Laura Review

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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

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Elevator To The Gallows Review

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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

Mary Poppins Review

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Mary Poppins is definitely a classic film that I’m sure most of us have heard of at some point or another. It’s a light hearted musical/comedy with a punch of supernatural elements to keep things fresh. It’s definitely held up well and can certainly be considered as the definitive musical. I suppose it depends on how literal you take the term since some films are right on the edge of being counted.

The film starts off with yet another Nanny running away from her responsibilities. She simply can’t handle the two rebellious kids and their constant running away. The father is forced to run an advertisement for a new nanny. That’s when the Professional Reality Warper, Mary Poppins shows up for her first attack. She summons a tornado to (fatally?) take down the competition and hires herself. Will she be able to make the kids be more responsible or will this be beyond her abilities?

The father is definitely the best character in the movie. He sets the tone early on when he bursts through the door at exactly 6:01 and bursts into song. Clearly this is a man of culture and finesse. He isn’t one to be trifled with and commands a very strict home. He reminds his wife that a classic British House is run as tightly as the bank. His song has quite a few great lyrics like that and once the kids return from their brief escapade he is firm but not mean. He comes up with an advertisement in the mail that is quite good. While he may be on the back foot against Mary Poppins, he is always quick to recover. He may have cracked by the end and suddenly become a very happy person but even that role he plays with discipline. He is just the perfect character and certainly the one that I was rooting for.

Mary Poppins is an interesting character. Based on the advertisement that the kids left you would assume that she is a very nice person. Well, that actually isn’t the case. She takes everything personally and does seem to hold a grudge. She seems to have a thing against having fun and always has to be goaded into using her abilities. Mary Poppins completely shuts down when anyone asks her a personal question or just anything about her magic and tries to make everyone look bad by denying its existence. It’s hard to get a bead on her and it just seems like she didn’t really want the position at first and only warms up to the kids by the end. Her abilities are definitely as impressive as they ever were though. She has advanced reality warping abilities which are quite handy in any kind of situation.

There are also the two kids but they don’t seem to be very good characters. For starters they make the Dad seem like the bad guy but if we’re being honest they deserve most of the blame. Since numerous baby sitters have run off over the years we have to assume that running away is nothing new for them. They don’t have any good reason for running away either and cleaning their rooms is apparently too much to ask. While they get some character development over the course of the movie I just couldn’t find myself being able to like the kids. They even sabotaged their father’s career by making a big scene at the bank and tackling an old man. Any respect I may have gained for the kids before this was certainly lost during this moment. The kids have to learn to control themselves. Even singing their advertisement was not a good move as the only thing it did was really push the father away from accepting it.

There is also Mary Poppins friend who knows about her powers. If sounds like they have gone on quite a few adventures so I’m assuming that he follows her around. After all, Mary Poppins seems to travel around quite a bit for each of her cases so I doubt she has been in this town before. Since the guy doesn’t even have a classic job, he probably just gets an occupation at whatever destination she goes too next. He’s a good friend for Mary since she takes everything too seriously while he is the opposite. He may make it harder to cure his uncle from the laughing flu since he is always laughing as well, but that’s his one main weakness.

The film’s actual plot is fairly direct and concise so the film does go on some tangents do but time. Fortunately these tangents are actually good do a change. One such scene is with the laughing uncle which I mentioned earlier. I don’t have any sympathy for the Uncle by the way since he can easily stop floating if he really wants too, but it’s fun to see the friend trolling Mary by getting everyone to laugh. Again, the guy is a pretty solid character. There is also a rather long, but fun Looney Tunes esque skit where Mary suckers a few jockeys into letting her win and the characters mess with the animal Olympics. The scenes would probably not be too good if the music was not in point so this is one of those times where the music really amplified the experience.

A musical lives or dies on the music after all and these songs hold up very well. The tempo/beat of the music is always very fast and lively which is a good thing. The lyrics aren’t bad either as the characters talk quickly and get a lot of messages in a short amount of time. You’ll just find yourself paying more attention to the musical sounds than the lyrics and that’s not a bad thing. The made up word in the film certainly got popular as well and has enough syllables to be in a song as well.

Overall, Mary Poppins is a lot of fun. It’s a film you can enjoy at any time. It’s one of those light hearted films that surprisingly doesn’t get serious or dramatic at the end. It stays whimsical all the way through which is quite rare. It has a lot of replay value and being enjoyable is always the first goal of any film so this one really succeeded. The film doesn’t drag on and the music is on point. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you should definitely correct that. It’s a movie that actually does live up to the hype and that is really rare to be honest. Now I’m ready for that sequel coming up but I have my doubts on if it can be as good as this one. Maybe if she has to fight a dark Mary Poppins in a cool CG fight though.

Overall 7/10

The Incredible Shrinking Man Review

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It’s time for a classic film that I’m sure everyone has heard of at some point or another. It’s a concept that is always fun to play around with as shrinking makes the world look even bigger. Honestly it’s not a super power that I would ever want to have because it just wouldn’t be as fun as the others. Being able to make snow would be far superior if you ask me and that’s something that I could get behind. Still, it’s not as if the lead asks for this ability in the film but he takes it so poorly that you have to wonder if this character was ever good to begin with. The film plays it off as if this ability slowly makes him grow worse and worse as a person, but really it just brought his true self out into the light.

So, the plot starts with Scott and his wife Louise on a boat. They are on vacation, but Scott is as annoying as always and just wants to get drunk on as many beers as he can handle. Vacation ruined, they prepare to head back home when a UFO whizzes past them and blasts Scott with a bunch of radioactive material. He shrugs it off, but gradually notices that he is getting shorter. At first everyone denies it and cites crazy theories that you just shrink by a noticeable amount during the day so it’s all legit. After this is impossible to deny, the doctors work around the clock to create a cure while Scott decides to take out his frustration out on Louise. Will she trap him in a jar so that he can’t hurt anyone anymore or will the scientists have to give him a fake antidote to buy some time? A lot of tough decisions are on the table.

The premise has potential even if it’s not a whole lot of potential. It could be a reasonably fun comedy like Honey I Shrunk The Kids or something. Instead, this film decides to play it straight and is so serious that it is borderline grim at times. Scott becomes such a villain in the film that he yells at his wife, stabs the cat, and even destroys a spider. If I said he was beyond redemption at this point it would be an understatement. I couldn’t stand his character by the end and he already showed signs of being bad from the start with how he ordered Louise to get him a beer. When she denied this he played it off as a joke but this guy is definitely a bad apple. Did I mention how he also starts getting ready to cheat on Louise with someone from the circus but his plans are dashed when he shrinks again? That’s just the kind of guy he is and it’s unfortunate since Louise is such a good, loyal person. She definitely deserved better than what she got in this film.

Naturally none of these scenes are any fun to watch. Scott is basically acting like a bully only there isn’t anyone around to notice and call him out on it. Louise decides to just take it because she hopes he will be better soon. Although in my head canon I like to think that she purposefully let the cat inside and then shut the door to teach Scott a lesson. I was rooting for the cat by the way. Fortunately the cat doesn’t die or get seriously injured but the film was definitely stressful for those scenes. Still, Scott later murders the spider in graphic detail which sent the film that had already jumped over the shark all the way over the cliff. It was game over. Game Set and Match. There was just no hope left for it. Mixing in animal violence is always a way to sour any recipe and this film is no exception.

There just isn’t anything good about this film. Scott and Louise are basically the only two characters in the film. It feels rather low budget which would explain the small cast. Scott’s brother (in law? I forgot if they mentioned this or not) shows up once or twice to point out that Scott is acting petty and he should try getting some money for this. Scott denies because he just wants to see the world burn and in exchange the brother almost steps on him a few times by the end. The human interactions in these old films are usually the good parts, but it’s just hard to enjoy them. This is what a bad main character can do. He can wreck the rest of the movie just on account of how insufferable he is.

The only positive thing I can say about the film is the ending. Granted, it’s because the ending has Scott get destroyed by his own ego as he shrinks away into nothingness, but I’ll accept that. Scott couldn’t be left alive by the end of the film. A life taken is a life lost after all so since he took down the spider I’m glad that the universe placed the scales back in order. We can’t let reckless villains like Scott do whatever they want. I have higher hopes for another installment in the franchise since Scott would no longer be around.

What another film should play up more is the media angle. I want to see how the rest of the world handles this. There’s a lot of potential there as there always is when something supernatural happens in an otherwise ordinary world. I’d also like to see the main character get adjusted to his new situation and make the best of it. Moping for a little can be all right, but there has to come a time where you just make the best of it. Make a film like that and it could actually end up being quality confirmed. This goes without saying, but no animal violence either of course.

Overall, in case you didn’t guess, I didn’t like Scott. He’s absolutely terrible and the same can be said for this film. He just makes every scene around him worse and I already said that so lets keep it moving. The animal violence didn’t help matters and you’ll just struggle to get through this movie. I highly recommend staying far away from this film. The only thing it’s good at is winning Razzi awards and as much as I would like to vote for this one, I probably couldn’t depending on what the competition is. Either way, if you want a film about someone who shrinks, check out Ant Man. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that movie either, but it’s still considerably better than this one.

Overall 2/10

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Review

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It’s always sad when you’re known as a chicken among the community. Just think of how rough it would be when it’s a small community so you are going to be seeing the same people everywhere. Well, that’s the case for our lead in this film (Luther) as everyone openly mocks him. It’s almost admirable how despite this he keeps adding for fuel to the flame. Panicking in the opening minutes certainly didn’t help his case.

Well, the film starts off with our reporter in training driving down Main Street at night. He hears someone scream and comes across a dead body. The excitement starts to overwhelm him but before he can faint the main character stumbles over to the newspaper office/police office. Luther tries to explain what’s happening but goes hysterical so his colleagues have to insult and mock him a little bit to calm him down. Just as he tells them all about the murder, the “dead” guy shows up as he was apparently just hit on the head with a branch and fainted.

Now Luther’s reputation has shattered even more. The newspaper is on tough times though so they need a scoop and have to take a break from mocking the main character. Their best bet is to send someone into the haunted house. Luther is essentially dared into going inside and he decides to do so to show everyone that he isn’t a total chicken. The problem is that ghosts keep messing with him and he even faints. On the verge of tears he tells everyone what happened, but can he prove that this was the case or will he also be known as a liar now?

It’s definitely a really fun film. You don’t really see comedy films like this one anymore and it’s a shame since they work so well. You can’t sympathize with Luther but I suppose you can at least sympathize with the fact that he held his own in court and wasn’t humiliated as badly as I had thought he would be. He doesn’t do a great job of improving himself at all and is basically content with going through the same motions that he’s always gone through. It’s why he is perfect for the role.

Ollie is definitely a pretty mean character who tries to undercut Luther at every corner. Still, he never gets too extreme and due to the nature of the film he can be pretty entertaining. If the plot was handled seriously then there is a good chance that he wouldn’t be likable at all but as it stands he was probably the best character in the film. You can make the case that he has more reason to dislike Luther than the other way around since from his point of view Luther took the main heroine away. Ollie also did offer to go into the haunted house with Luther, even if it was only to mock him.

An underrated character is the head of the newspaper company. Not only is he one of the only characters who gives Luther a chance but he even defends the guy in court. Honestly you’ll just feel bad for him since he does a great job but then Luther keeps on sabotaging him. The supporting cast was just really good in this film and naturally that makes a big difference. The judge was also pretty fun and it made the scene of everyone going into the haunted house pretty fun. Actually it was pretty surreal to see the Judge come up with that plan.

As for the ghost moments, I think it was safe to say that everyone probably guessed what the last second stinger would be. Ignoring that little moment I would have definitely said that there was nothing supernatural about the place. It was all things that could have been explained naturally after all. Even the painting although you have to suspend a lot of belief for Luther not noticing the blood would be fake. Well, it is Luther I guess.

The plot with the corporate gangster trying to muscle in on the place and discredit Luther was a cool contrast since that plot was played completely seriously, the guy wasn’t afraid to destroy Luther either if necessary which made for an intense final fight. You rarely see these rich business types actually enter the realm of combat themselves nowadays so that was certainly unexpected. It helped give the film some action to balance out the comedy and it worked quite well.

I have to say that the romance was pretty weak though and the only underwhelming part of the film. For starters, Alma was seemingly already taken with the rival Ollie but it didn’t stop Luther from flirting and hoping they could be together. Sure, later on in the film she says that they weren’t really together and all, but given how the had apparently been eating lunch every day, driving together, and Ollie had been calling her things like Sweetheart which she was fine with….it seemed rather clear what was going on. Even Ollie was shocked when she basically ditched him out of nowhere. It’s nice for Luther that if all worked out but this is definitely not how you build a romance. It really just fell flat and took up too much time.

Overall, This was a really fun film. The humor was on point and the cast was pretty good. The tension of whether the mansion was really haunted or not will be tearing you up inside until they announce the verdict. Ollie is a fun rival and gets a lot of standout lines while Luther’s panicking is always pretty intense. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend it. It’s not the most popular movie out there but it can definitely hold its own against any big comedy film.

Overall 7/10

Phantom of the Opera Review

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It’s time for a retro film that is rather iconic. I guess I should say that the Phantom of the Opera is rather iconic to be precise. It has had many adaptions on just about every medium over the years, but this is the first one that I’ve checked out. (Pretty sure) It’s a decent enough story with some fun characters and okay dialogue, but it doesn’t stand out as one of the all time greats or even as a super solid story. It gets you through the film all right and the pacing is good, but I would have liked the main character to have stopped leading everyone on by the end.

The story starts off with the Phantom being kicked off the opera because his hands are going bad and he can’t play well anymore. While he should have been rich since he served for 20 years, he spent all his money getting lessons for a girl named Christine. She doesn’t even know that he is providing the lessons for her and believes that she is getting them for free. While the Phantom is at least 20 years older than her, he wants her to be with him, but lacks the courage to say so. In the meantime, he will help her as much as possible from the shadows so she will owe him later in life. He realizes that if the opera won’t let her be the lead singer on their own, he’ll have to take the top singers out of the picture and threaten the opera into making the switch.

It’s a classic story of a villain thinking that since he is doing nice things for someone, they have to reciprocate. The whole situation is also his fault as he mistakenly thinks that someone stole his song and murders a guy for it. (Not even the guy that he thought stole his song) As a result his face is half burned off and he is forced into hiding. Fortunately for him, the Phantom is a master of hand to hand combat and has a surprising amount of physical strength. He murders a bunch of people with ease and the film hints that he could have taken on the two male leads as well before losing to a cave in. He’s not a very good/interesting villain, but at least the design worked rather well. Who doesn’t like the simplicity of a cape and mask combo? It’s why Batman got so popular.

I do have some issues with the main heroine though as she was annoying throughout the film. Christine has a lot of admirers as you can tell by now. The main two are Anatole and Raoul. She knows that they are both interested in her, but decides to play the field. She goes out to dinner and accepts flowers/gifts from both of them. She notices that they constantly fight over her, but seems to thrive on the attention. It’s rather inconsiderate of her, but that’s consistent in the film. She is not upset at all to learn that the main singer was poisoned and even celebrates in front of everyone since she will now have a chance to be on the big stage. There’s nothing really heroic about her and she even feels bad for the Phantom at the end. Sure he murdered a bunch of people, but he liked her so he couldn’t have been a bad person. You have to take a double take at her reasoning there since it’s rather outlandish. She was glad he got to hear his music one last time while I think it would have been poetic if he had gotten caved in before hearing it. That’s just me though.

While Christine is leading them on, I can’t feel bad for Raoul and Anatole since they know it. It’s hard to say who the better character is, but I’ll give Anatole the edge. At least he does know music and is a professional. He’s polite and ultimately has the better plan which ends up capturing the Phantom. On the other side, Raoul’s plan ends up failing and he seems to enjoy her musical career a little less. He basically wanted her to retire when he first showed up which instantly signals a bunch of warning bells. Fortunately, one of the higher ups told Christine that music is more important than anything else and it seems like she has decided to follow that advice.

The character roster is small, but that means they all got a lot of screen time. The film’s writing was pretty solid as well. While I didn’t care for the characters as much as in some of the other retro films, the script was still on point. I enjoyed all of the sarcastic/passive aggressive banter from all of the characters. Most of them did not get along in the slightest, but they were very subtle about it. The humor may not have been a great success, but it was also handled very mildly so it didn’t get irritating or go in the way of the story. The main comedy angle was that one character believed that a ghost was causing all of the trouble and would constantly describe him by pulling out his nose and imagining a beard. I forgot why, but he would never want to refer to the ghost by name. Perhaps he thought people would make fun of him, but the ones that he did tell took it pretty seriously for the most part. There was only one guy who disagreed and that’s not bad considering that I thought everyone would make fun of him for it.

Overall, This is a fairly good film. It’s not the greatest out there, but it was enjoyable during the run. As I mentioned, it’s rather short as well so the pacing is on point. It’s cool to see just how large an opera house is. I imagine that it would be difficult to find a criminal since there are 2500 rooms and he can keep hiding in different ones. Hopefully this will teach the Opera staff not to put the Master Key in an unlocked drawer in the main room that anyone can break into. Especially since their ex staff member was the main suspect of a crime and everyone knew about it. These guys just didn’t think ahead. The actual plays in the film didn’t seem all that interesting, but fortunately they never got all that much screen time at all. With a better cast, this film would get another star. As it is, I’d recommend checking it out. There’s not much to the film, but sometimes that makes it easier to watch. The plot is as simple as can be so you can just follow the journey from start to finish without thinking about it much.

Overall 6/10

Pinocchio Review

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It’s time for another classic Disney movie from the older days. I’d say that it’s easily the darkest one of them all. I can’t say that I knew much about the film aside from the general premise so I can safely say that it was pretty surprising. It’s definitely a film that you’ll want to add to your collection and you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.

Geppetto was an old man who was growing pretty bored with his set up. He has a cat and a gold fish, but he wanted a kid as well. He wished upon a falling star that he could finally have one and that’s when Pinocchio was born. He was a puppet boy, but he was still alive so I suppose that counts. Geppetto quickly tells Pinocchio that he has to go to school so the kid heads off, but is confronted by some shady fellows. They trick Pinocchio into being in a circus where he is forced to perform. His conscience, a man cricket named Jiminy gets him out of that mess, but then Pinocchio is sold into slavery on Pleasure Island. He gets drunk and smokes quite a lot, but the downside to this is that you turn into a Donkey. Meanwhile Geppetto falls into a whale and gets himself into a sticky situation. Can Pinocchio save him or is it too late?

You may not be surprised at this, but Pinocchio isn’t a very likable main character. He is easily swayed by the masses and ends up getting himself into a lot of trouble. He starts to drink quite a lot and smokes as well. We don’t see him get into drugs at least, but you can tell that the kid fell into hard times. If not for Jiminy, the experience would have been quite fatal. It just goes to show that you can’t go with the “cool” crowd for too long or you’ll end up taking some hits. The unfortunate part about all of this is that Pinocchio never really seems to learn his lesson. He makes the same mistakes multiple times in the film so you have to wonder how sincere he is. Also, I would have stayed as a puppet kid if I was him. It seems like it’d be pretty novel if you ask me.

Jiminy is the better character here for the most part. He’s not perfect as his polite exterior cracks a few times, but he is persistent when it comes to helping Pinocchio. It’s not an easy job either so most crickets would have caved in after a while. Jiminy definitely has most of the best lines in the film and it’s fitting since his voice is also the most charismatic. The film wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without him in it. He’s easily the best character here. Unfortunately, Geppetto was not a good character. He just comes across as very demanding and not very smart. You’d think that he would escort Pinocchio to school on his first day since he doesn’t even know how to be a person yet right? Nah, Geppetto is far too busy for that. He really should have been a whole lot more careful. I don’t even know how he got stuck in a whale. Maybe his car’s GPS was broken.

Honest John was the first villain to show up and he is pretty cunning. When all else fails…he doesn’t. His plans aren’t half bad even if they revolve around the fact that Pinocchio doesn’t know how to fight back. His name also just makes so much sense for the character. A sly fox may not be the most original idea out there, but as this film is so old, most films ended up copying from this one’s example. There are a few other supporting characters like a cat and a gold fish, but neither of them had much of a role here. They didn’t really add anything to the equation.

Pinocchio made a friend over at the bar and I guess he was semi important. He helped to remind Pinocchio that you can drown your conscience away in beer and he was also a crack shot at pool. He had one of the most intense lines in the film as it quickly became literal due to the circumstances. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of this guy. He was a bad influence to be sure, but at least he knew it. The kid just embraced this fact after a while.

The soundtrack is definitely a lot weaker than the other Disney films. That’s probably because Pinocchio can’t sing as well as any of the famous Disney princesses. He tries his best of course, but the Avengers retake on the “I have no strings on me” song was a lot more impressive. Still, at least the film had a soundtrack, that’s always a good thing since many films just don’t have them or just have a few tunes and call it a day. There’s a lot of music that pops up now and again in this film.

While Pinocchio has a happy ending, the characters never actually stop the main villain. That was a little surprising since the Donkey seller just got away scot free in the end. Maybe a sequel would fix that, but I have a feeling that it’s just a forgotten plot point. You can’t help but feel bad for all of the other kids. Having a human trafficking plot in a kid’s Disney film must have been somewhat controversial back in the day. I mean, they did turn the kids into donkeys first though so maybe it was subtle enough for everyone to miss that little detail back in the day. The fact that the villain gets away is probably my only real negative with the film. I was hoping that he would be brought to justice. Having an arrest is always a good moral booster for the heroes.

Overall, Pinocchio is a solid film. It fits right in with the rest of the Disney films even if it is a lot darker. Forget everything you think you know about the character as you sit down to watch this film. Odds are that your childhood recollections about this movie are completely different from what is actually happening in the movie. It’s sort of like how the Berenstain Bears have altered the spelling a few times since the good ole days even if the Internet seems to not remember this. The intriguing cosmic revelations from this are fun to think about. Do Parrallel dimensions exist and does it even matter if they do? You’ll be thinking about these concepts as you watch the movie. The pacing is pretty good though so you won’t get too many chances to think about this so make the most of your opportunities.

Overall 7/10

Beauty and the Beast Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the old Disney films. Seeing as how it just got a live action remake with as goat version of the Beast, this was the perfect opportunity to look at the original. It’s a solid film all around with no real weaknesses to drag it down. While it may not be the greatest of the classics, it may have the best pacing and most engaging plot. I’ll have to think on that one a bit before giving a definitive answer, but there really wasn’t much to slow it down.

Belle is stuck in a very old town. She is the only lady who reads and the town is scared of her as a result. How can they hope to stack up against someone who doesn’t go to the local bar and get drunk with the rest of them? The people’s champion, Gaston shows up to set things right, but he is rejected. Unfortunately, Belle’s crazy father runs into the woods and gets kidnapped by the Beast. Belle is forced to take his place as a prisoner while her father gets himself into more trouble and gives Gaston a legal opportunity to try and steal Belle away. Can she enlist the help of the Beast or is all hope lost?

I imagine that everyone already knows the plot to this film, but I just put that up as a formality. As you can probably tell, I don’t like the Dad. He just gets the family into more and more trouble the whole time. He’s pretty scatter brained and even once Belle is taken as a prisoner he is slow to act. It takes him forever to actually do anything about the situation. You’d think that he would have a lot more urgency about the whole thing when you consider the circumstances. The cast is pretty small so he’s one of the only supporting characters with a role. The other would be Gaston along with his follower. The follower spends the whole film getting beat up and knocked around. It’s safe to say that he had to endure a lot of pain in this adventure as the characters just wouldn’t let up for a second.

Gaston’s naturally not a likable character since he spends the whole film flirting. I do like his grandiose nature and excessive bragging, but it would be great if he could be more productive about it. Stealing candy from a baby, dining and dashing, those are the feats that I would have been expecting him to perform. He’s not totally full of hot air though as he actually does put up a good fight against the Beast. He lands a lot of devastating hits in their battle and while the majority of them were cheap shots…we take those. I could definitely take him more seriously than some of the other classic villains like Jafar.

The Beast wasn’t likable though. I couldn’t sympathize with him at all. Especially when he just tried to act friendly so Belle would fall in love with him. It seemed like he earned his fate as a Beast as well so I just never got to be on his side. He didn’t make things easy for Belle and actively sabotaged his chances every opportunity that he got. It’s why the goat design in the new film suits him even if it makes him look even more evil and nonredeemable. It’s just the table that he has set for himself. Now he has to live in it. He had a few minions who would help him out like a candle stick, an alarm clock, and a tea kettle. The best member was easily the Alarm Clock as he kept it real the whole time and did his best not to get in trouble. The Candle Stick seemed to purposely seek out trouble while the Tea Pot had the best manners. They were decent enough and never got to be too annoying.

Finally, we have Belle. It’s safe to say that she is the best character here by a long shot. She doesn’t really have any flaws as she’s a nice person who always does the right thing and helps others out. She volunteers to be a prisoner to save her father and also doesn’t succumb to peer pressure when the “cool” crowd approaches her. She did fall for the cheesy romance parts at the end, but that’s hardly a negative so much as it’s a “shakes head” moment.

The film has quite a few songs of course since the films back in these days were part musical. They go over pretty well and the music is catchy. While the lyrics weren’t memorable enough for me to remember the names, I believe Bell’s opening song was the best one with Gaston’s probably being the worst. Still, it was a good soundtrack and lyrical songs can definitely be good when handled well. That’s something that 2010’s and beyond have struggled with in some cases. Luckily we still have Frozen to save us and the animated films have mostly been immune. It’s just that in the 90’s, even live action films could have good lyrical themes if they tried. I could diverge into how music was a little better back in the day than currently when it comes to mainstream (So not counting anime ost and video game soundtracks) but that’s neither here nor there.

The animation looks good and is consistent as you would expect. The characters stand out and the designs are really colorful. The action scenes are pretty fluid and while the characters may literally punch each other out of proportion at times, it’s done in a cool way. It’s intentional as opposed to a Dragon Ball Super scene where they just forgot to do some drawing. It holds up really well and the animation wouldn’t look out of place next to a more modern film.

If there’s any real negative here, it’s naturally the wolf scene. It was handled fairly well as this kind of thing goes and the Wolves really took it to the beast so that was good. I was rooting for them to really knock him around. His near lethal injuries show that the wolves weren’t playing around. It’s enough to warrant a mention and is the kind of thing that can also solidify the film’s 7 ranking as opposed to trying for an 8. If this is the worst mistake that the film made, then at least you can be sure that it was mostly good.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a good film. It’s something that you can recommend to anyone since it’s just a nice story. The romance is very cheesy and unbelievable so that can be a bit of a weakness, but it’s not as if you expected it to be anything else. The film will fly by in an instant and there aren’t any painfully drawn out scenes to make you look at the wrist watch. The new film seems like it’s pretty faithful to the old film so hopefully that’ll be good as well. So long as they don’t add extra character development to drag characters down in its attempt to be super deep or extend the wolf scene and make it more realistic to drag it down a few stars…I’d expect it to be of comparable quality. Hopefully that will be the case and if you’ve never seen this version you should hurry. You want to know what everyone’s going on about when they compare this to the remake since that inevitably happens. I’ll be doing a bunch of comparisons myself when I watch it.

Overall 7/10

The Exorcist Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be even more negative…literally.
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It’s time to tackle one of the most well known horror films of all time. I’ve never liked horror films and watching the classics hasn’t worked out so well thus far. I had pretty low expectations heading into this film, but The Exorcist managed to surprise me. It delivered a product that was so below expectations that I was slightly taken aback, but quickly realized how I had to respond. This film is one that you’ll want to avoid at all costs and will remind you that shock value isn’t as good as jump scares.

Chris is a popular actress and everything is going right for her at the moment. Life can’t get much better than it already is at the moment. Unfortunately, that changes when her daughter Regan is possessed by a vengeful spirit. It claims to be Lucifer himself and she has been unable to break free. Chris goes to many experts, but they are all unsuccessful in their attempts. Finally, she is forced to call in a pastor/psychologist to try and perform an exorcism, but he has yet to break his drinking/smoking habits. The Church realizes that this guy is out of his league so they bring in another priest who is experienced, but already very exhausted from another exorcism that he performed. Can the two save the day or will the body count continue to rise?

Some films like this one are a little overwhelming as it’s hard to know where to start. I suppose there are so many negatives that I should start with the positives first. The soundtrack isn’t bad. The iconic theme is definitely fun even if it only shows up for a few seconds. It actually felt like a remix since I’m used to a more battle ready version of the song. Still, it’s definitely withstood the test of time. The visuals are pretty advanced for their time as well although they typically go for grotesque imagery as opposed to cool sci-fi elements. Poltergeist III has definitely got it beat in this area. The film puts out a lot of effort….yeah now lets go to the negatives.

The film paints a pretty bleak picture on our struggle against demons. First of all, I’d like to give it props for giving the Church some credibility and having them go up against the demon. However…it acts as if the demons are far more powerful than any of our counters. Our Exorcism (This film’s old, but just in case I’ll give out a warning. Spoilers ahead, spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril!) fails miserably as the demon just overpowers the two pastors. The two pastors/priests give it their all as they use a lot of verses from the Bible, Holy Water, A Cross, and more. None of it is effective as the demon breaks one of the guys anyway and then possesses the other as it knocks him off. The spirit is then free to go and possess someone else.

There is no happy ending here at all. The demon won and murdered quite a few people in the process. It also vandalized the Church in the process with no repercussions. It’s a pretty sad message from the film in the end. Evil’s not supposed to conquer all. Now, demons are certainly real and they are powerful. That’s certainly true, but they still cannot ultimately resist when called out in the name of Jesus and God. The counter argument could be that the priests simply weren’t skilled or didn’t have enough faith, but at least one of them was supposed to be the best of the best. It’s hard to say whether or not Regan was a Christian or not in the film. She was still pretty young, but maybe she had put the Cross under her pillow since nobody could figure out how it got there. I don’t believe a Christian can be possessed. One could get tempted or put through trials and tribulations like Job, but I believe that we are given an immunity. Playing with the Ouja board wasn’t a smart idea, but it’s not as if playing with a thing like that can suddenly make you free domain. Especially since Regan clearly didn’t really know the ramifications of that thing.

She definitely got the short end of the stick here as the rest of the film’s pretty painful for her. It’s a really violent horror film and while you could clearly tell where the film cut away in the TV version, there was enough where you can tell that this was an intense experience. Regan got a lot of injuries and had to go through many operations during this period. Quite a few people were murdered as well. The film also goes for gross moments like having characters vomit and have to use the bathroom in public. Those moments certainly didn’t help the film at all either. In case you couldn’t tell, this film’s getting a pretty easy 0.

The only reasonable characters here are the Expert Priest and Chris. Chris can be annoying though like when she went to the various doctors and put Regan through a bunch of experiments. She should have known that it’d do no good since it clearly wasn’t a mental issue. The Expert Priest was good, it’s a shame that he couldn’t win. The main priest, Damien was pretty weak willed. He fell for the mind games rather easily and his subplot didn’t add anything to the film. It added more dark themes and grit of course, but the film was so full of that already that you wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. There was a police chief who liked to subtly imply that various people were murderers and did his best to solve the case. It was naturally futile though since it wasn’t a human opponent who he was up against. I suppose he did his best, but bribery definitely isn’t a very legitimate tactic. There weren’t a whole lot of other characters in the film as it was a pretty small cast. We have the demon of course, but it’s only character is that it is a demon. It’s pretty clever as it makes the ordeal or proving that it’s a demon very tricky for the heroes.

Overall, This isn’t exactly a “Feel good” film. You’re not going to be laughing and taking shots of Pepsi and Doritos during this film as you discuss the current state of the movie industry and Twinkie flavors. It’s very somber from start to finish and you’ll be ready for it to end after 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s a very long film so that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the whole film had just been about Chris and her acting career, I have a feeling that it would certainly be a lot more enjoyable. Even just removing all of the cuts and slashes on Regan would help the film at least be watchable. You’re averting your gaze for most of the film otherwise since it’s pretty distasteful to have a kid be so violently injured for such a long time after all. Better to just look at the ceiling in the film and wonder when it was last painted. If you want a quality horror film, check out Poltergeist III as it’s one of the only good horror films out there. I can see why this one earned its reputation as it is pretty gritty, but that’s all the more reason why you should stay away from it. It’s just not worth it!

Overall 0/10

White Heat Review

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I’m afraid we’re in for another stinker folks! White Heat decided that maybe they could pass off a corrupt mobster as the charismatic main character and get away with it. They were wrong, not only can Cody not hold his own film, but this one ends up dragging quite a lot. It’s nearly 2 hours and that’s pretty crazy considering that this one came out in the 40’s. Whatever they were thinking with this film, it was not in the same train of thought that I had. Sorry folks, but there aren’t a whole lot of positives to say about this title.

The cops have been after a guy named Cody for a very long time. This mobster is ruthless and his crimes against humanity must be stopped. The detectives decide to send an inside man into the jail to figure out why Cody has turned himself in and to stop his plans. Hank (The agent) doesn’t agree, but he is forced into the job and proceeds to follow the gang around. Will he have the heart to betray Cody or will he become corrupted. After all, hanging out with the wrong crowd can always be dangerous.

One of the main problems with this is that Hank takes way too long to make a move. He really takes his directions to the letter here and follows Cody around from base to base. Quite a few people die as the gang goes through and Hank finally makes a move at the very end, but it took a while. He was still overpowered as well since he let his guard down. Not the greatest secret agent is he? Hank’s not even likable as he has to pretend to be a villain the whole time. He almost got away with it too, but it turns out that he had locked up one too many villains in his day so someone was bound to recognize him.

Cody is a terrible protagonist. He’s the average villain that you would expect from back in the day, only he’s the main character so you have to see him a lot longer than you’d want too. He’s not very smart and doesn’t realize that someone tried to bump him off until someone spills the beans later on. He is able to fight off about a half dozen cops with a bait/punch combo that was pretty unrealistic. Still, it’s a feat for him I suppose, but physical strength doesn’t make up for the fact that he is not a very imposing villain. He’s prone to headaches and his minions could really betray him at any times. He gets the last laugh against some of them, but that just shows how weak the other villains are. He puts up a fight in the climax, but it doesn’t save Cody. If you got rid of the fact that he had a fake romance with one of the mobster girls then he would have risen up from horrendously bad to just very bad. I know he’s not that smart, but it was obvious that she was playing him and he seemed to know it at times.

Cody’s Mom is easily the MVP from all of the villains. She talked tough and backed it up throughout the film. She may have bitten off more than she could chew by trying to take down a gang, but at least she was always prepared to fight until the end. She helped the villains get through a lot of tight spots with the police and she would have been a much more engaging lead than Cody. Even Cody’s rival probably would have been a cooler lead, but he was still a bad character so it wouldn’t be much of an improvement.

As you can see, most of the cops were not all that helpful or even good at their jobs so I wouldn’t really say that any of them were particularly likable. Just watch how easily the villains get out of the jail and you’ll be face palming. The security defenses were quite bad to say the least. The government would not have been proud if they had witnessed the whole debacle. At the very least, the cops talk tough like when they interrogated the villains, but even then they were verbally destroyed by Cody’s Mom.

Again, the film is two hours. Why is it two hours when this plot seems rather basic? Well, we have quite a lot of moments that are around to buy time. For example, the storm that hits the villain’s base. They stand around there for a while as the film gives us a lot of exposition and Cody starts to freak out. The scene goes on for quite a while to pad out the run time. White Heat could have easily shaved off a good half n hour and nothing would really change, except that the film could have maybe been a little better. A different main character would be crucial to making a real difference here though.

As per usual, you can tell that this film is really bad because it is not enjoyable. There are no fun scenes here or moments that will get you excited as you wait to see what will transpire next. White Heat never gets you engaged in the story and as a result, you’ll just be sitting there wondering when your next meal is going to occur or when the film will end. The best case scenario is that you start telling yourself how the film could have been better as the scenes go by. “Why wasn’t there any good music themes here” “Why are the characters not doing this?” etc.

Overall, White Heat is a film best left on the forgotten shelf. It doesn’t know what it means to be a good film and it just kept on getting worse and worse. Making a film based around a villain is always going to be very tricky since it’s difficult to make a villain likable. Extremely difficult and even more so nowadays than it would have been in the classic era. The best chance is to make the villain rather mild and petty, going for Now You See Me type of crimes instead of giving someone like the Joker his own film. It’s a lot of trouble to make it good though so it’s a lot easier to just churn out Spider-Man 10 or Godzilla 79. If you want to see a good film where the main character isn’t a hero, check out Madoka Magica Rebellion. Prepare yourself for an epic ending!

Overall 1/10