode and more replay value though. I look forward to seeing how the new version plays out one of these days and if it’s able to improve on these areas. If it does then I think we will have a true winner on our hands.

Overall 7/10

Crash of the Titans Review


It’s been a little while since my last Crash game but it’s time to get back into the action. This Crash game is also a little different from the others in that it has more of an emphasis on the combat. It’s part beat em up this time as opposed to being a pure platformer and that certainly works out well enough for me. I love some good battling after all.

The story starts with Cortex attacking Crash and the gang once again. This time he’s serious so the heroes have to really watch out or they may be taken down for the count. Coco is kidnapped though and Crunch is encased in ice so it’s all up to Crash as per usual. What will make this a little more difficult this time is that Nina is taking over the role as main villain instead of Cortex. In fact, Cortex has now been imprisoned so deep down he may be rooting for Crash as well. Crash will have to get through many different dungeons and castles in order to get to Nina but he won’t stop until he has saved the world.

It’s easy to describe the gameplay since it’s what you would expect in a beat em up. You try to take out your opponents with standard moves and power blows. In a lot of circumstances you have to defeat all of the enemies in order to proceed and other times you can skip through. While the gameplay is simple, that also makes it difficult to go forward in other cases. For example, there are a bunch of slime minions that show up in a few levels and the only way to even damage them is to use your power moves.

The issue is that the power moves take a lot of time to load up. Additionally, these minions can use parry skills to dodge your attack and land a pretty solid blow. I would really just beat these guys with luck half the time and the other half I would just end up getting wrecked. There is an item that allows you to use a one hit KO attack so I recommend saving it for whenever you see one of these guys. Keep in mind that the item does not reappear if you lose a life so be careful when you use it.

A prominent mechanic in this game is that you can also take control of an enemy you defeat. This is crucial to completing the level. When you take control of a monster, do not allow yourself to be defeated and always hop into a new monster if you’re losing health. Most of the monsters are incredibly powerful so while you have control of one of those you should be really safe.

It’s not full proof but it’ll help you out in most circumstances. Otherwise I just couldn’t find a good full proof strategy against these guys. You won’t have a problem against most of the other enemies though, just button mash as best you can and you should be all good here. It’s a fun combat system and the ability to jump into monsters reminds me of Mario Odyssey. The boss fights make good use of this as well with the final boss being rather difficult to deal with. Most of the other bosses you should breeze through.

One pro tip here is as I mentioned, sometimes you don’t have to beat every enemy. Remember those moments well because it can be the difference between winning a round and losing. There was one really intense moment when I was nearly out of health and had to deal with a lot of the fire monsters. So what I did is I just ran right past them. Just barely mind you, but I was able to jump into the tunnel leading into the next level right before they slammed me. Losing can be intense here because a game over means you go back to the very beginning of the level no matter how many sections you completed. So if this tip helps you even avoid one game over then it’s definitely worth it.

In a way because this is not a platformer it does feel a lot easier than the usual Crash games. In terms of length I’d say it’s similar. You should beat this one in under 10 hours. In terms of replay value I don’t recall running into any collectables but there are probably some things you can do with to increase the play time here. Either way the game goes for a fairly low price nowadays so you should be able to get good value here.

The graphics have aged pretty well too. The character designs are on point and the art style is really colorful. It’s all expressive and taps into that Crash energy well. I may not be a fan of the character himself but the universe always had a lot of interesting level designs. That remains true for this game as well. The soundtrack is less memorable but the tunes work well enough within their contexts.

As for Nina, she works well as the new main villain. You do feel bad for Cortex though since she is absolutely roasting him throughout the entire game. You’d think he would get a little more respect since they’re related and he was a main villain for so long but that’s not the case here. Nina is played straight but the rest of the villains tend to have their comedic moments as well.

Meanwhile Coco spends most of the game being mind controlled and kidnapped so this isn’t exactly her biggest role. It does allow Crash to step in and do the job on his own…or with a little help from the mask I should say. Crunch stays frozen so don’t expect any help from him. The game has a lot of cutscenes/cinematics so it’s a good chance to see more of the characters. All in all, it makes for a satisfying story mode.

Overall, Crash of the Titans is definitely another solid Crash installment. It’s a nice change of pace having Cortex on the sidelines even if I still prefer him to Nina. Nina gets her hype though and puts up a good fight here. If the games were to ever revamp Crash’s personality just a bit I dare say that the series could end up being even bigger than it is currently. There are just a few more Crash games I haven’t played yet so now I’m really close to the end. It’ll definitely be a milestone getting that far.

Overall 7/10

Candy Flurry Review


Candy Flurry is a fairly recent Jump title that never managed to get out from the bottom of the rankings. While its cancellation always appeared imminent, it seemed to have a pretty cool gimmick going. Who doesn’t like sweets? In many ways it was going after the One Piece angle of eating a food that gives you special powers while still being different in its own right. It’s a solid series but I think its attempts at humor were ultimately its undoing.

The series begins by explaining the general lore of the series which is that Tokyo was destroyed by a bunch of giant lollipops that rained down from the sky. 5 years later nobody has actually started rebuilding yet but people are still trying to raise funds to do so. A toy company had come out with 100 snacks which gave people super powers. Each candy is unique so no two people will have the same power. As a result the government put together a special unit known as the Recette to track down these 100 power users.

Each user needs to either register with the government or be arrested. You are not allowed to use your powers against non power users and that is true even for government agents unless you’re taking down a criminal. Nobody knows much more than that about the company that released these snacks and so the world is still going ahead as normal but now there are many people who no longer like snacks.

We’re then introduced to our main character Tsumugi. She has the ability to use Lollipops in combat but is not the one who attacked the system. This is dangerous because as the world knows, no two people can have the same power. So nobody will believe her if she tries to say anything and since she knows this is a lie, is it also a lie that there are only 100 power users out there? She aims to find the true culprit and live a normal life in the meantime but it’s difficult with criminals running everywhere.

Her life is changed forever when she meets a guy named Misaki. He’s a young member of the Recette who is determined to be a great agent but lacks real ability. She saves him from a punk so now he is the only one who knows her identity. Together they must catch the criminals while making sure she isn’t detected but that will be difficult. Can Tsumugi pull this off?

At its core this is a classic Shonen Jump title. It’s a very light hearted adventure that is part school comedy and part action. It reminds me a bit of the opening act for Seraph of the End but without the violent beginning. This doesn’t really seem like the kind of series that will go that far. It’s early on of course but definitely happier than most titles and you can get a feel for that from the art style as well. Perhaps World Trigger would be the best comparison.

One of the strongest positives for the series is the artwork. It’s way clearer than you would expect from a new series. Unlike the Ghostwriter, I don’t believe this is from an already established artist either which only serves to increase how impressive this is. The powers are very clear when they’re in use and the fights are on point. The action scenes are always pretty fast though with Tsumugi typically defeating her opponents in a single shot.

I’d like some longer fights but I’m sure the author was trying to cover as much ground as possible so I can see why the pacing is so fast. The fights are good and I do like the overall atmosphere. The school combat routine lends itself well to these kinds of adventures. Many memorable titles started out like this such as Bleach, Buzo Renkin, Seraph of the End and more. There are so many different ways you could take this and there is a lot of groundwork laid out for a lot of extra lore.

You’ve got different classes of fighters and a whole government structure. The toy group will clearly have a nefarious agenda and with 100 power users, that may not sound like a lot but it’s still enough to last for a few arcs until we get more villains. Presumably the Recette isn’t completely useless so lets say they’ve already apprehended about 30 power users. The government probably employs around 30 agents so when you throw in Tsumugi then there should be at least 30+ on the loose. If they’re all strong then that will work out well.

You’ve also got the steroid pills that anyone can use so you can have human villains as well. I do think it was a mistake to show us some of the most powerful government workers this early though. Irie and Amanai are both members of the top 5 agents in the whole government and they are struggling against the villain group right away. That’s why you usually keep the strongest fighters hidden until later. Jujutsu Kaisen pulled it off by showing Gojo right away…but he wasn’t struggling in his first fights. That would be anti climactic and so Candy Flurry should have made these guys maybe Top 30 or Top 20. Going straight to Top 5 is too fast.

Still, it’s all good so far so where does the series struggle? Personally I think the writing is the biggest problem that Candy Flurry has. It’s not nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. One of Tsumugi’s gimmicks is commenting on how cute she is so the guys will always buy her snacks and be nice to her. That’s a rather…narcissistic trait for a main character. I was rather taken aback when she talked like that. We learn that she has been asked out like 30 times or so which I guess has bolstered her confidence every time she declines.

Then she accuses one of the villains of sexual harassment when he pointed out that his gum might get stuck in her hair when he’s shooting his attacks (He has gum powers) so maybe she should cut it. That’s….a very big stretch on her part. It just makes Tsumugi a little more unlikable than anything else because that’s a very out of place line and destroys any chance at bantering.

I like Tsumugi’s confidence when in battle but as a character I actually didn’t like her all that much. She has her share of comedic moments that are solid and she is serious in battle but her personality just doesn’t mesh well with the character. If anything you just feel bad for Misaki when Tsumugi is using him or framing him to higher expectations than he can ever hope to achieve. He is rather slow on the uptake though so a lot of it is his fault.

Not to pile onto her character too much but she also has some of the worst comebacks to the villains. One of them mentions how he wants to make everyone a power user so he can be the strongest with his lollipops at which point Tsumugi says that sweets are for eating not fighting. Keep in mind that she’s saying this after smashing people in the head with her Lollipop and defeating numerous opponents. Her speech about how anything connected to a stick can be a lollipop also felt incredibly random.

So, Tsumugi has her charms but I think the writing hurts her character. Ideally as the series went on she would get a lot better though. Not every character is amazing out of the gate like Bam, Yoh, or Yugi but if a series goes on long enough usually you will improve. So I don’t doubt that she would get better. One step to doing that would be to stop holding back even when you’re about to die but that’s mostly on the series being abruptly ended so I think she wasn’t meant to be as powerful as she was in the final chapter.

Continuing on the writing angle though, it’s not like this only hurts Tsumugi. Irie is another character in the series and one of the Top 5 fighters that I mentioned. She has some of the same iffy dialogue. She accuses another villain of harassment and what I did like is that he calls her out on it. He asks why she has a double standard between him and another villain who’s traditionally more good looking and she struggles for a response. When she accuses him a second time he flat out denies it and she admits that she made a mistake.

This in no way makes Irie even slightly likable. Now, she was stalling for time in the second instance so you could say this was to that end, but it has to be one of the worst ways to stall for time. Additionally she is very one note. Her personality is that she can be really smart at times and really dumb at other moments. She’ll make a great deduction and then fall for the simplest trick in the book. Or she’ll land a great combat technique and then remember that she left her books at home.

Thing is, this happens in every single one of her appearances. This goes back to Candy Flurry trying to move really fast even to its own detriment. Each character has a gimmick and the author wants you to remember this so it is brought up every time. Irie has her forgetfulness, Misaki always follows the rules, Amanai is a tough coach, Tsumugi’s teammate is super in love with Irie and always crying, etc.

Now I get that there is pressure to move fast or you’ll be cancelled but this does end up hurting Flurry a bit. I think to a large extent the series was trying to also be a commentary on Shonen Jump titles like Medaka Box but doesn’t have nearly the same level of writing ability. You have Tsumugi criticizing the trope of just jumping into battle without a plan, a villain getting insulted for wearing a uniform that just so happens to have an image that looks like him, etc. The dialogue can feel really meta a lot of the time but it’s just not executed very well.

You know how when meta dialogue is very well done you don’t think twice and just grin because of how true the critique is? That’s not the case here as you’ll just pause and think, would the characters actually say that? It’s entertaining though even if not very realistic. To underscore, the series is still a lot of fun. There are plenty of humor moments that do land like the dialogue with the Popcorn user and Tsumugi. The debates about which candy is best can be good as well. What truly counts as a Lollipop and what doesn’t. Things like that are interesting and I also like that the characters don’t have exaggerated reactions to the humor. They take things personally and keep joking around while trying to hurt the other one. The moments like this are really good so I think the series is at its best when the humor is being direct like that. So it has its flaws but I do want to underscore that you should still get some good chuckles out of this.

Lets talk about the rest of the characters now. I already talked about Tsumugi quite a bit and also started on Irie. Not much more to say about her but Irie’s ice cream ability seems like it would be really useful. It’s just a shame that she isn’t immune to her own power and can only fight for 3 minutes after activation which is a huge weakness. I also found it a little funny how she disregards Tsumugi as a suspect for being too weak since Irie was stomping her and nearly murdered the heroine but later on we find out that Tsumugi was holding back and is actually way stronger than Irie….

Misaki is the main guy here and while he may be powerless, he has a heart of justice. It would be nice if he were a bit stronger though as he loses to random minions on the street. Additionally, he gets beaten up by the bullies because he refuses to harm a civilian. Sorry but this is taking things wayyyy too far. If someone’s beating you up then you better defend yourself. There’s nothing heroic about being pounded into the dirt so that hurts him quite a lot.

As for Amanai, he doesn’t appear nearly long enough to get much of a read on him. They’re definitely going for an Eraser feel for him as the guy has a similar costume, is sleepy/bored all the time but gets really serious about the rules. He doesn’t get to have a proper fight though as it is interrupted by the main villain and he’s sidelined real quickly. I could see him being a fun character if the series had kept going though.

Umino is the son of the boss of the Recette so he’s a fairly big shot but his opening appearance is him crying a lot. Now, this is a character I can maybe get behind. If you can get around the fact that he is constantly trying to impress Irie even if it means dying in the process and his lack of confidence, and you’ve got a good character. He has enough power to defeat several fighters at once after all and even gives the Popcorn user a good piece of advice.

I dare say that he is probably my favorite hero in the series. I’d have to think about it some more but off the top I’d say that’s true. I also think there were a lot of things he would probably do in the future. My actual favorite character is the pop corn user. What’s his name? Well, this is a slight nitpick for the series but they rarely use names so that makes it difficult to find them. Even for Umino, they only say his name once in his debut appearance chapters on a little tablet when you’re looking at the tournament bracket. Otherwise you just don’t know who he is. Seriously, in the first three chapters where this guy appears they don’t say his name once so I’m just going to have to call him the Popcorn guy.

But yeah Popcorn guy is pretty great. He’s clearly modeled off of Bakugo’s character design to the point where one panel almost seems ripped straight out of MHA. Same costume from that angle and the same pose. I like that this guy is your classic “Really wants to fight” character while also having some original traits. When Tsumugi calls him a loser he refuses to tell her anything about the villains which is reasonable. A lot of times you see the villain still tell everything but he took that insult rather personally.

In fact, he takes every insult she dishes out (And there are a lot) personally and even tries to change himself as a result. Umino points out that this would actually make him a loser if he changes upon request so you feel bad for the guy because everyone is taking shots at him. Still, as a villain he has a lot of personality and just really sticks out. Which I quickly skimmed through the chapters and it looks like none of the villain members aside from the leader gets a power so they’re just off handily referred to my their snacks. I guess like a hero name? Hmmm…..well I’ll go with that for the review too then.

Another villain member is Gum and he’s another good villain. He’s the one who called out Irie’s double standard and he is fairly creative with his ability. Even once the gum is frozen he is able to quickly figure out how to fight with it. The guy is even crying during the battle because of how hurt he is. Candy Flurry really loves its emotional characters that’s for sure. It works well for this guy.

Then you have Gummy who is one of those villains that acts like a hero the whole time. He doesn’t believe in cheap shots and just wants to have a clean fight. He doesn’t like hostages either. Yet…he does use cheap shots and take hostages so the guy is absolutely all talk. He seems to want to help Misaki keep his secret identity though. It’s hard to get a read on him so ultimately I’d say he’s just insane or heavily misguided. We have a quick flashback where all of the villains actually wanted to be heroes the whole time but it never worked out due to off screen events we’ll never know about.

I think it’s an interesting idea to have a villain who feels like he’s a hero. You can do a lot with that but this guy betrays his ideals within the span of a chapter so I can’t take him seriously. Meanwhile there are about 4-5 other members who show up briefly in the third last chapter but they’re all taken out off screen and only appear in one more panel. I guess they were about to have some big fights before the author was told that the series was about to be abruptly ended. They looked like they had potential but we don’t know a whole lot about them at this point. The third member would be cookie I think but he didn’t even get a line so there’s not much to say about him.

It is uncanny how each member of the villain group looks so similar to other characters. You have Bakugo from MHA, Yuji and Megumi from JJK, Zora from Black Clover, etc. I suppose it’s tough to come up with new character designs after a while but with so many characters it’s hard not to notice.

Finally you have the main villain Amato. This guy took out an entire city so he’s definitely a threat and he does take out most of the heroes really quickly. His goal of turning everyone into power users is a pretty interesting one although we don’t know how he would go about doing this yet. I do like that he’s very loyal to the rest of his group though and even sets out to save them.

Based on the flashback we see that he’s a rather caring guy as well. I definitely expect he would be turning good at some point since the series already laid the seeds for that along with the rest of the group. Ultimately he only gets to fight for 2 chapters at which point the series ends but he was impressive. I liked his personality and abilities so he could have gone far.

The snacks lend itself well to the fight scenes because of how much variety they had. They were very different from your average fights and I imagine the creativity would have only continued to increase if the series was given more time. The giant robot at the end felt extremely random to the point where it became a bit of a meme but I think that only happened because the series was cancelled. Otherwise it makes no sense because no matter how Tsumugi tries to explain it…that robot was not a Lollipop in any shape or form.

I did appreciate the twist that Tsumugi was actually the most powerful sweets user around and was just holding back the whole time. I’m all up for having an overpowered protagonist and it also explains her absolute confidence the whole time. I do suspect that she was not meant to be this powerful and had to be boosted since she needed to beat the main villain in one chapter but maybe not. It was hinted in one chapter that she was super powerful when she “barely” defeated one villain only to suddenly be at full strength when fighting another. Even the villain commented that she had seemed tired just a moment ago.

As you can see by the size of the review, there was a lot to discuss here. I think that speaks volumes about the potential of the manga. It was only 19 chapters and yet there is so much to talk about. It really was a unique experience even if a lot of the overall fundamentals were on the generic side. After all, a lot of battle Shonens will have similarities and it’s that extra element you add to it that determines if you will be an all star or not. If this could have gone on for many more chapters maybe it could have been the next big thing.

As a final note, here’s what I would have done differently to keep the series from being cancelled. The first thing is to make Tsumugi more of a likable character. Just don’t make her the kind of character who is too into herself and take away the accusations from the villains. It seems like the author wanted to make her a very confident character based on most of her portrayal so just focus on that.

Maybe throw in some bragging about her abilities or trash talking during combat. Give her the kind of lines you would see Yusuke, Ichigo, or Ryoma have since it seems like she should be that kind of protagonist. That’s a quick fix and I think it would be a good one since Tsumugi does have a lot of instances where she is very likable. Just a tiny tweak here and there and you would stick the landing.

Work on improving the writing as well. Get rid of the dialogue that feels extremely out of place. If you want to keep the humor up, keep doing it with the meta dialogue and all but try to make it feel more natural. A key thing to remember here is also that the heroes should be likable so don’t make them create false claims to buy time or give the villains any chance to make it seem like they are the sympathetic ones. With the government being as extreme as they are here and the lab doing live human experiments on kids…it makes it very easy to be rooting for the villains more than you should. Especially when they’re the ones using the power of friendship while the heroes are fighting among themselves.

Beyond that, I’d say just take it slow and keep introducing everyone. There’s a lot of potential for this to have been a really long running series. There’s not much more to say as those are really the only two things I would change. Writing and Tsumugi. With those two areas improved I think you’ll have a real winner here.

Overall, Candy Flurry is a fun title. It’s certainly got its flaws but nothing super drastic. I would still call this a pretty good title through and through. At only 19 chapters this makes for a very quick read. It seems like most cancelled titles tend to get a bonus chapter when the volume comes out as an epilogue of sorts so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that to give it a read when this becomes available. We’ll see if the next cancelled title can keep up with Candy Flurry. At the very least it’ll be tough to top the fights and artwork since both were quite solid. Who knows, maybe in 20 years this will get a sequel or something.

Overall 7/10

Murder Ahoy! Review


Time for the final Marple movie in this era. This time we’re on a boat which is definitely the most drastic change in scenery yet. It’s a fun way to end the adventure with the commander of the ship being one of the most interesting suspects in the whole series. Mix in the solid fundamentals we’ve come to expect in this series and you’ve got a winning film on your hands.

The movie starts with a meeting of the trustees for a nearby battleship. Marple is here of course and throughout the whole meeting one of the trustees is trying to say something but nobody will listen. Finally it’s his time to speak and unfortunately he dies before he can say what was on his mind. Marple knows that it was something serious though and the answers are aboard the boat. She manages to gain access as a trustee but the crew wants her to leave immediately. Marple will have to solve this case before they throw her overboard but any one of these sailors could be the culprit.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the captain quite a bit. He is used to being king of the vessel and so having someone with her rank here diminishes that quite a bit. Additionally, he had to give her his room so now he is stuck with a smaller one. Throw in the murders aboard the ship and it seems like she is ruining his life. He needs to get her out of here but she effectively outranks him so that will be difficult as well. The Captain is in quite the jam you could say.

Meanwhile she also has to watch out for the Inspector who has never been crazier. He even wants to arrest her at one point but his boss prevents this from happening. The Inspector doesn’t even want to here her side of the story and is convinced that Marple is not going to be very helpful here. Clearly the guy doesn’t really keep track of his own adventures because that just doesn’t make any sense. His promotion was only thanks to her after all.

Still, he’s the best character as per usual here because he just makes for such a good antagonist. You know he will lose at the end but he definitely gives her a good run at times. Springer also gets to help out here in his most dangerous role yet. Having to stay up all night and evade the police isn’t exactly an easy task to do. He goes to great lengths to help Marple and ends up being a very loyal friend.

As for Marple herself, well this time she gets to put her sword skills to good use. It was a nice way to see her turn the tables here since she now has a whole lot of ways to defend herself. It was an impressive battle and while she would lose in the end, at least she wasn’t going to make things easy on the guy. She is always coming up with plans and even out smarts the captain at one point. Marple’s a very solid all around character and works well as the lead.

There are quite a few suspects here as always. You have one lady who is playing the field as she leads two guys on at once. You have the two guys who naturally dislike each other as a result and you have the 2nd in command. Any which one of them might have a secret aboard the ship but it’s hard to say who without some more evidence. Additionally, this is a boat where they are training a lot of cadets so Marple needs to be discreet or she will arouse everyone’s suspicions as she walks around.

You’ve still got the quality soundtrack here as well as the tight writing. The fun thing about the series like this back in the day were that they came out so often that each film feels really similar. All 4 films act in the same way with the only difference being the storylines. So if you liked one film then you would like them all and it was a safe bet to just check out the whole series. You don’t really see that as much now as usually a series will change things up in each installment. The Murder series is really a product of its time in that respect.

There’s something nice about seeing the characters and just enjoying a new adventure with them each time. This series really got that down to a T. There is a bit of a rushed romance subplot at the very end of the movie which comes across as odd but I suppose it gave the captain the end of his character arc. It would have been nice if he hadn’t damaged the sword in the process though. Even if it wasn’t as important as he tried to act, it was just a shame to see it go like that.

Now, while he was fun, I do think he dug most of his own troubles up. He wanted Marple to go and yet he is the one who offered her a chance to stay. I know it was just him pretending to be polite but even the rest of his team had to let him know that this was super sloppy. If he had said almost anything else then Marple would have had to force her way in and the optics would have been really different. By pulling this stunt it just made her job a lot easier.

Overall, Murder Ahoy! is a solid way to end things off. For once even Springer actually got to help in the climax which was nice. Surely this time the Inspector can’t ignore Marple but if we had gotten more sequels I’m sure he would have found a way to do so. If you like a good mystery film then this is a good one to check out as well as the first 3 films. They’re all rather stand alone with the Inspector’s promotion being the only reference to the older films. The movie is over very quickly and I have no real complaints. It’s just a pleasant mystery title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Murder Most Foul Review


Marple returns for another adventure in my little marathon but this time she really has a time limit since an innocent man will die if she doesn’t solve the case in time. Unless of course she is mistaken and the cops did grab the right fella in this case. Only time will tell but Marple is also going to have to become an actress for a little while if she is to succeed.

The movie starts out with someone getting attacked and murdered but unfortunately the police officer who was passing by did not notice. A trial is held with the primary suspect who was found near the lady who was murdered. Everyone including the police think it is an open and shut case but fortunately Miss Marple was there as one of the jurors and prevented the case from being concluded. She believes that he has been framed and intends to prove it but the Inspector shows up and reminds her not to interfere with police business. She is going to have to be on her own this time along with some help from Springer.

The first thing she will have to do is join a local acting circuit and while she is initially turned down for being too old, her money has a clear voice and alters the outcome. She must figure out which member of the troupe committed this foul deed and bring him or her to justice. It’ll be difficult though because all of these guys are rather young and fairly quick on their feet. Underestimating them would not be a good idea. Can she crack the case?

Marple is about as solid as always here. She makes sure to have the upper hand against the villains at all times and even reminds us that she has her gun skills at the ready. She isn’t afraid of anyone and takes all kinds of risks in order to get close to the case. Her confidence never wavers and you could go on and on about what a quality character she is. The overall point is that since she can fight as well, that elevates her character since she now has ways to defend herself.

As for the Inspector, well by now he’s starting to play a really central role in these films. He’s also starting to take the whole battle with Marple a lot more personally or at least that’s how I see it. At first he may not have believed her but he didn’t seem upset about it. Now he throws fits and even tries to arrest her. He’s really not happy to see her at all and you’d think he would be since she is always solving cases and putting murderers beyond bars. The Inspector starts to appear very unreasonable but he’s still fun as an antagonist.

He may mean well but since the guy is constantly trying to get in her way it’s hard to call him a protagonist at all. It’s a shame since he does want to be a defender of justice. Springer is helpful here as well as he always gets orders from Marple to head to various places and gather intel. In some ways his missions are very dangerous as well since he’s really going places to find out information that the villains don’t want to get out.

As for the actors/actresses, some of them do seem a bit unhinged so you can definitely see how things would get a bit crazy. One of them tries to strangle another only to say that it was all a joke at the end. Then you have a girl who hears voices and talks about spirits as she loses her mind every night. She comes close to even stabbing Marple which is crazy and shows that there may not be just 1 villain around. The director of the troupe is desperate for money so he at least makes a show of trying to be helpful but you don’t buy it. He’s more obsessed with having a good show than with actually aiding the police which is not a good look for him.

All of the usual musical tracks are here along with the quality writing you would expect from the series. The case is interesting and the characters are good which is all that you need. The suspects may not be the most likable bunch but as they are suspects, this works well enough for me. That said, I would consider this to be the weakest film in the series.

For starters, having the court case be almost completely off screen was disappointing. There’s a lot you could do with Miss Marple in a court setting. It would be an interesting dynamic to have had her solve the case while in the room with the jurors. Maybe it would have been difficult to turn that into a whole movie but I think the idea has potential.

Then you have Marple’s tryout scene which I thought was rather dragged out and not too interesting. It’s easy to see why she was initially denied entry since she just wouldn’t work very well in the play. None of the actual acting scenes were particularly exciting though as you just want to get in on the action. Near the end you have the main plot going on at the same time which works better since there is a point to it. The Inspector’s right hand man looks pretty bad in the process though since he really left his post completely. When you’ve got one task and there are life and death stakes you definitely need to take everything rather seriously if you ask me.

Overall, Murder Most Foul is still another quality title overall. I would have played things out a little differently but at the end it’s a murder mystery that does deliver on both aspects. You shouldn’t have any serious issues with this one as stay engaged with the case. With the inspector even getting a promotion at the end you like to think that maybe he will be a little nicer to Marple going forward and can even help her out in her cases right? Well, we’ll see in the final installment in the series.

Overall 7/10

Murder at the Gallop Review


Miss Marple is back in action once more to stop the upcoming murders. We once again deal with a will and a bunch of very suspicious family members. This time though Marple will have to make sure that her horse riding skills are still on point because otherwise this could get a little tricky. It’s a solid follow up and continues with most of the positives that you would have enjoyed from the first film.

The movie starts with Marple and Springer collecting some funds for charity when they visit the house of someone who notoriously never gives his money. He won’t be given the chance this time though as he is dead. His family shows up for the will and they each get a nice chunk of real estate but one of them says that he was murdered. Before Marple can properly check with her, this lady is murdered as well. Now this definitely seems like it can’t be a natural death so Marple joins the horse club as she explains that she was a bit of an expert back in her day. She will have to do this without the aid of the police since they believe the earlier deaths were due to natural causes. Marple may be on her own but she isn’t dissuaded and will fight hard until she can get the proof that she needs.

It’s a pretty good change of scenery here at the horse club. It’s pretty much a fancy hotel out in the country side after all and there are a lot of rooms where murder can happen. Marple spends a lot of time trying to find the right boot since her main clue is something that fits into the boot. I forget what term they used for it but it looks like Styrofoam and she has to try matching it each time she gets an opportunity. Not necessarily an easy thing in a high speed place like this.

The Inspector returns of course and he’s fun as always. This time you’d think he would cut her some more slack but he doesn’t believe Marple as always. At least they hint that she calls on them a lot and we only see the successful attempts but it would still be nice for him to be on her side this time. He does try his best but the guy is completely out of his depth in these cases.

Part of why he’s still a great character though is because he does try really hard. No matter how many times he is proven wrong or outshined by Marple, he continues doing his best to try and serve out some justice. Now that’s the kind of attitude you need to have as an inspector or else you will quickly fall behind.

As always Marple is a solid character as well. She is good at getting right into the thick of the action and also doing so in a way where the police can’t just remove her. Like here for example where she is a proud member of the hotel right now. They can’t just boot her out and it’s a very clever way of also pressuring the criminal into making a move.

I should also mention there is a bit of a running gag from the first film that continues here where someone falls in love with Marple at the very end. That happens here as well and it shows that while she makes a considerable amount of enemies in each film, people just tend to like her by the end. It is impressive to find an older lady who is still good at so many things but that’s just how good Marple is.

It goes without saying but the writing is solid here as well. The mystery is put together in a very solid way and the script is on point. The pacing is good and you’ll always enjoy the witty exchanges between the characters. Part of the fun in mysteries like this is seeing all of the characters quickly affirm their innocence as they grow more and more insistent on the fact. You know that one character is lying out of his or her mind but you just don’t know who yet.

The soundtrack also continues to be high energy as the main Marple theme plays whenever she is on the go. The fact that the soundtrack is memorable at all is impressive since a lot of films just don’t have a whole lot of music to keep you entertained.

It is nice how for once nobody has a proper alibi when the police show up. It makes sense though because in a hotel like this you would often be by yourself. 9/10 times in a movie like this I would have no alibi because I probably would have just been playing video games or eating somewhere. Of course some of the characters are quite happy to say they have no alibi but it’s hard to say if that makes then more suspicious or just bigger jerks.

Marple’s final plan involving a dance is a good way to get the villain to lower their guard even if it’s extremely risky. One thing you’ll notice about Marple is that her plans are as dangerous as they come. This one for example involves her pretending to be asleep and all alone in her room. It all tends to work out but in several cases you feel like she would have been murdered before anyone is even able to get close enough to save her. That’s my main critique of her strategy since I don’t think the results mean that the plan itself was sound.

Overall, This was a nice follow up to the series. Looks like the murder mystery series is on the right trail and Marple can hold her own with the rest. I’m slowly getting to learn more about her which is nice because if I ever watch Murder by Death again I’ll have an even better understanding of each detective. You can expect the third movie in the series to be reviewed in the very near future.

Overall 7/10