Real Genius review

When you’re a genius there are a few things you really have to keep in mind. There are those who would try to use your skills for their own personal gain and additionally you have to be careful not to burn out. Go in too hard and that’ll be it for you. The main character has to end up learning this the hard way. It’s an entertaining film and while it has a few weak points that keep it from getting to the next level, I would still be able to recommend this one.

The movie starts with the government telling Jerry that they need the laser which can blow someone up from any distance. Jerry was confident that his star student Chris would be able to build this but the guy has been slacking off a whole lot lately. At this point the deadline is getting real close so instead he decides to take in a new kid named Mitch to take over the project. Perhaps now he will get results. Mitch is eager to help and knows Chris as a living legend but at the same time he’s not thrilled with how the guy is always slacking off. It’s not quite the experience that he was expecting, that’s for sure. He doesn’t realize the true stakes behind what he is building either and is just eager to pull it off. We’ll see how that goes.

Right off the bat I do like the government angle. The whole building a laser thing makes a lot of sense and led to a fun intro scene. They were also quite ruthless here as it’s heavily implied that they decided to take out the one guy who disagreed with the plan. It’s safe to say at such a high level that you should be careful about stepping off of a project. Doing that now makes you a big security risk since you know about the secrets. These guys did not hesitate either considering that they probably knew him for a while.

Unfortunately the government really doesn’t get to appear much after that until the very end of the film. It’s a shame because they were definitely one of the highlights here. Jerry does well representing the shady characters though. He is good at manipulating Mitch and also talks back to the government at times. Naturally they do have most of the power here but he still doesn’t let them just walk all over him. He manages to stand up for himself as needed. He is certainly a ruthless villain since he doesn’t care about anything aside from his paycheck at the end.

The movie handles him really well though. He’s not just cackling in the corner or anything like that. He still seems reasonable on the surface and you almost think he’ll be a main hero at first. Once he started showing his true colors that was it though. The first hinting of this was likely when we found out that he wasted a whole lot of the money for the project on random things he wanted. Not the most responsible guy eh?

Chris is fun but I do think he could go a little far at times in how he would mess around. I get that he didn’t want to take things too seriously so he wouldn’t crack and that makes sense but after a point that just felt like an excuse. There’s a difference between not overworking yourself and still doing some basic work. As the film goes on he eventually learns more about that but in the meantime I can absolutely see why everyone was so fed up with him. The guy wouldn’t just goof off but actively disrupted and distracted everyone else. I would say it’s clear that he was still the smartest guy in the classroom but he really didn’t use those talents to help anyone.

In a way he would almost feel like an antagonist at times if it didn’t turn out that the invention was evil. As for Mitch, he’s a decent main character but he could be a little timid the whole time. It made it real easy for other kids to show up and start teasing him. You gotta be bold and just go with the flow or things are going to get tough in a school like this. He also gets a quick romance plot in the film but I wouldn’t say it was anything all that special. It does happen rather quickly and didn’t seem all that realistic. I’m glad he was able to turn someone else down in the meantime who was after him even if his reaction times were slow but I wouldn’t say it was enough to get me on board with the romance.

Maybe once Mitch had been there for a few semesters or something but until then it’s just a smidge too fast. Then you have the main villain Kent. I mean, in a way Jerry’s the main villain but the difference is that Kent was acting like a villain from the start. At least Jerry puts up a front but Kent doesn’t bother with one. He just openly attacks Chris and messes with his things. In particular one of his sabotage moments was really a big deal with how he ruined a really expensive gadget that cost time and money. I thought he got off really easy all things considered.

The main heroine Jordan got her role in all of this as well. She has a hard time ever sleeping so she is hyper 24/7. The film didn’t give her a ton of time but I thought that she was a nice character. Jordan really stuck out right off the top with a quirk that was memorable without being too annoying. If this film got a sequel I could see her doing a lot more there.

I still say that the government should have appeared more though. The slice of life scenes with the kids at school is still good and all but the government scenes would have really pushed it over the edge. That’s absolutely what would have been the best route here. The only scene I thought was a little unrealistic was when Kent records Mitch so everyone can make fun of him at lunch.

They’re all geniuses and recording isn’t difficult so I’m not saying that this was hard to believe, but that the school wouldn’t get back at him somehow. Ultimately they still want more students in the future so it seems a little counterintuitive to let the bullying go this far. If the school gets sued or something then it will discourage attendance. It’s hardly the worst bullying I’ve seen in a film but it really stood out here. Maybe because it’s just so open while a lot of times the bullying is at least done in the shadows. A valid argument could be made that nobody could prove it was Kent, but it seems like nobody really even cared.

Overall, Real Genius is a good movie. The romance can be a bit cheesy at times but ultimately it’s not a big part of the experience anyway. The writing here was good and I do always like the idea of a school for geniuses. There’s a whole lot you can do with a solid setup like that. This film perhaps didn’t capitalize on it to the fullest extent but we did have some fun inventions and quirks in the first half. I liked the instant ice for example and the heroes had a good solution for the laser at the end. I’d recommend checking it out for some light hearted fun.

Overall 6/10

El Dorado Review

The Wild West definitely has some very solid films out there and then some that can be rather weak. I’d say the genre always comes with a lot of risks but when no mistakes are made you can be sure that it’ll be a fun ride. One character may have been really annoying the whole time here but ultimately I’d say that the film itself is a winner.

The film starts off strong with Sheriff J.P. pulling up to a hotel and threatening Cole. He’s heard talk of Cole being scouted by one of the two families involved in a rather large dispute over land. Cole hadn’t actually accepted the job yet but J.P. convinces him that it’s a crooked deal and not to go through with it. The two of them have a fairly solid rivalry going with each other but one built out of respect so Cole doesn’t just disregard his words. He thinks about it and ultimately declines the offer but not before having to bump off one of the family members in self defense.

We skip ahead in time a while and Cole happens to meet up with a guy named McLeod who has been offered the same job and decided to take it. At first Cole isn’t worried but then he is told that J.P. has fallen into tough times recently as he got dumped and has become a complete alcoholic who can no longer function. It’s really not part of Cole’s business at this point but he can’t turn his back on the sheriff. Cole heads into town for one last fight.

Right off the bat I can tell you that one of the big things that helps this movie stand out is that Cole is a great main character. He’s not a hero strictly speaking but the guy has a good honor code and won’t just let bad things happen. When a kid named Mississippi is nearly taken down in a dirty fight, Cole steps in to save him. Likewise when J.P. is in a bad spot, Cole is the one to jump in and win the day. He is one of the fastest guns in the world and doesn’t feel a need to prove himself. So you don’t see Cole bragging but he’ll certainly fight if the need arises.

He has a lot of restraint too like with how he has to handle Joey’s repeated attacks on him. Cole really does his best not to murder unless absolutely necessary. Even when he was ambushed by one of the family members, Cole was able to fire back but took care not to murder him. The guy just ended up shooting himself. Cole is certainly someone that you want on your side in any fight.

Now as for J.P., I liked him in the first scene but man did he fall off after that. All because he was dumped too? Nah that’s just a little too much. He looks absolutely embarrassing after that and sure he gets his big moment by the end but it’s a little too late. You have to retain some level of dignity in the meantime and just drinking yourself into oblivion is not the way out. The main missed opportunity due to this plot is that we don’t get a lot of fun banter between the two characters. Having that throughout the movie would have been a lot of fun but ultimately he can’t keep up with Cole so there’s no chance of that.

Now Mississippi was a really fun character. A little naïve for sure with how he underestimated everyone at the bar but his actual skills are good in a straight fight. I thought he was going to get more scenes with his knife after the opening scene but I suppose he proved his point. I also thought it was good that Cole went to train him because realistically you do need a gun in the wild west. No matter how good you are with a knife, a gun will still be the stronger tool in your trade. That just makes sense.

His gun was also a lot of fun because of how huge and long range it was. It really helped to make up for his lack of pure skill. You’ve also got Bull who is an older man that helps out a whole lot in the movie. He gets a lot of fun scenes and it’s nice to see how he can still fight at such an old age. Bull’s got a good attitude about the whole thing and contributed a whole lot.

Then you have Joey who is on her quest for vengeance for most of the movie. It’s all built around a big misunderstanding and she doesn’t really want to hear the truth. Granted, you do get why she would be super skeptical. The whole thing is a little hard to buy with the guy shooting himself and Cole was naturally a huge suspect. Ultimately it takes a while but she comes around. I thought she still made for an interesting third party kind of villain.

The best villain had to be McLeod though. His skills are on par with that of Cole’s and so that also makes them rivals in a sense. They’re some of the best in their line of work and pull no punches. Unfortunately the way things turn out we don’t get the big fight that you may have been waiting for. It would have been nice to have seen that but perhaps things would not have gone well for Cole if that had happened. It’s hard to say but there was no obvious answer to who would win. McLeod is another guy with a solid honor system and he was a very interesting villain. His scenes were always fun.

If the film has one weakness it’s that I didn’t actually care about the family land squabble. The guy who was trying to steal the land and the family who wouldn’t give it up? I never really cared about either side or how the battle would go. It felt like the film didn’t give them much attention either as it was more focused on the main characters. I don’t really feel like that’s a bad thing but by the end I couldn’t tell you much about either side.

Usually in these wild west films that would have been a much bigger aspect. Instead, getting J.P.’s honor back was more of a main theme and the heroes finally getting ready to go up against the bigger odds. So in that sense, the overall story isn’t as interesting as the actual character moments. You think of the villains more like nameless goons who are about to get absolutely dominated in the fights.

The romance is also a little weak but I wouldn’t say there’s much of it. There’s one lady who seems to have had affair with both of the guys in the past so they may want to rethink that one. You had J.P. getting dumped off screen but that’s hard to call a romance since we never saw it. The movie doesn’t have time for many subplots though which is for the best if this is any indication of how a longer romance would have gone.

Overall, El Dorado is a good movie. It’s a classic tale of two rivals having to team up against a common enemy. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as action packed as some other Wild West titles as there’s a lot of build up and character development until the climax, but the climax itself is rather long so you’ll still get a lot of bang for your buck. With a solid cast of main characters, they more than make up for the story itself not being one of the most memorable ones. If you’re a fan of the genre then you should definitely check it out.

Overall 7/10

The Monster That Challenged the World Review

It’s time for a very classic creature feature kind of movie. You can bet that you won’t be seeing anything that really changes the world here but it’s a simple film that does tackle its themes well. It executes without making any real mistakes and at the end of the day that’s exactly what you want to see from a movie like this. The human characters are all solid but very forgettable as they don’t have much of a personality. How are they solid then? Well, the writing in the film is really good so each character talks very professionally and to the point, they just feel more like the film itself than individuals.

The movie starts with the creature taking down a bunch of civilians but is ultimately low diffed by a guy with a harpoon. They take the body back to the lab where it is studied by the government and the concerning thing isn’t the creature itself, but the fact that it can rapidly multiply. One scientist even says that at this speed it could even end up threatening the entire planet! This is clearly not a threat to sneeze at but what can the humans possibly do about it?

When you have a monster film about quantity over quality it is always a pretty interesting change in dynamic from the one giant monster approach. After all if you have one big monster then it stands to reason that the humans are absolutely doomed and will need big bombs. When it’s a lot of smaller ones, the fear is that they will ultimately overpower you. I tend to prefer the one big monster approach but both can work. I do think the monster should have looked a little stronger though. Losing to a single guy with a stick? That’s just not very impressive even if the eye is a weak point. It just doesn’t feel like enough to make you feel scared as the audience even with a swarm of them.

The design is good though. I do like how the creature looked so I’ll give the film props there. The movie still does have a good amount of tension too. I wouldn’t call it scary in the slightest or anything like that but it does get the danger element across. You fully understand that at this point the humans have to band together to stop it or they will absolutely be conquered. There’s no other way around it.

Now as for the humans, well like I said they’re not super memorable. You’ve got Gail who helps a lot with the research and keeping things on track. She’s good and stays on task at all times. Without her the characters would not have been updated enough to stop the monster. Then you have her daughter Sandy who unfortunately ends up messing things up on multiple occasions. At least it was to help the Rabbits but it just reminds you why the kids tend to get in the way for things like this. They don’t understand the stakes and as a result they end up getting in the way.

Then there’s general Twill who is the main army guy here. He always acts rather serious but deep down he’s a nice guy and all of that jazz. The film tries to throw in a bit of a romance here which doesn’t work at all. It’s all a little too fast and doesn’t really add onto the film at all. It’s another instance of just being there to check off the box of having romance but doesn’t really fall into place.

I don’t believe the movie is very long and I can certainly confirm that it doesn’t feel long. It’s over very quickly and so I guess what you can say as a negative is that it won’t feel very memorable. It’s really like many other creature feature films that you would have seen before. It’s not really trying to do anything different at all. It just follows the motions from start to finish but because it was executed well, I didn’t really have a problem with it. It’s still an enjoyable picture.

It plays everything very safe and so it doesn’t make any mistakes even if there are no big highs to be found here either. Whether someone is a fan of monster movies or just a good story, you could recommend this one. At the end of the day it’s about humanity uniting to stop a common threat. You get to see everyone really try to work together on this in time to stop the threat.

Now what I would have done to make this a little more memorable would have been to add some scenes to make the characters a little more dynamic. Usually this is where I recommend adding more action but instead maybe make Twill a little more headstrong. That’s a character trait that always makes a character more memorable. For Gail, I’d throw in some motivation like she wants to help out to really prove herself now that her husband is gone. If anything maybe have him stick around to get bumped off by the monster for that revenge arc. These traits may seem a little cliche, but hey it would be more than as it is currently.

Overall, Don’t let the title fool you, the monster isn’t actually challenging the world verbally or literally by being a force of nature. It’s the potential of the monster in the future which is a threat. That may not sound as exciting as he alternative but that’s just how it is here. It’s still living up to the title slightly I suppose but just not in a big way. If we ever get a remake or sequel, then they need to buff the monster quite a bit but hopefully keep the writing just as solid. Either way, there’s nothing to really dislike here so you’ll have a fun time all the way through.

Overall 7/10

Belle Review

It’s always nice to have an anime movie to watch. Typically I watch all of the big Shonen type movies but then you’ve got the emotional types like this one which are still fun too. They may not compete visually or in an action sense with the others but you can see how they are used to beat the classics like how this one beats Beauty and the Beast by improving upon the core story.

The story starts by introducing us to Suzu who used to like singing and having a good time but then she was traumatized when her mother died after trying to save a kid who was drowning. It didn’t help that people criticized her mother for doing this and playing hero (Which came across as a little forced tbh since the kid was saved in the end) so Suzu fell further into despair. She pretty much cut off ties to everyone and even has a hard time talking to her father or her childhood friend Shinobu. One day she discovers an app that lets you into a virtual world. It’s the Metaverse if that app/concept was actually a lot more interesting.

Now she has an alter ego named Belle and can sing to her heart’s content there. Suzu uses this as a complete escape from the real world and wouldn’t mind staying there forever. Still, even this area has its share of issues. There is a mysterious user named the Beast who goes around causing a lot of mayhem and interrupting Suzu’s contest. She senses that there is more to him than the chaos but at the same time she doesn’t know what to do about it. What can she do? Meanwhile the “Justice League” type police officers want to put the Beast down for good. If Suzu isn’t quick on deciding what to do, she could lose everything.

The idea of retreating into a virtual world is certainly a classic one and always an interesting idea. Who wouldn’t want to be trapped in a world like Sword Art Online right? The idea of a fresh take on life has spawned tons of stories and if you ask people IRL, there are many who would love the chance to do this and others who of course would not want to. For me personally, it sounds pretty awesome but if it’s an action game, not something like the world in Belle because it’s still just like real life.

For Suzu it works because she can actually sing here and she’s really good at it too. That alone makes the world worth it and of course flying and stuff is fun too. The visuals in the world are interesting and the CG’s not bad. It reminds you of the old days of the computer so it’s a bit of a nostalgic boost. The animation for the human scenes is good too but a little below average next to what you’d see nowadays. It’s what I call the mainstream anime movie effect where it’s aimed more at a general audience so the colors aren’t as bright and splashy.

Turn on the TV to almost any modern anime right now and it’s going to look a lot better which is a bit ironic since this is a movie. Still, you don’t need to compare this to the rest and on its own the animation is still good. There isn’t a lot of action here anyway but the combos with the Beast in the cyberworld are fun. I wouldn’t mind if the fights got extended just a bit.

At its core this is more of an emotional story though and it succeeds at that. I would say it’s suitably sad without trying too hard or overstaying its welcome. Towards the end of the story we even get a bit of a dark twist. You’ll probably have figured out what’s going on during an early scene when the Beast’s wounds are glowing but if not, the film makes sure not to make it too obvious. I didn’t even realize the symbols on the Beast’s back were wounds until they said it. Either way it’s pretty intense when it happens and works for the story but I’m glad it doesn’t go any further than the quick scene or two. This is the right amount of getting you to understand the stakes without just making the whole thing really edgy.

I’m thinking it was a stylistic choice to not make it obvious as even one guy who drew artwork of injuries still looked like flowers to me. It’s a good choice from an animation level I’d say since it lets the movie be more creative. The soundtrack isn’t too memorable for the most part but the lyrical songs are fun. There’s always a lot of fun special effects during the songs as well and in particular I liked the large venue that was set up for the main song. That place was absolutely massive and is definitely the kind of place you want to be when giving a performance.

As for Suzu as a main character, I wouldn’t say that she was great. Of course you can see what character arc the movie is going for but she’s just a little too timid the whole time. Suzu doesn’t really act upon her feelings and when she does towards the end, it’s not always with a great plan. The climax could have had her take an extra 2 seconds to bring someone along and that would have been a really good idea. Of course it’s also bad on the other characters for not just jumping in.

This is the kind of story where Suzu would certainly be a lot better in a sequel, but I doubt we’ll be getting one. Her best friend Hiroka was really good though. She would sometimes badmouth other characters without meeting them which is a bit petty but at least she always had Suzu’s back. She was around to support her at all times and also did a lot of the legwork in setting up the alter ego. Something tells me Suzu would have been found out right away without someone like Hiroka to cover her tracks. I appreciate that Suzu wasn’t totally on her own here. I mean she had the drama club members as well but you want someone your own age to talk too. So in this way Suzu wasn’t completely alone.

I also liked Kamishin, the sports guy who is really serious about competing. His romance scenes can be a little cringe but as a character he always means well. He works well as the subtle comic relief here and a little break from the main plot. Ruka was also good and didn’t fall into the trap of being the mean popular girl. Instead she is someone who excels but doesn’t have to play dirty or take the low road. I appreciated that since it would have just been too cliché if she was a villain for some reason. As a supporting character she was good.

Then we have Shinobu who was the best from the main characters. He did his best to protect Suzu from behind the scenes and wanted to even be more open about it but she was always running away. While the other characters hesitate on how to advise Suzu, he just comes out with the right answer right away. Ultimately there wasn’t a whole lot he could do at many points of the film with how he was shut out from the context but he never gave up. His detective skills were also on point as he figured some things out right away with no real help.

Ultimately I would say that the romance in this film is definitely more on the weak side though. Focusing more on Suzu’s quest to regain her confidence would be the better play because there just isn’t a whole lot of time for romance. It’s there for some quick moments but doesn’t really enhance the film in any way. At least for me I would have cut it out here and kept the characters as just friends.

Now for the Beast, he was an interesting character and had a very memorable first appearance. His stats are definitely very impressive and when you look at his scenes within the context of the cyber world, it’s easy to see why he was always running off and shaking away Belle’s embraces. Starting a romance in an online game when you aren’t sure who the other person is can be a bit risky and she was a bit clingy from the start. You don’t have many scenes of them just standing around and talking.

In general, I think that’s one thing the film could have used some more of. Belle and Beast actually talking in the cyber world. They barely ever have time to interact beyond quick moments here and there. I think a quick talk could have done well to help set up the scenes in the climax and add some more context that both characters could use. Like memorable lines that would help piece things together later on. Either way the Beast is very solid though and he has very valid reasons for acting the way that he does.

He is one of the better characters here. The so called heroes of the cyberworld look pretty bad though. They’re super unreasonable the whole time and jump to threats right away. I understand going after the Beast because he does act like a villain at times but getting innocent civilians involved like Belle too? That’s where they cross the line and as the film goes on they really just seem to be in it for the clout instead of justice.

At least they gave us good action scenes which is always appreciated. They aren’t long but they’re fun to look at. The film’s humor scenes don’t tend to land as they get dragged out a little too much. I would say a weakness the film has is partially to do with pacing where some scenes go on too long. It tends to have a lingering effect where every moment is just a few beats too long. Sometimes a lot of beats like with Kamishin running out of the train station and being dragged back in by Suzu multiple times. Well, the film definitely goes for a lot of different vibes and so maybe they weren’t sure how long to linger on each moment. One plot I probably would have gotten rid of though was the friction between Suzu and her father. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me based on the origin story. If anything I would think that would cause Suzu and him to get even closer. At the very least, I don’t see how it would make her be unable to even have a conversation with him and avoid everyone. It just felt rather random and didn’t help Suzu’s character any.

As a final note, I definitely liked the mystery angle that was going on for a while. Basically Suzu and Hiroka were trying to figure out who the Beast’s secret identity was. So we get to meet various characters who have some connection to him and you have to decide who the Beast is. I wouldn’t say it would be very easy to guess at all but I do think the film gives enough material where you could have a go at it. I can’t say that I guessed myself though or at least even got the general area of which character it was. At least one of the suspects actually turned out to be a pretty solid guy. I can’t really say the same for the other suspects though.

Overall, Belle is a pretty good movie. There are some things that don’t work so well like the romance, some neighbors talking bad about Suzu’s mom sacrificing her life to save a child, and the general climax doesn’t make any rational sense. The film could have ended very badly if things went as it realistically would. The positives outweigh the negatives though with a generally solid script, good plot, and some fun songs. You can see how the whole thing can be improved without a doubt but it’s ultimately still a movie with a good amount of replay value that you could check out again. I’d recommend giving it a watch.

Overall 7/10

Kiss of Death Review

With a title like this you probably won’t be surprised that this is a Noir movie. It’s certainly got that vibe from the start and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s a solid film about the dangers of getting into the criminal racket. Once you go in, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out easy and Nick learns that the hard way. It’s a satisfying adventure but one that didn’t play out the way that I thought it would.

The movie starts with Nick getting caught after his latest heist and taken to jail. The time for this one is going to potentially be 20 years so the DA, A’Angelo tries to strike a deal but Nick declines. He figures that the other crooks will look out for him. Unfortunately they don’t and his wife ends up dead with no money to her name. Nick decides to do the deal now but 3 years have passed and the opportunity is not the same. He has one shot to get back at the crooks which is to be a stoolie for the cops. He’ll find out info and bring it back to D’Angelo but of course this is a very dangerous job. The villains have a lot of pull and the crazy guy named Tommy on their side. One wrong move will not only destroy Nick, but his rebound girlfriend and his kids.

You can probably guess right off the bat that I was not a fan of the romance here. Look, Nick’s whole reason for revenge and making a deal is because his wife was effectively murdered due to the other crooks not watching out for her. She wasn’t given any money or safety. So then why he is suddenly going out with Nettie? What’s worse is that Nettie and her had a big fight shortly before her death and Nettie basically admits that she has wanted Nick for a while now. Nick’s cool with all of this?

With the title of the film I fully expected Nettie to be the big villain here. There would be a twist about how she’s actually the one who murdered the wife or something like that. It wasn’t a suicide but a frame up. It would have made a lot of sense but the film actually plays it straight which is just as bad if not worse. It’s bad for both parties but in particular it’s a bad look for Nick.

He should not be looking for another wife right now. It’s just way too soon after he’s out of jail. The romance is one of the weakest ones that I’ve seen in a while. He does well beyond that but it’s a big thing to sidestep. The movie is solid in spite of Nick, not because of him. I thought D’Angelo did a good job of giving Nick a lot of chances initially and then explaining that the offer wasn’t forever.

3 years later it makes sense that he would feel a bit sour, especially with how Nick treated him. I wouldn’t say D’Angelo did a good job of protecting him at all though. I can see why Nick didn’t trust him to keep them safe because the guy’s track record was just awful the whole time. Anyone could get past him and that’s absolutely not what you want to hear when there is a big mass murderer after you. Nah, escaping him was the right option here.

Tommy is the big villain and he certainly makes his presence known. He doesn’t like squealers at all and definitely doesn’t take any disrespect. It’s clear that beating him won’t be easy and the guy has a lot of experience. You get the feeling that being his friend is also pretty dangerous since he’s such a spontaneous guy. You may be friends with him one moment and then enemies the next. If you’re an enemy then you’re really out of luck.

I would say that Nick’s plan was extremely risky though and had a near 0% chance of working. There are so many ways it could have gone wrong. I suppose he didn’t have many other options at this point but even so, I wouldn’t say it was a good plan. It’s hard to picture it ever working again even if the scenario was played 100 times. When you’ve got nothing to lose you might as well give it a try, but that’s the only time to play this card.

The movie captures the sense of dread and danger that Nick feels when Tommy is on the loose. These old school Noir titles always knew how to build up a good atmosphere and this one is no exception. Nick knows that as far as he gets, he’ll never be safe. I do think it’s probably worth taking the odds and hopping on a train out of the state though. In theory back then the info networks weren’t quite as advanced so get out of the country and try to survive. Of course there are a significant amount of risks to that and he may be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life but I would wager that the odds are better than trying to settle the score personally. It’s a gamble either way of course.

The writing is also very solid. I like the dialogue exchanges here and it may seem like a small thing but a lot of newer films can’t always hold their own in this same respect. It’s all different eras of course and modern films have their good writing as well but sometimes you just want this classic way of speaking. That false politeness between the heroes and villains, the subtle digs thrown into each sentence. It’s difficult to replicate that.

Overall, Kiss of Death is a good Noir film but I do think it’s held back by some of the choices in the story. I just have a really hard time getting past the whole romance angle. It just feels so crazy considering how the whole plot was about getting past her death. What’s the thought process behind throwing this in? If it was solely because the movie needed some romance then that’s just pretty sad. Making Nettie the villain just made so much sense that I’m still shocked the movie didn’t go that route.

Overall 7/10

Master of the World Review

Vincent Price films tend to be a lot of fun, at least his contributions to them. I can’t say that all of his movies are actually amazing or anything like that but he knows how to have a good time. This is a solid installment in his filmography and it’s a good, classic tale about wanting to stop war. Ultimately many heroes and villains have tried to stop it in these movies but they all come across the big issue that it is just about impossible to stop through normal means. This movie handles that rather well.

The movie starts out by showing us a lot of different attempts at making a plane. Unfortunately it took a lot of tries to get them right and so Prudent and Evans debate a lot about how their plane should be built. Ultimately a government agent named Strock appears and lets them know to just try them both. They head up in a hot air balloon but are kidnapped by Robur and taken aboard his giant plane. Robur explains that he wants to attain world peace and the way he will do this is to destroy all weapons of mass destruction on the planet. Any machine that can hurt someone will have to be destroyed so their go the battleships and tanks. Unfortunately he will only give a brief warning before firing so there will be mass casualties. The heroes need to find a way to stop this guy but how can they?

First off, Robur is an interesting villain. He really hopes that the characters will agree with him but of course the cost is just too high. What I like about him is that he does actually give them some time to try and come up with an alternative. Of course they aren’t able to because in a way there is none. This would be the only way to possibly try and remove wars, but even then it wouldn’t work. If Humanity has shown anything over the years it is that they will keep on creating new weapons forever and nothing can stop that. Robur’s airplane would only serve to embolden the governments to create more things in secret.

Now, the plane can apparently cross the entire Earth in 10 days so he could possibly deal a ton of damage in the meantime. The rest of the world have no combat planes ready yet so if he kept on carpet bombing the way he was now, it’s hard to see how anybody could stop him. It’s why supremacy over the air was always such a big thing in every war. If you control the skies then you control your destiny. So it’s lucky for the world that the heroes did go aboard or that would have been it.

In a way Robur’s pacifist ideals towards directly taking a human’s life were his own undoing. If he had simply shot the characters down then he would have been safe. Villains with misguided ideals that think they are the hero of their own story definitely make for a compelling character and this guy was no different. He’s certainly the highlight here.

As for the main characters, they definitely tend to bicker a lot. You’ve got Evans who is constantly jealous and mistrusting of Strock. After all Strock gets along very well with his fiancé and so Evans needs him to fail. What better way to be top dog around the place again than to realize that Strock has thrown his lot in with Robut? Evans comes across as really petty and naïve throughout the film. He tries to say that they shouldn’t lie even to the villain because of honor and all that but Strock correctly points out how that won’t save anybody. Honor is all well and good at times. There are certainly lines you shouldn’t cross in any situation but this wasn’t one of them and Evans really didn’t seem to know how the world worked.

Meanwhile Strock was very reasonable the whole time. He doesn’t get caught up in his emotions the way that the others did all the time and that allowed him to plan ahead and do some real good. He would put more thought into his actions in one moment than the rest would for their entire appearances. I thought he single handily gave the heroes a chance while the rest would have completely crashed without him.

Prudent is a genius and all but he’s not really ready to be on the field. He does better than Evans but that’s not exactly an achievement now is it? Dorothy is nice enough but she does tend to blame both sides when Evans and Strock argue even when it is completely Evans’ fault. I would like for her to just call him out instead. By the end of the film they are finally ready to work together, it just takes a long while to actually get to that point.

Ultimately this film is about a difference in ideals that cannot be bridged by any kind of discussion or negotiation. There are times when fighting is the only way to solve an issue and this is one of those times. Everyone (All reasonable people) would like to end war once and for all. War only brings a lot of destruction and trauma in its wake but there are no reasonable ways to end it. Short of the world being destroyed, it’s not going to happen. Robur’s plan wouldn’t have worked either even though he was so confident about it so Strock had to stop him. At least maybe he will think twice about selling it to the government though. The heroes were quick to mention that but doing so would absolutely guarantee an escalated level of violence in the end. Ultimately it’s not possible to stop technology so it’s inevitable that this kind of tech will appear someday but why speed it up? (Of course this wouldn’t even be considered high end tech in today’s day and age)

Overall, I liked this film quite a bit. It’s rather low key and even to the end Robur is treated as a villain who made the wrong moves but didn’t crack. He treats his minions well and same with his prisoners. He was just on the wrong path. The writing is good and the movie’s pacing is solid. It all goes together rather quickly in its journey to the end. I didn’t have any issues with it. Of course I didn’t like Evans but he made for a decent antagonist when you look at it that way. This is a very safe movie with a good amount of positives and no true negatives. It may not be very ambitious but it tells a good story and at the end of the day that’s what you want to see.

Overall 7/10

Flatliners (2017) Review

It’s been quite a while since I watched the original Flatliners. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly good film to say the least. This one does improve upon it in some way and so while it’s not as ambitious, it’s a more stable film. The main characters still aren’t particularly likable here though and the whole plot only kicks off because they make the wrong calls.

So the movie starts with Courtney figuring that she should probably try to die real quick to see what the afterlife is like. She plays on Jamie’s feelings for her to trick him into going downstairs and invites Sophia as well. The idea is to put her under and after she’s dead, revive her in under a minute. This way her brain activity is unaltered and in theory she will not suffer from any side effects. That’s the complete plan here and they pull it off but only thanks to Ray showing up at the end to save the day. Now Courtney is a super genius who is heading the class and the other students except for Ray all want a turn. Is there a downside to doing this?

Short answer is yes, of course there is a downside. This wouldn’t be much of a movie without one right? So they’re opening the doors to the next world and by doing so, their personal demons are appearing. Each of the characters has had some kind of trauma or made a big mistake back in the day and it’s coming back to haunt them. Unless they can face their fears, this will be game over so they have to move fast.

One big difference here is that their fears don’t seem as dangerous here. Perhaps they are and the heroes just didn’t give them enough of a chance but in the first film these dreams were knocking the stuffing out of the main characters. They would come out of nowhere and just turn violent. In this movie they mostly just sort of stand there in the distance and glare at the heroes. Rarely do you feel like they’re in a lot of danger. The closest might have been when Marlo was in the basement with the lights off but even then the spirits didn’t take her out. You feel like the ones in the original film would have pulled that off.

Of course the film is greatly toned down from the original so that does work wonders for this one. No animal violence or anything crazy like that. The film isn’t all that violent either, it’s fairly tame. So in that way it’s a very different kind of horror film because you keep waiting for the main characters to be taken down and then it just doesn’t happen. I guess you could say that the heroes are very lucky in that respect since they wouldn’t last nearly as long in other settings.

The ending of the film misses a really big chance to go for a twist ending though. The way the scene was shot it felt like something was coming and there were a lot of interesting ways this could have gone. I was thinking about a certain character just popping out to get everyone or something like that but instead it’s played straight with a fairly happy ending. Not exactly what you would expect for a horror film either so this one really is unique.

Of course, the issues come with the fact that this one is still eager to make the teens as annoying as possible. The romance is very weak with a lot of affairs all around. The characters can’t stay professional with each other for a single moment. They also choose to all go under and effectively take the easy way to being geniuses. This comes complete with a lot of crazy parties and everything though. The characters confirmed they take drugs so they were able to recognize this as a similar effect. There’s no real point to the scenes at all though. It’s a really weird side effect but one that could have been shown a lot differently than to have everyone go mental like this.

Courtney deserves most of the blame for being the one to start up with this idea. It was a bad idea right from the jump and she pressed ahead anyway. Of course everyone else is guilty for jumping in as well. Only Ray stayed strong and tried to warn them against this. He also seemed to have the strongest moral compass like trying to tell Marlo to correct her mistakes and all. You have to give him props for trying even if ultimately she was tough to convince. He is easily the best character and someone who actually cared about being a doctor. The rest seemed to just be messing around a lot.

Jamie is the flirt of the group who is constantly having affairs so there’s no way you were going to like him. His big mistake from the past is also an absolutely massive one that just makes him look even worse. It’s another one of those moments that’s really hard to recover from. Same for Sophia who looks really petty in how far she took things. Wrecking someone’s life in an instant is not something that you can easily take back. Based on how the characters acted before being forced to relive their fears, I have my doubts that they learned much of anything.

Of course the literal threat of death shocked some sense into them but it’s sad that it took this much. Then of course Marlo had her big mistake that quite directly ruined someone’s life. Yeah none of these characters are good role models. In a way the film is almost like a Christmas Carol in how the characters reflect on their pasts, just with a horror element to it. This one is able to be a lot more direct about the second chances kind of message to it since the body count wasn’t quite the same as in the first one. With less scares you have time for more character development.

It’s just that once you make the character bad enough, the development isn’t really going to save them at that point. That’s why you have to really hold back when making the characters delinquents in the beginning because otherwise this is what you get. You could be forgiven for not realizing that this is a horror film by the way because there are barely any scares here at all. Sure, you get the fake jump scare for the elevator but for the most part the scenes are fairly light. The scariest moment was probably Jamie biking through a dark street by himself in one of the dreams and even that wasn’t all that intense. You keep thinking something is going to happen but nothing does which is a common event in the movie.

Overall, Flatliners beats the original but it’s still not a good movie. At the end of the day the characters are annoying and the writing is weak. The romance isn’t any good and it feels like the movie is a little confused about what it wants to do. It even takes a long while for the actual plot to start. They don’t start hallucinating about their past until you’re very deep into the movie so the pacing could have used a little work too. The concept of having to confront your past or face destruction is an interesting one though. In the right hands I think you could definitely do something really good there. These just weren’t the right hands apparently.

Overall 4/10

Harry and Tonto 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
Harry and Tonto is a movie with a fairly basic premise. The two of them are going on a big adventure and getting to see the world. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest of course but I would say the execution was not very good at all. It ends up being rather boring a lot of the time but the writing is always very weak. It reminds me of some Woody Allen films from a while back where it’s just the characters talking but the script is so bad that it falls on its face. That’s pretty much what happens here so you don’t even have that to keep the film afloat.

The movie starts by having Harry get mugged again. The neighborhood used to be good but it’s really been sinking a lot. So he goes to move in with his family but it’s rather tense there as the place is really small. One of his grand kids has taken a vow of silence for some reason and only his son is glad about him staying. So Harry decides to go on a journey with his pet cat Tonto. Along the way they run into a girl who ran away from home named Ginger. The initial goal is to find more of Harry’s family members and even an old flame before he decides where to stay but along the way it just becomes more about experiencing life.

A movie like this can only survive if the characters and writing are both really great. That would probably be the case for a 50s or 60s film but one this late in the game has more of an annoying dialogue style than anything else. When the conversations aren’t about mundane things like the weather, you have Harry being shocked at how depraved the world has gotten. He’s able to hook up with a random girl during one of the drives for money and the runaway Ginger is not shy about just stripping down. Other characters talk to him about when the last time he had an affair was and it’s like nobody ever grew up here.

The romance that we do get later on in the film is more of a cringeworthy affair. Then to show us that Harry can never really be happy, he’s thrown for another loop near the end. The world is moving fast and just won’t let him catch up. In theory he’s good now but this rollercoaster had too many pitfalls. By the end I wouldn’t say there are any real likable characters. Harry’s son would be the best for sticking by him the whole time. The rest of the family wasn’t too helpful like the guy who lost all his money, the son’s wife who wasn’t subtle about wanting him to leave, the daughter who didn’t even try, etc.

Harry was definitely on his own. Harry was a prideful man too so it’s not like he tried super hard though. He did the best he could to keep his old place but once that was gone then it was pretty much all over for him. Tonto was good the whole time though. He always ended up making you nervous though when he’d run off in general because this was the kind of film that wouldn’t pull its punches.

I think Harry may have ultimately had a better time staying in his neighborhood. Sure it was fairly dangerous but at least he knew everybody there. I’d say the best moments were when the film would slow down to actually let him enjoy the adventure. Like going to the casino and trying to play dice for a bit. At least there he got to have a little more fun before unfortunately not being able to make it to the bathroom in time. The crazy adventure with the chieftain in the cell was certainly something that’s for sure.

Maybe Harry needed to have a dog for some more fun Hijinx. But there really isn’t a lot to the film so it does come down to the human. Harry just wasn’t interesting enough to lead his own film. I dare say that he needed to be a little younger to have an easier time of it. Otherwise you have to be super charismatic and likable which didn’t really work here. Having Harry be a very confident guy who figures he’ll have a new place in no time flat could have been a good angle to have here.

As for the writing, maybe you needed more of a solid hook. If not, I think some humor could have gone a long way here. Yeah, this time I would say throwing in some jokes would not have hurt. It would be a good way to keep the adventure light and also give the characters some more substance to talk about. Just something to make it be a lot more interesting because otherwise you’ll be falling asleep here. Also, they probably shouldn’t have written Harry as having a wife who ultimately died before him because it just makes him look even worse when he is still interested in other women and messing around. At his age he should be all over that and definitely not going for a rebound. That’s really it, just live the rest of your life with a lot of fun and enjoyment but not trying to start another relationship like that.

Overall, A film can certainly get by without having much of a focus or a plot but to do that you need to be very funny or wholesome. One or the other can certainly do the trick but when you’re neither then that is going to be a really big issue. This film never ended up getting interesting. It’s a shame because a journey movie will usually be good even if just to see all of the various sites along the way. Maybe if that guy who was with Ginger could have stayed longer then he would have been a good addition to the party. Could have added something to the dynamic I suppose. A subplot that wouldn’t end tragically like Harry finally getting to meet the girl who liked him way back in the day.

Overall 3/10

Looper 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

Looper has a very interesting premise of having to try and take yourself down. If you succeed then you already know that you’re doomed but if you fail then you will be axed a whole lot sooner. It’s a lose-lose situation no matter how you slice it and that’s the kind of decision that the main character has to wrestle with. It asks some interesting questions as the movie goes on.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe who murders whoever his bosses tell him too. Basically the future finally got wise to all the strategies of hiding bodies so the only way to make someone disappear is to send them to the past and murder them that way. Joe is in this business as well and eventually he will be told to murder his future self which ends his loop but he will be paid handsomely for it. In a way it’s like a form of retirement so people in the business know that their time is limited but they will live like kings in the meantime. Considering that this world seems pretty rundown, a lot of people are fine with the risks.

Of course this means that you are murdering people that you don’t even know about so don’t mistake these guys for heroes. They are still very much the villains of the story every which way you look at it. Well, one day Joe is about to murder his next target except it’s an older version of himself (Who looks so different I doubt anyone would guess that it’s the same person) who isn’t tied up (The victims are always tied up in previous scenarios) and has a gun. Naturally old Joe gets away and regroups.

The situation is made very plain to Joe, he has to make old Joe go away or he will be terminated. Old Joe also states his objectives to Joe, he needs to murder a few kids in this timeline because one of them will grow up to become the Rainaker. A villainous leader so cruel and powerful that nobody can stop him and this leads to the death of Old Joe’s future. So if there is no Rainmaker then he is hoping that his future will turn out well. He asks Joe not to get in his way.

So that’s the basic scenario here and you can already see how things get messy here. If Joe destroys his old version then his loop is closed and he’ll be dooming himself down the line. Of course if Old Joe destroys Joe then he will cease to exist immediately so he has to try and win without harming him. It makes this more of a cat and mouse game as opposed to a straight gunfight. They have to be very careful of their moves and Old Joe also has to account for the fact that the villain groups are after him in the past now too so they have to be knocked off.

Old Joe is clearly a villain here. He’s trying to murder children who haven’t done anything yet and acknowledges that he will be getting some innocents too. So lets not get that twisted. Old Joe is an interesting villain because of this viewpoint. He’s ultimately trying to save his present/Joe’s future but is taking the most extreme route to doing so. From his perspective he feels like it’s the only way out and as his current form is already a villain by being in that line of work, it’s easy to see how this escalated.

He even takes out a lot of the villains in the present timeline as well. I would say that Old Joe easily steals the show in every scene that he is in. The guy is the highlight in this adventure. Then you have classic Joe who is not nearly as likable. The first scene with him selling out the friend was particularly brutal. Yes, the friend was pretty bad there with his decision making and made the whole thing Joe’s problem out of nowhere but betraying him is not the right call. Especially for money which is what it came down too.

Over the course of the movie Joe learns how to be someone who can make the right calls but it’s a long journey. Even by the end he makes things a little hard on himself by not keeping his guard up which leads to a really rough call. I’ll give the film kudos for constructing a scenario where Joe pulling the trigger actually turned out to be the right call. In nearly any other situation I would be writing that Joe did the wrong thing here but for once that was not the case. I can’t go into specifics without your seeing the movie as it would be a spoiler but it’s good that he took the show.

One issue that I have with the movie is I don’t think it took full advantage of this world and the mechanics behind it. Time travel sounds awesome and I’d like to hear more about the world but it’s never really a focus. In fact, we rarely see the future as most of the film takes place in the past. There is also a long portion of the film that starts to become more of a drama than an action.

Joe meeting up with Sara and her kid Cid could be a little on the dull side at times. Sara means well though and does a good job of protecting her house. Considering how dangerous this place is, you have to give her a lot of credit there. The inevitable romance was really extremely weak though. It’s super sudden, makes no sense and just doesn’t work. I would say the film could have dodged that entirely.

As for Cid and the whole rainmaker plot, it feels random at first but eventually becomes really important. I would usually say you could have just cut Cid out but that would change the film as a whole. His super powers/corruption just felt really out of place even next to the other powers. He would appear to almost be demonic at times. I guess that’s just his super powers in the end but he does seem like he’s going to go off a dark path right away even without any tragic moments.

Kid Blue is one of the main villains here. He’s not a leader or anything but he’s always wanting to try and stop Joe so he gets a big role as a result. He’s not super skilled or anything though so things don’t usually end up going his way. His boss even stabs and humiliates him and there isn’t much Blue can do about it. So I didn’t find him particularly threatening or interesting at all. At least Abe had the whole leader thing going for him but Old Joe overshadowed him by a lot. Old Joe is what gives the film all of its depth. Fighting for his family for so long that he eventually became one of the villains himself continuing the cycle of violence.

The film can get a little violent at times but never too crazy. It holds back a lot and uses the time elements to its advantage. Like at one point one guy starts disappearing and you quickly realize why that is with how the past affects the future. Showing it would have been way too crazy so in this way you get it across without being too gritty. The movie did good on that.

Overall, Looper is an interesting sci-fi film. I do think it loses a lot of momentum in the middle and also wastes some of the potential of the concept though. It’s all very interesting which is why Sci-Fi’s can be fun but you need to spend more time on the actual time travel. I would still recommend giving this one a look but you’ll find that Joe is a very annoying character. He’s not heroic, not trustworthy, and his priorities are all wrong. The romance is weak here and you don’t buy into it since he’s one of those guys who is more about having quick affairs like early on in the movie.

Overall 6/10

Pokémon: Hisuian Snow Review

It’s time to take a look at a fairly quick mini series. This one only had 3 episodes and combined they’re only about the length of one normal one so it’s over pretty quick. I’m always up for more Pokemon animations though so it’s good to have it and hopefully we get some more in the future. This adventure takes place in the far past to tie in to the recent Pokemon Arceus game. The setting may not be quite as interesting as the modern areas but it’s been a while since we got a snow adventure.

The story follows a kid named Alec who had always been fond of Pokemon. Unfortunately he was born into an era where people don’t get along with them. Humanity is afraid of these powerful creatures and think that it is best to just leave them alone. Keep a safe distance and then they won’t bother you. Humanity even build up walls around their village to ensure that no Pokemon gets close but one day while outside, Alec gets separated from his father. He injures his knee but is helped by a Zorua. Now he has to find his way back to the village with his Pokemon companion but will he be taken in with open arms?

The story also jumps to the present with Alec returning to the village in time for another Pokemon incident. The humans definitely are never too accommodating here and it does make them look a little ungrateful. Especially the father who is quick to be antagonistic to Zorua despite the Pokemon saving his kid’s life. That was definitely a shame but at least Alec was able to settle things later on. Ultimately Zorua was a true friend who helped out even if no gratitude was guaranteed. That’s the kind of Pokemon that you want to have your back without a doubt.

Alec wasn’t bad for a kid either. At least he did try to help the Pokemon out. In the present he even became a bit of a doctor and really went out of his way to be a good person. He’s someone who learned the right lesson from his experiences. The rest of the humans are not impressive at all though and don’t really stack up. The next best character would definitely be Zorua for being a good pal. The special shows that the Pokemon at the end of the day are always the most heroic ones.

In the final episode we even see two Abomisnow’s defend Alec as he tries to heal their injured partner while the humans just stand around. We get a pretty decent fight scene there too although it’s very short. Action isn’t really the main genre of this special after all, it’s really more of a full time adventure. I always enjoy the action when we can get it though. The animation pops out when Pokemon use their special attacks. I wouldn’t say it’s anything super high end but it does look nice and works well for what it’s going for.

The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side. With quality writing and good pacing, this is a miniseries that you could recommend to anyone. It’s still too bad that it was only 3 episodes as I think you really could have turned this into a much longer adventure. Give more time for Alex and Zorua bonding by having them get lost deeper into the forest. With the outside world not being explored all that much, it would be reasonable for the humans not to be able to find them for a while and so a few episodes could just be them walking around and trying to survive.

It doesn’t quite hurt the show that it’s so short but it does mean that it’ll be a little less memorable. Down the road when talking about the various Pokemon titles and all, it would be very easy to just forget this one entirely. Maybe one day they can bring the characters back at least but it seems like they are having more fun just experimenting with a bunch of different characters so I would be surprised to see them again.

Overall, Hisuian Snow is a good episode’s worth of content. It may not be action packed but the story is interesting enough and it’s good to see Zorua getting his hype. The Pokemon always end up taking the high road even when the humans don’t. The world has certainly come a long way since these days as in the present even little kids play with Pokemon. You could say that the Pokemon world got something close to world peace by the end. Sure, you’ve got Team Rocket and friends but by and large it’s a very peaceful world. I still would have liked a formal apology from Alec’s father and the rest of the village by the end though.

Overall 7/10