Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Goosebumps Review


I definitely had a good time reading these books back in the day. The series was a fun little horror title with a good amount of twists and turns. The series peaked with the 12 book crossover event where various villains and leads met up and ultimately ended up fighting it out. The movie brings together a lot of the most iconic villains together and ends up being a solid experience.

We start off by seeing Zach and his Mom heading to a new house. Zach isn’t particularly happy about this but perks up when he meets their next door neighbor. Hannah tells Zach that the only fun thing to do around here is sneak into the abandoned amusement park at night and climb the Ferris Wheel. Ah well, he’ll make it work. Unfortunately her father isn’t quite as welcoming and threatens Zach not to go near her. Zach doesn’t really want to obey this and when he accidentally frees the most powerful Goosebump monsters it forces a most reluctant team up. Zach and Stine put aside their differences to save the town, but can they really defeat the powerful Slappy?

The film is at its best when the monsters are running around causing havoc. The Garden Gnomes do a pretty good job of getting the danger levels up right away. Admittedly I can’t take them all that seriously compared to the bigger monsters but they do have the numbers advantage which is always important. They can also regenerate in this film which is extremely handy and was unexpected. Then of course you have Slappy who is the best villain of the bunch. He is possibly a little too powerful here though. He has the ability to teleport and can also teleport objects that he is not in contact with. Then Slappy can create bright flashes of light which stun his opponents for a second. As you can imagine there isn’t really a way that he can lose here. He probably could have ended the main characters within a few minutes of first appearing. Still, the guy likes to put on a good show and is pretty theatrical about the situation.

The least impressive monsters were probably the Gel monster and the Yeti. The Gel one can’t even talk after all and the Yeti isn’t all that fierce. Some monsters/enemies that looked cool but didn’t get to do much were the aliens and the Kaiju. There are a lot of Goosebump enemies though so it’s hard to grab them all. I’m a little surprised we didn’t see the camera though, that’s still one of the best books.

Zach is a reasonable main character. As far as leads moving to a new house go, he actually takes it fairly well. The whole romance plot happens really quickly though. In context they’ve only known each other for around 2-3 days so that’s not much at all. There’s not much else to say against Zach though. He seems like a nice enough kid and one of his first instincts was to call the cops which is good. The guy is pro-active which is important in a main character. He is someone you can count on.

Then you have the friend who is definitely the annoying character of the group. He’s out of his depth from the start and constantly tries to run away. He also gets a very quick romance plot with one of those endings that probably will make you cringe. It feels a little too easy there and it may have been slightly better if the friend had any good scenes before trying to bite a monster. Otherwise you just can’t take this guy seriously.

The heroine is pretty reasonable here. Hannah probably could have saved them all some time earlier on though by either sending Zach a signal or realizing that the heroes may head for the books. I suppose Stine told her to hide while he talked to the cops and from there on maybe she actually obeyed his orders to keep to herself. I suppose Stine had to keep her hidden so the cops wouldn’t find out one of the twists but that definitely ended up making the situation pretty complicated for all of them. Stine isn’t nearly as solid as Hannah or Zach. He’s definitely more on the selfish side and you can’t really call him heroic. He’ll do what’s best for him and that’s it. The guy probably should have burned the books earlier to be honest.

There aren’t many supporting characters here, but I did like the cops. You’ve got the over eager newbie and the experienced guy who has seen it all. They may not be the most competent cops, but at least they mean well. You’ll probably be wishing they could have put up a better fight against the aliens, but in their defense it is a one hit KO scenario. If you don’t get the first hit then that’s game over.

Goosebumps is a fun film at its core though. It’s got a nice set of monsters to work with and the effects are pretty good. There is a proper sense of danger here as well. I’d say that the film’s main two weak points are the romance and some crude humor. The latter doesn’t happen much, possibly just a scene or two. It’s still pretty gross though. As for the romance, I’d say that both the main romance and the quick one with the friend don’t work well. You could also throw in Stine’s little thing at the very end. None of them feel natural and they’re all just forced in to have some romance thrown in. It really feels like the movie is just ticking a box with this.

I gotta give the movie some props for the ending as well. The ending is really 2 fold here. The first half is expected, but also narrative. If Stine didn’t make one last book it would have made absolutely no sense and the fact that Zach didn’t even think about this does reflect poorly on his character. If this was not a part of the ending I dare say that it could have cost the film a star. Then you’ve got the twist ending which is common for a horror film, but I admit that I wasn’t really sure Goosebumps would do it. Well, the film does add the twist here and I was really glad they did. It may not be a big thing, but personally it just rounds out the experience pretty well.

Overall, Goosebumps is a solid movie and one that is definitely worth seeing. It’s pretty nostalgic to see the monsters return for some action. It’s a nice adaption and it’ll be tough for the sequel to match this one. Not saying it isn’t possible of course, but it’ll need to be firing off on all cylinders to pull it off. If you are on the fence on watching this one or not I would say to just take the plunge. I believe you’ll be glad you did and you may even be surprised at how tough some of these monsters are.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Nancy Drew… Detective Review


It’s time to look at a really old Nancy Drew film. She’s definitely solved a lot of mysteries in the books and has gotten quite a few movies in her day as well. I saw the mid 2000s one a while back which was pretty fun. This one also makes for an engaging watch although I admit that Nancy herself does not look very good here. She tends to panic and not look at the big picture as much as you’d expect. It’s a pretty old film though so it’s not like anyone here is a super genius. Nancy and Ted mostly just bicker a lot as they try to foil the schemes.

The main plot starts with an old lady deciding to donate some money to Nancy’s school. The girls are excited because now they’ll finally be able to get that swimming pool they’ve always wanted. Unfortunately for them it doesn’t appear that it’ll be quite as easy as all that. Ms. Eldridge vanishes the next day before she can give the money and the students show their true colors as they believe the lady never meant her words. Nancy chooses to believe that it wasn’t all a lie though and believes that she has been kidnapped. Nancy is determined to solve the case, but it’ll be difficult as she’ll need to get past the cops and her father to accomplish this mission. Fortunately she has her friend Ted for backup.

This seems to be Nancy’s first big mission as nobody in the town seems to think of her as a detective, but it’s also possible that she just never gets the credit for it. Captain Tweedy certainly wouldn’t since he likes to take the credit for everything. He’s a pretty good police captain though as he does try his best. The guy may be a bit out of his league, but at the same time he did travel a great distance to help the heroes when Nancy thought she had corners the heroes. He just doesn’t like being wrong and takes it as an opportunity to humiliate anyone who is around.

Back to Nancy though, she is determined which is a good thing. No matter how many people tell her to give up she refuses to do so. Instead she continues to search for the truth. The downside to this is that her inexperience often leads everyone else into danger. One such moment is when she goes to ask questions from a witness and then leaves him with no protection. The guy is promptly beaten up in the next scene once she has left. She also doesn’t look great at the end where she has to close her eyes while shooting and panics quite a bit. Nancy even faints which is not something you’d expect from a detective. Long story short, she’s a nice enough protagonist, but one who has a long ways to go in order to be the next Sherlock Holmes.

Her friend Ted does his best to help out, but this does result in him taking a lot of shots as well. There is one scene where everyone proceeds to drop things on his foot and even he drops a wrench on himself. He’s not the smartest guy in the area as he stops the car when the villains tell him to. Sure, they had a gun, but if he had gunned it then he would have been long gone. It’s always safest to make a break for it instead of heading back to villain HQ. Ted also fumbles the ball when he forgets to look at the bird because his neck was hurting. It’s not that tiring to be looking up for a few hours the way he was. At least he came through when he tackled the villains though. He ends up putting a lot of the work in this case as well. You could say that Nancy comes up with the plans and he executes them.

Nancy’s father could learn a thing or two as he spends most of the film getting manipulated by everyone else. For starters, he doesn’t really seem to care that someone’s been kidnapped. It’s just not his problem and that’s the justification he has for most of the film. He turns a blind eye to what’s going on so then he will be able to get away safely. It’s not exactly a heroic attitude to have and he gets in Nancy’s way almost as much as the villains do which is really saying something. At one point he sends a telegram that sounds so defeated you’ll be sure the villains sent it. Well, it turns out that he is the one who sent it after all which is just sad. He’s tricked pretty easily as well. Basically, this isn’t the guy you want as your local detective.

The writing is pretty strong as expected. It allows the film to balance out the comedy and suspense pretty well. It’s also got a good cast of characters even if they can all be a bit mean at times. Nancy uses Ted quite a bit, but then on the other hand he’s always trampling on her flower bed. That’s pretty unreasonable of him to be honest. The villains are pretty reasonable except for one of them who chickens out pretty suddenly by the end. No point in going this far if you’re going to suddenly doubt the cause. I think they were a little too idealistic here as they wanted to try and win without hurting anybody but that was never going to happen and I think the boss of the crew knew it from the start. Maybe they all did except for one guy.

Overall, This is a good start to the Nancy Drew stories. It’s a bit of a stretch that the cops didn’t notice the extra pigeons in the guy’s house, but I guess in their defense they just wanted to go home by that point. The film’s pretty good both when it’s trying to solve a mystery or just the banter with Nancy and Ted. You’ll probably feel bad for Ted by the end since his vacation definitely got very sidetracked by the end. He’s definitely a good friend though who sticks by Nancy even when things are being crazy. If you like a good low key mystery then this is a nice one to check out. The stakes are rarely high, but there’s still that element of danger which always lurks around the corner. The heroes are held at gunpoint on multiple occasions after all.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time Review


It’s time to look at a recent book adaption. Unfortunately the book wasn’t good so an adaption was ultimately doomed to not be very good either. It’s a real shame since there are better books that we still need proper adaptions of like Daniel X. The film’s plot is just really weak, the characters aren’t likable or enjoyable, and the climax has a lot of plot hax. Yes, you have made it to the final Wrinkle in Time movie!

The plot starts off with a little girl named Meg getting in another fight. Her Mom is worried since this has been happening a lot lately. Meg’s father vanished a while back and he probably isn’t coming back so now at school everyone messes with Meg about it. That’s when an alien breaks into the house and tells Meg that they can find her father. Meg’s brother Charles is cool with this and her friend Calvin is game as well. The alien transports them to another world and now they have to use the powers of friendship and hope to break reality and free her father. Can they do this?

Keep in mind that the plot isn’t really the focus of the film. You can argue that it’s all just an abstract roundabout way of trying to get Meg to come to terms with her feelings. A big chunk of the film is about getting Meg to accept the unexplainable and to believe in the impossible like her father coming back. It’s an interesting moral since usually it’s more about letting go. Honestly this should have focused on the mother more as she knew about the dad’s experiments about teleportation and never did a thing to try and find him. Shouldn’t she have suspected the most what had really happened as opposed to just buying into his disappearance?

Meanwhile the 3 aliens are extremely annoying and don’t contribute anything interesting to the film. For starters, they don’t know how to interact with humans which gets really grating right from the start. They constantly insult Meg (Okay, just the main one throws the insults, but the others express their doubts a lot) just like the bullies in the real world. Are these really the cosmic beings that we are supposed to root for? They don’t get any good scenes and throw Meg into this world with no context so of course she is having some trouble. They should be more concerned with how Charles is taking everything in stride.

Charles was the worst character in the book and that hasn’t changed here. The film did a good job of reducing his scenes quite a bit which was great but at the end of the day nothing can really save his unfortunate ending. He’s very weak willed so the darkness can control him quite easily. It makes for a visually interesting climax where he gains telekinesis and super abilities but that makes him too strong. Meg is just a kid so keep that in mind and he has super powers. She literally has no chance of victory but even after getting thrown around the room multiple times to the point where she should have died, Charles is convinced to turn good again through the power of friendship. I think the climax should have been handled way differently. As it is Charles was less shady than in the book but either way the betrayal was a bit much.

Then we have Calvin who is just annoying the whole time. He’s pretty much here just to try and add in a bit of romance. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work very well. He adds absolutely nothing to the film and just seems unrealistic. He helps her self esteem a lot and seems like a nice kid, but of course he needs to have a sob story as well. Why can’t he just be a nice guy who isn’t trying to compensate for something? The romance doesn’t get much of a focus fortunately but you do have to question why it was around in the first place.

The cast is rather small as the film is focusing on the visuals and not developing everyone. Unfortunately that means that every bad character really hurts the film and that is the case here. Lets make sure we have the record straight. We have Calvin who is a filler character. He’s not terrible, but he isn’t good. Then we have Charles who is a terrible character. The 3 Aliens are also super annoying. Meg isn’t very likable either as she is simply too mopey and constantly doubting herself. By the end of the film she finally gains confidence but it’s too late. We have the school personnel who are bad at their job like expected and then the bullies are added in as fluff. The Father is a poor character as well if you ask me. Maybe he shouldn’t be blamed for being powerless to escape his prison, but the guy just came across as really unprepared and had a tendency to give up easily.

As you can see this film just really didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, its biggest offense for the most part is simply that it was very boring. It’s not as if it made huge mistakes that would make me give it a terrible score like a 2. It won’t be positive either though since I just can’t recommend a boring film either. The film just has no life in it or any real imagination either. It just feels soul less and never gets you engaged. It’s like a fantasy film without any good lore behind it.

Overall, A Wrinkle In Time gets a hard pass from me. If you want to watch something that makes you feel like you’re watching a real film then check out something like Narnia instead. You will leave that film feeling a lot more fulfilled and it’ll probably age better as well. Perhaps a sequel to this film would work better now that the introductions are out of the way but it would still need a plot that is actually interesting to back it up so that may be a little too much for this series to handle as well. Still, with a sequel there is always hope I suppose.

Overall 4/10