Swamp Thing Review

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It’s time to look at an old school DC film. This movie doesn’t really feel like your average comic book film and could easily be mistaken for just being another horror film. That would probably be the best outcome for all parties involved since I doubt anyone wants to take credit for this movie. It just isn’t good and does so many things wrong that you’ll end up wondering what the film was thinking. The characters aren’t very smart and so it’s hard to root for anyone.

The film starts off with the main character, Alice heading over to the Swamp. She is here to fix some sensors, but the broken sensors were sabotaged by terrorists so she isn’t allowed to go near them. Since she has nothing else to do she hangs around the pair of scientists who are trying to make some breakthroughs and insults them the whole time. The main guy is married, but seems to forget this all the time so all scenes with him are cringe worthy. That’s when the villains come in and murder the two scientists in the hopes of getting their research. Alice managed to snatch one book though so their collection won’t be complete. The villains don’t like that and decide to give chase, but they have one more obstacle to try and get past, The Swamp Thing!

The film doesn’t exactly hide the Swamp Thing’s identity, but I won’t allude to it in case you need that reveal. Needless to say, The Swamp Thing is here to help. “This is My Swamp!” should have been his opening line but he’s a creature of action as opposed to words. As the film goes on he does start to get a little more chatty though so I guess that’s a good thing? Unfortunately, he isn’t quite as intimidating as the average creature. In most of these horror films you see the monsters just destroying everybody until they die in the end. Since the Swamp Thing is a heroic creature, he doesn’t get the same treatment. He gets captured and beaten by the crooks. He doesn’t do a good job of taking the villains out of the equation so they always pop right back up to give him some more grief. He isn’t opposed to murder as we see him do it several times, he is always in just too much of a hurry to get away. He’s just not a very likable character. His abilities also don’t seem all that impressive in this film. He was nerfed all the way into the ground.

Alice isn’t a bad main character although she can also be a little iffy at times. For the positives, she is a fighter. Alice does put up a struggle whenever she appears and even lands in some good hits. On the other hand, she is rather slow on the uptake. Even when seeing the Swamp Thing mowing down her opponents she keeps telling him to back off. She’s certainly safer with him than without. She also has an unfortunate tendency to trip over just about everything. She probably hit the ground at least ten times. Cmon Alice, you can do better than that!

Then I have to quickly rewind to the beginning of the film to explain why the normal joe characters always fall below expectations. So you have a guy running through the swamp when a few guys with guns walk up to him. He quickly lets them disarm him and then runs. What’s the point? They’ll just shoot him down. He’s dead either way so he may as well have held on to his gun and taken one of them down with him. This is preferable for many reasons. One of which is that by firing right away you at least have the slimmest of chances to survive. Second, at least they’ll be forced to gun you down right there which is a far less painful death than the alternative. Third, you get to die with some dignity. Trying to run away in a swamp when you’re outnumbered like that won’t work. Even if it was just one guy he could shoot you once your back was turned. These hostage situations always drive me batty.

This film is a little on the violent side with people getting snapped and crunched. The main villain’s transformation scene was also shown to be as grotesque and violent as possible which is a little on the rare side for transformations. Usually you expect those to at least be a little pleasant right? The violence isn’t extremely over the top but certainly is high enough that it’s noticeable. There isn’t really animal violence if you look at the film casually, but it’s there when you drill into the specifics. The unlikable main characters were running experiments on the animals which is a no go. These animals don’t care about the science so why should they have to be used like this? The animal certainly didn’t look like it was having fun being all wet like that.

Swamp Thing also goes out of its way to make the villains unlikable. A good villain should command respect but also be fun to root for/against. None of that is here with these villains. At the most the main villain isn’t bad. He’s one of those random rich guys who wants to see the world burn. The main villain is really one of his subordinates though who chases Alice around quite a lot. Naturally he is shown to be rather depraved and of course he couldn’t just be a professional trying to earn a paycheck. I get that guys like him will typically end up being the villains since it makes sense, but it doesn’t make any of his scenes work any better.

The best character in the film is definitely the kid who owned the gas station. He was on point and could sniff out danger a mile away. It’s a shame that his gun was defective but there’s no way he could have known that. Even though he was just a kid he did a lot of work and helped get Alice to a safe place. He brought the film a level of charm and wonder that it didn’t have previously. Not enough to save the film or anything like that, but it was still neat.

Overall, Swamp Thing is definitely not a film that I would recommend. The characters aren’t all that smart and Swamp Thing himself looks quite weak. I’m glad he kept in his healing powers, but being able to fight a little more would have been great too. The film drags on a bit and the only good character got a really small amount of screen time. This is definitely one of those movies that you should skip and I’d advise you to check out some of the classic Godzilla films instead if you want to see how a creature should be portrayed. I can guarantee you that at the very least he wouldn’t go down easy like the Swamp Thing.

Overall 3/10

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Phone Call from a Stranger Review

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It’s time to look at an old film that you may or may not be familiar with. It’s a story with the highest of stakes and the most personal of characters. A fun movie all around even if the mistakes that some of the characters make are too big to be easily overlooked. It’s got a good message at the end though and you’ve always got to hope for the best.

The film starts off with the main character running away from home because his wife cheated on him. She says that it was just a moment of weakness but Trask can’t live with that and takes a train far away. As he heads to the plane he runs into a few other characters dealing with their own hardships. They may be a bit loud or overzealous at times but they make the trip go smoother. That’s when the plane crash occurs and now it’s up to David to finalize everyone’s situations so they can move on. However, will the families want to hear anything that a stranger has to say?

The film is pretty long which is what helps it put in the first half purely so we can learn about the other characters. They’ve all got their own journeys and such going on which the main character learns gradually. You may not even suspect the second half’s plot if you didn’t know it beforehand. It’s a rather drastic change in the direction of the film but the fact that it happens so quickly is what helps it succeed. It’s a little tough to have things occur unexpectedly nowadays but this film pulled it off.

The writing is pretty solid as you would expect. The characters all sound reasonable and that’s part of how the film was able to be as engaging as it was. The pacing is also good so the film doesn’t drag on. The long length was definitely a good thing in this case since it allowed the movie to give us a few scenes with each of the characters before the second act. Had the film been shorter like most old movies, then they would have had to axe most of the first half.

For the characters, it’ll really depend on which ones you sympathize with. I certainly couldn’t root for the doctor as drunk or not, he went way too far off the deep end. Especially if it was a recurring issue with him then he should have not even let himself near a drink. His issue also affected a lot of other people besides himself so even after he apologized it was a little iffy. Better late than never though and at least he did regret it. His son definitely didn’t take any of it well though and was the biggest ingrate in the film.

Then we have the aspiring actress who was good at reading people. Her story was probably the most entertaining despite being tragic as her husband’s mother kept trying to sabotage her at every corner. We even get a flashback from the mother’s point of view where we see a twisted version of the past. I did like the heroic outfit she had on and the over the top theatrics of the scene are part of why it was so fun. If you’re going to show us a make believe story you may as well make it completely crazy to ensure that it’s super amusing. In this case, the husband has to be blamed for most of it since he comes across as incredibly gullible. He just looks so bad here and in the end the mother basically won. She may have been the antagonist with malicious intent, but the husband is still the worse character.

In the final plot we had the flirt who was always laughing. Some of those laughs felt so sudden that you could swear that the channel added them but I don’t suspect that TCM would do such a thing. They’re usually on the up and up to be honest. This guy always jokes around but apparently he is a devoted husband otherwise. Definitely not the best of tropes and I can’t say that I ever liked him. Then we have the wife who was cheating on him until the rebound guy ran away. It’s hard to sympathize with anyone here so it makes sense that their plot was left for last and seemed to be the shortest. If the guy hadn’t ducked out on her then the wife wouldn’t have even gone back to the guy. The guy still flirts behind her back as well so it just seems pretty bad for both parties involved.

As the film ends you’ll keep on waiting for a twist involving the 2 survivors, but it never comes up. I suppose in a way that in itself is a twist. After all, what are the odds that the other two survivors would be anyone important? Technically it makes sense that they would have nothing to do with the movie. I suppose it would have been nice to have seen them, but it certainly wasn’t of any real consequence. It’s not something that will likely hurt your enjoyment of the film at any rate. Only the flip side can possibly do that as some of the characters who die could have been more likable than the ones who lived in which case you, the viewer may not take it as well.

Overall, This was definitely an interesting movie. It had a lot of twists and turns within it. I definitely don’t think I’d be thrilled to have a random stranger show up to give some last words but it’s still a thoughtful gesture regardless. I’d recommend checking this film out. As long as you enjoy a good story I think you’ll like this movie. There aren’t any big explosions or danger in general, but it does a good job of being a drama film without having to rely on anything extra. It’s all about the dialogue and the film does a good job of selling itself.

Overall 7/10

Space Amoeba Review

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It’s time to look at an old Kaiju film that not too many people know about. However, once you see the title you know that this is a film to check out. The monsters are huge which is really what you are looking for at the end of the day. It’s a pretty fun film that may start to lose a little steam as it goes on but manages to be a solid product through and through. Naturally you will be rooting for the monsters of course.

The film starts off with a reporter being mocked for claiming that our satellites aren’t making it into space and are being shot down. He is determined to prove that he isn’t wrong and is given the chance when a lady shows up and asks him to take photos of an island where she is building a resort. His pride won’t let him do such a thing at first but then another guy shows up and explains that giant monsters may have been seen in the area. The lead quickly realizes that it is all linked and jumps into action. Is he in over his head?

One thing you will enjoy right away is the writing for this film. It’s one of those old school scripts where the characters are all having a lot of run right off the bat. Sure, maybe they should be taking this whole thing a little more seriously to be honest, but at the end of the day you have to appreciate the fact that they can still make one liners. The voice acting is on point and the characters are reasonably likable. Kudo may have a little too much pride as he initially doesn’t want to take pictures of landscapes even when paid, but I guess that’s just not his thing. He is quick to jump into action when necessary on the island. We also have the corporate spy who comes in to try and get rich, but things don’t go too well for him. From that point on you already knew he was doomed though. We also have the main heroine who tries to help one of the heroes get away from the mind control that he is under with her yells. I suppose it is fairly effective. You’ve also got the tour guides but some of the locals do tend to panic when the Kaiju come knocking. Never a good move since these monsters are as fast as they are large.

So as you can see I definitely had no problem with the characters. It was a fun enough bunch even if none of them are all that memorable. Now we get to the Kaiju. They were all pretty solid. The best one would probably be the main one. That squid packed a punch and was even able to move on land. I definitely was glad to see him pop up and his scenes were certainly the closest to something out of a Godzilla movie. Then we have the big turtle that was neat. While the ability to stretch out your head isn’t very useful or practical, it was visually interesting so I’ll give it some props there. The monsters were definitely fun so this title earned its creature feature status.

As I mentioned, the film does slow down a bit during the second half though. That’s because the humans start to take up a bit more of a focus at that point so the monsters are secondary. I can tell you now that this is never a good idea since we are all here for the Kaiju of course. The humans are just the added bonus. It never gets boring or anything like that though. I also think the monsters should have maybe been a bit stronger as well since one of them was getting absolutely wrecked by the humans and their guns. If you’re not bullet proof but are huge like these monsters then you’re just going to end up being an easy target.

I do think Kudo’s boss will likely go down as one of the more underrated characters among the Kaiju community though. I like how he doubted Kudo from the start and never changed his mind from that. After all, why should he? When you think about it, Kudo’s story doesn’t make any sense so sending him off on a wild goose chase makes a lot of sense. He’s a one shot character but is a perfect example of this film’s humor that meshes well with the story.

Overall, Space Amoeba is a solid film. It’s definitely a retro Kaiju movie that is worth checking out and you will never look at the giant monsters the same way again. Don’t worry, we’ve also got aliens in the mix which really helps as well since those guys should always be included in such an adventure. Kaiju and Aliens go hand in hand after all. It would be cool to see these monsters go up against Godzilla one day although they would probably be destroyed very quickly. The Amoeba may not be one of the strongest fighters out there, but he’s a fun one.

Overall 7/10

A.I. Artificial Intelligence Review

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It’s time to look at a rather unique Sci-Fi film that balances a bunch of genres, but mainly focuses on the drama aspect. Unfortunately it suffers from being an overly long, melodramatic film that makes quite a few mistakes. It doesn’t make for a particularly engaging watch and the whole time you will just be wondering where Skynet is. When you watch films with humans worrying about the robots becoming a threat, you look forward to seeing the robots take over. Instead the film is mainly just the humans picking on the robots for a long while with no real payoff of any kind.

The film starts with a couple deciding to adopt a robot kid in place of their real son who is in a coma. This definitely didn’t seem like a reasonable move right from the start. At first you think that this might make sense because you presume their son is dead. (Still a terrible decision as the wife even mentions that it’s like trying to replace their original kid since they bought a robot that looks exactly like the son) but when you find out that he’s alive then the whole thing gets real messy. The worst part is that the husband is the one who decided to get him and once the son gets back he immediately turns on the robot. Breeding robotic kids already seems like a super sketchy business to be honest. Well, the family abandons David so he goes on a journey to find out how to return home, but it could be difficult.

In this world robots aren’t able to fight back against their human oppressors so the humans use this as an excuse to beat them up as much as possible. The robots hopefully can’t really feel pain, but it’s still pretty dark and gruesome to be honest, much like the rest of the film. The whole film just comes across as rather disturbing and very dreary. There is never really a moment where the film feels hopeful or even fun. It’s just a very dull experience where the characters are stuck in a dystopia that they can’t hope to escape. You’ll definitely feel bad for David, but the problem is that he isn’t even an enjoyable character.

David may be an A.I. but he still isn’t very smart. Since he was programmed to be a kid that may serve as an explanation for this, but he doesn’t even know his robotic limitations. He He attempts to eat food when dared to which causes him to shut down and then he doesn’t even know common sense. He shouldn’t even be able to lift a pair of scissors since you’d think that it would register as a weapon and his self defense mechanism doesn’t seem very great to be honest. He also comes across as very ungrateful at the end of the film as he is mean to the beings who find him and is always sulky. Kids can’t really hold their own film and I suppose this still applies even when the kid is robotic.

David meets up with another robot who helps him learn the ways of the world, but that guy isn’t great. His character gimmick is that he is a robot who provides pleasure for the Earthlings, but that doesn’t work out well either. Naturally some other humans don’t like this so they frame him for murder and send him to the robot circus where they are all blown up. David doesn’t even feel bad about ditching this guy which tells you all that you need to know about him. There are no good characters in this film, that’s something you’ll learn very quickly. If you count inanimate objects, which you probably should because once you go into robotics the distinction starts to get a little tricky, then the Teddy Bear is reasonable. He’s another rather dark character with a morbid sense of humor but at least he won’t be backstabbing anyone like the other characters. He seems like a really random character at the start, but by the end he fits in well enough.

The end of the film gets really crazy. I won’t go into detail, but the jump does take us 20K years in the future to see how the Earth ultimately turned out. It’s definitely the optimal timeline if you ask me even if it does seem like the inhabitants probably aren’t having too much fun at this point. I guess you can’t win em all right? At least there shouldn’t be much crime at all anymore. It’s not a great ending or anything, but I guess I can appreciate how out there it all is. Throw in some big fight scenes and maybe the film could have been saved.

At the end of the day, this movie could have been better if it wasn’t so disturbing and creepy the whole time. If you’re going to do a story about Androids and what it means to be human, you need to do it in a better way. I don’t think it works very well if the main android is a kid because then it isn’t able to really handle the themes properly. It just doesn’t work at all and the alternative is to have a film like Terminator where the robots decide to take over the world. Having a twist like that during the second half of the film would have been absolutely amazing. A shame that it didn’t go that way right?

Overall, I would not recommend A.I. While it is a step up from complete flops like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it reminds you why the Sci-Fi genre is best when it doesn’t try to hard to be super deep and emotional. Mixing those two genres just doesn’t work very well so you need to focus on the action aspect or just being a light hearted adventure in the future. Emotional films like this one would likely fail either way, with or without the Sci-Fi angle though. If you want to see a film that just tries to be a Debbie Downer at all times then by all means go for it. Otherwise, I’d suggest just watching Terminator Genysis instead and reminding yourself why these robots can be dangerous and will eventually wipe out humanity.

Overall 1/10

Two on a Guillotine Review

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It’s time to look at another old film from back in the day. This one is probably one of the oldest haunted house type films that I’ve seen not counting some comedies like the Abbot and Costello films. (If those were older) It’s not a particularly good one though as the film makes a few mistakes and I can’t say that Val makes for a very good main hero. He trolls Cassie quite a lot to the point where you sympathize with her a whole lot more than you do him. Val may have turned out to be a good guy, but from her point of view there’s no reason to trust him. Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself a little so lets talk about the plot.

A magician known as John used to be quite popular until one of his tricks went wrong and his wife ended up dying. John went crazy with grief and died as well. After everyone attended his burial and saw his body close up, his will was read and Cassie got his riches. The only condition was she had to stay in his manor for 7 days in a row without leaving. In his will he promised that his ghost would show up to meet her. Reporter Val decides to get the inside scoop and pretends to be a random guy looking to be friendly so Cassie will let him in. The two hit it off and now Val just needs to figure out what John’s trick is. After all, he doesn’t believe in ghosts!

The house does have a lot of tricks and such that keep on scaring Cassie out of her mind. Honestly she is way too jumpy all things considered. If she was by herself then I could understand that, but with Val she shouldn’t be so exaggerated the whole time. When you’re with someone you’re never quite as scared as when you’re by yourself. Val isn’t the most understanding guy either so he keeps trying to scare her as well. You’d think that since he wants to stay as her guest he would be a bit more tactful but that isn’t the case at all. Honestly during the entire film he just doesn’t act the way you would expect him to. I guess that’s because in part during this experience he started to grow attached to her and stopped being a reporter which caused his brain to melt. Only possible explanation I guess.

In case you haven’t guessed this I was not a big fan of Val at all. He was just really annoying the whole time. As I mentioned he kept on trolling Cassie for no real reason. Even at the end once he comes in to try and help her fight off the magician he fails quite epicly. Not only should he absolutely be winning this fight, but he should be well aware of where the switch for triggering the axe is. He literally triggers it himself which by all accounts should have destroyed Cassie. Fortunately she lived, but he came too close to destroying her himself and as far as I’m concerned she should tell him to pack his bags at that point.

Cassie isn’t all that good either though. As I mentioned she gets scared way too easily. Furthermore, I think she is way too easy on Val. Even after she finds out he has been lying to her she quickly takes him back since Cassie gets scared again. I suppose using him for that purpose is fine, but afterwards she should quickly distance herself again. Val just doesn’t seem like a great guy. Cassie also doesn’t put up any kind of struggle at the end of the film and just faints again so that didn’t help her either. The house maid had more grit and she was only around for 2-3 minutes. Dolly is one of the red herrings in the film who Val is suspicious of, but ultimately doesn’t do much in the film. She does try to hold Val back when the villain shows up so at least she is good for aiding the villain. Of course the characters don’t acknowledge that since they aren’t brave enough and Val should have just shoved her aside if he was really trying to protect Cassie.

All right, it’s spoiler time folks. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know the ending. It involves the main villain. It’s a big plot hole that I can’t overlook since the film couldn’t be bothered to address it. As I mentioned earlier, the magician had a very public funeral where everyone saw the body. In that case, how can he have avoided his fate? At the end of the film we learn that he was alive the whole time and merely faked his death. He was living upstairs the whole time and must have brought a lot of snacks with him. I’m cool with him being able to hide for a few days because the mansion is big and he just locked the door he was in. The problem is that someone had to have noticed that the body was fake. This isn’t a CIA film where the villains have access to a bunch of duplicate bodies and this magician is hardly a criminal mastermind. I just don’t believe that he had another body at the ready to fool everyone. At best he murdered someone else, but then why didn’t the town know that someone was missing? The whole thing was just rather unbelievable and the writers clearly just wanted the twist without thinking about it too much.

Overall, I can’t say that this film was all that good. It’s not a terrible film or anything, but at the same time there isn’t much to keep you engaged either. As I mentioned it is very by the books without anything particularly strong to make it stand out. It’s just another film that will fade in your memory eventually. It probably would have gone a little better had the cast been better. At least I can say that the writing wasn’t bad. I mean, the twist was bad and that is a part of the writing, but the script was solid. I also liked the reporter’s friend who quickly showed up just to spoil his cover. The guy was so oblivious that he stole the movie in one scene.

Overall 4/10

The Deadly Bees Review

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It’s time to look at one of those films. I’m talking about the kind of film that will make you cringe and wonder what the point of all this is. It’s tough from the start to make a horror film about Bees since the writers will wonder how to make them a threat without using any animal violence or destroying a bunch of bees in the process. So what did the film do? It opted to go with both options and as a result this is one film that has not aged well. Of course, that implies that the film was ever good which would be a mistake.

The film starts with a famous actress having a bit of a melt down. She’s been under a lot of stress so her doctor recommends that she go live in the country for a while. He gets his old friend Ralph to take care of Vicki. At first she is content, but gradually notices that everyone is acting rather oddly. Ralph is a bee keeper so there are always bees around but they’ve started murdering people lately. Ralph’s neighbor Manfred lets Vicki know that Ralph is crazy. Apparently he just wants to murder everyone with his bees. Vicki decides to help Manfred find proof of this before she goes back home where it’s safe. She also decides not to question the fact that Manfred also has a bunch of bees. Who is guilty and will Vicki be able to live through this experience?

This is the kind of film where you can’t trust anyone because they all act suspiciously in one way or another. In Ralph’s case, he’s always rather rude to everyone. He tells Vicki to stop snooping around the Bees but doesn’t give her any reason. He quarrels with his wife constantly and doesn’t give you any reason to trust him. Then you have Manfred who is extremely shady and doesn’t get along with Ralph. He throws around a lot of accusations but only does so when Ralph isn’t around so the guy doesn’t come across as the bravest individual around. Perhaps he is just jealous of the other guy’s bee skills. Then you have Vicki who feels rather naive the whole time. She just believes whatever she is told and is convinced into doing the most dangerous tasks. She should have immediately tried leaving the island and letting the cops try to get to the bottom of this. Even though things work out pretty well for her, it felt more coincidental than anything else.

As mentioned earlier, there is some animal violence here which dooms the film. Ralph naturally has a dog and this doesn’t end well as the dog decides to go after the bees. Lets face it, the only reason why the dog was added in the first place was so we could get this scene which is rather mean spirited. The Dog just shouldn’t have been included in the film at all. We also have a lot of Bees dying which is certainly less emotional but it all ends up hurting in the end. Nobody wants to die on account of bee stings, it’s a rather brutal way to go out. As a result, each death just comes across as more painful and needless than it ought to have been. It’s a disadvantage of being a film about Bees so the instant you choose that as the film’s focus you have already dug a little hole for yourself.

I won’t say which person is actually the evil one, but I will say that it doesn’t matter for this next criticism. The innocent party knew that the other one was guilty so why did he not do anything about it? As a result multiple people die including Ralph’s wife, the Dog, and even the neighbor down the road who came over to help. Yeah, the girl seemed to be trying to get the title of mistress and seemed shady, but she still didn’t need to get such a violent end. The innocent guy decides to just copy the villain and starts breeding murderous bees of his own. Of course the villain finds out about that and decides to shut him up. The plan felt like it wasn’t thought out very well. Of course the police wouldn’t have believed him either way, but he should have just tried to burn down the neighbor’s bees when he had the chance. Both men live right next to each other so it should be a very easy feat. The innocent party just stayed very passive the whole time and would have certainly been bumped off at some point or another.

It’s too bad we didn’t see more of the Agent in this film. He seemed like he would have made for a more enjoyable character than any of the others. I like how he was only worried about the island because it meant that he wouldn’t be getting any more money from the actress for a little while. It may not be the most noble reason, but the guy was very straight forward and you have to admire his earnest nature if nothing else. A film taking place back in Hollywood with the rest of the cast scrambling for opportunities while the actress was gone would have also just been more entertaining than what we got.

Overall, Deadly Bees is definitely not a film that I would recommend very highly. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it at all and you should actively avoid it. There is nothing redeeming about the film. Bees don’t make for good antagonists and the film takes all of the bad routes that it can. There isn’t a single scene that feels inspired or well shot to the point where you would get a look of amazement. It just does everything by the book and does so in a way that will make you shake your head. Needless to say, this doesn’t bode well for any future Bee films either. Maybe what we need is a film about robot bees instead, that could work.

Overall 0/10

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Review

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It’s time to look at an old school musical from Dr. Seuss. This film is definitely very strange and outlandish as you would expect from the famous writer. As always he does a good job of making a world so utterly bonkers yet with some sort of rhyme and reason behind it. It’s a fairly fun film with a lot of ideas, but one that does drag on a little more than it should have. Trim the length a bit and you would have a real winner here. Alas, the score does take a minor hit as a result, but this is still a film that I could easily recommend.

The film starts off with Bart having a dream where a bunch of people are running around. They have so many chances to catch Bart that you start to wonder if he’s misread the situation. Nonetheless, Bart continues to run and tumble until he is shaken awake by the best character in the film, Terwilliker. Terwilliker reminds Bart that he has to become a famous pianist and quickly. Bart tries to deflect the issue by learning a different instrument but Terwilliker reminds him that the Piano is the only good one. After he leaves Heloise, Bart’s mother reminds the kid that he should try harder. Bart’s response is to fall back asleep which triggers the dream that takes up the rest of the movie. If you were engaged with the real world plot, then you’ll be disappointed to know that it doesn’t show up again until the final minutes.

In the dream world Bart has been taken prisoner by Terwilliker who now rules the world. The villain intends to use the world’s greatest piano to get rich and famous. He has also mind controlled Bart’s mother with his telepathic abilities. Bart decides to put an end to this so he runs over to the local plumber, August. August is skeptical about the whole thing since the villain bought him some pickle wine. Can Bart convince this guy in time to save his mother? They’ll have to get past Terwilliker’s incredibly powerful army of villains so this will be no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination.

As expected I wasn’t a big fan of Bart. I won’t say that he is a bad character or anything, but at the end of the day he is just a kid so there is only so much that he can do. He tends to get shocked at just about everything and doesn’t react all that well. He could have been a lot worse I suppose, but he can’t hold his own movie. Unfortunately his mother doesn’t look much better as she spends the bulk of the film being mind controlled. Her willpower just wasn’t enough to block the villain’s influence and she never has a big moment where she overcomes this madness. Looks like it’s up to the main villain and August to hold this film up.

Terwilliker was a fun villain because for the most part he was rather reasonable. Not the marriage plot which was out of nowhere, but just wanting everyone to appreciate the Piano. While the Piano may not be the best instrument, I would argue that it may be the most effective if you could only choose one. The Piano has a wide range of sounds so it can be used for all kinds of music while others may have a little trouble there. Terwilliker isn’t afraid of getting into fights and holds his own rather well so he’s also not the kind of guy to hide behind his lackeys. I do wish we got to see him more in the real world though since he was definitely on point there.

Finally we have August who is skeptical of everything. He’s always lived his life with his nose to the grindstone so he doesn’t believe that kids are being kept captive at his workplace. He thinks this is all on the up and up, plus he’s getting overtime. Still, when he is convinced to check out the situation he goes in fists swinging. As soon as he enters the lair, Terwilliker tries hitting him with an energy blast that August quickly recovers from. I liked his fast reaction times there as other characters may have panicked or just wasted time asking questions like “What’s going on!?” August may have been suckered after that, but his response was good.

The writing is pretty solid for the film. As mentioned, I also did like the action scene where both fighters were using The Force even if it was a little long. Where the film suffers a bit is with how passive the heroes are. When the villain arrests them they don’t put up a struggle or even try to resist. August just blames Bart again while the kid just takes it. Fortunately they came up with an invention to stop the villain, but even then Bart has to rub it in the guy’s face. Couldn’t he just take the high road and claim the win? Well, I suppose he paid a price for this by the end.

As I mentioned, the film is super zany so while that is mostly a strength it doesn’t always work. I do appreciate the attempt though and it’s one of the better handled films with this level of abstract concepts. I liked the caps that everyone had to wear, those were pretty fun. It’s a shame that Terwilliker was on the wrong side since he had good design choices. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief quite a lot the whole time, but since it’s all a dream you can cut it a little more slack since the kid just imagines the scenario that’s most convenient for him. If it was all real then that would be a bit more of an issue.

Overall, This was a reasonable film. If you’ve wanted to see a film that was just absolutely crazy then this is the one for you. It is rather cheesy at times, but you probably won’t cringe except for possibly the invisible fishing scene. The over the top acting from all of the characters is probably part of its charm. Nobody involved in this film is actually taking it seriously. They’re just having fun and you will aim to do the same. It’s not the kind of film you’ll likely care to re watch but on your first time it’s definitely quite the trip. Just remember to use your imagination for all of the invisible scenes.

Overall 6/10

House of Horrors Review

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It’s time to look at a horror film that is very by the books. It follows the pattern of every other movie of this nature and doesn’t try to do anything different. I can applaud that resolve to an extent, but it’s not enough to earn this film a positive score. None of the characters act very realistically and the Creeper won more battles than he should have.

The film begins with a critic walking in and blasting the main character’s art. The critic points out that it is terrible and now he will end the lead’s career. Marcel isn’t happy about that and decides to do something about it. He runs off to go jump in the lake but finds a wanted serial killer named the Creeper. They decide to team up and destroy all of the critics out there along with any civilians who get in the way. The only things that can possibly get in their way…are more critics!

We’ve seen the Creeper type villain many times before. Perhaps at this point in time the villain felt a little more inspired compared to nowadays but I can’t say that he did anything for me to be honest. He is a very slow villain and the only thing going for him is his raw strength. While he may not look like the most pleasant fellow, it’s hard to see people literally being unable to talk or scream in fright when he approaches. That’s definitely one trope that has not been missed in the modern days.

I think one problem with these films is that by the time the heroes make a move pretty much every character is dead aside from the main pair. In particular it was annoying to see the critic who was acting as bait get murdered since the cops were right there at the time and should have been more prepared. Then you have the assistant who was kept waiting by the same cop until it was too late. They may have eventually gotten the Creeper but by then there weren’t too many characters to save.

The main guy is pretty annoying as well. Steven really goes out of his way to act as suspicious as possible. When the critic used himself as bait the lead couldn’t help but break into the guy’s room and assault him. The cops save the guy and then Steven quickly goes into damage control mode but it’s too late. This guy was actually choking the critic so I think it’s safe to say that he is just as unhinged as the villain. Is the film trying to provide some commentary on the state of the artist? It was interesting having the focus be on the main villain and main hero but you can’t have them both act like the villain. Also, as expected the lead doesn’t look very good in the climax as he keeps asking the villain to let him in. Good luck with that……

As for the heroine, she’s definitely very tough and sarcastic which is always a good thing. Joan doesn’t tend to think things through all that well at times though like when she stole the files from the villains desk and then returned them the next day. She figured that he wouldn’t notice them but how could he not? Also putting them right where they had been makes it even more suspicious. Still, mistakes aside at least she had a lot more character than the lead who was literally sitting at home and twiddling his thumbs.

There’s not much to say about the human main villain. Marcel tends to whine a lot which is why the Creeper ends up helping him since this brute just wants to eat his dinner in peace. The artist just complains about everything and is in denial about the fact that his artwork wasn’t actually that good. One critic may have been conspiring against him but even then it wasn’t personal since we learn that he went after all of the artists in the city. I’m assuming that the artist would have known that so it makes his overreaction look even worse.

Overall, The House of Horrors has a very retro feel to it. It has those writing elements that are always present in films of this era in both good and bad ways. The script is quite strong as always but everyone fainting in fear is the weak part of the writing. The pacing isn’t bad but there is nothing remarkable about this film at all. It just goes through the motions without thinking about it. I think if the heroes had been able to step in sooner and save a few more people the whole thing would have worked a lot better. If you want to see an old horror film then go check this one out but I’d highly recommend going with a different option like the Witch’s Ghost instead.

Overall 4/10

The Red Balloon Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly short film. This is one of those movies where you have to really enjoy balloons as otherwise you might not get all that invested in the plot. I don’t use the word “plot” loosely either since there isn’t much to find here. It’s a very short film so I wouldn’t even say that it drags on, but the movie forgets to ever get interesting. As such you’re just watching things happen on screen but without any kind of payoff or punchline.

The film starts with a kid walking with a Red Balloon. This balloon is sentient which is handy for the kid since he would have dropped it ages ago otherwise. The Balloon isn’t allowed in the school so the kid goes on ahead and everything goes well for a while. Things deteriorate when a group of kids decide to pop the balloon. The kid doesn’t want this so he runs, but he’s up against an entire school so he may be a little outgunned here. I sympathize with the kid, but with the numbers advantage so clearly against him there just isn’t much that he can do.

The ending is a little emotional as the Balloon gets wrecked by the kids. It’s hard to feel too sympathetic though since the balloon played the match up horribly. He can fly and yet when the kids came he decided to go low. A low sweep is good when the opponent is expecting an aerial attack, but since the balloon has no legs to kick with it’s a pointless maneuver. Of course they ended up popping him. I guess they were trying to say that the balloon wasn’t very smart, but I could have told you that from the start. It’s also sad for the kid since he wasn’t very smart either, but he was pretty young so I guess I’ll cut him some slack. At the end the other balloons come together in one last act of unity and teamwork. It’s an interesting scene I guess as it does show their true colors. They didn’t come to help until after the threat was passed and the balloon was terminated. Some friends they were!

At its core the problem this film faces is that without dialogue and a plot no film can succeed. You can have a good film without dialogue or a solid one without a plot, but you can’t do both at the same time. You need something to keep the audience engaged. Even the main character wasn’t really a character. What could you tell me about him aside from the fact that he’s a kid? The guy has no real personality and just seeing him cross the street and walk around town is hardly entertaining. Kids can’t really hold their own films. This is something that has been true for decades and I don’t expect it will change anytime soon. I already talked about how I didn’t like the balloon so there were no likable characters in this film.

Also, as most of the film is just the bullies chasing the hero, you’re hoping that he will outwit them at some point or do something. At least head for the adults for backup right? Instead he just runs through a lot of empty alleys until he finally lands in a field where no one can come to help. Fortunately the bullies were only interested in the balloon, but it definitely wasn’t an optimal outcome for the kid. Things went better than they could have, but why did the bullies have to get away for free? When you stop to think about it, they ended up winning which sends the wrong message.

Overall, I can’t really see how you would enjoy this film all that much to be honest. Maybe it will generate a level of nostalgia if you used to have a pet balloon or something. I can’t recommend the film even with the length because there just doesn’t seem to be a point to it. If you just want to see the landscapes just head to Central Park or London’s tower. Sitting down to watch someone just walk around doesn’t strike me as something that would be entertaining to do. If we ever get a sequel hopefully this time it gets a bigger budget so we will have something to watch and be entertained by. In the meantime, you should watch a good cartoon like Arthur instead.

Overall 4/10

A Matter of Life and Death Review

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It’s time to look at a really old British film that hit the big time. You have to keep in mind its origin for the court scenes to make sense at the end since they bring up America quite a bit and you have to remember that the protagonists are not from there. It’s a fun film that may drag a little bit at times, but brings along with it quality writing and suspense. I’m always up for a good court case after all.

The film starts with Peter losing a dog fight against a skilled pilot and crashing to his doom. As he is incredibly high up he takes the time to make one last call to command. There he speaks with a lady named June who tells him to man up and not give in so easily. He rejects her advice and makes a big speech before he crashes. Peter wakes up the next day and realizes that the money he paid for the air cushions was well worth it since he survived. He decides to get together with June, but that’s when the advocates of death arrive. Agent 71 explains that Peter should have died and it was simply an administrative error that caused him to live. Peter sues 71 for negligence and so they decide to take this matter up with the cosmic courts. Can Peter prove that he should be allowed to live for a few more decades or will he be booking a one ticket stop to his doom?

I can’t say that I was a big fan of Peter to be honest. The guy just gave up way too easily and seems to be a glass half empty kind of fellow. He was given days to think about who to represent him in the trial and could choose from literally anyone, but he still can’t decide. He’s rather slow on the uptake and while he was confident at first, by the end he is basically begging for mercy. I don’t know what happened to this guy, but he could have handled this situation a whole lot better.

June is a good heroine even if the romance between her and Peter is incredibly rushed. You never really find it all that believable since they fell for each other before even meeting. That’s a bit of a stretch right? June is willing to make the tough calls in order to help Peter and she also decides not to lie to him at the end so that was good. Frank is the local doctor and he handled the situation pretty well. His sci-fi table that lets him see the whole town was a bit of a stretch and at first I thought he was an inside agent but it shows that he is an unparalleled genius. He did a good job defending Peter in the court.

Naturally I am on Peter’s side in this debate. Even if he only kept his life by accident he now should have the power to live it out. Correcting the mistake by destroying him wouldn’t be the right move. The back and forth was pretty interesting in the court although most of it wasn’t actually about this as it devolved into talking about how America keeps messing with everyone and that nobody likes Britain because they are always attacking people. Seeing them fight with the radio and everything else was definitely pretty fun. The other world does seem rather corrupt though so perhaps in a sequel there would be an uprising if it decided to go in as an action film.

As I mentioned the writing is pretty solid. All of the characters sound reasonable and at least they try to back up their points. For the pacing, I think it may actually be towards the end where it drags on a bit. As I mentioned, they tend to diverge on their talking points in the court and as a result they stay off topic for a long time. It may be because there is only so much you can say about the actual case since it’s a pretty black and white yes or no, but I’m sure there are more nuances that could have been brought up.

Slow burner or not, the plot is definitely pretty unique. It’s definitely a fun Utopia for everyone who died since they basically get to do whatever they want. I have to assume that there aren’t too many things to do during the day though judging by how many people attended the trial. Surely most of these guys wouldn’t actually care about something like that as long as they could play their sports or watch TV right? Maybe I’m underestimating these guys.

Overall, A Matter of Life and Death is a fun movie. The main message we can take from this is that you should not throw in the towel so easily. You always gotta try to make the emergency landing even if the odds don’t look great. Meanwhile, the surgeons looked pretty good at the end and so I don’t mind them believing that they are the reason that Peter is still around. What they did likely aided his chances of victory as well and it would have been ironic if he won the case, but then died if they messed up the surgery. Yeah…that would have been pretty dicey! So, I’d recommend checking this film out if you’re in the mood for a fun court case, just be prepared for it to be a long one with a little less fire than some of the other court cases we are used to.

Overall 7/10