7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Earth Defense Force Review


It’s time to look at another SNES game from back in the day. I know about the newer installments in the series, but didn’t realize that the SNES already had one. It’s cool that the series dates back all this way. The game does a good job of feeling like a nice sci-fi adventure. The story may be a little light even for SNES standards as there are no cutscenes, but it’s a solid/quick game to check out. The weapon customization also adds an extra layer of depth that most of these old shooters did not have.

The gameplay is that of a 2D side scroller. It’s an auto moving game so the screen is always going forward but you can still stay near the back of the screen or fly up close to test your luck with the various attacks going your way. You have a primary weapon which you can shoot and then you have mini drones of sorts that you can summon around you or use to focus your attacks. With them by your side your ship becomes even more of a threat although it can be hard to know which way to use it. Towards the end of the game I went with the focused attack and just trusted my primary weapon to get the job done.

As for your weapon, you’ve got around 8-10 options. There’s the classic machine gun which is still one of the best weapons you can have. It shoots very quickly and covers a wide range. Then you’ve got the bombs which look like lasers but when you hit an enemy they explode. It looks really cool even if I felt like it had less of an impact. There’s the laser which basically shoots out continuously and wracks up the damage. There were other weapons but since this game only has 6 levels I was careful not to switch it up much towards the end. I just went with the laser and figured that would be enough to help get me out of the jams.

This probably goes without saying but the game is extremely difficult. Without the added benefit of the SNES access points and rewind feature it is unlikely that I would have been able to complete the game. Right from level 1 you’ll be faced with a barrage of powerful attacks. They never let up even for a moment and 3 hits is enough to finish you off. Even when you think you dodged an attack sometimes you will find that it actually did connect. One level took me dozens and dozens of tries because of how many enemies were on the screen. The bosses are actually the easiest part since it is just one enemy attacking so you can focus more. The final boss is an exception to this as he spawns a bunch of little minions to help him out.

All of the bosses have fun designs and there is a good amount of variety here. Even not counting those guys the game spared no expense in the graphics department. The backgrounds really stand out and the game is just very vibrant. It’s ahead of its time here and it does help you appreciate the gameplay even more. The soundtrack isn’t memorable though so I suppose the game couldn’t quite win it all. The fun gameplay and solid graphics still ensure that this is a winner though.

The game is fairly short, but that is really to be expected here. There are 6 levels so you can probably take this game down in under an hour. It would be even shorter if you could beat every level in one shot but that is extremely unlikely. This game is no cakewalk and will require a lot of concentration to get through. Once you complete the game you will definitely get a sense of pride and accomplishment. That’s when you know that the game was indeed a winner.

Overall, Earth Defense Force is a very old school spaceship fighter. It’s like Galaga, but in 2D. One of the areas that really makes this game stand apart from the rest is how you can switch weapons. It’s a really nice touch and I definitely liked being able to choose what weapon I wanted for a given mission. Most likely you will find a favorite and just stick to it by the end, but I’m sure there will be some who will have fun switching the weapon based on the level they will be challenging. If you haven’t played this game yet then I definitely recommend doing so. The SNES Online has been great for checking out a bunch of games like this one.

Overall 7/10

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

Godzilla (1954) Review


It’s time to take a look at the original Godzilla film. I saw this one a very long time ago, but it’s time to dive back in. This time I saw it subbed and while the dub is always the definitive version for me, it’s interesting to see the original version. Godzilla is a solid film for sure and it’s for good reason that the series got so popular. You can’t really have a definitive experience without a second monster for him to fight so this is still one of the weakest films in the series, but a good launching point nevertheless. After all, this works to introduce the character.

The film starts off with a few boats burning up at sea. No matter how many the government sends they all end up meeting the same fate. Eventually it turns out that this is due to a new monster known as Godzilla. He may very well be the most fearsome monster of all time and the government is unsure what to do against him. All conventional weaponry has failed and the only chance for success may lie with Dr. Serizawa. He has a secret weapon which can seal the victory, but has decided to never use it. His only mistake was in confiding in someone else. Placing trust like that is always an incredible risk if you really don’t want something to get out. The problem for him is that deep down he wanted someone to know about his invention so it was inevitable I suppose.

The best part of the movie is naturally Godzilla himself. His roar is definitely a lot more villainous here compared to in the later Showa films where it just sounds a little more heroic. Here he sounds like a wild beast who can snap at any second. While the effects aren’t quite at the level they would be at in later films, it’s still nice to see him smashing the buildings and laying the world to flames. He is an intimidating Kaiju and the film is a reminder that Godzilla is not the kind of monster you want to make an enemy out of. You do have to decide who you root for here of course, the humans or Godzilla. It’s tough because Godzilla doesn’t have any malice towards the humans, but he is still destroying millions. Meanwhile the humans have started the fight, but now you have to count on them to finish it in order to save everyone. I’m on team Godzilla, but I can understand why one would want to pick humanity.

There are 3 main characters. First is Ogata who is not having the best last few days. First he is unable to get the approval of Emiko’s father since they get into a heated debate about Godzilla. Then he takes a head injury and is put into an awkward spot with Serizawa. I wasn’t a big fan of his. While Emiko’s father may not have been very reasonable, Ogata handled the whole situation pretty horribly if he really wanted the guy’s approval. They don’t have to agree on the Godzilla issue, but he didn’t have to bring it up. Meanwhile we have Emiko who I also didn’t like.

Her friendship with Serizawa is exploited by everyone as she is unfortunately not someone who deals well with pressure. A reporter asks her to set up a meeting with the doctor and she does even though Serizawa didn’t want to see the guy. Then he tells her the secret of the Oxygen Destroyer and she spills it very quickly. She should have just said that she would be unable to keep the secret as that would be preferable to just telling Ogata the whole thing. Keep in mind that Godzilla already existed at this point so she should have known that eventually there would be more casualties. Emiko’s reaction to the weapon is also really overblown as she shrieks and almost faints from witnessing a glimpse of it.

Part of why she is my least favorite character here is because of these reactions. After she betrays Serizawa she is quick to ask him to forgive her for doing this but it doesn’t feel sincere since she doesn’t regret asking. Then Serizawa has to fight Ogata off when the latter tries to steal the research. Serizawa was really the only reasonable main character here and he ultimately paid the price for it. There are points to be made against him like not inventing such a terrible weapon in the first place. His only real defense seemed to be that he couldn’t help himself and naturally that isn’t the greatest defense to be used. I suppose it’s better than nothing, but that’s not great. I’d also argue that he just shouldn’t have told Emiko in the first place.

The soundtrack is definitely top notch. A lot of the themes that we hear here will be used in future Godzilla films. It’s an array of songs that have really withstood the test of time. The heroic theme, the Godzilla theme, etc. They’re true staples and especially for a film as early as the 50s this was extremely rare. Most movies in this era either didn’t have a soundtrack or it was incredibly forgettable. I’m impressed with how much detail was in these tracks.

Overall, Godzilla is definitely a pretty fun film. It’s certainly one of the original creature feature films and you can never get tired of seeing Godzilla show up. He had more screen time than I had remembered and we even did get to see some of his Atomic Breath. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend changing that. It’s got good action and pacing. While the cast of characters is pretty weak, they don’t hold the movie back. You also have the government characters and the reporters who hold on to their ideals throughout. The side characters all hold their own and everyone is fighting in what they believe are the best interests of Japan. None of them are acting selfishly so you at least have to give them some credit there.

Overall 7/10

1 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

West Side Story Review


It’s time to look at another popular musical from back in the day. This one has not aged nearly as well as Footloose and ends up being a pretty bad film. It has some interesting storylines and characters, but ultimately the movie falls apart because it is lacking in true heroes. There really isn’t anyone to root for by the end and while the film left the door open to a team up in the second half, it ultimately never happened. The ending isn’t really satisfying for any of the characters.

The movie starts by introducing us to two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. These two do not get along and have been fighting over turf for a very long time. Both groups are roughly equal in power so nothing ever changes. One day the leaders of both gangs decide to end things once and for all with a big fight. Bernardo and Riff shake on it and prepare for battle. A wrinkle to this is that Tony has fallen in love with Maria and they are both in different gangs. Maria pleads with Tony to put an end to this fight and he decides to do so, but it won’t be so easy. In trying to stop this confrontation he may just end up making it worse.

I mentioned that there aren’t any characters to really root for. This is because they tend to be corrupt or make terrible decisions, but one solid character was Riff. He’s the leader of the Jets and seemed to be a lot more capable than the others. He was ready to fight at any time and always kept his cool. If not for Tony’s meddling he definitely had the win pretty decisively. He actually looked a lot like a younger captain Kirk and fought like him as well. His long skit which poked fun at the justice system was also solid and one of the best songs in the movie. It’s a shame that he didn’t get to appear more since I also think he would have kept his gang from crossing the line with Anita later on.

There’s little reason to root for the Jets because of that scene. There’s a moment later on in the film when Anita is sent by Maria to deliver a message to Tony. She is stopped by the gang though and while it is reasonable for them to stop her from meeting with him, they also decide to attack her. It’s basically 10 vs 1 and very quickly gets into downright villain territory with how they try to degrade her. There’s just no coming back from that especially since everyone was in on it. So, that means that not a single one of the remaining Jets was a decent human being.

The film also gives you reason to root for the Sharks if anything as the dialogue implies that the Jets started the fight with them just because the Sharks are outsiders. The cops are also more on the Jets side even if they just don’t like teens in general. The deck is stacked against the Sharks. Bernardo also seemed reasonable at times even if he definitely was not when Tony showed up. At that point he wasn’t helping matters and that’s why Riff had to step in. The rest of the gang doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

We’ve got Tony who is the pacifist, but he comes across as more annoying than anything else. I never liked the trope of the character holding back his ally from fighting while allowing the villain to get a cheap shot in. If you’re going to try and stop a fight then you’ve also got to make sure you stop the other side from attacking as well. Tony’s final move to try and get himself destroyed is also not a good one. You’d expect him to at least try and avenge Maria instead.

As for Maria, she was giving Tony a lot of pretty unreasonable demands the whole time. Ultimately she is the one who is getting him into all of this trouble. Why should it be his responsibility to stop two gangs single handily? That’s just very hard to do and so she definitely takes some of the blame for the ending as well. Anita was a more selfless character if anything as she put aside her feelings to help Maria time and time again despite knowing that this was a bad idea. Her character arc is definitely one of the most tragic ones as she ends up losing almost everything with nothing to gain.

There are quite a few songs here, but they aren’t very catchy in comparison to other musicals. The “Keep it cool” song was very surreal though and was fun in an ironic way. It was cool to see the characters dancing around silently in the garage. The dancing was handled pretty well in general. The opening scene might have been a little slow with all of the clicking and silent moving, but it did ultimately lead to a fun little confrontation. The film is at its best when it tries to throw a little humor around like with the skit that I mentioned earlier.

The serious moments don’t work nearly as well. This includes the romance which ends up being more annoying than anything. One such scene is when the characters are meeting by the balcony. Both of them make a lot of noise considering that they are supposed to be doing this in total secrecy. Then you have the ending which definitely doesn’t work for me either. At the very least you would expect Maria to take a shot. Knocking out both gangs would have been very interesting.

Really, this film wasn’t very good from start to finish, but what really made it cross the line into distasteful territory was the scene of the gang attacking Anita. It’s the straw that broke the film’s back so to speak. This is just a very mean spirited film which is almost surprising after you’ve seen the first few scenes since you would expect it to be fairly happy. The tone just shifts throughout which is impressive, but ultimately it did not work in the movie’s favor this time.

Overall, I would recommend staying away from West Side Story. Not only is it a fairly bad film, but it really drags on. The run time is incredibly long and that’s mainly because the pacing is so slow. You can go through long periods of the film with absolutely nothing happening and that’s never a good sign. If you want to go watch a good musical then I recommend watching Footloose. At least that one has the iconic hero song which works well to this day.

Overall 1/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kung-Fu Heroes Review


Time to look at the next NES game on the docket. This one’s a fighting title so that definitely looked pretty interesting to me. It’s a fun enough title although certainly less polished than the last one I played. The gameplay is sound, but there are times where you’ll be sure that you dodged an attack and yet you get slammed anyway. It feels a little cheesy at that point, but the more you play the better you’ll be able to keep a wide berth between you and the enemies.

The basic plot is that the princess has been captured and you have to save her. You have to go across the many worlds level by level in order to make it to the end. There seemed to be about 24 levels give or take so that’s pretty good. The levels are short and I see that someone beat it in about 40 minutes, but I think you can reasonably expect the game to take you closer to a few hours instead. The Switch games all have the checkpoint feature as well as the rewind button so you should always be able to make it to the end of the game if you so desire. Just keep on chugging away at those levels!

It’s an overhead game and your main weapon is your punch which has a range of one square. The idea is to beat enough enemies in a level to open the gate. Once you’ve opened the gate then you can use it to reach the next level. Rinse and repeat until you’ve cleared the game. Since your range is so short you typically want to hit the enemies from the side so they don’t counter attack. If you both punch at the same time then you will most likely lose the encounter. At least that seemed to be my experience. Another attack up your arsenal is your jump which can also defeat just about any opponent. The advantage of this attack is the longer range, but if you mistime your jump or the enemy decides to do the same then you’ll lose a life. Whether you’re attacking or being attacked someone will get KO’d. All enemies only have the 1 health point as well as the character you’re playing as.

Each of the levels have a bunch of objects that can be destroyed. They house a bunch of different items including a blaster, extra lives, and points to improve your score. You can also find a key which leads you to a bonus room where you get even more points. In theory the best way to play this game is slowly as you should try to get as many extra lives as possible to be prepared for the end. The levels definitely get considerably harder as you progress so while the lives may feel unnecessary at first you will be very glad that you had them by the end of the game.

Also, definitely watch out for the bosses that show up once in a while. As far as I can tell they cannot be defeated so just try to wait them out. At least that was the case for the first boss who ran in and then quickly left. He will try to hit you with a bunch of energy blasts as he chases you around the place, but dodging isn’t particularly difficult since there are no minions while he is around. You just have to keep on turning corners and running full speed. Do that and you should definitely be safe.

The graphics look fairly good. They’re definitely quite old by this point and not as refined as some of the others, but it’s still a cheerful game where you can always tell what is happening. I do think the hurtboxes on the characters might not be properly aligned with the characters based on how I died at some points, but nothing can be 100% perfect. As it stands it was still close enough where it wasn’t too regular. As for the soundtrack, it’s fairly standard stuff. Nothing to write home about, but it works well given the title and the context of the story.

Overall, Kung-Fu Heroes is a fun game. There’s not a lot of depth or replay value to it, but it’s one of those titles that you could easily have fun with for an hour or two as you try to clear the levels. I don’t expect you will stick around for much longer than that, but since the game is free that’s really all that you need. I look forward to seeing which games Nintendo adds next month. I’m thinking we’re ready for the next console, but if they stick to NES I wonder what games they will pull off next. I’m sure there are technically still a bunch we don’t have yet so they could probably drag this out a little longer if need be.

Overall 6/10

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

Mr Smith Goes To Washington Review


It’s time to look at an old political film that shows one man’s fight against endless corruption. It can be a lost cause at times but if nobody takes a stand then the situation will never get better will it? It’s a pretty interesting movie even if the ending starts to stretch disbelief a bit. Still, the concept certainly isn’t hard to believe and sometimes things just work out this way.

The film starts off with the local mayor/governor worrying about which new senator to elect as the old one died. He gets pressure from his higher ups to bring in people who are corrupt or have skeletons in the closet so they can be blackmailed. The mayor is close to doing this until his kids guilt trip him into appointing a local ranger leader named Mr. Jeff Smith. Smith is a very down to earth guy who wants to uphold the original ideals of the US, but Mr. Taylor doesn’t like this. Taylor is the kingpin in the shadows who has been controlling the state for years. He decides to do whatever he can to stop this Mr. Smith.

I’m always up for a political film like this, especially when it’s in a court type setting. The senate meetings here are close enough. I remember hearing about how you could hold the floor indefinitely provided the circumstances were right so it was nice to see Smith use such a technique here. I’m sure there is probably a little more to it than this but it’s definitely fun to see. Smith has to talk for essentially an entire day which is pretty impressive for sure. That’s a lot of stamina.

Of course, the corruption was quite deep here so the effects weren’t as powerful as he would have liked. I can buy into Taylor blocking all of the radio channels and newspapers but where it starts to get a little fishy is when he hires a mob to go around and start beating up on the kids. That part’s definitely a little hard to believe. They ran into the kid’s car and actually knocked one to the ground. By the end even the grownups on Smith’s side are telling him to stop because too many kids are being injured.

Even if we are to assume that Taylor’s influence is so strong that all of these guys would be willing to fight kids, what about their parents or other resisters? We see in one scene a large group of adults running around with signs and such until the cops spray them, but then there should have been some adults to protect the kids as well. So while this part was dramatic I think it ends up getting a bit unrealistic by the end.

During the film, Smith’s mentor (Paine) talks to him about the rampant corruption. Paine explains that it isn’t everyone who is corrupt, just most of them. I thought this was foreshadowing for some senators agreeing with Smith by the end and the film would have ended with the Senate in full disagreement. In the end, it appears even he underestimated how corrupt the place was as everyone was involved. He’s definitely the worst character in the film but at least you do know that he’s a traitor from the start so it’s not like you were surprised at this turn of events.

While the writing is pretty solid and the film has good pacing, there is one plot that doesn’t work out well. It’s the comic relief one sided romance plot between Clarissa and a reporter. Their scenes don’t really add to the plot and the drunk bar one goes on for quite a while. I suppose it’s to show how she felt bad for Smith but you could already glean that information early on. Clarissa is a pretty reasonable character even if she does keep flipping from one side to the other. At first she thinks the situation is hopeless for Jeff so she just pretends to be on his side. Finally she does end up going to his side and to her credit she is indispensable by the end. Without her Jeff would have certainly been tricked or have lost the will to fight earlier.

Jeff’s a good character, but pretty gullible. While he ended up sticking to his core values and beliefs despite the overwhelming pressure he wouldn’t have gone far without help. If Clarissa hadn’t tipped him off he would have kept falling for that other girl’s tricks. The instant he let romance get above his duty I had to admit that this senator business may have been a little too much for him. He’s earnest, but to that end I’d figure that he would have done more reading up on what it means to be a senator. Sure, it was harder to get information back in the day but I’d like to have seen him be a bit more pro-active. These are more in-depth critiques of his character though, on the whole he was still pretty solid. It’s just that he could have been even better.

One character who stole the show quite a bit was the chairman for the senate. I like how the whole thing was basically one big joke to him. He’s a fair judge who doesn’t bend to the others. He knows his importance. Whether the right choice is made or not isn’t something he cares about so long as they follow the rules. It may not be heroic, but it is pretty enjoyable to see.

Overall, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a pretty solid film. It definitely shows how hard it is to get your point across when you’re up against corruption. Smith could have stood there all day without the senators reacting and that’s just what he did. Honestly I would have done more whistles to wake them up like he did in one scene, but I suppose he also didn’t want to be held in contempt of court or anything like that. That probably would have backfired. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out. It’s pretty original.

Overall 7/10

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

A Star is Born Review


It’s time to look at the original version of A Star is Born. It’s definitely a title that I’m sure just about everyone is familiar with thanks to all of the remakes. Does it really hold up to such an illustrious legacy though? It’s not a bad film, but the second half does ultimately end up hurting the movie. It’s an ending that isn’t particularly great and one character is pretty annoying the whole time.

The film starts off with a girl named Esther expressing her desire to be an actress. Her family almost literally laughs her out of the house so her grandmother tells her to pursue her dreams. Esther heads on the train to Hollywood and gets ready to be famous. The problem is that there are a lot of other people who want to be famous and so she has hit a dead end. She meets a guy named Danny who has some connections, but instead of a part in the picture she is relegated to maid service. Still, this works out as she is noticed by washed up actor Norman who still has a lot of influence within the company. He’s happy to help her get famous so that they can get married, but when she begins to exceed his popularity can he handle the pressure?

One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of the old school male leads is that most of them seem to be really insecure. The instant that the heroine passes them they start getting really whiny and petty. Unfortunately Norman is no exception. He crashes her party and sulks for the majority of the movie. It’s easy to forget that they’re together at times. I’d give him credit for retiring and all, but he then starts to get into fights and tarnishes her reputation. He even gets thrown into the asylum for his antics. Sure, Norman’s over the hill, but he was famous for a while so you’d think that he could at least enjoy that part. Of course, how famous he ever was is probably debatable since nobody seems to even know the poor guy.

Esther is certainly a much better character. Her only weakness is that she gets emotional very quickly as she cries if you insult her. Fortunately I’d say that showbiz went well for her and has toughened her up by the end. She is able to put up a strong front and her talent was shown to be the real deal. She didn’t just go to Hollywood, she excelled while she was there. It’s also good that her granny was around to keep her on the right track as she almost made a big mistake at the end of the film. So, Esther was solid, but I think if she was less emotional then she would have been even better.

Meanwhile we have Danny, who was an interesting character. His voice is incredibly memorable so odds are that it is the part about him that you will remember the most. I’m not sure if it was intentionally humorous or not, but it did make him fun. His first scene was a bit rough though as he starts yelling as Esther for no reason. That scene probably could have been cut out since it makes absolutely no sense. He pretty much gets written out once Norman shows up though. Norman’s pr agent makes for an intense, albeit mean spirited character. He’s good at his job and he can even fight so you can’t ask for much more than that. Meanwhile the owner of the company is a nice enough guy. He kept trying to help Norman even when the actor made that difficult.

As for the ending, while it was unexpected I can’t say that it was good. If anything it just makes Norman look a whole lot worse than he was looking already. Rather than accept the new status quo and turn his act together he figures that it’s time for desperate measures. His answer is never the proper answer to anything. It’s just a way to escape a problem, not a way to solve one. I wonder if the newer films will switch that ending. I hope they do since it will definitely help the character be a little more redeemable.

As for the writing, it’s pretty solid for the most part. When the film attempts some humor scenes they tend to work well like Norman’s beer with a touch of soda gag. The romance isn’t handled quite as well as it’s hard to take Norman seriously since it seems like he typically likes flirting with everyone. It doesn’t make him look all that genuine but I suppose we can give him the benefit of the doubt. Esther just seems a little too trusting and quick to romance as well. Given that her goal is to be the best, I feel like romance would just be a big distraction for her. Ah well. The film’s pacing is pretty solid and although the film is fairly long it never drags on which is always important.

Overall, A Star is Born is a reasonable film. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it was passable. The idea of someone walking into Hollywood and then rising to the top is a classic, but consistent premise. If executed well it makes for a nice, uplifting story. If it’s cashed in then it ends up being super cheesy and you wonder what happened to the other actors for them to all be surpassed in such a short amount of time. I’ll probably see the remakes soon and I get the feeling that they may have the edge this time, but if you haven’t seen the original it’s probably worth checking out. It is a classic after all.

Overall 5/10

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

The Breakfast Club Review

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

It’s time to look at an old classic. Just about everyone has heard of The Breakfast Club as it was a big deal back in the day. I have to say that my impression of it was a lot different from what we actually got. I thought its tone would be something similar to the teenage beach films I saw recently. A pretty light hearted comedy with dramatic characters and such as the characters eventually all became friends. Instead this story actually takes itself seriously. So much so that it ends up imploding although had I known the film’s rating I probably could have predicted that.

The film starts with a group of teenagers heading to detention. In this school that means you have to go there on a Saturday and stay all day from 7 to 3. Each of the kids presumably did something wrong to be there and the parents aren’t happy. Vernon is heading this detention session and he runs a tough ship. He tells the kids that they can’t talk to each other and have to write a 1000 word paper talking about who they are. He heads off and one of the kids (John) starts to cause a lot of trouble. The other kids are annoyed, but after a while they begin to jump in. With all of these bad seeds hanging around each other, will they find out that there is more to each of them than meets the eye?

Naturally with a plot like this you’re expecting every character to have some issues and that’s exactly what happens here. All of the characters have done something wrong or at least have negative traits and the film makes sure that none of them are even remotely likable by the end. I can’t say that I was a fan of the writing as the dialogue is pretty bad. A lot of language is constantly thrown around but the channel did a good job adding air bubbles and some dialogue inserted over the scenes. Still, that’s not a credit I can give to the writer. None of the characters are remotely likable as I mentioned earlier as well so that’s a problem. As Claire even points out they tend to have the same discussion multiple times and they sure pick on her quite a bit. None of the students are all that tough either and start to break down in tears upon reliving their history. By the end of the film they’ve all spilled their secrets and Monday is going to be very awkward.

As this is an 80’s film we do get some songs, but not as much as you might expect. The final song is certainly iconic and I suppose the others are reasonable at best, but they won’t leave much of an impression. The 80’s song used in Infinity War has more heart than the rest of these songs put together and that movie didn’t even come out in this era. All right, lets talk about the characters as there is a lot to unpack here. We’ll start with the pesky grownups.

Vernon is the teacher in charge and he doesn’t like the teenagers. In his defense they all appear to be jerks, but he doesn’t do anything to help that. He slowly starts to crack by the end to the point where he threatens and blackmails one of the kids. Then he starts looking through private files where he is caught by the custodian and blackmailed further. He’s definitely the main antagonist. Carl is a little more nuanced and at least he’s a fun character to have around. I was glad that he got the $50 from the teacher and also made him give up the lunch. It’s always good to have a character like that here to spice things up.

John is the biggest delinquent of the bunch. Unlike the others he is a repeat offender and has been to detention many times. He has a very rough home situation which has been a bad influence on him. John pays the experience forward and tends to act like a jerk to get attention. Of course his origin is pretty sad, but he’s still a terrible character in the modern scenes and goes too far with the jokes. He’s just too far gone. Then we have Claire who has some ego problems and doesn’t like being associated with the others. Her romance plot is handled terribly and unfortunately you can see it from a mile away. She is considerably better than John, but still not a good character.

Then we have Andrew who starts out pretty reasonably. He tells John to stop bullying Claire and when the guy doesn’t Andrew puts him into the ground. He starts to falter from there as we learn why he is in detention and it’s definitely a pretty bad reason. Then he succumbs to the drugs like the rest of the students and by that point he was doomed. Drugs ruined all of the characters, but even without that scene most of them would have been doomed. Brian is the smart member of the group, but as he is seen as a bit of a nerd he isn’t usually in the same social circles at the others. Everyone tends to blow up at him at some point or another even though he doesn’t typically notice it. Still, he has his own character traits that are pretty iffy like being a little too desperate to appear cool to the others. He loses his wallet pretty easily and has some dodgy stuff in there.

Finally we have Allison who loves to lie. She constantly does so and acts rather off throughout the film. She just doesn’t seem to know how to interact with the others and so she does a lot of weird stuff to stand out. Throughout the film she seems to avoid the spotlight, but does weird things to place herself in it. As one character points out, she just wants attention. Unfortunately, most of her scenes are pretty bad and her weirdness goes too far. Her romance plot is also pretty rushed.

The film gets a lot more wrong than it does right. The premise of the film is pretty interesting, but it has to be handled with care. There are so many good ways to handle it. Just have the characters not be as exaggeratedly bad and the movie would already be a lot better. I don’t think it needed to be quite as dark and dramatic as it was. Tone the film down to a PG and you’d probably be able to naturally get rid of most of its negatives.

Overall, The Breakfast Club is definitely not what I was expecting and unfortunately this is in a negative way. The film is fairly short, but it still manages to drag on at times. You just can’t go far with a bad cast and poor writing. Even if the core concept is good, that simply isn’t enough. If you want a better story about school situations then Saved By The Bell is something you’d want to check it out. As it stands, I definitely fall into the camp of those who think that this film has not aged well. You’ll want to avoid it at all costs.

Overall 2/10

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

A Matter of Life and Death Review


It’s time to look at a really old British film that hit the big time. You have to keep in mind its origin for the court scenes to make sense at the end since they bring up America quite a bit and you have to remember that the protagonists are not from there. It’s a fun film that may drag a little bit at times, but brings along with it quality writing and suspense. I’m always up for a good court case after all.

The film starts with Peter losing a dog fight against a skilled pilot and crashing to his doom. As he is incredibly high up he takes the time to make one last call to command. There he speaks with a lady named June who tells him to man up and not give in so easily. He rejects her advice and makes a big speech before he crashes. Peter wakes up the next day and realizes that the money he paid for the air cushions was well worth it since he survived. He decides to get together with June, but that’s when the advocates of death arrive. Agent 71 explains that Peter should have died and it was simply an administrative error that caused him to live. Peter sues 71 for negligence and so they decide to take this matter up with the cosmic courts. Can Peter prove that he should be allowed to live for a few more decades or will he be booking a one ticket stop to his doom?

I can’t say that I was a big fan of Peter to be honest. The guy just gave up way too easily and seems to be a glass half empty kind of fellow. He was given days to think about who to represent him in the trial and could choose from literally anyone, but he still can’t decide. He’s rather slow on the uptake and while he was confident at first, by the end he is basically begging for mercy. I don’t know what happened to this guy, but he could have handled this situation a whole lot better.

June is a good heroine even if the romance between her and Peter is incredibly rushed. You never really find it all that believable since they fell for each other before even meeting. That’s a bit of a stretch right? June is willing to make the tough calls in order to help Peter and she also decides not to lie to him at the end so that was good. Frank is the local doctor and he handled the situation pretty well. His sci-fi table that lets him see the whole town was a bit of a stretch and at first I thought he was an inside agent but it shows that he is an unparalleled genius. He did a good job defending Peter in the court.

Naturally I am on Peter’s side in this debate. Even if he only kept his life by accident he now should have the power to live it out. Correcting the mistake by destroying him wouldn’t be the right move. The back and forth was pretty interesting in the court although most of it wasn’t actually about this as it devolved into talking about how America keeps messing with everyone and that nobody likes Britain because they are always attacking people. Seeing them fight with the radio and everything else was definitely pretty fun. The other world does seem rather corrupt though so perhaps in a sequel there would be an uprising if it decided to go in as an action film.

As I mentioned the writing is pretty solid. All of the characters sound reasonable and at least they try to back up their points. For the pacing, I think it may actually be towards the end where it drags on a bit. As I mentioned, they tend to diverge on their talking points in the court and as a result they stay off topic for a long time. It may be because there is only so much you can say about the actual case since it’s a pretty black and white yes or no, but I’m sure there are more nuances that could have been brought up.

Slow burner or not, the plot is definitely pretty unique. It’s definitely a fun Utopia for everyone who died since they basically get to do whatever they want. I have to assume that there aren’t too many things to do during the day though judging by how many people attended the trial. Surely most of these guys wouldn’t actually care about something like that as long as they could play their sports or watch TV right? Maybe I’m underestimating these guys.

Overall, A Matter of Life and Death is a fun movie. The main message we can take from this is that you should not throw in the towel so easily. You always gotta try to make the emergency landing even if the odds don’t look great. Meanwhile, the surgeons looked pretty good at the end and so I don’t mind them believing that they are the reason that Peter is still around. What they did likely aided his chances of victory as well and it would have been ironic if he won the case, but then died if they messed up the surgery. Yeah…that would have been pretty dicey! So, I’d recommend checking this film out if you’re in the mood for a fun court case, just be prepared for it to be a long one with a little less fire than some of the other court cases we are used to.

Overall 7/10

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

Laura Review


It’s time to look at a very retro mystery film. The cast is actually smaller than I thought it was as Wikipedia only lists 6 people in the film. Naturally, some of them may just not have been big enough to have their own section, but it goes to show that if the story is quick enough you won’t even notice this. It’s a solid movie that really does a good job of throwing in a lot of twists and turns without getting redundant. The cast is solid and this film really flies by. This review does have some big spoilers depending on what you count. It’s a big plot point that happens around halfway through the film so it’s pretty debatable.

The basic premise of the film is that a lady by the name of Laura has been murdered. She went up against a shotgun and didn’t exactly win the encounter. A private eye known as Mark shows up to get to the bottom of this. Waldo wants justice because Laura was a close business associate of his and he had been helping her rise up the business ranks until this happened. Mark continues his investigation which leads him to Shelby, a rather suspicious man who has many affairs and always seems to be after people with money. This mystery will be a piece of cake for this baseball master, but unfortunately Mark starts to realize that this case is quite personal. Can he put his feelings aside or has he always been on a path to destruction?

Ironically, the weakest character here may be Mark. Shelby is certainly more unlikable as he’s just a bad guy, but it’s incredibly difficult to sympathize with Mark’s plight. How can you possibly start to fall for a picture? If someone’s dead, they’re not exactly going to make for a very attractive prospect. What the film should have done was just doubled down on his tough demeanor to show that this guy was one detective who wouldn’t get pushed around by anyone. He would solve this case no matter how tough it got. By making him distracted it took away from his whole character. I did like his Baseball gimmick though. Right when he started taking out the game I knew that it would be the best part of his character.

At least the detective doesn’t look downright bad for the most part. His only unfortunate moment was at the very end of the film where he assures Laura that she will be safe and then runs out of the building so fast that you’ll think he’s a blur. This gives the culprit plenty of time to waltz in and finish the job. Laura is just lucky that the villain is such a poor shot or else this could have been the end.

Wait, why is Laura even being mentioned? Well, that’s one of the big plot points of the film. Laura isn’t actually dead and merely went to the forest for a while. Since these were the days before radio and internet nobody actually knew where she was and when they went to the house she had stepped out for a moment. Definitely some interesting logic there, but I can buy it to an extent as there wasn’t much else to do back in the day aside from walking so she may have just been adventuring all day. Laura isn’t a very likable character as she does lead everyone on and doesn’t even mind playing second fiddle after a while. It gets rather complicated, but she knows from the start that Shelby can’t be trusted and also allows Waldo to treat her to many meals. They may be platonic friends, but then she should pay the bill, otherwise things get dicey. She just seems rather easy and Mark should be careful what he’s getting himself into. Her web of deceit will continue to stretch farther and farther.

As for Waldo, he’s certainly the most amusing character in the film. He’s always got a snappy comeback at the ready and certainly doesn’t get intimidated by anyone. To think that he started out as a rather snobbish businessman before he got involved with Laura and changed quite a bit. You can’t deny that the guy does his homework though. He didn’t even need to make up lies about the people Laura hung out with, he just dug up the dirt that they left around the house. They made his job easy, but he always went the extra mile. Naturally a person this obsessive tends to be fairly dangerous in films like these but if the detective is going to make a move he better be careful about it.

Finally there is Shelby. It’s certainly different to see Vincent Price in a young role for a change. The character is fairly quick witted, but can never quite keep up with Waldo. He does make for a good rival though. He’s not exactly a man of principles, but isn’t ashamed to admit as much. Everyone knows what kind of a guy he is, but they don’t care because of his charisma. It’s definitely a credit to his character that he is able to deceive people so easily and he makes for a solid antagonist.

The only weak aspect of this film is naturally the romance. It’s just not handled very well at all. Laura basically plays everyone and they all fall for the game quite easily. It would have been nice if the same had been true for them and at the end they all admitted to just manipulating the others for personal gain. That’s practically what the situation was for most of them anyway. A film like this one should have everyone stay purely platonic as that would certainly add to the suspense and make the characters look a little tougher and more savvy on how things usually play out here.

Still, the writing was certainly great beyond that. The film did a good job of making everyone seem suspicious at times and having all of the characters stay on guard. The banter between all of the characters was on point as you would expect it to be. Dialogue is crucial for a noir film like this one and I’m happy to say that it did indeed deliver. It’s why its so hard to do a film like this one nowadays. The writing just isn’t up to par with the good ole days and it’s very rare that a film proves me wrong. There were just higher standards in the past and that’s why there were so many well written films like this one hiding in the cracks of time.

Overall, Laura is a really fun film. It’s a murder mystery that still has quite a bit of humor and solid pacing to go along with it. The romance is rather weak, but what else is new right? The twist of Laura being alive could have been rather disastrous if handled wrong, but since it rarely tends to happen the twist worked really well. I can definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes a little suspense and danger. There’s never a dull moment in this film so you’ll end up being on guard from start to finish. In a film like this one, you really can’t trust anyone.

Overall 8/10

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

Elevator To The Gallows Review


It’s time to take a look at a French murder thriller. It’s pretty rare that I see a film which isn’t American or Japanese so it’s always interesting to see how everyone else handles this. It’s a fairly old film as it’s still in the black and white period so as you’d expect the writing is on point. It is partially a romance film which can be rather dramatic, but the film’s at its best when an old guy shows up to mock the teenagers and their subplot. Time to learn more about this guy.

So the film starts off with Julien and Florence recommitting their resolve to murdering her husband so Julien can be the rebound guy. He breaks in and murders the husband pretty easily, but then forgets his rope at the window ledge. He runs back after hours to get it, but as soon as he gets on the elevator the power goes out. He is now stuck with no way to get out and his only hope is that Florence will learn where he is. Meanwhile his car is stolen by Louis and Veronique as they decide to cruise around town. Unfortunately, they decide to commit murder under his name which will further complicate matters. Julien has to trick the cops into not pinning the first murder on him while also avoiding the fake charge of the second. It’s going to be a long day.

From the start the movie makes it clear that the leads are the villains so you are rooting against them. As such, it’s actually pretty satisfying when the elevator crashes and things don’t go right for Julien. He dug his own grave and now he’ll have to get used to it. There’s not much that he can do from this point so you can’t really blame him for a lack of trying. He was the most experienced and talented member of the villains so taking him out of the equation worked well for the cops. He also held up well under interrogation, but eventually he cracked from lack of sleep. The cops always get their man.

You don’t really see this form of interrogation too often, but it is quite effective as getting the suspect to concede their guilt. Physically nothing actually happens to the suspect, but he/she is kept from sleeping until the cops get the story they want. After even 1 day of this it can be tough to function so even the great Julien fell to the technique. You have to be careful about getting a false conviction like this though, but I guess the cops decided it was worth the risk. It did work out well here after all.

Florence isn’t the greatest sidekick you could ask for. She further incriminates Julien by asking around for him everywhere. She was also fooled quite easily by Louis as she thought it was Julien who sped by her. I guess the jacket trick worked, but would Julien really betray her so easily? It may be poetic since she ditched her husband and now has some paranoia that Julien would do the same thing to her. She did a reasonable job of tracking down Louis and making threats, but then she didn’t do a thorough enough job of preventing them from leaving. That’s game over.

Louis is unfortunately the worst character in the film. He is over the top with his many lies which is the only reason he and Veronique were caught. If he had played it cool or even somewhat calmly then he could have escaped. Instead he gets humiliated by a drunk, rich guy and then tries to steal his car. Not a very smart move and then shooting the couple just made an even bigger mess. He even messed up on trying to destroy himself with pills since he didn’t swallow enough of them. So much for that. You’ll be cringing whenever he is on screen. Veronique is a big improvement as she is also insane, but hides it well. She pretends not to want to go along with Louis’ plans, but always relents in the end. She just wants to keep up the appearance of being a good person even if it may not be all that accurate.

My favorite character here was actually the rich guy who kept making fun of Louis. Making fun of the teen was reason enough to like him, but we also can’t forget that this guy saw through the ruse immediately. It’s too bad he underestimated how dangerous the villains were though. The scene of him and his friend getting shot was fairly tragic and probably the saddest scene in the film. I was hoping they were going to live through this since they were a lot of fun. Maybe not too smart in how they handled this, but fun all the same.

It’s good to see the cops looking pretty good here though. They connect the dots between the crimes pretty quickly and then set their plans into motion. Once they nab the suspects it is all over for them. At first you may wonder what is taking them so long, but it’s all just because they are setting their pieces in motion. Getting all of the pieces into play so to speak. It would have been fun to have seen the Jury sentencing, but I suppose the ending gives you a clear enough idea of how it’s going to go down anyway.

The pacing is pretty good. The only plot which probably drags on more than a little bit is Florence’s section. She goes through a great number of shops looking for Julien and after a while it is really just more of the same. You get the point of her search and we know that she stayed up all night so I think a few places could have been cut. The random drunk guy and his friend didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but maybe they were just there are red herrings or as world building. Either way, putting more screen time in the elevator plot could have been nice although I’m sure the film didn’t want to make that one feel stale. It’s a tough balancing act.

Overall, This is an interesting film. The ending is very satisfying and probably the best part. The atmosphere is pretty good, but you can’t help but feel bad for the last two victims. It’s hard to be too sympathetic to the first guy since it’s at the very beginning and he was fairly shady anyway, but the other two characters were too hype to be bumped off the way that they were. The romance is pretty bad, but that’s how it is for all rebounds and it goes without saying why Louis’plot was iffy. I’d recommend checking this film out as a retro classic. There are quite a few plot lines going through the movie and it’s nice to see how they all connect.

Overall 5/10