Creed II Review

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It’s time to look at the new Creed film. While boxing movies may have never become a huge genre, it was always one where you could immediately think of 5 films. That’s because the Rocky series exists. It set a really high bar for the genre so then when it left you couldn’t help but miss it. When the first Creed film came out it worked as a nice sequel to the franchise. Now we could finally see a whole new generation of fights. While I believe the first film holds the slight edge, this movie does a good job of staying on the same level and certainly delivers with the fights.

The movie starts with Adonis claiming the heavyweight title from another guy. He is now the world champ and has begun to settle into his role as a master. He and Bianca are starting a family and things are going well until Viktor shows up. He is the son of Ivan Drago, the guy who murdered Adonis’ father. Naturally Adonis has a hard time trying to refuse Viktor’s challenge and decides to get into the ring once more. The problem is that Adonis is a quick fighter, but his hits don’t land a lot of damage. If he isn’t careful then it’s going to be all over. He has nothing to gain while Viktor has nothing to lose.

From the start of the film’s trailers and plot summaries I was a bit dubious about Adonis’ decision to fight. Of course it’s all very personal to him of course and he brings up the fact that Rocky essentially did the same thing, but it was a little different. In Rocky’s defense, Ivan murdered Apollo right in front of him so he had to get in there and avenge him. In this case, it’s all behind Adonis, but he just wants to prove that he can win where Apollo did not. Adonis can bring honor back into his family name. He trains and everything so it’s not like he walks into the match blind, but I do think it certainly wasn’t a great call on his part. If you gotta take the fight then take it, but don’t block everyone out in the mean time. Adonis even pushes Bianca away for a while during this period.

By the end of the film Adonis has realized once more what is really important and effectively ends his character arc..until the sequel. While he may have had a few rough patches I would still say that he is a pretty solid main character to root for. Meanwhile Bianca has her music plot although it doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time in this installment. From what is shown we can tell that Bianca is doing quite well though. I’m glad the film didn’t try to go for the “Adonis is jealous” route here as that would have been petty. Adonis is certainly not that kind of character. Bianca’s definitely a solid heroine and it looks like her career will keep going on in the next film as well. I don’t know how long the shelf life for a boxer is but there’s a good chance she will outlast him.

Viktor is the main villain here and he definitely looks a lot stronger than the guy from the last film. In fact, the film makes him look so powerful that you may have a tough time believing that Adonis can hold his own at all. The guy is just way too strong and Adonis’ hits don’t have nearly as much weight. There’s not much to Viktor aside from being the villain here, but I’d say that this works pretty well. All you really need to know about Viktor is that he wants to win to please his father so naturally his drive is very strong. At the same time he definitely fights dirty so I don’t think you will be forgetting that he is the villain anytime soon.

Rocky still serves as the main mentor role here and does a good job in it. His fighting days are certainly gone, but he’s still an excellent coach because of his experience both in and out of the ring. Since he overcame the health problems in the first film they aren’t a concern this time around. While it would be nice to see him fight as a homage to the old films it isn’t all that realistic because of how old he is. When Ivan shows up you get the feeling that the guy can still fight, but Rocky is certainly not in a condition to do so. He still gets the good one liners in though. Meanwhile Ivan is a pretty solid villain like Viktor. His only failing I’d say is that the guy puts way too much stock in trying to impress the Russians. He really shouldn’t care after they abandoned him. I suppose his national pride blinded the guy until the end.

Sort of a side note, but it was nice to see Max here. He’s always pretty fun on ESPN First Take so seeing him here was pretty surreal. If anything it made the boxing matches feel a lot more realistic and legit here compared to previous films. The movie does a good job of making you feel every blow. You can instantly tell which shots had glancing damage and which ones really made the character feel it. For the big comeback punches you’ll have the slow-mo feature at the ready. I’m sure that a big reason why you will be watching this film at the end of the day is for the fights so they do deliver.

As for the soundtrack, that one is definitely a step below the classic Rocky films. The new tracks just aren’t nearly as inspirational. They don’t make you feel like it’s time for the hero to take down the opponents and save the day. They may be fast paced tunes, but I can’t say that the lyrics seem all that great. Even the script can be a bit weaker than the old films as it has a bit more language. Nothing too bad, but still just enough that it can be a bit noticeable.

If there is any other weak aspect of the film it is definitely the romance. It did take up quite a bit of time and I think the first film already had that plot completed. The extra drama we got here could feel forced at times. It seems to be resolved though so I’m assuming that for the third film it won’t really be a factor. I’m still wondering what that film will be about, but I’m betting that somebody arrives to challenge Adonis. It would just make sense right?

Overall, Creed II is a solid boxing movie and works as a good sequel to the first Creed. It’s got everything you would want to see in this film. It’s reasonably long with solid pacing so it never feels like it is being dragged out. The main cast of characters are all rather solid. If the film intends to redeem Ivan and Viktor by the end I have to say that they still have a lot of work to do. I still consider both to be villains. While Adonis may not have looked quite as good as in the first film I think he’ll be back at his best for the third film. I hope they get Max to sign on for the third film as well since his insight is always appreciated. Of course, throwing in Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith would also be exciting. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend doing so.

Overall 7/10

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The Odd Couple Review

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It’s time to look at the original Odd Couple film. The TV show was always pretty fun but how would the movie fare in comparison? Naturally you aren’t going to go in expecting it to beat the actual show but if it could still be a fun adventure and work as an episode then that would be a success. I can safely say that this was a pretty fun movie. It’s definitely aged well and the concept is timeless.

The film starts off with Oscar having a card game with his buddies as per their weekly routine. Initially I actually thought that one of the friends was actually Oscar since he was certainly pretty confident in his chair and smoking to boot. They’re all having a good time until they realize that Felix has been out a while and may be trying to destroy himself. Fortunately that guy managed to pull his back so now he was unable to do it and makes it back home. Oscar realizes that Felix can’t be by himself for a while so he suggests that Felix moves in and then they will be roommates. Felix agrees and so their story begins. However, Felix may prove to be a bit more of a handful than Oscar ever could have imagined.

Right away you may be on team Oscar here as he was willing to make a pretty big change in his life just to help Felix. He was perfectly content living by himself and only did this because Felix still seemed to be a bit crazy. He’s also quite patient with Felix’s antics. Felix chases off all of Oscar’s friends, makes him miss the big moment in a Baseball game, is embarrassingly loud at restaurants, cries a lot, etc. Oscar is able to look past this since he does want to be a good friend. Oscar’s not perfect and he’s certainly not the cleanest guy around, but he always seems pretty reasonable.

Then we’ve got Felix. He’s a lot harder to sympathize with since Felix ends up taking everything too seriously and just makes things way too difficult for Oscar. Some things just feel deliberate like his allergies. Even if his method is effective, he just comes across as too socially insensitive. Felix either doesn’t realize that half of the things he does are so extreme or he doesn’t care. Both options don’t really help his case all that much. So when the two characters inevitably fight and Felix thinks about moving out you have to admit that it’s the right call. If the bridge can’t be mended then at the end of the day it is still Oscar’s place and he can make living there pretty uncomfortable for Felix.

The film goes at a pretty good pace. Some scenes may be a little long like the opening where the main characters think that Felix might die though. It went on for such a large chunk that I was wondering if the film’s main story was going to include those friends the whole time. It’s a fun scene all around though so maybe the length was necessary to ensure the writers could throw all of the jokes in there. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the friends really. They seemed decently nice even if they were on the completely opposite side of Oscar in how tolerant they were of Felix. They didn’t even give him a chance.

I’d say that the writing is pretty solid as well. The characters are mostly reasonable and the contrast between Oscar and Felix is depicted well. You can almost instantly see how the dynamic will play out because the two characters’ traits can be guessed as soon as they appear. If there is a weak point in the movie it would have to be the part with the Pigeon sisters. They aren’t all that entertaining and are probably the most exaggerated characters. They laugh at everything and seem like rather odd neighbors for sure. the “romance” angle here is mostly just used for comedy as you know Oscar has no shot as long as Felix is around. While the scene does give Oscar a big reason to finally leave Felix for good it could have been done another way.

The climax is also why Felix certainly couldn’t end up being a good character for me. Timid or not, he totally deserted Oscar there when the main character needed him the most. When you start something you gotta see it through and Felix did not. As a result he basically betrayed Oscar. This gets even worse in the ending where we find out who he ran to while making everyone else worry. Felix is a humorous character so I’ll give him that. The guy has his moments, but when the chips are down he is someone that you absolutely cannot count on. He will let you down every time.

As far as the soundtrack goes there is really one big theme, but it has certainly gotten iconic over the years. The TV show remixed it a bit, but if you’ve seen the show you will still recognize the theme as soon as it shows up. It’s a pretty good slice of life theme and adds some atmosphere to the first scene of the movie. Based on the beginning you actually may get the wrong idea about the genre for a little while which is nice. The film did a good job with the misdirect there which really started the film off on a good note.

Overall, The Odd Couple is a pretty fun film. The jokes are well delivered and the dynamic between the main characters works well for this kind of plot. Oscar is definitely the guy I was rooting for as his more laid back approach just makes him a lot easier to get along with. Still, Felix isn’t as bad as he could have been as with these kinds of films one character usually ends up being super unreasonable. Felix doesn’t falter much until the end of the film. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s just a pretty balanced movie that makes for a good watch.

Overall 7/10

Godzilla 1985 Review

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It’s time to look at one of the older Godzilla movies. This one brought Godzilla back in his most fearsome film yet. It’s easy to see why this new series of Godzilla movies really took off. People liked the originals quite a lot of course, but I think the world was ready for a more serious incarnation of the character. Personally I preferred the cheesier days, but I like the newer films as well. This one is fairly good, but still makes you end up missing having some other giant monsters for Godzilla to deal with. Just having the Big G on his own is not quite as exciting.

The film starts with someone wandering onto a boat and seeing that the whole crew has been murdered. A giant sea creature is responsible, but everyone decides to pin the blame on Godzilla instead. Honestly the big Kaiju was innocent this time around, but Godzilla decides to destroy all of Japan just to clear his name. Japan seems doomed, but that’s when America steps in. They decide that they’ll end the threat of Godzilla once and for all and prove that modern weaponry actually can make a difference in this fight.

I have to admit that the beginning was a lot more atmospheric than I expected it would be. The scene of the guy walking through the ship and encountering the alien like species was intense. It was like something out of a horror film. The scene was a little on the violent side with the corpses though. I think they could have been more subtle with the effects which would also work better with the horror vibe. This subplot never really amounted to much in the dub version either. You would barely even know it was concluded. Apparently it seems like the subplot was still wrapped up according to Wikipedia, but it was shortened to the point where it really just felt like filler.

On the positive side, it is always nice to see Godzilla. He appears for a reasonable amount of time here. It is unfortunate that he is more of a mindless monster here than the cunning Kaiju that we see him to be in other films. It really depends on the movie, but sometimes Godzilla is just a monster who is out for destruction and other times he actually has a will of his own. This movie seemed to be the former although he certainly made the most of it. This Godzilla was happy to crush anyone he could find and even his facial expression seemed a lot meaner than usual. His face was frozen in a glare throughout the entire movie. This was very clearly not a Kaiju that you could mess with.

For the human characters, I guess they were okay. They didn’t have a whole lot of personality, but ultimately were trying to do the right thing. The main character wasn’t particularly good at his job as he tends to talk aloud and spill government secrets. I can only assume that he will improve from here on out though. The heroine doesn’t really do much besides bring papers to the main characters and such while the old professor is busy telling everyone that you can’t beat Godzilla. As the Kaiju was ultimately defeated with ease he ended up looking bad.

The Cold War battles between the U.S. and Russia were pretty interesting here. It was nice to see us shoot their missile out of the sky and save the world. The U.S. ultimately did the most to save the world in this film. Not only did they save Japan from Russia but they also stopped Godzilla by pressuring him into the Volcano. I think it’s safe to say that they were the MVP here and that’s why it’s fun to have them around. There are many Godzilla films where you wonder how much quicker it would have finished if America had stepped up to the plate. Well…not we know.

On that note, I do have another issue with the climax. As mentioned, in this film they portray Godzilla as a mindless monster which allows the heroes to trick him. They play some bird sounds and throw it in the Volcano so Godzilla peers over and then they push him in with controlled explosions. That’s really not a very satisfying way to end that plot and I don’t think Godzilla should have gone down like that. He’s the King of the Monsters! A quick fall into a volcano shouldn’t do much and I don’t think he should have been lured to the edge so easily either. It was a bit iffy, but I guess they had to end the film somehow.

The special effects are pretty decent. The city shots have improved quite a bit compared to the Showa days. The actual suit seems to be about the same but the laser blasts are certainly more colorful. It looks like a strobe light show by the end as explosions of all colors start popping up as Godzilla torches the city. At one point the whole city appears to be in flames which was a nice touch as well. While the soundtrack is less noticeable, I did like the Godzilla roars as always.

There is one comic relief character who decides to rob some restaurants while Godzilla is nearby. Honestly it’s not a bad plan if you’re a villain since everyone evacuated so you’ve got the city to yourself. The problem for this guy is that he’s drunk so everything takes him forever and ultimately he ends up just getting stomped like everyone else. I do think the main characters did seem to surprisingly not care about the guy at all, but at that point all they could think of was surviving.

Overall, Godzilla 1985 isn’t a bad reboot. I think it was an unnecessary one though and the films should have just kept going from the Showa series. Ultimately this era would pick up steam as the monsters were introduced, but it was a bit of a rocky start. It’s a controversial opinion, but I believe Godzilla films are always best when there is another monster for Godzilla to face. When it’s just him then there isn’t as much tension or excitement since it’s not as if the government can do much against him. (Well…they win sometimes, but it’s still not as exciting) Still, the writing was on point and the pacing was good. This film is still worth a watch and if you can’t take Godzilla seriously then you should certainly watch this movie. It’s probably one of the darkest Godzilla films even if you might find it a little hard to take the movie too seriously with the voices. For the record, I enjoy the dubbing, it’s always pretty fun.

Overall 6/10

The Conjuring 2 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 likely be far more negative.
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It’s time to take a look at the next Conjuring film. As far as horror titles go the Conjuring usually gets a lot of praise for being a step above the genre. It avoids having dozens of random jump scares or throwing in random fanservice romances. It’s a horror film that tries to go about its story in a more intellectual way which is nice. While it’s still not an amazing film or anything like that it is reasonably enjoyable and shows that you can craft a pretty decent horror film if you’re willing to give it a try.

The film starts with Lorraine and Ed solving another case. This one was particularly difficult though and now Lorraine has decided that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. She wants to just retire. Ed wants to know why, but she refuses to tell him. The truth is that in one of her visions she saw a mysterious Nun murder Ed. As long as she doesn’t enter the spirit world there is a chance to prevent this, but every time she has a vision it gets closer and closer to happening. This Nun is quite powerful and since the heroes don’t know her true identity it makes defeating this villain quite difficult indeed. Ed is fine with retiring but then a new case comes to their attention and Ed feels that they are obligated to take it.

We then cut to the case in question. Janet, the second eldest of a 4 child family raised by a single mom begins to see an old man in their house. He wants the family to leave and until they do he has decided to start haunting them. At first it is minor things like moving tables around or cutting out the power but he begins to get violent and starts to possess Janet into hurting her family. Leaving the house doesn’t seem to work and the family even tries to live at a neighbor’s place. The problem is that the old man has a partner known as the Crooked Man who is also bent on making the families’ lives as difficult as possible. Just when it seems all hope is lost the main two characters show up. The problem is that the Nun has followed them. Have they only made the problem even worse?

Right off the bat I have to say that the film did a pretty good job of introducing 3 big villains and giving each of them a good amount of screen time. Naturally the one with the biggest role is the old man. He seems pretty unreasonable and evil the whole time, but there is a twist about it. Honestly it’s probably one that you’ll expect. You’ll be hard pressed on whether you should feel bad for the guy or if he should have made a move earlier and really just got what was coming to him. Either way it does make you wonder just how much power you get in this film’s afterlife. The villains seem to be quite powerful but what about all of the heroic ghosts?

Then we have the Crooked Man who gets the smallest role out of the 3. He has a pretty distinct design though and his claws certainly look like they’d make him a threat to any fighter. He’s reasonably quick as well so you definitely don’t want to underestimate this guy. Finally we have the Nun who is naturally the strongest of the 3. This character has been hinted at since the first film so you knew that she was getting ready to make a move. The film repeatedly hints at her past with Ed which will likely be looked at in her prequel film. Unfortunately Ed doesn’t remember her, but fortunately Lorraine is ready. The ending may be a bit of a stretch given how strong the Nun was, but I suppose knowing a ghost’s real name is incredibly powerful here. I liked the Nun’s design. It was sufficiently intimidating without looking gross.

While no horror film’s effects will likely ever look as good as Insidious, The Conjuring certainly holds up. As I mentioned the monsters look pretty good and the film’s always got some dark lighting while you are still able to see what is happening. The music also helps fill out the atmosphere. It’s definitely well made technically and certainly isn’t a cash-in sequel.

As for the main characters they’re still pretty good. You can certainly understand why Lorraine wanted to retire although I think she should have told Ed what she saw. Whether she thinks she can change the future or not, giving him a heads up would certainly be helpful. At the end of the day Lorraine still got involved in the case to ensure no innocents would be hurt so she did a good job there. She ended up doing a large chunk of the work in the climax. Meanwhile Ed is a pretty good character as well. He broke into the house without waiting at the end which was important even if he wasn’t really winning by that point. He did make one big mistake though and I think Lorraine will have to be partially guilty here as well.

So towards the end of the film the main characters decide to leave the family because they think that it was all a ruse. It’s a pretty tough scene to swallow because they already saw mountains of proof that suggests otherwise. Seriously, for Ed and Lorraine to believe for a minute that it was all a hoax is just terrible. The neighbors were a lot more supportive than these guys. It is enough to almost eliminate how nice the duo was before this point. After all, the family could have easily been murdered as soon as Ed and Lorraine had left. It was simply not their best moment in time. The Church also doesn’t look good as once again they are worried about their image. That seems to always be the case in these films.

As for the family who were being attacked by the ghosts I’d say that they were good characters. The kids weren’t overly annoying and at least they were willing to help each other out. While the whole teamwork thing was not as effective as Ed suggested it would be, they didn’t back down. The boy did go in after Janet to see if she was okay even if that almost proved to be fatal. The Mom also did her best to help out and once she believed Janet she did everything she could to stop the spirits. Reaching out to professionals and getting TV coverage definitely couldn’t have been easy since it would hurt her reputation as well. The family ultimately felt like what the average family should be. They weren’t exaggerated for the sake of the movie or anything like that.

Overall, The Conjuring 2 is actually a good movie. The horror elements work pretty well and the film is careful not to cross the line into super edgy territory. I do think that the Nun was pretty much the strongest villain that the series could come up with though so I’m wondering where the series will go from here. A third film will need to do something to make sure it isn’t a rehash of the previous two. Still, the series seems to be doing pretty well so far so I suppose there’s no reason to worry at the moment. I’d recommend checking this film out. The main characters may annoy you a bit but they ultimately make the right decision.

Overall 6/10

Leave No Trace Review

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It’s time to look at a survival film which mainly takes place in a large forest. It definitely goes to show why it’s such a tough task to take care of these places since people are always trying to go in there and try to live on the land. The authorities in this film are actually super lenient all things considered as I could easily see the main characters getting jail time for what they try to do. At the very least, that’s what I would picture Will’s fate would be. It’s an interesting film that’s pretty low key and is more of a down to Earth story than many other movies. It can be a bit on the tragic side as well though.

The movie starts with Will and his daughter Tom living in the forest. At first you wonder why they are there. Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Vampires running loose? No. It turns out that Will doesn’t like humanity so he has decided that the only way to enjoy life is to live outside without any other souls around. Even if the characters are alone they can’t live in a house unless it is one that Will found first and no humans have lent him. This is a rough lifestyle for Tom, but she does her best to get by. The cops eventually catch the two and Tom gets a glimpse of what life would be like with a warm bed and food. Still, Will isn’t satisfied so he tells her that they have to evade the cops and head back to the forest. Tom is reluctant to do this. Can they really survive under such a lifestyle? Well, she’s about to find out!

While you might not mind Will for a few minutes, you’ll probably know almost right away that something is off about this scenario. Why are the main characters living in the woods? Before the film reveals that Will is basically crazy you assume that maybe the zombie apocalypse came early or something like that. No, Will just doesn’t like to live like the average person and that’s when the sympathy for his character ends. You’re just waiting for Tom to try and escape him the whole time. It still makes for a pretty mysterious beginning though. I’ve never been a fan of camping so living outside for any prolonged period of time would definitely be pretty rough. It also doesn’t make for the most engaging of films typically but fortunately this movie doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the details. We don’t see them eating insects or anything like that. That’s when the film would have crossed the line.

While I can’t say that I liked Will, Tom’s a good character. She is trying her best to adapt to the situations she is put in and does so without a fuss. She is young enough where it is believable that she is following Will’s bad advice as well. You can’t really fault her for not trying harder to distance herself since that’s not really an option. By the end of the film she also makes the right call. Without Tom doing her best to help Will get used to the new lifestyle the whole thing probably would have been even tougher on the main characters.

It’s also a pretty interesting look at how the rangers prevent people like this from living in the forest. It’s certainly not a job I would envy as it seems extremely difficult so I hope they are compensated well. The forests are huge so you can imagine how tough it is to constantly be surveying it. The guard dog certainly did good as well. I’m not sure if this is how it works in real life with how the organization tries to re-locate these people, but if so then it is a much more generous process then I would have ever imagined. Rather then go to jail they give Will and Tom a fairly nice house and a whole lot of freedom. They have so much freedom in fact that I’m not sure if this is even a good idea. Of course the characters aren’t bad people in this case, but I do think this could have gotten very wrong. Of course it still isn’t enough to make Will happy, but it was a nice attempt by the agency. Even the tests they gave the main characters weren’t invasive in the slightest while still being a little effective. I’m not really sure I buy into how they really think you can understand someone through vague questions, but I know there is some science to it.

The film is certainly a slow burner though so you’ll need to appreciate the landscapes and atmosphere here. A good chunk of the story is the characters walking through the forest and doing their best to come to terms with the elements. The landscapes look pretty nice though and it’s definitely a forest that I would be up for visiting. I’m still more of a “lounge by the hotel” kind of guy, but it’s a good change of pace. Basically all of the human characters who show up are nice which is fortunate for the main characters since the situation could have gone sideways pretty quick. Characters like the truck driver were pretty reasonable and all of the dogs in the film were a blast. Again, pretty much every character aside from Will is solid so that’s definitely a good thing.

Overall, Leave No Trace is a pretty decent film. It can definitely be a little tragic at times as you feel bad for the rescue workers who are just doing their best. Naturally it can also be pretty tough for Tom the whole time. Fortunately the film always stays pretty tame and doesn’t let the situation get too absurdly bad for the main characters. It’s never a film that’s hard to watch. At most you’ll probably just get frustrated with Will the whole time which is intentional on the film’s part. Beyond that, it’s a pretty unique film and one that is probably informative as I imagine it is likely pretty realistic. These kind of films usually have a good basis in fact with the writer doing some research before the film comes out. If you want to see a film about how you could possibly survive in the forest (As long as you have a ton of money. Will is conveniently loaded so he can constantly buy whatever they need) and why it is not as good as just living in a house then this is the one for you.

Overall 6/10

A Fistful of Dollars 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.
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It’s time to look at an old Wild West film. I’ve never been a fan of the genre. It’s just not my thing as the scenery isn’t all that engaging and everyone always seems to be pretty unlikable here. Fortunately this one was actually pretty decent all things considered and I may go as far as to say that this is my favorite Wild West film. It’s just more enjoyable than the average one and there is quite a lot of strategy going on here which is always nice.

The film starts off with our nameless hero wandering into a corrupt town. There are two factions here which are always battling for control. They are the Baxters and the Rojos. The Baxters are technically the Sheriff group so you’d think they would be the heroes here but considering that they’re all bullies who like shooting everyone up then I guess that isn’t true. The hero decides to take both families down by pitting them against each other. In the process perhaps he will be able to save a couple who has been separated by the warring factions. (Not that they each joined a squad but that the Roja’s have split them up for their own amusement.

A good chunk of the film is about the main character lying to both sides and getting them into trouble. Naturally there is no reason to feel bad for any of the people that he is tricking because they are all bad hombres from the start. He grabs two dead Mexican cops and plants them in a grave yard which causes both groups to want to reach them in time. I can understand the Rojos wanting to silence them but I don’t really see how this would help the Baxters. They are hopelessly outmatched against the Rojos anyway. Why wouldn’t the Baxters go to the next village to grab some cops if they really needed backup? I feel like that would have helped out a little unless they were worried about being undermanned at the village for any amount of time.

One scene near the end of the film is a pretty big stretch though. The hero frames the Baxters again so the final 4 Rojos decide to go to their base and murder them all. The Baxters are supposed to be decent fighters in their own right…right? Well, they manage to somehow lose a 20+ vs 4 battle which is just shameful. They keep running out of the house without their guns or at the very least without any kind of aiming skills. At most you can see the first few members falling for this but we’re talking dozens here and the scene lasts for a very long time. They just keep running out of the house and getting shot. At least take one or two guys down before you die. Going out like that is just embarrassing. It would be tragic if the Baxters weren’t such bad characters.

Naturally there is no reason to like the Rojos either. The main villain is pretty much your stereotypical gang leader who is only concerned with getting money and messing everyone up. At least he is able to plan better than the Baxters though. Still, the only 3 good characters here are the main character and his two pals. The more minor of the two is the coffin maker. He doesn’t do a whole lot but ends up playing a pivotal role towards the end of the film. Then you’ve got the bar owner who helps the hero out a lot. Naturally this ends up being a pretty painful experience for him which is always the case when you ally yourself with the main character. He stays strong throughout though and is also a pretty good shot with his gun.

Finally there’s the main character although I think I’ve already mentioned that he’s pretty solid. This guy knows how to plan and he’s a very quick shot. He manages to take down multiple opponents quite a few times. Without his gun he can still put up a fight although at that point trying to fight a 1 v 4 is basically impossible. He also gets put through the wringer here as the scene where he is beaten by the group is quite intense and certainly lasts for a long while. The film can get pretty gruesome although that’s to be expected. It’s another Wild West thing. Still, it could have been worse.

Aside from the violence the only other aspect of the film that can hurt it is essentially how the villains are winning for 99% of the film and by the time they are defeated there isn’t much left to save. It always takes a bit of the triumph out of the victory because the villains got away with so much before finally being taken down. That’s just how it is sometimes I suppose, but it’s also fun to see the hero swoop in and save the day before all of the damage has been done.

Overall, A Fistful of Dollars is a Wild West film that manages to tick off the usual boxes without making too many mistakes. The film doesn’t particularly drag on and having a good lead is certainly important. It can be annoying to see the entire town corrupt as it is said early on that basically everyone else has already been murdered. Without the main character around things would have definitely gotten a lot worse. By the time the police actually get ready to show up as the film is ending you know that they were just way too late for it to even matter. I’d recommend checking this film out. You’ll see how to properly do a quick draw.

Overall 6/10

Exorcist II: The Heretic 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 a lot more negative.
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Who here remembers the dumpster fire that was the Exorcist? Well it ended up getting a sequel. That’s pretty unfortunate in and of itself but then this film is so scattered and nonsensical that you have to wonder how it ever made it past the production phase. This film certainly didn’t do much right, but then again what would you expect? Lets take a look at the Heretic.

The film starts with Lamont getting ready for a new mission. The church wants him to check up on Regan to see what the situation is. However, they don’t want to be bothered with the specifics so if there’s anything wrong with her then Lamont needs to ignore that and give them the okay. Essentially sending him is just a formality and they want him to be aware of this. Lamont isn’t okay with this, but then demons possess him and tell him to destroy Regan. He can’t resist their influences. Can anyone live through this?

Well, one big issue here is a similar one from the first film. The priests look super weak here. The demons seem to have all of the power at their disposal while the heroes can’t do anything. If even the priest is getting mind controlled with ease then what hope do the other characters have? None, that’s what. The demons basically just toy with the main characters a lot until they grow bored and allow themselves to be destroyed. It doesn’t make for a particularly engaging synopsis I must say.

Regan actually seems to be doing a much better job of resisting the demons than the people who came in to help her. She only gets possessed when the heroes put her in the telepathy machine which allows her to see the past. How such an invention even came into being is quite suspect on its own so lets pretend that we didn’t see that. The scenes of them mind melding are pretty boring and every time the characters use this ability it ends up backfiring anyway. Why would they want to open a portal for the demons to come through?

Then you’ve got the annoying subplot where Lamont is going crazy. He starts losing his grip on reality such as when he imagines a scientist to be an old monk with some interesting powers. Naturally he dies by getting stabbed in this vision. Then he gets to ride through Africa where a swarm of locusts destroy everyone. That was in the past and it ends up tying into the film by the climax, but at that point you’ll have seen the same clip so many times that you will be bored out of your mind. If it’s one thing that this film loves, it’s stock motion. You’ll see the same recycled clips many, many times over.

The film shouldn’t have tried to keep going back to the past to explain the present. There’s just no point to it. Then you’ve got Regan’s psychiatrist who tries her best to help the kid, but naturally a demon is a little above her pay grade. Unfortunately she is travelling with an assistant who is highly susceptible to the demon mind control. Although as already pointed out the demons can mind control whoever they please so things wouldn’t have changed a whole lot otherwise. She was effectively just the fall person this time. Still makes for an annoying character though.

As you can probably expect the film is pretty violent as well. It’s not quite as gruesome as the first film where it was just hard to look at any of the characters, but this one’s still no good. You’d want to avoid it on this alone, much less everything else. None of the characters are any good with the exception of Regan who isn’t great either since she can be rather vague and scattered. It’s hard to trust her because of how she acts even if she does mean well.

Then we have the villain Pazuzu who isn’t particularly memorable. He’s basically just a very generic demon who is willing to do anything to get the last laugh even if it means degrading himself. There’s nothing interesting about him at all. The demon has absolutely no character and is basically just a waste of time. Couldn’t the writers have at least given him some kind of interesting sub-plot or character motivations? Nah…I guess I can’t say that I was surprised.

Overall, what I can glean from this movie is that it didn’t need to be made. There was no reason for an Exorcist sequel and the movie writers knew it. That’s why there is barely a plot here as the demon just wants to rise and fight but doesn’t even know why. All it does is try to make the Church look bad with how the cross and spells never work on the demons. They always just end up laughing. The film could have gone for an interesting Venom route where the original demon has grown attached to Regan and wants to protect her from other demons, but that’s too clever for this series. We also don’t need to humanize demons like that anyway so it may not have worked either way. That’s just more evidence that in general this film just should have been a reboot or something instead. Give the franchise a clean slate and maybe even improve on the original. It’s certainly possible and I think that would have been the optimal route. So, if you want to see a good horror film I’d suggest checking out something like Ghost Busters instead even if it’s basically more of a comedy film.

Overall 1/10

13 Ghosts Review

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It’s time to look at an old horror movie. This one’s definitely one of those flicks that may have been remotely scary back in the day but now you would just laugh. It’s very low key and the characters tend to get unnerved about rather small things. The ghosts themselves never really get to do anything and the film is riddled with recycled animation to try and save the budget. All in all that makes for a pretty mixed product here. It’s not one I would particularly recommend but I suppose it’s not one of the worst horror films out there.

The plot starts with Cyrus being rather down on his luck. The guy is really behind on his payments and as a result the tax people have been taking all of his furniture. They only leave behind the walls. Fortunately Cyrus then receives a large mansion from his dead uncle via will. The only catch is that he can only claim this if he lives in the mansion and that is certainly going to be rather tricky to say the least. That’s because there are a bunch of ghosts running around. Benjamin, the lawyer who told them about the will keeps trying to drive them away. He states that it just isn’t important enough to risk their lives over it and he’ll take it from here. Cyrus isn’t backing down though. Are these ghosts real or just more superstitions?

Naturally with a title like “13 Ghosts” you expect a lot of supernatural attacks. At the very least you’d expect the ghosts to have a large presence here, but that simply isn’t the case. Each of the ghosts has a gimmick like doing a chop or just yelling. That is all that they really get to do here and we see the same recycled animations for all of the ghosts each time they appear. There are only 12 ghosts for the majority of the film, but you can probably guess how a new one will be added before long. We hear stories of how the ghost utterly destroyed the uncle but it’s hard to buy into that from the start since they don’t do anything. As a result some twists may not land as hard as they could have.

The ghosts also do a terrible job of trying to explain the truth to the main characters. Surely they could have done something more to try and get their case across. At least at the very end of the film one of the ghosts finally made his move. I do have to question how he can overpower a real person since he’s basically see through, but it’s not a huge stretch to just assume that ghosts are given super strength. Again, if that is the case then they should have done something sooner though. What was stopping the ghosts can just axing the main villain right at the start?

It was interesting to see the Ouija board in a film this old though. Naturally it’s a whole lot less scary without all of the added special effects. If anything the game looks rather old and unimpressive. It also doesn’t seem to have as much of a taboo here compared to usual as the characters play it very nonchalantly. Of course once they get answers that they don’t want then they start to blame the board. Not playing it from the start is the only right response to this.

As always I have to say that the kid wasn’t great either. His name is Buck and he’s always insulting the hired help. There’s a maid who cleans up around the house and he insists on calling her a witch. By the end the film leaves it up to your imagination on if he was right or not, but either way he just comes across as rude. He’s also an incredibly deep sleeper as he doesn’t stir even when someone picks him up and puts him in a death trap. Come on…he should be more trusting. In general he shouldn’t be opening the front door to allow the lawyer in after hours either. There are just a lot of pitfalls here.

The other characters aren’t as bad, but they aren’t particularly great either. Cyrus and his wife are reasonable. They can be a little jumpy, but at the end of the day they are keeping the mansion. Then you’ve got the lawyer who is really scared of the ghosts. He constantly makes sure to remind the heroes that they could die any moment from the ghosts. I’m not sure if that is really who you want as your lawyer. I suppose he doesn’t have to be brave as long as he is experienced though.

Overall, 13 Ghosts is just very uneventful. The film doesn’t really do anything to try and be all that scary. For the most part it’s just a day in the lives of the main characters. They get a few scares, but for the most part they are just scaring themselves and it’s not even the ghosts doing it. At least they enjoyed their cash at the end though so the film had a happy ending. It’s just that the film really was unfocused. I still can’t get behind how bad the actual ghosts were. They just kept doing absolutely nothing for the entire film. If you cut them out of the film entirely then nothing would change as the single ghost at the end is not even related to the others. I mean, he is one of the 13 but you could have called it the Ghost instead and it would have been more accurate. Still a lifeless film, but at least not a misleading one. If you want a more intense film about ghosts then check out Scrooged.

Overall 3/10

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb Review

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It’s time to look at an old Mummy film. Unfortunately this one isn’t particularly good, but I don’t think you will find this all that surprising. After all, the Mummy films are rarely all that good and this is the Hammer version. Hammer pretty much never gets anything right so why would they start now? Just think about it….these guys aren’t the ones you want to write your film. As a result we get a bunch of unlikable characters thrown into situations where it is hard to be sympathetic to them.

The film starts out with John and the gang digging up a mummy. The locals don’t like this since mummies bring a lot of curses with them so they try to murder the heroes. The main characters fight back and eventually with the help of the rich Alexander they get the Mummy out. Alexander is your typical rich CEO who wants to make even more money so he thinks that the curse will be a great way of attracting people over to his shows. Honestly….he’s not wrong. It’s working pretty well, but then the Mummy escapes and starts to murder people. John will have to figure out a way to stop the Mummy, but he also has to figure out a way to stop Adam from stealing his fiance Annette. Will he be focused enough to achieve both objectives or forfeit both?

Right away you can see one of the problems here…Annette. So, she is supposedly serious about John and yet the instant Adam shows up she quickly starts cheating on John and is ready to abandon him. This essentially means that she was fake all along or she was only in it for the money. I can’t imagine that John has that much cash so it’s a little iffy, but it’s all that I’ve got. So, this wrecks Annette’s character, but it also makes John look bad since he never even confronts her about this. He basically just watches and once Annette is ready to take him back he’s ready as well. The film ends before we can really see the fallout but I would have liked to see them break up before the film ends.

Also, before it got the far shouldn’t John have fought for her? It’s a debatable point since sometimes it’s best to just let someone go if they’re going to be tempted away that easily. At the same time, you gotta make some kind of move right? Leave or stay but just watching makes John look sooooo weak. Then we’ve got the villain Adam. Aside from the fact that he acts obviously evil from the start, his plan is just pretty bad. He is cursed with immortality and the only way he can die is if the Mummy murders him. I personally think he overrates his healing factor, but even if it is true, he has to go to an awful lot of work just to die a very painful death. There’s nothing particularly likable or interesting about Adam.

The only good character here is Alexander. As I mentioned he is a bit generic, but I really like the rich CEO angle. He wants to make a quick buck and is honest about how petty he is. You have to appreciate how straight forward the guy is. You know from the start that he is definitely going to die, but even with that I have to say that I was rooting for him. He isn’t scared of mummies and curses the way that everyone else is. Alexander holds his ground all the way to the end as a good character should. He should have been the main character and it would have been cool to see him take down the Mummy personally.

As for the Mummy, I’m afraid that he is also a disgrace here. The guy can barely move and hie design is just awful. It’s almost like the movie is doing its best to mock the guy here. The only way he hits anyone is when they trip or are being held back by another character. He is also weak against chanting, but is still able to back hand Adam so I’ll give him some props there. He also destroys his followers when they wish for it so you could argue that he is taking commands. This version of the Mummy is the closest we will get to a mindless monster.

The whole time you’re watching this film you’re going to be waiting for a character to make a sensible choice. Unfortunately it just never happens. The Mummy’s followers are both suicidal and end up letting him murder them. The heroes are either not courageous enough to do anything like John or they are easily swayed and can’t be trusted. In case you weren’t sure, I thought the writing in this film wasn’t particularly good either. At best I can at least say that the film’s pacing wasn’t bad. It’s a pretty quick adventure and isn’t given enough time to drag on.

Overall, The Mummy’s Tomb could and should have been a lot better. As it stands, it’s a fairly annoying film that just isn’t all that enjoyable. There’s really not much to see here and you’d be better off watching one of the other Mummy films. I don’t know why these companies have so much trouble with the Mummy. In theory it’s a concept that should work quite well. The Mummy got the short end of the stick on his first attempt at life and now he wants a re-do. Where’s the harm in that? Yet, the Mummy doesn’t get to appear for very long in some of these films. It’s a shame.

Overall 3/10

Halloween 2 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 of the film would be more negative.
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Well, it looks like the sequel to Halloween has finally arrived. There’s only so much that this film can try to do to be good. From the start you know that it’s not going to be good, but can it at least be entertaining? Well, I’ve seen worse horror films so I’ll give it that, but this is still one of those sequels where you just shake your head. Myers has also grown a lot more powerful over the course of a few minutes as he suddenly becomes just about invincible here. Why is he bullet proof!?

The film takes place seconds after the first which is impressive. It’s an underrated approach and a super cool one if you ask me. I always like when the story picks up immediately like this. Basically, Michael Myers escaped capture last time and he decides to go right back to his goal of murdering everyone in the neighborhood. The cops have to try and stop him, but they can’t seem to save everybody. It looks like Laurie is going to have to save herself as expected. After all, when everyone else fails then it’s time to just do it yourself right?

Most of what I’m going to say here could be applied to the first film or any film in the series. That’s because Halloween follows what I’d consider to be the typical horror film outline. The only trope it seems to avoid is the animal violence one which I will give it some props there. I’m glad it was able to do that at least. The first thing dragging the film down is naturally the over the top violence. Naturally everyone meets pretty grim ends at the hand of Michael Myers. Most of the characters don’t even put up a fight or they go down without making a sound. (Rhyme intentional) Given that he has super strength and such at least it’s a little more believable than in some of the other films. Still, the body count in this film is incredibly high as nobody seems to have a way to communicate and he just takes down the whole town one at a time. It’s scary just how many people he gets and the cops never even find out about it.

Then you’ve also got horror trope #2, the terrible characters. All the characters seem to care about is getting past the friend zone. Two characters decide to hang out at a hot springs when they’re supposed to be on duty and looking after the patients. Then they can’t even tell when the other character has been bumped off. It’s also just an excuse to get a fanservice scene in since horror films seem to need that. There’s also the pointless emergency staff guy who keeps on flirting with Laurie throughout. The plot doesn’t go anywhere and I don’t even really get how the guy died. Sure, he tripped, but why would he die from that? Perhaps part of the scene was cut for the TV version or something but if there is no more context to that scene then this guy’s just a joke. He should have been written out of the film.

Laurie’s a reasonable character here. In fact, she’s the only reasonable character. She realizes very quickly that nobody else here is even remotely competent so she escapes from the hospital to try and save herself. Of course the other characters give away her hiding spot and drop the gun. If I was Laurie I’d definitely leave this town and never come back. Sam talks tough and he has a gun so he’s better than most of the characters, but he still isn’t the smartest of the characters. He plugs Myers 6 times and the guy doesn’t go down. What does he do in round 2? He shoots him 4 times. Look, if you think that this guy is basically unstoppable then you have to do all that you can to stop him. Trying to walk over and take his knife away isn’t smart so Sam is smarter than the policeman, but then go for a head shot or something. Do whatever it takes to make sure Myers stays down. Then Sam just goes back into running mode and his gun jams. Well gee…that’s just bad luck now.

Finally we’ve got Myers, but he isn’t even a character in this film. He’s basically just a zombie that is going around murdering people. I don’t think he got a single line here so maybe the film is trying to hint that he is basically dead by this point. Maybe the 6 bullets did finish him off and he is a zombie. Then again, I forget if he talked in the first film. Maybe he just can’t talk. Either way there’s not much to his character. The rest of the characters in the film just exist to die so you feel bad for them. In slasher films like this one only the main character tends to live while everyone else dies. It’s a rather tragic existence for the whole town, they were just outgunned.

There’s just nothing positive to say about the film. It’s not fun to watch and I dare say that it might be more over the top than the first film. Although I think the first film had animal violence so it was probably still worse than this film. The only positive I can say for this film is that it avoided the big 0 by avoiding the animal violence. Even then it was fairly close, but I think a 1 is reasonable. The film also isn’t particularly long so at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome quite as drastically as you might fear. Imagine this going for 2 hours? Now that would be really brutal!

Overall, Halloween 2 doesn’t try to do anything particularly clever or unique. It’s basically just a rehash of the last film. If the last film was a good movie then that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but there’s just nothing particularly good here. It’s a pretty mean spirited film where the villain has the edge throughout. Surprisingly there isn’t even a stinger here so I suppose the heroes can finally get a little peace at least. It’s a silver lining, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’d highly recommend avoiding this film as much as possible. Just stick away from it and you’ll be the better off for it.

Overall 1/10