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

Ghost Review


It’s time to look at a film dealing with the supernatural. It’s always interesting when the hero becomes a ghost as opposed to the villain for a change. Usually you see the villains messing with everyone like in the Grudge or something and the heroes are all bumped off. On the other hand, when a hero uses the power usually they aren’t quite as strong for some random reason so it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Ultimately I was glad Sam got some powers and it’s a reasonable movie, but there are things that hold it back a bit.

The movie starts with things going pretty well for Sam and Molly. Sam’s crunching the numbers at the bank and Molly’s doing pretty well with her pottery and sculpting. Sam’s noticed that some numbers aren’t adding up at his company, but he’ll figure out the issue soon. Time is on his side…or that’s what he thought until one day he is mugged in a dark alley and murdered. It all happened so suddenly that Sam’s soul is unable to move on and now he can only watch without interacting with anybody. That’s when he learns that the whole thing is a conspiracy. His murder wasn’t accidental and if he doesn’t do something quick then his wife Molly will be in trouble. Sam is forced to enlist the aid of a supernatural medium scammer named Oda. Can he convince her to work with him on this?

The concept here is pretty sound and a classic. The main character gets murdered so now he has to solve the case from beyond the grave and see to it that the villain doesn’t get away. It’s certainly frustrating for Sam at first since he can’t interact with anything, but gradually he gets used to his abilities which makes him more of a formidable threat to everyone involved. Sam’s power does go to his head a bit as he has a tendency to play with his food rather than finishing the job and goes for a quick hug even though it puts everyone in danger thanks to the side effects. He’s not perfect, but he’s still a pretty solid main character.

Unfortunately the heroine Molly ends up faltering here. She’s good at first and seems like a supportive character. Where she really ends up failing is when Sam’s friend Carl shows up and she rebounds with him even though Sam only died a few days ago. That’s so incredibly soon that it’s crazy. Even if you ignore the fact that she thought he may still be around as a ghost or that he was grisly murdered…it’s only been a few days since he was gone. No matter how sad she was there’s really no excuse for going with this guy. I thought that whole scene was pretty terrible and I have to say that it did end up hurting the score.

We had gotten quite a few romantic scenes with Sam and Molly earlier so it just made those feel hollow. In general the romance just wasn’t written well as a result and we could have just cut those scenes entirely and replaced with more supernatural hi-jinx. Maybe have Sam troll a bunch of people from beyond the grave by moving things around. It is entertaining to see him messing with Willie and Carl. He also annoys Oda quite a lot until she eventually agrees to help him. When you’ve got ghost abilities you may as well use them right?

Carl’s a pretty terrible character right away. The instant he starts going after Molly you know there’s no hope for him. It’s also fairly obvious where his character is going even before Sam dies with his line about how the numbers aren’t adding up after he gives away his account numbers. It’s definitely a good lesson on why you shouldn’t trust people too much. There are certain things you should never give someone else like your social security number or password to your office computer. Those are things that just always ring true and nobody ever needs to know those things either. The deadlines were quickly approaching but you’ve still got to not budge on this.

Oda is a pretty fun character. She’s definitely reluctant to help and has to be convinced quite a lot and at different points in the film. Oda also tends to mess up on things like writing out a check and pretending to be someone else, but at the end of the day at least she is an ally who is here to help Sam. Those were in short supply. Also, she’s just a lot of fun. All of her scenes are pretty entertaining and in part it’s because all of her reactions are pretty well justified and realistic. It’s incredibly hard for anyone to part with 4 million, especially when you’ve been taking life or death risks all day. You feel like you should at least get 1% of that which would still be a pretty good sum. Not everyone can get rich though and at least she kept the moral high ground.

One of the best scenes is when Sam goes into a train and is confronted by another ghost. It was cool because we hadn’t sen anyone else until then and it was also the first moment where Sam experienced real danger as a ghost because this guy could actually interact with him as if Sam was still alive. It was a shocking moment for the lead and he did his best to adjust. My issue with Sam here was just that he went down awfully quick without even landing a counter blow. I like to think that he would at least have done something.

Overall, Ghost is a decent movie. It’ll keep you entertained as you watch it even if you’ll question the characters at different points. Sam really should have been able to end things with the villains a lot sooner than he did. If anything the instant that one of them threatened to murder his wife at the end if Sam didn’t meet his demands, Sam should have taken him down. Waving a knife doesn’t do anything to someone who’s intangible and at the time Molly was still upstairs. Sam could have just reached over and ended the guy in many different ways. There are even hundreds of non lethal ways to take him down. My point here is really that Sam didn’t use his abilities nearly as well as he could have and was probably having too much fun with the villains when everyone could have already been safe by then. That was my main issue along with Molly not staying strong at least for a longer period of time, but even then if you go with anyone it should never be the best friend. If you want to see a movie with this interesting concept then I’d recommend checking it out. Otherwise I don’t think you’ll be missing a whole lot.

Overall 5/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego Marvel Spider-Man: Vexed by Venom Review


It’s time for the next Marvel Lego special and this time we get Spider-Man as the lead character. One nice thing about these lego adventures is that they always feel like they could take place in the real show. The Black Panther special was like something out of Avengers Assemble and this one is pretty close with the current Spider-Man title. It may not be exact and it certainly isn’t officially in continuity, but it does help make the whole thing gel together pretty well.
The plot of the special is that Venom and Green Goblin have joined forces to get this mystical key item. Spider-Man is on the scene right away, but isn’t able to take them down in his first encounter. He may need some extra tech to win in this round but he’ll have to move fast because these villains are not going to be waiting for anyone. He also may get some unexpected assistance.

Green Goblin and Venom teaming up is an interesting concept and I don’t believe that it has happened before. It makes sense for them to pair up as they are some of Spider-Man’s most dangerous adversaries, but both of them have a lot of pride and like to work solo so that’s probably why it would be difficult to get them on one page. From the two I’d say that Venom definitely gets the bigger role although you may have guessed that from the title of this special.

Green Goblin doesn’t look bad, but he just doesn’t seem to be much of a threat to Spider-Man. Spidey even mentions that he can dodge the villain’s attacks all day and never feels all that threatened. At least with Venom Spider-Man had to bring in his Spider Bot to try and get the upper hand. I didn’t see any of that tech against the goblin.

This special did a good job of really using the lego format to its advantage here by having so many different upgrades for Spider-Man. I liked all of the vehicles and they looked pretty good in their brief screen time. The fights are also good, considerably better than in the last special. A good reason for this is due to the special taking the action scenes more seriously. It’s a bit ironic but this special had more of a serious tone than the Black Panther one. The fights here are just so much better like with the climax as Mecha Spiderman and Ghost Spider take on Venom. It’s real solid.

We still do get some good humor though and Spider-Man is always able to pull that off pretty well. He gets a lot of good one liners and does his best to annoy and mock the villains as much as possible. Spider-Man also looks pretty experienced here and it’s got to be one of his more impressive portrayals recently. He thinks fast to protect civilians and even has a good moment where he uses his webs to stop Venom’s bearhug drop and turns the tables. Spiderman still does whine a lot, but I like to think it’s to get the villains to drop their guard. He’s not actually all that desperate.

At one point in the special Spider-Man decides to take Goblin’s lair for his own. It’s actually a pretty interesting idea that makes a lot of sense. As Spiderman mentioned, it’s not like Green Goblin will be using it anytime soon right? Why let a good lair go to rest? I’m thinking that the only big risk here would be if the villain bugged it with a lot of weapons and traps or some cameras and the hero ends up giving away key information. You’d definitely need to do a clean sweep of it, but otherwise it’s really not a bad idea.

The rest of the characters here are all solid as well. Ghost Spider definitely ends up helping out quite a lot in the end. Without her Spiderman would have definitely been in trouble. Then you have Spider-Man himself who was very solid as I mentioned earlier. It’s always nice to see him as an experienced veteran. Finally there’s Venom who is a very imposing villain with several forms. The voice for him was also quite fitting as it was very intimidating. Yeah, Venom was handled perfectly!

Overall, Vexed by Venom is a fun special. It’s got a good blend of plot, action, and humor. It’s easily one of Marvel’s better lego specials and as always the pacing is on point. This is the kind of special that probably could have been extended into a full film and been quite solid. Sometimes it’s best not to push it though. The 20 minutes were filled out quite well. If you haven’t checked this special out yet then you should do so. It’s pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape Review


It’s time to look at a quick lego adventure. I’ve seen quite a few back in my day, but I actually hadn’t seen the Jurassic World one yet. It’s a fun adventure and one of the better Lego adventures. Perhaps it’s because there hadn’t been a dino one before, but this special does a great job of bringing in some new humor and situations rather than going for the same old stuff. It’s also just nostalgic to see the events of the movie even if it’s a little different.

The special starts off with a fun scene as the pilot trolls Claire by intentionally driving quite erratically. It’s good she’s made of legos or she probably would have had a concussion out of that because she hits her head a ton. The pilot ends up paying for this quite a bit though as he eventually latches onto a cage and falls out of the sky. At least he was playing Tetris so maybe he had fun. Owen manages to round up his flying dinosaurs and saves Claire from her fall out of the sky. There’s no time to waste as she wants to make a new dinosaur, but Owen thinks this is a bad idea. Will this new dinosaur really save Jurassic World or doom it?

The special is around 30 minutes so it definitely goes by very quickly. It does do a good job of abridging all of the key scenes while having some fun. All of the characters here are a blast and the writing is a lot of fun. There are a lot of scenes that aren’t trying too hard to be funny and so end up being fairly humorous. Typically I tend to like the subtle background gags of the dinosaurs just wrecking the humans. After a while it’s not so subtle but it still works out pretty well. Additionally the heroes being pretty oblivious in putting the other workers in danger works out pretty well.

Lego animation may not be my favorite style but it works out well enough for this. This special is more of a comedy than the comedy/action mix you see in the superhero ones so they don’t have to worry about fight scenes. Lego can give good action scenes as well, but especially in a comedy movie you can just brush past the fact that they’re all legos. The level of detail in the lego pieces is quite solid. Mix that in with the solid writing and pacing and you’ve got a pretty fun way to spend 30 minutes.

The character cast is also strong which is always important. Owen checks all of the boxes for the confident lead you want to see in this kind of movie. He doesn’t bat an eye at having to work with a bunch of dangerous dinosaurs and even when he’s wrong Owen speaks with confidence. Then you have Claire who may be a little out of her depth at times, but all in all she just wants to make Jurassic World as fun as can be. If it means she has to make a dinosaur then that’s exactly what she’s going to do. On paper it’s a fairly decent idea……right? You’ve got to give her points for persistence.

One character in the special is a pushover though and that’s definitely the hot dog man. He lets the heroes put him in a dinosaur costume for a while, but then he nearly dies every time so then he puts on a hot dog costume and nearly gets eaten. It’s his job and at least he is getting paid for it, but the guy should have made sure that nobody would take advantage of him in this way. The guy is easily manipulated. The Dinosaurs are all fun as expected. They’ve got a lot of personality and brighten up every scene they’re in. The Dinosaurs are part of what makes the special so much fun.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say about the special because it is pretty short. How much you enjoy it will really depend on how you enjoy the humor. I personally enjoyed it. They do a good job of making the funny scenes feel natural and not over the top. A lot of it is visual humor and dialogue based jokes which are solid. Quick wit can really make any phrase work quite well. I look forward to seeing some more Lego Dinosaur adventures to see how they stack up. This is a combo that is definitely working so I’d recommend checking this one out.

Overall 7/10

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

The Super Inframan Review


It’s time to look at an old school Power Rangers type film. I have always been a big fan of the Rangers, but never really got around to checking out any of their shows. Well, this is the next closest thing and it does reassure me that this type of series is definitely up my ally. The Super Inframan is a great film that is a lot of fun from start to finish. It’s hard to go wrong with a nice array of monsters and hand to hand fights like we have here. The film may not be all that long, but they fit in a ton of action and quality scenes. There is never a dull moment to be found here.

The film starts with the Dragon Mom returning from her long slumber and she decides to destroy the world. She has amassed an army of powerful monsters ranging from spellcasters to more traditional creatures. Her second in command is a normal humanoid though and while she may sound out of her depth this character is actually a good fighter. The heroes realize that they need some power to counter this so a scientist gives Lei a shot that transforms him into the Super Inframan. In this form there is nothing that he can’t do. Lei decides to stop the villain group no matter what. It looks like this time he will actually have to try.

It’s hard to know where to start here since the film is really good on a lot of levels. I guess we should do the obvious first and that is the fight scenes. They are all really well done with a lot of excellent choreography. One of the standout fights is when one of Lei’s friends attacks the villains on his own. He actually does a great job of taking down dozens of them before he is eventually defeated by one of the monsters using a net ability. All of the other fights are good too though like the climax where it is a big battle royale or the various fights as Inframan. Aside from one match that was just beam spamming from side to side all of his fights were hand to hand as well.

Inframan also has a good array of powers which served him well during the matches as well. He can turn giant, fire off his fists, use laser blasts, etc. It’s really hard to defeat someone like this and Inframan is definitely shown as the strongest fighter except for possibly the Dragon Mom who was dominating him in the fight. Granted, Inframan was a little weakened from his other battles. Lei is a solid lead and I dare say that his dynamic as Lei and Inframan was more enjoyable than Hayata and Ultraman. This is due in part to the fact that Lei has more personality and is just a likable guy. He’s pretty quick on the uptake and always ready to help out. He also doesn’t hesitate to transform and take on the villains at any time.

Then you’ve also got the soundtrack which is pretty fun. Inframan’s main theme is suitably heroic and gives you an extra jolt of energy whenever he is getting ready to join the fray. Now there is one technical level where the film falters and that is the fact that it uses a lot of recycled footage whenever Inframan transforms. This is likely intentional as part of the camp factor, but it’s still got to be noted. Recycled footage is something you really don’t want to use as it feels like stalling for time. I also question why the footage was the triple flip. It’s not like that’s something that Inframan does a lot furing the movie.

The villains are also very solid which speaks to the solid writing and character cast of the movie. The Dragon Mom is definitely one of the best ones. I like her confidence and she is quite merciless. I was not expecting her to actually murder one of the heroes so that definitely surprised me. It’s not every day that you see a villain make a move like that. Whoever did her English voice did a solid job. Then you’ve got her fighting abilities which were sound. Her minions had a cool uniform and the other monsters at her disposal all put up valiant fights. While you aren’t likely going to remember their names you’ll remember the designs and their determination. The human also put up a great fight against Inframan and it was brave to even attempt to fight him. The villains were surprisingly loyal and I also liked how upbeat they were. You’d see them dancing in the background whenever the Dragon Mom was talking.

The heroes are solid as well. There’s less to say about most of them since they stay on the sidelines, but as I mentioned one of Lei’s main friends did a good job holding off the enemies by himself. The other members can also fight even if they never got a big moment to shine. They were still able to contribute and that’s the important thing. There are no annoying characters here. There’s nothing even remotely negative to say about the film. The pacing is on point, the writing is great, the fight scenes are amazing, this is just a very well rounded film and one that I could easily re-watch. There’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’s a shame that they just don’t make movies like this anymore.

Overall, The Super Inframan is one of those super obscure films that deserves to be more well known than it actually is. You’d have a lot of fun watching this movie for sure. On one hand it plays on your nostalgia as you remember what great fun this era was and on the other hand you get to see a new superhero taking down legions of monsters. I liked the suit they used for the Super Inframan and the ones for the monsters as well. It feels like this was probably a pretty big budget film back in its day. Hopefully the Inframan gets revived in some form or another at some point because this franchise still has a ton of potential left in it.

Overall 8/10

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

My Christmas Dream Review


Time for the next Hallmark title! This one definitely puts the lead in the toughest dilemma yet because you need a lot of creativity to get out of this one. I don’t consider myself a very artistic person for the masses. I’ll make things that look great to me which is really what I tend to focus on, but if I have to make something to impress someone else then it’s gonna be tricky. I take the same approach to things like cooking as well. I make things that I would love to eat but making things for someone else to find delicious is trickier. I figure if they don’t like it that means more for me….

The movie takes place at a McDougal’s store. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary and the store always has a unique Christmas display each year. As it’s their biggest one yet there is a lot of pressure to make a really good one. Unfortunately, the store had to let go of their main painter a few days before the display because he was missing deadlines and also ruined Christina’s outfit right before her meeting with the big wigs. Christina took this assignment for granted herself, but now Victoria has implied that if she does a good job of it then a promotion is at hand. Not just any promotion, but a promotion to Paris! Christina has always wanted to go there so now she is prepared to do whatever it takes to make this display a success!

One of the big impact moments here is when Christina allows Kurt to be fired in the opening scene. It’s sort of like a Peter Parker moment from his origin only this time I don’t necessary believe Christina handled the situation that badly. Sure, she could have spent a little more time discussing the situation, but her logic was pretty sound. The boss is the one who should be making the call about his subordinate particularly as she had never even met him before. The guy missed the deadline and while he gave his excuse about a second job (Which is a little sketchy because everyone guilt trips Christina throughout the whole movie, but it’s not like he’s out of jobs right?) you do ultimately need to pull through. If the organization is counting on you to get something done and on their 50th anniversary meeting as well, you’ve got to get it done. This would have been even worse if the owner Victoria had been the one to walk in there. She absolutely would have gotten rid of him in a snap.

Kurt’s a good guy otherwise. He mostly stops guilt tripping Christina after the opening scenes. The guy’s a little timider than some of the other guys though as he doesn’t really ask Christina out directly and instead uses his son as a shield the whole time. I don’t blame him for being a bit dismissive the first time they meet since he had literally just been fired, but after she helps his kid out he’s nice enough. The party they went too was also pretty neat. I’m sure I would have passed on the karaoke but it was a good way to get her mind off the deadlines.

The kid’s a little on the annoying side though. He escapes from home just to go to the mall and complain to Santa without thinking about how much it would make everyone worry. He gives Christina a hard time throughout the movie as well but she really handles the whole situation super well. The film treats Christina taking 30 minutes to an hour off from work as the end of the world, but that just means the rest of her staff are terrible at their jobs. I don’t care if she’s the best staffer in the store, they can’t rely on her to the point where she can’t leave for a few minutes.

Her second in command was very unreasonable to this effect. While she ultimately didn’t rat her out to Victoria, I don’t think there was anything to rat out. The whole point of being a second in command is that you have a lot of work to do so if you can’t handle it then it’s not the position for you. I couldn’t believe it whenever she would appear and start sulking. It seemed a little unreasonable to me personally. Meanwhile Victoria was mostly good although the one part I took issue with was her decision to use last year’s display over the one Christina presented. While I understand that you wouldn’t want to use a low quality one, you can’t just re-use the last design. For one thing, people would remember it since it just happened. If you’re going to use an old one then it has to be one from way back in the day. It also felt like she gave up a little too easily considering that she’s such a big business guru. What would have made more sense was to have a meeting with another employee and then promoting him or her if they came up with something.

You will feel bad for her in the end though. She’s about to have some good character development and has great Christmas plans only for Christina to walk in with a revelation. It’s a super happy ending for Christina but not a great one for Victoria. The ending is a little on the cheesy side this time since Christina really gets to have her cake and eat it too. It takes away from her decision a bit because it feels like both options could have worked. I am glad that the friend didn’t get the position though.

What I was expecting to be an option from the start is Christina inviting Kurt to come to Paris with her. He would bring his kid and could start his art business fresh there. It would have been a pretty ambitious ending and of course he might not want to leave at the drop of a hat like that, but I think it would have just made a lot more sense. Ah well. Christina is a solid lead although I think she probably should have started planning for the end of the year display a lot sooner. Considering that she was pretty obsessed with work at the start, I was surprised that she didn’t have it ready.

Overall, this is another really solid film to watch. As always the landscapes chosen here look really good. We also get some nice Christmas music which is always fun to listen to. The soundtrack is just on point and helps give the film a festive feel from the start. The writing is great as always so there’s nothing really negative here. Films like this are just a lot of fun to watch and they’ll leave you feeling happy as well. It’s perfect to watch around Christmas, but naturally I can recommend it at any point in the year. A good movie is a good movie no matter what day it is.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians Review


It’s time for a pretty surreal film. Right from the title you probably could have guessed that though. Santa’s conquering the Martians?? Now, don’t get your hopes up for a Star Wars type film where Santa goes in guns blazing as he takes out dozens of aliens. This sadly isn’t that kind of film. It would have been pretty amazing if he was going around blasting everyone so you can imagine my disappointment when it didn’t happen. It’s still a pretty entertaining film at times, but also boring at others. That may sound contradictory but basically some scenes age really well because of how cheesy they are. The scenes that aren’t over the top just tend to be pretty boring. Some of the main characters are also kids who can’t really hold their own story.

The film starts off by showing us the planet Mars. The parents aren’t happy because now all the kids do is watch Earth TV. Interestingly they aren’t happy about this because the kids are always getting distracted and decide that they need to bring in Santa to give them some more freedom. I don’t see how the solution really helps to be honest. I’d understand if you wanted to turn off the TV, but wouldn’t bringing in Santa just make it worse? He’ll introduce them to the spirit of Christmas and will get them to embrace their individuality but that goes against the planet’s system. If anything you’d think that the people would be more against that. I suppose I shouldn’t examine the plot too much….but it was still an interesting start.

The two kids the martians happen to run into are Billy and Betty. Kimar figures they can help him find the real Santa Claus since the Earth is filled with tons of fake ones. The kids know that he is in the North Pole and assist with finding him. The martians aren’t of one mind with this though. While Kimar and Dropo like the kids, Voldar wants to destroy them and stay with the old ways. Fortunately the kids have Santa to help them out…but is he really that helpful?

The kids are pretty cheesy and oblivious to everything. As a result they really aren’t my kind of characters. They just tend to slow down the film and get in the way of everything all the time. I was just waiting for them to get with the program. As for Santa, he’s definitely a little more “down to earth” than most. In his first scene he’s smoking a cigar which may have been a common thing to do back in the day, but it’s rare to see Santa doing that. It’s a bad influence for the kids so you wouldn’t really expect him to do that. I’d also have liked to see him act with a bit more urgency on Mars.

There’s nothing bad to say about Kimar. He’s trying to do what’s best for Mars and even if it involves crossing planets he is ready. I suppose he can be a bit oblivious to Voldar the whole time, but that’s about it. He’s just a good leader. I certainly preferred him to Dropo who doesn’t work well as a comic relief character. It goes back to how part of this film’s humor worked while other parts do not. I think the parts that were intentionally trying to be funny ended up falling flat while the film in general had a nice campy atmosphere even if it may not have been intended.

To expand on this, just look at the martians. Their costumes are so terrible that it’s a little funny to look at them. It’s like a Star Trek design from the original show, but with poor effects. The Star Trek aliens have aged really well, these have not. Then you have the fact that the government actually knows about Santa to the point where TV gets him on an interview. So that acknowledges that there is a guy who travels the whole world in a day and gets everyone presents. How is that possible? It’s not so something doesn’t add up here. My guess is that the government helps him deliver all of the gifts. It’s also nice to have aliens visiting Earth and not going around trying to murder everyone for a change. These guys just want to have a nice Christmas.

As for the villain Voldar…I guess he checks off the right boxes. The guy is really over the top and his goal doesn’t really amount to much more than he doesn’t want to have Santa on board. He’s fine with the current system. If put to a vote I would have imagined that most people on the planet would feel better, but the sage agreed with Kimar which probably had a lot of sway. Going back to the plot for a sec, I still feel like there were so many more ways to help the kids than to bring Santa. Why not think up some activities for them or let them do what they want? The main reason why they would have been stuck is because they wanted to stay traditional but bringing in Santa goes against that either way so then it becomes a non issue.

Overall, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is a reasonably good film. I definitely wouldn’t call it a very good one or anything just because it can get dull. The absurd premise is really what will need to hook you. If it doesn’t then you’re basically out of luck. It’s the kind of plot that I tend to enjoy so the film works for me, but I will acknowledge that they could have done a whole lot more with the premise. Santa did “conquer” the martians with his idealogy but I would have liked a physical takeover. An easy way to do it would have been to have most of the planet agree with Voldar as I mentioned and Santa has to break his way through the city. It would have been a very different film of course, but definitely one that I could get behind.

Overall 6/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Pitch Perfect 2 Review


It’s definitely been a while since I saw the first Pitch Perfect. The series definitely goes for a very “Bring it On” vibe throughout and this sequel is no exception. A film being about A Capella is definitely still pretty original since that’s not the most popular form of entertainment out there and the movies consistently make you aware of this fact as everyone comments on it. Unfortunately I can’t say that this film was a success, it makes pretty much all of the mistakes you would expect.

The movie starts with the Bellas performing on another grand stage. Unfortunately there ends up being a mishap involving Amy which shames the group and puts them in a global controversy. Their group is now about to be disbanded. Fortunately, due to some quick thinking on the group’s part they are going to get a second chance. If they want to keep the group alive then they are going to have to win the world tournament. The problem is that America has never won it before and the commentators mention that nobody likes the U.S. so it’ll never happen. Still, at least now they have something to fight for!

The group isn’t in perfect sync at the moment though. Beca still enjoys this competition, but she is ready to move on with her life and has begun an internship at a big music recording studio. She is actually having some success here, but keeping this big secret is threatening to ruin the group forever. Meanwhile a new girl named Emily has shown up and she really wants to be a Bella. Her Mom was one and always mentioned that it was the best time of her life. Emily is doing her best to fit in, but the only issue is that the others are giving her a hard time and the group may not even exist soon. Still, she is ready to give it her all. Can the girls find a way to win this tournament against the German favorites DSM?

Well, I guess we should get into the positives first because they are outnumbered. Some of the songs can still be catchy. I always like the idea of a Capella battle which is just really cool. One group starts a song and then when the judge gives the queue the next team has to immediately jump in with a different song, but tuned to the same beat. In a sense this means the first team will always have the advantage, but since they’re starting they need to pick a song that picks up right away. This film has a bigger song battle than the first film as it is around 4-5 groups all going at it. It’s easily the best part of the film and really should have been the climax.

I also liked Sammy. He’s Beca’s boss at the studio and is really a scene stealer. He’s definitely a bit on the rude side, but definitely does know what he is doing. He’s got a real quick wit when it comes to music even if he is considerably slower on the take when it comes to learning someone’s name. That’s one thing he couldn’t wrap his head around. His dynamic with one of the interns was also pretty fun as the guy kept on throwing ideas, but Sammy really didn’t like any of them. Honestly I didn’t think that the guy’s ideas were all that bad. At least he was trying right? This is exactly why some people don’t volunteer ideas because you don’t want to get shut down like that. I think part of what makes these scenes work though is the intern never loses his nerve and keeps trying to talk anyway. He certainly doesn’t take it personally and it takes a lot of fortitude to keep getting back up.

I thought Emily was also a reasonable character. She wasn’t as strong as Sammy, but at least she had a lot of enthusiasm and wanted to help make the Bellas better. It’s hard to excuse her for messing up in the music battle since that was a bit selfish, but otherwise I don’t think she made any mistakes. She felt more like the main character than Beca this time around with how much of a focus she got. Without her in the squad ironically not much may have really changed, but I’m sure her optimism helped the group out a lot off screen as well.

Now lets get into the bad parts of the film. First off, the writing is pretty terrible. Almost every line is someone making a dirty joke or just saying something super offensive for no real reason. The latter kind of humor can work if handled perfectly like in Airplane, but you really have to have talented writers to pull it off. Otherwise everyone just ends up being unlikable and you’re always getting ready to cringe at what’s about to be said next. There is really no safe point where you can just wait for it to all go away.

The romance plots in the film are all handled poorly as well. This is to be expected, but they all move very fast with no realistic development. You’ve got the magician who likes Emily but can’t even form a coherent sentence together. Then you have Amy and the other guy whose romance goes from being completely shut down to then they are back in biz. If I were the guy I’d be a little worried since Amy constantly hints that she will have a hard time sticking to one guy so that really does not bode well.

Meanwhile Beca isn’t quite as good as she used to be. Her keeping the massive internship secret was not a good idea. She also gets overly defensive about it when pushed which is just playing the blame game at this point. Beca also gets completely defeated by the leader of DSM in every single confrontation they have, which was not a good look. She may not be the leader of the team or anything, but she is a senior member so you would expect her to stay strong and at least have some kind of retort to the antagonists. By losing each time she really lost her chance of being a capable member.

Then you have Amy whose gimmick revolves around constantly using self deprecating humor on herself and also leads the charge for most of the iffy jokes. She’s the one who gets the group into trouble at the very beginning of the film and doesn’t really stop from there. Her character is definitely the most extreme from the group but it doesn’t always work out in a good way.

There are other characters on the Bellas and some of them have a good sized role but not to the same extent as the big 3. Mostly they’re just here for humor scenes and the leader is the only one who gets a role. She has good reason to be upset since none of the others seem to be taking the team seriously at times. She did invest multiple years on the team so to watch it go down like this is tragic.

The film did a good job of picking commentators who really sound like professional ones in real life. The humor there is supposed to be in how crude they are while announcing. I’ll grant the film that the voices are on point and sometimes they land a good joke but usually the guy goes a little too far. Both of them constantly walk into the insults and then throw some more of them out there.

As for the climax, that one was underwhelming. I didn’t mind the songs in general. Using a competition to end off the film is a good finale. It’s just that the film really gave the Bellas a bad song to end things off with. DSM’s song completely blew theirs out of the water so it’s hard to see how the heroes won that match. I suppose going for a brand new song is a pretty bold tactic, but not one that would win you the world championships. Of course music is completely subjective, but for me it was one of the weakest songs in the whole film so ending off with that was…interesting. It really didn’t have energy compared to DSM’s.

Overall, Pitch Perfect 2 is not a sequel that takes the series to new heights. It makes all the mistakes it possibly can. The plot makes sense for a sequel as you can’t get bigger than the world championships and adding a new main character was good since she was better than most of the established ones. That being said, she couldn’t help carry the film. More scenes with Sammy would have been great since he was definitely entertaining. This is the kind of film that may be fun as you are watching it, but ultimately falls well short of being a good title. If you want a better musical film you should check out Camp Rock or High School Musical.

Overall 3/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 7 Doomed Review


Time for some more team ups with the good ole Mystery Inc and some more DC heroes. The series has done a good job of grabbing so many DC characters. We’re 7 volumes in and still seeing new fighters. While you may be skeptical as to how the Mystery Inc will actually be of help, typically they are really here as distractions. Think of them as extra shields to buy the heroes an extra second. Usually that’s all the extra time that the hero needs.

One of the stories has the heroes head to the swamp where they meet up with another one of Shaggy’s relatives. They’re here to look into the Voodoo Woman so they can put the swamp at ease. They have to stop her meddling, but unfortunately she already has a whole bunch of zombies at her beck and call. The only being who can really help them out of this dilemma is the legendary Swamp Thing, but will he really be able to defend against such a powerful villain? Interestingly this comic also squeezes in Solomon Grundy towards the end although he is definitely way out of his league this time. Typically I would actually pick him to win, but in this comic Swamp Thing had the edge from start to finish. There was never any doubt as to how this would end.

It’s a pretty nice comic. It’s always good to see Swamp Thing getting some time to shine after all. The comic also poked fun as how the heroes have also defeated Swampthing in another issue. The space in between the words is the key to really knowing who you are dealing with. This is an example of an issue where the Scooby gang doesn’t really get to do much though. Mostly they just run away from the Voodoo Woman a lot or they’re in awe of how strong Swamp Thing is.

Another comic features the Doom Patrol and this was actually my favorite issue of the bunch. The team is bickering as usual, but the strange part is there enemy seems to keep changing form. At one point a whole group of enemies show up, but they all seem to be ghosts. This is a case for the Scooby Doo gang. There’s definitely a trick involved and they’ll have to figure it out fast. The Doom Patrol was always a fun X-Men sort of group but with a lot more in-fighting. I also like how their leader has a lot of weapons ready inside of his wheelchair. Honestly it’s just the smart thing to do when you’re the leader of a super hero team. This way at least you can defend yourself right? This story has so much action it feels like a real Doom Patrol story with the Scooby Doo gang just guest starring in it. It’s handled really well.

Another story featured Supergirl as she called the gang in to help her deal with the ghosts of her parents. She was quite serious too as she even told them her secret identity which was a bold move. The heroes know something is wrong because the parents keep calling her Supergirl rather than Kara or her kryptonian name. That seems like a scam and of course the heroes are right. I would have liked a more powerful Supergirl villain to have been the main villain here, but it does help reinforce the mystery element of the issue. Supergirl could have looked better here as she spends most of the issue getting outsmarted, but she did call in the crew to handle the mysteries so in a way she won the fight before it even started.

There’s a subplot with her cat and Scooby not getting along, but it doesn’t hold up as well as the main one. The cat is just annoying and Scooby really isn’t much better so they both end up being guilty in this one. The whole temporary superpowers for a few minutes thing is pretty fun even if the time range isn’t nearly long enough to be all that useful. By the time you are really getting into a rhythm you would be taken down for the count.

In our next adventure we’ve got the return of the Blue Falcon. The issue here is that he has been acting awfully shady the last few days. His dog sidekick asks the Mystery Inc for help on figuring out just what is going wrong. Unfortunately they all fall for one of those classic net traps and find out that the real Blue Falcon was actually taken down by one of his old cronies who is now impersonating him. Can the heroes stop this guy or is it already too late? It goes without saying that Blue Falcon doesn’t look good here. He went down off screen and apparently he is so nondescript that someone can easily change places with him and nobody can tell the difference. He’s clearly got a ways to go before he is known as one of the big leaguers. It’s a good comic, but a little less eventful than some of the others. It was nice to see the characters constantly taking shots at him by saying that he was copying Batman though.

My least favorite issue was the one with all of the apes. Basically it’s an ensemble cast with a bunch of DC monkey themed characters. It’s a pretty impressive bunch as they even got some I didn’t recognize like the guy in a cage who can switch minds with an ape. What hurts this one is that I don’t even like a lot of them. Gorilla Grodd and Detective Chimp just aren’t my cup of tea. I also have to question why the Mystery Inc was really called in. They try explaining that it’s because one of the gorillas is a vampire Nazi so that’s like a ghost, but is it really? If I were the mystery inc I would still be questioning that. This is way out of their power levels. Still a good issue, but it wasn’t quite as strong as the others. Also the ending doesn’t really make sense.

So as I mentioned the main guy can switch minds with a gorilla and it is through his amulet/ring of sorts. He somehow manages to switch places with Titano at one point, but how? Unless his powers work differently than how I had interpreted them he would have needed to get the ring on the other ape and I just don’t see how he could have had time to do that. It would have been too difficult and he was out of range. That part just stuck out at me and I read it twice, but still couldn’t put that chain of events together.

In the next story the heroes are confronted with a bunch of powerful spirits. Dr. Fate sends them to the past so the heroes can find a way to deal with them, but it means that they will have to survive some world war II adventures as they try to find the answers. This means that the old school version of the Justice League shows up. Green Lantern’s weakness to wood is still a huge liability to deal with but the others manage to pick up the slack. The solution to stopping the demons ends up being incredibly simple, but I suppose that’s why it was hard to note it. This was definitely one of the strongest stories. It was nice seeing all of the heroes and everyone got to contribute in some way or form.

Finally we have a team up with Penelope Pitstop. I’m not familiar with her character but her gimmick seems to be that she gets kidnapped a lot. As a result there are a bunch of mini mobsters who look after her as well as a real estate agent of sorts. The Mystery Inc are called in to help her as well but with this many bodyguards nobody is sure who should take point so there is a lot of in-fighting. The Mystery Inc needs to figure out who is planning to kidnap Penelope before it is too late. The clock is ticking.

This is definitely the most mystery focused out of all the stories and I dare say that the Mystery Inc is at their best here. They get to do some old fashioned detective work here and they aren’t out shadowed by the other heroes. This time they can actually hold their own since they are in their own element and it ends up working out quite well for them. Penelope is definitely the most obscure of the characters we’ve seen, but in some ways that helps with the mystery since I wasn’t as familiar with her supporting cast. I definitely won’t be forgetting this adventure anytime soon though so it’ll be fun to see if she appears somewhere else in the near future.

As always the artwork here is pretty solid. The characters all look like themselves and the fights can take themselves seriously when necessary. The colors pop out and it’s clear that the artist was putting a lot of effort into the drawings. It just looks really good and it manages to be colorful/vibrant while keeping the serious tone for the heroes’ side of things. I’ve definitely got to give the comic a thumbs up here.

Overall, Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 7 is yet another strong installment in the series. By this point you should definitely know if you’ll like it or not. It’s a steady formula that the series has going on in these adventures and it’s one that works quite well. The Mystery Inc are here for the humor as they get chased and one upped by all of the villains while the DC Heroes come in with a lot of confidence and save the day. That’s exactly how it should be and this works out quite well. The art is good as always so these volumes just go by in a flash. I look forward to seeing who the heroes get to team up with next.

Overall 7/10

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

Roman Holiday Review


Time to look at a pretty classic rom-com. It’s certainly a movie that just about everyone should be familiar with at this point. That being said, I didn’t know much about it beyond the title so it was a new experience. I would consider this to be one of the best films in its genre. It does a good job of capturing the positives of both genres without dragging itself out or taking things too seriously. The ending is also well done.

The movie starts with Ann going through yet another boring event of having to shake everyone’s hands. Given how many people there are in attendance she has to stand for hours just doing this. Ann does a good job of putting up with all of it, but she wants a day to herself in the town. After trying to ask politely she escapes on her own and has a merry time. Unfortunately the sleeping drugs end up knocking her out. This leads to the other main character in the film, Joe. Joe sees that Ann isn’t in her right state of mind on the bench so he hails a cab and tries to get her home. Unfortunately she is unable to really explain where her home is and he doesn’t believe that it would be the castle so he takes her with him. The next day he wakes up too late and misses his official meeting with the Princess, but realizes that she is actually Ann. Now he is determined to write a big undercover scoop to give to the press so he’ll pretend to be her friend for a day. Can he really go through with such an underhanded plot?

When the movie starts Joe isn’t portrayed as the nicest of guys. It’s not that he’s antagonistic or anything, but the guy just wants to get a good night’s sleep and doesn’t really want to bother with a super tired/possibly drunk person right away. He doesn’t even offer Ann the bed and has her take the couch. After he learns she is a princess he is a lot nicer of course, but eventually it goes from playing a role to actually being a nice person since he likes her. They hit it off as good friends, but with their social circles it won’t really work to stay together. It depends on the kingdom of course, she could possibly pull it off depending on how much pull she has, but it would be a lot for Joe to hope for.

Joe’s plan to expose Ann by pretending to be her friend may be rather standard fare for someone in his line of work to get such scoops, but it’s still good that he abandoned that idea before it was too late. I think that’s the kind of plot that would have made the film a little too mean spirited. Even if he apologized afterwards it would be too late since the damage was already done. By not actually going through with this it makes the film a whole lot more enjoyable to watch. It still brings tension into the film, but without overdoing it.

Meanwhile Ann is a fun character. The sleeping drug may have been a little too effective for the sake of the humor scenes at the beginning, but when she’s in her right mind Ann is a very reasonable character. Really her goal isn’t so bad. She just wants to be normal for a day and that’s something her kingdom should have let her accomplish as it would have saved them a whole film of worry. As long as you have bodyguards undercover it shouldn’t really be much of a problem. Ann isn’t overly oblivious to normal customs so she’s handled realistically.

It’s also a fun dynamic of lying as she and Joe are lying to each other throughout the entire film. Even if it’s not direct, all the time they both have to live out the lie once they started it. Neither one of them wants to spill the beans or the day could be over in a flash. Of course it’s difficult to keep a lie up forever so little chinks in the stories eventually start to appear. Since Joe knows the truth from the start it’s a lot more obvious from his point of view though.

Then there’s the friend Irving who is definitely given a tough time here. Joe ruins quite a few of his outfits and the guy even takes some hits. Irving can be a little oblivious to why he is being attacked though and especially the second time it happens. Both of these scenes are definitely a lot of fun though and easily some of the best moments in the film. He was a good supporting character and ultimately a good guy as well. He didn’t get to hang out with Ann quite as much as Joe but was still able to toss aside his financial dreams to do the right thing.

As for the romance, it’s considerably better than the average ones you see in a film. It’s still on the rushed side when you take into account that they’ve only known each other for about a day though. So I won’t give it a pass, but it doesn’t take away from the film all that much and isn’t a huge focus. Most of the time it’s really just the two characters hanging out as friends and checking out all of the sites in Rome. We even get a nice action scene with the guards where Ann gets to land some hits as well. They were considerably outnumbered, but still took down a lot of the enemies and it was a pretty nicely handled action scene.

The writing is part of what makes this movie shine. The dialogue is quite strong with a lot of fun little jokes hidden in the conversations. All of the characters are realistic and even ones who only appear for a few minutes get to be quite likable. One example is Joe’s boss who sees through the lead’s bold lie and strings him along for a while. I was impressed that the boss was portrayed to be so smart here as half the time they tend to be oblivious.

Overall, Roman Holiday is a film I would recommend. Certainly if you’re looking for a nice romantic comedy this is a movie that fits the bill. The plot of a member of royalty deciding to see how the citizens live is always a premise with a lot of potential. This one really did a good job of handling it and the movie is really over in a flash. I don’t really have any complaints with the movie. The character cast is strong and the blend of humor/serious moments is just right. The ending is also good since it’s pretty happy without being unrealistic or too cheesy.

Overall 7/10

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

Ski Party Review


I’ve seen most of the old beach party films from this crew so I may as well see their skiing version as well right? It’s certainly not much better than the rest and makes all of the same mistakes. The characters may not be at the beach but they certainly dress as if they are. I would make the case that there is a little less fanservice here than in the beach versions, but I’m not invested enough into the series to do so. You certainly wouldn’t catch me defending this film. Well, let’s take a look at what we got.

The film starts off with Todd and Craig being down in the dumps because they are still single. They joined a bunch of sport programs but it was no use. Then they notice that Freddie is the star of the party and everyone is only interested in him. Perhaps the trick is that he is always skiing. The two leads quickly decide to go to the next big skiing event and are determined that this will put them on the radar. Will such a shallow plan really work or will the film test our intelligence by continuing to make the plans crazier and crazier?

There are a lot of issues here so it’s always hard to know where to start. I guess we should tackle the romance first. Romance was always a hard genre for films to really pin down and that can be especially true for this one. Part of the reason why the film kicks off is because both of the girls don’t seem to love the two guys straight away. They did go with them on two dates though so this is more about the main characters not being very patient. They want to immediately go further in the relationship while the girls are waiting. The guys are Freddie all the time and that really warps their expectations. You also can’t feel any sympathy for them because they would cheat on the two girls in a heartbeat. We have many scenes where they try to go after other girls so there is absolutely no loyalty here. They’ll simply go after the first one who accepts them.

They also use rather underhanded methods in order to complete their mission. One such tactic is to dress up as a girl and sneak into the dorms. This is a pretty bad move for many reasons. It’s also one of the largest gags in the film and it gets old very quickly. Naturally Freddie falls for one of them in this form and nobody can put the pieces together. I think if you cut away this whole sub plot the film will still be pretty terrible but it would certainly have improve. This plot line just didn’t do anything to really help the film rise up. It drags on and on.

It goes without saying that there is a lot of fanservice here even though they are in the snow. Characters just don’t care about the storm at all. They’re dressed for the beach and they aim to keep it that way for most of the film. We get a lot of zoom ins and crazy dances reminding yo that the plot was not the movie’s first priority. At least the singing isn’t too bad, the series has certainly had worse songs at any rate. Then you’ve got the beach scene at the end just to mess with the audience even further.

There are moments in the film that can be reasonably funny. It’s not like the whole duration is one failed joke after the other. While a good chunk of the jokes don’t work, the surreal nature of the movie helps at times. The scene of the main character floating like a balloon was fun. Additionally I liked the Polar Bear scenes. It’s a pretty nice gag to have that guy running around. The problem is that the movie beats this joke into the ground by having the same joke show up around 5-6 times. You never want to spam a joke that often because it will inevitably get quite old. It’s going for the running gag approach but that works better in a series. If you cram it into a single movie then you are bound to have some issues.

There aren’t any characters to root for here either so you won’t be as invested in the film as you could be. The two main guys are chronic cheaters. The two heroines are too passive and ultimately try to say that the guys were right even though that is definitely not the case. Freddie starts out as a pretty intense guy but by the end he is total comic relief to make the other characters look better. The movie definitely could and should have had more restraint. Maybe make it so the heroes get a win but Freddie still keeps his dignity. The parental figure here literally goes insane by the end of the film and I couldn’t give him any consolation points either. It was rather mean of the main guys to mess with him the whole time, but it’s also partially his fault for falling for their gags. They absolutely should not have worked on him. I prefer the guardians who at least talk tough the whole time. This guy was a punching bag so you’ll sooner feel bad for him than find the scene overly funny.

Overall, Ski Party is definitely everything you expect it to be. The film is pretty straight forward on delivering everything it is advertised to be. If this is your kind of film then you’ll enjoy it. However if you want a film with good writing and an actual plot then I’d recommend staying far away from this movie. It will have nothing to offer you. At least the gang sub plot isn’t around to get dragged out forever. The car chase at the end is actually a little better without those guys around to slow the pacing.

Overall 1/10