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

Keeper of the Flame Review


It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film. It’s a cautionary tale about how anyone can quickly be corrupted or coerced under the right circumstances. Always be careful of meeting your heroes because nobody is perfect so you’re likely going to be disappointed. The movie’s very well made. The cast is pretty small and the plot is rather direct so to an extent it can feel like not much is happening. That’s where the writing comes into play since the film needs to keep you interested until the final twist near the end of the movie. I thought it succeeded in this regard.

The movie starts with a legendary American hero dying in a car accident. The country is in mourning because this guy was a very prominent figure. His wife Christine is taking this especially hard and has been unwilling to see anyone. Famous reporter Stephen has arrived in town to get the scoop although his two reporter friends tell him he should give up. That’s not how Stephen operates though and he keeps on going until he finally meets Christine. Why is she so nervous and eager for him to go away? Stephen’s reporter instincts have kicked in and he senses a story!

The funny thing is that this is one of those movies where the villains really overthink things. The film would have been over in an instant if they hadn’t gone back after Stephen. Clive thinks that Christine’s decision not to meet with Stephen initially was pretty suspicious. He’s not wrong in this but suddenly appearing later on has the opposite effect. If they had left things alone Stephen may have had a feeling that something wasn’t right but he would have stopped there. It’s always interesting when the villains think too highly of the heroes because that’s pretty rare.

Nevertheless, Stephen’s definitely a solid character for the most part. He’s determined and doesn’t get intimidated when people threaten to beat him up or worse. You have to have nerves of steel to be a reporter and he’s definitely got that. In comparison the other two reporters look pretty bad as they give up with ease and don’t really do much of anything. They’re really just here for the banter although I can appreciate that since I’m always up for good banter. The main thing that holds Stephen back is the romance plot with Christine since her husband literally just died. Now, they weren’t actually all that close and there’s a lot going on with that relationship but you still can’t see this as anything but a rebound. I also thought that it didn’t really enhance the plot in any way.

The film has a solid ending that wraps things up as well so this is a really complete journey. The best part here is that the film had strong writing and was interesting from cover to cover. I liked the final twist and it’s not even unrealistic. It’s very easy to see something like this happening and the idea of playing groups against each other is something that is happening as we speak through every kind of media, social media, writing, and even in person. Division is a constant in life and one that always has the appearance of getting worse and worse with each passing year. The movie is just as timely now as when it came out with the relevant plotlines. In light of all of this, Christine did pretty good. It’s a shame that she couldn’t have gotten a little further from the situation but I don’t really see how she could have had a chance for any of that.

For the debate at the end where Christine and Stephen have differing views on how people handle these kinds of twists in real life, I’d say Stephen was right. At the end of the day, no matter how big a revelation or a twist there is, people will adapt and get used to it. Some will take it harder than others no doubt but it’s just not personal enough for most to be crushed by it. If it were that personal then it wouldn’t effect most of the others. Since you can never really know someone else, you can only get to hurt by learning something you didn’t already know. There are just limits to how you will feel and that’s why Stephen is right that the truth always has to come out. It may not be what everyone wanted to hear, but ultimately it’s what they needed to know. There’s one death that’s a little gratuitous at the ending as I don’t think it was really needed but you can see why the film went that route.

Overall, Keeper of the Flame is a pretty nice title. It is definitely a very relevant title as it has to do a whole lot with the movie. If you’re up for a mystery with quite a few twists and turns then this is up your alley. As mentioned, the only thing I could see holding this one back a little for some would just be the fact that the movie can feel a little slow at times. Not so much in a dragged out sense as it isn’t specific scenes, but the film has a very slow pace to it as it takes you through the story. The characters chat about life and hypotheticals as well. Everyone’s always got a speech. I’m always up for that though as the dialogue is pretty interesting to me. As long as you agree then you’ll enjoy the film.

Overall 7/10

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Ace in the Hole Review


It’s time to look at a film about how trying to get a story at the expense of a life may end up ruining things for everyone. I mean it’s a pretty clear message but it seemed to be a surprise to Chuck who suddenly starts regretting this a bit. It’s hard to rummage up any sympathy points for Chuck because the whole thing is completely his fault. It’s not like it’s only partially his fault or he didn’t know any better. He knew exactly what he was doing the entire time and this results in a rather unfortunate ending. It’s an interesting film but not one I would check out again.

The movie starts out with Chuck heading to another newspaper. He was fired yet again and is now known for being fired from the most papers. He’s been creative with how badly he’s failed though as he has been fired for being drunk, stealing someone’s wife, making up stories, etc. Well this next paper decides to hire him anyway since they’re nice like that. His first big assignment outside is going to be about a snake fight. Chuck doesn’t really care about this though and is glad to get sidetracked by a local tragedy. Leo has been trapped underground after wandering inside a cavern despite being told it was dangerous. Chuck realizes this is his big break. If he can stop anyone from saving Leo he can really exploit this event for big money. That’s exactly what he intends to do, but every day he stretches this out, Leo’s chances of recovery continue to dwindle.

The film definitely gives Chuck a whole lot of power here. Everyone listens to him unquestionably and he gets the upper hand on everyone. Even the guys called in to rescue Leo end up listening to Chuck and using the wrong method of recovery. Chuck does have a lot of confidence and tends to barrel right through everyone so I suppose the others didn’t want to mess with him. Part of why the plot works is because you have just enough powerful people in the wrong places. The Sheriff is corrupt and Leo’s wife actually likes Chuck and wants Leo dead anyway. Leo has really just got the worst luck here which is definitely pretty unfortunate for him. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I still find it a bit iffy that nobody pursued this further to try and free him before now. Just waiting on Chuck to do everything was pretty iffy. Unfortunately the only one who cared about Leo was his father who was quite old and wasn’t able to help much here.

This film’s main weakpoint is definitely the romance part. Leo’s wife liking Chuck feels like an extra plot point we don’t need. For the most part he shuts her down as he makes it clear that the story is the most important factor in his life, even more than romance for him. Chuck’s certainly dedicated. It’s particularly tragic for Leo since he doesn’t know any of this and thinks that his wife is readily awaiting his return. As the film goes on he never becomes wise to this and in a way I guess that would have been an extra blow. It makes Chuck look particularly bad with how he’s manipulating the guy though. Chuck’s clearly the villain here so definitely don’t get that sideways.

The writing is pretty solid though. There’s a lot of solid back and forth between all of the characters. Plans are made and every character’s got an angle. Chuck’s got everything sewn up so tight even the big papers start to beg him to return. He’s really got everything at this point which is really impressive in itself. The movie’s pacing is also pretty good. The opening may seem a little slow if you want to get to the main plot but I thought it did a pretty good job of setting Chuck up. He’s pretty straightforward on the fact that he’ll do anything for a story. He even convinces the youngest member of the group to go with him, thereby dooming both of them.

The ending’s definitely a downer though. I’d have preferred a different ending where Chuck still gets exposed but things go a bit better for Leo. The way his plot ends is particularly tragic since he thought right up til the end that he had a shot. He had absolutely no idea what was going on right outside. He was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film never gives us a great explanation on why he was defying orders and going into caverns he wasn’t supposed to be in though. His confidence ultimately ended up costing him big time.

Overall, Ace in the Hole shows that while having 1 ace is good, two is better. Chuck ultimately needed a good backup plan and then maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so badly for him. He ultimately didn’t think things through well enough at all and it cost him when it counted. I was glad that the smaller newspaper actually tried to get involved at the end when the boss showed up and questioned how Chuck had fallen so low. To an extent this is on him for letting Chuck join but at the same time he couldn’t have known what was going on. All things considered I think he did a good job and he was an upstanding guy. The problem is that not everyone is in the biz for the right reasons and that ultimately ended up hurting them all.

Overall 4/10

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The Seventh Victim Review


It’s time to look at an old film about lots of mysterious things going around. Unfortunately the conclusion to this ends up being pretty weak which takes away from the experience. You can’t help but feel like the whole thing was pretty pointless in the end. Everyone acts rather oddly for the plot and the film’s ending is so abrupt that it feels like a ton of it was cut out. Abrupt endings can work out quite well and I do like cliffhangers but it felt like almost nothing was resolved.

The movie starts out with Mary finding out that Jacqueline has gone missing. She leaves school to go and find her, however it’s a big city and Jacqueline isn’t at her business anymore since she apparently sold it to someone. Mary meets up with Jacqueline’s husband Gregory who agrees to help find her. Unfortunately this guy isn’t very helpful at all so Mary uses a private detective to break into a building where Jacqueline may be. Unfortunately the guy gets murdered and slowly Mary starts to figure that maybe she should give up. She is easily intimidated by one of the villains after all.

Part of the issue here is that Jacqueline handles everything pretty terribly. First off she did get into a crazy cult which is already bad enough. From there she keeps hiding from the world rather than exposing them. Presumably they are blackmailing her with something but to the point where she has to give up all of her businesses and money? At that point she’s got to do something to defend herself rather than playing defense. We get really random scenes like her not talking to the hero or stabbing people. She gets a little startled but then doesn’t even talk to defend herself. You’ve also got the pretty terrible ending that really seals the deal on my not liking this character. Now the villains get to go free without any testimony against them.

Gregory is also an annoying character here since he is literally married to Jacqueline and ends up falling for Mary. This is the same guy who was calling her a child earlier and making a lot of snide remarks. It’s great that they get along, but why’d it have to escalate so quickly? It’s hard to get a read on Gregory but this definitely didn’t do his character any wonders. Then you have Jason who seems nice enough. He’s got connections and helps the heroes find Jacqueline at least. His whole origin story involving knowing Louis a while back feels pointless though. Louis not telling Jason that his friend went completely crazy was also odd.

The film just has a lot of little elements here and there that don’t make sense and don’t add to anything. The best character was Irving since at least he did his best to try and find out the truth of what was going on. Too bad he ended up getting stabbed so easily though. He knew that something dangerous was behind the door so he definitely should have gone through a little more carefully in that case right? When you consider how dark it is especially.

I think the film wasn’t sure if it wanted to go towards total conspiracy land or keeping things more grounded. The whole film was building up to something big and crazy but by the end we see it’s just a small little club with around 5 members. They don’t even believe in violence themselves although they hire people to get the job done so it’s basically the same thing. They shouldn’t have all that much sway at all so if Jacqueline went to the cops she should be fine. Louis is also really an accomplice here since he does all he can to get in the way of the heroes. The guy was acting like a villain the whole time.

How did the heroes break into the hospital so easily anyway? You’d think that security would be tighter. Then the villains somehow finding a way to get Irving’s body out of there without anybody seeing is also pretty sketchy. The whole film works a lot better if you change the twist. Have Jacqueline be involved in a country-wide conspiracy where everyone is a suspect and the whole thing works out a lot better. Personally that would have made the film better although it probably wouldn’t have saved it. To be a good noir thriller or conspiracy thriller you need a good set of characters. It’s the only way you are going to get through and Irving was really the only solid one. The others were all super submissive and would not stand up to the villains in the slightest.

Even the brief “confrontation” we get with the main characters and the villains is super quick. It’s supposed to be pretty emotional and intense but it’s extremely quick and if this shook the villain cult to their core they must have never been all that serious in the first place. Why couldn’t we have had a scene with the cops coming to arrest them? A quick moment like that would have made a world of difference, but instead the film ends where it began, with nothing really happening.

Overall, I’d recommend avoiding this film. The Seventh Victim’s title basically summarizes everything that happens in the movie anyway. The rest is really just fluff to keep you going. The suspense does work reasonably well but since the resolution to it is pretty sub-par that just means that all of the build up ends up feeling pretty pointless. Definitely not the way to wrap up this cinematic experience. Perhaps with all of the cut scenes they could have helped improve the film although it would have taken a lot to save the film entirely and push it over a 5.

Overall 3/10

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The Firm 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.

It’s time to look as a retro Tom Cruise thriller. It’s always fun watching a film with him as the lead because you expect some craziness will ensue. This one was before he became more of an action star so he isn’t actually doing a lot of fighting here. Still, this film does have its share of action and intrigue as dealing with big business can be difficult. It’s an entertaining film that does have its share of issues, but still ends up being worth the watch.

The movie starts with Mitch graduating Law school and now everybody wants to hire him. He gets quite a lot of really great offers and ultimately decides to go with a small firm. The reason for this is they offer him a ton of money and there are a lot of nice perks to the job like a new car. It’s all pretty perfect so naturally the group turns out to be shady. Whenever someone tries to leave their firm they always have an “accident” which doesn’t end up well for them. Anyone who looks into the group is shot falls off of a boat. Either way the message here is that you are not getting out of The Firm alive. Will Mitch be the first to survive or will he fall as well?

The tricky part here is once you’re in then it’s hard to get out and Mitch went all in. He moved and has presumably started spending this money so there’s a lot on him at the moment. He then makes a huge mistake and has an affair even though he was just recently married to Abby. He was literally away from her for a single day and he couldn’t control himself? That was just pretty terrible and it made things awfully easy for the villains to blackmail him. It’s a lot harder to sympathize with Mitch after that because there was just no excuse for the cheating.

Mitch stumbled out of the gate so at least he was good at strategy. Near the end of the film he has to come up with a plan to fool both the FBI and the Firm and that’s no easy task. Fortunately he has the help of a lady named Tammy. After her friend was murdered by the Firm she’s decided to help take revenge on them. She is key to winning this battle as there’s no way Mitch could have done this on his own. She does a lot of the legwork and actual printing of the materials to get back at the villains. Abby also ends up helping although Mitch isn’t aware of this.

Unfortunately her part of the plot isn’t quite as good. Naturally the film decides to go with the trick of having her woo Avery to get into his apartment and steal the files. The whole thing’s pretty bad. In part it’s revenge on Mitch and in part just because she wants to do whatever she can to contribute. It’s still not the ideal plot though and I’d have preferred that she just brought a gun and kept Avery away with that. It would have been a good way to still get in the apartment and steal what was needed.

We also have a plot involving Mitch’s brother Ray. Ray is in jail for murdering someone. The film never goes into detail but Mitch mentions that it was a bar brawl that escalated so ideally let’s say that it was accidental. Mitch decides to bust Ray out of jail while he’s at it and comes up with an elaborate deal to do this. He certainly keeps the FBI busy throughout all of this. The Firm is definitely at its best when it’s juggling all of these plots. A lot is constantly happening during the film and all of the plots are connected which is definitely fun. The writing is pretty solid here and the film has good pacing. This is a thriller that will keep your attention from start to finish.

There are a lot of firm executives and they’re all pretty fun. Avery certainly gets the most screen time and he’s portrayed as a pretty nice guy but that’s really to hide how deep into the business he is. The guy’s just as complicit as everyone else even if he may not act the part. Standing by and doing nothing just makes you another villain. The film did well with the humor though. He has some nice scenes along with Mitch when convincing their first client. I also enjoyed the opening montage of Mitch getting offers from everyone. The first half of the film is pretty light with its tone and the film does a good job of balancing this. It never really gets too dark although there can be a lot of drama at different times.

This is one film that could have ended a lot sooner or gone over more smoothly if Mitch had just talked to Abby near the beginning though. Since they all might have been in danger then he should have let her know right away. By the time he went to a detective he already suspected something might have been up so he should have kept her in the loop. If anything by not telling her it made everything more suspicious like when she went to the office looking for him. He had no real reason to keep that a secret. As a main character Mitch really just wasn’t that good.

Overall, The Firm is a decent movie. It’s got enough holding it back where I wouldn’t be tempted to give it a re-watch at any point for quite a long time, but I still wouldn’t call it a bad film. It feels like there’s more they could have done with the concept though. If anything the first half feels like it could have gone on longer with Mitch not suspecting that anything was wrong with the organization before they started showing him stuff. If anything they make it a little too obvious that they’re crooked from the jump with constantly pressuring the characters into having kids, Abby can’t have a job, and the employees die right as Mitch gets there. It’s a bit convenient to get Mitch suspicious rather early. I’d also make Mitch a better character and switch Abby’s subplot. Those things would all help but if you do want a thriller film dealing with the Law then this is still a decent one to check out.

Overall 5/10

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Seven Days in May Review


It’s time to look at an old film about a villain’s plans to overthrow the government. It’s always a pretty interesting plot and we’ve had some solid entries like White House Down over the years. Well, this one holds its own with those more action centered titles. There really aren’t any big fight scenes here so the film is relying on its strong story and script to win the day. This was a wise bet and the film ends up being very solid.

The movie starts with Jiggs working for his boss Scott as per usual. He shows his boss the military videos of the drills in case America went back into war and unfortunately all of the divisions look quite terrible. Scott laments that the government seems rather weak lately and heads off for another political rally. Everyone has been on edge lately because the U.S. has entered into a Nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Both sides will disarm their nuclear weapons and will count on the other side to do the same. A great many people disagree with the policy including Jiggs and Scott. However, Jiggs believes that such thoughts should be kept quiet in their case since they are a part of the army. Jiggs is fairly high up in the government as he is able to personally meet with the President and even more so for Scott.

Scott doesn’t share this sentiment and doesn’t mind taking passive aggressive shots at President Lyman. Well, Jiggs can tolerate that, but then he notices an odd note in the war room. Coupled with other suspicious bits of information he informs Lyman that Scott may be planning a coup in 7 days. Lyman’s advisors all disregard this but the President believes it’s worth looking into. He sends all of his advisors to different spots to verify the information and now has to decide what to do if a coup is in the works. Handling this will be quite dangerous and must be done carefully or the country’s divided status will be exposed to foreign powers.

From the start this movies adds a good amount of tension and nuance. It’s not like these are random murderers trying to cause anarchy. Scott is simply a guy on the other side who became more and more extreme as time went on. With all the support he would receive at the rallies, this only helped to further push Scott to the edge until finally he went down this dark path. Most of the people we see seem to agree with Scott but as the President points out, when you put yourself in a small circle you tend to only hear those who agree with you. It’s why the term “Silent Majority” was created because a lot of times the opinions you hear the most may not be agreed with as much as it would seem.

I’ll give Lyman a lot of credit here for actually listening to Jiggs. In a lot of these films everyone discounts Jiggs immediately and it leads to trouble. The only reason the heroes are able to stay in this fight is because they acted right away. Lyman ultimately made the right move here and he’s a lot of fun as the President. He handles all of the situations very well and is portrayed as a wise man. It’s easy to see how he got elected as President.

My favorite character though as Lyman’s second in command, Paul. Paul initially doesn’t believe Jiggs at all, but when Lyman gives him the orders, Paul follows them to the letter. He performs his duty well and I liked the scene with the Navy Admiral. Paul played it all very well and he even suspected that he may not survive the tale so he created a backup plan. Part of why I enjoyed his character was because he quickly swallowed his pride at being wrong and saw the bigger picture. I was actually expecting him to be a traitor for a while there so I was pleasantly surprised that this didn’t happen.

I’d say the only plot that felt really unnecessary here was the one with Eleanor. In order to get some leverage on Scott they send Jiggs to one of his old flames to find some information out. Unfortunately this leads to burning some bridges here as they liked each other until she finds out that he was just using her for the letters. While Jiggs didn’t intend for that to happen, he did ultimately do just that and it was a pretty sad state of affairs. He should have just come clean with her from the start or declined the mission but the way he handled the whole thing was pretty underhanded.

Jiggs was a solid main character otherwise though. He carefully planned out his moves and did everything he could to uphold the constitution. He never backed down from his confrontations with Scott and his boldness is ultimately what got him to the right place at the right time. I also liked Lyman’s other advisor Raymond. That guy had a pretty dangerous job of heading to where they suspected the villain base was all on his own. Things definitely could have gotten very dicey for him there.

Finally we have Scott who made for a very solid main villain. His confrontation with Lyman is definitely one of the better scenes here. There’s a lot of good back and forth between them as they trade threats. Scott tries playing dumb for quite a while even when Lyman basically tells him that the jig’s up. Scott tries to stay tough til the end but once the heroes get the smoking gun it’s all over. He’ll have to try and win legally now and while he was confident in his chances at the start, he didn’t seem so by the end. Particularly by resigning he may not even be eligible in 4 years although I’m not sure exactly how that would work out. It’s possible he could still try but he would likely have far less supporters now.

Overall, Seven Days in May is definitely a very solid political thriller. The writing is excellent and the same is true of the pacing. This is a movie that really had no weaknesses and all of the characters are written realistically to make for better interactions. As mentioned, I think we could have done without the romance plot though. It didn’t really add to anything but it’s not enough to hurt the score either. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to watch a film with a pretty engaging plot.

Overall 7/10

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The Network Review

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

It’s time to look at a film about trying to keep up high ratings when your channel lags behind the rest. It’s always tough to keep someone’s attention for long because eventually they are just ready to move on and try something different. For example I can go from marathoning a bunch of Shark Tank segments to not watching another one for months. Fads come and go and so channels also have to move fast, but if they go too fast then there isn’t enough time for people to enjoy anything.

The Network starts out with Max letting Howard know that he is about to be fired from the TV station. Howard’s had a long career but the channel has decided to cut him out. In rebellion Howard decides to go crazy on the air as he rambles on like a crazy person. It ends up going viral and people actually seem to like him. Diana is another employee of the company who aspires to run the whole place and takes this chance to take control of the show. Will banking on a crazy person ultimately work out for her or is this going to be one of her biggest mistakes.

The film has some interesting ideas but ultimately they are hampered by a sub-par execution. First off is the very unlikable cast that hurts the experience. Max is one of the main characters here and he makes just about every mistake you can imagine. He decides to get back at his boss by putting a crazy person on TV intentionally. Results aside, his motive was just revenge. Then he decides to have an affair even though he is married and keeps on spiraling out of control. There’s just no way to like this guy and having such a villain as a main character is unfortunate.

Then you have Howard who cracked early on. The guy was pretty insane near the beginning and kept having heart attacks but he was good at recovering from them. Even though he was crazy at least he was consistent at the beginning so I didn’t really mind Howard all that much. Where he ended up falling was when he met up with corporate and was easily tricked into furthering their ideology instead. If you’re going to take a bold stance and denounce modern society, you can’t be turned at the toss of a hat. That just makes him look sooooo bad. How can we possibly take this guy seriously after that?

Then you have Diana whose aspirations for being the boss are pretty strong, but she’s definitely too obsessed with doing whatever it takes including demeaning herself. The movie was showing all possible paths to power and so this was expected but it doesn’t make her character any more enjoyable. The random side characters were the best ones as they talked tough in the background and all probably had fairly interesting stories. In a TV channel studio you’re certainly going to have a bunch of people and whenever the board of executives showed up they usually had the best scenes. I wouldn’t have minded having more scenes with them instead.

So you’ve got the whole cheating plot bringing the film down from the start. It definitely gets more screen time than necessary. Then you’ve also got the film’s poor writing. There is way too much language in this film which is an easy crutch for a writer to try and add some tension. So the script could have used some work and it also didn’t help in making the film any better either. The pacing also could have used some work. We see a lot of scenes of Howard on his show. I suppose they want you to see exactly what kind of program it was, but those scenes really drag on.

The guy’s just yelling about nothing the whole time and somehow everyone is getting really pumped up in the audience. This is where I would have trimmed quite a few scenes to save time and maybe re-allocate it to one of the rival companies. I’d like to have seen their reactions at times like maybe some laughter or something as they watch all of this unfold.

Finally, while the ending is good for shock value it doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, there’s a subplot about a terrorist group who is running around America robbing banks and such. The news reporters are able to find them and where they live pretty easily and make a partnership. I suppose we can buy into this and at the end the reporters ask for a hit. Here’s where things get dicey, the leader of the terrorist organization decides to jump in and fire the shot personally. Why? If he’s caught…-and he should definitely be caught since this is right in the middle of a live show with tons of security- then he is going to go to go to jail and that’s it for all of his ambitions and goals. I somehow don’t think the news channel will have his back when the cops show up because they’ve shown that they are anything but trustworthy.

The film could have really benefited from being more about office politics. That is always one of the most enjoyable parts of films like this because of how relatable it is. Every job has a ton of politics and the side you pick will probably determine how enjoyable your time there is. We get some of that here, but it’s all in the background compared to in the front. The beginning of the film was more promising with people picking lines and then it was effectively dropped in the second half.

Overall, The Network is a film with an interesting premise but the execution just wasn’t there. There were no real characters for me to root for. They all got annoying pretty quickly and I could see why all of the other stations were beating them in the ratings. Ultimately this channel tried every underhanded trick they could and it still didn’t work. In a way it shows that the other channels were doing things the right away. Since you’re rooting against the main station the whole time I suppose in a sense the film had a happy ending.

Overall 3/10

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The Tall Target Review


It’s time to look at an assassination plot and you don’t see a whole lot of these. It can be pretty fun to watch one guy try to stop the master plan on his own. It’s a similar plot to something like White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen. This film is a lot older so it isn’t quite as dramatized but you’ve got the core elements which is what makes this a pretty fun film to check out.

The movie starts with John bursting into the police office and asking if they’ve read his report. He works for the cops as well but is lower ranked and nobody really believes him. He is convinced that someone is going to try and murder Abe Lincoln before he is able to give his speech at Baltimore. The bosses laugh this off and the lead ends up throwing away his badge. He will now have to get on the train and save Lincoln on his own. Jerry’s ticket goes missing pretty quick so are the villains on to him or is his mind playing tricks on him and there is no assassination attempt?

I say that for suspense but it’s obvious that there is an attempt or there wouldn’t be a movie. Mainly the movie plays out as a mystery where you have to try and guess who the culprit is. It’s a big train that everyone is on after all so there are a ton of suspects to choose from. You’ve got Charlotte who is a writer and loves talking about politics. She doesn’t mind asking tough questions so it’s always possible that she wants to make a move and take Abe Lincoln down herself. Charlotte is a fun character and definitely makes the film interesting.

Then you’ve got Lance who is a soldier and is carrying a lot of guns on the train. Perhaps he has been paid off and wants to take one last shot to take Abe down for good. There’s his sister Ginny who is always quick to defend Lance. Perhaps she is using him to place attention away from her so that she can take the shot and win some kind of glory. Lance’s slave Rachel is also on the train. She may be forced to be an assassin if her family is hostage or for some kind of personal reasons. Finally you have Jeffers who is a general on the train. He gets along pretty well with John but that’s never a guarantee of anything. Perhaps he is trying to keep John close so he always knows where the main character is.

A large portion of the film is John trying to get intel but he has to do it slowly since he’s not in the best position. His biggest mistake was throwing away his badge in the opening scene. While it was good for dramatic effect it definitely crippled his ability to actually make a difference here. Nobody will actually believe that he is with the cops now and it’s not like he can legally arrest anyone either. This short sighted move aside John was still a pretty fun character. He certainly did lose a lot though. John definitely isn’t the best fighter out there.

In general the film had a pretty interesting cast. Jeffers made for a good assist and acted quite a bit like Watson. He’s a good shot and always has a lot of confidence. I liked the conductor as well and that’s another scene where John made a mistake. He should have let the conductor throw the fake John off the train. It really would have made things a little easier later on. Rachel was fun too. She made the right moves in the end and was a very reasonable character. The movie had high quality writing throughout and it’s part of what made the movie enjoyable. Everyone was trying to think two steps ahead of the next character and this made for a good blend of engaging characters who were all quite intelligent and knew what they were doing.

The twist at the end of the film was also pretty fun. It really adds another layer to the mystery. Everyone was getting messed with to some extent and that’s why it was such a good train ride. I really didn’t have any problems with it. Even John’s mistakes I wouldn’t count against the film because the lead doesn’t always have to be a super genius every time. Some of the mistakes he made I can easily see a person doing. If anything John was still really brave with a lot of the risks he was taking. Things could have easily backfired on him if things had gone sideways.

It’s also interesting to see the politics in this film. As the train had a lot of people from the south there were a lot of people there actively opposing Lincoln. You couldn’t find a single guy there who was actually happy about him becoming President or at least they would be too nervous to speak up about it. When you’re outnumbered politically and in a train with a ton of guns it’s probably a safe idea to just stay quiet. This also helps to prevent you from picking out the correct suspect too easily as everyone admits that they would love to shoot Lincoln. You just need to find out which one is actually serious about it while the others are all just bluffing and trying to talk a bit game.

Overall, The Tall Target is a pretty solid film. It is not a movie I was familiar with so I can definitely say that it is a hidden gem in cinema. It provides a suspenseful story and a good array of characters to back it up. The cast is almost surprisingly large with how many of these guys are well developed. The movie never overstays it’s welcome and I can whole heartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a good thriller. You’ll be in for a lot of twists and turns.

Overall 7/10

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

Please Murder Me Review


It’s time to look at an old noir film with a pretty interesting plot. Right from the title you can probably tell that this will be an interesting case though. You don’t really see titles like this much anymore and it does leave an impression. I was expecting the film to be good but I can safely say that it exceeded expectations. This will ultimately go down as one of the definitive Noir titles out there.

The movie starts with Craig heading to his office and beginning a recording. The actual recording is basically the rest of the film so lets head into the past. Craig heads to his best friend Joe’s office and lets him know that he is having an affair with the man’s wife. Well, Craig’s character is officially ruined. Craig wants Joe to have a divorce so he can marry Myra properly. Joe wants a day to think it over, but the next day he is murdered by Myra. She says it was in self defense and since Craig is a defense attorney he agrees to take over her case as she is being tried for murder. If Craig can prove her innocence then they can finally be married but will it be so simple?

So I have to tackle the romance part of this film right away. There is no way you can root for Craig or Myra here right from the jump because they were having a relationship while she was married. No matter how you slice it that is cheating and nothing should have happened until she was officially split. Craig tries to say that he didn’t mean for it to happen, but the reasoning doesn’t matter. You can never put yourself in a position where you may have an affair with a married person. It’s just not done and it’s even worse to the fact that it was Craig’s best friend. It’s the ultimate betrayal and it was a pretty tough way for Joe to get bumped off there.

Craig is a good attorney and pulls out all the tricks, but he still comes off as a bit of a sucker. Without getting into plot specifics he misses a lot of signs in the face of love and by the time he realizes what is going on it is pretty late. That’s why his plan is pretty clever and not one that you would expect to see. Usually the plot is completely reversed in terms of framing and paying for crimes you didn’t commit. This one flips that in a full 180 which was unexpected. The ending actually plays it straight and is a solid conclusion to a great film.

Meanwhile Myra is just as unsympathetic as Craig. She’s really just looking out for herself and in court the prosecutor (Ray) quickly drills down into what actually happened. He was definitely my favorite character in the film. He did a good job of connecting the dots and wasn’t falling for any traps. At the end of the film he does come across as possibly being a little naive but I like to think he was going to figure things out in a few moments. He was likely just trying to make sure that the others did not suspect what happened.

In general the film is a pretty good cautionary tale. You should always have a healthy amount of trust but when weird things happen left and right you do need to think about it a bit. Karma hits like a truck in movies like this where people get their just desserts right away but in real life it’s not always like that so you can’t afford to make the same mistakes as the characters in the film. Craig basically got what he deserved here along with the rest of the characters and if he had stopped to do the right thing in the beginning then none of this would have happened. Another character in the film is Carl who seems just as gullible in his short time of appearing.

The writing is quite good here with the characters all making quite a lot of threats as the film goes on while being subtle about it. I miss how everyone would always pretend to be quite polite back in these days with veiled threats behind every word. The film also does deliver on the noir aspect with a lot of narration from Craig and a bunch of dark scenes. He even works in the dark at times just like you would expect from this era. The film’s pacing is solid as things move quite quickly and I greatly enjoyed the court scenes as always. It’s all played pretty seriously with both sides looking competent in their arguments.

Joe could have played this whole thing a lot better though. Getting murdered aside since it would be hard to avoid that, he probably should have had some more details in his will or something to protect against what happened. Especially if you’re well off then putting extra contingents in your will or in various paperwork before getting married is just a good idea to cover your bases. It probably will put a strain on the relationship right from the start, but it’ll also ensure that you’re with someone who actually wants to be with you and isn’t just in it for other reasons.

Overall, Please Murder Me is a great film and I recommend it to anyone that likes a good thriller with some twists along the way. I believe a lot of viewers will suspect what happened right away but that’s fine because there is a good chunk of film left after the event happens. Technically in my plot summary I probably stopped a lot earlier than most summaries would because you could make the case that the twist is part of the plot and even on the poster. I’d argue that the film works even better if you don’t know this, but regardless you will like it. It’s just a very complete film with a compelling beginning and a satisfying ending.

Overall 8/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Kill Switch 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.

It’s time to look at a fairly recent Sci-Fi thriller. The title’s pretty neat and the poster’s cool so this should be a hit right? I feel like the writers really messed up here. It’s actually got a pretty engaging start and a solid plot. The problem is that the plot doesn’t progress after the first 5 minutes so the rest of the film is the characters being confused the whole time. The characters never seem to act logically and there is a ton of plot hax throughout. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that wasn’t thought out to this extent. It’s still way better than other films I’ve seen recently, but it’s not good enough to give a positive score.

The movie starts by introducing us to Will. He had a pretty solid job and clearly makes a lot of money. Still, he’s called in by a powerful company called Alterplex and they make him a deal that he can’t refuse. His family will be rich and the only catch is that he will be on call 24/7 for some kind of great experiment. The film cuts us between the past and the present quite a lot, but that’s the general plot of the past. In the present Will finds himself on another world and he must find out why exactly he is here and how to get back to his family.

I don’t really mind the jumping between the past and the present so much. It’s a pretty good way to jump us into the action right away and then find out why he did it. The only problem here is that the film overrates how confusing it is. It’s pretty easy to follow what’s happening, but the film gives us a few too many flashbacks to really try to give us all the details. I think a little less jumping in the second half would have helped because after a point you already get what the film is trying to go for so we don’t have to keep treading down that road.

Ironically the flashbacks were more interesting than the present scenes and I can’t think of another film where that happened. In part it helps that the flashbacks had better camerawork that was more like a traditional film. The graphics were good here and the characters were more interesting. I would have been fine staying in this plot although the drama with his sister and the kid wasn’t as interesting. Will did make the right move in deciding to go back to their old place. The kid was clearly not adjusting well even though he tried to be a good sport and it was clear that his sister wasn’t happy either. So even if it cost them a lot of money, Will was ready to leave. Things just didn’t work out so well for him there.

In the present, the problem is that Will should have died early on. We get a ton of scenes with SkyNet type drones flying around and blasting everyone. They have machine guns at the ready and are built like tanks so you really shouldn’t be knocking those out very easily. Despite this, we see humans blasting away at them and winning most battles. There are points where Will just runs up to them and start blasting. Somehow they miss every shot while Will knocks them down. It’s a common rule of action films that the villains will miss every shot while the heroes land theirs, but this one takes it to the extreme. The odds don’t matter to Will as he just runs through everything. It gets incredibly hard to take seriously.

Additionally there is no variety here. As soon as he exits one gunfight we are thrown into another one. Will doesn’t get any rest much like the viewer. I don’t mind nonstop action scenes for most films like car chases of Transformers throwing punches, but at least those have some kind of power scaling. These fights are just Will somehow being basically bulletproof as he takes down impossible odds. It’s really rare that you see action scenes so unbelievable. Will is a good character though. He makes the right choices here and I’m also glad that he didn’t even have to think about the final choice much. It is a bit of a no brainer on if you’re going to save your planet or a different one. It may sound selfish, but it’s not a decision I would think on much myself.

Abby is one of the main characters although we mostly just know Earth 2 Abby. Earth 1 version was fun enough and was certainly invested in her job. Earth 2 tended to panic a lot and seemed really in over her head the whole time. I really think the villains felt no real loyalty towards her even if she didn’t really seem to realize that. This is why you can’t trust villains, at the end of the day they will always betray you. Her final decisions make sense from her point of view of course, but I wouldn’t say that I was a fan either way. She’s just not my kind of character. Then you have Michael who also panics a lot. He comes in handy near the end, but you can’t help but feel a bit annoyed at him as well. His opening scene with Will is really just a compilation of the two characters yelling a lot.

One of the worst scenes in the film is definitely when Will meets up with the leader of the resistance. The guy asks him to say what is name is to which Will ignores him and starts panicking again. Both of them yell a lot but neither one is listening to what the other is saying. It leads us to another gunfight, but one that was super avoidable if Will had just answered the question. It was a simple question so I couldn’t take the scene seriously. This happens a lot in the film where characters will be talking, but nobody is listening to each other.

The writing is very weak. The characters rarely make decisions that are logical and panic way too much. Why did Will have to conveniently get partial amnesia for part of this? He also heals pretty quickly with a lot of the injuries he gets. He’s lucky that the world has a sci-fi healing equipment on hand for the final injury too since that would not have gone over very well for him. The film also randomly gets a bit violent with some of the medical stuff and you do see a lot of corpses on the ground.

Overall, Kill Switch is probably the biggest bundle of missed opportunity that I’ve seen in a very long time. It has a rock solid start and the atmosphere is pretty interesting all the way through. It’s impossible not to notice that nothing happens for a majority of the film though and eventually it gets to the point where it overwhelms the film. Everything is super convenient for Will. Getting more characters into the mix and perhaps identifying the Kill Switch earlier would have raised the stakes. If Will had gotten to meet his family from this side it would have made his choice a lot harder. As it stood, it really wasn’t a choice. It’s interesting, but I’d recommend watching a different Sci-Fi film over this one.

Overall 4/10

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

The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die Review


It’s time to look at an old film that is pretty bad right out of the gate. The plot itself will let you know that this is a movie that’s not going to be very good. If you don’t know the plot then I suppose you wouldn’t know what you’re getting yourself into since the title isn’t half bad. While the actual “wouldn’t die” part of the film is a little interesting, it’s too little too late to save this horrible movie.

The film starts off by introducing us to Raymond and his wife Ellen. Nobody seems to like Ellen. While she is a rich lady who has built a great empire, she did it by being rather ruthless. Her top worker Richard wants to destroy her, but he can’t think of a way to do it without going to jail. Meanwhile Raymond no longer likes Ellen all that much, but she’s rich so that’s reason enough for him to stick around. One day their niece Alice shows up and Raymond decides that he wants to be with her instead of Ellen. Looks like he’ll need to team up with Richard to bump her off. Ellen has mystical trances though so is it possible that her spirit will avenge her?

No matter how you slice it, the romance between Raymond and his niece Alice is trash. That’s the kind of plot we really never need to see in a film. It’s so far beyond the pale that it dooms the film to a low score immediately. There is literally nothing that can save the film from this. Even if they do some kind of twist where they are not related it doesn’t change the fact that he wouldn’t have known that so the film is finished. It puts a sour spin on the film and that’s not even counting the fact that Raymond is a terrible main character.

There can be no excuses for cheating on your wife. Once you marry and commit to the vows then that’s the end of that. If he has any regrets then too bad, but he’ll have to live with them. There is no way to root for Raymond and it’s always hard for a film to succeed with a main character like that. Any scene with him on screen is one scene too many. You’re just waiting for him to ideally get bumped off at the end of the movie. That being said, the way his character arc ends is incredibly convenient to the point where it isn’t even remotely believable. It’s the kind of thing that simply wouldn’t happen in real life. There’s just no way.

Meanwhile Alice is no saint either. Both parties are complicit when it comes to cheating particularly since she knows what is going on. She’s almost as bad as Raymond in that sense. It’s really showing that neither one of them had a lot of respect for Ellen. Ellen’s the only character to reasonably root for in this film. Everyone is ganging up on her so you hope that she’ll find some way to tip the scales. She is super old though which doesn’t help matters. Nor does the fact that she is constantly plagued by powerful pain spasms where she can’t even move. That’s very dangerous when you’re in a place where everyone wants to bump you off.

Then you have Richard who you know is a villain from the start when he casually talks about getting rid of Ellen. The fact that Raymond just sits there and lets him say all those things also shows how Raymond’s going to turn out. In general this is just a very mean spirited film the more you think about it. One example of this is the nice actress who ends up getting manipulated by the villains and then meets a fiery ending. She literally only appears to quickly get murdered here. All of the characters who are left are really bad and so there is nobody to root for. You certainly aren’t going to feel bad for the main characters when things go sideways. There’s no fun to be had in this film. The romance is just so bad that it can’t be overstated. Since that’s the main premise here it means that you’ll be cringing the whole time.

At least the movie isn’t particularly long. You’ll be done with it before long. If anything the tag-line/altered title ends up spoiling most of the film since the death takes quite a long while to happen. I always do wonder where people put the cut-off for spoilers. See, I’d consider the title to be a spoiler in this case. In general I never mind spoilers as you’ll see what happens sooner or later, but for people who don’t like to be spoiled I’d say that the title gives a whole lot away. Maybe it was the only way to sell tickets. In some cases you’ve just gotta do what you gotta do I suppose.

Overall, I highly recommend sticking away from this film. It’s a movie all about betrayal and deception but not handled in a good way at all. The ending happens in the one way that this plan could ever work which is extremely convenient and not believable in the slightest. At least the ending gives us some hope that the villains will end up paying for their crimes. It’s a very open ended kind of finale where you can really decide for yourself what happens. I’d make the case that there is enough evidence here for the cops to be able to claim the win, but different people will likely come up with different verdicts.

Overall 2/10