Con Air Review

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

Con Air is one of those films where a whole lot has to go just perfect for the villains to even have a chance at kicking things off. While you will have to suspend some disbelief, I suppose the idea is that 99% of the time this fails so the film is about the one time that things do work out for them. It’s a good movie that I can’t help but feel could have been even better.

The movie starts with Cameron finally back home from the army and ready to have a good time with his wife and future kid. Unfortunately he is attacked by 3 hooligans and ends up murdering one of them in self defense. Despite this obviously being the only course of action available at the time, he is close to 10 years. Seriously? That definitely seems pretty iffy considering that his only other course of action would have been to die. Stopping these guys without accidentally murdering them would be incredibly difficult.

Well, the years pass and Cameron is finally about ready to be released. Unfortunately the government wants to save a few bucks so they’re going to put him on the jet that will be storing all of the max criminals on it. They don’t trust their own guys with any guns so there is only one that is located in the pilot room and some weapons on the basement level. All of the criminals are handcuffed so they figure that it’s all good. What could go wrong right?

Well, unfortunately the crew handles this really poorly. They let the criminals take control of the plane almost immediately and fall for every trick in the book. They’re overwhelmed with ease and now Cameron is stuck on the plane with these guys. He’s really trying to get home to his daughter before it’s too late but he knows that first he has a job to do. He can’t turn his back and let these criminals go free.

Initially I thought this might be a film where Cameron is knocking off the criminals one by one to thin out the herd before making his move. Instead it’s more about lying low and trying to get word out to the proper authorities. Of course, Cameron does do his share of big damage by taking out several of his opponents.

Cameron’s definitely a great main character. At the end of the day he’s a hero who does his best to try and save the day even when it would have been easier to leave. Especially once one of the prisoners ends up getting really sick because he needs his insulin shot. Cameron won’t leave without helping him out and it’s lucky for the heroes since they would have been absolutely doomed without him.

As a side note, the accent may be trying a little too hard but it’s fun. Half the time it just felt like Cameron was being sarcastic to everyone rather than him actually having the accent. This kind of action hero just doesn’t get old and since we had the intro scene as a way to know just how tough he is, it’s not surprising when Cameron keeps on taking his opponents down.

Of course a lot of these guys are absolutely terrible characters. It may be expected and even intentional since they’re villains but it immediately lowers the odds of good character banter. You’ve got Johnny who is just a disgraceful character. Any scene with him is painful. You’ve got Pinball who doesn’t have much personality beyond the fact that he definitely wasted too much time chatting which cost him big time. Earl doesn’t show up until the second half but I suppose he was a lot more interesting than some of the other villains. The fact that he could pilot the ship was also very convenient. Without him there the villains would have been in for a tougher time.

The main villain here would be Cyrus. He’s the leader of the crew and the one who comes up with the big plan. The other villains definitely fear him as he has quite the reputation. That said, at this point it’s not like any of them are master fighters or anything so I wouldn’t necessarily say that any of the villains look all that tough. Cyrus talks tough but that’s about it. Same with Diamond Dog. The whole time you’re waiting for him to do something or attack Cyrus but it doesn’t really play out that way.

The villain who got the most hype throughout the film was a guy called Garland. He’s supposed to be the worst of the worst which is where the film builds some of its tension from. I would have cut him out entirely though. Most of his scenes are to build up some tension as we know what a bad guy he is and then he finds a kid unattended. The film knows exactly what it’s doing with all the long drawn out shots with these two characters and it definitely needed to tread carefully.

I have to say if anything happened to the kid the film was going to lose major stars because it’s just such an unnecessarily dark avenue to go down. It’s no exaggeration to say that the film avoided utter disaster by not having things go badly there. Still, there’s no reason to have Garland around so I would have definitely cut him off the team.

As for the other humans, well you’ve got Duncan who handled everything really badly. The guy is an agent who was sent on board to try and get some intel out of one of the prisoners. The whole idea was extremely suspect from the start though and it’s hard to picture it working. Still, the guy has a gun so he should be ready but he takes it out immediately and then panics. Look, in this situation where you’re effectively surrounded you have to use the gun if you take it out. There’s no time to play chicken or talk tough with the villains.

This guy didn’t feel very professional. Vince is his boss and that guy’s pretty entertaining. He’s certainly very eager to always blow stuff up but I suppose that strategy has worked out well for him thus far. He gets into a lot of arguments with Mike on how to handle things so expect a lot of banter there. Those are some of the more enjoyable parts of the movie though so it was good to see them. Neither one of them were particularly impressive though and didn’t help much.

Cameron’s really on his own here no matter how you slice it. The film has a lot of solid action and get ready for a ton of explosions. You’ll be feeling bad for the army the whole time though as it seems like they really can’t catch a break here. The villains are blowing up their cars left and right. I like to think that proper military strategy is never this awful in real life because in films it makes the strategist look awful.

The military literally walks in a straight line to where the villains are. Naturally they keep getting blown up and picked off. Surely someone would have said that this was a bad idea right? So it’s not a case of the villains looking smart but the heroes just looking terrible. There has to be a better way to assault a heavily armed villain base than to walk in a straight line like that.

Overall, Con Air is definitely an intense film. It’s got a good hero and good writing to keep it on the positive path. It would have been nice if the villains weren’t all so edgy the whole time though. The only decent one appeared to be Mike. Now, this is a bunch of max prison offenders so of course they would be the worst of the worst but it’d be nice if they at least acted normal at times. Instead you just keep agreeing with Cameron’s one liners about how this was an awful plan from the start. Once he gets on the plane there aren’t really many times for breaks so get ready for a whole lot of action scenes. If you want a pretty entertaining film about hijacking then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Review

The animal based horror films continue as we get to see what the spiders can do this time around. I can confirm that they have the upper hand on the humans as expected. However, the film does rely a lot on your suspense for disbelief once again. Spiders are certainly more intimidating than ants, but still within reason. It’s about what you’d expect which at least means that the film lived up to the premise as best it could. It simply couldn’t rise above and beyond it.

The film starts off with two aspiring entrepreneurs trying to get coffee out of the country. They realized that they could get rich from it, but the problem is that the corrupt government officials want a bribe first. The two guys get the money by smuggling some people out of the country, but what they didn’t count on were a few extra stowaways in the form of spiders. These spiders murder the crew and crash land the plane over by the real main characters. Charles and Cindy were looking forward to having a nice vacation when the crash happens and they quickly go investigate. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that it is related to spiders for quite a long while.

It’s pretty straight forward as the spiders start murdering everybody as they head for the orange farm. See, what makes the situation very tough for the heroes is that the town isn’t very well off. It’s actually quite poor and the only thing that keeps the society okay is the fact that they sell off their oranges at great prices. That’s why the mayor has decided that nobody is going to mess with the crop. He will have the town’s citizens/slaves work on it day and night even though they may get bitten by the spider and then die. The poison in this film is shown to be so lethal that you are dead in under a minute so at least it’s very quick. The Mayor is corporate to the core and does a good job of keeping everyone out of his way. Even when the crash first happens he refuses to use any of his water so the fire chief has to handle it. You can’t say that this guy isn’t consistent. As much as the other characters don’t like him, they still have to admit that he has some points. If the crop spoils then the whole town is doomed just as much as if the spiders got to them. They just can’t be too extreme either so it’s a tough balance.

The film would have largely been avoided if not for one very forced scene near the beginning. So, the plane has crashed and it’s leaking gasoline. The fire chief and his men have the situation under control but then a biker dude shows up and decides to play a game of chicken with the plan. He loses of course and crashes the bike into the gas which blows everything up and gives the spiders a chance to escape. You’re just wondering quite a bit what that guy was thinking and why he would lose control so easily. I guess it’s the only way that the spiders could escape but you have to question how smart this town is. Even Charles and Cindy don’t seem like responsible characters since they were going to go on vacation during work hours so any pilot in the area would have been doomed. Not very professional if you ask me.

The film also got a little darker than I thought it would be with the deaths as a kid actually doesn’t make it through this experience. Based on how long he lived after the bite I expected it to be a false alarm, but the film actually went all the way. The kid was a really bad character but it’s still not a fate you would hope for. He knew that the spiders were poisonous so he shouldn’t have tried to grab one with his bare hands. What was he thinking? That’s just not a very good idea on his part and he ended up paying the price for his mistake.

The climax of the film has a forced moment much like the beginning. So, there’s this minor subplot that comes out of nowhere and has no bearing on the film where a girl is cheating on the main police officer with another guy and then she dies. Well, the rebound guy decides to avenge her by blowing up the orange plant and all of the spiders inside of it. The only problem is that he trips multiple times until he finally lands in the middle of the factory and shuts off the power to the whole place so now everyone is stuck with the spiders. That whole sequence just made no real sense. I can buy into the factory being completely electronic so if the power goes off then you’re toast, but it is still a minor stretch since you would usually expect to have some kind of manual override system in place. I guess Mr. Corporate just didn’t figure he would need one and decided to cut down on costs.

I do think the humans should have more confidence once inside though. They have the high ground and are armed with gloves. They can just start punching and kicking rapidly. The important thing is to move quickly and to avoid having any of them over you. Follow those steps and you should really be quite fine. The very ending of the film will also make you shake your head since the main characters basically ditch everyone. Based on the numerous spiders in the facility, I doubt they made it by 8:00 clock so the place likely fell into bankruptcy. It’s rough, but trying to cheat the health regulations just doesn’t pay off.

The film doesn’t really go for too much shock value or violence which is nice. It’s not quite as plot convenient as Ants either where they had hundreds of chances to escape. It’s still not really a good film though. We get some spider violence like where someone crushes one and a kid keeps poking one. The only real highlight of the film is that the cast of characters is a little better than I expected they would be. At the very least I liked the Fire Chief, Charles, and the Mayor. Some characters were essentially filler and didn’t need to be around like Mr. Rich. The scientist was also fairly reasonable as he at least figured out that they died of poison pretty quickly. Based on how swelled up the first bite we saw was though, I don’t know how nobody else noticed this.

Overall, Tarantulas plays it by the books. The Spiders take over the town with frightening speed and you’re left to wonder how 3 spiders became around 300 so quickly. I guess they breed and insects/small creatures do tend to breed very quickly, but isn’t this stretching it? I suppose that I don’t really know one way or the other. If you like the ideas of animals vs people then this is the film for you. There are a lot of films about the food chain trying to change and all, but I’d say this is probably one of the better examples of it. I’m not really a fan of the genre by nature, but considering that then this one wasn’t too bad. If you want a giant animal though, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

Overall 4/10

Airplane! Review

It’s time to review what is considered to be one of the funniest films of all time. Some even call it The funniest of all time. I can safely say that it lives up to the reputation and I actually would agree with the title. Of course, in a film with so many jokes, there are obviously ones that fall flat and others that are crude/annoying. Fortunately, the positive ones outweigh the negatives and this is definitely a film that I’d recommend checking out.

The film starts off with a cab driver named Ted. He’s hit a rough patch in life since he got traumatized by the war and his friends don’t respect him anymore. He decides to stop moping though and gets on a plane that his former friend Elaine is on so they can reconnect. She is less than thrilled about this, but has no time for him. The plane has been stocked with poisoned food that is causing everyone to hatch eggs. She must now think quickly or the plane is going to crash and everyone aboard will die. There’s also a mad bomber to think about along with a suicidal person, a lady wit a gun, a shifty guy with a crowbar, and more. Fortunately, the world’s greatest pilot has been called out of retirement to help guide them down but can he pull it off?

Airplane is one of those films that has dozens of gags a minute. Something is always happening. While there is one obvious joke going, there are always a few subtle ones in the background. The best scene in the film is certainly the pilot’s entrance as he walks in and beats up a bunch of people who were trying to sign him up for their various groups. He wasn’t having any of that and the guy promoting Jehovah’s Witnesses seemed to have gotten punched particularly hard. Needless to say, one of them was wise enough not to approach the pilot. He had a job to do after all. The retired pilot was certainly the best character, he kept everyone on their toes and certainly wasn’t messing around.

Ted wasn’t a bad main character but he’s mostly oblivious to all of the jokes. He doesn’t do anything funny so much as he helps some of the other jokes succeed by existing. I definitely don’t blame Elaine for leaving though since Ted definitely didn’t take the past war situation very well at all. Elaine is a little naive and doesn’t seem to be very smart so I can’t say that she is my kind of character either. Of course, these characters are all meant to be rather incompetent and not very smart to help make the movie funnier. The two characters did a good job in their roles even if they weren’t super likable like the retired pilot.

There are a few other supporting characters. They aren’t notable so much as there jokes can be memorable. One character that fell flat was the guy who would just act random the whole time. He would comment on someone gaining weight and always seemed rather loopy. His jokes never worked. You also had the normal pilot and a basketball player. I liked the Basketball player as his joke worked well.

Now while the jokes were very funny, the humor is also what holds the film back somewhat. We get a pretty iffy scene with the rubber pilot as getting air back into him can be somewhat dicey. The ebonics talk was also a little tricky if you could understand what they were saying as opposed to the sub titles. I can understand it somewhat myself so…yeah. There was also a scene with a dog attacking someone for a little while which could be a little dicey depending on how you look at it. Finally there’s the pilot’s conversation with the kid that was risky. The romance is pretty bad as well. This is intentional, but it doesn’t make it any less bad.

These negatives are fairly mild though so they don’t hurt the film too much. They shave off one star, but that’s all. This is still a film that I’d recommend checking out. There are just too many laughs not to watch it. Before this film, the Cat in the Hat is probably the film that I thought was the funniest and possibly Pixels as a guilty pleasure. I’ve never laughed so hard on the inside during a film before that one, I was shaking in my seat. I dunno, Sandler is like a movie that’s so bad it’s good. The writing wasn’t good, but it was funny. The two don’t necessarily have to be connected.

There isn’t really much of a soundtrack in this film but some nice themes do appear as jokes. I believe the Jaws theme may have played at one point. They also intentionally used the wrong sound for the plane the whole time which is a pretty nice detail. One of the more underrated scenes that was fun was when the two people over the intercom are arguing about where to leave your stuff in the Airport. It’s very subtle at first and is gradually brought to the forefront by the end of the scene.

Mentioning all of the jokes wouldn’t make for much of a review though so I’ll stop there. It’s more fun to watch the film and find them out for yourself. There’s not much more of a plot or characters to talk about either so this is more of a shorter review. Watch out for the flashback since it adds some more dimensions to the characters and squeezes in a Star Wars reference along the way. As I said, the film is quite clever.

Overall, Airplane is more hit than miss. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you end up not watching it. The film is basically timeless and has aged quite well. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of jokes we get during the film and it’s so unrealistic and unreasonable that it works. I can’t imagine that a sequel/spinoff/prequel could ever hope to match its greatness, but I’d like to see the studio try some more options. We need more good parody films like this one. I wonder if any film will ever surpass this one with humor or if I’ll die with this one still at the top. It’s definitely something to think about.

Overall 6/10

Non-Stop Review

It’s time to look at an Airplane thriller. Liam Neeson is the lead so you know what to expect in that regard. He’s easily the most well known lead when it comes to a tough guy trying to stop a crisis. Tom Cruise and other names are up there as well, but in terms of personality, this is the guy that comes to mind when you need a serious, no nonsense main character. It’s a solid action scene and while there will be a lot of suspense for disbelief at times, it never comes close to certain other airplane films. This one at least tries to be believable.

Bill gets on a plane, but then someone texts him with a threat. He’s going to start destroying people every hour unless Bill gives him a lot of money. The problem is that he is using Bill’s bank account for the transfer and Bill also ends up murdering someone. Things aren’t looking good for him and everyone on the plane begins to doubt his character. Is Bill crazy and just making this stuff up or is there more to this than meets the eye? This thriller has a lot of twists and turns so stay at the edge of your seat!

As you’d expect, Bill’s one of the best characters here. Nobody believes him and the situation gets pretty rough the whole time, but he decides that he’ll see this mission through to the end. Destroying the corrupted agent was maybe a bit much since he should have been able to disarm him and win without going lethal, but the villain probably would have won that way as well. After all, the framing would be even worse at that point and everyone would probably just gang up on him. Bill fights off a few different opponents at once in a later point of the film, but the numbers here would be a little too insane. Bill gets a little character development relating to his tragic past, but luckily he has to focus on the here and now for the film. A character like this doesn’t need a lot of development. Bill’s just here to decipher the clues and save the day, there’s no need for anything more.

The main heroine is a fun red herring that the film plays around with a lot. Is she the villain, just the red herring, or will she help out? She certainly gets to do a whole lot here, but at the same time it is hard to trust her. She tends to freak out a lot and gets very defensive at times. Granted, it is a bit of a stressful situation but the way that she handles it can be odd. Makes for an intriguing character to keep your eye on though. There are a bunch of other characters on the plane and of course, one of them has to be the terrorist. Who can it be? We’ve got the “Wise Guy” the “Punk” the “Upstanding citizen” and many others. It is a very large plane after all and at one point everyone is huddled together into one room so then they’re even more stuffed in there.

I liked the gimmick that the film had with the text messages being played over the screen. It was a nice effect especially since it’s one that’s rarely used. It’s also pretty entertaining to see the main character and villain have to talk through texts. That’s not something you see all the time, that’s for sure. The fight scenes can get a bit intense, but for the most part action isn’t at the forefront here. It’s more about the suspense and finding out who is really behind this as opposed to just fighting everyone.

On that note, I would say that the best character in the film is actually the “Wise Guy” character who gives Bill a hard time during the whole adventure. It’s always good to have someone agitating the crowd and getting them riled up. If Bill actually was crazy, then this guy would be the plane’s only hope. Without him, the rest of them were just sitting there and accepting the situation for the most part. This character was the lone resister so he definitely has a lot of guts.

As for the plot hax angle, there is definitely quite a bit here. The biggest part is probably the fact that the villains get away with so much here. Texting the whole time, but the cameras can’t tell. The super elaborate timing on the murders every hour with super precision as Bill walks into every trap throughout. Towards the end of the film, the government says that they will shoot down the plane if it gets any lower, but the plane goes lower anyway and the government can’t really do anything about it. Of course, it’s good that they should hesitate instead of just dooming a whole plane of innocent civilians, but they were given their orders. Still, as mentioned before, it’s relatively mild compared to other films. Remember Air Force One? Great film, but the plot hax levels were completely off the charts here. Here, I was pretty fine with it the whole time. There’s no way to make a film like this one perfect when it comes to logic, but it came as close as it could.

The villain’s motivations don’t really matter all that much here. He has his own petty reasons for doing this and it is personal this time. That being said, it’s not a reason that will get you to sympathize with his plight or even do a double take. I did like that the plan did involve making Bill look bad though since it’s always great to see the TV reaction. The reporters always do make these things very dramatic after all. Where would we be without the news?

On a final note, I think the Airplane should have taken the threat a little more seriously from the get go. This certainly could not have been your average prank caller since Bill’s security line is private. That should have been enough to convince them that this threat was real. Landing may not have changed a whole lot, but it would mean that there would be less time for the villain to make his move. Of course, they were over the ocean so landing was going to be a little tricky regardless of which direction they went, but it would have been nice to have seen the staff take this seriously.

Overall, Nonstop is a fun film with a satisfying resolution. It can get pretty intense once the body count starts to rise. The final twist is cool, but at the same time it does really stack the deck against the heroes to the point of no real return. By that moment they really should have been doomed, but on a plane that packed anything can happen. In the end, the heroes will always outnumber the villains so you just need to have some characters be brave enough to rush the gunner. Films like this are probably good as a confidence booster in case you are ever in a situation like this, but hopefully none of you readers will get the chance to try and put these principles into action. Coming up is another big thriller so prepare yourself for it! As for the sequel to this film, there are definitely a lot of different areas that can be used that are similar to a plane. I think having the whole cast on a large roller coaster could be a blast since that would be extremely unique. It would have to be a special one that is running for around 2 hours though, it could be some kind of endurance roller coaster.

Overall 7/10

Only Angels Have Wings Review

Poster - Only Angels Have Wings_05
After that last review, I figured I should take a look at an old film that I actually enjoyed. This one’s not great by any means and had its share of flaws, but I would still call it a good film in the end. The airplane scenes were cool and it makes you remember how far we’ve come with the technology. A good plane nowadays is certainly a lot better than the ones they used to make back in the day.

The film starts off with a pilot dying due to his overconfidence as he wanted to treat a new tourist, Bonnie, to a dinner. The other characters have a party about this, which upsets the heroines. They explain that to cope with loss they treat it as a celebration instead of mourning. It’s a very..intriguing approach. One that is used quite a lot in real life, but not to that extent. It’s a little overdone if you ask me and it made the main romance here very hard to buy. After all, with the other guy out of the way, Geoff decides to make his move. Meanwhile, a new pilot has arrived to replace him. Bat has a bad reputation though as he bailed out on another pilot back in the day and that pilot was related to Kid, one of the pilots on the current team. As a result, everyone shuns him and he is left with all of the dangerous tasks. His wife, who is an old “friend” of Geoff is upset by this. Will this team ever come together?

Geoff’s not a bad lead, but his romance is a little tricky considering the circumstances. Plus, he has a policy of never asking anyone to do anything. This means that his pride won’t allow him to ask Bonnie to stay so she has to do that on her own. I’m glad that he doesn’t let go of it since pride is important in a character, but it’s also why he should have lost out and had a tragic ending here. He is a good pilot and opts to do the dangerous job himself at the end. He lives up to his words and while Geoff has his flaws, he ultimately works well as the lead.

Bat’s a likable guy and probably the best character in the film. He made a mistake a while back, but does everything that he can to fix things. When a tough situation arises once again, he makes sure to stay in the saddle and doesn’t abandon anyone this time. He also took on all of the extremely difficult jobs so he definitely deserved everyone’s respect by the end. Bat did well considering that nobody liked him and it was a very good ending for him. It would have been sad if he had just died heroically and then everyone appreciated him. That just wouldn’t have been the same. Of course, you can understand why Kid has a problem with him. It’s not hard to let a past mistake go especially if it’s fatal. He does overreact a little with the anger misdirection though. His problem is with Bat so he should really keep it between them unless he’s seriously provoked, but that never really happens.

Bonnie’s the main heroine and she’s not bad. Playing along with the two annoying flirts may have been a bit much and she took the death of a guy that she knew for about an hour a little too hard at first. She got over it though, but got way too interested in romance from the get go. She really lost sight of why she was here in the first place. Also, shooting someone to stop them was incredibly drastic and her plan would never have worked. Holding someone at gunpoint isn’t how you start a proper relationship. So, she was a little extreme for me and Bonnie wasn’t quite as likable as she could have been. She’s mostly reasonable, but the gunshot at the end was….pretty dicey.

The film doesn’t drag on either and goes by quickly. If there’s anything holding it back from a higher score, it’s probably that the film didn’t have enough plane scenes. The dialogue between characters is good, but at the same time we don’t have the witty banter needed to grant it an extra star. The opening scene with the pilot dying may have also been a little long as he keeps talking on the radio with a really dead voice. It was likely not intentional and just a sign of age, but his voice when talking through the speaker was rather odd. It’s like the speaker just added some kind of photoshop effect to it.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the cafe during the daytime though. The steak looked really good and seeing the gang enjoy some party games wouldn’t have been bad. Of course, the gang could get a little rowdy. Kid beating up two of the crew members and even breaking someone’s arm was definitely not good for the team’s morale. It did help set Bat up for his big moment though. The rest of the team will probably have to watch their back when around Kid, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem in the long run.

Overall, Only Angels Have Wings is a good film. It’s nice to see a retro film live up to its potential after so long. The cast is relatively small and we only have a few backgrounds so the film did a lot with what feels like a small budget. Films can always surpass the limitations of a budget so long as the writing is good and the characters are engaging. For the most part, that’s the case here and it’s enjoyable. Not a whole lot happens at times and the film can feel its age during other moments, but it’s a worthwhile movie that I recommend. If you want something a little more exciting, then watch Bleach Movie 4: Hell Verse. That one doesn’t have any planes though so it may not be worth it if that’s what you’re looking forward too.

Overall 6/10