Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers Review

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It’s time to look at a really old alien film. This is the kind of flick that will remind you why aliens are so scary in the first place. They can’t be reasoned with and just want to take over every planet that gets in their way. You don’t want to mess with these guys and the humans have to desperately scramble to stop them. It’s an entertaining film that may not have the best lead, but still hits most of the right notes.

The film starts off with Russell sending another rocket into space. It’s been a futile mission as so far each missile has been sent right back down to Earth. At this point he is just wasting money and a general tells him this, but the lead refuses to listen. He will keep on sending the missiles into space and nobody can stop him! As he drives away with Carol, a UFO shows up which changes things a bit. They are now readying their invasion force to take over the Earth. Russell will have to build a super laser to shut them down, but can he really invent such a thing or is he already doomed?

As you can tell I thought Russell was rather slow on the uptake. If a bunch of missiles keep losing contact as soon as they are sent out, why would you send more without actually fixing anything about them? The main characters finally decide to add a camera to the last one so they can find out what is happening, but shouldn’t a camera have been there right from the start? It seems to me that for a mission of such importance you would want to document everything at all times.

Russell’s big slip up was in meeting up with the aliens privately. Carol and the army guy do manage to catch him so they all end up being threatened by the aliens as a team. I’ll give the army guy some credit for actually firing at the aliens while in the ship. They might as well go down swinging right? Russell is the one who puts the group in danger constantly. For example, he knew that a little energy orb had been spying on him for the last few weeks and that random lights would show up in the sky, but he thought nothing of them. It seems like nothing would cause him to show even a little bit of the usual alarm that you would expect from a reasonable main character. He may get to run the victory lap at the end, but he certainly put the Earth in quite the predicament.

Meanwhile I can’t say that I was a big fan of Carol. Mainly because she was quick to rat out Russell when he was trying to escape the base. Whether she agreed with him or not, such a call would probably have him arrested and it’s not like she had a better idea. When you make a call to betray someone like that, it’s a big decision. The characters forget about this pretty quick, but that could have been a very damaging moment for them.

I do have to give the army some props for shooting the aliens right away. Obviously that isn’t usually a good idea since the aliens hadn’t actually done anything yet, but we weren’t going to be pushed around this time. Usually when the army shoots first it turns out that the aliens were actually good guys so this was a good way of flipping that around real quick. Too bad their tech was so much better than ours as otherwise it could have been a pretty even fight. We didn’t hesitate to fire off our rockets and heavy armaments either so the world was ready.

There is some plot hax in the climax though. As I mentioned the aliens do have the superior tech here including ships that can run rings around ours. Their speed is so great that they can appear from nowhere to disintegrate us and then vanish again. How is it that they didn’t notice the humans plotting against them? At the very least you would expect them to have the main characters under surveillance until the invention was built. Leaving the humans alone (Even after they broke the alien spy probe) was just not a smart idea. Even once they knew that the humans were turning violent they sent in one robot instead of blasting the place to smithereens. The humans got lucky and they know it.

We do get some decent action sequences at the end though as we shoot down all of their UFOs. You’ll end up feeling bad for the landmarks though as the aliens make sure to crash into them every time one ship is shot down. By the end of the fight I feel like the city will look a whole lot different. I suppose some damage is expected when saving the world though. I also like to think that the aliens made sure to intentionally hit these spots just to at least get a little petty consolation victory. If only they had just tried destroying us all when they had the chance!

Overall, This was a fun movie. It’s a classic Alien Invasion story filled with suspense and action. The writing for the movie is certainly on point even if the main characters are annoying. The characters you will be rooting for the most will be the government agents. They don’t plan to go down without a fight and talk tough whenever they are on screen. That’s exactly what I like to see and even the Aliens admitted that in a battle for the Earth we would keep fighting til the last man. Humanity got its props here.

Overall 7/10

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Justice League Review

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After all these years of hype the Justice League movie is finally upon us. The series has been amazing so far despite getting critically pounded. Not every film was great, but for the most part they were all solid. This film also ended up being an excellent addition to the cinematic universe. It can be a bit of a slow burner at times but one that does build up to a great climax.

After a quick scene that I actually forgot until after the film, Justice League opens up with an action scene where Batman takes down a Parademon and realizes that the invasion is closer than ever before. This was a perfect scene to kick off the film since it immediately has the aliens show up so the heroes can form the team. While I will have a bunch of critiques coming up, there is nothing I can say about this scene. It was basically perfect from the set design to the Parademon’s special effects. After this Batman decides to track down Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman so that these super powered individuals can stop the invasion. Wonder Woman has been alerted to what was happening as well and shows up to help. Can this alliance really stop the armies of Apokolips?

Let’s start with the basics. The soundtrack is really good. It’s not as memorable as Man of Steel but it does a good job of sounding epic. The Wonder Woman theme returns which is always fun. I was expecting the cool Man of Steel tune but maybe next time. The graphics are also really good for the movie and that’s one area where DC really excels. I have yet to see a CBM top BVS, or this film with the backgrounds. Man of Steel and Avengers are also pretty high up in the rankings. Essentially the whole climax of Justice League is in a fiery, apocalyptic future backdrop which makes every scene even more epic.

You also have to give the film credit for most of the outfits. Batman’s is definitely one of the best he has ever had and maybe it is the best. It reminds me a lot of his look from Justice League Heroes. Superman and Wonder Woman’s costumes also look pretty sharp. I’m still not sold on Aquaman and Flash so those didn’t hit it off for me. Cyborg’s was pretty good and I actually liked the mysterious cloak/hoodie costume.

Now let’s get on to the characters. Batman is essentially the lead here. I’d say that he looks pretty good. He is still the brains of the group although his plan is typically just to get whoever he is talking to upset. It took him quite a bit to realize that the guy was Aquaman as well unless that was part of the plan. He gets beat up and saved quite a bit but his reckless self sacrifice plans are still on point. He did have a nice contingency plan for Superman again as well. When it comes to personality he’s still my 2nd favorite character as expected but he is really going to need more power ups as the films go by or he is going to have an even tougher time dealing with the villains. That is give him some prep time once again.

Superman is my favorite character as always even if they decided to go with the edgy route for this film. I don’t mind an edgy Superman if done right after all. He was comically out of character for the entirety of his first scene when he attacks the League. Sure he isn’t too thrilled about why he is around but the Superman you’d expect would just endure this quietly or at least ask some questions. Trying to seriously injure and destroy the other heroes just doesn’t seem to be in character at all. The film played it off like he was actually going to destroy Batman even using one of Batman’s edgy lines from the last film to show how the tables have turned. Later Superman is rather reluctant to help out and must be told to do so. He then does a complete 180 ad starts cracking some jokes and laughing with everyone. It’s almost like they had two different writers and the 2nd one took over just for the climax act of the film so the scenes didn’t gel well.

What both acts really got right was Superman’s power and speed though. If you’re familiar with the characters, you’ll know that Superman is way stronger than the other League members. He could beat them teaming up without using all of his power. The film demonstrates that quite nicely. Even when he’s not been able to be in the sun for a while and was likely not at full power, the heroes just couldn’t hurt him. Wonder Woman is very strong but not strong enough to actually deal damage to him. Flash is fast, but not fast enough to actually land a hit on Superman. This is essentially how every fight with Superman and the League should go and I was incredibly impressed with how Superman looked here. I get the feeling we won’t get to see him look quite as impressive ever again so remember these scenes well.

Going back to Superman’s personality for a second, it is also weird that he holds such a grudge against Batman. It’s true that only Batman called them friends and Superman was rather cold to him throughout the climax but I thought he got over that by now. Wouldn’t Superman give him a second chance or let bygones be bygones? At the very least I’d expect him to try and arrest Batman instead. I still say that Batman should have called in Martha right away. She would have ended the whole situation right away. Despite this, Superman naturally does make the hero calls in the end and he’s still the best. In a way it probably is annoying to have to save the world every other day since nobody else can do it, but Superman will get over it and be inspired again before long.

Wonder Woman naturally gets a big role as well to close out the trinity. It’s likely only second to Batman’s. Until Superman shows up she is the only power hitter of the team so she basically has to fight Steppenwolf on her own. Wonder Woman does a pretty good job of lasting and while he is a little too strong for her just having one more ally who could fight would have been very useful and could have tipped the scales. She’s certainly a solid character as well and I wouldn’t have minded if the main 3 had been the focus of the film since the rest of the League members weren’t all that good compared to them. The only scene where Wonder Woman looks bad is when she decides to go against Batman in his master plan. I’m cool with her disagreeing with him since not messing with death can be sound advice. That being said, she immediately goes for the personal attacks and brings Superman into the discussion yet when Batman responds in kind she snaps and breaks his shoulder. She can dish it out, but evidently she can’t take it. Batman’s response was also pretty on point since she did randomly vanish for a century. We can blame DC for not thinking that plotline through since it was out of character for her, but it happened so she doesn’t have a whole lot of room to counter here.

On a side note, I would have liked to have had more scenes of Batman insulting the League. He had to play ball with them since Superman wasn’t around and he was a bit of a leader for them, but it feels like a missed opportunity. If Superman had been around the whole time, Batman could have acted like the stone cold detective he usually is with subtle burns and verbal shots throughout the film. Maybe next time though and he still got his share of memorable lines. Next up is Aquaman. He’s the worst member on the team so I won’t dwell on him too much. He’s basically just a drunk guy with slight super strength who is supposed to be funny, but never quite makes it. He contributes absolutely nothing to the film. If you take him away then the events don’t change. He feels like filler throughout and the guy seems to just be around to annoy everyone. The film also tries to use him for humor which doesn’t work too well. This guy should not have been in the film and I had a feeling this would be the case ever since the first trailer.

On the humor side, I was impressed with the film. From the trailers/ the last two DC films I got the vibe that the film was going to be over the top with humor. Adding a ton of jokes here and there to liven things up. Surprisingly, the film is still pretty serious the whole time. This does feel like it’s in the same universe as Batman V Superman and the whole opening is very grim. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if the whole film was like the Batman vs Parademons scene as it’s dark out the whole time, but that brings along its own set of risks I suppose. While some of the humor can be forced, it never becomes too distracting from the film. The characters are all pretty serious during the fights as well so it’s not as if they’re distracting themselves. The film handled the balance quite well.

Our next League member is Flash and naturally the TV show comparisons will start the instant he appears. I’m not sure how they could have gotten his design and costume so wrong with the big budget. The TV show’s version looks superior in every way. I can’t speak for the personality since I never saw the Flash, but from the clips I’ve seen he also seems like a much better character. This one looks too young and the fact that he is a novice with his powers can be pretty grating at times. He doesn’t even feel all that fast compared to Quicksilver from the recent X-Men films. Flash would get decimated in a fight if we base it on the movies and while the nerf is okay if the writers felt like they would be getting into plot hax moments like Quicksilver vs Apocalypse, it sort of defeats the purpose of the Flash to an extent. He needed to be more confident and self assured. We got glimpses of Flash being quite intelligent, but they were very subtle and he never even got to fight in the film. He barely threw a single punch until near the very end and those may have just been tackles since it seems like he vibrated through his opponents. He’s essentially a Peter Parker ripoff right now so I’m hoping he improves for next time.

Cyborg is the final main member and he’s all right. He comes across as annoying and whiny for a while though as he’s inflated with self importance. Maybe it’s because he starts off as a Cyborg, but you don’t feel any sympathy for him. He would have died if the parts weren’t merged with him so I don’t think he has a whole lot of room to complain. Now, the process did look painful so if he talked about that then maybe I could buy into it, but he spends the whole time complaining and feeling bad for himself. It’s one big pity party with this guy and his plan at the end was really flawed as well. Without going into detail, he said he could stop the boxes by doing a cool magnetic pulse and all. The thing is, apparently he needs someone to actually push them apart as well and the only way to even have a chance is if you have a guy with Superman-like abilities…and Superman wasn’t around. The plan was for him to do it himself..but how? There’s no way he could have done it so he effectively led the team on a suicide mission. I still think of Cyborg as a Teen Titan and this film didn’t change that, but now that he’s accepted his powers he should improve quite a lot.

Unfortunately Lois Lane was a big miss in this film. Her depression over Superman’s passing is used as the excuse for why she’s not a daring reporter anymore, but this also doesn’t really work well with her character. While she’s never been all that great in this series, at least she took a lot of risks like in BVS where she went to get the spear or in Man of Steel where she broke into an alien ship. In this film she has completely given up on everything and has been reduced to a weak character. Her role is very small anyway, but it’s definitely not the Lois that I expected. Martha Kent is all right I guess, but none of her dialogue is particularly funny or heart warming despite that being the intent. The scenes of Martha and Lois chatting was easily the worst part of the film since it just felt like filler and didn’t add anything to the movie. You would basically just wait for the scenes to be over so we can get back to the plot. Fortunately this film was good at constantly shifting from scene to scene so you were usually not in one place for too long.

A human subplot that was actually decent was the family hiding in a cabin. Granted, this was also complete filler but at least it showed that some people were ready to defend themselves. The plot didn’t end exactly how I pictured with Superman showing up to save them and all, but it was still okay and didn’t last too long. Steppenwolf is basically the only villain in the film. He’s a miss as far as personality is concerned, but he’s a strong fighter which makes for an engaging antagonist. Not too many fighters use an axe so that was cool. He was really creaming the League and just about everyone else he fought aside from a certain hero. He definitely lived up to his hype and I’m eager to see how the films portray Darkseid. So far they’ve been very good at making the villains both strong and fast. I don’t think he will be an exception so Superman vs Darkseid could very well be the greatest fight in live action if handled right.

I do have to question the Amazonian tactics near the beginning though. So, they know that the box is vibrating and they also know more or less that it’s a bad sign since they fought the owners a thousand years ago. Naturally the Queen posts a few guards by it…and then sends the rest of the army to the other side of the island. Why would you do that? I think even a kid could have told you that you leave most of your army by the box that spells imminent danger. As a result, Steppenwolf tears through the few warriors that guards it. Showing her bravery, the Queen deserts her fellow sisters to get the box away and locks the cave behind her to seal their fate. Steppenwolf still destroys just about everyone as he grabs the box and leaves, but would he have fared as well against a whole army? I think he probably would have shredded them all pretty easily, but since the film played it off like the army was a threat, I think it was a tactical blunder.

The Atlanteans were just as bad and only left a few scrubs to block the box. Steppenwolf wrecked them pretty easily and ran off. Honestly the humans were the ones putting up the best effort when you think about it. At first I was also skeptical of how they beat Steppenwolf in the past as well, but since they had a lot of guest stars helping then I was fine with it. I was convinced once the flying warrior showed up and even more when the gods of old turned up. Lets face it, they did all of the work. The Atlanteans, Humans, and Amazonians were just there for moral support.

I can’t say that I cared for the action scenes where Steppenwolf was wrecking those two armies either. It’s just never very fun to have a big character crushing a ton of powerless ones unless it’s a character you really like or something. As I’m not a Steppenwolf fan, you’re just waiting for a hero to show up so it’ll be a fair fight. Then you just keep on waiting until the fight is eventually over.

So, how high does this film rank in the all time list? Well, it’s definitely below Batman V Superman and I’d put it under Man of Steel as well. After that, it’s close between this one and Avengers for third. I think this one will edge out so Avengers grabs the 4th spot and Civil War grabs number 5 which rounds out my Top 5 Live Action CBMs of all time. What gives this one the edge for 3rd are essentially the action scenes since the one thing Avengers lacked was any big fights. Again, it’s an underrated edge for DC as their fight scenes cannot be beaten.

There are two after credit scenes. Surprisingly the first one is the happy comedy one instead of vice versa. Probably a way for DC to be different from Marvel. It’s a decent scene even if it goes nowhere and the film was playing it too safe. We all know that the guy on the right who scrunched up his face during the scene won because he was taking it very seriously. The 2nd scene gets some setup going for future DC films. It should make for a pretty good plot although I definitely want Darkseid for film 2. The problem with having other villains is that I’m going to be asking the real questions the whole time…how can they handle Superman? Black Adam would solve that equation, but everyone else would get lolstomped inside 2 seconds. Especially since Superman has been heavily amped from his already impressive Man of Steel portrayal.

This is a pretty long review as it is. The thoughts keep on piling up but this review would be way too long if I jotted it all down. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss something in more detail. As for miscellaneous thoughts, one area where Avengers does have the edge is in the fact that the characters were already established. As a result, it felt like a huge crossover since all of the characters were crossing over. It merged at 4 films, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. This one in comparison only merged two, Batman/Superman and Wonder Woman. The other League members debuted in this film so it wasn’t as big and since they were newbies who hadn’t yet had their own film to save the world, they weren’t as impressive as they should be. Marvel’s formula is certainly the right one to building up a team film, but I am ultimately glad DC skipped a few steps because I don’t want to wait 5 more years for the first Justice League. Now that this one has finally been made, we can start expanding the universe more. I wouldn’t even mind if DC forgot about the spinoffs and decided to just focus on churning out Justice League film after film. It would be a pretty unique way to go about it and I’d be on board.

While a few horses certainly seemed to get hit during the battle with Steppenwolf, the film at least had the dignity to not have them be bleeding or crying out in pain. The film was actually surprisingly tame throughout and that’s something I have to give it credit for. There is some language but it’s all very mild for the film. We get one or two mild fanservice shots for Wonder Woman but the film also managed to restrain itself in this area and at least we didn’t have random bath scenes like in BVS. On the whole you can see that this film didn’t really have any major negatives which is essential to being known as an amazing film. Most of the minor stuff I listed above barely even register on the scale. Even the boring scenes or jokes that may not have been funny weren’t bad enough either. The film was very close to being perfect and while I can think of alternate plots that would have been more fun (Like Superman being around during the whole film) the movie did a great job with what it had. Perhaps the gaps of no action will be more noticeable in a re-watch, but maybe not. As a huge DC fan I was pretty invested from start to finish and I imagine this would be the case on a re-watch as well. What can I say, at the end of the day, I’m a big fan of the Justice League so naturally I’ll get an extra kick out of this film. It’s also why I’m a little more critical on it at times, but I think I did a good job of still keeping a very positive tone on it throughout this review. At the end of the day, all films can be a little bit better, but if it’s a 7 or higher, it means that I am satisfied with the result. (Even more so with a 9)

Overall, This was a great film. Once Superman showed up, it became an amazing one. Honestly, Superman’s depiction in terms of strength was enough for me to know that this would be one of the all time greats. He’s my favorite comic book character and I’ve always considered him to quite easily be the strongest character of all as well. DC has continued to surpass my expectations when it comes to fights and power levels. They are simply unmatched and when you have a character like Superman that just makes a lot of sense. I highly recommend checking this film out. It may not be quite as intense as Batman vs Superman or Man of Steel, but it did get the end of the world vibe just right. Something is always happening and the atmosphere is always tense. I will eagerly await the next Justice League or Superman film. It’ll also be nice to see if DC can save Aquaman and Flash in future films, but I feel like sticking to films where Superman can show his stuff is the safest option.

Overall 9/10

Phoenix Forgotten Review

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Uh oh, it’s time for a found footage film. Honestly this is one of the worst genres out there. I already don’t like horror films, but found footage films tend to be even lower on the totem pole. The two genres do like to blend together as well although I think this would be considered more of a thriller than a horror. The film moves incredibly slow and by the end all you’ll be thinking is…”If I’m buying 4 slices and a drink from Little Caesars for 5, maybe I’m better off going to Little Italy and getting 2 slices but the infinite refills with it”

The story follows a reporter who is going around trying to find intel on 3 teenagers who went missing. Their names as Josh, Mark, and Ashley. The reporter has an interest in the case since Josh was her big brother. The problem is that the government keeps stiffing her and since this disappearance happened years ago, all of the trails have gone cold. Fortunately, Sophie is told that the school found a camcorder at a secluded facility in the middle of nowhere that actually still works. Sophie pops it in and finally learns the truth behind the mystery. She is stunned at the results!

So, that’s effectively the subplot as it takes place in the present, but most of the film is in the past. Since Sophie is making a documentary, naturally all of her scenes are filmed as if they’re found footage as well. We jump to the past where Josh decides that he wants to find some aliens. After all, he saw some strange lights a while back that seemed like UFOs. Mark and Ashley join him and the three decide to run through a bunch of mountains. They do this for a while and then get lost once it’s late. They do what any other mainstream teenager would do, they break open the beers and start panicking. Before long the aliens show up and take them down.

There are so many problems with this film that it’s quite tragic. For starters, we have the token animal violence. Why is there animal violence in this film? Well, apparently the aliens are still working on their tractor beams as they tend to burn the targets up instead of sending them into space. It’s also awfully fast since they burn parts of the animals but then leave them on the ground. The scenes are utterly pointless much like the film itself and you’ll wonder just how low this film will stoop before it finally ends.

The writing is terrible as you’d expect. All of the characters are really annoying and since the camera work is terrible on purpose, you’ll find yourself cringing the whole time. I don’t use the word lightly, but this is another reason why I don’t like the found footage genre. The zoom ins on all of the characters are much too close and the ametuer style in which they’re filmed is just not entertaining to look at. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of the old family videos everyone made back when it was trendy but at least I was starring in those so it made them a little more fun. I don’t want to watch a video of strangers just hanging out and drinking beer. It’s just not cool.

The aliens don’t actually do anything for the first 60 minutes so that time is just the heroes chatting about nothing really and trying to be as unlikable as possible. The film never even tried to make them good characters if you ask me, but there were none in the whole film. Even the government turned out to be evil and corrupt as always. It’s sad that the government is almost always either incompetent or evil. It’s rare to find movies where they are portrayed as capable heroes but I’m always glad when I see that happen.

The film’s plot is also just barely held together. See, the writers needed the whole story to be filmed on camera, but this wasn’t even possible without plot holes. Towards the end of the film we see Josh taken up by the aliens as he drops his camera and it gets thrown around in the twister. Then….Josh somehow fights his way through the alien ship in a matter of seconds, escapes through the hatch, makes his way back and grabs the camera, runs to a bathroom…and is then kidnapped again. Then the camera is sucked up again, survives a vicious crash, and then someone mails it to the school. The whole thing was super convenient and also unbelievable. I don’t see how Josh could have gotten out of the tractor beam when nobody else could have. I don’t see how nobody would notice the aliens this time when they’re so bright and loud. People would definitely notice that kind of thing. I just couldn’t get past this ending.

The aliens also don’t really show up. We see a claw or a foot for a split second and that’s it. Clearly this film didn’t have much of a special effects budget so this turned into an alien film without the aliens. That’s just peachy. Back to the humans not being likable, the film maybe tries to hint that the aliens mess with your mind. I’m not too sure about that and prefer to just think that the humans are terrible. Mark constantly panics and drinks. He refuses to talk with the others even though it would make the whole process quicker and is the main reason everyone was talking in circles for a while. They could have stayed in the car where it was semi safe, but he wanted to run the 15 miles to the nearest gas station. Even then he got distracted within seconds. Ashley also panics at everything and keeps forcing the group to stop so she can tie her shoes or panic about her hair falling out. The only guy I almost felt sorry for was Josh because he would have escaped the aliens if he didn’t have to stop for the other two every 5 seconds. Clearly he should have gone on by himself. He wasn’t a cool character either though so I was cool with the aliens claiming the win here. They just need to take on the rest of the town n ext.

The film is super dramatic and tries to be emotional constantly. We have a divorce subplot and they really try to forcefeed you the “You have to be sad now” memo as we see the parents cry about the teens being gone and everyone assuming the worst. The home cam videos are supposed to really reinforce this. All it does is stretch the film out even more and completely destroy whatever pacing the film could have had. This film could have been shortened to 30 minutes and you wouldn’t have missed a thing.

Also, why was Sophie’s camera man never really shown until the end? I thought the film was gearing up for some kind of big twist like he was Josh or something and that’s why everyone kept looking at Sophie like she was crazy. The twist would have been terrible but at least it would have been something. Otherwise, the camera man is just another empty character whose existence is only to hold the camera so Sophie can get a good shot.

Overall, As you can guess I really didn’t like the film. It’s basically just 90 minutes of nothing happening. The alien “jump scare” scenes are pitifully bad and wouldn’t scare a kid. The repetition is annoying and since the aliens keep taunting the main characters instead of doing something to them, I have to assume that they’re just petty. They don’t seem to have any actual goals so I’ll assume that they are mindless as well. There’s really only negative things to say about the film so as you can tell I really didn’t like it. I’d say that Cloverfield was a better found footage film and even Paranormal Activity which by all accounts should be worse as it’s a full horror plus this genre, but was actually far superior. Next time you secretly want to make a film about teens just running around and just acting like terrible people with no extra plot…don’t. Instead of this film I recommend watching something a little more intense like the first Jumanji.

Overall 1/10

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Review

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It’s time for one of those iconic films that is supposed to make you super emotional. If you don’t cry during the ending then your emotions might be broken. That was my general understanding on what this film is truly like, but unfortunately I didn’t cry at the end. Honestly, I never even felt remotely sad and the only emotion that I had at the time was disappointment. The film’s actually rather boring and there are no good characters. The soundtrack is the only real upside of the film.

It starts off with Elliott having a tough time at home. His brother is playing cards with a bunch of his friends and nobody wants Elliott to play with them. They send him off to go get a pizza instead, but then Elliott sees an alien run into the shed and promptly drops the pizza. Gee Elliott, if everyone was giving you a tough time before, it’s only going to get worse from here on out. Everyone blames Elliott and naturally nobody notices the alien. A lot of personal insults are thrown and the insults are pretty intense. I prefer milder insults so the film loses some props in the writing department for this. How can Elliott possibly bounce back from this? Hint: He can’t.

Long story short, the alien is called E.T. by the kid (Very original) and he just wants to go home. His family of other aliens ditched him to escape from the humans since it was a “Every man for himself” kind of moment. E.T. doesn’t take it personally at least since he is barely intelligent at first and only gradually learns how to communicate. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy since he doesn’t realize that the aliens aren’t the most noble of creatures. E.T.’s design isn’t one that I personally like, but I suppose it’s distinct. Whenever he stretches his neck I can’t help but feel like he is challenging the main characters.

As with most aliens he can be rather annoying. He makes a mess of Elliott’s room and steals food from the fridge. We even have a long scene where he gets drunk on beer. Hopefully that works as a nice PSA for other kids who are tempted to drink. Nobody wants to get drunk after all…hopefully. E.T. can use his TK abilities to fly, but he rarely does so. He spends most of the film getting scared and then losing to the government. He felt more like a liability than an asset to the main characters which you wouldn’t expect from an alien. I just never got around to sympathizing with him all that much.

Elliott is annoying as well though. He brings up the Mom’s ex husband for no reason other than to just get his revenge. Dropping the pizza was completely unnecessary and he pretends to be sick just to skip school. He also has no will power so E.T. is able to control him to make a move on one of his classmates. It was a rather terrible scene and maybe the worst one in the film. Nobody stopped Elliott and naturally they played it off like it was a happy event for both of them. I couldn’t buy into it at all. Elliott also gets a little too emotional at times and panics quite a lot. He’s not quite ready for an adventure like this.

I can’t say that I trust the government much either. One guy claims that E.T. came to him once, but I don’t believe him. They do try to keep him alive at the end, but likely to serve their own purposes. Why are they chasing the aliens? Perhaps there is no reason and chasing the aliens just seems like a good move, but they certainly are bad at their job. How could they lose him when they were so close at the beginning? Also, pointing shotguns at the kids is rather extreme.

On the positive side of things, the soundtrack was definitely really good. You can really hear a lot of Star Wars in it at all times which helped convey a sense of danger. The rest of the film didn’t really contribute, but at least the music tried. While the writing wasn’t particularly good, the music helps it get a little more bearable. Some reactions really were over the top though. The Mom panicking every time Mexico was mentioned or her quick laugh after Elliott’s insult before telling him off. The laugh was incredibly out of place. A lot of the film also just feels like filler as we have happy times with the alien. One positive of modern blockbusters that this film could have used was more explosions. Have there be an evil E.T. or something. Apparently the sequel would have had evil aliens so I have a feeling that this would have been a whole lot more exciting.

I’ll give the film some props in another scene. During the frog dissections I was worried that the film was really going to shoot itself in the foot. It did in a way during the random scene with Elliott’s classmate, but the frogs all got to escape. That was great. I personally do think that it’s very inhumane for schools to have kids murder frogs just to learn about anatomy. That’s what we have books for and realistically close to 0% of those kids are going to work in that field so the frogs are dying for nothing. Saving them was probably the most heroic point of Elliott’s life even if he didn’t do it willingly and E.T. was controlling him from afar. The dog that was in the film was also cool even if his role was rather small.

Overall, E.T. isn’t a very fun film. It has very bad pacing and nothing really happens until the government shows up near the very end. The film is over 2 hours I believe so it drags on immensely in the meantime. Also the annoying cast hurts. Lets put this into perspective, all of the main characters are kids. That’s bad news. I’m not a fan of kids being the main characters so when all of the main cast are kids, we’ve got a problem. The bullies turning over a new leaf didn’t count since they just wanted to defy authority. Elliott never became all that likable and I wasn’t sold on his brother either. The sister was quick to betray the others whenever she thought she could rat them out about E.T. so she was rather annoying as well. The film even messed up the ending as it should have been E.T. peddling away on his bicycle. Imagine the cool visual that would have been. It could have saved the film and made the whole thing more emotional. Anyway, I don’t think this film has aged well and I’d avoid it. If you want a better alien story, check out Man of Steel.

Overall 4/10

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Review


It’s time to take a look at the original Final Fantasy film. I saw this one a long time ago when I was a kid. I remember enjoying it back then so I wanted to revisit it and see if the film was as good as I remembered. It’s certainly a very interesting take on the series since it really has nothing to do with Final Fantasy. I suppose that you could say the same about most Final Fantasy games, but at least they all have the standard enemies and a lot of the same lore. This feels like it is Final Fantasy in name only. It’s a good story that is bogged down by not really having any direction.

Aki’s world is in a very perilous position. It is now a desolate wasteland that is infested with aliens. Everyone now lives in a space station as they seclude themselves from the rest of the world. Going outside for even a moment without a space suit will result in you getting infected and turning into an alien/zombie. Aki works for Doctor Sid and they believe that they have a cure. They simply need to find the 7 (I think it was 7) Gaia elements. Every living thing has a soul, which is a Gaia. There are 7 chosen ones which are needed to blend together and power a generator which will essentially make the virus inert. The only problem is that the government is tired of waiting and they don’t believe in the whole Gaia thing. They want results and they want them yesterday. General Hein proposes that the government use a giant cannon to fire at the planet. Sid admits that this could work, but that it could also destroy the planet’s soul. Two very different approaches, but only one of them will ultimately work. Who will strike first?

So, that’s a pretty interesting plot line. The film also starts off right away as Aki breaks the rules and quickly heads down to the planet to grab a sample. She has a brief skirmish with the aliens, but is saved by a group of soldiers. I don’t really get Aki’s plan here though since she seemed surprised by the aliens and was also not prepared for a fight. She wouldn’t have lasted long without the soldiers so the mission would have been a waste. Unfortunately, the scene is rather dark and the camera keeps shifting so we don’t get a proper look at the fight, but it is a very atmospheric way to start the film. It’s very tense and feels like something out of a Resident Evil film. Unfortunately, things slow down from here.

We don’t really get another fight scene until the very end of the film. The next large chunk of screen time is on Aki and Sid discussing Gaia, the fate of humanity, the aliens, and we also get some romantic tension between Aki and Gray. That goes on and on and on for quite a long while with the side characters also getting some development. At the very end of the film, Hein unveils his big plan to invite the aliens into the base to scare the authorities and make them give him authorization to shoot the cannon. The aliens come in and quickly overwhelm everyone for a while until the Gaia are assembled. That gave us another action scene, but not really a fight scene. It’s mostly just everyone running from the aliens.

That made the first bit of the film a little misleading since it had a lot of action and was gearing us up for something epic. I also think that the rest of the film was a bit of a missed opportunity since the heroes were safe and peaceful inside of their base the whole time. That kind of destroys the tension since we know that there is no way for the aliens to get in. We do get a big plot twist about the aliens and we learn why these spirits are intangible. It’s actually a little self explanatory and you can put the pieces in place yourself. Think about it…why would these Aliens be spirits? How do people typically turn to spirits in these kinds of things? Just think about it and it should come to you. The twist wasn’t bad in itself, but there wasn’t much of a point behind it. Nothing ever came out of this revelation and it didn’t change the final objective.

As the main character Aki is fairly good. I always like the “Take charge” characters so breaking the rules to go and save the day was cool. However, not being prepared wasn’t really excusable. Aki’s random visions were intriguing, but they kept distracting her from what was actually happening. The romance also made for another distraction. I liked what they were going for with Aki, but I feel like she definitely could have been a better character. The same can’t be said for Gray, who never shows signs of being a good character. He’s annoying from the get go and again…the romance just wasn’t handled well. He seems like the kind of guy who panics very quickly when things don’t go according to plan and he just wasn’t very useful. There wasn’t much to Gray and he was just there to be the tough army guy. That was his only character.

Sid was a nice enough guy, but a fairly generic scientist. He was pretty smart and at least he wasn’t afraid to state his opinions, but he also wasn’t bold enough to discuss Gaia with the council. It’ll be a little hard to convince the council of anything if you aren’t being straight with them. I had nothing against Sid though, he wasn’t a bad supporting character. The best character here was actually Hein. He was the main villain and he showed a lot more drive than the rest of the cast. I don’t necessarily disagree with his plan to use the cannon since the planet was already uninhabited and since I also wouldn’t believe that the planet is actually alive, I’d definitely take the shot. Naturally, he went off the deep end when he let the aliens into the city and put everyone in danger. That’s where he became the main villain, but at least he had real goals and aspirations. He didn’t strike me as a one note villain and he performed the role pretty well. It was a small cast, but that doesn’t take away from Hein’s win.

The graphics look pretty good. They’re nowhere near Advent Children and I suspect that the film was constantly very dark and vague in an effort to mask everything that was on screen, but it still looked good overall. It doesn’t compare to the average anime film, but CGI rarely does. We also didn’t get many action scenes as I mentioned so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to show off the animation either. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a soundtrack either. It’s not bad, but very forgettable and you probably won’t remember it a few days after you finish the film. It’ll just be completely gone as far as you’re concerned.

While this may not sound like a very positive review, it was still a good film. It was just riddled with missed opportunities and a lot of moments where the film could have really shone. I mean really…how hard would it have been to have included some more action scenes? Having some visible action moments would have been great and since they put a lot of budget into the film, I like to think that it could have handled some day time fights. I think the film may have been trying to look a little too realistic which ended up hurting it a bit, but that doesn’t really make up for the pacing. Still, the actual concept was interesting and the plot was good. Action or not, you shouldn’t get bored while watching the film, but it does mean that it has low replay value.

Overall, You should check this out if you’re a sci-fi fan and like a good apocalyptic future kind of film. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, don’t watch this film in that mindset. Treat it like a Final Fantasy product and you are bound to be very disappointed. The decision to make this a stand alone doesn’t really make any sense, but it happened and we did get Advent Children around the bend anyway so that more than made up for it. Watch this once and then you’re basically set for life. I don’t think I’ll be watching this one a third time myself. Once you’re done, just think about how cool a prequel would have been about the actual alien race instead of the spirits. That would have solved a lot of problems.

Overall 6/10

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Review

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It’s time for a retro film that is actually quite well known. I’ve certainly heard of this one over the years as it has become quite the meme. It was certainly a novel idea at the time, but unfortunately, the execution simply isn’t on point. While it’s supposed to be a very fun popcorn film that you just enjoy and laugh with…it wasn’t that fun. Whenever I talk to someone about this film, I get the classic response that the film is a blast, but I just didn’t get that vibe. Maybe I need to get used to retro humor a little more.

It has been a rough year for Nancy. Her husband finally came back to her as he wanted to get rich quick, but he still openly cheats on her. Nancy doesn’t know what to do about this since she should clearly just make him leave again, but she can’t get past her emotions. In the meantime, Harry keeps insulting her butler and bribing the cops. Harry plans to get her back into an asylum, but he’s not sure how to quickly accomplish this. His worries come to an end when Nancy claims that she saw an alien ship. Harry makes sure to insult and belittle her as much as possible while also slightly encouraging her at times to turn her emotions to jelly before breaking her mind. Nancy is at her breaking point when the alien shows up again and defeats her. Harry runs away and tries to cover this all up, but Nancy turns up the next day. She is unconscious and doesn’t know what happened. Harry is the main suspect so he quickly tries to destroy her, but this plan doesn’t work either. His only chance is to leave town, but can he outrun a 50 foot giant?

I realize that I just said pretty much the whole plot, but it’s hard not too. The whole point of this film is that Nancy turns into a 50 foot giant, but this doesn’t happen until the very end of the film. It’s not a spoiler since it is in the title and promotion so my plot summary has to make it at least that far. There’s just not much more to guess by that point. You’ll probably know the rest of the ending.

All right, lets talk about why I did not like the movie. For starters…it is not fun. I have to address this right off the bat. Nancy is in a very sad predicament and the fact that she is being completely used the whole time and does nothing about it makes the whole film rather sad and underwhelming instead of fun and up beat. Nancy realizes that Harry just wants her money and is being a terrible guy the whole time. She mentions as much, but the problem is that she suffers from quite a few mood swings, which virtually make her forget about these incidents as soon as they happen. Harry tries to sabotage her at every turn and she is not able to do anything about it. If she was a better main lead, then the film could have been more fun. If she was trying to humiliate Harry and take him down for the count, it would have been a lot more even. I would have been able to get behind that. As it is, the whole thing is simply too one sided.

Nancy doesn’t even get to have her revenge since as soon as she turns giant, the power of electricity shows up. It’s just not really a fun resolution so I just don’t see where the fun factor comes in. I suppose that the film is certainly campy, but at the same time, the main plot is seriously sad. That sort of negates the whatever humor the film was going for. Harry’s just such a bad antagonist. Since Nancy won’t fight back, it is just annoying to see him show up.

The butler was a nice character, but it’s a shame that he wasn’t able to beat Harry. I’ll give him some props for actually trying and not just backing off as soon as he showed up. Calling the cops was the right move though so it was good to see the police respond in time. Charlie was a rather suspect deputy as he got bribed by Harry for a while, but at least he stood up to him when the going got tough. Harry’s not bad, but he certainly goofs off a little too much. If I was the sheriff, I’d be looking for a replacement as soon as possible. After all, the sheriff was at the top of his game right from the start. Nancy nearly ran him over, but the guy had good reaction times.

Honey was the other villain who helped advise Harry on how to put Nancy in a bad spot. She was always ready to go the extra mile as she recommended permanent solutions to their predicament. Of course, the joke is also on Harry as the film heavily implies that she doesn’t mind cheating on him either. She’s also just in it for the money so the cycle continues and continues. In the end, they will all likely get a bad ending as a result.

The main highlight of the film is probably the fact that aliens show up. The alien in question doesn’t have the greatest design and he’s just a super large guy, but I’ll take it. Adding aliens always makes for a whole new dynamic in the film. I would have liked to have seen him do more or show up at the end to gloat, but I suppose the mystery is part of his charm. Maybe he’d show up more if the film had gotten a proper sequel. I can’t say that the premise has much potential when it comes to a modern film remaking this, but it could be good if handled right. Lets face it, Nancy would be changed quite a lot for a modern film and I think that’s a good thing. I don’t see her being quite so indecisive in a remake and Harry probably wouldn’t get the first and last laughs. It’s debatable if he got the last laugh here, but he certainly got to have a lot more fun than Nancy so it wasn’t much of a win.

Overall, The film just wasn’t that fun. I suppose you are not supposed to take the main plot all that seriously, but I personally just found it tragic which hurt everything else as a result. Watching Harry just mooch off of Nancy’s riches the whole time was terrible and she never did a thing about it. It’s the kind of plot that you would only see in an older film and it’s one that I certainly don’t miss from the modern times. Nancy didn’t even get to turn giant for very long so you’ll be waiting a while for the actual title to come into play and then the payoff is very small. This film just didn’t work for me and I certainly don’t recommend it. I’m not saying that it’s terrible, or at least not as terrible as some of the other films that I’ve reviewed lately. I would say that it is a bad one though and I’d recommend checking out Godzilla instead.

Overall 2/10

Hidden Invasion Review

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It’s time to look at a relatively old game. I believe that I got this one for Christmas last year. If so, then it’s been almost a full year but at least it is finally complete. The game is actually very short, but it was a fun experience. If the camera work had been better, then it would really have been a great game. It’s solid, but don’t spend too much on it.

You have the option of choosing the guy or the girl. I chose the guy on my play through and it starts with you fighting off some terrorists. After you gun most of them down, one of them lets you know that they are actually Freedom Fighters and they are fighting to save Earth from Insectoids. The main character doesn’t show much remorse for destroying the guy’s allies, but does quickly help fight off the aliens. Can the hero take down the Alien Queen to save the planet or will he falter? Moreover, how does this change the fact that the “Freedom Fighters” were going around messing up the city and presumably destroying a bunch of civilians? Granted, many of them may have been shape shifting aliens, but all of them? Looks like we will be getting a deeper look at good and evil than we thought!

Hidden Invasion plays out like your classic 3D shooter. You can instantly tell that it is a PS2 game based on how the graphics look. There’s something about the PS2 that was simply very distinct. The game looks like Oni or Eve of Extinction. I’ll get back to the gameplay in a moment, but I thought that the graphics were fairly good. It’s not all that detailed of course and the actual character models can be a little blocky, but it has a fun nostalgic look to it. At the very least, I can say that it was visually interesting from start to finish. It won’t win any awards, but it can hold its own.

As for the gameplay, it feels a lot like an arcade game. You can punch, kick, grab, shoot, or use your special attack. Your special attack takes some of your health away, but it causes a shockwave that deals a lot of damage to all enemies around you. It’s well worth the health when you are surrounded by aliens and low on ammo. Guns are your friends here as you are virtually defenseless without them. You can use the guns to mow down armies of aliens at a time. When you are down to hand to hand combat, you can only really deal with 2 enemies at a time. Any more and they will quickly start to overwhelm you. Strategically using grab and block will help a bit with this though.

Each level has a timer that will range from around 5 minutes to 10 minutes. You have to get to the goal or find some things before that time expires. I never had the time run out on me as it is quite generous. That’s considering the fact that my TV has a tough time with the darker levels so it should be even easier for whoever is reading this. You won’t have a problem. Each chapter has a few mini levels and there are 7 chapters in the game. You can probably complete the whole thing in around 3-4 hours, possibly less if you really know what you’re doing.

One thing that helps to make the game very manageable when it comes to difficulty is the fact that you instantly re spawn where you died as long as you have more lives and you start with a free super attack. Maybe a boss will beat you once or twice, but 4 times? You’d really have to be missing all of your shots and punches for that to happen. The key to every boss fight is to completely ignore the minions. They are endless so it is pointless to waste your bullets and energy on them. Just keep on punching the bosses and you’ll be okay.

The final boss is the only exception. You still ignore the minions, but you can’t punch or shoot your way out of this one. The only way to beat her is to throw grenades. The funny thing about this is that it is literally the same final boss as the Anubis game that I recently played. The only difference is that the controls are actually good this time around. She can KO you in one shot with her fire breath which I find a little cheesy, but your grenades have a long range so you technically never have to get near her. Play the long game and you’ll be fine.

I mentioned the camera angles before and trust me, they are as bad as you can imagine. You can’t alter the camera at will so you just have to roll with the turns whenever you make a turn. It can make it a little difficult to aim properly with the gun so just shoot wildly and hope that you hit something. It’s not quite as bad as Batman Dark Tomorrow, but it can get a little grating at times. It forces you to fight a little more than you’d like. My only other gripe is that fact though. The minions are infinite on all levels and if they are around, you have to beat them before pressing on. This means that you have to fun very quickly once you beat a group since you will have about 10-15 seconds before the next wave shows up. If you get lost at all and have to circle back, prepare for a lot of fights.

There’s not much of a soundtrack to be found here. You’ll likely forget all of the tunes as soon as you turn the game off. Not to worry, what it lacks in audio, Hidden Invasion makes up for in cutscenes. The story was fun to follow and this is due in part to the fact that actual cutscenes were used. While PS2 is certainly capable of having cutscenes as many games have shown, I don’t always expect them so it was fun to see.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of replay value to be found here. Once you have completed the game, the only thing you can do is beat it again. There is no post game content to keep you hooked and I think that’s a bit of a missed opportunity if you ask me. It’s still good for the initial play through of course, but this helps to keep it from being known as a great game.

Overall, Hidden Invasion is a fun stand alone game. It does a good job of depicting just how serious the alien invasion is and the gameplay was a lot of fun. It’s the kind of Arcade Game that’s easy to plug and play. The controls aren’t quite as simple as some other Arcade titles so you’ll still want to look at the booklet at least once, but it is smooth sailing from there. When the aliens start rushing at you, you’ll want to take your blaster out and exterminate them all. It makes you feel like you’re in a real alien movie. The Alien Queen had a cool design as well and made for a good end boss. If you haven’t bought the game, then I recommend taking the plunge. It’s the only way to know whether or not you are cut out to be an alien hunter!

Overall 7/10

Midnight Special Review

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I remember seeing the trailer to this in theaters and not being too impressed. The concept of a kid with super powers can be done well and has been in the past. Just look at Superman. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t go all that far with the concept. If you were hoping for a thriller with the heroes trying to escape the aliens and ducking the government….well that’s not going to happen. It’s mostly just the main characters trying to get from point A to point B and not much besides that. It ended up being a bit of a boring thriller, which is never a good thing.

The film starts out with a news report that a boy has been kidnapped. We then see the main character Roy and his son Alton. The government is after Alton because he has super vision and it seems like he can intercept radio broadcasts. This is a security risk and something big is happening in 5 days (around that much time anyway) so they have to catch him ASAP. This won’t be easy though since Roy has a gun and he’s travelling with another guy named Lucas. The government may be after him, but what can they do? Not much it seems as the government looks incredibly bad the whole time. Let’s hope that the big event doesn’t spell their doom!

So what is the main problem with this film? Well, I’d say that it is the film being rather boring which is the problem. It really drags on and on and on as the characters just sit around and talk. Even as the government starts to learn about the kid, it’s not as interesting and sensational as you would hope. This is due in part to the fact that the kid’s abilities aren’t all that impressive. He can shoot blue lights out of his eyes, which is all right I suppose, but his other abilities wouldn’t even seem that odd. If he hadn’t been tapping into the government frequencies, they likely would not have even known about it.

It’s also tough for me to stay engaged in a film where a kid is one of the main characters. I dunno, they just can’t act well enough or in this kid’s case, Alton doesn’t really act like a kid should. It’s partially due to the twist of course, but he tries to sound wise beyond his years at some points. It doesn’t work since he is a normal kid at other times. He needs to pick one side and then just stick to it for a while. I didn’t care for the two adults either though. Roy panics and yells a lot. I actually figured that the other guy was the Dad for a while before they mentioned that it was Roy. I dunno, I just never got that vibe from him so it was pretty surprising. I guess Roy had no reason to be happy so it makes sense that he was downcast the whole time, but he just wasn’t likable.

As for Leon, he seemed a lot more reasonable the whole time. The fights between him and Roy did get real old real fast though as they seemed to always fight about the same exact things. It also doesn’t help that he destroyed an innocent cop who was just trying to do his job. When you consider what the actual goal was, then it’s even worse. The journey didn’t seem to matter all that much by the end as nothing was really accomplished as a result of the journey. The only difference is that we don’t have a cop anymore and the government chase is over.

One of the few supporting characters is a guy named Paul. He’s from the NSA and is doing some snooping into this case. Unfortunately, he’s in over his head with this and as he seems to be puzzled about why he is even here, Paul decides to just help Alton out. This leads to a large amount of plot hax as the kid and him slip past a few dozen armed guards at a heavily protected government installation. How did they escape? The film couldn’t be bothered to explain so we’re led to believe that shutting the lights off was enough to scare the guards and get them to scatter as Alton and Paul escape. Great….I’m not buying it though. At least the government wasn’t completely evil this time. They were fairly reasonable with how they handled the kid. Getting two random cult gunners to come and secure him though? A little iffy, but maybe they did it of their own volition. We don’t know for sure.

Since the film was a bit of a snorefest, there was one thing that could have easily saved the movie. A cool alien attack at the end. Imagine the hype if aliens had suddenly rained down on the cities and started firing at everyone. Not only would it have immediately forced the film to switch genres, but the whole situation would have gotten 20x more exciting in a single instant. That would have definitely been a blast if you ask me. After all, this film’s premise heavily implies aliens from the Get Go. A classic “He’s warning us that they’re coming!” would have been a nice thing for the film to build around instead of just focusing on the journey.

Overall, Midnight Special is easily one of the most boring films that I have ever seen, but it technically doesn’t do a whole lot of things wrong. It’s boring, but not inappropriate and I’ll always take the former. I suppose that’s enough to keep from giving it a negative score this time around. I still wouldn’t really recommend it as you’re better off watching the recent Star Trek Beyond film, but if you want to see a alien esque film without the aliens/action…then this could be your cup of tea. Just prepare for a very long car ride with lots of plot hax moments sprinkled in for good measure.

Overall 5/10

Star Trek Beyond Review

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The trilogy of Star Trek films ends with this installment. Does it go out with a bang? Not exactly, but the film doesn’t end on a whimper either. Rather than feeling like the climactic finish, this film decides to take the unique approach of being “just another day in the office” for the Star Trek cast. It succeeds in acting like an extended Star Trek episode which is a good thing in some areas. We finally get to see more interaction between the crew and the banter between “Bones” and Spock is something that the films had been lacking. However, the fun dialogue and adventure on the planet does come at the expense of stakes. Sure, the crew is in danger and technically the threat is real, but Beyond never feels quite as intense as Into Darkness. It’s a good film and Beyond is content to stay in that realm.

As you may remember from the ending of Star Trek Into Darkness, the crew has been tasked with a 5 year expedition into deep space. Naturally, this could be a little dicey for the rest of the Federation since the Enterprise is their greatest ship and the universe could probably use Kirk and the others if a firefight starts. Ah well, they’ll manage I suppose. 3 years have passed and Kirk’s group has to dock on a planet to grab some supplies. After doing so, they receive word that a ship is stranded past a cluster of asteroids. The crew walks into this trap and the ship is torn apart as all of the members are left to fend for themselves on this planet. Can they escape this ruthless alien race or is this the end for the crew?

One thing I feel that I have to point out is that the Federation feels doomed if they were to ever encounter a competent alien race. The Enterprise is apparently their best ship and it is extremely weak. For starters, while its design is legendary and iconic, it is not suited for combat in the slightest. There are weak points everywhere and it is not very agile. The villains in this film exploit this quite easily. It doesn’t bode well for the smaller ships in this alliance. In the entire trilogy, I don’t believe that we have gotten to see Kirk’s ship win a single round. Maybe in the first film as it has been a while, but I don’t recall that occurring. They definitely need a new ship.

I’d also like to point out that the plot does seem a little iffy when you take a close look at it. I’m keeping this review spoiler free, but the villains are not in a position to obtain a whole lot of resources. Even if they got off of their planet and toured the universe for a while, I don’t see how they could get such advanced weaponry. It’s one thing to see their ships take the Enterprise down after a quick fight, but it’s extremely one sided and apparently these mini ships can take down an entire planet in the blink of an eye as well. I feel this was definitely exaggerated a little too much. There wasn’t a whole lot of plot hax luckily due to the weakness working well, but I think the ships should have been nerfed a little.

As one would expect from a Star Trek film, the special effects were very well done. The space fights look great and the environments are also very good. That being said, I was super glad to see the city return at the end. Everything feels fairly glossy and futuristic as opposed to being super realistic, which is a positive for me. The alien world could have felt very Tarzanish, but instead it feels like a film version of the location, which is a definite improvement for me. The soundtrack is less impressive, but we get a throwback or two to the classic themes and one of the music themes from the first film of the trilogy returns. It definitely works well for the scene and I’m always ready for something that’s fast paced. It’s not a bad soundtrack by any means, but it does come across as a little generic.

As mentioned earlier, one of the strengths in this film is the banter. As a whole the writing was fairly good as well. Some language as I’ve come to expect, but not all that much and nothing super drastic. For the most part, if Kirk, Bones, or Spock is present in a scene it’s going to end up being a good one. It is good to see the team actually do some exploring for a change and we finally get to see more TV show related items. The team has their communicators out, they use the phasers a lot and we even have the Tricorder that Bones uses.

This is probably the first time that I can ever say this, but Captain Kirk was actually portrayed as a really good character. In the second film he was greatly improved from the first, but still had a pair of scenes to remind you that he was not going to rank too highly anytime soon. There is nothing like that here. He is still having some doubt issues, but they don’t play a huge role here and I do agree with him to an extent. A 5 year cruise in the middle of nowhere seems completely pointless and they should be doing something constructive instead. Unfortunately, Kirk is only human so he doesn’t do too well in the fight scenes, but he still tries his best. He actually comes up with plans and makes saving his comrades top priority from start to finish. He was definitely surprisingly good in this film.

Meanwhile, Spock is a fairly good deputy as well. One thing that definitely does get old is the fact that Spock is supposed to be the emotionless character, but he breaks character constantly. I think the classic show did a better job of only having him break character once in a blue moon. He still does look good for the most part though. I will be glad to have his romance drama with Uhura done with since the back and forth throughout the entire trilogy got old really fast. Considering that they are all stuck on the ship for such a long time, the constant separating and coming back together would make things awkward. On that note, it is completely Spock’s fault this time. It was Uhura’s in the second film, but Spock basically gave her no real choice in this one due to his making some fairly bad decisions. He gets one fight in this film, but is unable to join the fray for most of the film so that’s too bad.

Bones is the stand out character this time and is easily the best one here. His small role in the first two films may be part of the reason why the films never had a whole lot of witty banter up until now. Granted, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for it, which is one of the reasons why having more of an everyday adventure is a good idea once in a while. When the big events happen, it’s typically one fight after the other so there’s no time for dialogue. If you think about any great TV Show or film, you’ll remember that dialogue can be important as well. Just look at Yugioh, how much fun would the duels be without the constant trash talking and witty puns? It would certainly lose some of its depth without that element. Hopefully Bones gets a large role in the next film as well.

The main heroine of this title is Jaylah. Debatably Uhura’s role is almost as large, but Jaylah was made up for this film (As far as I’m aware) so she was more integral to the plot while Uhura spent most of her time trying to reason with the main villain. Jaylah’s a good warrior and she does a better job of being the hardened female veteran than most of the iconic ones. The lady from Alien, the warrior from the Hobbit, Gamora, Jaylah’s a better character than all of those if you ask me. Perhaps it’s because the film doesn’t really go into her tragic past all that much. It could also be due to the fact that the film doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to overhype her or having the characters all make statements to support this. Truly cool characters only need actions to back them up and holding her own against one of the main villains is a good way to accomplish this.

On that note, did anyone else feel like the hand to hand fight scenes had too much shaky cam and cutaways? Some of the fights were super chaotic as a result and hard to follow. The action scenes were still solid though and I would have liked to have seen more of them, but the camera work could have been better. Back to the characters, Scotty has a fairly large role here, but with Bones back in the center stage, Scotty didn’t seem as charismatic in comparison. I also don’t really care for his sidekick. It’s not at the point where he is a unlikable character yet, but I think reducing his role for the next film could be a good thing. Chekov has probably surpassed him for me although I suppose he may not return for the next film or he’ll be recast. Sulu’s role here is also a little larger than last time, but it’s mainly just used for real life politics. To the point where we got a whole press release statement about it. As a result, he doesn’t really contribute to the story at all. Seriously, he’s present in many scenes, but it’s always another character who actually performs the action. His only big moment would be letting the ship fall and then signalling someone else to activate the boosters. With the politics out of the equation, the next film should hopefully give him more to do. He’s one of the team’s best fighters so giving him a close quarters fight scene would be a good start. (I was actually expecting that. Overall, the film had less fight scenes than I would have liked)

As for the main villain, he’s quite possibly the worst one yet. I didn’t care for the villain in the first film either though so it’s a tough call. I liked the minions though as they looked like the foot soldiers out of Halo or something super sci-fi like that. It was a good armor, even if the actual aliens were incredibly weak. Uhura takes down a few of them pretty easily and most of the others prove to be human level as well. The main villain’s deputy can fight, but doesn’t have much character beyond that. The main villain goes for sympathy and is the classic delusional fellow who believes in the ideals of the past. Needless to say, this didn’t help his cause. I do appreciate the fact that his final moment wasn’t him going for the power of friendship or something like that. I thought this angle may have been taken and while it’s usually great to see a villain redeem him/herself…it would have been extremely unrealistic in this case.

If there’s any real issue with most of the cast here, it’s that they don’t care all that much about the supporting characters. Like always, the red shirts die by the dozens/hundreds. Everyone’s still fairly chipper by the end though and I suppose you must be good at getting over things to be in this position, but it does make you feel bad for all of the new recruits. It’s like being the best friend in a horror movie, you always know that the character’s days are numbered.

Now for the big question….did Star Trek Beyond manage to defeat the latest Star Wars film? I have to say that it did. As it stands now, Star Trek’s current trilogy has been handily defeating Star Wars no matter which trilogy you pit against it. While Star Wars may easily be the better franchise due to the superior video games, concept, and characters, Star Trek definitely has the monopoly on the films. If the rest of the upcoming titles for Star Trek hold onto this solid level of quality, the franchise really could make a nice rebound and become more of a well known product like the good ole days.

Overall, Star Trek Beyond does a good job of checking the right boxes while avoiding the mis-steps that plague many films. It was good to see that the critics got this one right. It’s a well written film that doesn’t go for any crude humor or inappropriate jokes like other titles. Captain Kirk was portrayed very well and the supporting cast did a good job of supporting the film. The fight scenes were handled very well and the movie never dragged on. There was a good deal of plot hax and I don’t really follow the logic of how this villain amassed such a powerful amount of resources to deal with the Federation, but no film can be perfect on that regard. I still wouldn’t call this film great as it would either need to be a little more exciting or be extremely funny to get that extra star. As it stands, this is a solid “lost episode” for fans of the original Star Trek. As an added bonus, Captain Kirk even sniffs out a trap for once! I’m also liking the new Trek costumes. The classic yellow is good, but the blue navy-esque uniform looks really sharp as well. I’m inclined to say that the next film will win as it’ll probably be more of a big event film like the last two, but at the same time it needs to be careful not to lose the fun factor that this one acquired.

Overall 7/10