One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Psychological films can definitely be good but this one didn’t do the trick. I knew almost right away that it wasn’t going to be very good but from there it just kept on getting worse and worse. Throw in a pretty awful ending and that’s really a wrap. There may have been some potential here but ultimately films where someone is stuck in a prison or an asylum rarely turn out to be good.

The movie starts off with Randle being admitted to the psychiatric ward for the insane. He’s basically faking it because this way he doesn’t have to go outside and do hard labor while he serves out his sentence. Everyone around him is truly insane but he’s fine with that and figures he will still have his fun. Nurse Ratched doesn’t appreciate this though and is determined to break him in the same way that she has broken everyone else. It will be a battle of wills but she does have a big advantage over Randle because people don’t have a lot of rights while within the facility. This means that she effectively has cart blanche to do whatever she wants with him. Not exactly the position you want to put yourself in right?

Well you’d think that but surprisingly it turns out that most of the prisoners are here by choice. Yes that’s right. They can actually walk out anytime they want to but they feel more secure in this facility. It’s pretty wild and as you can imagine Randle is definitely shocked to hear this. The problem is that Randle actually isn’t here willingly at this point because he acted too convincingly in showing everyone that he’s crazy. So ironically it is most imperative that he leaves now but at this point he’s already in deep. He wants to find a way to bring the rest of his friends out with him but to do that he has to convince them that they already have the bravery and skills needed to make it on the outside. It’s a good speech but can he really convince them of this in time?

Randle’s character is the most entertaining one in the movie to be sure but at the same time it’s not like you can really call him a great time. He bribes guards, likes to have one night stands and is generally a bad influence to everyone around him. He believes in living life to the fullest and doing whatever he wants but of course that isn’t really the best kind of lifestyle long term. It’ll catch up to him some day and all of the characters know it. Unfortunately Randle takes too long to really make his move and is easily baited. Letting his instincts run wild all the time is really the cause for why things don’t go very well for him in the end. His whole ending is just super tragic the whole time. He goes through a whole lot and ultimately there isn’t really a shining light at the end of the tunnel for him. It’s just as bleak at the end as it was at the start, honestly much more so even.

There are quite a number of people in the asylum with Randle but the two biggest ones were Billy and the Chief. The Chief is a very quiet guy who initially seems to be mostly braindead as he can’t understand anything but as the film goes on Randle i able to get to him more. It’s always nice to have someone strong by your side. The film also deals with the themes of freedom and how if you’re trapped in your own body then that’s the worst feeling at all. It deals with the ending and that was still not a great way to show the message. I feel like you have to find a way to hope that it’s possible to cure someone instead of just bumping him off. I understand the action though. If I was going to be vegetable then I’d probably want to be taken out too so I’m not trapped but it’s definitely something you hope you never have to really even think about.

Then there is Billy who was probably the most ready to listen to Randle from the start. He has a big stutter which is why he’s in here but otherwise he’s mainly normal. The guy can reason and think just like anyone else. Billy just lacks confidence but is otherwise as normal as anyone else. He’s definitely someone who should have left sooner than later. Honestly they all should have really gotten out of there because it was clear from the jump that Ratched did not have their best interests at heart. She just wanted power and control. She definitely got those things here.

Ratched makes for an intense villain. I like how she really tries to hide this and act normal but you know what’s up the whole time. She has a bit of a nefarious air about her and definitely leaves no room for compassion or mercy. But that’s what makes her a good villain. She isn’t half hearted at all and is just determined to be as antagonistic as possible. You don’t always see a whole lot of villains like that. Her fights with Randle were the best part of the film but of course it was always one sided just by nature of their positions within the hospital. At the end of the day it’s not like he can seriously defy her after all. When he gets out of line she’ll just have him tortured.

That’s ultimately what makes this film a swing and a miss which is that it’s never fun. Characters are always either being tortured, beat up, or humiliated. You’re constantly reminded that there is no hope for them as long as they stay within the asylum and unfortunately most of them can’t function very well outside of the asylum either. So what you have here is a lose-lose situation. Then the ending goes for a very grim dark approach. The dialogue is very rarely entertaining outside of Randle and Ratched and this is a very dialogue heavy film so you can see how that would quickly become a problem.

Overall, The film is tackling a sub genre that isn’t explored a whole lot with the asylums but that’s probably for the best. It feels like these films never end up being all that great and so in the end you’re better off just skipping it entirely. It’s not a film that leaves you feeling all happy inside and instead you’re just wishing that you could have seen Randle break everyone out early so the rest of the film could be about the characters learning how to survive on their own. It would have been a much better experience than this mean spirited title.

Overall 1/10

Night Nurse Review

Night Nurse is a film that feels relatively uneventful for the most part. It’s a fairly by the numbers film that is really old so in a way what is considered by the numbers now, probably wasn’t at the time. Even so I had a good time here but what really made the film fun was the ending. It’s a real sudden ending that is a blast and makes the whole thing worthwhile. I don’t feel as though this film will ever really stand out in a crowd but I had a good time and that’s what counts.

The movie starts off with Lora trying to get a job at the hospital but unfortunately the interview doesn’t go well. The head nurse barely even looks at her since her formal education was not up to the hospital’s standard. Lora gets lucky when she bumps into Dr. Bell outside and strongarms him into letting her join up. It was impressive that she got in but I do remember thinking it was a bit rude the way she practically threatened Dr. Bell. The guy was just trying to have a nice day and she immediately got real aggressive. Well, her days go by smoothly and she even treats the wound of a guy named Mortie. Things get tricky when she is given more of a private position to look after Mrs. Ritchey’s kids who seem rather malnourished and unhappy. The kids’ mother is a drunk and there’s a shady guy named Nick around. They have a private doctor looking after he kids who cannot be questioned and so the whole setup seems rather nefarious. What can Lora do about it?

The tough part is that there isn’t a whole lot that Lora can do at first. She’s a nurse who is brand new to the job and so she has no sway. She’s told that this is just the way their doctor wants things to go in order to cure the kids and without more experience it’s hard for her to just go against that. She needs some kind of captivating evidence and it’s not easy. It’s a good thing that she has a friend in Mortie though because that guy comes in handy.

See, Mortie knows a lot of people all around the city. His connections may not always be above board but he definitely gets results. I like his energy and he really helps Lora out in a lot of ways. One of the most direct ways was when he stepped in later on to face off against Nick. He wasn’t going to let Lora get attacked while he was around and then the ending scene is the cherry on top. While you probably don’t want the films to romanticize the crooks too much, this was a pretty nice take on getting to his good side. Lora helped him out when he was in a pinch and so he quickly returned the favor. It was just nice all around.

Meanwhile Lora is a solid main character because she takes a whole lot of risks in order to help those kids. A lot of other nurses probably would have looked the other way and just justified this by saying that the doctor knows best. Instead Lora went with her gut instincts and helped out here. It was also fun to see her really intimidating the drunk guy who attacked her early on in the film. Her getting some revenge was good since that guy was definitely a creep all the way.

The main villain here is Nick as he has big plans for the future and is willing to murder anyone to achieve his goals. Naturally punching a lady isn’t even beneath him here. If he can push someone around then you better believe he is going to do that. The guy has no scruples and definitely doesn’t hold back. I also have to blame Mrs. Richey a whole lot here because she sort of knows what is going on but doesn’t care because she is drunk 24/7. She’s trying to just completely avoid her life which is the most irresponsible thing you can possibly do as an adult. She had responsibilities and just threw them to the winds.

Lora had a friend in Maloney who made for a good colleague. She ultimately doesn’t do a whole lot when it comes to the actual climax and taking care of the plot but it’s always good to have at least one friend around. Otherwise you’re truly on on your own and that makes everything harder. Dr. Bell was also solid even if he gets pushed around a bit. The guy knows his stuff and was a good ally to have.

In terms of the film being a bit uneventful, I think it could have used more scenes of Lora sleuthing around a bit. Maybe have her looking through files and trying to find evidence of malpractice. She certainly took a lot of risks and still uncovered the crime but it could have helped you feel like the movie was doing more. Skip the scenes of her trying on clothes which basically just exist for low hanging fanservice bait and have more scenes involving the main plot itself. This film is fairly short so you could definitely extend it a little and I don’t believe there would be any issues. It never got boring either but there’s still more you can do here.

Overall, The Night Nurse has aged well for its time though. Lora’s a tough protagonist and I’d say she compares favorably with a lot of the other heroines from back in the day. Most were not quite as proactive as she was. Lora never turned away from danger and just kept on pushing. That’s exactly what you want to see from your nurse because then you know that your kids are safe under her care. As for the milk bath idea that the maid kept suggesting, I could see it being good for your skin but ultimately I doubt it’s much of a treatment in itself. I just can’t see it being some kind of miracle treatment but in desperate times it is important to try out anything if it gives you a chance. I always thought it would be interesting to try once but in general baths aren’t really my thing so I’ll stick to the showers. If we ever get a remake to this film, the most important thing is to keep Mortie’s role almost untouched. He provides a lot of good humor here but also satisfying moments in general.

Overall 6/10

The Sting Review

The Sting is a very ambitious film with a ton of moving parts so it really ends up being quite a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing jut how intense it was with a lot of twists and a huge cast of characters. Everyone stands out too which is a good thing and the suspense will keep you at the edge of your seat. I was definitely impressed with this one. Not to say I thought it would be bd or anything like that but is was still better than I expected. If you like planning movies like this then you will definitely have a great time here.

The movie starts with Johnny and Luther suckering a guy out of a lot of money and we see that they are grifters. Basically they part people with their money and it’s actually a rather profitable business. It has its share of risks to be sure but they have really done well for themselves. Unfortunately they messed with the wrong person this time and Luther is murdered by the mafia led by Doyle. Johnny escapes and meets up with a man named Henry who is supposed to be the best in the business. Johnny asks Henry to help him take revenge and so they set up the most ambitious trap yet to take down Doyle. Can they really defeat the leader of the mafia like this?

A film like this will only be as good as its writing and characters. Fortunately both of those are quite great so there is really nothing to worry about here. The movie is long which allows it to introduce all of the characters and make them all matter. The pacing never gets slow and so you never feel like things are dragging along. All of the scenes are necessary and the film gives you enough context to always keep up but you’re also supposed to think things out and try to stay ahead of the score too. The best part is that the plan actually feels feasible. Incredibly difficult to be sure but you aren’t suspending a whole lot of disbelief here.

Now the characters can’t be perfect or you might have some questions but for the most part they always make a lot of reasonable decisions and that goes a long way. My only issue here are the mistakes that Johnny makes. Sure the guy is a rookie compared to Henry but at the same time he’s still been in the game for a long while. When he wasted $10,000 on a roll of the dice that was just not a smart move. Even if the casino didn’t cheat, odds are great that he would have lost. There is no upside to spending a bunch of cash like that since the house will always clean up.

Then just as bad is when he decides to have a one night stand with a waitress. The stakes are too high for him to be messing around right now. Keep in mind that just about everyone in the city is after him at this point so he really doesn’t have a whole lot of time. He should be hiding out and laying low right now, not making moves. He seems rather desperate for someone from the start like when he was carrying the flowers at the beginning but he should just wait a little longer until after the plan is done. Things really came close to going sideways for him there. In a way it actually helped his defense since by looking like a sucker the villains really wouldn’t suspect him but he can’t take any credit there since that was accidental.

I like that Johnny was very determined to take revenge and he did put a lot into the planning. So I’m not going to sell him totally short. The guy contributed a ton and was a really solid character who had good acting to the end. His role was absolutely crucial in getting Doyle to take the bait. Ultimately he’s also just a likable main character. I would say Henry is the one who stole the show here though. He took huge risks himself and while the situation was a lot more personal to him than he let on, he still wasn’t as personally invested as Johnny was. Still he got the gang back together and pulled off a really grand exhibition. This film was truly a team effort with everyone putting in their part.

Meanwhile Doyle made for a solid main villain. The guy has a lot of personal pride which is why he couldn’t let the heroes get away with messing with him. Additionally he was pretty smart and was not easy to fool. It’s quite telling that the characters had to go so far in order to try and stay ahead of him. Half hearted methods definitely wouldn’t have done the trick here. This guy has a lot of muscle and you can see why he was the head of the mafia. Even to the end he was always a thorn in their side and switched things up enough times where you could say he did take every precaution. Ultimately the heroes were just too prepared for him.

I also liked Snyder and Polk as more supporting characters to mix things up. Snyder being more of a two bit criminal who was one of the more corrupt cops helped to be a wild card here. Same for Polk from the FBI side. The more sides you have in any movie the better and it was always great when Johnny would just be minding his own business and suddenly one of these guys shows up to complicate matters. He was really never allowed to have any peace while on the job. No matter what he did or where he went, there was always someone around to complicate maters further and cause a lot of trouble.

Overall, The Sting is a very satisfying movie. Not only does it remain very interesting throughout the entirety of the run but the ending is very satisfying. If you stumble at the ending that ends up hurting a lot so managing not to do that was a really big bonus for the title. The characters are likable and even the villain faction are solid. There weren’t any characters here that I really disliked. Everyone had their own objectives and you have to remember that this all started because Johnny and Luther were scamming people so it’s not even like they were upstanding citizens. When you become a crook you understand the risks and so it just happened to them earlier than they were expecting. It still remains personal but at the end of the day it was also business. Both of these villain groups were just doing what they wanted to do and so it turned into this big fight.

Overall 8/10

Yesterday Review

I remember seeing the trailer for Yesterday way back in the day. It’s got a solid premise to it and reminds me of a writing prompt challenge on Reddit. You basically take a scenario and then see how far you can run with it. That’s basically what the film is doing here and so it’s not trying to let you know how this scenario came to be or anything like that. It just takes the premise and goes forward. I don’t think the movie did as much as it could have with the concept though and the ending isn’t super satisfying but I thought it was a fun ride overall.

The movie starts with Jack not doing so well at yet another musical performance. He is trying to write a lot of hit songs but the problem is that people just aren’t very interested. He tells his manager Ellie that he is finally giving up for good. His plans are put on pause though when he is run over by a bus. The world loses electricity for a moment and then a bunch of things are erased from history. All of a sudden nobody knows who the Beetles are, Coke a Cola doesn’t exist, and a number of other things are gone. The world just changed overnight and Jack is seemingly the only one who remembers the old universe. Nobody knew who he was before but with the power of the Beetles perhaps he can change that! Will he finally be a household name or is it possible that he just doesn’t have the voice for this?

So it’s a fun setup and I actually like that it wasn’t just the Beetles who are gone. By also removing soda and other things, it shows that this world is different in quite a number of ways and we’re just focusing on the change that Jack cares about. It gives the writers complete control to come up with a lot of interesting dynamics in here. Jack can try to get famous now but he will always have that fear in the back of his mind that history can reset and then suddenly he will be doomed. Is it worth it to get famous like this? Also, is he doing a disservice by using the music as his own?

Now to the moral question there, if the Beetles completely don’t exist then I don’t see anything wrong with using the music as your own. Put it this way, if Jack doesn’t sing the songs then they will never exist in the world and nobody can enjoy them. Yes he should be ethical enough not to try to really wring every penny out of the people but I don’t think it’s a problem to get rich off of this. So he can go and play as normal and it should be fine. My problem with Jack is more basic. The man does absolutely 0 research. He is on several interviews where people ask him why he chose the name of the song and he just has a baffled look on his face every time. You’re telling me he never thought that someone would even ask that question? It just makes him look so bad to be caught unaware each time. That’s not a good look for him and this happens way too often.

My problem with Jack is he doesn’t adapt to the situation and approaches everything half heartedly. This leads into the main problem in the film which is the romance. This part gets way overly dramatic and takes away from the fun little story that we’ve got here. So Ellie likes Jack and basically that’s why she’s always been driving him around for the last 20 years and is his manager. She just wants to help him out as much as possible and hopes he will notice her someday. So she has to take some blame here but I’ll get to her in a minute. For Jack, well he didn’t notice all those years and that’s fine. He may have just assumed she was being a good friend and that’s actually a very reasonable position. When you’re dropping hints they have to be legitimate hints because otherwise it may have just been the person being kind. If I was Jack I wouldn’t assume that Ellie liked him like that because at least as the viewer we see no indication of that.

Where Jack goes wrong is she actually does confess in the middle of a party. Jack was in a hurry but you absolutely have to respond and instead he just dashed off. Yeah that’s a full rejection if I’ve ever heard of one so later on when he tries to explain it just comes off as forced. He made his choice and now he has to live with it. It’s just way too late for him and so later on when he’s confessing and trying to win her back you can’t root for him. Particularly since she has already gotten a rebound boyfriend by this point. That should have been the end of the romance earlier and the film ends on that sad note where he is super rich and has everything in the world but lost Ellie in the process. Sure it’s not the super happy ending a viewer may want to see but it makes a whole lot of sense.

Then for Ellie well she should have confessed sooner. It’s traditional that the guy confesses to the girl but that’s not how this works. You’re not living in a movie and so you could lose your opportunity if you don’t go for it. If you like someone then you have to make the move. So Ellie had 20 years where she could have asked him out or at least been more direct about the whole thing. Then she got another boyfriend rather quickly even though she admitted that she still liked Jack. That’s really the biggest problem here because then she’s just using poor Gavin and as soon as Jack was ready for her she ditched him in an instant. That’s not a good romance and it reflects badly on her for that quick rebound.

I can’t say that Gavin had a lot of self respect either since he admits that he knew he was the rebound. Look if you know that you’re the rebound then you shouldn’t say yes. I don’t care how big your crush is, it’s not worth being the second choice because at any point you may be pushed back into that spot. You just need to get over your feelings and find someone else. So the romance was definitely the weak point of the film and will have you groaning the whole time. Don’t even get me started on the ending. I won’t go into specifics here but a lot of times there seems to be a black and white choice about being happy or being rich and I always feel that you can do both. So I didn’t agree with a certain decision by Jack.

On the whole the film was fun though and part of what makes it succeed is the fast pacing. The character cast is strong for the most part too. I liked Ed’s boss Debra as a solid villain the whole time. Every minute she was on screen she was insulting somebody and that was fun. She is not someone who will talk behind a person’s back, she’s just direct with her insults and I can appreciate that. It would have been nice if Jack could have talked back at least sometimes though instead of just taking it every time. It’s part of what makes him look bad here since he should have been saying something to his defense instead of just taking it each time. Cmon Jack you’ve gotta have more confidence than that.

Speaking of low confidence though, I thought Ed didn’t look good at all. Early on he challenges Jack to a contest and then when he loses the guy sulks immediately and goes to bed. Cmon you can’t act like that just because you thought that you would win. It makes you look like a sore loser. There’s also Jack’s friend but that guy is annoying since he squanders every opportunity. You’re supposed to feel bad for him but all of his issues are his own fault so how could you feel bad for him?

Towards the end of the film we ratchet up the tension a bit as two new characters come in that threaten to shake everything up but it’s more of a red herring. I thought that the idea of these characters was interesting but also brings up more questions about the premise. That’s why I would not have included them. Again I don’t think it’s bad that the film chose not to explore why these things were removed from history. We just have a scenario and you roll with it but adding a new element makes you think about the origin which is the problem. I feel like they were just there to make the scene rather tense but should have been cut out completely.

After all this is more of a comedic film first and foremost so it’s not like you needed a lot of danger. The film is at its best when it’s just having fun and the humor does land rather well most of the time. I thought the writing and script were solid as well. I’d even give the soundtrack a thumbs up since the little jingle that would play when he noticed something was off was pretty fun. Even just having one theme that stands out put this one way above most movies.

Overall, Yesterday is a good movie. I do feel like it left a whole lot of meat on the bone though and could have been better with a stronger pair of leads. Re-organize the romance a bit and remove the extra characters from the equation. Do all of that and this movie gets exponentially better in an instant. It’s still a movie I would recommend checking out though and I’d be down with more films like this where something happens and we see how the main character handles it. In a way this is like an Isekai even if the main character hasn’t left because he has knowledge that everyone else does not. It’s part of why the genre has gotten so big because it’s fun to imagine what you would do in that person’s place.

Overall 6/10

Season of the Witch Review

Whenever you have a film taking place back in the olden days with witches, demons, werewolves and the like I have to assume that the film is not going to be very good. Sure that is a general plot and so you can definitely surpass that if need be but what are the odds realistically right? I doubt they are very good at least with the track record and this one is no exception. Sure there are some interesting moments and plot lines scattered around the place but ultimately the movie could not capitalize on any of them and so it failed in the end.

The film starts off by showing us how skilled Felson and Behmen are. They utterly decimate opposing armies in every fight that they are in. We see a montage of them in countless fights and it’s definitely impressive how ahead of the curve they are in the battles. Nobody can really touch them or even come close. Well one day Behmen ends up murdering an innocent civilian and he becomes disillusioned with the whole thing. He now realizes that he was merely a soldier of battle and quite the army. Felson follows him but unfortunately they are quickly captured by the same army again. Their mission is to bring a suspected witch back into custody with them to face justice at a “fair” trial. Behmen doesn’t much like this but orders are orders and trying to escape the whole army again would be tricky. The girl’s name is Anna and she seems incredibly suspicious and crafty but that doesn’t automatically make her a witch. Behmen will have to handle this carefully.

I did find part of the intro funny in how quickly the two leads were captured though. These were the kingdom’s best warriors and yet they could be brought back in so easily? Have to admit that they lost a lot of hype there. I give some credit for wanting to leave the army in the first place of course but I really didn’t think that they would be brought back so quickly. As for the mission itself, well in a way they know that this won’t be a fair trial but they aren’t the justice system so what can be done? I think just running off for a second time would have been just fine to be honest but it is what it is.

Anna is unashamedly suspicious the whole time to the point where it can definitely be real amusing. She keeps on using magic and messing with the heroes so it seems obvious that she is a witch but they can’t prove it yet. She even goes out of her way to save someone who nearly plummeted to his doom by using her super strength. Even the characters can be confused sometimes on if she is sympathetic or not. It’s just really hard to get a read on her and that’s definitely by design. For what it’s worth she was a good antagonist for this reason. She really kept the heroes sharp and always on edge. Her abilities were solid too and versatile. She had flight, mind manipulation, animal summoning/transformation, super strength, etc. Yeah that’s a lot for any human to deal with and by the end her scenes get even better in hindsight.

Unfortunately you can probably guess how the animal summoning ended up being a net negative here. We have to sit through an extended scene of the heroes destroying a bunch of dogs that she transformed into werewolves. Definitely a scene that didn’t need to be here and it really drags down the experience. At this point they should have taken her down since this also directly murdered some members of the team. You don’t exactly need a trial when the villain openly murders people in front of you right? Well, unfortunately Debelzaq the priest says you do need that so there isn’t much the heroes can do about this. Behmen ultimately stands down but the body count only continues to rise.

These are guys who don’t have a no killing code or anything like that so in light of this it just doesn’t make sense to spare her. Anna will only continue to cause more death and destruction in her wake the longer they keep her alive. It’s always hard to defeat the supernatural and this is just another example of that. Behmen and the others are completely outmatched and only plot armor is enough to help them win. It’s why I say films always need to be careful not to make their villains end up being too powerful or there’s just no way to buy into the hero ever winning. When you create an unwinnable situation that’s exactly what happens.

Ultimately I did like Behmen as a character though. He wanted to do the right thing and protect everyone. His motivations were always good and he let his actions do the talking for him like when he left the army early on. He won’t be a part of anything that is unjust and has the strongest moral center of the group. His partner Felson is solid as well but that guy’s more relaxed and will just do whatever he feels like doing. He follows Behmen since they’re friends but it’s less about the morality of it and more because that’s just what he wants to do.

The film actually has a fairly large cast of characters accompanying the main two on the trip but you will forget most of them immediately because they don’t do anything. You’ve got a guy with a tragic past, the priest who is always ready to exorcise, the comic relief maps guy, etc. They’re all just here for the body count and you know it. There is never even an attempt to start liking these guys or making them a part of the main cast. It’s just not happening and so the film treats their characters rather half heartedly.

You’ve got your share of jump scares here but the film is more action than horror. The film just likes using some strong imagery so that you can see how threatening the villains are. We get lots of zoom ins on rather deformed faces on the witch side and while the film isn’t super violent, it does have some moments here and there. The imagery can be more gross than violent at times although I suppose it depends on the scene.

I think this film could have really shined by focusing on the main two guys as they look for a battle that is worth fighting. They stop just blindly listening to orders and look for a chance to really make a difference. Having them work for the army again was a really odd move and not the one I would have chosen. From there they are back to following orders even when they have doubts and that’s what doesn’t work as well about this film. It sort of goes against their whole character choice in the beginning to do that.

Overall, I liked one of the twists at the end of the film but this one didn’t live up to its full potential. After a while it felt like this film was even trying to be the next Exorcist although it still beats those easily. Witches can make for decent villains when you focus more on their magic and the cool fantasy battles we can have but outside of that they aren’t super interesting. So when you just have Anna locked up in the cage for most of the film it takes some of the bite out of the experience. A sequel could maybe do better but lets shift the time-frame to modern day. Trust me that setting works way better.

Overall 2/10

The Gift Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version could be more negative

It’s time for one of those films about watching out for the next door neighbor. You never know who you’re going to be living next to when moving for the first time and so you always hope it’s a nice happy family. Sometimes that’s not the case though. Personally it’s rare that I really talk to or know my neighbors much at all but of course it’s a bit different in an apartment vs a house. The movie’s got an okay premise I suppose but ultimately this one’s definitely not much of a winner.

So the movie starts off with Simon and his wife Robyn getting a house and they’re looking forward to life going perfectly. Unfortunately that doesn’t quite happen as a man called Gordo appears and he claims to be Simon’s old classmate from school way back in the day. Simon doesn’t remember him at first but does afterwards and is puzzled because they weren’t friends. In the present Gordo keeps on bringing gifts and doing all kinds of favors for the main two but it quickly gets into weird territory. Simon quickly shuts this down as he’s as rude to Gordo as possible but now things have taken a turn from weird into dangerous when their pet dog goes missing. Is Gordo actually here to murder them?

Now this film is one of those titles where most of the characters are super unlikable. The only decent one here is Robyn and she’s going through a tough time with this since Simon keeps blowing up at her about Gordo now. He seems to be getting jealous quickly of the guy and is also hiding some secrets from his past. Robyn really wants him to be straight with her but when that’s not a possibility she can no longer trust him. Then Gordo can’t be trusted either because the guy is overstepping his bounds like breaking into the house while the main characters are away. No excuse is good enough for that to be warranted.

While Robyn means well I do think that she’s rather oblivious at times though. For example letting Gordo into the house while Simon isn’t there was not a great idea. Particularly since she barely knew him at all. I know you can’t be too paranoid when living out in the country since at that point you couldn’t even open up the door but she really seemed to be defenseless the whole time. At least have a can of pepper spray in your pocket. Even going for those long daily runs in the middle of nowhere every morning seemed a bit iffy. That said, at least she was polite the whole time.

Then you have Simon who immediately starts badmouthing Gordo behind his back and calling the guy names. This is before Gordo even started going too far. It’s like Simon was just being mean from the jump. Now this makes sense the more the film goes on as we see that he’s just not a good guy but it’s a good way not to root for him right away. Simon’s verbal attacks are never justified and even to the end you never feel like he has really changed as a person. He puts himself first above all else and really doesn’t give Robyn any thoughts during the climax. It’s all about him and well the guy is just a bully. There’s not much more that needs to be said than that and the guy is basically an antagonist by the end of the film.

Of course with all this said….Gordo is still a big villain here. No matter how mean to him Simon was, the guy is still terrorizing Robyn as well and kidnapping the dog was uncalled for. Fortunately nothing happened to the dog since that would have really torn the film apart but this guy loses his sympathy points real quick. I also get the feeling that he would have been messing with the main characters even if Simon did treat him well from the start. The guy was just acting very odd in a very intentional way. I believe he would have forced the confrontation at some point or another. At most Simon just sped it up but this guy was certainly looney.

We eventually learn why Gordo has this grudge against Simon and it definitely makes Simon and another character look really awful. You would just expect better and the film certainly wanted to go all out with having the gritty backstory. Fortunately there is a twist on the twist which is still awful but at least not as grim. The whole movie is really a race to the bottom between characters.

Now there is something that happens at the very end of the film which had the potential to drop this film down to a 0. Fortunately I don’t believe the “event” actually happened. To get into it too much would delve into spoilers but there are two main arguments I would say are on my side as to why this didn’t happen. The first is that this is a narrative callback to what happened in Gordo’s past. Just as something didn’t actually happen in his backstory, I would say that it didn’t in the present. It just serves as the ultimate revenge to have Simon think that this happened.

The other data point that supports me here is his last line to Robyn about how good things happen to good people. To me the only way he would use this line is to let her and the viewer know that this didn’t happen. At the end of the day his grudge was with Simon not her. He also got to hear her defending him from when he bugged the room. During the film at most he would just use her as ammo against Simon and this would be a fairly big jump from that. It’s still annoying that they didn’t definitively confirm my theory to be correct since it doesn’t take anything away from the revenge and if anything helps the movie. Keeping it even slightly ambiguous was just annoying.

Even with that the film wasn’t going to be very good though. The characters are just so unlikable between Simon and Gordo that it hurts a whole lot. Their dialogue is always pretty bad and in general the writing wasn’t very good here. At least the ending offers a tiny glimmer of hope for Robyn but even then it’s not the super happy ending you were waiting for. We got a few jump scares here and there but it’s not like this film is particularly scary either. The cops excuse for not going after Gordo felt rather weak though since it seems like it was really easy to find the guy.

Overall, The Gift just isn’t a very pleasant movie at the end of the day. Bad things keep happening to the characters and while Simon deserves it, you just feel bad for Robyn. At least she did take a stand by the end and I appreciate that. I also appreciate that the film didn’t do anything bad to the dog since that would have really been awful. You’re still just not going to have a very good time with this film. It delivers on having a ton of twists but for the evil neighbor angle it’s probably more effective to actually have the main characters be likable rather than doubling down and having both sides be antagonistic.

Overall 3/10

Young Sherlock Holmes Review

This film was interesting because I just don’t remember ever hearing about it, but clearly it must have been a fairly big deal back in the day. It’s Sherlock Holmes after all! If that isn’t enough to make this a really big household name then I don’t know what would be. The movie is part mystery to an extent but to be honest it’s more of a thriller all the way. It works out well though and while I could see some Holmes fans being a little disappointed, this was before he was a true detective so I’d say it works out fine. He gets to have one explosive adventure before things turn realistic again.

The movie introduces us to a younger Sherlock Holmes who is already widely known for his genius level intellect. The guy isn’t afraid to show it off either and is 100% confident in his abilities. Holmes has no need to be humble when he’s the best although he does tend to lose in fencing to professor Rathe. It’s the only thing in which he isn’t the best. Well, the quiet days are over when a mysterious group begins murdering people using powerful hallucinations. It’s as if the Scarecrow is around. Basically this dart that they hit people with makes them see their worst fears before dying. The body count is slowly starting to rise and when one of Holmes’ favorite teachers is bumped off it is time for him to act. Unfortunately he will have to do it while on the run since he has been kicked out of school. Can he pull this off or is it game over?

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film is having a blast showing off all of its special effects. You have CGI dragons running around and lots of moving objects as part of the hallucinations. There is even a giant throne room like something out of Harry Potter for the villains’ hideout. It’s all very fantastical and so again it doesn’t feel like Sherlock Holmes but the visuals are still really fun to look at. I do feel like some of the deaths from the hallucinations were a bit convenient though like one guy stabbing himself and another jumping out the window. To an extent you have to know that the hallucinations aren’t real so you want to break through them but you have to know that certain actions will still hurt you in the real world.

The most tragic part of the film is definitely that the heroes are rather late to make a difference. For example, the villains have this whole human sacrifice thing going on and so they’ve been murdering people for a while. The heroes make it in time to see a woman get burned alive and they don’t end up saving her which was unfortunate. They only manage to save the main heroine and it’s just a rough way to go. It makes the police detective Lestrade look even worse because Holmes keeps trying to get the guy to help but he couldn’t care less. Usually he isn’t very helpful in these things but he may as well have been a complete villain in this case. He actively did his best to prevent Holmes and the others from helping out. If he wasn’t an established character in the mythos I would have assumed he was in on the take the whole time. That’s how absolutely corrupt the guy was.

At least you can always count on Holmes to be a really solid character. He did well analytically and this was also before he would get more emotionless so you actually get to see him get mad and put up a real fight. This version of Sherlock Holmes may lag behind the experienced one but the film does a good job of making him stand out and showing how he has changed over the years. Watson also gets to help out a bit here. Ultimately not a ton but his contributions are never forgotten and so he’s always an easy character to root for.

I wasn’t as impressed with the quirky Rupert. I felt like he was only here to help out with one particular invention for near the end but otherwise he just felt a bit out of place. At least professor Rathe was an expert fighter and had a lot of lore behind him. I rather enjoyed Rathe, now here was a character who contributed a lot to the plot and was also very interesting. He could actually hold his own against Holmes which is something that almost no other character could pull off.

Then there is Elizabeth who gets a decent sized role as the main heroine. She helps Holmes out when he’s in a pinch and can always be counted on to support him. Ultimately she does about as much as she possibly can during the course of the film. Holmes had a lot of enemies here so it was always good to have some allies. Watson was helpful too in his own way. Just like in the other films he always comes through when it counts even if he can’t follow Holmes on an intellectual level. He can pull off the physical feats that help make a big difference here.

I enjoyed the action a lot here and so this worked well as a prequel. In a lot of ways this felt like a Harry Potter film too but going at a lightning fast pace. I would have enjoyed staying at the school a little longer and you could have turned this into a whole movie series. The instant Holmes left the school though, it felt like the only logical step would be to pick up with him being an experienced expert. After all, that would be his big reunion with Watson and that would tie into the main novels. Feels like they left a lot of potential stories on the chopping block here by switching things up like that.

Overall, Young Sherlock Holmes is a pretty good movie. It’s an action film which pretty much plays things by the book so I wouldn’t expect anything crazy to happen here. The special effects go all in though and your attention will be captured the whole way through. There is a mystery here but for the most part that never really seems to be the focus. The answers just sort of appear as Holmes is fighting his way through all of the villains and that works out well enough as this is more of a thriller but it’s why I’d say you shouldn’t go into this one expecting a full blown mystery. It’s just not that kind of film so enjoy the action scenes and quality dialogue instead.

Overall 7/10

Paparazzi Review

The Paparazzi is always a team you hear about a lot on the news for usually controversial reasons. They have to get the news and will use any means to do it. So why not make a thriller film about them right? Well this one plays out in a fairly interesting way and makes them as unlikable as possible. So when the main character decides to become a vigilante you have to decide what team you’re on. Is it time to put these guys away or should the main character flee the city?

The movie starts off with Bo finally becoming an A list celebrity so of course he’s exciting. His movies are doing well and now his family can really enjoy a pleasant life. Unfortunately the Paparazzi decide to get involved. Led by Rex they start invading Bo’s personal life and intentionally try to push him over the edge by taking pictures of his young son. Bo takes a swing at the guy but it’s recorded so the whole thing becomes a big incident. Rex decides to keep on going and next he rams into Bo’s car and sends both his wife and kid into the hospital. Maybe it’s time for Bo to start his counter attack.

Now I would say that Bo was holding back for quite a long while here. It’s not like he just jumped into the action right away. He did his best to stop this through legal means and then with threats but ultimately Rex just kept on escalating more and more. After his family was injured (Bo’s son even falling into a coma) Bo went to the cops but they said there was nothing they could do without evidence. Detective Burton was looking into this but no results were coming. Then Rex and friends broke into his home and attacked Bo’s wife which was really the last straw.

By this point Rex and friends were just going to keep on causing more damage so Bo had to add a personal touch. Now even then the first time it wasn’t anything premeditated. One of Rex’s buddies was messing with him but then later on drives too quickly and nearly falls off the mountain. So the villain is hanging on for dear life and Bo goes over to help him out. Just as Bo is about to push him back up to safety, the guy explains that he’s really going to start going after Bo even more intensely now and will sue him/wreck his life. So…Bo decides not to help him out and the guy falls. This villain was really not smart. Why would you antagonize the only guy who can possibly save you at this point? At least start messing with him afterwards instead.

Regardless this was where Bo really stepped into vigilante mode as he took the guy out. The villains are so comically evil though that you really don’t feel bad for them. Put it this way, Bo tried every possible method of de-escalation first and only when that didn’t work did he take the next steps. Being a vigilante always needs to be the last straw only to be used in a situation where there are no legal means left available to help you. Bo was completely out of those and since these guys were not about to stop, it was time to put them in their place.

So the whole climax ends up being very satisfying here and Bo is a fun character to root for. He is the definition of a nice guy who can only be pushed so far before he ends up having to react. The film also manages a bit of a Death Note kind of vibe here with him and Burton having a lot of veiled conversations. Burton seems to suspect a lot about Bo’s involvement here but has no proof while Bo is new to the game and plays dumb, but sometimes a little too dumb. They both basically end up at an impasse for a while there but it was very engaging to watch.

Burton isn’t a great detective though. Near the end of the film he finally realizes that he should check the security cameras around the crash to find evidence. Shouldn’t that have been the very first thing that he tried? Yeah this guy wasn’t very helpful and without Bo doing his thing I feel like Rex and the gang would have outsmarted him easily. Maybe they would have just dug up some blackmail or something. Meanwhile Rex is barely a character as he’s just a super antagonist here to make Bo’s life miserable. He takes the whole situation extremely personal so he just won’t back off. His crew is also thrilled to be doing this so there wasn’t any sympathetic moments to be had here.

What makes this film succeed is that it feels like a Batman movie but if an ordinary joe had to try and solve the case. Bo has no fancy gadgets or anything like that and he doesn’t have any connections. He has to pull this off on his own while not letting anyone get suspicious. It’s not easy in any setting but he pulls this off anyway and it makes for a fun ride. The first half can drag a bit as you wait for him to start making his move but once he does then everything really turns up.

Additionally I really liked the ending of the film. It’s one of those endings that you can take in a very light hearted way or a threatening way. It’s clear that nobody will be messing with Bo anymore if they know what is good for them but was he actively making a threat at the end or was he just having a little fun? It’s likely a mix but I would say the implied threat is absolutely there. He’ll take everything in stride as he always does but if anyone makes a wrong move then that is curtains.

Overall, This was a pretty fun film. You could easily figure this to be a comic book origin movie with how it plays out. The movie has a lot of tense scenes, light hearted moments, and most importantly a good script. The verbal battles between the characters are solid and the final plan is executed very well. There are a lot of clues to pick up on and nothing feels like it was thrown in at the last moment. I’d definitely be up for a sequel to this movie someday and in the meantime I’d recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

M3gan Review

This is a film that got a whole lot of hype before it came out. The marketing for this film was impressive because it was on the map instantly and the film did have an interesting premise so you figured it could probably do well. Ultimately the film does fumble a bit which keeps it from being a solid movie in the end but I still think the premise is good and I’d be interested in seeing what a sequel does. There is definitely a lot of room for more adventures with the evil doll.

The movie starts off Cady’s parents both being taken down for the count in a car crash so she is sent to live with her aunt Gemma. Gemma is a genius inventor trying to build the world’s first life sized robotic doll and has no time for helping a kid grow up. So she retools the robot: M3gan to be Cady’s friend and it goes so well that she convinces her boss to let her go live with it. They will have a big presentation and everything to make them the number 1 rated toy company of all time. Is this toy actually a good thing though or has Gemma just built something that could threaten all life on the planet?

This is the kind of movie where you always wonder if M3gan will just be evil from the jump or if she’ll meet enough bullies to put her on the dark side. Well, ultimately I would say this is one of those cases where she was just twisted from the start. Now I think if Gemma had been nicer to M3gan and treated her like a real person then this could have been avoided but that’s a lot of “could have” “would have” etc and at the end of the day we can only blame M3gan’s actions on M3gan herself. She could have taken the high road and the instant she cracked that was on her.

Basically her main directive is to protect Cady at all times and she does well in this function. Any threats are promptly eliminated and without mercy. The problem is that she doesn’t care because from her programming she just needs Cady to be safe. Everything else plays second fiddle to that goal and so she is following the programming, it just really wasn’t well thought through. That’s the main problem here. Gemma rushed this too much and ends up paying the price for it. You need safety measures in anything like this and it’s also why this project will never work for kids. Having full sized robots/dolls will never be feasible for a lot of obvious reasons. There is no way to guarantee that the robot will remain safe and wholesome.

M3gan does have super strength as a result of being robotic though and it’s nice to see her flexing on the cast. She gets a decent body count by the end. It’s not big like a slasher film or anything but you can generally tell when she is about to bump someone off. One character I actually felt bad for here was Gemma’s boss. Yes, the film portrays him as an antagonist but I didn’t agree with that. He has a ton of very legitimate reasons to be upset with her. First off, she is using company funds to build M3gan against his explicit orders. So it’s not like she didn’t know. He told her to stop wasting money on this project and she disobeyed his direct orders.

Furthermore, she ended up locking him out of her lab. She had no real respect for the boss and kept on ruining his day. So when M3gan corners the guy you feel bad for him because he really tried his best to stop the robot apocalypse from happening. He even had the right reaction which was to start running as soon as he saw her. Unfortunately it was just too late for him. There’s also another guy who wants to steal the designs for M3gan but that plot never really goes anywhere. He was taken out pretty quickly anyway and at first I thought that was going to be how the sequel happens because he rebuilds her but based on how the film ends this isn’t how things are going to play out.

There is a bit of a cliffhanger here. It’s not trying all that hard as far as horror endings go but it’s fun enough. Again, I do think there is a lot of potential with a sequel. You could maybe even switch up the characters a bit but either way works. Right now Cady wasn’t a great character but with a time skip she will be old enough to really contribute to the plot so that could help. She does have a good idea at the end of the film and does some damage though so I’ll give her some credit there. Additionally she is depressed for a while in the film because of her parents dying so you have to cut her some slack there.

I didn’t particularly like Gemma though. I know part of that is from her character arc of realizing that she wasn’t being a good guardian and stepping up but it takes a while to get to that point and in the meantime you’re shaking your head. She didn’t handle any of the situations with the boss very well and additionally I would say that she didn’t handle the M3gan situation well either. Shutting her off mid dialogue was a really bad move because it further reinforces that M3gan isn’t a part of the family. Likewise with shutting her off randomly. All of these things only serve to speed up M3gan’s corruption and demise. It probably would have happened at some point anyway but Gemma really could have done better all throughout.

The visuals for the movie are definitely impressive. M3gan looks very lifelike and seeing her pull off complicated dance moves while murdering everyone is great. She really stands out as a new horror icon that should withstand the test of time. In general we also don’t get a ton of horror films taking place around a high tech building and everything so it was cool to see her there in the real world and not just in abandoned forests and such.

The film isn’t even all that violent for a horror film. You get the occasional violent moment like the boss’s death but for the most part it’s fairly restrained. The only thing that really hurts the film is that it decided to get the dog involved. The instant the mean neighbor showed up with her dog I knew it was over. Both the dog and the neighbor would likely die in gruesome ways and that would be it. At least the dog is off screen but the film still included the death and doing that in general was a really bad idea. This is definitely not the way to increase the stakes and really shot the film in the foot. It’s still better than most horror films but this could have been a good movie and they blew it in the end.

Overall, M3gan is a unique horror film and one that should stay well known but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I’d say that the movie left a lot on the table of the possibilities of an evil guard doll. In a way they should have not had the main characters find out yet because that would have set the sequel up really well. Do a slow burn as she gets more and more demented to the point where she becomes a menace to be stopped. I think that would have been a good premise for a ton of stories but there is no way to go back after that. That’s why I think having her appear with a new family in the next film makes the most sense but of course everyone loves a good revenge story so that could work too. We’ll see how it goes.

Overall 4/10

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Review

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a movie that already sounds pretty promising from the jump but the execution is even better. It definitely surpassed my expectations and made for a great film all the way around. The cast is really solid and the film manages to tackle a whole lot about how everyone starts to go crazy without being too extreme about it. If you ask me the film absolutely nailed the tone and atmosphere that you would expect from this kind of title.

The movie starts off with Harriman showing around a congressman and Dr. Susan the submarine that he and his team work in. The congressman throws a lot of snide remarks the whole time but admiral Harriman parries and counters them all with ease. Eventually they get that guy to leave and continue with their mission. Unfortunately it has to be aborted when ice chunks start falling everywhere and the heroes return to the surface to find out that the sky is on fire. Harriman meets with the government and it seems that the world is about to end. There are only two plans to stop this. One is to travel over a week’s journey to a specific point on the planet where they can fire a missile off to release the heat and save the planet. The opposition believes this is what would doom the planet and instead we need to wait it out as this is just a temporary planet condition. The problem is that there is no way to test both theories. You either fire off the missile at the precise time where everything is aligned or you don’t. Many of the world’s foremost scientist recommend not firing the missile while Harriman’s friend the ultimate genius says to do it. Harriman trusts him and so they go forward with the mission. As the world melts around them, members of the crew wonder if they are on the right side.

One of the most impressive things about the movie is that it is able to balance both sides of the argument without making one side look crazy or suddenly turn comically evil. In a lesser move you can bet that Harriman would have been portrayed as being completely insane. They would not have been able to resist the temptation to do this, trust me on that one. Instead in this film he makes a lot of unpopular decisions and you have to wonder if he is going off the deep end but the film keeps it ambiguous. Much like the members of the crew on the ship you have to decide if you are on his side or not.

For the record I am definitely on his side to fire the rocket. Deciding to just sit back and wait for the inevitable is never a good idea. Why would this fire eclipse suddenly stop? Sure some experts say it would but I’d rather take my chances for better or worse than to just give up. As for Harriman’s controversial calls that the team took offense with, lets break them all down. The first was to dive while people were still on deck trying to get onto the ship. This one’s obvious, he had to dive because otherwise they would have been infiltrated and the mission would have been stopped right then and there.

Yes, it was a ruthless call but there are times where you have to stand in the driver’s seat and make that call or else all is lost. Then you have him turning off the comms so people on the ship couldn’t hear about what was going on around the world. This one’s definitely a bit trickier and I would say he should have kept it on. Sure the news was disheartening but shutting it off would just make people more paranoid. You shouldn’t try to control the news that the crew is hearing. Then later on he strikes a member of the crew and of course there is no defending that one. No matter how annoying the crew member was being you should never resort to violence like that.

So Harriman was right on some accounts and wrong on others. He certainly wasn’t perfect and the film wasn’t trying to portray him as such. So it works out well and considering the stress on everyone at the moment, it’s not as if he was immune to it. It makes sense that he would also be feeling its effects and having a rough time of it. Meanwhile Captain Lee was one of the main people opposing Harriman. I give him credit for doing it to Harriman’s face unlike other members who were always scheming in the background. They had a lot of differences of opinion but I have to say that I was rarely on Lee’s side at all here.

They have another debate over splitting the crew and considering what had been going on at the time with a sabotage attempt and a near murder it makes sense to try and filter those people out. It may be breaking standard procedure but there was nothing standard about this situation. That’s why for me it just made a lot of sense. Lee also got a little too emotional at times which is why I don’t think he’s quite ready for the admiral role yet. He needs to take more time to calm down and look at things logically.

Then there is Miguel who is one of those religious fanatics who seems more interested in talking a lot than actually trying to help out. He has his moments sure but his speech to the troops about just giving up wasn’t particularly inspiring. There’s a big difference between feeling safe in your faith since death isn’t the end and just letting it swallow you whole. He really was spreading a lot of defeatism within the camp so you can see why Lee was mad at the guy.

The longer the film went on, the more everyone started to crack but it never got to a Lord of the Flies level where everyone just turned into mass murderers. Everyone here mostly stayed within reason. You had some blows thrown, insults hurled, etc. At the end of the day these were all still grownups who could reason and think for themselves. That’s exactly what you wanted to see here. The writing is also excellent as I mentioned earlier. The script is on point with every character making well reasoned arguments too. The story keeps you engaged and they really packed a whole lot into the run time here. The movie felt long but in a good way as it kept adding in new elements and expanding the story so you felt like they got every drop out of this premise. Nothing was held back.

Overall, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a great movie. It’s really a timeless flick that has a lot of replay value. I would highly recommend checking it out. It’s a very mature movie with a lot of characters trying to handle their disagreements like civilized people while also keeping in a good amount of humor and fun as needed. There are more than a few moments that will make you smile here and they never break the tension of what’s going on above ground. We even get some action scenes here with a force that disagrees with the main characters. Yes this is a movie that really hit all the right buttons and there’s even a mystery plot that factors into the equation later on so that’s another fun plot to sink your teeth into.

Overall 8/10