Blue Thunder Review

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

Blue Thunder is one of those films that has a fairly interesting plot but also unlikable main characters. There is one particularly egregious scene which realllllllly ends up hurting the movie as well. Ultimately if you are looking for those rare helicopter fight scenes then this one should be the ticket for you but otherwise it’s definitely time for a good skip. Watch Top Gun 2 instead for a solid film involving aerial combat.

The film starts off by introducing us to Frank and Richard who are two helicopter pilots who basically do frequent patrols around the neighborhood to make sure everything is going well. Well one day they come across a crime that seems like a potential mugging but the victim was a councilwoman and she ends up dying. It was a very odd neighborhood for this kind of attack and Frank notices things that don’t make sense around the area which all get missed in the police report. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on as he’s already known to not be the best at just following orders and his boss thinks he is sort of going off the ravine again. Can Frank get to the bottom of this mystery?

See, this is normally where you’re supposed to get annoyed at the boss because he’s slowing Frank down and not letting him do his job. Usually that’s the case at least but here’s the problem, Frank actually is a very bad employee. It’s not even one of those things where it’s close. He abuses his power in order to spy on people. The worst scene in the whole film is Frank and Richard invading a lady’s privacy and staring at her through the window from long range so she can’t see them. It’s really an awful scene all around and well past the boundaries of being even remotely funny. It’s just inappropriate and that alone should cost them their badge.

So when Frank is getting upset about the bosses zeroing in on him…well he definitely earned it. That scene also has nothing to do with the film and seemed to only have been added as fanservice. Cut that out and the film is immediately a lot better. The worst part is that the characters don’t really pay for that. Sure Richard has a painful time during the film to be sure but it’s not directly related to this scene. Then Frank gets to play the hero as he runs around blasting at everyone.

The film is at its best when it’s focused on the actual mystery. For example Frank’s friend Kate helps him out by going to the reporters and we get a fun little side plot near the end. One of the villains even sends a goon after her but fortunately she didn’t fall for the trap and then the reporter came through in time with the security guard. That was definitely fairly tense and the reporter was impressive. He felt like he could have been the lead in a different film.

As for the main villain Cochrane, the guy is definitely not very subtle about being a villain but when there is so much corruption in the ranks why would you bother hiding right? The guy can basically do whatever he wants to a large extent and it’s not like anybody is going to be able to stop him. He’s just going to do whatever he wants and will keep on doing it until someone can stop him. He plays the villain role well and is the most entertaining character in the film to be sure. The guy’s just so sarcastic the whole time.

The effects for the helicopter scenes definitely hold up really well too. I’ve always preferred planes in most areas since I feel like they are faster, more agile, better equipped, etc. But you still don’t want to underestimate the Helicopters because there is a lot that they can do. Part of the focus in the film is that they are testing an experimental one which will have so much firepower that it is basically a mini army in its own right. The dilemma here is obviously that having so much firepower within the city is a huge risk, especially if it’s in the hands of someone like Frank.

I’d say he proves that he’s not trustworthy for using it throughout the film. It also has a lot of invasive hardware in it like a super long range scanner to hear anything anyone says from any range. Not exactly the kind of tech that you just want anyone to have right? It was even funny in a way how in the army demo the company gave we saw a ton of innocent people being destroyed in the simulations. There just isn’t a way to get this kind of weaponry to ever be super safe without some collateral damage. Not without some kind of big technological breakthrough at least. The action scenes are good though and the film’s pacing is on point.

Overall, This film had potential but that one scene just dragged on way too long and was way too detailed. It also destroyed both main characters in an instant to the point where they were impossible to root for. The conspiracy angle was done well although most films have done it better. We get some minor hand to hand kind of action here but mainly it’s about the vehicles and that is handled well. I still wouldn’t recommend this film but it’s fairly close to the border of being a solid pic. If you can get behind that one moment of Frank being the villain then you should have a good time here.

Overall 4/10

Soylent Green Review

It’s time for a depressing run through the dystopian future that is Soylent Green. It’s pretty cool that it takes place in 2022 though. The world ended up getting quite ugly with too many people everywhere and the planet finally running out of resources. I like the concept and all but this is the kind of film that gets rather gritty quickly and is more focused on shocking you than delivering a great story half the time. I’d like to see another writer take a shot at this idea but of course you probably need to push the year up for any remake to 2040 or something like that.

So that’s the setting of the movie. There are just so many people nowadays that there aren’t enough houses and most live on the streets. There are hundreds of squatters in every building just trying to find a place to rest and even climbing up the stairs is a hassle with everyone sleeping there. Only if you’re super rich will you have a place to stay and actual food. Otherwise everyone just has Soylent Green to live off of which doesn’t even have much of a taste. No food has taste except for the ultra rich. The houses come with “Furniture” which is unfortunately what the women are called now and you can probably tell all that you need to from the term itself.

The world is as bad as it can be and the film focuses on Robert who is doing his best to live through it. He is a detective investigating a recent assassination. While it may have seemed routine at first, Robert feels like there is more to it than that. The guy who got bumped off was a top executive for Soylent and he seemingly went down without a fight which was odd. The bosses also don’t want him focusing on this case for too long which is another red flag. These are starting to add up which is another thing to watch out for. Can he survive long enough to find out what is going on?

Robert may be the main character but calling him a hero would be a stretch. The film makes clear that all of the heroes are gone at this point since there really isn’t room for heroics when everyone is just trying to survive. Robert steals whatever he can when doing routine inspections and is quite shameless about it. He abuses his power to do so and of course nobody can really talk back to him. It’s probably the biggest perk of the job since he gets to have real food and use actual water to take a shower. Those are luxuries people don’t get otherwise at this point.

He’s also quick to have an affair with one of the ladies and in general comes across as a flirt a lot of the time. It seems to be more a way of passing the time than something he is usually serious about though. He is well accustomed to the world at this point and can talk tough to anyone, even the villains so Robert is never run over. He fits in with the setting and atmosphere quite smoothly. I just never found him all that likable. He’s much preferable to a more timid main character who wouldn’t be able to hold his own here but that’s about it. I wouldn’t give him too many consolation prizes beyond that.

He has a friend named Sol who is even older and vividly remembers the world as it used to be. Adapting has been really tough for him although he tries his best. Unfortunately as the film goes on it becomes way too much for him. It would have been better if he could have stayed strong even if you understand the temptation. As a result of conditions being so tough, there is now an assisted suicide facility where you get one real meal and they play you sounds/music/videos of your choosing as the drugs go in and you quickly die. It’s a painless death that is made to be as comfortable as possible.

Assisted suicide is always a super controversial topic without any doubt. Some will be against it on the premise alone while others would support it on the basis that it can be useful in some circumstances. In a situation like this movie where people literally can’t eat and everyone is dying of overpopulation, you can easily see how it would pass. It’s always just a slippery slope because where do you draw the line? Well, I don’t think that’s something the world will have to worry about for a long time unless we do enter a dystopia like this. It’s definitely a very eerie scene precisely because of how clean and shiny the place looks. It appears so out of place in this dark world that the whole thing feels ominous and almost like a trap. It works effectively as a way to show you how dangerous the place is.

There is a pretty big twist at the end of the film that is also quite disturbing. I thought this twist was very effective and it also makes a whole lot of sense in universe. The world is suffering from a ton of problems but almost all of them stem from the fact that there are too many people on Earth. Their numbers exceeded the resources so you would need to find a way to take care of that. Unfortunately I can absolutely see the ending being something considered in the real world but at the same time I could also see war being a way to take care of the issue much sooner. Regardless it does gives you a lot to think about.

So on a story perspective I thought the film was very interesting the whole time. There was just so much going on. That said, it really could have dropped some elements. First off, the whole “furniture” element needs to be tossed out immediately. Not only is it just an awful concept from the start but it also sours the romance entirely. When Robert is having a fling with one of the ladies who seems to be really attracted to him, there is always the undertone that she is doing this for protection. She basically has no rights at this point so getting close to a detective with his amount of power would be tactically smart. She even says that she is frightened at several points and ultimately it’s difficult because there isn’t a lot that he can do in the long term. Then you see how this is an issue for lots of people and the film gets way too dark there.

The movie is clearly trying to do a lot of worldbuilding which is effectively does as Robert digs into the case but some elements just weren’t good. No matter how bad the world got in 2022, it just doesn’t seem like that would have happened. In general it’s hard to see how the rich haven’t all been taken out by this point either with how the system is set up but I can maybe believe that a bit more. The movie just should have focused more on the murder case and the twist at the end instead of the romance angle and how disturbing life at the top is.

Overall, Soylent Green is a film that does work really well in visualizing a terrifying dystopia. You would not want to live in that world and it is a really scary prospect. It just should have stuck more to that terrifying atmosphere and mystery elements instead of going more for shock value and throwing in some grit. if you remove the furniture concept the film immediately jumps up a bit. I’m not saying it would be great as the doom and gloom backdrop doesn’t make for a lot of fun visuals but it would still capture your attention all the way through. So while I enjoy the concept I wouldn’t be recommending this one.

Overall 3/10

Night of the Comet Review

This is a movie that’s definitely real crazy but in a good way. It manages to be a horror film that really stands out because it’s got a lot of humor and isn’t afraid to throw in a bunch of genres. You’ve got a government conspiracy going on here along with zombies and an apocalyptic setting. You can’t really go wrong with this or rather, it’s possible but the film executes it pretty well. It’s got some issues but you’ll have a good time here.

The film starts by introducing us to the protagonist Reggie. She’s really into arcade games and has even got all of the top scores at the local arcade. This causes her to disregard her actual work duties at times though. Well, one day when she leave work she sees that everyone is gone. It turns out that the comet which had been passing by somehow vaporized everyone who was outside. The ones who didn’t die instantly have been turned into the undead. Anyone who has been contaminated will slowly succumb and fade to dust or become a zombie. Reggie needs to find a way for her and her sister Sam to survive but what can they possibly do?

So this is part comedy as I mentioned and because of that the film doesn’t take this premise seriously at times. This allows the film to go all in with the music. Usually you’d expect a lot of tense tunes and such but instead we’ve got some loud rock and roll type music playing throughout the entirety of the film. It’s great! I can only imagine how much fun it would be in theaters to have that music playing the whole time. It gives the movie a lot of energy that it wouldn’t otherwise have and it’s also just fun.

Another good scene was the main two girls deciding to go to the mall to have a good time. After all, if everyone’s already dead there’s not much you can do about that so why not have a good time right? Of course it would figure that people have gone crazy and they were hanging around the mall just to cause trouble. This felt like the most random part but it also seems to just be a common thing where there are always a lot of crazy people just looking to make a bad situation even worse.

These guys clearly have no endgame strategy, they’re just here to mess around and go crazy. It was nice to have a prolonged gun fight scene though. I can’t say that I was really expecting that and the movie really would just move from one thing to the next. We get a big climax involving breaking into a government base and taking names. That was definitely an intense sequence and I also just liked that the government was getting involved at all. That was nice to see and while I should use the term loosely, most of the world is gone so they may as well count.

We don’t know exactly how many survivors there are but I’d wager a few million or so. If you were inside, underground, or properly insulated then you’ll likely have tanked the rays. So just like the main characters were still good, then it stands to reason that there are probably a lot of other people who are okay as well. While the doctors had their own theories on this, it also feels like some people are just naturally immune so if you grab that subset then you’ll just have a ton of people running around. I don’t think the Earth is effectively over the way it seems to be in most disaster films like this.

One weakness for the film is the romance though. This is about as weak as you get with Reggie being with one guy at the opening of the movie but after he is eaten then she rebounds with Hector when he shows up. Keep in mind that it hasn’t been a long time as of yet so this rebound was way too fast. There’s no way to buy into the romance when it’s like this and naturally Doris tries to get a romance of her own but it’s so fast that she just seems desperate. You don’t need romance in a disaster film so that could have just been sidelined if you ask me.

Beyond that, Reggie is a good character here though. I like the fact that she knows self defense and was able to take out the first zombie when he attacked. She did have a bad tendency of letting her guard down though as there were two times where she knocked the zombie over but then allowed it to get up and grab her from behind. IF you’re fighting a zombie, don’t take your eyes off of him! That’s got to be the big moral there because it was nearly curtains for her even though she had the lead for so long. You can’t let the enemy turn the tables on you like that.

Sam is a bit slower on the uptake and isn’t as prepared to fight as Reggie but she does well in keeping the atmosphere light and morale high. She does have a bit of a subplot where she’s jealous of Reggie but ultimately gets over it. The two do get along even though they have their differences and made for a good main duo. Hector was also a good guy. He had a gun right away so he was ready for action and I thought that he had a good head on his shoulders. He didn’t forget about the main characters when he went on his journey and he’s just a likable guy.

Most of the humans are knocked out of the running early on but I do think the film had a little fun with Doris’ character. She’s the mother of the main duo and is shown to be as unlikable as possible even landing a solid punch against Sam. She doesn’t have any strong moral values and is ready to cheat at any given time so…yeah that’s her character in a nutshell.

Finally there is Audrey who seems to be the only government agent with a soul. Everyone there is willing to do insane experiments and whatever they need for more data while she still has a little humanity and empathy left within her. She takes risks, has a lot of attitude, and can fight. Those are all traits that you want to see in a quality character so she fits the bill. It was always fun to see her on screen although her role isn’t huge. The whole government component isn’t important until the end but the climax definitely delivers. Even genius scientists can get overconfident.

Overall. Night of the Comet was better than I thought it would be. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from this one, but definitely more of a traditional survival film. The comedic elements here are what puts the film up a notch because it can have fun with the premise and also let the main characters fight a bit more. They know how to use a gun and are even familiar with the model numbers. It’s clear that they aren’t like your average main characters and that’s a good thing. I like the heroes to be ready like this and so I would recommend this film if you’re looking for a fun sci-fi flick.

Overall 7/10

The Pelican Brief Review

It’s time for a movie about a full government conspiracy. This one goes very deep into the inner government and so the characters can’t be safe anywhere. Conspiracy films can be a lot of fun with how you can’t really trust anyone but have to be able to use people to get your message across. Otherwise on your own there’s only so much that you can do. There’s a good amount of twists and espionage throughout the movie so it makes for a really solid adventure.

The film starts off with two supreme court justices being taken out by some kind of assassin. People wonder why and how this happened but nobody really knows. That’s when we meet our main character Darby. She wrote a quick paper/theory on who she thought actually set this up and it’s a big conspiracy involving the government. She tells her teacher that she’s having an affair with and he tells his contact within the White House. Soon enough the teacher is dead and eventually the same is true of the White House contact. It’s clear that Darby struck a nerve in her paper and so she needs to try and put as much distance between her and these guys as possible. The last person she can trust is a reporter named Gray but can she really trust him?

The film definitely makes it look easy with how the justices were taken out but you figure it had to be tough and so the only people who could do this would be professionals. That’s pretty much what the government says here. They all doubt each other like the FBI going up against the CIA but at the end of the day they have so many “leads” and theories that it’s hard to put any stock in any of them. The government is not close to cracking this case at all except for Darby who seems to have a handle on it. We don’t really get to find out most of the details until near the end of the film but it’s definitely very interconnected.

Darby is a solid main character and I can definitely understand why she wanted to stay out of this. Everybody around her keeps on dying and she doesn’t want to be next. Absolutely understandable since it’s not like Gray could likely protect her from the whole government if it comes to that. At the same time, he really needs her around as a witness because otherwise he doesn’t have a case. His boss reminds him of that a lot. Honestly the boss is a pretty good character, I would say he’s reasonable and at the end of the day he’s someone who actually will have your back.

Darby puts herself in a lot of risky positions throughout the film so I’d definitely give her kudos there. As for Gray, he’s a good guy as well. He won’t be bought by the government or any of the villains. He’ll just keep on going until he has the truth in hand. Having someone you can depend on like this is absolutely massive. The heroes have to survive being shot at and tracked down after all. If either one of them had been on their own for the whole movie then they would have certainly been defeated. You need teamwork to survive a situation like this.

The Pelican Brief has a really strong atmosphere going on the whole time too. You always feel a bit unsettled as the characters are walking around because danger can be anywhere. Like when Darcy is walking with the white house guy and doesn’t realize that he was taken out by an imposter. You know that things could go very badly for her right from the start. You also don’t get all of the answers right away as the film likes to leave you guessing on which squad actually sent out the it this time. Every group has their own reasons foe either trying to destroy the brief or in allowing it to succeed.

There aren’t too many heroes here as a result since everybody is protecting their own self interests. Even the President of the USA doesn’t look very good here as he’s also very suspicious and cares more about being re-elected than being just. As a result you see him quite a few times taking the low road here. In general it’s hard to win when everyone above you is so corrupt. That feeling of powerlessness is definitely a classic in the conspiracy genre.

This movie is fairly long but it’s executed well. In this case you can understand the length because of how complex the plot is and how the film has to develop everything. It does lead into a very satisfying ending so I’d say that worked out well. Additionally it has a good amount of replay value as you look at the scenes now knowing what you learn from the ending. It would make for a fun re-watch.

I would say one of the best scenes in the movie is when the heroes have to head to a law firm to track someone down. Needless to say, the villains had already anticipated this so it’s not very easy but it was a good try either way. Getting out of there alive was a puzzle in itself as choosing the wrong way out or showing weakness could be fatal. There is definitely a body count here as learning just about anything can put you in the hot seat. There may be some times you figure that the main characters should be dead at that. I suppose a defense you can make is that the villains still have to be a tiny bit subtle or this will become a big thing. So they can’t go around popping everyone off and have to at least have some kind of cover-up. They definitely took out the other characters quick enough but we don’t actually know how long they were planning that. So it could have taken longer than expected.

When it’s you against the world then you really can’t afford to take it easy. The heroes are always on the move and the only real ally here was Gray’s boss. That guy deserves a special shout-out because he actually was very helpful and wasn’t just around to waste time or slow the pacing down. Once he saw how serious this was, he was ready to help right away. I think that’s one thing this film has over other conspiracy titles. This time not everyone was in on it so you actually had a few good men who were helping out or minding their business. It wasn’t completely hopeless and the ending helps to support that as well. Mix in the solid writing and you’ve really got a winner here.

Overall, The Pelican Brief is a pretty good government conspiracy film. These kind of films can make you feel paranoid or you can just say that the whole thing feels bonkers. Either way you can have a good time here. The name is also rather catchy and actually becomes something to think about as opposed to just being some random title. Everything has some meaning in this film. So check this one out if it sounds like your cup of tea.

Overall 7/10

Black and Blue Review

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

It’s time for a police thriller here as Alicia has to try and get past the corruption to make a difference. In a way you could call this a part conspiracy film as almost literally everyone is out to destroy Alicia before she can get the truth out. It’s got enough explosive moments throughout the film to be a complete thriller but this movie doesn’t end up making it into the big leagues.

The film starts off with Alicia joining the police department in her hometown and she is looking to make a difference. Unfortunately none of her old friends seem to like her anymore now that she’s a cop. Her partner is okay but the police department as a whole seems rather bad as she is attacked on day 1 when they don’t recognize her and later on she even has to hear some cat calls. Clearly this department is in need of better personnel but before there is even much of a chance to think about transferring, she witnesses a few cops murdering a gang member. She has the footage to put them away but they got a few shots off first so she is injured. With the whole police department after her, can Alicia survive?

Alicia is a solid main character and definitely one of the highlights in the film. She does a good job of hiding out from the force throughout the movie and doesn’t waver in her quest to make sure that justice is done. We don’t get to see her fight a whole lot here but this isn’t really that kind of movie. The main goal is just to survive until she can get some help. Alicia usually sees through the traps that are set out for her which is good.

My only issue is that she can act a bit oblivious when it comes to her friends pretending not to know her. It’s apparently been something like 10 years so of course they aren’t going to be immediately jumping into conversation. Additionally it seems that the town has a really strained/broken relationship with the police so either that wasn’t the case when she left or she didn’t notice. Regardless as soon as they saw her badge that was it. They were definitely not going to be friends after that.

In particular Alicia’s former best friend. Honestly that’s no big shame because Missy was just really bonkers the whole time. I think the scene that really went overboard is when the gangsters finally see Alicia’s feed so they know she isn’t the villain but Missy tries to convince them to murder her anyway. Really? There’s no way to like Missy after that so maybe it’s for the best if they go their separate ways anyway.

Milo gets a big role in the film and he’s someone that Alicia can count on. That’s a good thing because without any allies around that would have really been awful for her. Having even just 1 teammate can make a huge difference in these things. He also does well in infiltrating the police base and helping out during the movie. Without him it’s fair to say that Alicia would have definitely been doomed here. There were just too many to get past here.

Alicia’s partner Kevin definitely isn’t great. I mean, he’s portrayed as one of the more reasonable guys here but even then he doesn’t exactly jump to help Alicia when it counts. He always tends to look the other way when crimes are going on and so while he isn’t an active participant, it doesn’t seem like he’s a great guy. Kevin just let everyone down but at least he does have a good moment near the end.

Malone is the main villain here and he does a good job of playing the field. He is always in control of what’s going on and has the villains and heroes being in fear of him. The gangsters could beat him but the partnership is mutually beneficial. You’ll still wonder how Malone can be going around openly shooting and acting like a villain but nobody tends to look closely in this film. For all we know quite a lot of them are in on the take which would also explain why Malone isn’t worried in the slightest. I do think he works well as a villain though.

The gang have a fairly big role as the big third party in the film. They’re villains of course even if they aren’t the main antagonist of the film. By the end the gangsters try to be a bit reasonable but considering that they were beating up on Milo for a while and nearly destroyed him and Alicia, you never forget that they are villains. This experience might hopefully help them not to jump to conclusions and be manipulated so easily next time. I thought they were going to be more suspicious of the intel they got throughout the movie but they actually seemed to buy Malone’s story 100% without any doubts.

Beyond that you have a few more corrupt cops like Deek running around but they don’t get a whole lot more to do. I would say part of my issue here is with how widespread this is. At first it’s one rogue cop teaming up with the NARC agents. Then we find out there are 2 more cops in on it, then this becomes 4, and gradually you wonder who isn’t on it. Even though it starts to feel like she’s in the middle of a conspiracy, presumably not everyone on the force is in on this. You just don’t get to see any actual good cops throughout the film.

I’d have liked to have seen a few reasonable characters. It’s the biggest difference between this and how an older film would have played it. The difference here is restraint. In an older title you’d probably see some decent characters even if they got bumped off. Here that just doesn’t happen. It’s quite telling that in the very first scene in the film Alicia is pushed against a wall and quickly threatened by the cops just for jogging. The police appear to be extremely aggressive in every scene that they appear in.

They’re the villain group in this film and they basically act like gangsters. You might have seen this more in the wild west but in a film set in the modern day it all feels too extreme. So that was one element that really held the film back here which is that everything feels very exaggerated. You have all the stereotypes within a few minutes, “This guy giving you trouble” one of the cops asks as he grabs his gun when the characters were having a completely peaceful chat with nothing going on.

The soundtrack is also underwhelming as I didn’t care for any of the lyrical songs. That one’s of course more of a minor thing. In the end the writing is more on the underwhelming side too. The best thing about the film is that the thriller scenes are pretty solid. We do get some decent fights in the mix even if none of them would really hold up against the bigger action titles. You’ll still be engaged from start to finish, but the whole time you feel like the movie could have been better.

Overall, The whole film just feels super extreme but not in a cool 90’s snowboarding kind of way. If I’m Alicia I would have definitely transferred to another division even after the crisis was over but good on her for sticking it out. It’s the kind of experience that would almost make you want to look for a whole new line of work. The film ends on a hopeful note that things should be better in the future now. There’s the added bonus of a ton of villains being taken down during the climax so the town should also be a lot safer right away.

Overall 3/10

Dreamscape Review

If you were able to weaponize a dream that would have to be one of the more dangerous prospects out there. How can you defend yourself if you’re still dreaming? Well, this film delves into that and it makes for a very interesting watch. It’s the kind of sci-fi concept that’s cool to check out and the film keeps it engaging by throwing in some monsters too.

The movie starts off with Alex using his psychic powers to win at the horse races again. Unfortunately he’s not too subtle with his constant winnings and so people are starting to hunt him down to get some of those profits. This leads to him being desperate enough to get into a car with some shady characters who take him to Professor Paul. Paul was a part of the group that originally ran the tests with Alex and got him these psychic powers.

Well, the experiments have continued and they need Alex once again. Alex was always one of the most promising cadets after all so they need him now. The idea is that Alex can jump into a person’s dreams and help them contend with previous traumas or even just give the scientist some info based on the dream. Ideally this is a way to help humanity because you can end nightmares and other forms of stress. Unfortunately, the government has other plans for this.

If you die in the dream you die in the real world so what better way than to use this for an assassination right? There is a particularly disturbed guy named Tommy at this lab and he has psychic abilities that rival Alex’s own. Alex will have to decide if he stays at the lab to help the patients who really need him or if he should get out before he is in some real danger.

Now when I say psychic powers, I should emphasize that we’re talking purely mental here so don’t expect people to be throwing trees. Alex can see through trading cards and into the mind to an extent. He can go into someone’s dreams but he can’t go into their minds like that when they’re awake or at least not to a serious degree. He can pull out some thoughts from the top of their minds at least.

Alex is a solid main character and I can see why he ran off the first time. It definitely doesn’t seem like this is the kind of place where you would be safe for too long. They’ll use you for the intel and then you’ll be taken out. Growing up in such a facility is probably why Alex is very tough in the present. He’s always got a barb ready for the other characters and has a lot of bravado. He ultimately does decide to help a little kid who was having nightmares even though a lot of other people died earlier.

So Alex does have his heroic qualities as well. Mainly the only scene I really didn’t like is when he went into Jane’s dream to have an affair when she had been declining him in the real world. It’s definitely a low move and it’s hard to see how their romance was still able to flourish despite this in the present. That seems like it would be a relationship killer to me.

As for Jane, well she tries to keep things professional but Alex isn’t interested in that from the start. Jane’s not on board with the more shady elements of the job so she does have more of a moral compass than the other staffers but there wasn’t a whole lot to her character. You’ve got Paul who wants to keep the experiments on the level but he ultimately reacted a little too slowly. Maybe if this was less of a charged area he would have been okay but the instant he stayed late at night and said no to the villain I knew it was game over. It was a tense scene when he walks into the hallway though. The guy just didn’t act until it was too late but he does at least have a backup plan set into motion by then.

Bob is the main villain here and the guy is rather intense. The film plays out a bit like a government conspiracy title at times and he does a really good job in that role. You can tell that he’s willing to do anything in order to have that weapon. These corporate kind of villains always manage to be very interesting and this guy’s no exception. Then you have the crazy Tommy who is all too happy to join in with this.

He’s a guy who always liked using his psychic powers for evil so it’s a perfect fit. Alex is really the only person that Tommy can’t intimidate. In the fight scenes that take place in the dream, I like how creatively Tommy uses his abilities. Really he could have murdered Alex in an instant if he wasn’t so busy toying with the guy the whole time. It’s why you never want to play with your food.

There’s also Charlie who is definitely the most random character in the film. Somehow or other he knows about what is going on with the dream wars and manages to track Alex down. The guy must have a lot of connections but at the same time he had no exit plan which doesn’t go over very well for him. Choosing a crowded location was a good idea but ultimately it just wasn’t safe enough. I was glad about his inclusion though because the conspiracy scenes are some of the most tense ones in the film.

Finally there is also the President but he’s not the smartest member in the group. I don’t think having bad dreams would be enough for me to subject myself to a super risky dream experiment that is still in the trial phase. Nah, I’m definitely not doing that. He also comes across as weak with how he isn’t able to touch Bill even though he was almost murdered. This guy’s the President? I don’t care about red tape at that point, you blast Bill and then cover it up. He should at least have that much power.

The film definitely has a really intense ending on two fronts. First is Alex’s final decision and battle which is a really effective scene. Then you have the final moment which will make you really think everything over again like Inception. My view is that the ending isn’t quite real, but it’s hard to say how far back it goes. Depending on how far back we’re talking…well that could be depressing for Alex.

An area where the film really excels is with the actual dreams. I liked the visuals we had there from the Nuclear aftermath to that creature that Alex had to fight. The dreams had a solid atmosphere to them and even the opening dream with the guy getting cheated on had a very grainy look to it that let you know this was a dream right away. I could have done without that crazy dream but it certainly felt weird enough to fit right in.

Overall, Dreamscape is a solid thriller. It has that classic 80s feeling as well where something just isn’t right but it’s hard to put your finger on it. Everyone seems dodgy and the whole area seems unsafe. You get the feeling that Alex is always being watched even when no one is around. That general atmosphere of unease is hard to nail and the film did a good job with it. I’d recommend checking this out if you want to see how the world of dreams can be a very dangerous thing.

Overall 6/10

Now You See Me 2 Review

With the first Now You See Me there were definitely a whole lot of magic tricks on display. Most of them wouldn’t work in real life though so by the end you might as well say it was real magic. There were a ton of plot twists as well so things kept on spinning. Well, this film continues that as the stakes get higher and the magic even more fantastical. It’s a fun film but after a while you have to accept that the main characters know real magic for this to make sense.

We pick up about a year after the first film. The Horsemen are currently in hiding since they are nationally wanted fugitives at this point. Still, Atlas is sick of hiding and asks the Eye to make him the leader over Dylan. The Eye says that might happen someday so just keep pressing on. Shortly afterwards Dylan arrives with the next mission. It’s time to expose another corrupt company. The only problem is that the Horsemen are quickly overwhelmed by a new villain and kidnapped. They must now obey Walter’s orders and steal a tech device or they will all be murdered.

Trust me when I say there is really a lot going on here. Pretty much every character from the first film returns and then you have quite a few new villains popping up here. It definitely raises the stakes and you have to really pay attention if you want to keep up with all of the various plot twists as well. There are so many twists that you feel like the film goes in a full circle where each villain has a plan that’s around 15 layers long. It’s pretty impressive even if it’s also a bit hard to believe at times.

First off, it is fun to see the magic the way the film uses it. Every trick appears quite grand. The characters are good at talking really quickly while they divert your attention and pull out some other kind of trick. The only weakness is part of the fun would be trying to solve the tricks yourself but with half of these appearing to be pure sci-fi there isn’t anything to figure out. Character teleport around the rooms and move as if they were as fast as the Flash. Not only are you suspending disbelief at this point but you actively know that the film is mocking you.

It’s a blast as long as you do look at it through a supernatural lens though. These magicians were scouted by the Eye after all so why wouldn’t they have some kind of ability with the supernatural right? It adds up if you ask me and then it definitely helps clear the air. The special effects are really on point as well. Everything looks really sharp and high tech. You feel like you’re at a futuristic magic show.

The soundtrack is also impressive. It may be a bit limited but the tunes are memorable to be sure. So even if you hear the same track a lot, it becomes more of a theme for the main characters than anything else. The writing itself can be rather shaky at times though. As I mentioned, the film loves its twists but much like the first film, it feels like the twists are here to be here even if they don’t make sense.

A good twist does not necessarily need to be foreshadowed but it should make sense. There have been many great twists in cinema like the Joker intentionally getting captured in the Dark Knight, Eggman tricking Tails into confirming the validity of the Chaos Emerald in Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Darth Vader calling Obi Wan’s bluff and stabbing him in Star Wars, etc. Then you have twists that don’t really make sense in titles like Attack on Titan that make you think. This is definitely in the latter where even with hindsight if you look back at the films they don’t make sense.

The films have you in a whole merry go ride as things go back and forth and it’s all entertaining but I wouldn’t say it meshes. Still, you can look through it like most. The twists are entertaining and taken at face value, they can be a blast. The script itself also has a lot of great dialogue but also some cringey lines as well. You’ll be shaking your head at quite a bit of the dialogue. So the writing is a mixed bag. The story itself will keep you very well engaged but it’s clear that making everything fit in with the story is secondary to shock value.

As for the characters, I would say the antagonists really steal the show here. First we have Chase who is McKinney’s brother. He’s a pretty terrifying antagonist because he can mind control the other characters with ease and is also able to read body language perfectly. Effectively eh can do anything that McKinney can do to an even higher degree. The guy is twisted and very confident in his abilities. You won’t be forgetting the guy anytime soon.

Then you have Walter who is another genius. The guy enacts a pretty big plan to take down the main characters while barely lifting a finger. He may not be quite as high up on the list as some of the other masterminds but he has his moments. He was a fun antagonist and certainly did well in building up his own team.

Thaddeus can’t be forgotten either as he wants revenge after being captured in the first film. He knows that he has a lot of ground to make up after all so get ready to watch him act all knowing from his prison cell. Turns out you can do a lot from there. He’s incredibly confident and smug as always and is an entertaining character.

Likewise I enjoy Arthur for most of the same reasons. He’s not quite as clever as some of the other characters but he is incredibly rich and has a lot of connections. As a result he can really open doors that nobody else can and doesn’t have to hide from the others. You can definitely tell that this is the kind of guy who definitely won’t hide from anyone.

As for the heroes, we have Atlas who shares the lead spot with Dylan. Atlas was effectively the leader for most of the first movie so he’s not happy to be playing second fiddle this time around. The guy is pretty smart and as talented as ever so it’s easy to see why he doesn’t want to be a backup. He’s my favorite member of the team and does a good job of taking the lead.

Then you have McKinney who likes to take things easy and rarely gets serious. This film is pretty hard on him since there really isn’t a whole lot that he can do against most of the villains. his mind manipulation is still a pretty deadly ability though and not something to be trifled with. I’m not a big fan but he’s not bad.

Next up is Jack who is still the most hands on member of the group. He’s really good with card tricks and has even started learning hypnosis. As a result he now has two special talents which has to make him the most powerful member of the group overall. He’s more charismatic than some of the other characters. While he’s a junior member, I expect Jack will continue improving rapidly.

Lula is the new member of the group as she replaces the previous heroine. Her debut appearance is impressive as she speed blitzed Atlas multiple times and basically humiliates him by staying one step ahead. Her talent is being an expert escape artist and she does this really well. I’m not a big fan of her character though as her main personality trait is being as loud and obnoxious as possible for distraction purposes. Or it might be her main personality but she’s a bit more crude than the rest of the team.

Finally you have Dylan. It’s pretty neat to see him as the commander while still messing with the FBI in the intro. The guy was shown to be the ultimate mastermind at the end of the first film and he keeps that hype here. There’s one scene in particular where he has to fight a bunch of opponents at once and manages to keep them at bay using his magic. Now that’s impressive and not something that just anybody could do. He made for a solid character and one of the best heroes.

Overall, Now You See Me 2 definitely succeeds as a fun thriller. Perhaps calling it a heist film would be more appropriate though. The music is on point, the special effects are really cutting edge and I enjoyed the cast of characters. When you put that all together you have a recipe for a very successful movie. What holds me back from calling it great is that the writing could definitely use a lot of work. It’s a fun film but one that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. There is a lot of replay value though so I’d consider it a higher tier 7 but it just can’t make it to the next bend. There’s a fun sequence where the characters are all throwing cards around while everyone on the opposing side forgot to bring their glasses so they don’t notice anything. I thought that was pretty creative and a good way to show off their sleight of hand.

Overall 7/10

Saboteur Review

It’s time for a film that I saw quite a while ago so it’s about time I did the review. It’s an engaging thriller with a lot of fun characters and a good conspiracy angle. It will definitely hold your attention from start to finish. The film feels short while you’re watching it but the length is on point.

The movie starts out with a few guys at an army base ready for another day. Barry bumps into a rather ill mannered guy named Fry who doesn’t seem to want to be here. Barry doesn’t think much of it but then a fire breaks out. Fry hands Barry a fire extinguisher that was actually loaded with fuel. This would have been the end of Barry but his friend offered to help stop the fire and got the booby trapped device. He dies and now everyone thinks Barry is the saboteur. Barry needs to find a way to clear his name and to do that he will need to find the man named Fry. Fry conveniently escaped at the time of the explosion though and there’s no trace that he was ever here.

You could say that the majority of this film plays out like an adventure film. Barry is on the run from the world and the only hint that he has is a post card Fry dropped that references a farm somewhere. He hitches a ride and makes it over there but it’s not so easy or the film would be 30 minutes long. Lets just say that this is a global conspiracy and Fry isn’t a 1 man army. He has friends that are helping him achieve his goals and Barry finds this out the hard way.

Barry ends up getting captured and put into a tough spot more than once. What makes a lot of these adventures fun though is that the dialogue is really good here. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you but the script is on point and it helps to enhance the pacing. The characters have fairly layered discussions on the situation. Barry questions why they are even doing this a few times. The villains say they can’t stand the U.S. but as Barry points out, they’ve done rather well for themselves in the country.

I wouldn’t say any of the villains are particularly memorable as far as their names go aside from Fry, but I did like the owner of the ranch a lot. He was really smooth with getting Barry to drop his guard down. He acts nice enough and even has his kid around despite being ready to take Barry out at any moment. Even his maid has a gun at the ready. See, a lot of the villains in this film have a good amount of political influence and have positions aside from being mobsters. It’s part of what makes them hard to stop like in the party scene near the end.

It’s hard for people to believe that these guys are spies. It’s also a hard sell to believe some random person you’ve never met before over people you have lived and chatted with for decades. Barry only has one ally and I hesitate to call her that. Early on in the film he ends up heading to a shack where a blind man allows him entry. They get along pretty well and the guy figures out what secrets Barry is hiding very quickly. He’s without a doubt one of the best characters in the film.

His niece Patricia is not quite as reasonable. She just wants to arrest Barry at any cost and doesn’t believe him one bit. Now, it’s fine that she’s skeptical, it’s not a story that just anyone would buy. It’s all quite incredible but then she shouldn’t lie about it. Be straight with her uncle that she doesn’t believe Barry or let him go but pretending to take him to the locksmith and going to the police instead is pretty fishy.

Now, the uncle’s lock picking friends turned out to be a little dicey as well but leave that for Barry to figure out. Instead it takes a lot longer to get to the destination and gets risky. Right through to the end Patricia is still making calls. I’d give her more props for being heroic if she handled things differently but as it is she just gets in the way. By the time she weakens and joins Barry for good it feels like it’s a little late in the game.

Barry’s a decent main character but I wouldn’t say he’s great either. He could have done a much better job of explaining himself. When Patricia says she’s cold he immediately uses this as an excuse to start flirting as well which just doesn’t seem like a very heroic thing to do. I’d like to see him focus more on trying to stop Fry and saving the world. He doesn’t tend to enter the situations very well prepared but fortunately luck is usually on his side.

Overall, The Saboteur is a pretty good film. The plot is interesting and the dialogue between the characters is a blast. I would say the villains tended to be more interesting than the heroes though. I liked the Uncle a lot with his brief screen time though. Barry and Patricia could have been stronger but I wouldn’t say they were bad either. They just needed some kind of boost to make them better leads. If you’re up for a good spy thriller then this is definitely a solid one to check out.

Overall 7/10

Enemy of the State Review

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

Whenever you start thinking about all the different tech that may be tracking you at any given second it can always feel a bit overwhelming. Just remember that even with all of that tech there are constantly new mysteries every day so you’re probably good. Of course when every big department is after you at the same time, it gets a little tricky.

The movie starts with the government silencing one big politician who was voting against a new bill that would allow the government to use surveillance on its citizens to an even greater degree than usual. One guy gets it on camera though and just barely manages to give it to Robert before getting taken out. The issue is that Robert doesn’t realize he was given anything and now the government is trying to take him out of the picture. Can Robert survive?

From Robert’s point of view, he had been trying to get a present for his wife. He has a rather hectic case involving the mafia right now so it’s been a long day. Robert is used to dealing with tough characters but the mafia guy is threatening to murder him if he doesn’t bring in the guy who got the incriminating tape of him within a few days. Shortly after the government breaks into Robert’s home and he’s on the run. With a smear campaign targeting Robert and his own family putting in some distance, he’s in a lot of danger now. Can he escape this conspiracy?

Robert is really lucky in that he ends up knowing someone in a big position here. Rachel is his correspondent and serves as the mediator when working with the mysterious Brill who supplies him with all kinds of information. Robert has never met Brill but he’s going to need that guy if he wants to stand any chance against the government.

Particularly because you’ll notice during the film that Robert is hardly the smartest character around. You’d never guess he was an attorney because everything seems to go over his head. I haven’t seen a character slower on the uptake in quite a while. By the end of the film he’s starting to piece things together but without Brill he would not have lasted very long at all.

The first half of the film really involves a ton of chase scenes and the feeling that the government is getting closer and closer to taking him out for good. It makes for a fun game of cat and mouse as they don’t always directly go after him. They use some tricks along the way like canceling his cards and making up a bunch of stories about him. After all, all they gotta do is discredit him and get the guy isolated. From their end they have a lot that they can do.

In the second half once Robert meets Brill I’d say we get more into the counter attack part of the movie. I dare say this half is even more fun because it’s nice to see him finally back on the attack and actually making some headway here. Brill is also a pretty fun character. He’s quite experienced and knows how to take the government on in a game of wits. It’s clear that Brill was one of the best back in his day.

Even the Mafia plot gets a very satisfactory ending that I wasn’t really expecting. It’s easy to forget about that plot with how much is happening but it ends up being very important. It’s always fun when you have a plot that comes full circle like that. It also makes for the best scene in the entire movie. Certainly a pretty hype way to end things off.

There’s a small sub plot where the government at large starts to learn about this conspiracy but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It would have been fun to show that they at least have some control over their own tech and operatives when someone goes on a power trip but that doesn’t really happen. Ultimately it’s Brill and Robert who really have to do everything on their own.

I wouldn’t say there are a lot of supporting characters here. You’ve got Rachel who is a little unreasonable at times. She is definitely in a rather tricky spot but blaming Robert on this when in the middle of a government conspiracy? I dunno about that. Especially once we learn some twists involving her which should have meant she would have had a clearer picture of things.

Then you have Robert’s family. They’re not bad but definitely not too ready for what’s going on. It’s the kid’s fault that a lot of the events play out the way that they did. If the kid hadn’t taken something then it’s hard to say how differently this plays out but certainly very different. Robert’s wife also falls into the government trap pretty easily. Now we learn some things about Robert that make this an easy trap to fall into but it certainly doesn’t help the situation. Even once they make up you feel like they’re wasting a lot of time with all the hugging and loving when there are literally government agents around every corner closing in. Robert doesn’t have this kind of time.

I should say that with the knowledge of Robert’s past it does prevent him from being a solid character as well. So really the best characters here are actually Brill and the main villain Thomas. Thomas really makes the most of his scenes and you always get the feeling that he’s in control. The guy won’t go down easy at all and has planned things out well. You do feel like there’s no way he should have this much power unchecked but it just underscores the fact of why this new bill would be dangerous. Clearly the government in this film cannot be trusted with this level of power.

A film like this can only be as strong as its writing and fortunately the writing is on point. The movie will keep your attention easily enough and that stands true for the whole film. I definitely tend to enjoy this genre of everyone using tech to go after someone. It’s pretty nice to come up with tactics to stay off the grid so to speak.

Overall, Enemy of the State is a very solid film. It’s a good thriller that is quite long and manages to flesh out each story beat and plot. It’s long enough where the film is even able to change the very approach and feel that it was going for between each half. Now that’s pretty impressive. The cast may not be all that solid but it’s not like the characters are really bad or anything. Robert still makes for a fun main character at least and the mental battles between Brill and Thomas are what you’re really here for even if that doesn’t happen until near the end. If you want a good political thriller exploring what it means to wield a lot of power then this is a fun one to check out for sure.

Overall 7/10

Bullitt Review

Bullitt is definitely a true noir film to its core but with a more modern aesthetic than the older ones. It’s a pretty good title with a lot going on at all times. It’s a bit on the longer side to be sure so that lets the movie really have a lot of characters the whole time. As I’ll mention below Frank doesn’t have to be a one man army this time as he actually has some good help.

The film starts on a really high energy note during the credits. We see the burglars taking a lot of guys out with hit and run tactics or just classic gunfire. It’s a pretty interesting start since we don’t yet know what’s going on but what better way to start a film like this right? The answers are all given slowly during the movie.

Frank is the main character here. He’s a detective who has been assigned to protect Ross, a mobster who is going to be a crucial witness against a big criminal organization. Frank is fairly confident that they can handle this so he and his two partners take shifts on who will protect the guy. Unfortunately his partner is not that smart and lets Ross get near the door. Not a great idea when you’re watching over someone and things are already getting suspicious…..Naturally both the partner and Ross get shot.

Well, now everybody’s in a whole lot of trouble. Chalmers, one of the higher ups is blaming Frank for this. Frank meanwhile thinks something is really fishy about the whole set up so he hides Ross’s body so nobody will know that he actually died from his injuries. In theory this will lead the hitmen out into the open. Of course this will put Frank at odds with both the cops as well as the villains.

It’s a classic revenge story here as Frank has gone off the reservation in order to get back at the guys who did this. Frank makes for a pretty good lead. He’s certainly not afraid to talk tough to anyone else, including his superiors. Even the plan to get the body tucked away was a risky one that not just any character would pull off. I wouldn’t say Frank is a spectacular character or anything but he does handle the situation well.

Then you have Chalmers who is one of the other main characters. He’s the guy who really wanted Ross for the court case and is the one who made the deal with the guy in the first place. Naturally he’s on Frank’s tail the whole film because he needs the body. The reason Frank doesn’t want to play ball is because this guy seems rather suspicious. His name was used for the burglers to break in and bump Ross off plus the guy seems really desperate to get Ross.

It doesn’t help that Chalmers is also a jerk the whole time such as a scene when he tries to effectively get one of the doctors fired by complaining about him for no other reason than he wanted the guy to give him a different answer. These elements add up to make him someone you don’t really want to partner with. He does make for a fun character because of how exaggerated he is the whole time though.

You’ve also got Frank’s direct boss who was very good. The guy was put in a rather tough spot with all the pressure coming down on him but he still held strong. The captain does have to make certain decisions as part of his job that don’t always align with Frank’s plans but he never turns tail and runs or anything like that. Frank also has another good partner who had a good interrogation at the cafe where he actually outdid Frank as the main guy was a little too much in a hurry. It was nice to see that Frank had some capable allies here.

There is a bit of an extended car chase we get midway through the film but it wasn’t as exciting as some of other classic chases you get in these films. I think part of the issue was the cars they were using couldn’t get up to great speeds so it’s a little less frantic. It’s probably the only scene that I would say dragged a bit here. Always fun to have an action scene though so that was neat.

As this is more a film about cat and mouse games, there aren’t a ton of action scenes. You affectively get 3, the opening shootout, the car chase, and then the climax. Each action scene is pretty solid though so it works out. The story is engaging too so you never really miss the action. After all in a mystery like this you’re most interested in figuring out who the villain really is.

The climax was a lot of fun though. We don’t get a whole lot of action scenes at the airport so it made for a good backdrop. The film even uses the overall layout of the airport to its advantage as it plays a role in dealing with the villain. All of the plots meet up in this section as the climax should.

The only plot here that felt like it didn’t really belong was some mild tension with Frank’s girlfriend Cathy. The case was dragging so she believes it’s taken a big toll on Frank and on them too. Now that’s not necessarily incorrect but considering the high stakes going on right now and multiple people dead as it is, it’s not like Frank can back out now. She also only appeared for maybe 2-3 scenes top in the whole film so it was easy to forget that she was even around.

Overall, Bullitt is a pretty good movie. It’s got a solid plot/premise and good execution all around. The soundtrack has some pretty good tunes thrown into the mix as well like the opening credits theme. If you’re looking for a pretty solid thriller to check out then this will definitely work out pretty well. It’s a strongly written film that doesn’t really have any weaknesses.

Overall 7/10