Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Allegiant Review


All right, it’s time to finish off this trilogy. Divergent has had a good start, but all good YA movie titles must end at some point and now this one is over. The true finale was cancelled though so it ended a little sooner than expected, but that’s all right. Unfortunately it does end on a bit of a whimper compared to the first two. There are a lot of good moments here so it’s still not a bad movie, but it really does feel like this arc is a bit of a re-tread in a lot of ways. You’ll start to see how futile the main characters’ rebellion is.

Tris and Four have finally stopped Jeanine and brought the world to a more peaceful place. That was the plan at least, but the new leader Evelyn already seems to be as corrupt as Jeanine. She has shut down the borders so everyone is locked in the tower once more and has decided to execute all of the people who were under Jeanine’s regime. Tris decides that she has had enough waiting and along with Four, Caleb, Peter, and Christina they break through the border to the outside world. This world promises to be a utopia, but is it really so perfect?

This is the kind of plot that can be quite frustrating most of the time. For starters, Tris and Four have already been through quite a lot. Whether or not you think the romance has been handled well, you’d expect them to have complete confidence in each other by now. Unfortunately the villains are able to create a bit of a rift between them and sucker Tris throughout the movie. Usually in these situations I would say that both characters deserve 50$ of the blame, but in this case I have to say that it is all Tris. Tris has been shown to be a very smart character in the past two films and doesn’t just believe what she hears.

Instead she falls for every trick in this book. She comes across as very naïve and nearly costs Four his life by walking away with the villain. She doesn’t even seem to consider that he is actually right and we do the whole “No time to talk” part where if she just stopped to listen then the whole thing would be over. This is definitely Tris’ weakest film. Now, even if she had listened to Four there is no guarantee that she could have done a whole lot to stop the villains of course, but at least she would have been in a position to do something. By ignoring all of the issues it just gets worse for everyone else.

Meanwhile, this is Four’s best film yet though. Throughout the series he has been portrayed as one of the best fighters in the series and this one doubles down on that. He takes out a whole plane full of armed guards and tends to beat up everyone who gets in his way. He just leaves a wave of destruction in his wake and it’s pretty satisfying. He figures out the truth about the place very quickly. In part it’s because he didn’t trust them from the beginning, but that is the right outset. Look, you’ve grown up in a dystopian future where everyone’s been lying to you from the start. Why would you go somewhere else and assume that it would be better? I’m sure Four was hoping the place would be great, but he didn’t just suddenly take them all at their word. That was the right call here.

Meanwhile, this is Caleb’s film to try and make a big comeback. He looked really bad in the last film to the point of being borderline irredeemable. In this one he knows that he owes Tris his life several times over and is doing his best to atone. It’s clear right now that he does regret his actions so he looks a lot better here, but I’m still not a fan of the character. Even now he gets a little too absorbed in the data part of what’s going on and loses sight of what’s important. He does come through when it counts though so you do have to give him some credit.

Then you’ve got Peter. He’s been super manipulative throughout the films and has been a fun villain. I don’t think it’s likely that you will like the character, but I do enjoy him as an obstacle for the heroes. He’s consistent with how overconfident and arrogant he is. No matter which side he is helping you can bet that Peter will be doing his best to tick everyone off and play them against each other. You can’t even say that his role here is all that unexpected since he has made it clear in the past that you can’t trust him. It’s a shame that we aren’t getting the next film because they’re definitely setting up for a really big fight between him and Four. As it stands Four would crush him if it’s a fair fight so Peter will have to come up with a plan. Peter’s a jerk, but that’s a trait that works really well for a villain.

Then you’ve got David who is the main villain here. The film kind of toys with the idea of him being an old man who just doesn’t know what is going on, but never really goes for that because almost immediately they make him look shady. The problem is that you can’t really take him all that seriously as a villain because he’s just an old guy who can’t really fight. He has the country in his pocket so he is tough to stop, but that’s about it. As a result his final scene is more humorous than threatening. I dare you not to crack a grin as the film ends because it is definitely going for a very ominous moment that will keep you up at night getting ready for the sequel, but it’s hard to take seriously.

That being said, the heroes really should have no chance in a 4th film if you ask me. What can they possibly do? The heroes are outnumbered by an insane amount and are also outgunned. They have basic guns, but the villains have high tech robots that can do just about anything and even come complete with barriers. Still, having a cliffhanger is better than not having one so even if I couldn’t take David seriously, I do like that the film made the attempt.

Then we have Evelyn and her civil war plot. She may protest quite a lot, but at the end of the day she basically is Jeanine 2.0. She may have different views, but she goes about them in the exact same way so you can’t really say that there are a bunch of differences between them. I do think she is a more interesting villain than Jeanine though and she is pretty serious about her goals. Evelyn does get manipulated a little easier than Jeanine though so if I were comparing the villains in terms of who is better at the role, Jeanine is definitely more successful.

Evelyn somehow manages to blow her lead against the Allegiant so badly that they outnumber her at the end and are about to claim victory. That’s pretty crazy since she should have easily been able to win even without using the gas at her disposal. I feel like it was just an excuse to quickly throw in why the gas was necessary, but it didn’t add up. Maybe something was cut out from the book here.

Going back to why this film was weaker than the others, I really think it’s all about how Tris was handled. She’s one of the highlights of the series and I felt like her character took a few steps back. Right when David started not allowing Four to accompany her she should have known that something was up. She also should have protested and just not met up with David in that case. There are many way she could have handled this better. I’m also not sure about her just sitting back and not even speaking out against the trials near the beginning. Inaction is never a good thing.

Also, as I mentioned it’s like we’re back to square one. The heroes beat one dictator, but now they’re up against another and are outnumbered again. They’re going to be the rebellion yet again only with double the trouble this time. They can handle this plot reasonably I’m sure, but not much would probably happen until the next film. The pacing here is good, but it all just feels futile because you never feel like they’re going to come out on top here. There’s not much they can do as just a city against the rest of the world. Even the random jello scene (Completely unnecessary) at the beginning shows how they could have easily choked all of the heroes right there and it’d be game over. Their tech just doesn’t play fair.

As always the fight scenes are definitely top notch though. Pretty much any scene with Four in it is a great moment. The airplane fight where he uses all of the enemy weapons against themselves is particularly brilliant. Those guys definitely didn’t have a chance. Surprisingly I’d say that the little drones didn’t really make for more enjoyable fight scenes likely due to the fact that the barriers are extremely overpowered against ordinary guys with guns.

Overall, Allegiant continues to build the world and does introduce a lot of new elements into the mix. Unfortunately, they don’t always feel necessary and this is a story that really feels like it wrapped up pretty nicely in the last film. I’m not really sure we needed another civil war to bring the factions back. Of course it is realistic because people never want to ditch the old ways. It probably should have picked one plot (Outside world or civil war) and stuck to that though, have the other plot pick up afterwards. It may not have been the big finale we may have hoped for, but at the same time this trilogy was considerably better than I was expecting so that was good.

Overall 6/10

Advertisements
Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Insurgent Review


Time to jump into the sequel to Divergent! As you likely read in my last review, the series is off to a good start so the question is really whether or not the sequel could manage to keep up the momentum. Well, I can safely say that it did. It continues to harness the same level of energy and makes for a pretty fast paced sequel. I do feel like the third film is going to be the one that has a hard time keeping up since this film basically ends the main plot. The third film would be starting a whole new arc and since it’s the last film there isn’t a whole lot of time to finish it.

The second film picks up pretty much right after the first one ended. Jeanine isn’t happy about how things have turned out so she has just made it plain and clear that she is taking over the world. She does so under the guise of justice though so people are pretty cool with it. The only faction that didn’t like her has been wiped out anyway so they don’t care much. Four and Tris are still on the run and decide that they need to meet up with the rest of Dauntless to regroup. Along the way they’ll have to deal with faction-less gangs as well as get past other factions and a peace group to reach their goal. Once they make it they’ll have to then decide how to handle this situation. Do they start a civil war and take Jeanine down or just flee the country and risk seeing what is hidden beyond the borders? I don’t think I mentioned it in my last review, but in Divergent the world is surrounded by a lot of large walls. Supposedly there is nothing beyond those walls except for deserts, but most of the characters don’t believe this.

The film starts up with the characters hiding among a group of peaceful people who don’t want to take a side in the current situation. That’s rarely a choice in these things though so they are just prolonging the inevitable. The heroes can’t stay long though since Peter picks a fight and Tris nearly murders him. It does help them see Peter’s true colors though and the heroes fight their way out and onto a train. This leads to another action scene where they are forced to take on the whole crew. Both of them do a good job of holding their own here. Tris and Four take down a significant amount of enemies, but ultimately are not on the winning side here since they are simply too outnumbered. They would have been in a better spot if Tris’ brother Caleb had actually been helping more, but he was too scared to act. It’s a solid action scene though and definitely gets the film off on the right note. That’s already quite a few fight scenes and the film had only barely started.

Caleb never quite recovers though. I didn’t like him in the first film and he is significantly worse here. Being afraid of the villains isn’t a bad thing, but when you’re so afraid that you’re willing to let them murder your family that’s when things have gone too far. He should definitely be pretty ashamed after that and then he makes all of the wrong calls as the film goes on. By the end of it you just can’t like this character. He quickly sinks to being one of the worst characters in the movie.

Meanwhile Peter gets a bigger role here and he continues trying to be as unlikable as possible too. He antagonizes Tris quite a bit, but since she is such a quality character she shuts that down real quick. Not only does she completely overwhelm him in combat, but she scares him enough where you know he won’t try picking another fair fight with her again. An extra second and he would have been down for the count. Peter comes across as fairly petty though since most of his latter scenes seem to be direct retaliation against her. He never seemed like a trust worthy ally though so it’s not like this is surprising.

If you think about it there are probably more antagonists than heroes in this film. You’ve also got Eric who returns again and is still the villain who appears the most. While he isn’t the best fighter compared to the others, he usually has some kind of advantage to help him. The mind control serums and knock out gas still work as well as ever and he’s always got a gun. His fight with Four goes as you would expect though and was handled really well. It definitely made Four look good. Jeanine is still a solid villain, but she does appear to have lost a lot of her intelligence here. She’s very obvious about how she doesn’t care for her lackeys and that’s not a good idea when you put one of them in charge of your entire security system. At least pretend to be looking out for that guy or just destroy him otherwise. That felt like the beginning of the end for her.

Four and Tris are pretty consistent with their first appearance. Four still makes it clear that he’s here to protect Tris first and save the world second. I’m glad that he doesn’t hesitate in heading over to save Tris and just leaves the compound. He has the right priorities there. While I’m definitely still not with the romance now that it’s already a thing it’s naturally less forced than in the first film. It’s more or less just how things are so it’s not really a matter of questioning its inclusion now. Tris goes for the classic action star haircut here which seems to happen to most protagonists at some point or other. I’ll definitely miss the more Metroid esque look, but it’s not like it changes her personality. She’s still just as tough as always. Just as she was ruthless in combat during the first film she definitely doesn’t hesitate here and continues to be one of the better heroines. She definitely goes through a lot here since her allies keep dying left and right. That’s why it’s tough being the toughest person in the room since its inevitable that you’ll see some allies get taken down along the way.

Christina gets less of a role here than in the first film. She spends a lot of it being fairly upset, but ultimately handles it well. It’s hard to blame her since being directly lied to is never any fun, but at the end of the day she still helped out when necessary and didn’t try to get revenge on Tris or anything like that. I don’t think you could ask for a better reaction to her situation. Four’s parents show up and his Dad is still pretty bad. He’s the kind of character who absolutely can’t be redeemed at this point and I think the film knows it. He half heartedly attempts to bridge the gap to no success. The Mom in comparison doesn’t seem nearly as guilty. Of course leaving Four wasn’t the right call and she should have found a way to take him, but at least she wasn’t actively being a villain. The film is definitely hinting that she is a dangerous character though so it’ll be interesting to see what she does in the third movie.

All of the strengths from the first film carry over to this one. The writing is pretty solid and the core characters are good. We get a lot of nice action scenes which definitely hold up and the pacing is solid. The film doesn’t drag on and it avoids making any big mistakes. It does have more emotional moments than the first film which do slow the film down to an extent, but I don’t think it’s overplayed. You do feel bad for the random dude who shows up to talk to Tris when she’s down though since you know that he’s dead right away. This is the kind of film where you just know that the no names are doomed as soon as they start to talk. Any divergent who isn’t Four or Tris is also typically doomed since none of them are all that smart. If you notice that everyone is acting evil and mind controlled you should probably pretend to be under the spell too instead of wandering around looking confused. One of the kids also doesn’t look good since she disobeys orders, but as she’s a kid you can’t be quite as harsh I suppose.

The dream sequences for the trials are still pretty fun. We get quite a few of them and Tris gets to show her determination each time. Even when there’s one simulation that is obviously not the real world the film handles it pretty well so people who are new to the genre could potentially fall for it. Tris also gets random nightmares throughout the film. These aren’t quite as interesting visually or even in context, but it does show up the events are messing Tris up. In such a hopeless world I imagine that most of the characters are pretty messed up by now. The best of the training sequences is definitely Tris trying to save her mother from a burning building. It depicts her determination pretty well and I still remember seeing that part in a trailer which is what made the series look interesting in the first place.

Of course the best sequence in the movie is also in the dream world. You can call it the final test/sequence, but basically Tris has to fight herself in the simulation. The effects here are awesome and it’s like a fight out of Man of Steel. You can feel the intensity behind every hit and by the end of the match you are definitely fully on board with that being the definitive scene. I’d like to have more fights like that, but realistically it isn’t likely. I’m just glad they were able to put in such a cool fight.

Overall, Insurgent continues to keep the series on track. Again, I do think the third film may have a tough time since I feel like the upcoming plot wouldn’t be as interesting, but there are countless ways the movie can go from here so I suppose I can’t really say that with any confidence. I’ll go into the next movie with an open mind ready to see what they’ve got in store. While you could probably watch this film and understand everything without the first it’s definitely the kind of trilogy where you are meant to watch it in order. More so than most of the other trilogies these 2 films at least feel like one big story that you’ll want to watch almost back to back for the maximum experience.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Divergent Review


I remember seeing the trailer to the second film in this series many years ago. It was a pretty solid one and definitely gave the series a more interesting vibe to me than the competitors like Hunger Games. Still, now that I’ve finally seen it, does the movie live up to the hype? I do think it’s a pretty fun movie, but nothing particularly special. There’s enough here to keep you marching towards the sequel.

The film introduces us to a world where people are divided into sub categories based on a test result and then their own choice via blood oath. There are a handful of titles in the world, but the one that looks the most enjoyable to the main character Tris is the battle faction Dauntless. She undergoes the test, but the result gets glitched out and she is told to keep this a secret. Tris doesn’t like the way this is going, but it does mean that she can effectively choose whatever faction she wants. She naturally chooses Dauntless and after a harsh initiation barely manages to get in. She finds out that she is what they call a “Divergent” who is smarter and more emotional than the average human. Unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to like divergents so she will have to keep this under wraps. It’s a lot of pressure but she’ll just have to keep this in mind as she also struggles to stay in Dauntless as the commander decides to keep on weeding out the lowest ranking members.

It’s a pretty interesting future setup. Naturally you’ll have a lot of questions about how humanity arrived at this point, but the past doesn’t have to be explained all that much as you can just take this at face value. Of course you can probably anticipate some of the upcoming twists relating to the world structure as a result. In general I like the world that’s built here. It’s a lot more interesting than both Maze Runner and the Hunger Games since we actually have some future tech here and you can tell that we’re still in the future. I think it defeats the purpose of a future setting to have everything look really old so Divergent doesn’t fall into this trap.

It’s also got a reasonable cast. I like Tris wayyyyyyyy more than Katniss or that guy from Maze Runner. A point in her favor is that she is quick to adapt to what’s going on rather than panicking. In her first moments as Dauntless she is told to jump off a building, jump off a train, climb a tower, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She just gets it all done without complaint. Now this doesn’t mean that Tris is completely fearless, she admits as much during the film, but she always puts on a brave face which is important. You have to act the part if you want to eventually live it out. Tris calls several characters’ bluffs and steps up to protect her friends when they’re about to get diced. She’s just a great lead and does a good job of carrying the film.

As for the main guy, Four is fairly good. He’s a solid fighter and doesn’t approve of Eric’s harsh methods of teaching the recruits. However, he doesn’t do anything to stop Eric so I can’t give him all that much credit yet. He likes Tris so he coaches her and helps the lead out, but he doesn’t do that for anyone else. Towards the end of the film he gets better at doing his own thing though. One thing that may be a bit overdone is how many times he grabs Tris to turn her around when she’s trying to leave. It’s borderline becoming a running gag by the end of the film and it even carries into the next installment. I guess he really needs eye contact when talking to her. Four’s definitely fairly gruff and mean to everyone who isn’t Tris but he’s still solid overall.

The other characters start to get a little dicey. You’ve got Eric who’s the commander of the Dauntless. He’s obviously corrupt from the start and is happy to murder his fellow comrades. In this grim world where everyone’s mean and thinks about themselves you’d think that someone would have rebelled by now. The guy has quite a lot of control and seems to be pretty much untouchable. Then you’ve got Al who’s pretty nervous the whole film and cracks by the end. He’s definitely a terrible character. Tris’ brother is pretty annoying as well as he is quick to ditch Tris and everyone else for his new job. The guy has a very inflated ego and is brainwashed with ease.

Christina is a good ally at least. She goes out of her way to help make Tris feel welcome in the beginning. She does make some dicey decisions to antagonize Eric and Four without a plan though. It’s played off like she doesn’t know better, but by that point I feel like she should. Then you’ve got the antagonistic Peter. It’s actually pretty hard to get a bead on the guy since sometimes he’ll seem like a friend who just goes a little too far with his jokes while in other scenes he seems downright villainous. He does add some personality to the cast though and is a good addition. Finally you’ve got leader of the government, Jeanine. She makes sure that everyone stays in their lane and definitely has big plans. She’s fairly generic, but handled pretty well. It’s nothing that you haven’t seen well, but the writers did handle her character with care so it’s not like she’s just going through the motions.

I definitely have to give the film a thumbs up for the writing. I’m not going to say that it was exceptional, but it did take shots at something that a lot of films let slide. Lets go back and imagine this scenario. You’ve just been selected to join the meanest, most corrupt squad in the land. You’ve just seen as Four and Eric have yelled, bullied, and beat up anyone who dares challenge them. Are you going to continue to antagonize them? Well, a lot of the characters would say yes to that. In their defense, you usually get away with making sarcastic remarks in most other films. Even the mean characters will just shoot you a glare for doing that. Not so in this film. One character remarks later on in the film that the guns look pretty weak so naturally Eric shoots her to prove that it wasn’t. Another one asks Eric if she can give up even after he told them numerous times not to give up or bad things would happen. He ends up throwing her over a cliff. Another guy says he won’t go pick up his dagger so Eric uses him as live dagger throwing practice.

It feels like these characters just never learn. They come across as extremely slow on the uptake. It’s handled pretty realistically with the consequences for this though as naturally the villains won’t let it slide. A lot of the film is fairly dark and mean spirited like this as being in Dauntless is definitely portrayed as being a life threatening situation. Still, the film never goes too far with it so it doesn’t actually hurt the film.

One weakness the movie does have is the inevitable romance between Tris and Four though. It really is just there to fill in all the usual tropes, but it all happens very fast and there’s no real reason for it. Four basically did save Tris’ life multiple times so it’s not unreasonable that she would fall for him, but at the same time with the stakes so high it’s not really the right time or place for it. It also eats up valuable time that could be used for other aspects of the movie. Most of the movie is well paced, but it gets a little rushed by the ending. I actually thought the film was going to end before the raid on the enemy base, but the movie actually managed to squeeze it in.

So we’re introduced to a whole new group of characters who are part of a resistance and they want to break into the villain stronghold. You would expect that this would be a very long sequence of planning and such, but the heroes basically just walk right in. To put this in perspective, they even get the main villain at gun point. If they shoot her then the whole trilogy is basically over in an instant. For reasons that elude me they decide to spare her. Sure, it’s the hero move, but that isn’t really one of their top priorities most of the time and they’re trying to win a war right? Well, that catches up to them in the sequel. It’s a fun climax that actually is pretty hype, but it all just happens so fast.

While we don’t see them much, Tris’ parents were decent. The dad didn’t get to do a whole lot, but the Mom had some pivotal moments and definitely made a difference. She also reminded Tris to stay strong and the heroine did good when confronted with one of her old allies. You can’t just knock out mind control so easily so she made the right call in ending the fight in a single shot. Naturally going for a non fatal wound would be ideal, but it is definitely tough to aim like that in close quarters. The fight scenes throughout the movie are really solid. The hand to hand is on point and even the blaster battles look good and aren’t dragged out.

Overall, Divergent is a pretty fun film. It’s actually surprising how solid it is, I wasn’t expecting it to be all that good. You may have to suspend some disbelief for how dangerously the Dauntless like to live though. They let Tris ride down a roller coaster where there are at least half a dozen spots where you can die if you don’t move at just the right moment. I feel like a lot of trainees would have died in those spots and there’s really no reason to do such things. There shouldn’t be many people left alive in that faction if they continue like this. Still, it’s a solid way to start the series and it’s just a lot more exciting than you would expect at first. It actually lives up to the thriller genre and at this point it’s looking like the series to beat as far as the YA movies based on books go. I’ll have a review up for the sequel soon.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? Review


It’s time to look at an old film that tries to be a thriller/horror title. It’s pretty low key in part due to how old it is, but also because it’s not a jump scare kind of film. It has a very British air about it as the villains are polite and there are always veiled threats. It’s not a particularly good film though and this is probably because the main characters are kids. Kids can’t hold their own movies, they’ve never been able to in the past and they certainly don’t seem to be starting now.

The film starts off with Roo introducing herself as a nice old lady who allows a group of orphans to stay with her every Christmas. The orphanage even makes it into a bit of a competition as only the 10 best kids every year are allowed to go. Two extra kids manage to sneak in this year though and they are Christopher and Katy. Roo decides that this time she’s going to keep a kid and so she tricks Katy into staying behind. Christopher finds out about this, but then he is also trapped. Can Christopher and Katy get away from this crazy old lady or is their time up?

Of course this film only works if all of the characters look the other way. From the start why would the orphanage people leave one of the kids behind? That goes past just being irresponsible, they don’t even know Roo all that well. It’s a pretty iffy moment for all of them. Even after they go home though, it should be obvious that the kids are still in the house. Why didn’t the police come with a warrant right away and tear the place apart? Naturally the orphanage people do seem a bit rude so perhaps they didn’t want to have these kids back, but it’s definitely a bad look for them.

The only characters who do realize what is happening turn out to be crooked as well and get some money out of Roo. This also hurts Roo as an antagonist though as she is tricked and suckered for a good part of the film. She’s pretty crazy to be sure, but you at least want her to be in the captain’s seat. Instead she takes quite a lot of Ls throughout the whole film. You definitely don’t expect to see two little kids outsmarting and outrunning the main villain right?

Still, that doesn’t mean that the kids are great characters though. Katy is a little too young so she doesn’t get what is happening the whole time. She mainly slows them down and Christopher means well, but he’s also too young to be of much help. He has a smart play with the fire, but ultimately the only way they are able to succeed is because Roo makes a ton of mistakes the whole time. If she was more on the ball then they would have absolutely been doomed. She has home field advantage and a big edge in speed and power. There’s no real way to get around that.

It doesn’t make for a very pleasant plot though. Even though the film isn’t played quite as seriously as a modern version would be, it’s basically a villain kidnapping two kids. There’s no time for snappy dialogue or good interactions as a result. The character cast is very limited and most of the scenes are just about Christopher being forced to help Roo out with errands around the house. That’s not very thrilling at all and certainly can’t hold a film for very long. There’s no real fun factor in the film so it just drags on and on.

The ending does its best to not make the kids particularly sympathetic either. I don’t think anyone would blame them for taking down Roo, but by the end they seem to have actually convinced themselves that she was a witch from a fairy tail. Christopher is fairly young, but at the same time he’s old enough where you wouldn’t expect him to still believe in fairy tails. While Roo likely wasn’t going to cook them, she was still clearly evil from all the threats she made and she did tend to wave her weapon around quite a lot. I suppose the cops will never find out how the fire really started.

We also can’t forget that the film had to squeeze in a dead chicken for no reason. It’s one of those sudden scene cuts that I suppose is meant to remind you that the villain means business. Roo isn’t the one doing the chopping, but the same chopping knife is used later on so it’s like foreshadowing. The scene also throws in the unnecessary fact that the guy selling the chickens is getting pretty fresh very quickly. It’s a detail that never gets brought up again and ultimately has no point in the film. You can tell that the writing in a film is suspect when there are pointless filler scenes like this one.

Overall, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo is not a film I’d recommend. It’s not horrible for content or anything, but it’s just very dull and lifeless. There isn’t a whole lot happening in this film. It’s like all of the scenes are just filling out the air time, but there isn’t any personality thrown into the mix. The movie is going through the motions but only because it has to and not because it wants to. There’s no real reason to watch such a film as you can find way better thrillers and horror titles elsewhere. This one is like a slice of horror film since nothing much happens beyond the premise. Check out something with a little more character instead like Jingle All The Way.

Overall 3/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Split Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the next film in the trilogy involving Unbreakable. This film always looked terrible from the first trailer though and as I didn’t even like the first film I knew this was gonna get dicey. Unfortunately the film is even worse than I had imagined and is ultimately a complete waste of your time. If you want to watch a super edgy/gritty story where the villains manage to keep on racking up wins then this is the one to check out. Otherwise you’re better off heading to your local Duane Reade to buy some cookies.

The film definitely doesn’t waste time as it starts with Kevin showing up and kidnapping 3 teenagers who had just finished having a party. He takes them to his lair where he preps them for being eaten by the beast. See, Kevin’s a psychotic who believes he contains 23 different souls inside of him and 3 of them are evil. Naturally the 3 evil ones are stronger than the 20 good ones put together so he’s gone back to his murdering ways. The 3 girls have to find a way to escape. Claire believes they should try to overpower him, Casey thinks they should just wait and see, while Marcia will follow whatever tactic they decide on. Can they escape?

So the film is distastefully bad almost from the start. Naturally Kevin isn’t a classy villain who just wants to destroy the world or anything like that. No, he is only interested in attacking girls and his mind shatters so often that even he doesn’t know who is in control at times. He has a history of such incidents, but isn’t in prison because he keeps pleading insanity. The whole thing is pretty warped and you don’t really buy into his split personalities gimmick. He’s just a guy with an enhancement ability that gives him super strength but at the end of the day that’s it. It’s all too convenient otherwise how all of his souls tend to lose to the evil ones. There’s nothing interesting about his character.

Then you’ve got Casey’s gritty backstory which is also pretty awful and shouldn’t have been included in the film. Not only does it just serve to give her extra trauma, but then in the end we find out that the uncle is still around. So, he murdered (implied) her father and has been taking advantage of her for over 10 years? This is the amount of grit that you only see in terrible films. If you really stretch it then maybe she will tell the cops at the end, but the silence was deafening. Hopefully that plot isn’t brought back for the third film.

Casey’s a good character overall though as she tries to make the best of a tough situation. She hasn’t let her circumstances break her which is good. The other teens were good as well. Claire definitely showed the most spirit out of the 3, but was definitely doomed from the start. Still, without her actually attempting to escape the others would probably have just sat around and waited til the end. Marcia also had a rough time from the start so her confidence was shaken almost right away. While Casey was quick to play along with Kevin’s insanity it’s understandable that the other two weren’t able to adapt so quickly. Casey was used to dealing with crazies.

Karen is Kevin’s psychiatrist, but ultimately she doesn’t serve much of a purpose in the film. She’s slow as molasses in understanding what is happening. Her plot doesn’t make much sense because the whole time she is the only one who actually believed Kevin from the start. Since she actually thought that his personalities were real you’d think that she would have taken the emails a little more seriously. She knew that he was in danger or different versions of him were in trouble so why did she wait so long to act? She also knew that the evil personality was in control so why did she make so many mistakes over and over again? What was the point of going to his lair?

Maybe she was going to call the cops or something, but surely she knew that she wasn’t going to make it out of there. Also, she wasn’t particularly subtle when going into the closet. She should have at least used the secret word to stun Kevin at that point since there shouldn’t be any hesitation. Instead she panicked and then forgot how to say the word by the end. She’s definitely a waste of a character and her plot line ultimately didn’t contribute to the story.

No worries, Split also managed to squeeze in some animal violence to complete the film’s descent into madness. It’s really got every undesirable trait you could ask for in a film. It’s super edgy, it’s got animal violence, it’s got child violence, and a whole lot of things that happen off screen. There’s also quite a bit of fanservice since the villain uses every excuse possible to put the heroines in worse and worse spots. There’s nothing redeemable about the film and allowing the teenagers to be decent characters is just to make the film even darker. You know from the start that this is the kind of film that won’t really have a happy ending. It’s even worse when you consider that all of the villains get away with no ramifications to continue their chaos.
The film drags on and on as the 2 hours go by. There’s no solid writing to back it up either so hopefully you have a lot of snacks.

Overall, Split is definitely a horrible film that I’d recommend staying far away from. It’s the kind that you should just toss aside and never watch. It’s a poor thriller with sub-par writing and plots that are no fun. The film never even tries to be engaging and it’s far too dark to make for an enjoyable watch. Even the final scene has a defeated sense to it as the guest star just takes another drink because he doesn’t want to get back into this mess. Of course, he’ll end up stepping in for the third film which should still be better than this one at least. Split simply couldn’t stitch the scenes together into a complete feature.

Overall 0/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Postman Always Rings Twice Review


It’s time to look at a film where the whole concept is about being the rebound guy. As you can guess that means the romance was doomed from the start. Since this is mainly a romance film that did put this one in a tough spot from the start and it never quite recovered. I was just waiting for the Postman to show up and shock everyone to the core, but it never happens. Turns out that it isn’t one of those literal titles, but it really should have been to be honest.

The film starts off with the district attorney giving Frank a ride. Frank’s been in a tough spot lately and that’s due in part to the fact that he is a free spirit. He loves just going wherever the wind takes him and living life on the edge. Well, he’s finally found a job at a burger joint, but immediately warns the owner, Nick, that he may not stay long. His plans change when Nick’s wife Cora shows up and Frank immediately decides that they should be together. Despite Cora’s half hearted rejections Frank forces the issue and they decide that Nick has to be murdered. Can they really pull off such a feat?

With a plot like this there is nobody to root for. Of course, you would expect to be rooting for Nick but the film goes out of its way to make him hard to root for. He doesn’t pay Cora any attention and is way older than her so that was never going to work out anyway. He’s oblivious to the point where he basically pushes them together and at the end of the day sees Cora as more of a helper than an equal. He doesn’t even consult her when making his big decision at the end of the film. He also gets drunk and in general just doesn’t seem like a good person.

Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right. Frank knows that Cora is married from the start. It’s not as if they were hanging out for a long time before he figured this out, it was made clear as day to him immediately. He pressed on anyway and then cheats on her later on in the film anyway. It’s no surprise though because that’s just the kind of guy he is. Frank does everything half heartedly and never becomes a decent person. By the end of the film he basically goes insane.

Meanwhile Cora is shown to be very manipulative. There are large portions of the film where it doesn’t seem like she actually cares about Frank and is just using him to get to her own goals. It’s pretty easy for her to manipulate him so it’s not like it takes a lot of effort. She’ll go from being overly friendly to him to giving Frank the cold shoulder. None of the characters handle the various situations well but her main failing is that she wants to stay in the burger choice even if that’s where all of the cops will connect the dots. She had a lot of opportunities to simply leave, but never took them. That was simply too big of a mistake to come back from.

Then you’ve got Arthur who helps plead their case in one of the court sessions. He’s actually pretty good even if the guy seems pretty shady. He may not be helping out for the right reasons, but the guy definitely does have talent. He added a little intrigue to the situation. Then you’ve got the D.A., Kyle. He’s definitely not sympathetic to their cause, nor should he be. Even by the end of the film he whips out another trump card and you can see why he has such a strong reputation in the film. He always gets his man.

Of course the film couldn’t help but throw a cat into the mix for no real reason. The scene just comes out of nowhere and he doesn’t live through the scene. I suppose the film was just desperate to lose another star but with the lackluster plot it’s not like the film needed any help. The writing in general is decent, but with none of the characters being particularly intelligent some scenes can seem like bad writing as well. The film also drags on quite a bit. On one hand it is impressive just how far the plot changes from the beginning, but on the other hand it starts to outlive its welcome by the end. It’s around 30 minutes longer than it needs to be, especially since the plot is fairly basic.

I suppose the ending will be happy or sad depending on who you’re rooting for. Considering that the main characters are openly cheating I’d say that the D.A. and the long arm of the law is probably who you’d be rooting for. If you look at the ending with that lens then it does change things quite a bit. On a minor note, at least the burgers did look pretty good. I could definitely use one right about now and if we had more scenes of the characters preparing food for their restaurant perhaps it could have distracted from the weak story. Almost all of the film takes place at their restaurant after all and yet the scenes with real food are scarce and far apart.

Overall, The Postman Always Rings Twice is definitely a film that I’ve got to give a thumbs down. How can you like a film where the main character is so petty? He’s basically a crook the whole time and is super ungrateful considering that Nick was giving him a place to live and a decent salary. Also, even before Frank’s romance was starting he seemed like a rude person. When Cora dropped her lipstick he made her come to him to pick it up rather than just giving it to her. It’s the kind of petty power play that you would expect from someone like Frank. The ending is also completely his fault since he was the one at command. He should have realized that he didn’t have the skills to multi task.

Overall 4/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Lover Come Back Review


It’s time to look at a film that basically takes all of its ideas from another one without managing to do any of the areas better than the original. It’s not a bad movie, but there is little reason to watch it so long as the other one exists. I suppose if you just want a second chance to experience this kind of story then that makes sense.

The film starts off with Carol trying to snag a deal for her insurance company. Unfortunately, she is stopped by Jerry, a top ranking member of a different firm who has typically had a lot of luck in taking down clients. He uses whatever methods it takes to secure these guys whether it’s through parties or champagne. Carol decides to report him, but there really isn’t much that she can do since everyone is on his side. She realizes that the only way to stop him is to steal his latest advertising client who has created something called VIP. She finds this “Dr. Taylor” and tells him that she’ll do whatever it takes to keep him from Jerry. Little does she know that she found the wrong Taylor and is actually talking with Jerry. Jerry decides that he’ll have some fun dating her as he hides the truth.

The whole romance is built off of a deception so of course it isn’t particularly good. Now the question is how does this differ from the last version right? Well, I think Carol comes off as even more desperate in this version. She’s basically going with Taylor in part to spite Jerry and gets manipulated rather easily. I think it’s fair to say that she legitimately liked him as well, but she’s definitely way too desperate. It also doesn’t help the film’s ending either. It’s almost a little crazy how sudden the last batch of scenes are. We get some time jumps and a lot of changes in the status quo but at the end of the day Carol is in a pretty tough spot. There isn’t really a lot that she can do in her position. I think the film should have had the two characters come to some kind of agreement before the kid coming into the picture. Otherwise it’s more like she didn’t have a whole lot of options here. The ending was very weak.

Back to Carol, I think her character would have been better if she could have at least had some moments where she was winning against Jerry. The film goes out of its way to put her in sticky situations the whole time. Even when she calls the board against Jerry he manages to sneak in a win by bribing the witness. Of course the bulk of the plot is built around how desperate she is to win, but making the rivalry slightly more balanced would have helped I’d say. There’s a lot of ways you can do it while still keeping within the comedy framework.

So I wouldn’t give Carol a thumbs up here, but of course the same will be said for Jerry. He’s a fun character who definitely wins all of his debates with Carol, but at the end of the day he definitely isn’t a good person. He made that clear with how he tricked Carol. His tactics for getting clients wasn’t even all that bad but there isn’t really an excuse for the rest of the film. He was willing to go all the way with his tricks. I also dare say that he is a lot less remorseful than the guy from the last film. This one is still willing to win even by the end of the film and only ended up backing down because he wasn’t prepared for the drunk candy. Otherwise he would have run off into the sunset.

Fortunately we do have Peter around to help the film out. He may not be quite as tough and calculating as his previous version, but he’s pretty good. I did like how he took the reigns when he went back to the company for a day. His plan may have backfired but it was the attempt that counts. Peter may not be great at standing up for himself, but he was fine with handling things honorably. He is even the one who told Jerry to apologize even though that ultimately didn’t happen. His humor just works well for each of his scenes and he also reminds us on the importance of having a bodyguard.

There’s also Dr. Taylor, but his screen time is pretty brief since he is being impersonated for most of the film. He is a pretty good scientist though and does keep up his end of the bargain. The heroes gave him complete freedom to do whatever he wants so that’s on them. The guy tried to keep his distance from humanity and it’s hard to blame him. They probably didn’t understand his genius or he would have been employed as a top researcher by now.

The film did a good job of reusing almost all of its backgrounds from older movies as well. They were definitely pretty efficient with the budget which is always good. There’s one part of the film where Jerry and Peter go on a trip and the film does a good job of actually changing their character designs. Jerry even grows a beard and sort of looks like a totally different actor. I wonder if they actually waited a few days to film those scenes or if the hair was fake. It certainly looked real enough to me.

Overall, This is definitely a fun romance film for the most part, but the weak ending really does hurt it as well as the romance itself being pretty questionable. The pacing is good and the writing is solid, but the film just could have used a bit more charm. If you haven’t seen any films with this kind of plot before then it’s a good way to start off. Otherwise I’d sooner recommend watching a different Doris Day feature. I’d say that the cast of characters in most of the other films are a little stronger. Peter really has to hold the whole film up on his own and that’s pretty difficult. Now her marathon is over and I’ll be going back to other movies. It was a good run though.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Move Over, Darling Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old romance comedy. This film shows why you shouldn’t be so quick to move on from your first bond. The phrase is “Til Death do us part” after all so you’d expect not to move on to someone else so easily. This is a pretty fun film, but definitely one where the guy ultimately gets off a bit easy. Fortunately we had the Judge to keep everyone on the straight and narrow.

The film starts with Nick and his wife Ellen being in a plane crash. Nick manages to survive and then meets up with a lady named Bianca. He decides to marry her, but the problem is that Ellen isn’t legally dead yet. Nick runs to court to expedite the process and once the judgment is made he quickly marries Bianca. The timing was rough though as Ellen has finally washed up ashore and it turns out that she was alive. The navy found her on a deserted island after these 5 years and she’s ready to get back to her family. Of course it turns out to be a pretty rude awakening when she finds out that Nick has re-married. She tells him to quickly end things with Bianca but he is unsure if that’s what he really wants to do.

So, they just married and are in some kind of elope phase where you can still cancel the marriage or something. That helps simplify things, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from Nick’s perspective. He does a pretty terrible job of trying to break up with Bianca. You can tell that he’s being half hearted about it, but that makes sense since he liked her enough to re-marry in the first place right? He seems to want to be able to keep his marriage to both of them, but of course that is completely out of the question. He also sets a bit of a double standard with this as he is unable to make a decision, but then gets super jealous when he finds out that Ellen was with another guy on the island. He cops out of every decision and doesn’t make a move until there is no escape at the end. Nick’s just not a great character.

Meanwhile Bianca is pretty reasonable. If anything she is the one trying to make this relationship work while Nick is running around. You’ll feel bad for her since she is pretty innocent in this whole affair. As far as she knows Ellen is dead, but the film does try to make you root against her by the end. It’s clear that she’s not an amazing person or anything like that, but at the same time she’s definitely way more sympathetic than Nick.

Meanwhile Ellen’s a solid protagonist. She does her best to force Nick into doing the right thing, but at the end of the day he still has to make the decision. She puts as much pressure as she can and the only possible “mistake” she may have made is in not mentioning Stephen. At the same time, I don’t think there was any need to tell him or at least not until this situation was over. It would have just complicated matters and you just know that he wouldn’t have taken it well at all. He never takes these things well.

Meanwhile I feel like the Stephen plot in general was completely unnecessary. I think it’s only here to do the whole “Nick wasn’t the only one keeping secrets” thing so both characters are at part to blame. This doesn’t work though because we find out that Stephen was just chasing her around the whole time while on the island. the plot doesn’t really add up though as Ellen shouldn’t be so content with Stephen in that case. Maybe things actually did happen although I don’t think it’s likely. This plot just had no place in this film and it feels really forced.

The best parts of the film are definitely when the characters head to court. The judge really steals the show here and commands a lot of respect in the court room. People definitely aren’t going to be messing with this guy. He definitely doesn’t know much about law and seems to have cheated his way to the top, but I suppose it worked out. He still comes to the right verdicts and has a sense of humor as well. I’d have been happy to have had even more court scenes. They were definitely the best part of the film and is a solid example of humor done right.

In general the writing is pretty solid in the film. I still say that Nick got off way too easy though. I was totally on Ellen’s side here and Nick really should have done a better job of not moving on from her so quickly. How I see it, 5 years is way too soon to move on to the next person if you seriously had a good marriage. If you move on sooner then how much did you really love your original partner? If it’s easy to find a replacement then that’s a serious problem. If the film was played more seriously that could have gotten dicey, but as a part comedy plot it works a lot better.

Overall, Move Over, Darling is a fun film. At the end of the day it’s definitely a quality watch and the good aspects definitely outweigh the bad. It may not have the most satisfying ending and the characters stretch out the story way more than it should have been, but the journey to the ending is fun. If you’re in the mood for a light hearted rom-com then this is the title for you. The good part about a dual genre film like this one is that even when the romance is pretty poor as we saw in this movie, the comedy can then keep it afloat. These retro films always had a really nice sense of humor so it’s usually a winning strategy. We’re nearing the end of the Doris Day marathon but it’s been a fun stretch of titles. The next one I’ll be reviewing is basically a remake of another Doris film I saw recently which is interesting.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Spider-Man Far From Home Review


Spider-Man has finally made it to his third iteration of Spider-Man 2. He’s definitely had a lot of films across different timelines and they’ve all been pretty solid. Even the worst Spider-Man entry is still better than average. So where does this one rank? Right away I would say that it is in the top half. I prefer it to Homecoming, Spider-Man 2, and The Amazing Spider-Man. It doesn’t beat The Amazing Spider-Man or Spider-Man 3 so that leaves it with the always tough battle against the original Spider-Man. Still, I think it beats that one as well so I would put this as the third best Spider-Man installment. It’s got a lot of good replay value and its solid mix of action and light hearted moments make it a quality watch.

After the fallout of Endgame Peter Parker is ready to finally get on with his life. His class is going on a vacation tour to Italy, France, etc. His big plan is to finally confess to Mary Jane during this trip. Unfortunately a lot of social complications like Brad show up and then Nick Fury shows up to sabotage Peter’s trip. It turns out that there is a multiverse and one of the greatest heroes from another world is around to help fight off some elemental creatures who are planning to attack. His name is Mysterio, but even with this guy Fury wants Spider-Man on board. Can Peter manage to lead a normal life and be a superhero or is it time for him to choose once and for all which job to keep?

I think one of the most impressive parts of the film is definitely the visuals. We get a lot of great action scenes both with the monsters and the other action scenes. There is one sequence in the second half which is particularly solid. Some of the visuals are like something out of Dr. Strange. You’ll know what scene I’m talking about when you watch the film, but it is most excellent. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is also quite solid. There are nods to previous films as well as brand new themes. It makes for a pretty solid soundtrack that is also in the top 3 for the Spider-Man films.

Romance always plays a big role in the Spider-Man films so we can’t overlook that. There are 3 romances here so lets go in order. Ned has his own subplot romance which I dare say is only included for humor. This romance wasn’t very good and even if that was the point it definitely could have been left out of the film. Then you have Happy and Aunt May……definitely a bad romance. I can’t say that I’ve ever liked Happy so I may not be totally impartial, but there’s also no point to this romance. It’s very unlikely to go anywhere and the scenes are pretty forced. The resolution also makes Aunt May look a little iffy here. Her reasoning definitely wasn’t what I expected.

Those are basically the backup romances though, the main one is naturally between Peter and Mary Jane with the slight addition of Brad. Brad is around to make things tough for Peter, but I don’t think anyone seriously thought that he ever had a chance. This version of Mary Jane is definitely quite different from her other portrayal in the original trilogy which does make the romance pretty different. I’d say that on the whole it’s handled well. At most I think Mary Jane’s shell broke a little too quickly by the end of the film though. Part of the fun in her character is how she likes to make morbid quips and is always pretty blunt/stoic. By the end of the film she seems a lot more emotional and outspoken which is fine…to an extent. I hope she still keeps her main character personality but otherwise it’s a reasonable romance. I think it’s definitely a lot more developed than most of the other romances we’ve seen.

There isn’t a massive cast here so lets quickly run through the characters. I just talked about some of them so no need to redo those. Basically Mary Jane is solid and Aunt May is fun enough. Happy and Brad definitely get a thumbs down. Flash is definitely a more enjoyable bully than most, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t say that he is all that good either. He doesn’t really do anything although there is some setup for a third film likely to explain why he acts the way he does. Ned’s still not really clicking for me and his romance plot did not do him any favors. He’s definitely a nice friend and always has Peter’s back even if the “help” doesn’t always put Peter in a better place.

I definitely did like the main teacher though. He always means well and definitely rolled with the punches. He’s a glass half full kind of guy and nothing seems to get him down. He also brushes past Brad’s allegations pretty easily (with help from MJ) and in general steals every scene that he is in. The other teacher doesn’t get much to do, but he was pretty fun. He reminds me of the ice character from Incredibles with how he kept darting from room to room. He also kept reminding the kids that he was the cool teacher. Meanwhile Nick Fury and Maria Hill get quite a bit of screen time here. They look pretty consistent with what you’d expect. Fury naturally uses a hard approach with Peter to get the kid to try and be a hero but it’s definitely pretty unfair the whole time. Spider-Man’s doing his best but nothing ever seems to satisfy these guys.

As for Spider-Man himself he’s good for sure. He may not be the most eager to get back in the field, but he’s got so many reasons why now is the worst time. Why did every other hero have to suddenly vanish when these threats are arising? He does have one pretty bad scene involving his glasses though. The whole thing was a huge stretch, especially considering that it was part of the plan. The stars had to align just right for this to work and I really feel that it shouldn’t have. It’s the one big moment where peter was really lapsing in judgment. He’ll definitely have to bring his best for the next film though since it’s probably going to be his most difficult experience yet. Also, it’s good to have spider-sense back on board but that subplot was a little murky. I don’t see how or why the ability would have been suppressed at all. It does explain why he isn’t doing so well for the majority of the film, but it does seem a bit like an excuse.

Meanwhile, Mysterio is definitely a very good character. I like his confidence and his showmanship will remind you of Tony or Strange to an extent. He’s a well developed character and really makes his presence felt. I think he made all of the scenes with him even better than they would have been. His final scene in particular is excellent and the opening scene wastes no time either. There are also some characters from the old Marvel films who surprisingly show up. It was a pretty nice guest star cameo.

I think I mainly touched on everything by this point. The film’s able to accomplish a lot during its run time and part of what helps the replay value is the fact that the humor is handled through a lot of quick jokes. There aren’t too many gags that drag on (Happy and May) for too long which is good and a lot of the scenes actually are funny. You get those classic Spider-Man vibes and his human interactions have always been some of the best in Marvel. It’s why the original comics did so well in the first place. The cast is solid and I could easily re-watch this film. It may not be quite as large scale as most of the other Marvel films, but a grounded film once in a while is never a bad idea.

Overall, Far From Home is definitely a very good sequel. I’ve avoided talking about scenes in particular to avoid spoilers since this is still such a new release. It basically brought back all the good parts from Homecoming and continued to build on them. The villain here is pretty memorable and the film did a solid job overall. Even if some of the romance wasn’t perfect, more parts of the film’s humor and writing hit their marks than missed. I definitely recommend checking this film while it’s still in theaters so you don’t get spoiled on the interwebs. The movie naturally has 2 after credit scenes so I’d recommend checking them out. Both of them are actually pretty important even if the second one may be a sliiiiiight stretch. I’m just not 100% sure that it really works, but at the same time you can very reasonably explain it so it’s more of a nitpick than anything. I’m definitely ready to see what they do for Spider-Man 3.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Please Don’t Eat the Daisies Review


It’s time to look at a classic rom/dram/com title. It’s a pretty decent film and I have to give the main guy some extra credit here since he didn’t fall for the usual tricks. He’s definitely still not a great character as he makes some other iffy moves, but all in all the whole story was handled a lot more realistically than I would have otherwise expected. It also gives you some more insight into the mind of the critics.

So the film starts out with Lawrence being promoted to one of the big 8. He’s at a level where a review can make or break a show. Lawrence swears to use this power responsibly and to be an honest critic like he always was. Unfortunately the power does start to get to him and he enjoys ruining people’s careers for a good laugh. So long as he keeps getting his pay check he’s happy to put everyone out of business. His wife Kate suggests that he is losing himself and decides that it’s the perfect time to get a mansion in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately this just serves to widen the gap between them as Lawrence is slowly being turned to the dark side. Can Kate help him turn back into the noble man he once was or is he already too far gone?

The whole critic angle is pretty accurate except I’d usually say that it’s in the opposite side of the spectrum. You’re most likely going to get candid opinions from critics who are just starting out or aren’t at a super high level. The more influence and connections you get, the more likely you’ll have people influencing your reviews. After all, if you’re invited to a private screening or given an expenses paid trip to watch a title it’s definitely going to play on your mind. Do you give the film more leeway or attack it even more to try and cover your bias? While reviewers getting paid off is mainly a meme, the psychological attacks are usually pretty real. Most reviewers won’t even realize what is happening until it’s too late. Of course, nobody’s particularly exempt from that, but that’s why I never buy into reviews anyway. I mostly just like reading the ones that poke a lot of fun at the title or are just super negative. A hobby of mine is reading reviews that tear into things I like, but I digress.

Lawrence was on the escalator down from the start only he doesn’t even try to put up any resistance. I do agree with him giving Alfred’s play a negative review since at the time it was his obvious opinion. Did he have to use such extreme hyperbole in tearing the play down? No, but if that’s his writing style then it makes sense to keep going as normal. From there on out he just gets worse and worse to the point where he stops caring about the average joe. He gets quite obsessive by the end. So, even once Lawrence has had his character arc by the end he just isn’t a very likable character. Keep in mind that he didn’t even attend the play at the last second and I expected him to do so. So, I had no real sympathy for him.

I will give him credit for not being seduced by the actress Deborah though. In almost every kind of scenario like what happened in this film the guy would have cracked and he would have just been forgiven from it by the end. That didn’t happen here. Lawrence turned her down every time so I was glad he kept some morals even if he stopped being a hero. Cheating definitely would have really made his character too far gone. Meanwhile Deborah’s not a great antagonist. It’s good to see her taking a lot of Ls here, but ultimately her character arc wasn’t really needed for the experience.

Meanwhile Kate is the main heroine and she is a good character although she is way too naive. She knows from the start that Alfred is really upset at Lawrence and is actively trying to sabotage him. Why would she trust anything that he says from that point on? Just accepting his manuscript at face value didn’t really make any sense and they’re awful chummy all things considered. Fortunately the other people in the town had a backup plan ready, but all told she shouldn’t have fallen for the trick. It’s hard to get around that, but otherwise she is a good character. She’s definitely a lot more noble and down to earth than Lawrence. She doesn’t hang onto a mountain of pride the way that he does and ultimately she does her best to fit into the community and make sure that everyone comes out of this as a winner.

As for Alfred, he’s definitely a pretty spiteful guy. It’s why the film’s a bit tragic since he was right the whole time. He’s definitely a villain in the film who ultimately doesn’t get the last laugh though. If anything Lawrence is always one step ahead even when Alfred’s plans do go well. Hopefully after this he doesn’t stay as the god-father of the kids though because I’d say that he betrayed Lawrence one too many times. After a while you just gotta cut the guy out entirely. Who knows what else he may do to get back at the main characters.

The writing in the film is pretty good and the pacing is solid. Naturally I can’t say that the romance was all that great though. Kate and Lawrence both kept waiting for the other person to apologize and for the most part I was always on Kate’s side. I’m glad that she wouldn’t always run to him since it should be 50/50. The romance isn’t terrible though so it’s not like it holds the film back. The kids are a bit annoying though. The less said about them the better because they don’t serve any kind of purpose in the film. They just do their best to annoy the main characters and get in the way the whole time. They’re pretty young of course, but this is why I always say that kids can’t hold their own film as main characters or supporting characters. They just don’t really know how to interact on the same level as the others.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this film out if you want to see an old school romance about how power corrupts. It’ll remind you not to take reviews too seriously as they may have an agenda and how even if you go way up the corporate food chain you should never forget the civilians you used to be with. Stature never makes you a bigger person, it just inflates your ego if you don’t watch out. Lawrence didn’t keep himself grounded and it almost caught up to him. If not for Kate he likely would have been swallowed up entirely. Just watch out for the cab driver in the movie, he may ultimately be the one to change the theater landscape!

Overall 6/10