2 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Review


It’s time to look at the final chapter in the Resident Evil saga. Unfortunately it is not all that good and throws away the entire premise that the last film set up. It’s a shame because the films always tend to have pretty amazing cliffhangers and more often than not the sequels manage to capitalize on them. Unfortunately this one turned out to be an exception to that. It feels a lot like the desert film previously and not a whole lot happens. The whole first half is basically filler so once the main plot occurs we have to go at turbo speed. I feel like they just wanted to end everything so there wasn’t a whole lot of effort behind this one.

Last time Alice regained her powers and prepared to fight off the invasion of the Red Queen along with Wesker, Jill, and the U.S. Military. The final shot there was great with an epic background and guaranteed action for the next film. Unfortunately this film borderline retcons that similar to how Blade 2 retconned 1 a bit. It’s not an official retcon here of course as there are small references to how that was all a trick but it still makes no sense. So according to this film, Wesker basically brought Alice and the others over to murder them so he gave Alice a fake serum. We can assume Wesker murdered all of her friends but how did he not destroy her? Wesker has super speed and super strength enough to effortlessly dodge bullets and crush people with a single blow. The film never bothers to address this in any kind of way. I like a good mystery myself but it just made no sense and this film may as well be a reboot to be honest.

Back to the plot though, Alice is now travelling aimlessly through the desert as she fights off giant monsters. The Red Queen shows up and says that she has actually betrayed the Umbrella corporation. The villains have invented a cure to take down the zombies and it is airborne so it can cure the entire planet. It’s a lethal cure though so it’ll murder anyone who is infected and only the humans who are not tainted will survive. They mention at the beginning of the film that only 4000 or 40000 (Can’t remember which) humans are still alive so it’s not a great amount. Still, they can eventually start to regroup but Alice needs to find the cure within 48 hours or everyone will be dead. Remember this because it will be important later on. Alice will have to head back to Raccoon City to find the cure which certainly won’t be easy. Fortunately she runs into yet another resistance group who is here to help.

There sure are a ton of resistance groups since Alice finds one in every film and promptly gets just about all of them murdered. The plot is very thin here and riddled with holes. I’ll get into that in a minute so lets get the standard stuff out of the way first. First off, the film is definitely super violent as always which holds it back quite a bit. Zombie films really aren’t my thing since they’re just an excuse for the film to get as gruesome as possible since they are no longer human. There’s a lot of nonstop violence here that’s for sure. The film skips its obligatory fanservice moment this time though which I was glad about. That’s something that the films definitely did not need in the slightest.

Unfortunately with the story being the way it is it’s hard to get invested in the film as well. It’s easily the least interesting film in the series aside from the desert one. Most of the film is just Alice wandering around another desert until she makes it to the facility. Then we get some solid fights but that’s about it. The film ends and you’re wondering what the point was. It even starts to drag a bit and that’s unfortunate since the film isn’t even very long. The worst part is that it got rid of a lot of the amazing music themes that played during the previous films. Why would they get rid of the umbrella elevator theme when they actually brought the elevator back into play here? That was a huge missed opportunity.

Alice is still a great main character though. She’s very no nonsense and takes down quite a lot of zombies. Alice may have lost her powers but not her fighting abilities. The scene of her taking down a whole group while tied up upside down was really something else. It’s really not an exaggeration to say that she may be the best film heroine out there. I may even do an editorial for that at some point on top 10 female leads or something. What really helps here is her consistency. She hasn’t had a bad film and is always right up there in the thick of the action without backing down.

The rest of the cast is quite weak and to be honest they don’t get much of a role. I doubt anyone will remember the members of her squad aside from Claire who gets to return here. Claire looks decent at least but seems to vanish for almost all of the fight scenes. As for the villains, it’s hard to take Isaacs seriously. Good for him that he got super powers though but it makes his fights look even worse. You’re telling me that with bullet timing speed and super strength he seriously couldn’t beat Alice? I’m glad for the Alice hype of course but when you stop to think about it for more than a second then it really makes no sense at all. Don’t even get me started on Wesker. That guy was portrayed as being absolutely unstoppable. A pure beast of combat through and through, yet he wasn’t able to do anything in this film. The movie had absolutely no idea what to do with him considering that he only appeared for a few minutes in the entire film. Wesker also isn’t as confident as usual and is portrayed as a lackey for some reason.

Okay, so let’s talk about the plot now. At the beginning Alice mentions that there aren’t many humans left and the Red Queen confirms that within 48 hours they will all be dead. So that’s why Alice needs to grab the serum right away. Well, she does and in typical cinematic timing she does it with a few seconds left. There should only be a small handful of humans left then right? The 48 hours were basically up before the Red Queen was able to stop the zombie attack. I guess we could say that she underestimated the humans which is reasonable so there could be more left, but Alice says the cure will take years to travel the globe. Even if the Red Queen can somehow stop the zombies from attacking…which is a bit sketchy in itself, years is a long time. Realistically the human race is pretty much wiped out and that’s how the film should have ended. The Red Queen telling Alice that she is now the last survivor of the human race aside from the people present (Really just Claire) would have been a pretty powerful moment.

Then we have the fact that the villains seem desperate to destroy Alice. Again, they could have finished her at any time so why continue to let her live? Why even let her get near the facility instead of blowing it up? Since there were only minutes left and they had cameras on the heroes the whole time they could have escaped through the back as well. Having Wesker at the ready would have been good too. There are just too many reasons why Alice’s desperate assault on the base should not have worked. The writers stacked things a little too heavily against the heroes which made for a completely unbelievable scenario all the way through. I really couldn’t buy into it personally.

It’s hard to nail down exactly why the film failed on all fronts aside from what I’ve listed, but I think the final part is that it no longer felt like a Sci-Fi. The film scrubbed all sci-fi elements away from the series for some reason. We lost all of the cool themes, the great designs, and the whole atmosphere that made the series resonate as a Resident Evil title. You could have taken the name away and this had almost nothing to do with anything. Just take a look at the first scene of the last film with the excellent fight aboard the helicarrier or the climax against the cybernetically enhanced metahuman. This film had none of that and wound up being quite underwhelming.

Overall, It may feel like this was just more of the same based on the score. Admittedly it’s not like the series would drop a whole lot more because it’s already pretty low. That being said, the other films were at least very interesting and compelling. A lot of times the silver lining for me is even if a film ends up being pretty terrible I can at least be engaged the whole time. Particularly with the more intense zombie or vampire type films. This one just didn’t do it for me. The plot is about as strong as a couple of straws and the fact that the film retconned so much just felt like a really bad move for me. I just couldn’t see the film recovering from that and unsurprisingly it did not. Still, in the end if I look at the franchise as a whole I think it did a good job of adapting Resident Evil to the films. It took a lot of liberties but did construct a solid narrative. I doubt there are very many films that could come close to matching the epic cliffhangers that this series had film after film. I’m hoping the reboot will be able to match this one but as lightning only strikes once I have a hard time seeing it match this series. It’d be cool if they brought Alice back though.

Overall 2/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Keeper of the Flame Review


It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film. It’s a cautionary tale about how anyone can quickly be corrupted or coerced under the right circumstances. Always be careful of meeting your heroes because nobody is perfect so you’re likely going to be disappointed. The movie’s very well made. The cast is pretty small and the plot is rather direct so to an extent it can feel like not much is happening. That’s where the writing comes into play since the film needs to keep you interested until the final twist near the end of the movie. I thought it succeeded in this regard.

The movie starts with a legendary American hero dying in a car accident. The country is in mourning because this guy was a very prominent figure. His wife Christine is taking this especially hard and has been unwilling to see anyone. Famous reporter Stephen has arrived in town to get the scoop although his two reporter friends tell him he should give up. That’s not how Stephen operates though and he keeps on going until he finally meets Christine. Why is she so nervous and eager for him to go away? Stephen’s reporter instincts have kicked in and he senses a story!

The funny thing is that this is one of those movies where the villains really overthink things. The film would have been over in an instant if they hadn’t gone back after Stephen. Clive thinks that Christine’s decision not to meet with Stephen initially was pretty suspicious. He’s not wrong in this but suddenly appearing later on has the opposite effect. If they had left things alone Stephen may have had a feeling that something wasn’t right but he would have stopped there. It’s always interesting when the villains think too highly of the heroes because that’s pretty rare.

Nevertheless, Stephen’s definitely a solid character for the most part. He’s determined and doesn’t get intimidated when people threaten to beat him up or worse. You have to have nerves of steel to be a reporter and he’s definitely got that. In comparison the other two reporters look pretty bad as they give up with ease and don’t really do much of anything. They’re really just here for the banter although I can appreciate that since I’m always up for good banter. The main thing that holds Stephen back is the romance plot with Christine since her husband literally just died. Now, they weren’t actually all that close and there’s a lot going on with that relationship but you still can’t see this as anything but a rebound. I also thought that it didn’t really enhance the plot in any way.

The film has a solid ending that wraps things up as well so this is a really complete journey. The best part here is that the film had strong writing and was interesting from cover to cover. I liked the final twist and it’s not even unrealistic. It’s very easy to see something like this happening and the idea of playing groups against each other is something that is happening as we speak through every kind of media, social media, writing, and even in person. Division is a constant in life and one that always has the appearance of getting worse and worse with each passing year. The movie is just as timely now as when it came out with the relevant plotlines. In light of all of this, Christine did pretty good. It’s a shame that she couldn’t have gotten a little further from the situation but I don’t really see how she could have had a chance for any of that.

For the debate at the end where Christine and Stephen have differing views on how people handle these kinds of twists in real life, I’d say Stephen was right. At the end of the day, no matter how big a revelation or a twist there is, people will adapt and get used to it. Some will take it harder than others no doubt but it’s just not personal enough for most to be crushed by it. If it were that personal then it wouldn’t effect most of the others. Since you can never really know someone else, you can only get to hurt by learning something you didn’t already know. There are just limits to how you will feel and that’s why Stephen is right that the truth always has to come out. It may not be what everyone wanted to hear, but ultimately it’s what they needed to know. There’s one death that’s a little gratuitous at the ending as I don’t think it was really needed but you can see why the film went that route.

Overall, Keeper of the Flame is a pretty nice title. It is definitely a very relevant title as it has to do a whole lot with the movie. If you’re up for a mystery with quite a few twists and turns then this is up your alley. As mentioned, the only thing I could see holding this one back a little for some would just be the fact that the movie can feel a little slow at times. Not so much in a dragged out sense as it isn’t specific scenes, but the film has a very slow pace to it as it takes you through the story. The characters chat about life and hypotheticals as well. Everyone’s always got a speech. I’m always up for that though as the dialogue is pretty interesting to me. As long as you agree then you’ll enjoy the film.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Murder by Contract Review


It’s time to look at a thriller film from a while ago. It’s a pretty interesting hitman story and the writing/atmosphere keep this movie solid throughout its run. The dialogue is pretty solid and Claude plays a lot of mind games with the other characters. I do think his first boss should have probably been a little more prepared for what happened but I guess in his old age he started to drop his guard a bit more. It’s not exactly beyond the pale for that to happen so I could see it as being pretty reasonable. At most the ending just feels a bit on the lucky side for the character rather than a decisive victory. I would have made it a little different like letting a shot go through instead to stop things.

The movie starts with a guy named Claude deciding to get into the hitman business. The reason for this is that he wants to buy an expensive house and his day job will never get him enough money for it. He wants cash quick and the easiest way to do it is by bumping people off. He quickly manages to get hired into this job and proves to be a natural. Eventually he is given a big job which will really help him earn a ton of money at once. He has to bump off a witness before he can expose the main villain. What Claude didn’t realize is that the witness is actually a lady named Billie. He didn’t want to sign up for a job like this if it meant taking out a lady but there’s no way back. Claude decides to complete his mission but it definitely won’t be a simple one.

Whenever you have a villain as the main character the movie has to take a bit of a different approach. After all, we can’t possibly root for a character like that. So you’re rooting for the cops to stop him even though his target is hinted to not exactly be blameless either. The film has to be careful with the ending as well as the whole adventure so things don’t go too far. I thought this movie did a good job of handling all the points below. The ending is satisfying even if I would have played it differently and Claude’s character is handled well.

Claude seems a bit crazy at times and tends to ramble on about things but his speeches are always interesting to listen too. A quality villain should always be able to plan things out well and in an interesting way. He may be insane but at least he believes in his own ideals. The film has him try to offer up some philosophical takes as the movie goes on. He does have a point that it’s a lot harder to track a hitman than someone with a personal vendetta since there is no motive to be found in his case. This was in the era before smart phones and cameras so it’s also a lot easier for him to go into an area and leave undetected. He doesn’t use guns which also makes things tricky for him although he clearly trained in how to use them as well. When he needs to use a firearm briefly he is able to make a difficult shot with no real effort.

So Claude was a pretty fun villain. Meanwhile the two guys watching over him were pretty solid too. George is always trying to give Claude the benefit of the doubt while Marc plays hard ball with him. They get a lot of solid banter throughout the movie and do have some points about how Claude makes this harder than necessary. Either way it would have been difficult to stop Billie though. To her credit she takes a lot of solid precautions and the cops also look good in their protection. They do their best to really surround her with protection at all times. I do think that it got a bit dicey only having one guard at the end though. I would have liked for him to have looked a little better all things considered. Their only real loss against Claude was due to Billie’s demands. I do question how they didn’t have anyone patrolling the surroundings after the whole TV attempt though.

Part of what makes the film work is that it can also be fairly light hearted in its approach. It has an interesting tone blend there as you know something is going to happen soon but until then the film stays calm. It mirrors Claude’s disposition here as he doesn’t seem to get very invested in anything either. He does the job and then gets out as quickly as possible. Not all of his plans are perfect of course. There is one instance where he decides to act rather faint and realistically I don’t see how this would work. It’s probably the moment in the film where you will have to suspend the most disbelief. It does make for a pretty intense climax though. It reminds you why he became known as such a dangerous person to be up against. At the end of the day he can take anyone out in an instance.

Overall, Murder by Contract is an interesting film and a pretty solid one overall. The writing is solid and the cast of characters are good. There’s one character who is pretty annoying given that she talks about confidential matters with ease. I have to blame the guy who told her as well since they only needed to keep the secret for 1 day to save a life. Is that really so hard? It was a bit plot convenient there but I wouldn’t say unrealistic because this is exactly the kind of thing that could happen at any time. So, if you’re up for a solid action film from the villain’s point of view as they plan a murder this is a good one. I dare say it would be one of the best in its genre as it’s hard to get this one exactly right. It certainly never drags on.

Overall 7/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Mad Genius Review


It’s time to look a a film from a while back that shows why you’ve always gotta stand up for yourself. If you just allow yourself to be a tool you’ll always end up on the losing side. Part of why this film ultimately ends up failing on every level is that the main characters don’t handle the situations very well at all. They end up appearing to be quite gullible and have low will power. It’s never fun to see them get tricked by the villains so easily. They just were not ready for the real world and it shows.

The movie starts off with Ivan deciding to adopt a kid. Ivan was never able to be a world famous dancer but he will make sure that Fedor will succeed where Ivan had failed. Things are going quite well for many years as Fedor is shaping up nicely. Unfortunately that all changes when Fedor falls in love with one of the dancers named Nana. Falling in love with a co-worker is pretty dangerous and usually doesn’t end up working out but that’s just how it went in this case. Ivan is determined to break these two up even if he has to use trickery to do so. Will he be able to keep Fedor as his living puppet or will he ultimately be unable to truly control Fedor’s life to such a degree?

To start with, Fedor is a pretty terrible character. Ivan’s a villain so that goes without saying for him, but Fedor handles himself poorly in every regard. Once he finds out about Ivan’s deception he quickly runs off with Nana which is at least a good start to what’s going on. That’s the right approach but where things go wrong is he starts sounding like Ivan and even guilt tripping Nana a bit. This leads her to decide to sell herself off to one of Ivan’s friends. Fortunately that guy ends up being rather decent to her the whole time but it felt like we went to 0-100 in an instant. Why couldn’t they just have talked things out real quick? Why did Fedor suddenly change overnight? He is a large part of why Nana felt so desperate in those scenes.

Fedor was also quick to believe Ivan and go back to being on his side. You’ve got to be a real sucker to believe someone who has made a career out of tricking others. Whenever Fedor showed up you could count on him to make the wrong decision. While Nana was a nice character she makes a lot of the same mistakes as well. She makes massive assumptions throughout the film and is too quick to ride the waves or go along with what the others are saying. She shouldn’t have even gone to meet Ivan the second time around as there is no way that could have ended well. It’s not so much a case of Nana being too nice as just being overly naive the whole time.

As for Ivan, he’s definitely one of those guys who quickly abuses his power as soon as he gets it. He allows his dancers to move up the ranks by giving personal favors. It goes against his entire motivation of wanting to have the best ballet. You can’t take his goal seriously if he doesn’t. That’s one of those things a villain just can’t do. If he can’t stand by his goal then that means it wasn’t really much of one to start with. Ultimately things start to catch up to him by the end of the movie but it certainly took a while for this to occur.

The Mad Genius can be rather slow paced at times and the weak characters don’t help matters either. You’ll struggle to find the film all that entertaining or interesting. The title also gives Ivan more credit than he is due as the guy doesn’t seem particularly intelligent. He could have very easily allowed the two main characters to be together and then they would have stayed in the show. By getting rid of them he lost his two best dancers so of course the show wouldn’t be quite as good. Ivan really didn’t think anything over particularly well.

Overall, The Mad Genius is definitely a film that you can skip. The writing isn’t all that good and the film can be quite slow. It feels like not a whole lot happens during the movie and with the characters making so many illogical choices it’s hard to sympathize with them either. The film also loses track of time within the scenes. There’s one scene where one of the ladies tells Ivan she will be right back. We then get a very long scene of a drunk Ivan talking to his partner, listening to his ideas and having an argument. After the argument they go back and forth a bit and then the girl finally returns as Ivan is leaving. That was a whole lot of time to vanish and didn’t really make sense. The film doesn’t really dwell on this though so neither should you. If you want a more interesting piece of media about ballet I would advise you to check out Princess Tutu instead.

Overall 3/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Larceny Inc Review


It’s time to look at a comedy film from a long time ago. It feels like the 40s were a whole lifetime ago at this point. As with most films from this era, Larceny Inc delivers with solid characters and quality writing throughout the adventure. It’s a pretty fun film that has a good amount of humor and even throws in a dangerous climax for the characters. How much you enjoy this film will really depend on how you enjoy the style of humor because if it’s not really your cup of tea then it goes without saying that this one isn’t going to rank all that highly for you.

The film starts with Pressure getting out of jail along with his friend Jug. They were given an offer to continue their life of crime but decided against it in order to finally go straight. Definitely a good move, but it’s going to be rather difficult to make a fresh start. Pressure tries a few things but they don’t work so he decides to break into a bank. What he’ll do is buy the luggage store next to the bank and dig a hole into it. The problem is that his daughter Denny has decided she can’t let Pressure make the same mistakes and teams up with local salesman Jeff to ensure that Pressure’s store is too busy for him to make any plans. They are going to make those luggages sell like hotcakes!

This is a comedy so you can’t take the story beats too seriously but I do have to say that it’s already a bit of a stretch how the heroes own this very successful store and then decide not to do anything about it. Even while waiting to rob the bank they could have sold a lot of luggage at a very good price. Instead they keep throwing them away or giving them out for free. It’s part of the comedy of course, but you can’t help but think how well off they are. If they had just been selling from the start they would have been free to abandon their plan a lot sooner. Of course we do get actual gangsters showing up near the end and I suspect that things wouldn’t have gone over well for the heroes if they had not had a hole in the building.

The pacing is pretty solid although the romance in the film isn’t particularly good. Jeff moves pretty quickly throughout and even asks Denny to marry him after only knowing her for a few minutes. Talk about mistaking a crush for true love right? That’s a pretty huge jump for him to take considering that the characters don’t actually know each other yet. Of course it works out but you still can’t help but shake your head at the whole thing a bit. It didn’t really feel earned and I still hope Jeff got his money in the end. He did give Pressure’s shop a whole lot of business and you know that they’re still hoping they can swindle him. In fact, based on the ending they probably did.

Larceny Inc ends with a pretty fun scene since it ties the whole thing together. At the end of the day it’s a pretty complete ending that does leave all of the characters satisfied. It’s a nice way to end the adventure and makes it a title you can really recommend to anyone. Pressure’s a solid lead and I appreciate the fact that he did try to go on the straight and narrow. He’s definitely got a lot of natural charisma which lets him even help the town accidentally. You have to have that kind of confidence and Pressure has it in spades. He may still cower next to the bigger villains but he tries hard.

Jug’s the not very smart member of the group so you have to be able to tolerate that character type in order to enjoy his character. He can be pretty extreme at times to be sure, but at least he’s a loyal ally. I’ll also give him some props for actually saying no to Pressure at the end and getting the lead to try the car plan instead. Most of the time the side character just continues to get wrecked. Meanwhile Weepy was a solid third member and in some ways was the most efficient member of the group. He’s the only one who seemed to care about making money at all while the other two were focused on the bank part.

Overall, Larceny Inc is a pretty interesting film. It’s the kind of movie that you just don’t really see anymore. It’s just a nice story about a group of criminals fumbling around and making a ton of mistakes until the mistakes ultimately go together and make things work out. If this sounds like your cup of tea then it’s worth checking out the next time it’s on TV or maybe if it’s on DVD. The character cast is fairly small but that works out since that lets each character get more development. My favorite of the small plots was probably seeing Pressure help out the community with the politicians. I’m always up for a good bluff and the lead sold the whole act pretty well.

Overall 7/10

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Double Indemnity Review


It’s time to take a look at a retro noir film. This is one of those titles where you should be rooting against the main character from the jump. He’s definitely not one of the more trust worthy guys out there and ends up making a lot of foolish mistakes. It’s a good movie though with a fun plot and a lot going on. I also always enjoyed the noir narration going on throughout the movie. That’s something I’d like to see make a comeback in the modern movies at some point. It’s just a fun thing to do.

The movie starts with Walter trying to track down someone whose insurance is about to expire. Walter always likes to stay on top of these things after all as he is one of the best insurance people in the business. When he gets to the house the guy isn’t there, but his wife Phyllis is. She figures him as an easy sucker to manipulate and she’s right as Walter immediately ignores the fact that she’s married to make a move. She reciprocates and lets him know that all Walter needs to do is help her bump off her husband so they can get rich off the insurance. Walter likes the sound of this and the two of them start planning. Can they bump this guy off and get rich without the expert Mr. Keyes finding out about this?

Keyes is the best character here. He’s always been really good at cracking down on criminals who try this kind of scam. Whenever someone submits a fake insurance claim he catches them in the act. It’s all because of the “little guy” who is basically his heart that lets him know when someone’s not being straight with him. Walter figures that he’s worked with Keyes for over 10 years so he can keep him in the dark. It’s a pretty high stakes gamble though but he’s already in it pretty deep and decides to go for the gold anyway.

So right away there’s no doubt about it. Walter’s one of the antagonists just as much as Phyllis. Only difference between them is Walter did it partially for Pyllis as well while she was just in it for the money. Walter tries to make a lot of justifications about it but at the end of the day he’s still pretty petty. His final plan was also pretty risky as Phyllis was one step ahead of him the whole time. He really underestimated her there and wasn’t even being all that subtle about what he was going to do. Closing all the windows and shades….really? He should have already known that Phyllis would be ready since the whole deal is that she’s pretty cunning.

The best parts of the film are definitely the cat and mouse games with Keyes. Keyes is always thinking up plan after plan to try and break down the story. There are quite a few similarities to Death Note here. At times Walter wonders if Keyes is on to him but is holding back to give Walter a chance to confess on his own. It gives you a lot to think about as you’re watching the film because this could really spin a lot of different ways. In terms of extra story beats, the only one I think we didn’t need was Lola’s plot. It makes Phyllis look pretty bad because of how obvious she was being.

So Phyllis was bumping off people left and right while trying on black to test it out? That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re trying to incriminate yourself, not when you’re trying to lie low. Lola ends up being a pretty big piece who could have blown the case wide open at any time. Instead she decides to keep quiet which is very fortunate for Phyllis but not very likely. At this point Phyllis bumped off both of her parents so what’ll it take for Lola to go to the cops? I think cutting her out of the film would have made sense. I suspect she was mainly there to give Walter some second thoughts about the whole thing.

Walter should have had second thoughts the moment he found out he was being the patsy in all of this though. He tries to play it off cool like most Noir characters by saying he didn’t care and all of that. I don’t really buy that for a second to be honest. Deep down he was hoping she really liked him and that was never going to work out. A romance built off of a murder is probably not going to last very long at all. He should have stuck to the content life of insurance selling. The company seemed really good to me to be honest and at least he had good friends. That’s not something he could say for after that. His final attempt was a bit odd but I guess at that point he was desperate.

Overall, Double Indemnity is a very solid film. While the main characters are pretty unlikable, you’ve got Keyes here to hold the whole thing together. Also, at least while Walter is a villain, it’s not like he’s portrayed as someone totally crazy that would hold the film back. He may be corrupt with all his justifications and all but at least he’s still got sound judgment which is needed for these battles of the mind. If you like Noir titles then this is definitely one to add to the books. It’s got a lot of different wrinkles to it and various story developments.

Overall 7/10

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The Lady Vanishes Review


It’s time to look at a very old school thriller mystery. It certainly goes down a few unexpected paths and makes for a pretty enjoyable experience. As with all movies where someone vanishes you do have to suspend a little disbelief with how this would have worked out at all. That said, the movie makes a better attempt to hide this than most do. At least we do have a few characters who saw things and for their own selfish reasons are just pretending that they didn’t. That’s more of a plot point that I can get behind.

The movie starts with some train delays so Iris and a lot of other people are forced to spend the night at a hotel. Iris is with two of her friends so it’s a nice enough stay but their upstairs neighbor is making a lot of noise. Iris complains and the guy (Gilbert) retaliates by breaking into her room and making a mess of things. Iris is pretty happy to leave but on the way to the train she is nearly murdered by a falling rock that was seemingly aimed at an old lady by the name of Ms. Froy. Froy is also taking the train to she gets on with Iris. Unfortunately after Iris takes a nap Froy is gone and everyone claims she was never there. Iris needs to find some proof and fast because this could all be a part of some kind of conspiracy.

Iris and Froy didn’t do a whole lot after they got on the train but enough where you’d expect a good amount of witnesses. They went to the cabin to have some tea and even had a brief polite spat with Charters and Caldicott so I’m sure some people would have noticed this. Again, we do have at least 4 characters who saw them but have motives for not saying. For reasons involving the twist we can’t count everyone in the car so it’s a limited pool. That’s why, while I don’t 100% buy this, the film put in a great effort compared to most. I can definitely respect the hustle there.

Speaking of twists, the film also did good by not letting you know who the true main character was for a while. In Act 1 Charters and Caldicott gets much more screen time than Iris. They’re too comedic characters who just want to know what’s going on with the cricket matches but nobody is able to assist them. It’s definitely not the most popular sport out there although I know a few big fans. As a result you expect these guys to be in the thick of it but when the situation comes to them, surprisingly they lie their way out of it. I was pretty shocked since that seemed primed to be their big moment where they jump in and take center stage. That was a solid flip the script kind of moment if I’ve ever seen one.

As the actual main character, Iris does a pretty good job of holding the movie pretty well. She’s a nice character and definitely a determined one as she doesn’t buy into the deceptions that Froy was never really there. I’m pretty glad about that because I always thought it was rather weak to believe the opposite of what you saw with your own eyes. Let’s bee real about this, if you see something then you shouldn’t be convinced otherwise. That’s one of those things I always have to shake my head at when it happens. Iris was also quick to get with the program when the climax occurs.

Some characters were not quite so lucky with this. When people are actually shooting at you then the time for talking is certainly past. You have to fire back and a few of the characters here were definitely super naive. That said, the climax was definitely a lot of fun. It was pretty high energy throughout and a lot was happening at any given time. The whole conspiracy was a bit bigger than I had suspected. The film was pretty low key for most of its run but I’ll never turn down a sequence of solid action scenes.

The main guy is a bit on the iffy side. Gilbert is pretty petty with breaking into Iris’ room the way that he did. It may have ended up turning out all right but it’s the kind of thing that would definitely not fly over very well if it actually happened. This leads us to a pretty rushed romance plot. Keep in mind that Iris already has a fiance so that’s pretty hard to buy into. She basically dumps him for no real reason. We barely even got to meet the guy which is pretty crazy. They could have just as easily written the film so that he didn’t exist and nothing would change. The romance is definitely not the best here but fortunately that plays a very small role.

I’d consider the writing in the film to generally be pretty solid. It has good pacing throughout and a nice set of characters. The film plays itself out a bit as an ensemble kind of movie with each character having his own plot and story to get back to. They all end up mixing together by the end of the experience so all of the characters feel pretty real. The movie doesn’t drag on and actually manages to capture quite a lot of story within the runtime. Mix that together with the explosive climax and you’ve got yourself a very satisfying ending.

Overall, The Lady Vanishes is a pretty solid movie. I’d definitely recommend it as this is a mystery film which has aged really well over the years.Some of the twists are still a bit unexpected which goes into how smooth the execution is. Gilbert does have a terrible final scene though as he ends up slipping on the most important assignment he was given. It’s one of those things that you just don’t do. You’ve got to at least make sure you get that right. Fortunately the real hero was ready to help as things could have gone badly otherwise.

Overall 7/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Million Dollar Baby Review


It’s time for a film about boxing. There have been quite a few good ones over the years like Rocky and Creed. Those did a good job of delivering some pretty hype fights with epic storylines. Both of them will not be forgotten anytime soon. This one started out like it was going to be another one of the greats. Unfortunately it flew off the rails towards the end and ruined any potential it might have had. The first 2/3 of the film is quite good but the final part definitely destroys the film. That’s why they say a good ending is important. You can start off quite amazingly but if you trip over the end that’s what you will be remembered for.

The movie starts with Frankie winning more fights as the manager of a top ranked fighter Willy. Unfortunately his boxer eventually leaves him because Frankie never let him compete in the title matches. Frankie is now without a boxer. Meanwhile a girl named Maggie has started showing up as the gym and is determined to make Frankie her manager. He’s quite reluctant as he’s never coached a girl before and doesn’t want to start now. Still, she gradually weakens him and he starts to warm up to the idea. Still, a part of him is worried that this is a bad idea and he doesn’t want to have any more regrets.

There aren’t many big characters in this film but they all had to deal with a lot of issues throughout the film. Frankie has his own reasons for why he never lets his boxers attempt the big fight. His instincts are usually pretty good and it’s something that can come back to bite you. At the same time, it seems like this isn’t quite the right profession for him then. In boxing people are always going to get hurt so if you’re not prepared for that then you’re going to be in for a rough time. Frankie definitely plays the role of the angry coach who’s always got something stern to say. Deep down he’s a nice guy but it’s hard to get to that level. He makes for a good character though and a solid lead focus.

Then you’ve got his friend Eddie who does a lot of the work around the gym. He’s a lot quicker to give advice. Usually the other characters aren’t quite ready to hear what he has to say but he does his best. He has one especially good scene where he takes on one of the newer characters. He does pretty well and shows that he can still fight. He’s easily the nicest character in the film and I’d say that he steals the show. We all need an ally like Eddie. Someone who will have your back through the tough times no matter what.

Finally you have Maggie who really wants to be the world’s best boxer. She’s had a pretty tough life so far as her family turned out to be pretty toxic after her father died and she doesn’t really have anyone to support her. It’s been tough to make ends meet and boxing may be her only shot at a new life. She’s quite determined and that allows her to climb the ranks quite fast. Her technique is quite solid and she showed that she could hang with the best. Maggie takes all of the situations quite well and has some true grit.

While the film is focusing on the boxing it can be quite good. You really get to see proper footwork during the battles as well as the training you have to go through in order to get to the top. The characters are pretty solid and the pacing is good. The film would have been really solid if it had just ended with a slightly different outcome to the final fight or just cutting off at that point. Continuing further was ultimately a mistake.

I can’t really go much further into the ending because of course it’s a huge spoiler to the rest of the film. Needless to say, the movie decides to go for a lot of grit and dark themes towards the end. It suddenly stops being about boxing and becomes more of a tragedy drama where things continue to get worse and worse. The film doesn’t really leave any hope left and you’re just waiting for it to end at this point. The final act drags on for quite a long time. The film also randomly adds a backstory involving a dog dying and someone who was disabled getting beat up. It’s like the film suddenly changed gears and decided it wanted to be as mean spirited as possible.

Even the plot about Maggie’s family doesn’t feel truly necessary. I think the references from early on would have sufficed there rather than getting them involved. Even threatening Frankie at the hospital was a rather odd scene. I’m assuming after that Maggie told Frankie to leave for his own safety or at least I hope that was the case since it would seem out of character otherwise. Really what it boils down to is that the final act of the movie just wasn’t any fun at all. It crossed the line of getting a little too grim dark in what otherwise would have been a pretty solid adventure.

Overall, The Million Dollar Baby is a film that could not keep up its momentum. It built up a pretty solid plot with some good fight scenes and ultimately threw it all away for shock value. I’d definitely recommend watching something like Rocky or Creed instead. Those films manage to finish the ride and deliver with great endings to each of the installments. A good ending applies to just about every kind of game, sport, or entertainment. Finishing is the true skill you need to have in order to make it to the next level. Hopefully if this film was to ever get a remake or a sequel someday it would do a better job of finishing the fight. Until then this will definitely be known as the weakest boxing film I’ve seen.

Overall 3/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Hunt for Red October Review


I remember seeing this film a very long time ago. It’s a pretty fun thriller featuring the classic match up of USA vs Russia. It makes for a pretty solid film and definitely an exciting one from start to finish. There’s a good amount of action here and the writing is solid. I’m also always up for thrillers revolving around the government. I like to see the tech in action and the more “Professional” approach rather than the main characters fumbling around. This is a movie that you should definitely check out as everything about it has aged quite well.

The film starts off by introducing us to Captain Ramius. He commands the Red October, a powerful Russian sub that is armed to the teeth with nukes. What makes it particularly dangerous is the fact that it is nearly impossible to detect by normal means. The new camouflage tech allows it to appear anywhere without warning. Ramius murders the Russian soldier in charge of watching over him. He has gone rogue and is approaching the United States. What are his intentions? The Russians aim to destroy him before he can do anything crazy. Meanwhile Jack figures that Ramius is trying to defect to the U.S. but it is a pretty dangerous gamble. If he’s wrong, then it could very well be the end of the country in an instant. There would be nothing they could do at that point since the enemy would be too close.

As you can probably guess there is quite a lot of strategy going into all of this. The heroes have to consider a lot of different angles here. They’re definitely reluctant to believe in the defecting angle and you can’t really blame them. It is a really risky endeavor and as much as Jack says he met Ramius once that doesn’t really mean anything. You can’t possibly grow to understand someone upon meeting them once. Everyone has many faces that they use in society and the man that Jack met was simply one face. His true intentions would still be a complete mystery.

While Jack’s approach may be a bit naive, he is certainly a qualified agent who came up with a solid theory he could back. Jack did a lot of work in finding out about this from the start. He may not be a big fighter, but he does whatever he needs to in order to claim victory. He’s a solid lead even if he’s not particularly exceptional. Not standing out probably helps in espionage anyway. Ramius is the main villain here and makes for a good counter. He’s clearly quite experienced in commanding a fleet and knows tactics well. Even when the rest of the crew are panicking Ramius always keeps his cool. He’s not the kind of guy to panic at every little thing the way that the rest do. He’s quite interesting.

Part of the film’s strength is in how smooth the writing is. It’s very good and keeps you interested throughout. There are a lot of moving pieces here and despite both countries being quite hostile with each other they have to keep up a pretense of kinship among them. That leads to a lot of layered conversations. In particular I liked the U.S. Embassy representative as he did a good job of keeping up the pretense while delivering some passive aggressive statements. He did a good job of not giving up any ground or giving up intel.

Aside from Jack’s deduction we also had another U.S. sub in the area which looked good. One of the workers there was able to accurately find a way of locating the Russian sub which was impressive. If Jack had not shown up at least that means the U.S. would have been able to take out the Russian sub before it made it to America. Of course there would have been quite a great deal more casualties if that had occurred so it wouldn’t have been the ideal outcome. I’m just glad the whole thing didn’t hinge on him stepping in. Either way America would not have gone down without a fight.

The final fight does come out of nowhere a bit but I was glad that the film wanted to give us a quick action scene. I’m always up for some action so this was a pretty good way to close out the film. It may not have been a very long fight but it was a way to give Jack a quick moment to shine and also delivers on making things pretty exciting. The film really made no mistakes and had a very solid opening act, middle, and climax.

Overall, The Hunt for Red October is definitely a really solid thriller. I’m always up for films about the tensions between U.S. and Russia. It makes for pretty intense story lines and I can definitely go for more thrillers about subs. I’m not a big fan of the water in general as a backdrop, but being underneath the water is a very different matter. It reminds me of the classic Battleship type game. There are only so many options you can use while in a sub so the thriller parts aren’t so much about the fights as the setups to them. You need to have good writing for that and this film certainly delivers. It’s a long film but one that doesn’t drag on.

Overall 7/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Ace in the Hole Review


It’s time to look at a film about how trying to get a story at the expense of a life may end up ruining things for everyone. I mean it’s a pretty clear message but it seemed to be a surprise to Chuck who suddenly starts regretting this a bit. It’s hard to rummage up any sympathy points for Chuck because the whole thing is completely his fault. It’s not like it’s only partially his fault or he didn’t know any better. He knew exactly what he was doing the entire time and this results in a rather unfortunate ending. It’s an interesting film but not one I would check out again.

The movie starts out with Chuck heading to another newspaper. He was fired yet again and is now known for being fired from the most papers. He’s been creative with how badly he’s failed though as he has been fired for being drunk, stealing someone’s wife, making up stories, etc. Well this next paper decides to hire him anyway since they’re nice like that. His first big assignment outside is going to be about a snake fight. Chuck doesn’t really care about this though and is glad to get sidetracked by a local tragedy. Leo has been trapped underground after wandering inside a cavern despite being told it was dangerous. Chuck realizes this is his big break. If he can stop anyone from saving Leo he can really exploit this event for big money. That’s exactly what he intends to do, but every day he stretches this out, Leo’s chances of recovery continue to dwindle.

The film definitely gives Chuck a whole lot of power here. Everyone listens to him unquestionably and he gets the upper hand on everyone. Even the guys called in to rescue Leo end up listening to Chuck and using the wrong method of recovery. Chuck does have a lot of confidence and tends to barrel right through everyone so I suppose the others didn’t want to mess with him. Part of why the plot works is because you have just enough powerful people in the wrong places. The Sheriff is corrupt and Leo’s wife actually likes Chuck and wants Leo dead anyway. Leo has really just got the worst luck here which is definitely pretty unfortunate for him. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I still find it a bit iffy that nobody pursued this further to try and free him before now. Just waiting on Chuck to do everything was pretty iffy. Unfortunately the only one who cared about Leo was his father who was quite old and wasn’t able to help much here.

This film’s main weakpoint is definitely the romance part. Leo’s wife liking Chuck feels like an extra plot point we don’t need. For the most part he shuts her down as he makes it clear that the story is the most important factor in his life, even more than romance for him. Chuck’s certainly dedicated. It’s particularly tragic for Leo since he doesn’t know any of this and thinks that his wife is readily awaiting his return. As the film goes on he never becomes wise to this and in a way I guess that would have been an extra blow. It makes Chuck look particularly bad with how he’s manipulating the guy though. Chuck’s clearly the villain here so definitely don’t get that sideways.

The writing is pretty solid though. There’s a lot of solid back and forth between all of the characters. Plans are made and every character’s got an angle. Chuck’s got everything sewn up so tight even the big papers start to beg him to return. He’s really got everything at this point which is really impressive in itself. The movie’s pacing is also pretty good. The opening may seem a little slow if you want to get to the main plot but I thought it did a pretty good job of setting Chuck up. He’s pretty straightforward on the fact that he’ll do anything for a story. He even convinces the youngest member of the group to go with him, thereby dooming both of them.

The ending’s definitely a downer though. I’d have preferred a different ending where Chuck still gets exposed but things go a bit better for Leo. The way his plot ends is particularly tragic since he thought right up til the end that he had a shot. He had absolutely no idea what was going on right outside. He was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film never gives us a great explanation on why he was defying orders and going into caverns he wasn’t supposed to be in though. His confidence ultimately ended up costing him big time.

Overall, Ace in the Hole shows that while having 1 ace is good, two is better. Chuck ultimately needed a good backup plan and then maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so badly for him. He ultimately didn’t think things through well enough at all and it cost him when it counted. I was glad that the smaller newspaper actually tried to get involved at the end when the boss showed up and questioned how Chuck had fallen so low. To an extent this is on him for letting Chuck join but at the same time he couldn’t have known what was going on. All things considered I think he did a good job and he was an upstanding guy. The problem is that not everyone is in the biz for the right reasons and that ultimately ended up hurting them all.

Overall 4/10