6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review


It’s time to look at the long awaited sequel to the first Maleficent film. That one was definitely quite good and I remember being impressed because it actually did surpass my expectations. It showed that there are still new ways to adapt some of the old classics. Maleficent also made for a quality character. Unfortunately the sequel is quite the step down from the first one. It’s not a massive shift in terms of score as this is still a good movie but there are a lot of questionable moments of characters making terrible decisions and Aurora’s character was completely wrecked.

The movie starts out with Aurora deciding to finally get married to Phillip. She is a princess and he is a prince so this will be a good way to unite the two kingdoms so everyone can live in harmony and forget about the corruption of the world. Unfortunately that’s not the way it is to be. Phillip’s mother Ingrith is not pleased with this and decides that she will fool these suckers into letting their guard down. She invites Maleficent into the castle and frames her for the murder of the king. Maleficent leaves and gets sniped out of the sky like a rank amateur while Aurora loses all of her intelligence and obeys Ingrith’s every whim. Realizing that the humans are going to win at this rate, Borra convinces all of the demons to attack the kingdom. Can they stop the evil humans?

I’ve got several problems here and the graphics aren’t one of them. The film looks quite solid. I like the energy effects and the destruction scenes we have are very good. The soundtrack isn’t terribly memorable but it does work well for the dramatic scenes. There’s a good amount of technical effort that was put into this film. Additionally the script was solid and the pacing was on point. You won’t be bored during this movie and it is careful not to make any big mistakes. So far so good eh? Well, lets talk about some of the issues here because the writing was not up to the task this time.

First off is Aurora. I haven’t seen a character catch as many Ls as this princess in a very long time. She’s one of the more unlikable characters and is now my least favorite Disney princess. First off, she doesn’t believe Maleficent when the lead tells her that she didn’t murder the king. Instead Aurora chooses to passively believe the quite obviously evil queen. Then Ingrith convinces Aurora to turn her back on the dress that the fairies made for her in order to fit in. Aurora is very quick to ditch her heritage and even agree to live in Ingrith’s castle. Aurora has absolutely no agency in the film and sides with all of the worst people. She’s proven here that she is not ready to leave and completely betrays Maleficent’s trust. It’s too bad because Aurora used to be a good character but I think she let romance cloud her judgment and forgot that she has an equal stake in this.

Then you’ve got the gullible monsters who walked straight into the murder house. Why didn’t any of them suspect something when no humans were walking in to the church? They do know that the humans have despised them for a long time so as soon as they noticed that Aurora wasn’t there they should have left. You never walk straight into a villain base without a plan. Then as some of them started getting murdered by the smoke they all started panicking and running. Why didn’t the massive tree monsters try breaking one of the many windows in the castle? They also should have attacked the girl playing the trumpet a lot sooner since she had no real protection. The monsters just looked incredibly weak and I had an issue with that. The scene made no sense.

We also can’t forget how weak the demons were. They were a disgrace as the humans were actually beating them. Humans! You can’t lose to a human, it’s just not done. This only happens when the humans are evil, when they’re good guys then they suddenly can’t fight for beans. It was pretty annoying to see everyone get wiped out by Ingrith’s armies and when they finally start to make a comeback they are forced to stop fighting. The worst example of this was Borra. After watching most of his allies get murdered by one guy he flies in to avenge them but prince Phillip stops him and gives the other guy a full pardon. They’re back to being friends in the next scene. Really? This army guy just betrayed everyone and murdered tons of people but he gets a full pardon? I think a full rebellion is liable to break out in this kingdom over the next few days because that was just wild. I still don’t get how you can lose to humans but let us press on.

Prince Phillip is super oblivious to everything. Aurora should have been telling him what was going on sooner but he also should have kept himself in the loop a little more. He let Ingrith handle everything and that’s really not the case when you’re king. He also clearly did not visit his father in the hospital bed at all since he didn’t notice the obvious wound on him that would have proven that Maleficent was not to blame. He just trusted the report and had no real agency. That’s a big red flag for a character.

Ingrith makes for a good villain in part because she is the only intelligent character around. She actually makes a lot of good plans and takes down all of her opponents with ease. She comes close to murdering Maleficent twice and also takes down whole armies. While she is on the right side at least she is actually an effective ruler. Ingrith knows how to lead her armies and how to take down opposing armies. Something tells me that Aurora and Phillip will not be able to do the same.

Then we have Maleficent who is all bark and no bite in this film. She loses most of her hype with how she has to try and be nice to everyone while Ingrith doesn’t bother with such things. Maleficent loses every verbal debate they have quite badly. I was shocked at how one sided all of their discussions were to the point where I couldn’t really blame Maleficent for running away. I do blame her for getting sniped so easily though. Then in the final fight she should have taken more of the enemies down or at least beaten Ingrith. Losing to her 1 on 1 was the ultimate moment of sadness for her character.

When you boil down to the heart of things, my main issue with this film was the writing. The characters all just looked terrible and seemed to have the average IQ of a slasher film protagonist. They made it awful easy for the villain to do what she wanted to all of them. I would have preferred more of a balanced fight and for the humans to have actually taken some losses. They get away with literal murder in this film as it feels like an unconditional surrender for the fairy folk by the end. The humans now have complete reign over everything.

Overall, This sequel just couldn’t match the original. It’s a decent movie and one I could see again but it makes a whole lot of mistakes. Aurora is hard to watch with how terrible she is and the ending just doesn’t feel fair. Maleficent should have just wiped everyone out and moves somewhere else where she would have been better appreciated. I think that would have done quite a lot to balance things out. If you like the original then you should still check this one out. Logic aside the film is still pretty entertaining with only some slow parts to hold the pacing back. If we get a third film hopefully it embraces the action a little more with a better outcome to the fight. The rest of the demons also need a buff since they looked so weak.

Overall 6/10

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

The Two Mrs. Carrolls Review


It’s time to look at a film about deception and betrayal. From the start all of the characters are fairly complicit in what is going on so you have to take a double look to see who you’re supposed to be rooting for. By the end it’s pretty obvious who the worst party is though. This movie has the honor of being one of the only films I’ve seen to have a kid character who is actually very likable. Trust me when I say that this is a very rare thing indeed. This is a pretty fun film and works well as an old school thriller.

The film starts off with Geoffrey deciding to have an affair despite being married. He meets up with Sally and this goes on for a while but eventually she finds out that he is married and breaks things off. Shortly afterwards Geoffrey returns and says that his wife died of completely natural causes so Sally whole heartedly believes him and they get married right away. The old wife was apparently very sickly and so this was natural but Sally begins to learn things that hint otherwise. One day her old flame Penny shows up with some guests including a rich lady named Cecily. Sally suspects that Cecily and Geoffrey are having an affair and starts to feel very sick every day. Is she about to meet the same fate as the original wife?

So one iffy thing about Sally here is the fact that she believed Geoffrey. Isn’t it awful convenient that the original wife should pass away so suddenly after Sally turned down his advances? She really should have written him off entirely because of the fact that he tried to deceive her the first time. You can’t have a proper romance built on deception so if she had done this then none of this trouble would have started in the first place. It would have been the cleanest way to end things right out of the gate but of course things don’t normally end quite so cleanly.

By the end Sally makes almost every mistake in the book. I think her worst scene is in the climax where she actually grabs the gun and has the drop on Geoffrey but ends up not having the nerve to shoot. Look, if you’re worried about murdering the person (which you shouldn’t be in this scenario) then just shoot the leg or in the chest. Odds are that one shot won’t be fatal and now you also get to live to see another day which is a pretty good bonus if you ask me. More characters need to try and consider this sort of thing. It would definitely go a long way.

As for Geoffrey himself, it’s always odd to have an antagonist as the lead. It can be an interesting concept as you see the villain’s descent into darkness or a time when they were the lesser of two evils. Madoka Rebellion and the Star Wars prequel trilogy are famous examples of that although for the latter “infamous” may be a better word. It doesn’t work for Geoffrey because there is no way you can sympathize or even understand where he is coming from here. He has no good reason to bump off the characters. The guy is just crazy and all the bravado in the world can’t save his character. If anything it makes him all the more fake because you never buy the act for a second. He was going to cheat on his second wife right from the start.

Cecily is the next lady in line and she is pretty bad. She knows that Geoffrey is married and wants to steal him away regardless. She makes her advances quite public and really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Sally continues to invite her for events as well which emboldens her even more. Definitely not a quality character. You’ve also got Penny who liked Sally a lot back in the day. He’s not very subtle about the fact that he still loves her which makes him a bit annoying. If you fall for someone who is married then it’s really your obligation to ignore those feelings and bury them as far as you can. Being obvious about it is just being annoying and adding pressure to everyone around. He helps out a bit at the end but really does take a long time to do anything.

Tuttle is the main doctor who looks after Sally but unfortunately he is not very good at his job. He’s quite insecure and always loves talking about the burglar who has been running around. That subplot is unfortunately a red herring. I thought it would have been awesome if the robber had shown up to try and get Geoffrey near the end but the film didn’t go that route. Either way Tuttle will give you some pretty fun scenes here and there. The guy is a hopeless drunk which doesn’t help with all of his other issues but at least the guy always talks tough.

Finally we’ve got Beatrice who is Geoffrey’s kid. She’s pretty rational and doesn’t even talk like a kid. She likes using really big words throughout the film. At times you suspect that she knows more than she’s letting on but the film doesn’t go in that direction so it’s left to your own interpretation. She means well and Beatrice was definitely the best kid I’ve seen in a while. It’s probably not a very realistic portrayal of a kid, but it was still pretty cool all the same.

The film’s final scene is definitely pretty awesome though. Part of how the film’s murders worked was that Geoffrey would use the milk to poison everyone so in the end he offers the cops a cup when they come to arrest him. The whole scene is pretty tense for a second as you think the film will end with them thinking about it, but instead they give him a hard no. It was a solid attempt but I’m definitely glad that the cops didn’t make that kind of mistake. It would have been a pretty tragic ending for everyone if that had happened.

Overall, This is a pretty solid thriller film. It’s one of those rare movies that is able to succeed despite pretty much everyone being unlikable. Geoffrey is easily the worst character here as everything is really on his head. Sally didn’t help matters by not shooting and by pursuing a relationship with Geoffrey though. At least she was smarter than Horace who thought that blackmailing a serial killer was a good idea. What did he really think was going to happen? Blackmailing a normal person is already risky but someone who doesn’t mind crossing the line? Now that’s a bad plan if I’ve ever heard one!

Overall 7/10

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

Arctic Fury Review


It’s time to look at a really old film. While this may not be the oldest film I’ve seen it certainly felt that way. Everything about this film feels incredibly old and unfortunately not in a good way. There isn’t much of a cast so we don’t get to take advantage of the usual high level of dialogue you would expect from an old film. The whole plot involves a lot of animals as well which is a recipe for disaster. In the end this movie was a big miss.

The movie starts by introducing us to one of the world’s greatest doctors. His name is Thomas and he has just arrived home in time for his daughter’s birthday after a long time abroad. He is ready to finally have some fun, but is then alerted to the fact that a village is being hit with a powerful illness. Thomas warns these guys that his plane is in no condition to fly, but they don’t have another option so he takes the flight. Thomas crashes halfway through to the village and must now try to survive in the arctic by himself. Hoping to be rescued is a long shot so he must use all of his medical expertise in order to get past this.

The entire film is Thomas’ journey. In general I can’t really say that survival films are really my thing. They can be interesting and all if handled extremely well, but that isn’t the case here. The arctic makes for a better backdrop than the jungle in some ways, but it’s still no city. You’ll have to try and focus on the landscapes to keep yourself entertained since there isn’t a lot of dialogue. His two pets bears were fun and at least gave the film a little more of an adventure kind of spirit. It was a better move than having Thomas on his own even if it makes the film pretty tense the whole time since you’re worried that something’s going to happen.

The film managed to show some restraint most of the time. Even when the bear got knocked over by the avalanche he ended up surviving which was a key part. Likewise the bear cubs were okay in the end. The only pretty sketchy part was the climax with the dogs. They were all crazed with hunger and then some got trapped in the burning building. Even assuming most or all of them survived the film made it clear that they wouldn’t be alive for long because of how sick they were. It’s definitely a way to try and make the situation a little more depressing but this is the way to destroy your film, not a way to enhance it.

Thomas seemed like a pretty reasonable character. He doesn’t go crazy which is an important first step and getting past the arctic is definitely not something that would be very easy to do. When you consider all of these pieces then he did a perfectly reasonable job here. I had no real qualms with him. He’s not the most interesting lead out there, but he didn’t have an opportunity to really develop his character so you can’t fault him all that much. The other characters didn’t really get a chance to do anything except for his wife who never gave up hope which is important. At least she believed in him while everyone else quickly wrote him off as dead and continued about their business.

This movie is also incredibly short. It’s only about an hour give or take so it should pass by very quickly right? The movie feels a lot longer than it actually is though so I can’t give it much props when it comes to the pacing. Perhaps this is one genre that old films will be put at a disadvantage with since newer ones will be able to give you more detail and interesting backdrops to the survival aspect. I’d need to see more survival films to be sure of this though and in general it is a tough genre to get right no matter what genre you are in. Perhaps we could ditch the narrator as well. A good one can amplify the scenes like in DBZ but you don’t really need one depending on the genre. There was no hype to be built here.

Overall, Arctic Fury is not really my kind of film. I can see some people enjoying this if they really like the concept of having to survive on your own against overwhelming odds. That kind of thing is okay for an episode or two but I just don’t think you can do a whole film with that premise. Maybe if it were two guys stuck since at least you would be able to have banter between them. Otherwise it just doesn’t work for me. Not much happens here and to survive you always have to eat animals which doesn’t do wonders for the movie. Whether it is just fish or not you still realize that the film is racking up Ls.

Overall 3/10

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

Bugsy Malone Review


It’s time for a rather odd parody of the usual gangster film. Gangster films can be hit or miss as they all tend to be pretty similar but I haven’t watched enough of them to say that the whole genre is the same. That being said, a parody of one should have a lot of potential. This potential vanished when the kids showed up. The plot of this movie is that it’s kids who are acting like gangsters…and it doesn’t really work. The gimmick gets old after about 5 minutes and the rest of the film proceeds to drag on.

The film starts off with one of the gangsters getting iced by an opposing gang. He was supposedly one of the best in the biz but you would never guess it from the scene. He is murdered by whip cream bullets. His boss isn’t happy about this but he doesn’t have much time to worry since his other minions are pretty incompetent as well. He decides to start messing up the opposing gang in retaliation. Nobody crosses Bugsy Malone! There is actually a fairly large cast in this film which is a bit surprising. You do have to give the film props for effort. We’ve got 2 different romance plots, several of the gangsters have their own leads and it all results in a big meetup at the end of the film.

The whole film is a parody including the climax but if you take that away then the setting of the climax and the scale is pretty impressive. The film basically breaks the third wall here though as everyone survives the bullet shower and they all become friends. It’s a wholesome ending I suppose, but not the one you would be hoping for. It would have been fun if everyone just fainted from the whip cream and the narrator just says that this is why gangs are dying out. Eventually all of the gangs would always start fighting so there is no way to truly come out on top.

Here’s why the film didn’t work for me. I’m already not a big fan of most kid characters in these kinds of things. Kids can be pretty annoying and it’s hard to take them seriously. It’s rare to have a kid character who is really on the ball and talking with eloquent dialogue. That is not the case in this film. The gangster accents work pretty well as they are fairly realistic so I have to give a good amount of credit for that. Aside from that I just couldn’t take them seriously. The film would have ironically been far superior if the characters had all been adults. The way I see it, the kids part was a gimmick that the film was leaning on. It didn’t pan out. After the initial few minutes you’re over this “twist” and are ready to go back to the actual movie.

The movie also ends up being rather boring as a result. The characters go through the motions but kids have a really hard time being funny or engaging. I don’t think you’ll even crack a smile from start to finish while watching this movie. The romance plot is pretty terrible with the characters both being unreasonable. The gangsters are villains of course, but they’re not even charismatic so it’s not like you can really root for them. So the film didn’t have engaging characters, had fairly subpar writing and the pacing was pretty bad. There’s really not much left to salvage it.

It’s still not a 2 or lower because it’s not like there was any terrible content here. It’s still pretty kid friendly and as I mentioned the film tries to be ambitious, it just doesn’t work. Ah yes, did I mention this was a musical? We get quite a few songs here. There’s the one from the kid who wants people to recognize that he is a tap dancer so he goes on a long tangent about this. There’s a big one in the climax as all of the gang members sing around and try to have a good time, etc. None of the songs are all that good and certainly pale in comparison to the classic Disney songs.

Overall, Bugsy Malone was certainly an experimental film. You can always make the case that it’s good to try new things out even if it doesn’t work out. It’s a tough case but I understand the logic. Eventually you’ll hopefully find a formula that works out, but this isn’t it. Even if you’re a big fan of gangster films I would advise you to stay far away from this one. The fact that it goes through every typical gangster plot doesn’t really help its case because you could just watch one of those instead of this one. Bugsy Malone is not exciting or engaging and if anything it’ll just make you want to watch a real gangster film. Kids can’t hold their own films and if I ever need to give someone proof of that I’ll have them watch this film. It’s the easiest way to explain why this is the case.

Overall 3/10

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

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent horror film. You’ll probably remember hearing the name from a while back even if the film was pretty quiet once it came out. I remember thinking the trailer didn’t look so good and the film follows suit. It does its best to be pretty edgy and give you some stories that are both dark and gross, but the end result is a mess that I can’t recommend. It’s not the worst horror film that I’ve seen, but it’s about average for the genre. Average for a horror film is not very good overall.

The film starts with a group of teens deciding to get revenge on the school bully. For years he has tormented them quite a lot and so this Halloween they are going to load their treat bucket with things other than treats. When Tommy steals it they realize that they didn’t have much of a plan beyond that. They meet up with a guy named Ramon and then the whole crew gets locked by the bully inside a haunted house. There Stella finds a mysterious book that was written by the girl who used to live here before everyone got murdered. Now the book is writing a new story every night and the person whose name is on the page dies a gruesome death. Can Stella break the curse or are all of her friends about to be destroyed?

It’s a pretty standard horror plot. When you awaken an evil being from the past she always tries to murder everyone. The nice ghosts never come out to play, but I suppose it’s because they are always willing to move on. The main characters definitely aren’t the most sympathetic figures around though. Their whole intro is about getting revenge on Tommy and two wrongs never make a right. Additionally the film does its best to make each character as unlikable as possible. Auggie is always insulting his sister and Chuck can’t help but stare at her through the window. Stella is ultra goth and loves talking about all these gruesome murders that used to occur. Naturally the group would awaken a monster by breaking into a house and reading a book they shouldn’t have. The whole thing started because they broke the law and busted in the house after all.

The characters never really improve. Chuck is pretty bad from start to finish. He panics quite a lot and quickly makes all of the wrong moves possible. Ditching the other main characters to run on his own is one of the worst things you can do when someone is bumping people off one at a time. If you’re with someone else then usually you’re at least a little safer. I’d make the case that his death did break the rule of each character being murdered at night though, but why should villains follow the rules right? His murder is probably the most interesting one though and easily had the best visuals. The monster who got him looked like a legitimate video game character and was also one of the toughest dilemmas to get out of. Since this villain controlled space and time there isn’t much you can do. Certainly one of the scariest hugs I’ve seen in a while.

Then we have Auggie who is also pretty bad. He’s shown to be way too desperate the whole time and only slightly more mature than Chuck. His death was pretty awful in part because Auggie was given every opportunity to escape. It’s one of those scenes that exposes the film’s writing and nothing in the scene makes sense. Auggie knows that the story is about eating a toe and the heroes keep telling him not to eat the stew, but he does anyway. He doesn’t even look before taking a bite. The scene was terrible in every way possible and it’s just hard to have more sympathy for him at this point because it’s like he wanted the monster to show up. How do you still eat the stew even when everyone told you not to do so at least a dozen times? He hides under the bed and closes his eyes so afterwards he doesn’t know where the villain is. Great…

Stella at least has an origin story to explain why she is so into murder. Something happened with her Mom a while back which messed her up and with these murders being activated by her she is not taking things so well. Still, she’s just not much of a fun character and is hanging out with a pretty bad crowd. Getting knocked into the parallel dimension didn’t do wonders for her. By virtue of being the main character she does get a lot to do and is better than her two sidekicks but never really made it into the next tier of being a solid lead.

The best character in the film is easily Ramon. He’s actually a quality character who is trying to get out of the town without getting into trouble. He’s in the wrong town for that though and you feel bad for him when the characters jump into his car and get him into trouble. Ramon can take care of himself pretty well but there’s not much you can do against super powered monsters. He still lasts for quite a while on his own though. His backstory is also pretty sympathetic since it’s hard to do something when there’s a good chance you’ll be murdered. At least his decisions actually made a lot of sense from start to finish.

While this movie isn’t an anthology you could say that the murders follow that style. Each murder is pretty different as everyone faces a different kind of threat. The hug one was pretty cool and the Scarecrow was also intense. The guy probably could have handled the situation a little better but it was another reality warping kind of threat so ultimately it would all be futile. You still shouldn’t trip so often though. The guy was drunk which didn’t help matters for him. The monster under the bed was pretty hype as well.

The spiders was definitely the worst one though. That one’s more gross than scary with spiders that defy logic. I’d argue that it was probably the most vicious way to go with the hug being the easiest since it didn’t look particularly painful or anything. The film did seem to like its more gross plots though like the toe and the bag or stuff that the heroes used early on. The scenes are brief but don’t really help its case. The film couldn’t resist and gets quite dark by the end with the backstory of the villain who is murdering everyone. We get a pretty long torture scene which is always a quick way to lose a lot of points. I feel like almost every horror film has a backstory for how the villain became all powerful and it’s always completely unnecessary. Keeping that out of things would have been good. The film should have focused on the old lady and the dog more although of course that’s always risky. The film actually did good in not letting the dog get destroyed in this film. I was pretty worried about that for a while there.

The film tries to have an emotional subplot with Stella’s Dad. He doesn’t get to appear much but he seems like a good guy. He gives her a lot of good advice throughout the film like not going outside after dark but she never listens. It’s a pretty tough situation for him too. He’s not handling it perfectly but he’s trying. It’s a plot that largely gets pushed to the side though as the movie has no real time for it. In theory a sequel would explore this more based on the ending although that doesn’t seem like it’s likely to happen. I also think a sequel wouldn’t be needed if Stella had just written a few more lines. I can’t say much more than that for spoiler reasons but if you watch the film you’ll see what I mean.

Overall, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is basically your average horror film. I’d say that it has above average graphics as some of the monsters were pretty good. It’s still held back by the usual elements though like some overly dark details and terrible writing. The characters really could have played things out a lot better than they did to the point where it was almost like a parody at times. It’s all played deadly serious though so hopefully the writers were self-aware but it’s really hard to say. If you like horror films then you’ll probably enjoy this one, otherwise I’d recommend going back and watching some Scooby Doo features instead.

Overall 2/10

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

The Tall Target Review


It’s time to look at an assassination plot and you don’t see a whole lot of these. It can be pretty fun to watch one guy try to stop the master plan on his own. It’s a similar plot to something like White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen. This film is a lot older so it isn’t quite as dramatized but you’ve got the core elements which is what makes this a pretty fun film to check out.

The movie starts with John bursting into the police office and asking if they’ve read his report. He works for the cops as well but is lower ranked and nobody really believes him. He is convinced that someone is going to try and murder Abe Lincoln before he is able to give his speech at Baltimore. The bosses laugh this off and the lead ends up throwing away his badge. He will now have to get on the train and save Lincoln on his own. Jerry’s ticket goes missing pretty quick so are the villains on to him or is his mind playing tricks on him and there is no assassination attempt?

I say that for suspense but it’s obvious that there is an attempt or there wouldn’t be a movie. Mainly the movie plays out as a mystery where you have to try and guess who the culprit is. It’s a big train that everyone is on after all so there are a ton of suspects to choose from. You’ve got Charlotte who is a writer and loves talking about politics. She doesn’t mind asking tough questions so it’s always possible that she wants to make a move and take Abe Lincoln down herself. Charlotte is a fun character and definitely makes the film interesting.

Then you’ve got Lance who is a soldier and is carrying a lot of guns on the train. Perhaps he has been paid off and wants to take one last shot to take Abe down for good. There’s his sister Ginny who is always quick to defend Lance. Perhaps she is using him to place attention away from her so that she can take the shot and win some kind of glory. Lance’s slave Rachel is also on the train. She may be forced to be an assassin if her family is hostage or for some kind of personal reasons. Finally you have Jeffers who is a general on the train. He gets along pretty well with John but that’s never a guarantee of anything. Perhaps he is trying to keep John close so he always knows where the main character is.

A large portion of the film is John trying to get intel but he has to do it slowly since he’s not in the best position. His biggest mistake was throwing away his badge in the opening scene. While it was good for dramatic effect it definitely crippled his ability to actually make a difference here. Nobody will actually believe that he is with the cops now and it’s not like he can legally arrest anyone either. This short sighted move aside John was still a pretty fun character. He certainly did lose a lot though. John definitely isn’t the best fighter out there.

In general the film had a pretty interesting cast. Jeffers made for a good assist and acted quite a bit like Watson. He’s a good shot and always has a lot of confidence. I liked the conductor as well and that’s another scene where John made a mistake. He should have let the conductor throw the fake John off the train. It really would have made things a little easier later on. Rachel was fun too. She made the right moves in the end and was a very reasonable character. The movie had high quality writing throughout and it’s part of what made the movie enjoyable. Everyone was trying to think two steps ahead of the next character and this made for a good blend of engaging characters who were all quite intelligent and knew what they were doing.

The twist at the end of the film was also pretty fun. It really adds another layer to the mystery. Everyone was getting messed with to some extent and that’s why it was such a good train ride. I really didn’t have any problems with it. Even John’s mistakes I wouldn’t count against the film because the lead doesn’t always have to be a super genius every time. Some of the mistakes he made I can easily see a person doing. If anything John was still really brave with a lot of the risks he was taking. Things could have easily backfired on him if things had gone sideways.

It’s also interesting to see the politics in this film. As the train had a lot of people from the south there were a lot of people there actively opposing Lincoln. You couldn’t find a single guy there who was actually happy about him becoming President or at least they would be too nervous to speak up about it. When you’re outnumbered politically and in a train with a ton of guns it’s probably a safe idea to just stay quiet. This also helps to prevent you from picking out the correct suspect too easily as everyone admits that they would love to shoot Lincoln. You just need to find out which one is actually serious about it while the others are all just bluffing and trying to talk a bit game.

Overall, The Tall Target is a pretty solid film. It is not a movie I was familiar with so I can definitely say that it is a hidden gem in cinema. It provides a suspenseful story and a good array of characters to back it up. The cast is almost surprisingly large with how many of these guys are well developed. The movie never overstays it’s welcome and I can whole heartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a good thriller. You’ll be in for a lot of twists and turns.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Short Circuit 2 Review


It’s time to take a look at the sequel to the original Short Circuit. This time we get more of a focus on the sidekick Ben as the leads from the last film do not return. I actually thought this film was an improvement over the first one. I still wouldn’t call it great or anything, but it was pretty entertaining and I did like the climax. We get a fairly iconic song and a lot of tension.

So the film starts off by showing us that Ben is now selling tiny Johnnys down at the street. I don’t know how they let him sell government technology like this or even how nobody is buying them when they are clearly super sophisticated. There’s a lot of plot details that you just have to roll with right off the bat. Anyway, that aside he ends up meeting a girl named Sandy who is interested in the product. She wants 1000 of them within the month so she can finally have a good deal to show her boss. Her job is on the line because she has been unable to develop any good toys for the company. Ben is convinced he can’t do this, but he is stiff armed by Fred into doing so. Once Sandy leaves the two of them realize that they are in big trouble. Especially since some thugs keep showing up to their factory and beating everyone up. Luckily Johnny 5 shows up and decides that he is going to help these two.

Johnny 5 is incredibly advanced so making the 1000 is a piece of cake at this point. As a result the film needs to add some drama to make the film longer. We get that in a few different ways. First we have Fred who is trying to sell Johnny for big bucks which causes a trust issue between them. Then you have Ben who has fallen for Sandy immediately and keeps trying to ask her out but failing. Finally you have 3 comic relief villains who are trying to steal from the nearby bank. When intimidation doesn’t work it appears that they will have to use Johnny’s naivety against him. It’s an underhanded technique…which means it is perfect for these villains! Johnny also isn’t the smartest tool in the shed so it’s not like it’s a very difficult plan.

The main thing that holds this film back is the romance plot. It’s one of the worst ones that I’ve seen in a while. The point of the plot is to be rather cringey as Ben isn’t exactly used to dealing with girls, but that doesn’t make the plot any more tolerable. It’s all rather cheesy and forced the whole time. Even Ben should know better than to just read off the screen when it’s saying absurd things. The whole plot goes a bit too far. Ben is a lot better than he was in the first film, but he’s not yet a great character. He still gets in over his head and makes too many mistakes.

Fred is the far more entertaining character. He’s got a lot of street smarts so he isn’t about to get tricked or swindled by corporate. He does let greed go to his head though and it’s hard to simply wave off his betrayal of Johnny 5 in the climax. He really was going to sell the guy which is crazy since by then he knew that Johnny was alive. When it came time to fight off the thugs Fred also looked absolutely terrible. He is definitely the definition of a character who is all talk and no action. Still a fun character who elevates the movie though.

Then we have Sandy who is a big step up from the first heroine. Her journey to try and impress her boss is a lot more sympathetic than what they were going for with Stephanie. She is really desperate to do well this time and puts in the effort. The romance is pretty cheesy as I mentioned but at least Sandy was just ignoring that bit for as long as she could. The cast of the film isn’t all that big so the only other major character would be Oscar. Compared to most of these characters he is a genius so it’s pretty easy for him to get his plan across. The heroes just didn’t really know how to deal with a character like this. Johnny looked terrible in letting the comic relief villains sneak up on him in the end though.

That does take us to Johnny. He is much better than in the first film because he is no longer quite as new to the game. He still does act like a rookie at times like when people trick him into breaking into cars though. Johnny also tends to lose most of his battles by underestimating his opponents which isn’t a great trick either. I know this all sounds negative, but what helps is how he handles himself in the climax. Right when the “I Need a Hero” song starts to play you know that things are going to get good. Yes it’s a little over dramatic but this is a moment where a little cheese is fine. You’re not really meant to take this seriously but it’s still a powerful moment since Johnny is close to death at this point. It was a solid way to redeem his character right at the end and it also bumped up the movie’s soundtrack at the same time.

Overall, Short Circuit 2 was more fun than the first one. The writing was a little better with some more enjoyable jokes. Perhaps it is just that the New York style or humor works better for these guys. Fred was just a really good character to have some banter with Ben. Johnny also looked better and the climax was actually fun. It’s too bad we never got a third film since they were having this upward trend. Perhaps it will still come out at some point although it sounds like that isn’t very likely at this point. If you want to see a fun little film then this is a solid one to check out. It really doesn’t connect to the first almost at all so you can easily just jump into this one.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Short Circuit Review


It’s time to look at a film from a while back that I only began hearing about recently. Apparently it was a pretty big film back in the day. It’s a nice enough story and was more enjoyable than E.T. although I wouldn’t call it the most exciting flick out there. You should be reasonably entertained throughout the adventure although you’ll be shaking your head at how the characters keep making the worst decisions they can think of.

The film starts by showing off the robots through an exhibition to the army. These guys can take down opposing armies and seem to have quite a lot of potential. Unfortunately one of them becomes sentient and decides to live his own life. In the next film he’ll be known as Johnny so I may as well call him that here. Johnny meets up with a girl named Stephanie who believes he is an alien. Eventually she learns the truth and must now decide if she will help keep him safe or if she will deliver him to the feds. Can she trust them not to murder the poor guy?

Naturally in a film like this it will likely depend at least on part whether or not you think he is truly sentient. Would turning Johnny off really be the equivalent of murder? It gets pretty philosophical. Right now I don’t believe we are at the point where a robot could get sentient, but hypothetically if it was possible then naturally destroying a robot would still be the wrong thing to do. Here we have Johnny literally begging for his life so Stephanie is right in trying to keep him safe. That being said, she really doesn’t do a good job of it and gets them into a lot of sticky situations.

Johnny isn’t really my kind of character because he just doesn’t know enough about human culture. A good chunk of the film is him making a mess of Stephanie’s life and constantly missing the point. He ends up helping out more towards the end of the film as he kidnaps one of the villains and saves Stephanie’s life, but it takes him a long while to get to that point. He’s better than E.T. because that isn’t all that hard to be honest but I can’t really give him a lot more credit than that. In the end he can barely hold his own in a fight and usually has to rely on gimmicks despite having some pretty good armaments. That tells me that he still needs to work on his battle strategies.

As for Stephanie, she was trying a little too hard to be quirky. She wasn’t one of the more engaging main characters out there. She means well of course, but that’s not enough on its own. She does beat some of the other characters though. Ben is one of the scientists trying to locate Johnny and he’s easily the worst character in the film. The film takes the trope of the scientists not knowing much about human culture way too far. Almost all of his lines are pretty terrible and he’s really just good at ruining genuinely wholesome moments. He is a little better in the sequel but was written really terribly here.

Newton is the character who should be more reasonable. He’s a scientist who built his robot a little too well and Stephanie has to convince him that Johnny’s change is real. This is all well and good except that Newton is way too stubborn about the whole thing. It takes him an eternity to get with the program and his romance subplot with Stephanie is about as rushed as you could possibly imagine. Newton had potential to be a good character and has some decent scenes, but they weren’t nearly good enough.

The standout character here was actually Howard. He easily has the best scene in the film as he surprises everyone by whipping out a gun when the heroes were heading for the getaway car. It showed that he still had his old agent skills at the ready even though he no longer works in the field. That’s the kind of boss you want to have. He commanded respect and I would have liked to have sen more of him. He was also quick to fire another member for disobeying orders later on which is the right step. You can’t properly lead if you have someone undermining your authority.

The action scenes when they occur are pretty good. It was nice to see Johnny take down the other robots. They may be a bit clunky so the fights aren’t super big or anything, but they’re still solid all the same. While the film’s humor is usually missing the mark, it does have some solid scenes. The writing is pretty bad so the movie couldn’t deliver as well as it might have wanted. Short Circuit is an interesting title in that sense as I wouldn’t call it a bad film but it makes enough mistakes where I can’t call it a very good film either. That’s why it is square in the middle. It does enough right to hang in there.

Overall, Short Circuit is not the best film I’ve seen, but it will keep you entertained from start to finish. Think of it as a good film to watch once, but you won’t need to check it out again. If you like a wholesome story about a robot learning how to make friends then this is the one for you. It can get a little cheesy and the characters are pretty weak, but the core concept isn’t all that bad. It’s almost like Terminator except the robots simply aren’t a true threat at the moment. They hype up Johnny’s laser at the beginning but it never truly becomes all that powerful if you ask me. He still takes a lot of losses as the film goes on.

Overall 5/10

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

It’s Alive Review


It’s time to check out a film about a monster baby. This seems to have been quite the popular genre back in the day with a lot of terrible films that had a similar premise. I can’t say that this film is much better than those. It’s pretty much what you would expect as the monster slashes through everyone until eventually someone remembers how to fire a gun. The plot requires a lot of suspense of disbelief with how slow everyone is to react and how nobody acts realistically. It’s definitely a movie that you will want to avoid.

The movie starts with Frank and Lenore excited about their next baby. It’s about to show up so they head to the hospital. Unfortunately the baby jumps out and murders a bunch of people before escaping through the air ducts. The hospital asks Frank to keep this quiet so they can exterminate the monster in peace. Frank gives them his blessing and is promptly fired from his job as a PR guy. He takes Lenore home and they tell their kid Chris to stay at a different house while this all blows over. Unfortunately the hospital and the police have a hard time tracking down this baby so it goes on a murder spree as it gets closer and closer to where Frank lives. After it murders a few more people it is now ready to go home. Can Frank stop the monster and save the day or are they all about to get eaten?

There are a ton of problems with this film but lets start with the biggest one. The film squeezes in some animal violence for no discernible reason. The instant you see that Chris owns a cat you know that things are going to go south. It’s pretty much the film throwing in the white flag before it has even started. It naturally gets destroyed by the end of the film in a pretty gruesome fashion. It takes away from the film’s attempt to humanize the monster by the end by saying that it won’t murder family. The family pet is clearly family so I don’t think the writers were really looking at the right script. There’s no way to sympathize with the baby at this point.

It also makes Chris’ reaction feel rather off. He notices the cat right away, but then dismisses this as he tries to console the baby. That’s not really a proper reaction, it just makes you think Chris has gone nuts. Perhaps the experience broke his mind the way that it did for Lenore. She looks pretty bad the whole time too. At first she is pretty crazy when the experience first happens and seems to be on board with destroying the creature. Later on she grows attached to it after it’s already murdered tons of people. It’s simply too far gone by then and she should realize that storing it in the back will only delay the inevitable. Again I must also point out that the cat was taken down by this point which is no good.

Then the film is also quite violent. It’s one of those films where the director must have had many pots of paint at the ready because he tends to throw it at all of the characters right off the bat. Everyone dies as violently as possible. We rarely see the creature move so it’s hard to say how fast it is, but it’s the size of a baby. How is it destroying so many people? People never seem to use their guns in times and just stand there like sacks of potatoes as they get completely train wrecked. I’d have liked to see people at least put up some kind of fight. It’s like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. There’s no realistic way you should be losing to a tomato. This film’s all about shock value so that’s really the only point to all of this. I guess they figured it doesn’t have to make sense so long as it is entertaining. Unfortunately it wasn’t entertaining.

At least Frank is trying to end this although he also gets a little too obsessive on trying to put distance between himself and the creature. What he should have done was move out of town for the 3 weeks with Lenore and Chris and hope that the monster couldn’t follow them. It would allow them to get some new surroundings and hopefully help with the coping process. So long as that was accomplished perhaps they would all be able to move on. To be fair, he had no reason to assume the baby could follow him all the way home but in horror films like this the overall message is really that nobody is safe. Wherever you go there will always be the monster right around the corner.

One of the worst parts about the film is the fact that it’s just not interesting. An evil baby doesn’t make for a visually interesting villain nor are the characters good enough to keep you engaged. It’s a very bleak film the whole time where the heroes can’t trust anyone. Everyone seems to be out to get them and if you’re a remotely nice character then you’re gonna get bumped off. Ironically the nicest characters are the ones who end up paying the highest price. If you’re looking out for yourself then odds are that you’ll survive this experience which is pretty odd. That’s not exactly what you would have expected. The film could have been a little more decent if Lenore hadn’t gone crazy by the end but I don’t think the score could have been saved all that much if at all. This film was just beyond help.

Overall, It’s Alive is a pretty terrible film. There really isn’t anything redeemable about it as it checks off all the wrong boxes. The characters are pretty terrible and really make the worst decisions possible. The creature murders way too many people before being taken down to the point where you have to stretch your disbelief quite a lot because there is no way all of the humans should be losing like this. It’s just crazy to see everyone going down like dominoes. I’d highly recommend watching something a little more wholesome like Alvin and the Chipmunks. That one shows how you can bond with a nice creature as a child or sorts as opposed to an evil child in this film who doesn’t even appear to be human. Perhaps there was a good message here once but it’s all gone as the film goes on.

Overall 0/10

1 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Anaconda Review


It’s time to take a look at an old snake film. Whenever the main villain of a film is an animal that’s a pretty bad sign for the film since it’s going to be hard to defeat it without resorting to animal violence. Whether the animal is an antagonist or not, injuring an animal in a film will always lose you some points. At least if you’re a series like a comic strip of a television program you can have enough episodes to counter it. A single movie? That’s a tall order and this film wasn’t able to get around that. It’s a weak film with or without the animal element but it didn’t help matters.

The film starts with a quick murder. We then cut to Terri and her crew as they are filming a documentary about a tribe that lives nearby. Unfortunately none of them know where the tribe is so they’re basically just wandering aimlessly. Their boat runs across a man named Paul who says he used to be a pastor and now he’s a snake hunter. The heroes mostly find this guy suspicious but let him and his large bags come aboard without doing any kind of check. He then starts to give them a lot of directions and before they know it the group is now on a completely different course. Steven is injured so Paul has assumed control of the ship. Will he really take them to the nearest hospital or is he just leading them to their doom?

From the start you can tell this guy is probably a villain but you can understand why the heroes picked him up. What they should have done immediately after was check his bags though and at least held onto the guns. Why give a guy you just met 5 minutes ago access to all of your weapons and life supports? Seriously, they give this guy complete freedom on the ship after knowing him for a few hours. The guy can tell a catchy story but they really shouldn’t be so careless in the wild. The crew initially outnumbers him but slowly the crew starts shrinking and their odds grow worse and worse.

The most annoying part here is probably how many times Paul punks them as the film goes on. From heading to abandoned boats to getting others to leave for a bit, Paul plays everyone like a fiddle. He’s also pretty smug about it as he finds everyone’s deaths amusing and nobody even points a finger at him. By the time they give him the loaded gun you’re just shaking your heads at the leads. Even once they finally do have him down for the count you’ve always got that one crew member who manages to somehow lose a fight to a guy who is tied up and on the ground. The scene is hard to buy into. Surely you’d at least be able to stab the guy while you’re that close right? Paul gets way too much hype as a villain. The heroes probably should have beaten him up a bit more. Terri’s right that they shouldn’t murder him, but break the guy’s legs or something. At least tie him up better. In films I don’t get why they just tie the villain up with a quick strand of rope. Since their lives are in danger they should have used a ton of layers at the very least.

As for the characters, it’s not the strongest cast I’ve seen. Gary is annoying the whole time as he is quick to sell everyone out for some cash. You’d think he would have some more principals. Following a guy you just met isn’t a good idea. Meanwhile Denise means well but she looks terrible at the end of the film which destroys her character. She spends way too much time gloating and getting psyched out to be taken seriously. Steven does a good job of at least trusting his instincts over Paul’s, but he was one of the people who was quickest to believe Paul’s story so that loses him a bunch of points from me.

Mateo is a character who clearly had a past with Paul. He doesn’t bring it up and doesn’t clue anyone in. I can’t tell if it’s because he’s afraid of the guy or afraid that since he was illegally poaching the heroes would turn him in. Either way he makes the worst call of being the last one on the ship knowing that the place is super dangerous. He probably should have done….just about anything else. Warren’s got some character at least as he likes a good game of golf. Right away he threatens to murder Danny though and you realize why you would never want to go on a cruise with these guys. Warren was one of the most entertaining characters at least.

The best character was definitely Danny. He didn’t give up as quick as the others and was always ready for a fight. He comes up with some good plans at the end and steps up to the plate when the chips are down. He’s easily the highlight here. Terri’s the director of the film so she’s got a good amount of say as well. Unfortunately Paul definitely tricks her quite a bit as the film goes on and she usually makes the wrong decision. While her plan to nab Paul ended up working, it’s a plan I never like. I think you just need to go in and take him down. If Terri had let Danny go to finish off Paul early on then most of the film may not have even happened. That would have definitely been the easiest way to end things.

This film is pretty violent so definitely keep that in mind if you’re checking it out. The snakes aren’t playing around and there is a decent body count here. Since people are getting crunched it’s not quite as violent and the TV version I saw cut out most of the actual climaxes, but even so this can be an intense one. There is quite a bit of animal violence here as well with the snake taking a lot of hits and a monkey also being shot. As a result the film keeps on shooting itself in the foot. The writing is pretty terrible as well with a lot of plot convenience for things to get nearly as far as they did. Any reasonable crew would have bumped Paul off early on.

Overall, Anaconda is a film that drags on as it goes for a lot of quick thrills without much story to back it up. The characters are annoying and the pacing isn’t very good. The main Snake makes for some striking visuals as it busts through windows and doors while approaching its prey. It’s a good antagonist but at the same time there are only so many ways you can show off a snake so before long it gets into almost recycled footage territory. If the film had taken place in a city I think it would have been more interesting. Anaconda plays itself pretty straight so there’s no real humor or anything. I think it actually could have used some of that. As it stands, I’d recommend watching something else instead like Sonic The Hedgehog while it’s still in theaters.

Overall 1/10