While You Were Sleeping Review

I can’t be the only one who thinks that this poster looks a little off right? It just seems photo shopped a bit with how Bullock’s character is being lifted. Maybe they couldn’t keep the pose up for the photo and had started to fall when it was snapped which caused a little blur effect. Maybe I’m just reading too much into this. Anyway, despite the lackluster poster the film is actually fairly decent. I dare say that this is one of the best romance films I’ve seen and maybe that’s because there wasn’t much actual romance until the end.

The plot revolves around a train ticket person named Lucy. Every day a guy named Peter comes by and deposits his tokens at her booth. She knows they are meant to be together, but they’ve never exchanged a word. Finally Peter works up the courage to tell her hi, but then he is mugged and thrown into the train tracks. Lucy manages to save him and takes him to the hospital. Peter is in a coma, but the family believes that Lucy is the fiancee after a quick mix up occurs. She decides not to tell them the truth because it would hurt them too deeply. Still, Lucy will have to plan things out carefully since Peter will be waking up at some point and his brother Jack is starting to suspect that something is off. Can she keep the secret from him?

So, you can probably imagine that quite a lot of shenanigans and hijinx ensue. Fortunately, they’re handled pretty well for the most part. You can basically tell what is going to happen the whole time, but as one Reddit user once said, virtually all movies are predictable. If anything, you should be worried when something unexpected happens as it may mean that the film has made a mistake in getting to the end. Instead you just want to see if the film executes the plot well. So while this film was predictable, it was still entertaining the whole time with most of the humor being on point and not being generally annoying.

Lucy is a reasonable main character. Saving Peter was naturally the right move and she tried doing what was best for everyone. She probably shouldn’t have tried going through with the wedding just to make everyone happy though. There’s definitely a moral there about keeping your happiness in mind as well. If you try to make everyone happy, but are miserable inside then this clearly isn’t the right path. Not to mention that then she would have been stuck with Peter for her whole life. Lucy tends to get along with everyone she meets in the film and it shows what a nice personality she has.

Meanwhile, we have Peter who doesn’t seem like a very nice guy. I don’t think he’s all that bad to be honest as he just has to sit in the antagonist role thanks to the film’s plot. If anything, he just doesn’t seem to have much of a backbone. He was knocked into the tracks quite easily and got knocked out instantly. That’s not really the kind of moment that will impress you and since Peter doesn’t really recover from this until the very end of the movie there isn’t much reason to like him. Not to mention that he seemed to be having an affair with a married woman which throws any last chance he may have had out the window. It sounds like he abandoned the family and while we never hear his side of the story, there’s not much reason to like him.

Then we have Jack. Honestly, I can’t say that he is a good character either. The main reason for this of course is that from his point of view, Lucy and Peter are together so she is strictly off limits. Yet, he still can’t help but fall for her. I don’t care if she were a super model, the instant she is taken then you have to be able to completely move on. Jack doesn’t actually do much about his feelings and while he doesn’t make a move on Lucy, he’s not exactly subtle either. He should have probably just avoided her until the wedding or something if he really couldn’t get over himself. Of course it turned out okay since the whole thing was fabricated and he ended up with Lucy, but things could have easily gotten troublesome. He’s still much better than Peter though.

The rest of the family is pretty fun as well. Once they showed up I knew we had a quality family going. They quickly pushed the doctors aside and took charge once they saw Peter. They have a lot of fun at the Christmas gatherings and while they bicker and talk a lot, it does keep the place lively. While skeptical at first, they end up taking Lucy’s word on events and seem to be rather trusting. They’re also pretty sensible and don’t hold the whole thing against Lucy. Considering that they are the ones who typically take the rumors and confirm them as fact, it wouldn’t be right to blame her for any of this. As a result, the family was rather solid.

Lucy’s boss was also pretty fun. He did his best to listen to her stories and give some half hearted advice. You could tell that he was never too invested in her situation, but at least he still took the time to listen whenever they had an encounter. He couldn’t quite keep the names straight, but the guy was earnest so he was definitely low key one of the best characters. To counter this, we have Joe Junior who is easily the worst character. The guy doesn’t have much of a purpose in the film other than to create some misunderstandings and to look really bad. Why does the eligible bachelor character always have to be so untidy, unintelligent, and generally gross? By the end of the film things seem to have possibly worked out for him which is nice and all I guess, but he probably could have been cut out and the film wouldn’t change. At least his father was good as he didn’t blame Lucy for dropping the tree through his house.

The best scene in the film is probably the big wedding as everyone quickly storms in to stop it. We had objections from Lucy which is understandable and better late than never. We had objections from Jack which naturally doesn’t help his case. We had objections from Peter’s ex who I guess drew the short end of the straw here, but considering that she was already a sketchy character I can’t feel sympathetic. Finally we had objections from Peter’s ex’s husband which was pretty intense. That guy came out of nowhere and really added some weight to the scene. It was great to see everyone show up and this was a joke that went over well. All told, the film’s writing was pretty strong for the most part and many of the jokes were sound. You really can’t ask for much more than that.

Overall, While You Were Sleeping is a pretty fun film. The pacing is always quick and so the film never drags on. Given that Romance Comedies aren’t exactly my thing, this one definitely performed quite admirably. If the general premise sounds like fun then I’d recommend checking this film out. You really can’t go wrong here and if you view it more as a general comedy then you’ll enjoy it more since that’s definitely the main focus. It never gets too over the top and most of the misunderstandings are just amped up a little to make the whole thing work. If only all romcoms could be like this one.

Overall 6/10


Who Framed Roger Rabbit Review

It’s time to look at a very classic mix of live action and cartoons. This is one of those films that I have certainly known about for a very long time, but never actually got to watch until now. It’s certainly a lot of fun and I can see why it became such a hit. Despite that, it does have its share of issues in regards to the pacing, Jessica Rabbit, and the main character. Well, lets dive into this!

The film follows a private eye known as Eddie. He doesn’t like the Toons that are always running around because they murdered his brother. Still, he can’t quite escape them since he lives in a world where they have found out how to make all of the classic Disney and Warner Bros characters real. These characters are also completely immortal except when it comes to a specific kind of acid which inflicts permadeath on them. Well, Eddie has been hired to find some blackmail that they can use to get Roger to work a little more seriously. The plan is actually rather suspect from the start since making him depressed could make his work get worse. Unfortunately, instead the blackmail of his wife Jessica cheating on him by playing patticake with some guy ends up making Roger crazier than expected. He seemingly murders the guy and then runs off. Eddie doesn’t care what happens to Roger, but unfortunately Roger lets everyone know that he and Eddie are a team by going to his apartment and now Eddie will have to solve the case to save his own skin.

It’s definitely pretty surreal to see characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny running around during the film. I like the concept of having a whole town of cartoons just causing mayhem and that the ones on TV are actually real. Of course, it does make you wonder why the Toons don’t do anything to stop their oppressors. If we buy Roger’s reasoning then they just want to make people smile so getting violent is out of the question. Still, that just doesn’t work since we know that some work as bouncers and others do actually get aggressive. It would have been awesome if at the end the Looney Tunes had banded together for a big fight. This isn’t that kind of movie so I wasn’t expecting that, but you just have to wonder why they just sit there and take it. Who knows how many Toons had already been murdered by this point. The story is actually dark when you think about it. The scene of the toon getting murdered on screen was particularly vicious and definitely showed that Doom has no mercy.

Quickly lets talk about the main character. I’m afraid that I don’t like Eddie. He’s fun for the first bit of the film as he talks tough to all of the characters and doesn’t like the Toons. However, he loses any sense of toughness when Jessica shows up and humiliates him in front of everyone. He has no real will power and just can’t seem to stand up to her. It’s pretty disgraceful if you ask me and especially since the whole scene was part of the villain’s plot. He basically stepped right into their hands. From that point on it was over for him. his dance at the end wasn’t particularly impressive either.

Then we have Dolores. This was not a well developed romance between her and Eddie. The whole time you are just wondering why this had to happen. They seemed rather antagonistic at the beginning of the film so I don’t know what pushed them together so well by the end. I guess the tense situation just got them to realize the important things in life. She isn’t a bad character, but doesn’t really contribute anything to the story either.

Next up is Doom, the main villain of the film. He’s definitely an intense character and a very smart one as well since he came up with the super powerful goop. The guy really does a good job of bringing in the fear whenever he shows up. He even knows a lot about the Toons which makes it easy for him to hunt them effectively. We get a twist about the characters which is handled really well and he can fight with great proficiency too. Doom is really the complete package as far as villains go.

Then we’ve got Roger, basically the main Toon of the film. Unfortunately his whole gimmick is that he isn’t smart at all and just gets the heroes in trouble all the time. His only goal in life is to make people laugh and that purpose overrides everything else including his self preservation instinct. If there is a laugh to be had you will certainly find Roger Rabbit. As a result, it’s definitely hard to root for this guy or even to sympathize with him. If he is always sabotaging everyone’s attempts to help him, then maybe it’s for the best that Doom nabs him. With someone as impulsive and unreliable as Roger, perhaps it wouldn’t be too much to assume that he did commit the murder. Anything is possible with this guy. In the 1-2 scenes that Bugs Bunny appears, he has a much better character and personality than Roger. He’s still rather mean and Mickey calls him out on it, but at least Bugs is smart and will always manage to survive. In comparison, Daffy seems to lose out again as his only real scene is a big fight between him and Donald where Donald has the upper hand the whole time. I guess we finally know which duck would win in a fight.

Jessica is certainly an interesting case as the whole point of her character is to be used for fanservice. Does this mean I shouldn’t really count it as fanservice?…Nah. It’s still fanservice for sure and her opening scene is quite brutal. Her character design is purposefully parodyish so you’re supposed to wonder why every character is so impressed as she isn’t all that impressive, but the bouncing effects of her character reach Dead or Alive levels. She gets a lot of red herring moments and does seem to be legitimately tough at times, but it’s certainly hard to root for her as well. The film could have definitely toned her down a bit as well to make her character be taken a little more seriously. We should have just had the rabbit from Space Jam, now there was a quality character.

So, the pacing does slow down somewhat for the second half. The first half of the film where Eddie doesn’t get along with the Tunes is certainly the best part. That’s usually the case for mean main characters like this who get nice by the end. They just aren’t as interesting as when they started out. The end gave us some nice action scenes though and the car chases were pretty fun. The movie surprisingly had a lot of restraint for not relying on the guest stars too much. It would have been really cool if they could have showed up more, but they probably would have ended up stealing the whole movie so it may have been a good idea to keep them out.

The writing is pretty solid I’d say. We get some nice burns from most of the characters and nice references as well. As far as the animation goes, I’d say that it looks good as well. It’s certainly interesting to see how they draw some of the characters as Daffy looks way different than he does in the classic shorts. The animation blends together rather well and the only time it looks even mildly choppy was when Eddie was thrown by one of the bigger toons during the movie. It must have been a lot of work so they definitely put in the effort.

I’d definitely like another take on this concept since there’s so much that can be done with it. We could easily get some kind of sequel or spinoff that could continue things. I want to see a full scale revolution from the Toons. They are clearly still underpaid and used by the humans so they need to demand justice. As the film shows that they are quite powerful, it would be difficult to stop them. We need a cool sequiel like that and of course there is a wider range of characters that could be thrown in now. The sky’s the limit.

Overall, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a solid film. It’s definitely fun and shows other films how to mix animated and live action styles the right way. The fanservice in the film is probably about as lenient as it gets thanks to the animation and while the pacing does get slow at times, it doesn’t last for too long. The positives of the film do end up outweighing the negatives. That being said, this film certainly isn’t in the same league as Space Jam so lets not forget the true legend of this genre. I doubt that film will ever be surpassed by another Looney Tunes/animation blend sort of film. It was just perfect and I wouldn’t have minded if Doom had challenged them to a quick game at the end. I would have been up for that is all I’m saying.

Overall 6/10


Sonic Boom Review

The first time I started watching Sonic Boom I knew that I had a winner on my hands. The series is the perfect blend of action and comedy. Due in part to the solid animation and naturally the strong writing as well, Sonic Boom is one of those all star titles that is not to be trifled with. It’s rare to see a comedy centered show actually be really funny throughout as opposed to once in a while but Boom pulls it off.

The basic plot of the show is that a group of friends live on an island. Their names are Sonic, Amy, Sticks, Tails, and Knuckles. This town is fairly isolated so the friends have to try and not get tired of each other or the fact that there is only one eatery in the entire town. They just have to learn to live the sub par food. Meanwhile, we also can’t forget about the evil Dr. Eggman who uses his evil inventions to try and conquer the town or sometimes to fight off tax corruption. One thing is for sure, there is always something happening in this show.

Sonic Boom may be a CGI show but the animation is so smooth and colorful that it is basically on the level of hand drawn animation. The character designs are really on point. At first people did make fun of some of the designs like Knuckles and Sonic but you quickly get used to them. The bright animation works well for the action scenes as well as the back and forth banter. It’s very versatile. Then there is also the solid soundtrack. It’s quite large as some episodes will have guest star montage themes. The normal everyday themes work well too and one of the big ones is the theme that plays when Sonic fights Shadow for the last time. It will keep you guessing throughout the show and that’s the sign of a good soundtrack.

The writing is certainly 5 Star material as the jokes just work so well. Part of it is the delivery of course, but you also have to give credit to the script for coming up with the jokes. In particular Sonic and Knuckles tend to get all of the best ones although every character has their moment. Eggman naturally gets a lot of time to shine as well with all of the banter between him and Sonic.

One thing you’ll also notice about Sonic Boom is that the show can get serious when necessary. Not all of the serious arcs may have always worked out, but for the most part they were pretty hype. The final two part event for the series certainly brought in the hype as Shadow’s battle with Sonic was as good as it gets. We haven’t had many battles with the two characters so it was cool to see them go at it. Shadow certainly had the edge in the fight which certainly makes sense since his speed is comparable to Sonic’s plus he has his chaos abilities like teleportation. It was fortunate for Sonic that Metal Sonic showed up and that fight was certainly epic as well. He was really doing pretty well against both of the hedgehogs even though he was outnumbered. The best part of the episode was still the early part though as Shadow’s takedown of the main cast was particularly brutal and showed him to be a legitimate threat. He did have a rather similar role in both seasons, but because his screen time was rather rare and limited it never actually felt redundant.

All right, let’s look at the cast. Sonic is essentially the perfect lead as he acts just like his hand counterpart, but dialed up to 11. This let him bring in a lot of snappy dialogue while still wrecking everyone when it came time for combat. This is definitely the Sonic that I remember from the games and his character is really done Justice. Whenever he faces off with someone you basically know that he is going to come out on top. Occasionally he will even subvert whatever the message of the episode was on account of being so talented. That just goes to show his skilled he is. He also does a good job of insulting everyone without being all that mean about it. He just tells it like it is and manages to look cool while doing so.

Knuckles certainly isn’t a very smart character and the show makes this as extreme as possible. Such an exaggerated character would certainly be either a big hit or a disaster and fortunately this portrayal was spot on. I think what really sells the character is how absolutely confident he is of being right. If someone tries to correct him Knuckles will typically put on a smug expression and explain why they are wrong. He has delusions of grandeur and at times he has gotten so big into his own ego that he ends up forgetting his bonds with the others. Knuckles is a nice guy, but one who just can’t cope too well with being the head honcho. He is still the power hitter of the team as well so you want to have Knuckles on your team.
For Tails, it’s an interesting case because rather than simply play up the genius angle, they play up the “genius wannabe” card. He is consistently shown to not be as smart as Eggman in this version and his inventions have to be fixed many times. Still, he does send up saving the day a lot through his inventions as well so it basically cancels out. Tails is a good character and he also has a bit of a rivalry with Sonic at times which is pretty fun. Sonic tends to come out on top, but the same can basically be said for all of his rivalries in the show (except Shadow) so that’s not bad. Tails’ best invention was certainly the one that could make clones of the individual. That’s a useful piece of tech for any situation.

Amy has her girl power sticker on for the show and loves to remind Sonic that not all problems have to be responded to with violence. Although, she is typically the one to jump into a fight. Her split personality is played up a lot in the show and makes her a character that can be feared by others aides. You just don’t want to make her angry. Her part time job as a psychiatrist also makes for a lot of entertaining scenes. She may be a little on the gullible side, but she is also the hero who gives the villains the benefit of the doubt more than the others which is surely a nice thing to do. Sonic never tends to buy into the villains actually having a change of heart in this show for better or worse.

Sticks was made up for Sonic Boom so it was always going to be interesting to see what route they took her. She is the big conspiracy nut of the series and spends a lot of her time yelling and trying to tell the cast what is actually happening. Her refusal to use technology does come in handy at times like when the villain tries to mind control everyone through the TV. Such tactics won’t work on Sticks. In a fight she does appear to be the weakest member but it’s not all about strength when you’re looking at a character. She’s definitely not one of the best members of the main cast, but she’s a reasonably solid member of the team:

Then we’ve got Eggman who is definitely a very important character in the series. He keeps everyone in check and seems to have a fairly formalized deal with Sonic that he will attack the town every week or so. They reference these plans quite a bit. Of course, a Eggman does sometimes switch things up if the town gets on his nerves. It’s not a great defense but if we’re being honest the town can be pretty annoying. They’ll try to cheat you out of money or cut out in line. Other townsfolk will try to guilt trip you into helping them and the mayor is absolutely corrupt. Some characters may just sit there and take it, but not Eggman. In all of these instances I am actually rooting for Eggman since he just seems to be in the right. It’s the town that really needs to change, not really Eggman.

Shadow only appears in 2 different stories but they are both quite good. He sounds intimidating for sure and just isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Especially when you consider how strong he is. Shadow may be a little gullible which is an unusual trait for the character and the only one that doesn’t work well, but he looks really good beyond that. His style of chaos control based combat is always fun to watch. As Sonic Boom surprisingly didn’t use guest stars all that often, it made their appearances even more special than usual.

Then we have Dave the Intern. Well, he has many jobs to be honest but he is most well known for his time over at Metburger where he sells fast food that isn’t healthy for you and the ingredients are also very suspect. He tends to get everyone’s order wrong and you run a risk whenever you go inside. So why do people eat there? Well, it’s the only food place in the small village. This is actually mentioned quite a few times and you wonder why the heroes would even live in such a village. There are probably quite a lot of fun theories about this, but I like to think that they are just trying to lay low for a little while. They don’t want to have to constantly be fighting so this was a way to get some r n r, but Eggman showing up definitely broke that plan. Dave is a really fun character thanks in large part to how his voice sounds. He clearly doesn’t want to be at the burger shop and has a lot of goals. Dave just isn’t particularly skilled enough to pull any of them off.

Another fairly big character in the show is Eggman’s twin brother robot from another dimension. His name is Morpho and his accent is certainly on point. I imagine that it must have taken a while to perfect it. He uses his shape changing abilities to great effect as he makes it hard for the heroes to trust each other. Eggman’s mother was also a quality character as she kept everyone in line. The supporting cast is just so great in this show and all of them get their due screen time. Even the old lady who is always losing her baby manages to be a solid character. There’s also a whole group of villains who work at the club house who are sort of like the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but the evil version.

For other guest stars, we’ve got Metal Sonic and Vector. It was a surprise to see Vector show up, but definitely a nice one. He’s not one of the coolest Sonic characters, but it was certainly about time that he got to be in something animated again. Metal Sonic was awesome as expected with his abilities still being top notch. Eggman’s lackeys Cubot and Orbot show up constantly and while their comedic moments don’t work quite as well as some of the others, they have their moments. It’s hard to totally be a bad character when you’re in this show. Even relatively weaker characters like the girl fox who showed up a bit and the old man who guilt trips everyone are more passable than they usually would be.

What really brings the humor home for Sonic Boom is how self aware it is with the characters and what is happening. When it pulls off homages to old sport films or classic moments in the Sonic franchise it works because the writers clearly know what they are referencing. Research was certainly being done on this show throughout. Superman is naturally referenced as well which is hype. Sadly the show did not last long enough for us to get to Super Sonic, but I like to think that the next season would have managed to squeeze that in at some point. There are so many more possibilities for episodes here.

In the end I’d definitely have to say that this is the best Sonic TV show. Sonic X isn’t far behind and then from there they all get rather close. I’d give the original Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon third, Adventures of Sonic 4th and then Underground would take a respectable last place finish. Sonic’s never really had a bad show before and that’s a credit to how good the franchise is. The original movie was excellent as well and hopefully the upcoming one will continue the trend.

Overall, Sonic Boom is an excellent show and one of the best non anime shows that I’ve seen in a long time. You could always expect high quality episodes from week to week. I’m still not a big fan of how many shows like to divide their episodes into 2 parts nowadays, but Boom pulls it off as well as it can. Hopefully it does get another season someday although its odds aren’t looking very great at the moment. I doubt the next Sonic show can surpass this one, but hopefully it is quite solid as well. So if you haven’t seen Sonic Boom yet, be sure to check it out asap.

Overall 8/10


Monsters, Inc. Review

It’s time to look at a retro Pixar film. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one, possibly even over 10 years at this point. I enjoyed the Dodgeball game that they made for the Gamecube so it was about time that I gave the film a revisit. It’s definitely aged really well and I’d consider it to be one of Pixar’s better films. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of rankings for it so I’m going to have a list near the end. I’m not sure why this film needed a prequel when a sequel makes more sense, but that’s an adventure for another time. Lets dive into the plot.

There exists a world filled with monsters who sneak into kids’ rooms at night in order to scare them. This is because their world runs on scream energy so they scare the kids and then dash back. They have to be careful because if a kid makes contact with them they will die from the poison. As such they can’t even touch anything that has been in touch with a kid. Sully is the best Monster Scarer in the business and is getting ready to break another record. The big hitch in this plan is that a kid manages to sneak out of her door and grab onto Sully. He must now find a way to return her to the human world without anyone noticing. His reputation is at stake, but he quickly finds out that kids may not be as dangerous as he was told. Will he make the right decision and help her out or follow corporate and not ask any questions?

Pixar has definitely come up with another very interesting world here. Doors that lead you to other worlds really sounds like something out of Kingdom Hearts. A whole society being born out of it is also very interesting. There’s definitely a lot you could do with the concept. If only Watermoose had adapted to the plot twist that laughter works just as well, he could have really been raking in the money. It’s sad because he seems like a decent guy for the majority of the film. I suppose they usually do seem nice at first though. He shows his true colors by the end though and the cops had the last laugh. Still a fun antagonist though and he can fight which is pretty impressive.

The writing is pretty solid for the film and that quickly makes the main characters pretty likable. Monster, Inc. has good pacing as well so it never really drags on. The film goes by in a snap with no real weak points. Even the brief Yeti part of the film had the potential to drag on, but the characters didn’t stay there for very long so I’d say that it wasn’t bad. The door hopping shenanigans at the end of the film do raise some questions though. They would jump in one door and escape through another. This is because Boo powered up all of the doors, but then can’t Randall do the same? I mean, if he is still alive anyway. If he isn’t, then there was no reason to break the door either though. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry though.

The animation is pretty consistent with Pixar’s usual style. The character designs for the monsters and the humans are classic at this point. We even get a quick fight scene which looks good even if you’ll wonder how Randall can be so much more skilled than Sully. You’d expect the main character to put up a better fight considering how much raw power he has right? I guess he just wasn’t ready for invisibility and I suppose it can take you by surprise. There isn’t much of a soundtrack here, but maybe next time.

Sully is a good main character. He never let the fame go to his head even when he was the fear champ. He looks out for his friends and while he didn’t plan for Boo to be around, he still takes her appearance in stride and then aims to protect her. He’s just a nice guy who always makes the right call. There’s nothing really bad to say about him. He has no real negative qualities unless you count his poor combat showing, but that really can’t be held against his personality.

Mike provides a nice contrast to Sully. He is interested in the records and getting onto the covers of various magazines. He has bad luck with a stamp always canceling out his face, but always looks on the bright side of things. He talks a good game and doesn’t really fear anyone. His only downside is the romance plot. It’s one of those romance plots that is rather small, but still cringe-worthy and doesn’t add anything to the film. It’s just there so the film can say that it had a romance plot, but we didn’t need one of those. Mike and Sully may bicker at times as they disagree on what to do with Boo, but at the end of the day they’ll always be friends.

Boo is the little kid who tags along with the crew and she can be rather annoying. She can’t talk and keeps on trying to get the heroes in trouble. Not a very nice thing to do if you ask me and she does seem to know what she is doing. Boo is young enough where it’s hard to pin the blame on her, but that’s why I still prefer for kids to not be main characters. She’s more of a plot device than a character here I suppose, but her only role is to make things tougher on the heroes. I’m guessing she’ll be a
better character in a sequel since she’ll be older and more experienced. At least she can fight though which is really good since self defense is a must.

While Watermoose is the head honcho of the villains, Randall is still the main antagonist. He really wants to be the scare king and will do anything to get the title. He gets rather drastic by the end and is willing to attack the heroes to get what he wants. Of course, his skills don’t matter much against full fledged adults as we see by the end of the film. He’s a solid villain who is nice to have in the film. Whether he is acting as a rival or a pure villain, he’s definitely a lot of fun. Randall is able to be charismatic while also being a threat.

There is a group of workers who try to keep the place sanitary and they are definitely some of the best characters in the film. One of them goes for a full body slam on an unsuspecting citizen. They are certainly over the top with their methods of keeping the germs at bay, but you can never be too safe. There will definitely be no contagion event in this film since they have the place under lock and key. They may not be appreciated by the monsters, but their duty and service is the only thing keeping monster world together.

All right, it’s time to take a rough look at how all the Pixar films stack up. Here we go! Cars, Cars 3, Inside Out, Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Up, Ratatouille. At the very least this is how I’d rank them at the moment. There are quite a few close ones in there but there can be no ties so I had to make the tough calls. We’ll see how Toy Story ranks once I finally check that one out. I’ve heard pretty good things about that series.

Overall, Monsters, Inc. is a good film that has definitely aged well. It’s the kind of movie that has quite a lot of replay value so you could watch it multiple times because of how fast it moves. It’s just a charming film with a lot of heart and an upbeat tone all the way through. The ending gives it a nice boost as well since it’s the perfect way to wrap things up. Ending another way would have just been needlessly sad. If you haven’t seen it yet then I’d definitely recommend giving this film a whirl. It’s a fun premise and doesn’t go too far in making the monsters appear cowardly either. The writing is solid enough to keep the film balanced. Hopefully the prequel is as good although it’ll certainly be tough.

Overall 7/10


Teen Wolf Review

It’s time for a teen party film by the name of Teen Wolf. These guys seem to party more than they actually attend class so it makes sense why they are all bad influences on each other. It’s definitely a pretty interesting take on the whole Werewolf genre and I’d actually say that it is handled better than most. It is a lot different than I was expecting it to be at any rate based on the fact that the TV probably chose the worst poster for it. It suffers from quite a few issues, but not any of the Werewolf ones. Instead, it suffers from the issues a teenage party film usually runs into. I guess if it’s not one thing then it’s the other right?

So, the film starts off by showing us how Scott is a lot like Peter Parker. He isn’t very good at sports. In fact, his team never wins a single game. He’s definitely not very popular and Scott just feels like things never go his way. The popular girl in school won’t even talk to him, but in this case it’s Scott who is being obnoxious since he knows she is taken, but acts like that doesn’t even matter. Well, things all change one day when he begins turning into a Werewolf. Now he can finally become the popular guy he always wanted to be, but it may end up coming at the cost of his old friends. Is it worth the popularity?

The film even seems to recognize the similarities to Spider-Man as they reference the “With great power comes great responsibility” line and it’s Scott’s father who tells him this. His mother also may have been murdered by the school bully as he mentions in passing that he’s dealt with Scott’s kind before and how he got the Mom with a shotgun. This could just be classic bully posturing and he got a normal wolf, but the Mom never actually appears so it’s up in the air. I wouldn’t even say it’s all that implied though so it’s a bit of a stretch. You could also say that the film’s moral dilemma is similar to the huge Bayonetta controversy going on right now. You could pay 5.99 to start winning thousands of dollars through tournies and get popular, but you may alienate your old friends as they struggle to keep up with the freemium characters. As your ego grows larger and the friendships grow smaller, it gets tricky.

I have to give the film huge kudos for having a big plot twist that I actually didn’t expect. Naturally Scott is going through a tough time and his Dad wants to help him. At this point, Scott is in full wolf man mode so if he opens the door then his secret is out. However, if he doesn’t then his Dad’s gonna bust the door open. So, Scott opens the door and you expect him to have transformed back to normal in typical cliche fashion. Instead, he is still a werewolf and what’s more..his Dad is a werewolf too. He takes it very commonly and that was probably the best scene in the film. From here on out his Dad probably should have taught him more about being a werewolf whether Scott was ready to hear it or not, but it was still a cool twist even if the film doesn’t do a whole lot with it.

I also like how the Basketball team completely accepts him instead of everyone suddenly turning on Scott. He’s the same guy after all so why should they start fearing him? They shouldn’t suddenly call the cops and start attacking him or anything. Realistically, he’s just another one of the guys, but with super strength and speed now. It made the Basketball scenes even more hype even if he became a ball hog. I don’t buy into Scott not actually realizing why everyone was getting upset at him to be honest since he made it obvious that his friends weren’t needed, but it was still cool. The basketball scenes actually had a lot more screen time and focus than I had originally thought they would. The final game is super cheesy since the team is up against the champs and all, but it’s still a fun ending. I got some Air Bud flashbacks during this. If the film had stuck to the Basketball plot along with the Werewolf part then this film would have actually been quite solid.

Unfortunately, it does get hurt quite a bit by the romance plot as well as the various party scenes. The first party is incredibly long and definitely doesn’t do the film any favors. It’s basically just everyone acting super obnoxious and playing Spin The Bottle sort of games. Scott’s friend Boof is always trying for him, but he’s trying for someone else leading to one of those annoying triangles. Boof is able to corner Scott in the closet and as with most film leads he doesn’t mind relenting at this point, but he’ll still go after the other girl next. It’s just a very sad case of rebounding since Scott ditches Boof like last year’s pizzeria and immediately goes for the other girl even after she had been mean to him the whole time. After the girl uses Scott and then dumps him, he comes crying back to Boof. This isn’t a good romance since Boof was Scott’s backup pick and she should have been the one to reject him this time.

Scott isn’t even a good character so it’s not like you can root for him. The romance scenes make this painfully apparent. Then he lets his ego control him for all of his Werewolf scenes and can’t control his urges much either. I think that just about anyone would have done a better job of using his powers. He also is willing to buy some beer even though he is underage. At least he said no to the gun, but it still wasn’t a good move. His friend Stiles is the perfect example of a bad influence as he loves to break the rules in every possible way. He isn’t lacking in confidence which makes him charismatic, but also dangerous. His only redeemable quality is that he’s loyal to Scott at least. He cheered along with everyone else when Scott finally scored and it was a pretty hype moment. They didn’t care about standing out, just supporting Scott.

The Principal is an interesting antagonist although his role isn’t all that big. He just has a big grudge against Scott since he had issues with Scott’s father. That would probably make for a decently interesting prequel but since we already know the ending, maybe it’s best to let that lie. The principal, well I guess he was technically the vice principal, (but then where was the principal?) may have lost but he put on a good show. Even if Boof probably made the wrong call in sticking with Scott despite the main character not being loyal, she’s still a good character at least. While I doubt she’s much better than the other teenagers as she was still at the party, at least she isn’t completely off the rails.

Surprisingly, the few scenes we see of school aren’t that bad. I did enjoy the montage of Scott getting knocked out during class since they kept referencing Wolves many times. He handled it pretty well for the most part and even when he ran to the rest room he showed great speed and only slipped a few times on the way. The visual humor of how long the hallway was worked pretty well and this scene also showed how perceptive the vice principal was as he almost caught Scott. It also showed us how one of the friends from the early part of the film really was fake since he got scared off so easily.

Finally, I should give a quick shoutout to the basketball coach. He was definitely great as he hit Scott with the hard truth. He always kept it real and said what was on his mind. Even when the other students turned their backs on Scott, the teacher stayed firm. As long as he had his snacks and got 12 hours of sleep he was close content. At the end of the day that was all he needed and really was a great coach. He is easily the best character in the film and any scene with him in it tends to be pretty hype.

Overall, Teen Wolf is better than I thought it’d be. The humor isn’t bad and the Basketball scenes are really good. It’s just the dreadful party scenes that don’t help matters and Scott is a very poor lead. You can’t feel bad for him because as the Dad mentioned, he dug these holes on his own. Going out with the girl who was only using him was probably the worst part of that. It’s not really a film that I’d recommend, but I can see why it’s well liked. The two best aspects of the film, Basketball team accepting Scott and the father being a Werewolfs were extremely well handled and were really unexpected. It’s not everyday that a film can pull off something that is unexpected while also being good. That alone is enough to keep this film afloat even if it can’t get any higher than that. I think that what we have learned here is that if you want to be a good Werewolf film then you also need to try and be a good sports film. That’s the ticket to victory.

Overall 6/10


A Charlie Brown Valentine Review

It’s time to look at a Charlie Brown Valentine’s special. It’s been a little while since I have seen one so it’s cool to go back to the franchise. It’s a fun enough special but not really one of the strongest ones due to the Valentine’s plot with Charlie seeming a little recycled from previous specials.

So, it’s a few days before Valentine’s. Charlie Brown is determined to finally give the little red haired girl a Valentine this year and hopefully they can be friends. The problem is that Brown hasn’t gotten any braver over the years so he will need Linus to act as the middle man. Meanwhile, the annual dance is coming up and Marcie intends to ask Charlie Brown to it. The problem is that he has been having trouble with his hearing lately so this can be tricky.

All of the different story arcs are related to Valentine’s in one way or another. That being said, the bullies don’t take a day off for the holidays and they decide to pick on the Little Red Haired Girl. She’s usually so mysterious that nobody dares to mess with her so this was certainly a change. In fact, she appears quite a bit more here than she usually does. We get to see Linus break out the whip once more which was pretty cool. He’s still one of the best characters in the series for sure. You feel bad for him because he just wants to be friends while someone is constantly trying to stop him from this goal.

Lucy still has her knowledge booth where she helps with your problems for a nickel. It’s not even a bad deal if we’re being honest since that’s rather cheap. Her items for purchase do take a few days but at least she doesn’t ask for cash up front. This way it’s hard to actually call it a scam since you end up keeping your money in the end.

Snoopy’s role here is rather small. He gets invited to the dance and shows the whole school who the best dog is. Beyond that, he doesn’t get to fight with the Red Baron or hang out with his bird pal. I guess there isn’t much they could do to celebrate Valentine’s, but at least show them eating some chocolate or something. I’m always ready to see more quality Snoopy screentime.

Charlie Brown looks pretty bad as per usual. His worst scene is probably when he just watches as the little red haired girl gets bullied. It’s no wonder that she ignores him since Charlie won’t even help when she is in a pinch. So much for counting on classmates right? Charlie even throws away his lunch which was pretty unfortunate since I’m sure a lot of effort was put into that. It didn’t look particularly appetizing if we’re being honest, but I’m sure Charlie didn’t mind or he would have given Linus a speech about it.

The animation is consistent as always. It does look a little cleaner than the older specials but unless you see them side to side you probably won’t notice much of a change. It’s a style that still works so I suppose that’s good enough. It’d be nice to see how the series looks with a modern hand drawn style but I have no real complaints with it here. You’ll hear some of the familiar tunes as well. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but what is there works fairly well. The pacing is pretty good so the special flows well. There aren’t any boring subplots to drag it down or anything like that. It would have been nice if we could have gotten some kind of competition in this special since those are usually the best segments in the series. I guess it may have felt rather tacked on though.

Overall, This is a fun Charlie Brown special. The characters are iconic at his point and the special is so quick that he pacing is really good. None of the plots overstay their welcome either. While Valentine’s doesn’t lead to plots that are quite as engaging as other holidays, it does its best with what it has. I’d recommend checking this out if you’re a Charlie Brown fan. Otherwise this probably isn’t the ideal special to start out with but you’ll enjoy it all the same. It’s a fun story with good characters. What more could you ask for?

Overall 6/10


The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 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 likely be far more negative.
It’s time for a retro train heist film. It’s definitely not a plot that you see every day, that’s for sure. Taking over a train seems futile and pointless but I suppose it’s good if your overall goal is just to cause mayhem and destruction. In this film, the villains have a plan on how they can actually pull off a heist and get away with it though. Time to see if their plan was entertaining.

The film starts off with a conductor learning how to be a conductor. He gets the hang of it pretty quick so his boss leaves. Unfortunately, that is when a group of robbers walk in and take the train at gun point. Their demands are simple. They want 1 Million U.S. dollars and a free ticket out of the tunnels. The transit police will have to think carefully about how they proceed. There are 17 hostages at play here which is the main problem. If the cops keep obeying the demands, then the crooks will get away and the hostages may be shot anyway. If they don’t obey, the hostages will be shot right away. Time to make some tough calls.

I’ll end the suspense right now, this was a great movie! There is no shortage of good characters to be found here. The writing is excellent and the pacing is sound. As with many thriller films like this, I did prefer the first half to the second. It’s just always hard for the payoff to actually beat the setup. Still, it gives it a good effort all the way through and the ending is still solid. At times this film feels like a parody, but you could also just make the case that it accurately depicts how tough New Yorkers are. They are certainly the last people to get intimidated by a guy with a gun. This bravado doesn’t always work in their favor though as one guy runs into his death as he tries to insult the gunman.

Garber is the main character here and he takes the situation in stride. Like the other New Yorkers, he basically just laughs at the villains for a while. He doesn’t take them too seriously but eventually he is forced to re-evaluate this position. He never loses his nerve throughout the film though and you can see why he is the captain here. The rest of his men don’t take the threat all that seriously either, but don’t really know when to get serious so it’s probably good that they stayed in the background. If you want a character who was really tough, look no further than the Deputy Mayor. The scenes with him and the actual mayor are certainly the best ones in the entire film.

The mayor only cares about his voters and living life to the max. He would rather keep his money than save everyone, but the deputy pressures him into making the right calls. Even then the mayor is able to stall for time by calling in various heads for different departments. While this is hopefully not too realistic for New York if such a thing were to happen now, it’s easy to picture this happening. There’s always a bunch of red tape everywhere after all. The mayor never really steps up and that’s part of what makes the plot fun. The deputy certainly has a lot of work on his hands if this scene is any indication.

To an extent this film can feel like a parody at times. It certainly has quite a lot of comedy moments throughout but they aren’t exaggerated or obnoxious. It’s the sort of outlandish humor that works because nobody reacts to it. All of the characters appear to be acting sensibly in the eyes of the others. Whether it be asking the gunmen questions with obvious answers or asking what’s going on when the scene is taking place in front of you. The characters say their lines with a straight face and really test the villains’ patience.

That’s why the second half can’t really hope to win against the first. The second half is actually played a little more seriously as the villains make their big move. We get some gun fights and the undercover cop finally gets to do something. The film hypes him up for a very long time so it was nice to finally see him do something more than just hiding. He does all right for himself and I guess there wasn’t much he could have done earlier, but honestly you could cut him out of the film and not much would change. Likewise with the villain that the others didn’t trust. They’re not bad plots though so I’ll take it.

There aren’t really any negatives to speak of with this film. It certainly doesn’t drag on as the pacing is good and the writing is solid as well. The writing isn’t amazing as the TV version did have to edit the dialogue quite a bit, but it worked well enough. It could have easily tried to make all of the characters edgy in a bad way instead of everyone just being arrogant and rebellious here. There are two remakes of this film and I doubt either one of them will be able to come close to this one. It’s a very delicate balance when you’re trying to make a comedy thriller since one element can usually overwhelm the other. I think this movie did a really fine job with it.

As for the tough question of listening to the terrorists’ demands, it’s definitely a tough call. After all, as shown in this film there is really no end. They can just keep making more and more demands until they get away since it’s not like the hostages are going well. Even after they bump off a few people nobody can do anything because of them. Of course they will eventually run out of room to make demands since they still need an escape route, but the cops really have a tough job in these films. The officers do a good job of delivering the package to the villains since they had to come in unarmed and even give their back to the villains. One cop did choke though so hopefully he resigned after the situation ended.

A nice touch for the villains is that they didn’t cram in some random sob story or anything like that. They just wanted to get rich and decided that holding up a train would be better than taking out a bank. They’re not ex soldiers trying to make a point, leaders of charities who are being robbed, or concerned citizens trying to stop a corrupt government. They’re just ordinary crooks with a big dream. Once they’re caught, they’re taken to jail. It feels like a while since the villains didn’t have any extra baggage and sometimes it works better that way. Not every villain needs to be three dimensional or super sympathetic. The final villain just jumping into his money is the perfect embodiment of what these villains were after. At the end of the day, they just wanted to be rich.

Overall, This train heist film was quite solid. It’s a pretty cool backdrop for a film and since it takes place in NYC that made the whole thing even cooler. The characters are solid and the comedy is on point. I’d definitely recommend checking it out ASAP. Whenever the mayor appears, prepare yourself for hype. I do wish he had gotten to appear one last time, but I suppose the film didn’t want to risk overdoing it with his plot and that makes sense. This film’s ending is also quite satisfying. The main characters gets to put on his detective hat and one of the little running gags from earlier led to a payoff. It’s not quite Airplane, but I would consider this to be one of the better comedies.

Overall 8/10


Cars 3 Review

It’s time to take a look at the end of the trilogy. Cars had a good run as there aren’t too many Pixar films that have gotten two sequels. That being said, while the final installment is pretty solid, I’d still say that the original Cars is the best one. This film just had one thing that went against it, but it was a fairly big thing, the ending.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen in a big race. He is at the head of the pack as per usual but then he is passed by Storm, a new kid on the block. The kid claims that he used to look up to Lightning, but that the main character is just too old to compete nowadays. He throws a lot of age related burns Lightning’s way and the lead pushes himself too hard as he tries to catch up and ends up getting into an accident. This leads him to stay out of the races for a few months, but nothing can keep Lightning down for very long. He decides to get back into the races and to do that he will have to use the latest training tech. His sponsors were bought out by a millionaire who loves the high tech stuff, but he may not be quite as nice as the older guys. At the end of the day, Lightning is going to have to prove that he has what it takes to get back on the track and claim victory.

The theme of the main character getting old and being surpassed by new talent is certainly a tried and true one. Rocky is certainly well known for doing it. We even get a lot of training for Lightning as he tries to get better although the film fumbles this part a little. Lightning’s personal trainer, Cruz decides to follow him and she doesn’t believe that he has what it takes to go all the way. As such, Lightning spends most of his time helping her out instead of actually training. He doesn’t get much faster than he was so in a way old and actually ended up winning this time. Lightning looks good during the final race but he doesn’t end up winning so that’s too bad. It’s not like he got a clean win in the first film either but at least it was obvious he was going to win and the crowd reinforced this. In this film Lightning was only projected to make it to the top 10 before he tagged in Cruz. To be clear, the point of this part of the film is that Lightning couldn’t train as much as he wanted too so that was the film’s intention. I just say they fumbled the ball because the plot took a different turn than I had been hoping for. I wanted the hype comeback story where Lightning wins and then I’d be fine with him retiring. Having him put it all on the line one last time would have been exciting. Maybe Lightning would have been able to take 1st or maybe not. We’ll just never know. As the ending played I thought that Lightning and the trainer would both be competing but under different teams. That would have been neat.

The animation is as solid as ever. The film’s definitely does a great job with all of the car designs and I still crack up at their facial expressions. Throw in the grins and you are constantly entertained. The racing scenes look really nice and the music is also pretty good. The film has an actual soundtrack which is nice. Cars 3 definitely did a good job on all the technical levels. Even the way everyone says “Lightning McQueen” is a lot of fun. I don’t know why but they always seem to taking a jab at him with the way they stretch out his name but maybe I am overthinking it.

As expected the writing is also really good and is a considerable upgrade from the last film. It is just really great to have Lightning back as the lead. He does a great job of looking like the seasoned veteran you would expect him to be at this point. The mind games don’t really work on him at this point and he doesn’t take his training for granted. Even his depression phase was quite small and he snapped out of it very quickly. I do think it makes the initial teaser very misleading as the crash wasn’t nearly as bad as it implied, but it was a good misdirect. After all, the crash still did happen so it certainly wasn’t false advertising. It’s probably safe to say at this point that Lightning is one of Pixar’s best leads.

The supporting cast is solid as well. They brought back Lightning’s rival from the first film and he definitely does not like Lightning any more than he used to. In fact I’d say his aggression has only increased with age and he takes numerous shots at McQueen whenever he is on the air. His segments are definitely a lot of fun and certainly is a highlight of the film. What you have to respect the most about this guy is that he isn’t trying to put on some kind of act. He is straight forward about how he doesn’t like Lightning and I dare say that he is the most enjoyable character in the film. It just doesn’t get better than this guy.

The new villain is also pretty solid. Storm thinks that the younger cars are the ones who should be on top of the circuit and is always throwing insults at Lightning based on his age. He has a great design and his speed is certainly the real deal. The scene where he is training and passes a hologram of Lightning is a lot of fun as well. Jackson is arrogant and extremely confident. Those are definitely qualities that you always want in a villain and he pulls them off very well. We have yet to have a bad enemy racer for Lightning which is pretty impressive. All 3 opponents were fun villains. At least this one doesn’t play dirty til the end so he did win all of his races with skill.

Finally we have Cruz. I’m afraid that her character was a bit of a miss since the movie tries to portray her as a prodigy with the oblivious nature of Mater. This isn’t a good combo for many reasons, one of which is that these character traits really clash. You can’t be someone who really knows what to do on the track and also not have any real common sense for new roads. When she heads to the beach for the first time she has absolutely no idea how to drive. Cruz can’t turn and falls in every puddle. She is exaggeratedly bad at being a racer despite earlier scenes making a point of showing that she was great at the simulator. Then she is supposed to be a great trainer who is great at helping any car get to the next level. She individualized the training for each car based on which obstacles they had which prevented them from getting to the next level. Yet, she could not do the same for Lightning and instead seems to be trying to sabotage his chances of being ready for the race. Perhaps the angle that the film was going for was that she was such a big fan of Lightning that she really did think he was too old and didn’t want him to tarnish his legacy. That theory is a bit of a stretch though and either way it doesn’t really help her case. The part of her character that had the most potential was her dream of driving but even that is a little murky.

When this plot was first introduced I figured that they were going to say that Sue wasn’t able to be a racer because girls weren’t allowed at the time or in her district. It would have been very disappointing for her and would have been a legitimate reason for her to have hung up the tires in place of being a coach. Instead, she was simply intimidated by the cars and quickly gave up. It’s hard to be sympathetic to her plight because it sounds like she never even gave it a second go. She couldn’t have been all that excited to be a racer if she gave up on her goal so quickly. At least for me, this twist weakened her story.

I should wrap up this section or it’ll start to be as long as the rest of the review! This is just my explanation for why her character was ruined out of the gate. Her personality and what we knew of the character completely clash with each other. She appears to be smart and competent in some scenes and not so much in others. You’d think that the film switched writers midway or at least made some big changes to he character. As for the other supporting characters, they were okay. We got a group of older cars who help Lightning get ready for the race with some motivation and a track for him to ride on. They don’t appear too much of get much of a role, but they seemed like solid characters. The other cars back home got their cameos in as well.

The only relatively weak part of the film is when the gang heads over to the underground racing arena where they fight a Magic School Bus homage. It’s not so much that this is a bad scene but it basically feels like filler and I didn’t care for any of the characters there. This was also during the phase where Cruz was pretty annoying. I suppose it was a good way of showing that Lightning is proficient in all kinds of races, but that probably could have been handled better.

Overall, Cars 3 is a good way to end the trilogy. If the story does end here, it’s not such a bad way to end off. Lightning still should have won the race and that would have solidified this as a great film and the best in the trilogy, but I suppose you can’t win them all. If you’re looking for a fun racing film with a good lead then you have come to the right place. What really makes Cars 3 so solid is the fact that the writing is certainly on point. It’s an enjoyable film even when not much is happening because the dialogue is good. That being said, the pacing is pretty quick for the most part. I would definitely recommend this film. It’s an all around solid movie.

Overall 7/10


Scrooged Review

There have been a whole lot of Christmas Carol adaptations over the years. I’ve seen a lot of them and likely have yet to see several others. I can definitely say that this is the most memorable one of the bunch and probably handles Scrooge the best. I feel like he put up more resistance than his other incarnations and knowing about the iconic story does put this Scrooge at an advantage as well.

The film naturally starts off by showing how mean Scrooge is. He is corporate to the core and won’t even let his people have Christmas off. That’s because he wants to have a live show on Christmas for the extra ratings. His boss is definitely excited about this and is low-key the real boss of the company. He insists that animals should be added to the broadcast since they watch TV now. Scrooge sarcastically agrees. Unfortunately, his life begins to turn upside down when he is visited by a ghost. He will have to survive 3 more encounters with his personality intact or he will lose to the very story that he has made it his mission to mock! Meanwhile, there’s a new director in town who is called to help with the movie but he may just be there in order to replace Scrooge once and for all.

The first act of the film is definitely the best part. There are two kinds of mean leads. The ones who are subtly glorified by the end and make it personal and the ones who are just generally mean to everyone but it’s not all that malicious. The latter is the right kind of mean lead and fortunately that is the one we get here. This is a comedy film that is actually funny which seems to be a rare feat at times. Pretty much any scene with the old Scrooge is solid.

He’s very confident in himself and has made it pretty high up in his career by stepping on all those who would oppose him. That’s why he isn’t too worried when the ghosts come knocking. While you can’t help but applaud his proactive approach to finding the ghosts, it does start to hurt his reputation since nobody else can see them and that makes it easy to frame Scrooge. One of the ghosts in particular is quite aggressive as she spends a lot of her screentime beating Scrooge up. This is around where he lost a lot of his fiery spirit and it’s easy to see why. He was effectively humbled here. The final ghost of Christmas Future is also intense as expected. He has always had a really cool design and the movie goes all the way here. The spirit looks rather disturbing and even houses demons inside of the cloak. Scrooge definitely didn’t have a chance against this one.

Naturally, it’s inevitable that Scrooge has to turn good since that is the whole moral of the film. Fortunately the scenes of him being good only last for a few minutes but his speech on the TV did drag on quite a bit. That’s probably the only scene that I thought went on for too long but it’s probably because the scene in question was definitely on the cheesy side. There’s two ways you can take his 180 character switch. One is that he has genuinely changed and I’m pretty sure that this is what the film is telling us.

The other one is that he is simply playing along in order to keep his life. The spirits basically told Scrooge that they’ll murder him if he doesn’t have a change of heart and while they may have just been trying to scare him, it’s hard to take that risk. He could just be trying to save his own life which is certainly in line with his usual motivation of looking out for himself. The story is also a little tragic since Scrooge initially started out as an earnest worker. When everyone else were having a party he kept on working. He had no time to fool around with the others and just wanted to climb the corporate ladder. As with many though, he eventually forgot why he climbed it in the first place and now takes delight in making everyone else’s life harder.

The film does go a little far with some of the costumes though. Scrooge wants to make an edgy Christmas Carol filled with scantily clad characters which is a bit much and the same goes for the female ghost. It’s certainly not a huge deal in the film but since the ghost at least gets a lot of screentime they probably could have given her a nicer design. As long as they keep in the punches (Yes, she goes for full punches and even some combos against Scrooge) she would still appear to be rather scary.

One of the main reasons why this film was able to succeed is because the writing was pretty solid. You need a good script in order to make Scrooge witty and mean without going too far. Then the rest of the characters are written pretty well too. I guess the only subplot that feels rather tacked on is the romance with the main heroine. I’m guessing the film wanted this plot because in most of the Christmas Carols, Scrooge’s biggest regret is not getting together with someone. The heroine just never gets much of a role though and seems to have done a very good job of leading her own life without Scrooge. I think just showing Scrooge a glimpse at how happy she is would have sufficed for that plot. It’s one opportunity that he completely lost and he won’t get another shot, but at least he would learn from it. The film doesn’t give it a really big focus anyway so it’s rather minor when you think about it.

One subplot that was excellent was Scrooge firing someone on Christmas Eve. That’s definitely one of those things that you just don’t do. It’s an unspoken rule that you wait until after Christmas to let someone go like that. Well, the guy didn’t go down quietly and does take out his shotgun. A very wise move if you’re going to go up against the full power of corporate. The film can really start to get outlandish at times, but never gets too excessive and again, the humor is on point. The film actually manages to pull this off and that’s no easy feat.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Scrooged quite a bit. Your enjoyment of it will depend on how much you like Scrooge himself. If you find him to be too mean to the point where you can’t stand to see him on screen then this will definitely be tough. If you don’t mind him all that much then it’ll work out pretty well. The film does a good job of being humorous and has solid writing as well. What more could you ask for? Scrooge maybe cried a little too easily the first time but beyond that his character is consistent the whole time he is the antagonist. The ending of the film is a little weak, but it’s hard to avoid that ending without changing the whole meaning of the story. Scrooge is one of those villains that is actually fun to root for and is more likable than the rest of the cast despite being such a mean guy. That’s how much charisma he has.

Overall 7/10


Cars 2 Review

Cars 2 is definitely a sequel that never hit home with the fans the way that the first did. There are quite a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that Lightning McQueen has been dethroned as the main character in favor of his comic relief sidekick, Mater. This is a huge downgrade and while Lightning still has a fairly big role, his scenes mainly remind you how great the film would have been if it had stuck to that.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen finally coming back home in order to relax for a bit before the races start up again. He hangs out with the gang and looks forward to a good time. Unfortunately, Mater notices a car named Francesco mocking Lightning on a radio show and tries to defend him. Mater does such a terrible job that Lightning has to defend Mater and it forces to step back on the track in order to prove himself. Mater may have gotten Lightning into this, but it’s up to our favorite race car to get himself out. The only problem is that Mater is sacrificing Lightning’s chances to win at every turn. Can McQueen still pull out one last win?

As I mentioned, the film is quite good when Lightning is on screen. He has certainly kept his development from the first film and doesn’t regress in any way. He is now the experienced veteran that you would expect him to be and he even won 3 World Championships off screen. McQueen coming back to visit for a while instead of entering more races also shows what a quality character he is. When Lightning is forced to go up against Francesco, it is a very tense race because both of them are champions in their own right. It’s also a fun all star race because there are a bunch of other cars who are known from various other countries and are competing in this race. While it’s clear that the main two racers are far above the others, it’s a good way for the film to raise the stakes. It’s a natural continuation of the first film’s plot and Lightning is already established as a good enough character where you definitely want to root for him. While he’s not an all powerful race car on the track and Francesco is actually faster when going straight, Lightning pulls out everything he learned from racing in the town and that gives him a really good edge by the end. Then Mater’s bad advice makes Lightning lose the race and we’re reminded that this epic plot is only the subplot.

The main plot actually follows Mater as he helps out two secret agents known as Holley and Finn. They have to stop someone from blowing up all of the cars in the Grand Prix. The two agents think that Mater is actually someone else since the actual agent put his tracker on Mater in a last ditch effort to keep the intel from the villains. The problem is that Mater isn’t very smart and the agent still did end up dying. It’s a rather brutal scene and it’s definitely a big contrast to the rest of the film. The whole movie is so light hearted otherwise and you’re not supposed to give the poor agent a second thought, but it still is quite sad. Mater could have saved him if he was a little smarter.

Again, this is where Mater will likely lose you. You’re supposed to root for the guy since he means well and by the end of the film he realizes that he has to get a little smarter. That would be fine, but the problem is that he is a little too over the top for you to actually buy into it. The film does wipe away his biggest mistake of making a mess all over the carpet with a plot twist, but he’s still just a really bad character. He certainly isn’t someone you can root for, that’s for sure. The plot is rather predictable as the characters naturally find out the truth about him at the end, but by then it’s too late. Mater is easily the worst character in this film and I took it personally right when he sabotaged Lightning’s first race.

The two agents aren’t bad though. Holley is doing her best to complete this first assignment as a field agent, but is having a hard time since Mater just thinks she wants to be with him and nobody is taking her seriously. It’s a pretty rough time for her, but she does her best to keep her composure and still
save the day with her gadgets. Finn is the other agent and he’s a veteran who has been in his share of fights. He definitely knows how to use hand to hand combat even though he is a car and while he is completely fooled by Mater’s act even more than the rest of the characters, he also ultimately decides to be Mater’s friend anyway.

The action scenes are fun and the homages to James Bond work well. See, the film’s humor isn’t all that awful. In fact, when Mater isn’t around it can actually be pretty enjoyable. It has a nice blend of quick lines and situational humor. It’s just that Mater makes everything dial it up to a 9. This wouldn’t even be a bad thing if he didn’t have to end up saving the day at the end. That’s really what makes the whole thing cheesy. A good example of an exaggeratedly unintelligent character is Knuckles from Sonic Boom. He pulls off the role because it’s not like he’s actually some kind of excellent secret agent or anything like that. In fact, things with him don’t even end up panning out all that well most of the time. It makes the whole plot feel a lot more natural and wholesome. Mater is just given way too much credit.

As far as rivals go, Francesco is rather generic. He’s really just here to fill in the role of the mean rival car. He doesn’t actually do anything past the role, but he doesn’t do anything wrong either. I definitely didn’t mind having him around and seeing more of him would have probably been fun. It’s just a shame that Lightning’s supporting cast is always around to embarrass him and hurt his arguments. Even Sally looks really bad in this film so I can see why Lightning just takes the pit crew with him and leaves his other friends behind. They’re not exactly morale boosters.

Some of the situations also seem a little forced for the plot. Lightning would certainly know better than to get off the road when Mater tells him too. This is for 2 reasons. One, Lightning can see that it’s a straight path ahead and since he knows that you should never turn in such a situation he should have just ignored the advice. The bigger reason is that prior to this Mater had already been rambling into the intercom as he chased after Holley so Lightning could easily put two and two together to know that Mater likely still wasn’t talking about him. There’s no way he should have actually ended up losing that race. Lightning McQueen had that in the bag.

Well, as expected the animation is still pretty sharp. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it looks better than the first film as to me they basically seemed equivalent, but they’re both of really good quality which is the important part. Pixar doesn’t hold back here and the character models for the cars are good. As we finally got some action scenes here as well, we got to see how Pixar would handle them. I’d say that they worked out pretty well. On the technical side of things this film certainly aged pretty well.

Overall, Cars 2 is a decently fun sequel to the original Cars, but it is definitely not quite as good. You can certainly tell that they chopped the quality down a few notches for this one and I don’t know what they were thinking with Mater. If the main character had been Lightning and his plot was the focus then this film would have been a lot more fun. Even the ending keeps the film from going strong as Holley’s personality flies out the window as she likes Mater for no reason (Again, the film is giving Mater too much credit even though most of this situation is his fault) and Lightning doesn’t even beast Francesco in the end. Was a clear cut victory too bold for the writers to pull off? Those mistakes are definitely regrettable, but at the end of the day you should still enjoy this film. It’s a fun enough movie to watch and the pacing is good so it flies by. It has a good amount of replay value and at least I thought the set up and presentation for the big tournament was great. Whenever the subplot is happening, the film is at its height.

Overall 6/10