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

Return of the Seven Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the Magnificent Seven. After seeing how solid the first one was I was hoping that this one would at least be in the same league as the original. Unfortunately this wasn’t meant to be. I guess the first one just set the bar a little too high because the sequel ultimately couldn’t even come close to the first. It ended up trying to copy all of the ideas but executed them all in a less effective fashion. Sometimes it’s just not enough to try and copy success.

The film starts out with the village from the first film getting attacked yet again. While Chico tries to fight them off he goes down after beating only 3. All of the men are kidnapped except for one who manages to get over to the main characters and asks for help. Chris and Vin got reunited when Vin reveals that there is now a bounty on Chris’ head. Vin has arrived to help him stay alive during this time. Now with news of the village being attacked Chris is forced to become a hero once again. Since most of the gunmen from the last film were murdered Chris needs to assemble a new squad. With all of the best fighters already out of commission he will now have to grab some of the B listers and man does the film try to make them as unlikable as possible. Can this group of 7 manage to stop the villains?

Here’s the problem with the film. It’s exactly the same as the last one. Usually a sequel will try to at least disguise itself as being a little different by switching up the characters a bit or making the circumstances new and unique. This film doesn’t bother with any of that to even the slightest degree. The villains are almost the same number as the last group only they have significantly less character. Chris assembles a group of hot shots once again only these guys don’t get any big intros and they are all pretty terrible from the jump. The group is assembled within the first 15 minutes. This sequel feels like it’s going on turbo speed right from the start. It cuts out all of the development time we had in the first so we can skip straight to the fights in this one.

I think the film is shorter so they didn’t have as much time as in the first film but it still could have done a better job. In the first movie at least everyone was actually here to help out the village for positive reasons. That’s not the case in this film with one guy in particular who may as well be a villain himself. He causes crimes constantly and was in jail for good reason. It’s a lot harder to root for the heroes this time around. The movie also did Chico dirty by having him lose almost instantly. Remember how he got a huge character development arc in the first film? Well, neither does do the writers of this film so you’re okay on that front.

Chris is still a good character, but he’s a lot less mysterious than he was in the first. His skills also seem less extraordinary here. He may just be acting modest but he does seem a little more nervous of the new characters here in general which is never a good look. Vin also gets less to do here. He’s still a fun sidekick and there’s nothing particularly wrong with him. I don’t get why he was so bored that he had to look for Chris though. He seemed to have had a pretty good set of goals in the last film as a drifter. No sense in giving that up now.

From the new guys first off we have Colbee. He’s the worst character in the film. All he cares about is women and he always makes it a point to go after married ones which just makes him a deplorable character from the start. It’s hard to tolerate the guy and since he’s a main character that’s a problem. Then we have Manuel who participates in cockfights. I can’t just overlook that either. It’s a terribly inhumane sport which has no business being here and the scenes in general don’t do the film any favors. We’re already down two gunmen so that isn’t a good sign at all. He’s meant to be the new Chico but the guy was getting washed in his first fight without throwing a single counter. I don’t see how this guy could possibly help the group out at all.

Frank is reasonable. He talks tough throughout the film at least so there’s that. From the new characters he is probably the best by default. At least he seemed like a decent character. Then you have Luis who is okay I guess. He doesn’t have a ton of character but he is skilled which is the important thing. The group manages to hold their own against the villains pretty well all things considered. Without the dynamite they would have been doomed in the end though. Dynamite is always a game changer so it’s important to have that on your side. With it you know that you always have a chance in battle.

The gunfights are solid as always. The opening fight when the gunmen first make it to the village is pretty good as we see them all firing at once in a pose similar to the first Avengers film. They all just start blasting and manage to take out most of the villains in an instant. Of course it was just the advance scouts and more fights would come, but it was a good start. I definitely had no issue with the action.

The pacing isn’t bad. It’s extremely fast for sure and I do think more time to develop the characters would have been nice, but in principle it’s not a bad idea to have things happen very quickly. The issue is that the characters just weren’t very good. The writing is also not nearly as strong as in the first film. Nobody acts quite as cool and professional as they did in the first film. We also had fairly pointless scenes included like the bull chasing and the cockfighting. Both scenes really should have been cut and the film would have been better off for it.

Overall, While the first film was one of the best wild west films I’ve ever seen, this would be one of the weaker ones. The whole movie feels redundant as it’s just a carbon copy of the first movie with weaker characters. The villains don’t really get to do much and even their overall plan isn’t quite as intense as in the first one. At least there the guy was trying to feed his starving men. Here these villains are basically lackeys. If the first film didn’t exist this one may have fared a little better but at it stands I couldn’t really give it a thumbs up. If you really loved the first film and want to see the characters again then by all means you should check this one out. Otherwise I’d recommend giving it a pass and just watch the original again.

Overall 5/10

8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Magnificent Seven Review


It’s time to take a look at a classic western from a while back. The Magnificent Seven is known as one of the all time great westerns and I can see why. It may even rank up there as my favorite one in the genre as at the moment it beats all of the others that I can think of. The fights are very good and I liked seeing the team get former Avengers style. This is a movie that has held up quite well.

The film starts with a village getting harassed and robbed by a group of bandits. They show up every year to steal all of the crops, livestock, and possessions that the village has. The village is fed up with this but they don’t know what they can do against such foes. 3 farmers head off into town to find some good guns to buy and see two impressive gunmen. The farmers ask one of them for help and the guy agrees to do so. Furthermore he will look for 6 more so the 7 of them can team up against the bandits. They will wait at the village until the villains arrive. The odds aren’t great at 40-7 but each of these 7 is worth a full squad.

One of the best aspects of this film is how it takes time during each aspect of the plot so you really get to know all of the characters. Each member gets a full introduction scene where you immediately get a feel for what kind of person the character is. The first two to be introduced are the two most important characters, Chris and Vin. They manage to survive an onslaught of villagers so that someone who died can be buried. The village hadn’t let him be buried earlier because the town was quite racist back in these days so the heroes showed them what was up. Another gunman is introduced as the quickest shot in the west who just wants to better himself. Another one is hard on money, one’s a fugitive, etc. Each of these shooters is given quite a lot of hype in their debut appearance.

Then you’ve got Chico who isn’t a pro like the others, but he really wants to be acknowledged as one of the more powerful fighters. He gets humiliated by Chris early on but doesn’t let that get to him. As the film goes on he shows more and more why he can be relied upon as well. By the end of the film I’d say he probably isn’t even the weakest member. He’s probably be around 5th place out of the 7. Not amazing or anything, but considering how young he is that’s pretty good.

The writing in the film is definitely on point. We get a lot of snappy dialogue and all of the characters are written well to be realistic and professional at all times. They’re just fun/charismatic characters to have around. The pacing of the film is great as I mentioned as well. I also enjoyed the gun fights. They last for a while but there is always something happening so I wouldn’t say that they dragged on at any point. If I have one complaint, it’s that the 7 should have done a little better based on how good they all were individually. It felt like they were mowing the villains down but by the end they were still heavily outnumbered.

The film also did stretch your disbelief a bit towards the end. The main villain captures all of the heroes and instead of shooting them all he spares them all…and gives them back their guns. Naturally the heroes return and slaughter all of the villains so it makes you wonder…why would the villain do this? It made no sense. The villain tries to justify this by saying that if he murdered them it’d be more work but I can’t buy that. He was prepared to murder them just a few minutes earlier. It was not a smart play and it felt like the writers had written themselves into a hole and took this as their quick out. If you ask me it’s not a situation you should put the heroes in. The villain deciding to spare everyone is usually pretty cheesy as it is. Giving them back their weapons is a whole other level of this.

The ending is definitely pretty emotional though as the body count gets quite high. It’s a pretty ambitious ending as you can’t always have everyone make it out in one piece. This is the realistic outcome of a big war type event. You can tell that this kind of film really doesn’t need a sequel. It got a few anyway but this film works quite well as a stand alone. It’s long and so there is a lot of content here. Everyone has a satisfying character arc to go through as well.

Chris was my favorite character. He’s just a solid leader in general. He’s all business and a great shot. While the film hints that he may not be the best shot out of the 7, he’s certainly one of the best. His partner Vin was also very likable. He was the first person to aid Chris in his quest and was also pretty fearless. While Chico had a rough start with getting drunk and all, he did prove himself by the end of the film. With him to protect the village you figure they would be safe from now on….in theory.

Harry’s the worst member of the 7. Not only are his skills not all that impressive but he’s only here for the money and doesn’t seem to care about anything else. I wouldn’t trust him at all. Bernardo probably gets one of the smaller roles in the film but he was a likable guy. He was sure to protect the kids to the end and seemed to quietly be quite a good shot as well. Britt was the most impressive marksman to me thanks to his quick draw skills. The guy could hit someone from a very long distance and was also good with a knife. Finally you have Lee who was more in line with Harry. Based on his intro I was expecting a whole lot out of Lee and he really didn’t live up to any of his potential. Even by the end I wasn’t really sold on his character. So I really liked 5/7 of the gunmen with the other 2 being fairly weak in comparison.

As always though the villagers were the most annoying characters. It seems like in every wild west film it’s a given that they will betray the leads at some point. They want to give up halfway which is the worst time to give up. Don’t they realize that this will just make the enemies go at them even harder? They try to say that the villains won’t hurt them if they give up quietly but we know this isn’t the case. They’ve already been harming the village from the start and it would only get worse. These guys lack any real intelligence at times like this. The only good ones were the village elder and the main 3 guys. The girl at the end of the film was also good. The rest of the men would just hide when the villains showed up and cracked pretty quickly so I can’t say that they ranked.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven was quite impressive. The horses managed to live through the fights which is usually my worry with the genre and in general the film avoided making any key mistakes. It wasn’t gritty and the characters were actually quite solid. This is definitely the gold standard for westerns and if you haven’t watched this film yet then you should definitely change that. It’s going to be very difficult for the sequels to quite match up to this one.

Overall 8/10

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

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Review


It’s time to look at a comedy film from a while back. This one’s definitely pretty well known. I didn’t know anything about the plot itself, but the title is certainly iconic. After all, why would you ever need to use all 3 methods of transportation in one day? Well, things get pretty tough for the lead. The humor is usually pretty funny with only sometimes going over the edge. That’s normal for a comedy film as no matter how hard you try it’s hard for every single joke to be funny. The goal is to at least make sure most of them land successfully.

The movie starts with Neal wrapping up a long meeting. Unfortunately the boss took forever to decide on what design he wanted to now Neal has to dash in order to catch his flight so he can spend Thanksgiving with his family. It’s not in the cards though as all planes have been delayed. He meets up with a guy named Del who says that they should team up. Neal gives that option a hard no for a while but nothing he tries is working and now it’s late. He follows Del to a hotel room the guy picked up and this would be just the start of their partnership through this crisis.

Your enjoyment of the film may depend on how much you like Del because the film could seem unfair depending on your answer to that. Without a doubt Neal is put through the wringer in this film. Del tricks Neal into spending money constantly as Neal is saddled with virtually every bill. Neal clearly makes a lot of money but that’s not the issue here. Nobody wants to have to be with a free loader the whole time and that’s exactly what Del is. He always manages to be quite slick in getting Neal to make payments so it’s hard to just overlook that. He’s costing Neal quite a lot. By the end this is all brushed to the side as we find out that Del’s a nice guy, but it just doesn’t feel even or balanced. Neal came out of this in a worse position than when he started.

Neal was also quite patient with Del before blowing up near the end. He may have gotten a bit extra at that point, but Del had really done nothing to help him prior to this. Neal also had the worst luck in the world up to this point. Even at the beginning of the film he ended up losing the cab and then Del stole the next one. It was certainly a great way to start the film though. The whole taxi chase was pretty great and Neal really put up a good fight there. He’s a consistently good character throughout the film and the only scenes where he faltered was during the car rentals. He was really picking a fight with everyone at that point so naturally he got beat up. Talk smack and get whacked after all.

As for Del, it’s hard to sympathize with him. He may be a nice guy or so he thinks but he ends up being a lot of trouble for everyone. Del has to at least be a little self aware of how much trouble he is causing everyone. There are some things he does where you just know that it can’t have been an accident. He absolutely knows what he is doing at times despite denying it. The fact of the matter is that he gets in Neal’s way throughout the movie. Neal ends up being the bigger man and is still nice to Del, but it would have been nice if Del could have contributed at least a little. By the end of the film it’ll be hard to see why they are even still friends. Del burned Neal one too many times as the movie went on.

Most of the humor in the film revolves around how crude Del is. He doesn’t have a great sense of personal hygiene and so we do get quite a bit of crude humor. Those scenes don’t tend to land quite as well as the smooth dialogue based humor. The more outrageous moments can work well too like Neal showing up for his car except that it is no longer there. Now that’s an emotional moment where you can get behind the character because he was really counting on it being in that spot so it was certainly a let down when it wasn’t there. I’m sure no matter what humor style is your favorite you will have some laughs here because there are enough laughs for everyone. The humor has a lot of variety.

When you think about it the movie’s cast was actually pretty small. Del and Neal are really the only two characters. You’ve got minor characters here and there that try to mess with the leads but that’s about it. The two are able to hold the film quite effectively though. Neal as the protagonist and Del as the antagonist. Good banter goes a long way in films and this one is an example of a successful pairing. They help the film just fly by and you can’t be an effective comedy without strong characters. Between the characters and the film’s strong writing you’ve got a successful formula.

Overall, This is a fun film. A lot of the humor is effective and Neal makes for a fun character. The movie’s plot is engaging and it is definitely an “everyone’s worst nightmare” kind of scenario as you miss the plane and get stranded with all of the hotels being booked. Honestly I would have just stayed at the hotel all night instead of going to a dicey motel. I’d take my chances with the food court and while it is hard to stay awake for so long, you can definitely pull it off for one night when the stakes are this high. If Neal had been a little more patient with this whole thing then maybe he could have spared himself a long voyage. If you haven’t watched this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out.

Overall 6/10

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

Annie Review


It’s time to look at a pretty popular musical from back in the day. Musicals can definitely be hit or miss depending on how good the songs are. Ironically the songs are usually way better in films that aren’t musicals and just happen to have a song or two. There are a lot of reasons for this, but a big one is that the songs are usually professionally done in the background as opposed to the characters actually singing on screen. The on screen songs just don’t end up having the same effect and pale in comparison to these big blockbuster songs. Annie’s songs aren’t bad for the most part but they won’t really stack up in the long run.

The movie starts by introducing us to an orphanage run by Agatha. She really doesn’t like kids, but needs money in this tough economy so she made the hard call to run the place. Annie tries to keep the kids moral up but it gets tougher with each passing day. What is there to look forward to when you’re in such a mean place? Well, Annie won’t have to deal with this for much longer because she was selected to spend a week with the rich Mr. Warbucks. Warbucks is so rich that even the President defers to him. Now Annie can learn what it’s like to live in wealth with her dog, but can she learn to enjoy this or will she continue to look back and forget the future?

The premise is one of those plots that can be fun to think about. Who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend being as rich as humanly possible? Money can’t buy happiness but it can help you lease it for a while. Even more so considering that Annie was an orphan at a pretty badly run orphanage so she has a lot of reason to be happy at this new place. That’s why she can seem rather ungrateful at times. Even after Warbucks has given her one of the best weekends ever she is still desperate to meet her parents and hops in the car of the first strangers who claim to be them. You can understand her wanting to meet her folks for closure, but just leaving with them like that? Doesn’t seem like the wisest course of action because you really don’t know if they’re good people or not. Whether they had reasons for leaving Annie or if they did it on a whim, it doesn’t change the fact that they never looked for her until a reward was placed.

Meanwhile Warbucks is definitely a lot of fun. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of his making money prior to Annie showing up. While he has a gruff exterior he ultimately does let Annie stay so the guy is pretty nice deep down. His romance plot with Grace is very cheesy though. For starters she works for him and workplace romances are always a landmine that you don’t want to go to. It would have been perfect if they were just good friends the whole time. So Warbucks’ character got watered down quite a bit by the end of the film, but he was still an engaging character on the whole.

Then we have Agatha who is one of the main antagonists here. She’s definitely a very mean character who is always messing with the orphans and somehow nobody has caught or fired her yet. She makes moves on any guy who shows up and somehow even seems to be succeeding with two of them. Her character is way too exaggerated and most of her scenes are pretty iffy. I think the film could have dialed down the her desperate romance angle a bit. She’s also rather mean to the dog, I never like how they used to lift the dog by the scruff of their neck, same with cats. There’s no way that’s comfortable for the animal. By the end you just aren’t able to buy into her redemption arc.

You’ve got two more villains in Rooster and Lily. They’re a little more sinister than Agatha as they don’t mind hurting the kids if it means they will get rich. They have a long song with the 3 of them where Lily keeps beating up Agatha mid-dance without Rooster realizing it so he’s not the brightest guy in the bunch. Agatha was also losing that match entirely so we know who the tougher character is. It’s almost a bit odd since Agatha seemed to be winning in their initial encounter but I suppose you can’t win them all. The villains weren’t bad. They served their purpose at least and gave us a little danger in the climax.

As for Grace, she’s probably the nicest character in the group. Without her Annie wouldn’t have had a chance at all. Grace got her in even if it meant using some blackmail and then she convinced Warbucks to let Annie stay. Grace really put in a lot of effort to make sure that everything worked out and was the unsung hero of the movie. You’d think that the other orphans would have been helpful but most of them were mean and petty throughout the film. Even when Annie was in trouble one of them didn’t want to hear about it and several of the others were ready to give up. Some friends right? Warbucks had some good assistants but none of them were around when Annie was really in danger.

Annie has a lot of fun little moments with her exploring the mansion and the film is at its best when things are going well there. I’d be up for a full movie of just having fun enjoying the rich life. There is so much you can do when you’ve got that much money and the film could have explored that angle. Throwing in the villains distracted from that part as there was far less time for such things. Sandy was a lot of fun though and I’m always up for a dog companion so long as he gets a happy ending. I’d like to see Hallmark do a modern version of this with a grown up who is selected to live in a castle for a week. It’s a plot that I’d say could be executed better than how this one went about it.

Overall, Annie is a decent musical that can be a bit too extreme at times. . Agatha’s character is a bit odd with how mean she is yet the kids keep messing with her. It’s likely done to keep the film from being too dark which I can appreciate. How much you enjoy the film will likely depend on how much you can tolerate Annie. Warbucks is a really fun character and in a sense you’re hoping he doesn’t crack under the pressure and stays as the suave rich guy that we all know. The film is largely predictable so you’re really just along for the ride as you hope the execution is good. You should be entertained all the way through which is the important thing.

Overall 5/10

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

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

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

The Two Mrs. Carrolls Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

Arctic Fury Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

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

Bugsy Malone Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

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

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 2/10

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

The Tall Target Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10