Happy Death Day Review


I remember seeing a lot of promotion for this film back when it came out. Everyone was talking about it and the idea of a time loop in a horror film is quite original. You definitely have to give the film a lot of credit there. That said, while the premise is a lot of fun I wouldn’t say the execution is great. The writing tends to be sub par and since many scenes get repeated over and over, get ready for some particularly cringe lines to happen over and over again.

The movie starts by introducing us to Tree who is one of the meanest girls on campus. She is basically speed running how fast she can make enemies out of everyone. The girls’ just a bully who gets drunk constantly and doesn’t like having any responsibility. Well, one night on her birthday, Tree is murdered by someone in a mask. The thing is, she wakes up back at the start of the day and this keeps on happening every time she is murdered. So what should she do now? To break the cycle she needs to figure out a way to not die but no matter where she goes or what she does, the masked man seems to still find her.

So as I said that’s a fun dynamic. You’d figure that if you have unlimited lives to find a way to live that it should be easy. There are a few catches to it though such as Tree keeping remnants of her injuries from the deaths as well as the fact that they all still hurt quite a lot. It’s not like these deaths are easy after all. Tree gets stabbed, drowned, etc. This kind of plot also makes it very easy to backseat drive though. Like why would Tree go down the same dark alley in the second playthrough? She didn’t go all the way through which is good but if the murderer is still around then she’s still given him a good indication of where she is.

She plays the 2nd playthrough way too close to the first but this seems to be a common thing in these kinds of films. She does get a lot more creative after that. The best plan was probably just driving out of town. I absolutely would have tried that because living is the most important thing right now. That would be the way to escape. Also, Tree does have a bad habit of landing a blow on the villain and then turning to run instead of winning the fight. She could have won several times otherwise.

That part reminded me a lot of Scream where the heroine always lands the first blow in. Now where the film falters greatly is that it feels like there was no real effort put into the writing or the characters. Often times it’s just trying to be as crude or crass as possible. The way the characters all talk can be rather obnoxious in a 2000s high school setting kind of way. As mentioned, Tree’s just a pretty bad main character. She’s completely unlikable and while that’s part of her character arc, it doesn’t make her scenes any better. Tree’s unnecessarily mean to everyone and doesn’t feel like a main character. Usually she would have definitely been the antagonist in a different movie.

Aside from the issues with her character, the script is also just bad. All of the students seem rather crude like the roommate who barges in on her every morning. Quite a lot of the characters are cheating on other people, Tree has affairs with multiple guys, etc. It’s hard to find a single character in the film who has a good moral compass. Keep in mind that even Carter who is portrayed as the nicest guy here was still ready to have an affair with a drunk person that he only just met at an iffy club. Even the teacher is in on the action.

You really just can’t trust anyone at this school. It certainly makes it more difficult to choose who the murderer is but at the expense of actually finding any of the characters to be likable. You can also probably guess but this extends to the mystery of who the murderer is. This may even be part of the comedy to an extent but no matter who the murderer is, you have a sneaking suspicion that this just won’t work out. The murderer is around every corner and moves like lightning. Nobody ever notices this person show up and the ones that are attacked go down like a broken trampoline.

You’d figure that they could do something but that’s just never the case. The film isn’t very long so since there are a ton of suspects that means that a lot of them don’t get a whole lot of development or anything. They typically just get their one scene aside from Carter not counting if they are the murderer of course. You’ve got the teacher Gregory who is cheating on his wife with Tree and of course his motive for murder could be to make sure that nobody finds out about this affair.

You have Lori who bakes Tree a cupcake but it’s usually thrown into the trash. She may have taken that very personally. There’s her ex who keeps asking why she won’t return the calls and maybe that’s turned him into a bitter murderer. There’s the head of the sorority or at least self proclaimed head who is mad at Tree for having affairs with all the guys that she likes. That could be another reason for murder. You’ve got Carter who may be upset that she’s usually very dismissive of him, etc.

The film has no shortage of suspects. That’s not even accounting for the girl that Tree intentionally doesn’t say hi too, the girl handing out flyers, etc. It probably goes back to why the film wanted to make Tree super unlikable which is really a contrast to how the main character tends to be in these things. The problem is that the film should have left everyone else as being likable rather than breaking them down too. I don’t see a benefit to making everyone else unlikable since they would already have a decent motive if they were nice people on the outside.

Also, there’s a missed opportunity of having Tree just really crack in one timeline and try to kidnap everyone to ensure that nobody’s the murderer. That would have been an interesting loop. Maybe just cut out the girl on the steps and the ex to make room for this extra loop. After all, we’re all really here for the fun time loops right? Adding in the fact that Tree keeps in part of the injuries is a good way to add in some tension since it means that she can’t just continue to do this infinitely.

Happy Death Day does do a good job on the tone though. It does properly balance the slasher elements with comedy. This is because both sides are played straight. The slasher elements wouldn’t be out of place in something like a Michael Myers film while the rest has a more Bring It On kind of vibe going for it. The movie’s not very violent compared to most slashers either so it does well on that account. Not all of the humor lands (That roommate’s still the worst character here and his scene did not need to be replayed over and over) but for the most part it’s good. Cut out the unnecessary scenes in the film like the ex’s dark secret and you’d have a much more streamlined experience.

As a final note, the film makes it a point to say that Tree doesn’t care for birthdays much. There’s some context to this involving her past and there’s a whole subplot with her father but it’s complete filler so I haven’t mentioned it previously. (That’s another subplot that could probably be cut) So why would Tree have a ringtone that loudly declares that it’s her Birthday? That seemed out of character and I found it odd that in none of the time loops did she ever decide to take the call. Try everything to get out of the loop right?

Overall, Happy Death Day is a fun experiment but I wish it was handled a bit better. I’ll give it some kudos like going more for stylized violence so it isn’t that gritty and I love time travel. It just loses those same points on the writing and very dicey script. If you’re in the mood for a horror that has some fun with itself then this is probably one to check out since there aren’t a whole lot of them like this. There are even two high energy songs that pop up out of nowhere and at one point we got a montage that felt like something out of Scooby Doo. That said, you can still do better so avoid this one for now.

Overall 3/10

Dreamscape Review


If you were able to weaponize a dream that would have to be one of the more dangerous prospects out there. How can you defend yourself if you’re still dreaming? Well, this film delves into that and it makes for a very interesting watch. It’s the kind of sci-fi concept that’s cool to check out and the film keeps it engaging by throwing in some monsters too.

The movie starts off with Alex using his psychic powers to win at the horse races again. Unfortunately he’s not too subtle with his constant winnings and so people are starting to hunt him down to get some of those profits. This leads to him being desperate enough to get into a car with some shady characters who take him to Professor Paul. Paul was a part of the group that originally ran the tests with Alex and got him these psychic powers.

Well, the experiments have continued and they need Alex once again. Alex was always one of the most promising cadets after all so they need him now. The idea is that Alex can jump into a person’s dreams and help them contend with previous traumas or even just give the scientist some info based on the dream. Ideally this is a way to help humanity because you can end nightmares and other forms of stress. Unfortunately, the government has other plans for this.

If you die in the dream you die in the real world so what better way than to use this for an assassination right? There is a particularly disturbed guy named Tommy at this lab and he has psychic abilities that rival Alex’s own. Alex will have to decide if he stays at the lab to help the patients who really need him or if he should get out before he is in some real danger.

Now when I say psychic powers, I should emphasize that we’re talking purely mental here so don’t expect people to be throwing trees. Alex can see through trading cards and into the mind to an extent. He can go into someone’s dreams but he can’t go into their minds like that when they’re awake or at least not to a serious degree. He can pull out some thoughts from the top of their minds at least.

Alex is a solid main character and I can see why he ran off the first time. It definitely doesn’t seem like this is the kind of place where you would be safe for too long. They’ll use you for the intel and then you’ll be taken out. Growing up in such a facility is probably why Alex is very tough in the present. He’s always got a barb ready for the other characters and has a lot of bravado. He ultimately does decide to help a little kid who was having nightmares even though a lot of other people died earlier.

So Alex does have his heroic qualities as well. Mainly the only scene I really didn’t like is when he went into Jane’s dream to have an affair when she had been declining him in the real world. It’s definitely a low move and it’s hard to see how their romance was still able to flourish despite this in the present. That seems like it would be a relationship killer to me.

As for Jane, well she tries to keep things professional but Alex isn’t interested in that from the start. Jane’s not on board with the more shady elements of the job so she does have more of a moral compass than the other staffers but there wasn’t a whole lot to her character. You’ve got Paul who wants to keep the experiments on the level but he ultimately reacted a little too slowly. Maybe if this was less of a charged area he would have been okay but the instant he stayed late at night and said no to the villain I knew it was game over. It was a tense scene when he walks into the hallway though. The guy just didn’t act until it was too late but he does at least have a backup plan set into motion by then.

Bob is the main villain here and the guy is rather intense. The film plays out a bit like a government conspiracy title at times and he does a really good job in that role. You can tell that he’s willing to do anything in order to have that weapon. These corporate kind of villains always manage to be very interesting and this guy’s no exception. Then you have the crazy Tommy who is all too happy to join in with this.

He’s a guy who always liked using his psychic powers for evil so it’s a perfect fit. Alex is really the only person that Tommy can’t intimidate. In the fight scenes that take place in the dream, I like how creatively Tommy uses his abilities. Really he could have murdered Alex in an instant if he wasn’t so busy toying with the guy the whole time. It’s why you never want to play with your food.

There’s also Charlie who is definitely the most random character in the film. Somehow or other he knows about what is going on with the dream wars and manages to track Alex down. The guy must have a lot of connections but at the same time he had no exit plan which doesn’t go over very well for him. Choosing a crowded location was a good idea but ultimately it just wasn’t safe enough. I was glad about his inclusion though because the conspiracy scenes are some of the most tense ones in the film.

Finally there is also the President but he’s not the smartest member in the group. I don’t think having bad dreams would be enough for me to subject myself to a super risky dream experiment that is still in the trial phase. Nah, I’m definitely not doing that. He also comes across as weak with how he isn’t able to touch Bill even though he was almost murdered. This guy’s the President? I don’t care about red tape at that point, you blast Bill and then cover it up. He should at least have that much power.

The film definitely has a really intense ending on two fronts. First is Alex’s final decision and battle which is a really effective scene. Then you have the final moment which will make you really think everything over again like Inception. My view is that the ending isn’t quite real, but it’s hard to say how far back it goes. Depending on how far back we’re talking…well that could be depressing for Alex.

An area where the film really excels is with the actual dreams. I liked the visuals we had there from the Nuclear aftermath to that creature that Alex had to fight. The dreams had a solid atmosphere to them and even the opening dream with the guy getting cheated on had a very grainy look to it that let you know this was a dream right away. I could have done without that crazy dream but it certainly felt weird enough to fit right in.

Overall, Dreamscape is a solid thriller. It has that classic 80s feeling as well where something just isn’t right but it’s hard to put your finger on it. Everyone seems dodgy and the whole area seems unsafe. You get the feeling that Alex is always being watched even when no one is around. That general atmosphere of unease is hard to nail and the film did a good job with it. I’d recommend checking this out if you want to see how the world of dreams can be a very dangerous thing.

Overall 6/10

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review


All right, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of checking out a new comic book movie. You can expect a whole lot of excitement, action, and teasing for future films. This one even has a scene after the credits start so make sure you stay in your seats. It’s definitely one that you won’t want to miss and I’m glad that we’re starting to get such important post credit scenes again.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Kasady and Frances as they are locked up in a jail for being psychotic monsters. They bonded there though and quickly became each other’s only friend. Unfortunately for Kasady, Frances is taken away to Ravencroft. We then jump 20+ years to the present where he asks Eddie to see him one last time before Kasady is put to death. Eddie doesn’t know why he’s picked but Kasady basically wants him to print out a message. Eddie agrees but he really has bigger issues at the moment.

While Venom & Eddie mostly know how to get along with each other now but things still aren’t going great for the main character. Eddie’s ex girlfriend has gotten engaged to the rebound guy from the first film, Venom’s been getting more impatient and nearly messing up their secret identity over and over, the cops don’t like Eddie, etc. The last thing he needs is the attention of a serial killer, but he’s in too deep to escape now. Can he survive amidst all the carnage?

So right off the bat I like the banter with Venom and Eddie a lot. A positive of being a sequel is that they are already merged from the start of the film so the movie is able to lean into that dynamic right away. It’s always fun to have Venom throwing his little remarks in throughout the conversation. He gets a lot of good burns in on the opponents and certainly isn’t shy about using his abilities. Surprisingly he even gets some scenes where he looks really intelligent like when he does Eddie’s job for him by inspecting Kasady’s room.

Venom can move quickly, use the computer well, cook, etc. Granted, he is a symbiote that has existed for thousands of years but even so it’s always impressive to see him be able to do all of this. He comes across as a very fun guy and is the standout character in the movie. He likes to think of himself as a lethal protector and it’s a very apt title. He’s certainly no hero as he doesn’t mind murdering just about anyone but he does seem to have good intentions and does obey Eddie’s no murder rules.

Venom acts like a kid half the time but he is always up for a good conversation. When the going gets tough you can definitely expect him to step up even though there is one scene where he really gets scared by Carnage immediately. That’s probably the only moment in the film where it seems like he has 0 resolve. It’s a scene mainly played for laughs but I would argue he was a bit out of character there.

As for Eddie, well he’s a lot of fun as well even if he’s not as good as Venom. Eddie’s humor really comes from him being a punching bag. In any scene he is in, Eddie looks out of his depth, incredibly nervous, unsure of what to do, etc. It’s hard to even see how this guy’s a reporter as he doesn’t seem to have any skill for it. Any detective work he does has to be pointed out by Venom first or he has to have been given the clues already. Venom seems to think he should get most of the credit for Eddie’s current position and I don’t doubt it.

This is a little hard to believe but Eddie may seem even more incompetent at just about everything than in the first film. He gets sad easily and gets wrecked in every possible fight. I do like when he tries to fight Venom mano a mano though. The whole fight is crazy because how can you beat someone who is fused to yourself and can do anything? The short answer is that you can’t but Eddie puts up a good try anyway.

So, I like Eddie because of how bad he looks. I’d say the best way to think about it is that he’s the ultimate underdog and it’s easy to root for someone like that. It’s clear that Eddie isn’t a bad person, he’s just not great at making decisions or anything like that. Both Eddie and Venom ultimately are trying to do their best here and are basically two average joes just trying to survive. (Well, Venom’s not normal but you get my drift)

The rest of the characters are mainly solid. Anne’s role as the main heroine isn’t very big but she makes the most of her moments. She comes in handy with helping Eddie at a crucial moment in the story. I’m not really sure if the whole dinner idea was a good one because it almost feels like the worst possible way to break the news of taking another step in her relationship but the intent was positive. Anne also talks very tough to the villains so she isn’t really afraid of anything. I’d definitely be up her getting a symbiote at some point so she can fight more.

Meanwhile Dan is still there as the rebound guy and he seems nice enough. He even manages to help out a bit. He doesn’t like Eddie all that much but you can’t blame him since Eddie seems really unhinged whenever the guy is around. From Dan’s point of view Eddie really does not seem like a good influence to anyone. The film doesn’t have much romance in it but I will say that at this point any chance of Anne and Eddie being together should be over. You can’t rebound twice and Dan’s a nice guy even if he’s a total pushover. Seriously you have Anne openly flirting in front of him even if it’s for a plan and the guy half heartedly protests.

I’ll give Dan props for being a good person but everyone’s always dunking on him. Anne even having a lot of fun near the end and remembering the good ole days. I just think the film would be going too far in putting him down if they were to break up so hopefully they stay together. Anne and Eddie can just be good friends who have a solid dynamic. It seems like a foreign concept in most Hollywood films but they can and absolutely should be friends without having to go past that.

Then you’ve got the cop Mulligan who can’t stand Eddie either. He seems to feel like Eddie is responsible for everything but he has no proof of anything so all he can do is antagonize Eddie as much as possible. Thing is, I feel like Mulligan could have played things so much better and then he could have been working well with Eddie. Instead he decides to become his enemy which really doesn’t work very well at all. Makes for a good obstacle I suppose, but more from Eddie’s point of view since I like how he just ticks everyone off.

Then we have the villains. First up is Frances who has the sonic powers. It’s cool to see some traditional super powers here, really makes it feel like a comic book movie. I was glad that when she meets up with Kasady she took the powers in stride. It’s always annoying to see a character suddenly turn on the hero because the powers look scary. Kasady’s no hero but from her point of view he suddenly returned to save her so I was glad that she actually seemed happy and grateful. It feels like the natural reaction here and the two trust each other a lot.

I did find it odd how she seems so ready to use her sonic powers even once she realizes that it actually hurts Kasady’s symbiote though. Maybe it’s just a habit so she doesn’t think about it much? Then you have Kasady who is about as insane as you would expect. He’s one of those guys who was seemingly always twisted. He tries to give a half hearted origin story later on but Venom isn’t really buying his excuses and I can’t say that I am either. Once you become a mass murderer that’s pretty much it.

Carnage is definitely the more interesting villain though. We don’t see quite as much of his personality in the film but whenever he shows himself you know that things are about to get wild. His sheer power is quite up there and all of his stats across the board are impressive. Carnage is also very confident and a symbiote of his word. These are all traits that make him a very solid villain.

Outside of the characters I also liked how the whole intro scene pre title card was handled. First off, the soundtrack really stands out. The logo is colorful and this all feels like something that could have been the intro to an animated film. It quickly sets up the motivation for the main villain as well as gives us some foreshadowing for what is to come. I’m not always on board with starting the film with a non action scene but this one works out well enough.

Even outside the intro scene I would say the film’s soundtrack is very good. There’s even a brief rock theme that plays while Kasady is in the car. The action scenes are also really good. I was even on board with Carnage tearing through the asylum and taking everyone down. Massacre scenes can often go with grit over style which ends up wrecking them or get drawn out too much to where it can get boring since the humans have no chance. This one handles the scenes really well. With the exception of the tongue scene which is more grotesque than stylized, I would give the scene a solid win.

Then of course you have the big Venom vs Carnage battles and those are just as good as you would expect. They really show off the power both fighters have and also how versatile their movesets are. I admit that I would like to see Venom use his tendrils more creatively in combat the way that Carnage does but even in the comics that has always been Carnage’s specialty. Perhaps if Venom finally gets to fight a non symbiote then we’ll see some more of that. Either way, the fights are considerably improved from the first film and I liked those, but these are just better.

Venom’s power is so impressive I’d even say he could beat most of the Avengers right now. If we consider the current Avengers roster to just be Spider-Man, Captain America (Wilson), Ant Man (Scott), Winter Soldier, and Hulk then Venom could actually give them a fairly good fight. Basically Venom could potentially solo but it all depends on how Spider-Man and the Hulk do. Spider-Man’s spider sense should theoretically make him very tough to beat but it depends on if he uses it well which is always tough. For the Hulk he would win if it’s close quarters combat but if Venom could stay at mid range and try stabbing then it’s tough. I feel like I have to give it to the Avengers if it’s the whole team but it’s closer than you might think.

The film’s short length also works out well enough as everything goes by quickly. I always say that a good film can always be longer and a bad film should be shorter so in this case I’d rather it was a full two hours. It’s a very entertaining film so I’d have been on board with a longer time frame. More scenes means more banter and more fun. This part of the universe is just fleshed out so well like even with the shop keeper sort of being like a pal to Eddie. I’m really glad that the end scene to the first Venom film is acknowledged here.

So there’s a lot to like here but of course the film isn’t perfect so it stands to reason that there are some negatives too right? Well, first up, we do have some animal violence. Yeah it’s basically off screen but it’s still unnecessary when we find out that Eddie has Venom eat chickens. See, Venom feeds off of a certain chemical that is only found in sentient brains and chocolate. It makes sense why he always wants to eat people but finding out that he is eating chickens in the meantime is just sad. They should have just had a scene where Venom refuses so Eddie has to buy him more chocolate. A film is always going to lose some brownie points from me for having a scene like this.

Otherwise it’s close to an 8 but I have a few more issues. In terms of plot holes/logic issues I really only have 2 that stood out to me. Everything else seemed fine including the power levels and such. The first thing that didn’t make any sense to me was actually from the opening scene. So the shady group is here to take Frances away because her powers are way too dangerous. So they take her into a car…and don’t do anything to restrain her mouth when she has sonic abilities?

This either means that this group was not told of her sonic powers from the bosses who ordered them to find her or they just thought it would work out. If it’s the first option than how did they expect the group to take Frances down? There are so many ways she could have escaped if not for a lucky gunshot. If it’s the second option than that’s just as bad. If she’s so dangerous that she has to be brought to the worst prison in the world then she’s dangerous enough to overpower a few guards. So the first scene felt like a stretch and it was only there so we could get the bullet wound scene.

The second is more of a spoiler scene so I can’t go into detail but someone gets powers at one point and it doesn’t make sense how it actually happened. The way the scene played out just doesn’t leave any room for this to be possible. I think there has to be a scene that was cut out from the film at some point but how this made it past the editing room is beyond me. This would raise way too many questions if this were possible because I would argue it could and should have happened to more people.

While the film is short and I wouldn’t say it really dragged on much, I didn’t find the solo Venom adventure to be too entertaining. If anything it’s rather grim how he seemingly murders people semi accidentally while on his adventure. Certainly losing more and more hero status right? See, the film’s at its best when Eddie and Venom are together to banter so splitting them up isn’t the right move. In real movie time I’m guessing it wasn’t a very long time but if it had been any longer it may have hurt. I don’t think that’ll happen again since they had their big fight now though so we’re good on that front.

Eddie also lost some points for me when he is constantly suggesting to Venom to eat the chickens that they adopted. Not a very nice move. In terms of violence the film is rather tame as I mentioned. Only the tongue scene is a bit grotesque and the scene with Mulligan’s eye being pushed in seems super painful but it’s a quick moment. Beyond that especially since the symbiotes can keep on regenerating, it’s super stylized as I mentioned earlier. Both characters can really take a lot of punishment and keep on ticking.

Now this is an action/comedy hybrid so both aspects have to be good and this one really was. As a final note, the humor in this film is better than in the first film. I thought that it grabbed what the first film did and then improved upon it quite a bit. The first act alone has a whole lot of humorous moments because the script is really on point. There’s one obligatory scene where Venom has to say the edgy word once because it’s expected at this point but otherwise it’s witty from start to finish.

Also, I really like how Eddie just seems crazy to people on the outside. Seemingly he has to talk out loud for Venom to hear him even though Venom can speak telepathically. So Eddie’s just bantering with him out loud but everyone can only hear his voice so everyone’s always giving him weird looks. This starts almost immediately with Venom arguing with him in the rest room and on the prison grounds and just never stops. Actually, forget that, Venom can probably hear Eddie telepathically since he finishes the guy’s sentences sometimes but probably pretends that he can’t just to make Eddie look foolish. That’s definitely the kind of trick Venom would play on him.

This might be a hot take but you could cut out all of Kasady’s scenes and the film might be even better. Now granted, I would still want the Carnage fights but if he just showed up out of nowhere at the end that’d be fine with me. The Eddie scenes are really where all the fun is at while Kasady’s just insane the whole time. It’s not that the Kasady and Frances scenes are bad or anything either, but the Eddie and Venom scenes are just that much better.

I will say this, it was smart of the film to show Kasady’s backstory in a children’s drawing kind of way because fully showing it probably would have hurt quite a bit considering what is implied with the dog at the end. If this was on screen I’d be a lot harsher since everything he does in that montage is intense but as a children’s drawing it doesn’t hit in the same way.

All right, final thoughts before closing this review out. The final scene after the credits is really solid. It opens up a lot of possibilities and you can interpret how future events will go in a lot of ways. No matter what happens, I do think we absolutely need a Venom 3 though. This series should be a trilogy at the minimum because there is so much more that can be done here. Venom has a lot of iconic villains that you can grab. I wouldn’t mind if they stick to symbiotes but you can also grab other kinds of villains as well.

Overall, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is definitely very good. It really embraces being a comic book movie from the cool 90s type logos to the solid soundtrack and how casual everything is. Venom creating a giant arm just to flick Eddie off in the middle of the street? Nobody notices or cares and that’s the kind of small detail that’s just fun. I’m not going to say the movie’s great as I still had my share of issues with it but the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. The overall atmosphere of the film is just really good, particularly when it’s the Venom scenes. I like how several characters know about his secret identity but it all feels rather grounded. You feel like Eddie’s a big fish in a small pond and right now he can do just about anything but he always limits himself. Of course crossovers are the best and inevitably when he gets to fight some big names that’ll be fun too but in the meantime if you were to recommend a modern Superhero saga to someone who just wants an origin story with no real connections to anything then this would probably be the top film to recommend. The film also has an incredible amount of replay value. I could watch it a second time shortly and still have fun. That’s probably due in part to the short length but you also have to give the film credit for just being a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d definitely say you should change that.

Overall 7/10

Anastasia Review


Anastasia is a good example of a film that starts really slow but is ultimately able to recover and get its momentum up by the end to the point where you would definitely consider it to be a good title. It makes for a satisfying watch and is a good drama film. The writing is what really puts the title in the green since a film like this is dependent on good writing.

The movie starts with some exposition about how the royal family was murdered. There were no survivors but then a rumor started that the princess Anastasia actually survived. It has been several years since then so most don’t believe it. Well one day a lady by the name of Anna casually lets someone know that she is Anastasia. A man by the name of Bounine picks up on this and quickly brings her into the fold. He has been tasked with finding Anastasia and if he doesn’t produce her soon then he will definitely be in trouble. So while this Anna appears to be quite troubled and potentially insane, Bounine is willing to risk it all. Surely he has the skills needed to trick the royal family even if she is not the genuine article.

Part of the mystery in the film is deciding if Anna actually is the princess or if she really is just faking it the whole time. Additionally she is unsure herself due to having some memory issues. As the film goes on I would say she definitely is Anastasia but ultimately it will be up to you to see if that’s the case. It shouldn’t really impact what you think about the film though as either way it doesn’t really impact the journey. Whether she is the real deal or not they will still have to convince the royal family of this either way. If Anastasia is brought back in as the princess then she will be exceedingly rich and that may end up spilling over to Bounine and his allies.

The reason I say the beginning is rather slow is that I was not really all that engaged with the story as Bounine explained this to Anna. He’s a fun character and has a way with words but it still felt like a sequence that was very dragged out so the film didn’t really pick up until they make it to the first event to see how well the reception can go. At that point it is definitely full speed ahead as we get a lot of fun dynamics.

You also can appreciate how some of the members are not so easily convinced. It has been several years since the apparent death and the whole memory loss angle would appear to be very convenient. Anna only seems to know things that are public knowledge which is not very convincing when trying to convince people that you were never dead. Some buy into it right away but most do not.

The standout character here is Anastasia’s mother. Naturally she is the toughest one to convince as she has seen many fakes time and time again. I like how fierce she is in the dialogue and isn’t afraid to really take shots at the other characters. She speaks her mind with no exceptions. She has a very good character arc and always appears to be one step ahead of the others. It’s also quite telling that she is the only person Bounine doesn’t talk back to or adopt an attitude with.

As for Bounine he also gets a lot of character development throughout the film. At first it seems like he just wants the money and to dodge a possible execution/being arrested for wasting funds. Instead we see that this is more a matter of pride by the end. Bounine just likes to show off what a genius he is and the more captive an audience the better. It’s not even a terrible plan even if it does see a bit far fetched at face value. I’m not surprised that a lot of these relatives never paid much attention and so a lookalike could trick them. That said, he made a big mistake when trying to use romance as a weapon for Anastasia.

I would call this a romance film per say but the instant he tries to set her up with a prince you know exactly how this is going to play out. He starts to sulk and pout the whole time which feels really petty considering that it was all his plan. Bounine tries to pin the whole thing on Anna too which is definitely going overboard. He only has himself to blame for all of this. He plays hard to get when Anna talks to him and then gets upset when she goes to the other guys. I did like him as a character though. He’s a fun guy but I just didn’t care for that subplot with him him nearly as much during the final act. It was not his brightest moment.

As for Anna, she does a good job of trying to fulfill her role. I’m not a fan of the amnesia plot in general but Anna pulls through it well enough. So whether or not she’s a fake, you could say that she has her own character now which is important. Anna has most of the emotional moments in the film. She is definitely at her best when she is defying Bounine and generally making things very difficult for him. She plays the rebel quite well.

So with a solid pair of main characters that’s always a very good thing for the potential of the film. The side characters are reasonable as well. Bounine has two lackeys with him who are not nearly as intelligent but they have a lot of fun dialogue. As mentioned the film just has a good script in general which goes a long way to helping the cast out. The only character who is really just annoying the whole way through is the prince who likes Anna. He’s just written as too obviously antagonistic the whole time with how he gets every question wrong.

Like Anna will ask him “If I decide to decline my inheritance will you still love me?” and he just says “You definitely won’t decline” or “don’t talk crazy now” which are just awful answers. Both make him look incredibly unintelligent. Either he’s a villain who wants the money and should still tell her that he loves her and all that or he’s a hero who would say that willingly. Intentionally answering every answer in the worst possible way just didn’t seem very realistic.

The movie’s at its best with all of the mind games between the characters. I liked seeing Bounine try to get the edge in every conversation. The film has a very old way of getting the dialogue across and it works really well. Even when the characters are insulting each other it’s always done in a way that has some pretense of being polite dialogue. Except for Anastasia’s mother who is old enough not to care about such things.

Where the movie is at its weakest is with the drama and romance. The romance doesn’t really work for me, it’s all too fast. As for the drama, it can be a bit much like when Anastasia’s mother finally cries or Anna’s long speech about not trying to convince the mother anymore but seemingly still doing so anyway. A film like this wants to keep a quick pace and the crying scenes slow it down a bit. It’s nothing too serious but if you lessen the drama a bit then the film would have its ideal pacing.

Overall, Anastasia is a solid film. It may have a rocky start but just keep with it until Anna begins her performance as Anastasia and then it’s off to the races. The balance with the serious drama and comedic moments is on point. The movie ends rather quickly but in a really ideal way. I would have liked about 5 more seconds just to see the mother say that the play was over but since it was told to the viewers I suppose that counts. A film isn’t really complete until you have the ending at the ready and so that completes the picture. If you’re up for a solid drama film then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 7/10

Nightcrawler Review

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

This film is a cautionary tale showing that if you give a shady person an inch they’ll take a mile. A channel producer decides to start skirting the rules and ultimately it doesn’t go over well. You definitely feel like things go very conveniently for the main character that’s for sure. The blackmail part gets annoying because you feel like Lou doesn’t really have nearly as much leverage as he claims but lets dive in here.

The movie starts with Lou sneaking into a warehouse to steal some wires. A security guard tries to stop him but forgets that if someone is trespassing then he’s probably dangerous. The realization hits the guard too late as he’s knocked out and Lou escapes. Still, Lou wants to do something more with his life than all of these little side jobs. One day he comes across an accident and sees “Nightcrawlers” filming the accident and selling it to the channels. He has finally found his calling, Lou wants to do that. Can he become the best accident film recorder there ever was?

Lou’s a very obsessive person and once he has his goal he just latches onto it. Lou always seems to be in the right place at the right time for a big scoop and that’s not luck but his own training. He learns the police codes and buys a portable scanner so he can listen in on their reports. Slowly but surely he grows into being one of the more reliable recorders around and then decides to swing his influence. He wants Nina, the current host of the evening news program and decides to blackmail her. If she doesn’t agree to be with him then he’ll sell the news somewhere else. Meanwhile his partner Rick has to decide if this job is really worth his life.

For me the Nina plot is definitely a miss because I don’t see how she was taken in so quickly. Lou claims that if he leaves then Nina will almost certainly be fired because her ratings are low. Nina shouldn’t have bit on the bait and just let him walked out. She has already been job hopping a lot so what’s one more time? Additionally, if she gives him the high ground now then there is no escaping after this part. By the end Nina seems to genuinely like him or at least the fact that he gives her good ratings which is all she cares about. I definitely found her to be a pretty bad character.

Then you have Lou who is quite deranged and basically one of the big villains here even though he is the main character. Keep in mind that the film opens with him assaulting an officer and he also threatens Rick with violence a few times. Lou is constantly threatening everyone and while he says that he has been practicing to live a more peaceful life, it’s clear that he could snap at any second. He even says that he just doesn’t like people by the end of the film which explains why he acts the way that he does.

It’s not that he’s fearless but Lou is very detached from everything which allows him to get up close with the recordings and to tamper with active crime scenes. You’re hoping that he’ll walk into the wrong crime scene at one point and that will ultimately be what puts him in a tough position. The guy certainly gets away with a whole lot. He talks a good game but that’s really all he’s got since most of the villains here do have guns.

Rick means well and he’s a nice guy but I do have to blame him for not leaving earlier. He knows exactly the kinds of things that Lou is doing by the mid point of the film. Early on you can excuse him because he doesn’t know much about Lou and he desperately needed a job. By the end of the film though? That excuse no longer applies, Rick just goes with it because the money is getting better and he’s lasted this long. Rick just stays in the game too long and when you work for a villain that’s always going to be a big risk.

Then you have the detective Frontieri. She doesn’t get a really big role or anything like that but does turn up near the end for a pair of confrontations with Lou. It’s a tough situation because it’s clear that she’s good at her job but it’s hard to find proof or clues when you’re up against someone as clever as Lou. He knows to hide his tracks rather well and you suspect Rick is here as a patsy if needed.

The film is engaging for a while as you see just how far Lou will go in order to get the scoop. The main issue here is as I mentioned before, it seems like he gets away with way too much because nobody wants to stand up to him. Both Nina and Rick could and should have handled things way differently. Lou would also not have been in a position to do nearly as well without them so suddenly you’re looking at a very different film. The accident to his rival also seemed to come out of nowhere. I thought Lou was going to sabotage him or something but in the end it seems like it really was all just coincidence. Lucky eh?

Since Lou is filming various crimes and such, we do see quite a lot of bloodied bodies and the like as the film goes on. It’s not super graphic like this was a horror film or anything but it is filmed like real events which can make this just as intense. I think the actual footage could have been left off screen or hidden a bit which would have been a good move from the film. I did like how it showed the newscasters just saying whatever the producer wanted them to say though. It shows how effectively they’re given a script and they seamlessly introduce that into their speech. That was probably even the most effective scene in the film because it was really handled well. You could totally picture this being the case in real news reports, particularly volatile ones.

Overall, Nightcrawler is an interesting film and it has the hard job of trying to use the main villain as the main character. It’s tough for that to work for an entire film, particularly if the villain has no sympathetic goal or rationale to at least make you understand why he’s doing this. Lou’s just crazy which doesn’t work so well for the lead. Additionally due to the very nature of the film, you do see some rather graphic crimes. The movie feels like a real newscast which is impressive but at the same time works to its own detriment as well. With more likable characters this film could have gone far but without anyone to really root for aside from the detective who appears once or twice, the film was ultimately doomed.

Overall 3/10

Alien vs Predator Review


This is a movie I saw many years ago and I remember always being on team Aliens. I’ve always been partial to that group. Perhaps it’s because I’m more familiar with them, that they came first, or it’s just more fun to root for the monster. That hasn’t changed over the years either and after watching the movie I can really explain more why I prefer the aliens. See, while they are sentient, they are really just beasts at the core. They run on instinct and take everyone down. The Predators are actually an advanced alien race that really do whatever they please and tend to look rather corrupt. The whole film only exists because they like to hunt prey and use humans as sacrifices. Not exactly the group you would be rooting for.

Lets take a step back though. The movie starts with Charles locating a mysterious temple. It has details from various cultures and suggests that humanity actually united to create this a while back. He is older at this point and wants one last thing to be remembered by before he dies. So Charles assembles a group of the greatest scientific experts on the planet along with the ultimate guide in Alexa. She is skeptical at first but eventually decides to get on board. Little does this group realize that they won’t be the only sentient life in this area.

One thing that really separates this one from the average Alien and Predator titles is that the movie really leans into the cool sci-fi aesthetics. The scenes showing how the Predators are watching the temple, the alien ship, etc is all so much better than you would expect. This is a Sci-Fi film where you can see how advanced the technology is as opposed to us not seeing more of it. Usually it is fine to keep the Predators more secretive but in a vs film like this, I think this is the right approach.

So the visuals are unmatched and I thought the soundtrack was decent. I won’t say great since I don’t think you’ll even remember a bunch of the tunes by the end but they work well enough during the movie. The writing is good and the fights with the Aliens vs Predators will always raise your hype before they start just trying to get extra gritty.

Where the film falters is where most of these horror films falter. It tends to get excessively violent, particularly with the chest bursters that return from the Alien films. It seems like you can’t go through any alien film without having at least one of these scenes right? If you get rid of those entirely it would be a good move and just stick to the Xenmorphs. This is still a horror film at its core even with all of the in-fighting between groups but you don’t need the bursters for the scare scenes.

As the main character Alexa does well here. She points out that this is a very bad idea but ultimately ends up helping out because if she doesn’t then people will likely die. They may die anyway but at the very least if there weren’t any aliens she would have been able to keep everyone on the straight path. These guys also aren’t exactly the best at following orders so they need a tough commander.

I’m a bit iffy on her teaming up with the Predator so quickly after learning that they used humans as cattle but with the Aliens being mindless I suppose there wasn’t any chance of making peace with them either. Ultimately Alexa kept her wits about her and was fast to react. Alexa even manages to deal some real damage by the end so kudos there.

Charles is not nearly as likable. I get wanting to make a big discovery in the end but then once we find out that he’s sick, it’s a bit much. He’s putting everyone’s lives on the line just for the discovery? The guy’s rich, he could just wait until everyone has actually checked the rooms and made sure it’s safe before walking in. I’d say that would have been a whole lot better.

Maxwell’s his main right hand man and the guy can fight but I didn’t get why he was so antagonistic the whole time. It feels like that kind of comes out of nowhere and of course that never ends well for the humans in these things. It was good to have a gun at the ready though. We’ve got other characters here as well like the lady with a gun, the guy who just wants to go back home to his kids, etc. You’re mainly just wondering if any of these guys will survive aside from the main character or if it’s game over.

As for the battles, like I said I was rooting for the Aliens here. Effectively they are the underdogs as the Predators always plant them in positions where they should lose. When the Predators are on the losing side they just nuke the planet. Seems like they’re sore losers on that front eh? Fortunately for the Aliens they still have the advantage of berserker strength and their continued evolution. The Alien Queen looks really impressive in this movie to be sure.

Before the final battle we get a few skirmishes between the Aliens and Predators with each side taking some wins. Both sides also have a main fighter you could say. One alien in particular handles himself well as he gets up after being slashed and one of the predators takes a few of the aliens out as well. It helps build you up to the climax.

Then of course we do have a twist ending because those are absolutely necessary. Not just in horror but for any film, it’s just that horror tends to do them with the greatest effectiveness. Lets just say that it’s a really effective way to end the film as you understand the implications of this very well. Albeit it, you feel like it could potentially be a plot hole because the scanners should have sensed something. They would have to right? These scanners were shown to be extremely advanced throughout the movie and did notice an alien when it was inside of someone earlier. It should be the same concept but….maybe they got overconfident. I’ll chalk this up as a plot hole but a fairly small one at least.

Overall, Alien vs Predator definitely delivers on the kind of action that you would expect to see from two savage races fighting each other off. I’m also always a big fan of seeing crossovers come out. At the end of the day that makes for a lot of good fun when you get to the inevitable conclusion. It would be nice if it didn’t have to be so graphic though and of course the humans are stuck in the middle as well. If you can get past the violence then there’s definitely a solid film in here but it loses enough points where it ultimately isn’t able to sustain itself in the green. The best complement for the film though is that they really do nail the special effects. It’s the best that the franchise has ever looked.

Overall 3/10

12 Angry Men Review


12 Angry Men is certainly a classic film. It’s one that just about everyone’s heard of and it’s very well known for its quality writing and interesting plot. It holds up very well on a rewatch and is just as engaging as it ever was. The movie manages to stay engaging even with the characters never leaving the main room for the majority of the film. This is definitely how you want to do a jury film and it’s hard to picture any film doing it better.

The case that the 12 Jurors have to rule on involves an alleged murder. Supposedly this kid on trial murdered his father before being captured by the police. The evidence is mainly based around testimony from a lady who saw the murder from a train, and an old man who stepped out of his apartment in time to see the kid run off. When the jurors go into the room to deliberate, 11 of them immediately believe the kid is guilty. They just don’t see how you can go against two direct witness testimonies like that but one juror is not convinced and still has some doubts. Can the 11 convince him to give out a verdict of guilty or can he get them over to his side?

After all, the only way you can rule guilty is if you believe that there is no room for doubt here and that this had to have been what happened. Also, a jury must be unanimous in its decision so if there is one person who disagrees then you have to keep debating until that is no longer the case. After a period of time if no agreement can be made then it is considered a hung jury and a new group will end up being selected.

The movie does a good job of still leaving the case up to your interpretation as the characters disclose their facts. It’s fair to say that one side will appear to be more likely than the other by the end or at least that there has been some established room for doubt. If you still believe that the accused is guilty then that’s fair as well, the film doesn’t really try to force you into saying that one side is flat out wrong or not.

If you’re voting for the side that says the accused is innocent, you do have a lot of things working in your favor. After the characters broke down the testimony from the old man who says he made it to the door in time, it does seem like it would have been difficult to make it to the front door in time. The timeline doesn’t add up without something being different as reported. Likewise the angle of the stab wound was different from how you would expect someone to use it and the train was moving very quickly.

On the side that says he’s guilty, you’ve got the fact that the knife was on the scene of the crime. It seems to be a rare knife although the main character was able to get one which puts that into question. You do have the direct alibi’s of the two witnesses and while the side that says he is innocent would say that they are lying, it’s just as possible that they aren’t and their time limits were off by a few seconds.

So whichever side you pick, there’s some good arguments to be made. The film isn’t really about seeing which side is right though so you won’t find that out by the end. It’s all left rather open which is also fair since in most cases as the jury you’ll never truly know if the person was guilty or not. You just make the ruling as best you can.

As mentioned, the writing is definitely great here. The time really passes by even though it’s 100% dialogue based. The characters may not have names but they all have core personalities. One of the best members was likely the chairman who did his best to make sure that everyone was taking this seriously and working in an orderly fashion. It’s not easy trying to take charge but someone had to do it.

You had the advertiser who was having a good time. He got distracted very easily compared to the others but he didn’t seem malicious or anything. The guy just seemed to always think of new ideas. There’s the main character who really wanted to give the case the importance it deserved. When the others were ready to leave in 5 minutes he held firm. You have to give him a lot of credit for sticking his ground even when he was outnumbered 11 to 1. It’s not an easy thing to have to face the crowd like that, especially with some of them being really tough about the whole thing.

One of them just wanted to go and see his Baseball game after all so he wanted a quick guilty verdict so he could leave. Then you have the one who is really against kids due to some personal issues. These two make this an even tougher situation since they are hardly going to be listening to reason. The film was smart not to make them the only ones on the guilty side though or you’d run the risk of making one side so antagonistic that it doesn’t appear to be a fair fight.

The main reasonable member in that camp was the guy with glasses who likes to look at everything logically. He feels it’s less of an assumption to take the testimonies and evidence at face value as opposed to believing they were all lying and/or incorrect. The best back and forth exchanges are often the debates with him as each side has to carefully take in each item and discuss it thoroughly. That’s exactly how these kind of discussions should go down.

Overall, 12 Angry Men really ends up keeping your attention at all times. It’s really a simple plot when you think about it and this underscores that any plot can make for a great movie if the execution is done well enough. The crew in charge of the movie held nothing back and so this ended up being quite the hit. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a good movie. No matter what genre you may like, this one is just good cinema and can appeal to anyone. I’d be up for more jury based films. It may be tough to beat this one but an attempt should at least be made as there is a lot you can do with this concept.

Overall 8/10

Single White Female Review


The poster for this film is certainly ominous. Now, I’ve never been someone who was a big fan of the whole roommate concept. Sometimes you gotta do it because financially there’s no other option or you’re in a school where that’s the system. Okay fair enough. Deciding you want a stranger as a roommate for kicks/companionship? Well…that doesn’t seem like it’ll be a recipe for success and in a horror film like this one you can imagine that this is the case. (The music treats it like a horror at least)

The movie starts with Allie finding out that her boyfriend Sam is cheating on her. She kicks him out but later on he admits that it was just a mistake of passion and she ought to forgive him because he’s a nice guy. Allie refuses and says that she never will. That should be the end of the movie right then and there. Full stop, credits roll and we have a pretty bad movie but a short one. Instead, Allie decides that the place is too lonely by herself and so she advertises for a roommate. The insane Hedra shows up and Allie thinks this is a good setup. Hedra seems okay at first but she quickly begins to take control of the place, yelling at Allie and lying a whole lot. Can Allie stay safe while also entertaining the idea of getting back together with Sam?

First off, I definitely have a big problem with the whole getting back with Sam thing. Look, you can forgive him and give the guy a second chance at being a good human being. That’s fine and going further, that’s a good thing. Allowing him to become your boyfriend again is a whole other can of apples. A relationship is purely based on trust and so the instant it is broken like that, there is really no going back. Allie even mentions that she would never have known if not for the ex-wife calling and Sam basically confirms this as he admits that he wouldn’t have told her. So….what’s to stop him from having a moment of weakness again? I just don’t see how this could work.

Allie is clearly devastated by this betrayal to the point where she can’t really function without him for a bit. That’s concerning for a lot of reasons but going back to him isn’t the answer. So any scene that guy was in would definitely make me cringe. There’s really no good reason for cheating and any attempt to justify it just makes the whole thing worse and Sam tries to justify it with a straight face. Sure, I do believe him when he says he thought it was Allie at the end of the film and not the doppelganger, but it doesn’t really change anything for me. That guy was just bad.

I don’t like Allie much either for similar reasons. Aside from the whole rebounding thing, I also felt like she just let Hedra get away with too much. Allie had said no pets but quickly cracked anyway after Hedra brought a dog in. Later on Hedra insults Allie, yells, and acts like she owns the place. That’s when Allie should have kicked her out. The open flirting with Allie’s boyfriend was another red flag as well as the dog flying out the window. The instant the dog appeared I knew the film was going to take another turn for the worse as well. A dog’s mere existence in a horror film is usually the biggest death flag in all of cinema. It’s one of the aspects that will always end up holding horror films back from reaching their full potential.

Hedra? Well, she’s your average psychotic murderer. She has a hidden past that involves potentially drowning another kid although you learn the full truth behind that near the end or at least a good chunk of it. It’s reasonable to say based on how this is described that Hedra didn’t actually go that far. I was surprised at that myself but she still racks up a small body count by the end which was nearly bigger but she didn’t quite finish the job on one of them. There isn’t much to Hedra beyond that and nothing that really made her an interesting villain.

Then we have Allie’s next door neighbor Graham. He’s good, he always gives Allie some sound advice and helped as much as he could. It’s a little hard to buy how he lost to her in a fight though. Sam’s was also a little sketchy but you can pass that off as bad luck I suppose. Graham should have done better though as the whole situation was super sketchy and he was forewarned about her. That should have definitely been enough to stop her.

The climax is incredibly sloppy though. Now it’s not uncommon in horror films for the main hero/heroine to knock the villain down and instead of grabbing the gun just make a break for it but this movie does it around 4-5 times in a row which is absolutely crazy. I mean, if you have the villain on the ground then you absolutely have to grab the gun. Even if you don’t know how to fire it or something then you can toss it out the window or use it as a sledge hammer. At the absolute worst, just open the handle so all the bullets fall out. Otherwise you’re just letting the villain grab it again.

Allie could have played the whole thing way better than she did. Also, while she gets tied up off screen, presumably Allie let herself be tied up because Hedra had the gun. This is something you must never do. Okay, when the villain has a gun, the leverage is that they will shoot you if you don’t comply. If you’re in a hold up you freeze and do what they say because you’re giving them things with the expectation that you will walk out of there alive. This situation is massively different. Once you tie yourself up then the only real outcome here is that you’re going to die. You’ve just given the villain all the leverage with 0 upside to yourself. It’s better to make a break for the door and get shot in the back or (the better option) try to grab the gun and tackle the person. Sure, your odds are pretty high at dying but if you tie yourself your odds are at 100% without some plot armor to help you out.

So what I’m saying here is that you should never tie yourself up when held at gunpoint. Unless there are other hostages or something then this is just not worth it. More points away from Allie. Finally the only other character in the film is this random looney who desperately wants to force himself on Allie and there’s no reason for his inclusion except to try and give Hedra some points where she can say that Allie is too nice. I don’t think this is a case of Allie being too nice but just being way too oblivious. The guy was acting shady from the start and every line involved him flirting with her. So…staying back late at night to teach him something 1 on 1 sounds like a horrible idea from the start. This is definitely one guy where you don’t mind when Hedra confronts him because at least she’s not murdering some innocent person for once.

Overall, Single White Female is a film that is pretty unbelievable at almost every point in the story. You’re always going to be shaking your head at what is going on because it just doesn’t work. The characters range from bad to awful in most cases. The movie squeezes in animal violence for no reason and I wouldn’t exactly call the writing good. So it fails in almost every area which makes this a film you will want to skip. It’s just not worth checking out and the main message here is that Allie probably should have gone with one of the other roommates even if they seemed eccentric.

Overall 2/10

The Alphabet Murders Review


Time for a very different kind of Poirot film. Throw away everything you knew about the character beforehand as this one goes as far as to act like a parody the whole time. The movie even starts off with the lead breaking the third wall which is certainly something else. While I do like the film and will go into it in a second, I will say that the breaking the third wall gag felt flat as it often does. In very rare circumstances will I say that such a scene is good. It really just serves to take you out of the story in the same way as seeing the main character in the present talking about how he barely survived the events that we’re about to see. Fortunately the film didn’t go that far here.

So the movie starts with a poor clown getting murdered. He seemed to be shot by a mysterious woman. Then another victim takes their final dive and so Poirot will have to be the man to put a stop to this. Surely the world’s greatest detective can stop this criminal right? The only clue that the heroes have is that this villainous seems to be murdering people according to the alphabet. The first victim’s first and last names began with A, the second B, etc. Well, Poirot won’t have to search as hard as all that since the villainess confronts him straight up. She talks about how she doesn’t want to murder but that she must and other vague things as she beats the stuffing out of him and runs off

Prepare to see Poirot get beaten quite a bit in this film. He’s really not prepared for the kind of opponents that he is dealing with as this version is fairly weak and also not very intelligent. He has to rely on luck and physical ability in order to complete this case and I wouldn’t say that he is the toughest guy on the block either. Mix all of these things together and it doesn’t bode very well for him. The opening scene where he is getting choked by Amanda is also pretty odd. Perhaps intentionally and perhaps not but for me it didn’t even seem like she was seriously trying to murder him.

Or at least it was very half hearted with how they were tussling around. Poirot was calling for help the whole time but everyone would either misunderstand him or promptly get knocked out. It was crazy but I would say this was the best scene in the film partially because of how insane it all was. It can also be spooky, imagine calling out for help the whole time but nobody steps in because they think you’re all right? Now that will keep you up at night if you almost got choked to death. Poirot believes it was the lady’s way of asking for his help after it’s all over.

While Poirot is beaten and outsmarted throughout the film, he is a fun character. He does have some decent plans like pretending to choke himself to get Hastings to lower his guard. Poirot spends half the film trying to defeat the other good guys as opposed to going after the villains which is also meta in a sense. Fortunately for the heroes the villains don’t go around murdering too many people because they would have been in no position to stop these guys.

The hero is arrested and captured more than once. He’s not very good at being self aware like when he was chasing the girl. You’re actually rooting for the civilians to stop him since without context the whole thing that appear to be really crazy. It shows that these people aren’t just going to stand for this. The other main hero in the film is Hastings and he’s basically this film’s version of Watson. Hastings isn’t very smart and often gets outsmarted by Poirot but he means well.

What the man lacks in skill and bravery he makes up for in loyalty. You can always count on him to have your back and that’s a powerful thing. He even attempts to provide assistance during some of the more dangerous moments even if it doesn’t end up working out most of the time. I gained some respect for him when Poirot wasn’t able to outsmart him for once near the end of the film. It was almost like character development of sorts.

As for Amanda, well she’s a decent villain I guess. I think the whole plan was way more convoluted than it needs to be but granted, that could be due to the adaption. After all, in most cases it would be tough to murder Poirot or outsmart him so you can see villains coming up with all kinds of crazy plans to throw him off the scent. In this one though, well it would be extremely easy to bump him off. Poirot was being overpowered in the steam room after all and he was also chasing Amanda in the darkness with ease. Just set a trap for him at any time and I’m sure he would fall right into it. That’s absolutely the game plan the villains should have had without having to go with this whole ABC angle.

Amanda did a good job of completely tricking Poirot though so I have to give her some props there. All in all, the writing is good. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest but you’ll get a good amount of witty dialogue. Some of the visual humor is nice too like when each character is snapping their finger at the other to grab a hat and other things. They had good coordination there and it made for a peaceful scene.

Ms. Marple also gets a little cameo here which was neat. It’s always good to establish a crossover continuity here and it also is a good way to show where Poirot ranks in comparison with Marple. In her one scene she was able to easily crack the case but presumably the cops didn’t believe her. Meanwhile Poirot “solves” the case by the very end and it took everything he had.

Overall, The Alphabet Murders is pretty good. It’s a shame that we didn’t get some kind of sequel. Who knows, maybe it’s better as a one off, but there’s a whole lot you can do with this concept. The bumbling detective and his witless sidekick is not something that’s done very often at all. I’d also have liked a full crossover with Ms. Marple. From what we saw of her, she would likely have the advantage in a fight but with both characters having such a strong ego, I’m sure this would be a lot of fun. This film goes by pretty fast and ultimately how much you enjoy it will be directly related to how funny you find the characters to be. Does the dialogue feel naturally comedic or does it all feel forced? This is the question that will determine it all.

Overall 7/10

Fun with Dick and Jane Review


All right, who here remembers the classic books? It’s nice that the film effectively pays homage to them while telling a new story. This is a fun film that balances the criminal life while also showing us just how Dick and Jane got to such a state where they would become true robbers. The comedy is on point and the film really breezes by.

The movie starts with Dick & Jane enjoying their normal life. They have a great house, nice kids, nice neighbors, etc. Everything is going super well, but then that all changes when Dick’s fired from his job. Not because he was doing a bad job or anything but just because it was downsizing time and it went by seniority instead of by quality. The main characters have a very expensive lifestyle which eats through their funds quick and neither one is able to hold a job. Perhaps…it’s time for a life of crime?

Naturally with a plot like this it can go in a few different ways. If it was played seriously then naturally you’re rooting for the main characters to fail at every turn as you hope the cops catch them. In this case it’s a much more light hearted adventure. I noticed that the film made sure they failed every time they tried to take on a ma and pa shop or rob an old man and only let them rob from corporations, hotels, and professional places that have insurance.

I suspect this is a subtle way to allow you to have fun watching the characters without actively rooting against them. Now, naturally I was rooting for them to be stopped aside from the last case even with this. After all, they may have rough circumstances but who doesn’t right? There’s always another way outside of crime and when you see that the main characters still have a full time maid, a babysitter, a huge house, etc….well you get the picture.

The humor is effective as we see them slowly start to get used to the life of crime though. Dick in particular has a rough time of it. That first robbery attempt will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. It’s definitely a moment where you were rooting for the old man though so that worked out really nicely. Dick’s adventures around the unemployment line were also cool as well.

The agency really doesn’t play around in this instance and it was impressive that they could recognize him even in disguise. Dick was not about to pull a fast one on these guys, that’s for sure. The script is good and the same goes for the writing so it is able to pull this adventure off rather easily. The character roster is also solid here.

Dick makes for a solid main character. He may be on the wrong path despite the good intentions but he has a lot of fun moments. He is doing his best to make sure that the family has enough resources and didn’t enter the life of crime lightly. Additionally his plan at the end with Jane works rather well in the climax. It was well thought out and even the villain had to respect it.

Meanwhile Jane did well on her side too. She was the first one to start budgeting since it was clear that they couldn’t live quite as lavishly as they did before. Additionally she was quick to get the hang of being a crook to the point where you could definitely say that she was better at it than Dick. She was more compassionate though so they each had different weak points in that arena.

One of the best parts of the film has to be the montage where they’re robbing everyone. Robbing the phone company for example was a great scene as everyone even cheered them on and opened the door for their escape. That’s quite a lot of team unity against the company. We don’t see them for long but from the brief dialogue we did get, it seems like the company was corrupt.

Likewise the main characters stopped a corrupt evangelist which was a good move on their part. Finally you have the main villain Charlie. Well, the film doesn’t hold back here. He’s got every trait you would expect in a corrupt CEO. He loves getting drunk, wastefully manages the company, accepts and gives out brides, flirts with married women, etc. So when the heroes decide to rob him you have to raise an eyebrow because this guy certainly isn’t doing a good job with his funds at the moment.

Hmmm, it makes you think. So that’s a good climax and we even get a brief confrontation with Dick & Jane vs Charlie. Yeah this film had a lot going for it, that’s for sure. There are also some fun supporting characters like the insurance agent who came over to inspect the place. The kids are mostly off screen which is good. They’re not bad and don’t have enough screen time to affect anything. It was a good decision because I think they would have ended up taking away from the general dynamic.

I’d also say that most of it seems pretty realistic. I imagine it was really hard to stop shoplifters back in the day because there weren’t a lot of security cameras or anything like that. Especially with how the main characters would rob a place and then dash out. No chance to grab their license plates or anything like that. The only one that may be tough to buy is their breaking into the safe. I understand they got better as they did more and more jobs but could they get so sophisticated as to break into a safe in one of the richest buildings in the city? It has to be a top line safe so it shouldn’t be very easy to pick. Still, there are ways to explain it and I can live with them.

Overall, This was a pretty good film. The writers did well in managing to balance the main characters being criminals with not doing anything malicious enough where you’d be turned off at their being the leads. There’s a lot of good banter here and it just makes for a fun film that really ends as soon as it begins. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a nice lighthearted film.

Overall 7/10