The Marathon Man 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 an old conspiracy film. I think it probably would have ended up doing better if we had gotten to see more marathon running and such. As it stands the whole marathon thing is only useful/relevant for one or two scenes. A weak script and over the top violence ensures that this film doesn’t end up going far. It’s not a suspense-thriller that will be fondly remembered. If anything it quickly gets overshadowed by many other titles.

It turns out that a few Nazi troopers survived and they are bent on causing havoc in America. They have a lot of gold in one of our vaults and plan to re-obtain all of their riches so they can go ahead and launch future schemes. They’ll have to find the key to the vault though which was lost in a big explosion. Agents Henry and Peter have to stop these guys, but there may be more forces at work here than they know. Meanwhile a local student named Thomas is just trying to live an ordinary life. He is running around a lot to prep his marathon skills, but isn’t looking for any trouble. Still, trouble finds him as he is roped into this secret battle of countries. Can he survive this experience?

I’ll give the film some credit for keeping the main character separate from the plot for quite a while. I dare say that Thomas doesn’t have anything to do for the whole first half of the film. He’s just walking around and trying to get to know other students at this point. Meanwhile his brother Henry is a secret agent who seems to work for hire. He apparently used to be the best in the business although he has slowly grown pretty sluggish over the years. The villains want him dead and he knows it, but getting out of the situation is still pretty difficult. He didn’t handle his final scene very well though. He basically just walks up to the villain and starts making threats. What did he think was going to happen? I mean, you’ve got to keep your guard up for moments like these, especially if you’re making threats at someone. Otherwise you’re just asking to get stabbed.

As for the main villain, Szell, he’s basically your average mad scientist. In this case he is also a dentist. He’s not the smartest tool in the shed as he very nearly gets caught several times as he suspiciously walks in and out of jewelry shops. The whole dentist thing is also really just used so we can get a torture scene in the film. Definitely another moment that hurt the film quite a bit. By the end Szell refuses to betray his honor and throws in one last attack, but even that shouldn’t have been as close as it was. The characters in this film seem to keep forgetting that he is an old man.

Back to the lead, Thomas isn’t a very good character. For starters he is very gullible. Henry easily sees past Elsa’s fake cover story while Thomas doesn’t care. So long as Elsa gives him a nice time he doesn’t mind that he’s being played for the fool. That’s not the kind of lead you want. He also should have known that something was up since the whole situation with Elsa was incredibly convenient and contrived. As if a proper romance would start so quickly. He never becomes a lead that you can depend on and naturally I wasn’t a fan of Elsa either. She’s not someone you would want to trust.

Peter is another agent who was Henry’s best friend. I think the problem with his character is that he looks evil from the start. Yeah, that can be deceiving I suppose, but he acts so suspicious in his very first scene that you instantly don’t trust him. It’s so obvious that you feel like Henry should have noticed as well. He doesn’t technically work for Szell as they each have their own motivations, but at the end of the day they’re both villains. Now, you may want to know if it’s possible for 3 guys with guns to lose to one amateur with a gun and that fight happens in the film so I won’t tell you who wins. All I can say is that if you have a gun you should probably use it. Otherwise you’ll just end up being shot.

As I mentioned the writing isn’t particularly good here. The film had to air-beep so many words you’d be surprised. None of the characters are particularly likable and the villains didn’t even seem well coordinated. How come none of them thought to look for the key in the rubble of the explosion? Why bother with a second key when you have a backup? Why not capture Henry instead of offing him so they could make him talk? You’ll be questioning the characters quite a lot throughout the movie. Likewise, Thomas rarely makes the right call. If you hear someone fiddling around in your apartment and breaking things down then you should probably get out of the bathtub right? That will just leave you as a sitting duck if you stay in there. I already spoke a bit about how the romance was very rushed so no need to elaborate on it. It’s a classic love at first sight plot which doesn’t work well for any film.

Overall, The Marathon Man is a film where I’d give it a thumbs down. The plot could be a little on the interesting side, but there are too many things holding it down. The film’s pretty violent and torture scenes are always a thumbs down. The writing is bad and the romance isn’t well done. The film doesn’t do a whole lot of things right. The only good parts here are when Henry is running around acting like he’s James Bond. That definitely feels like the approach the film was going for at least. I do like the fact that he didn’t immediately die when someone tried to choke him with the wires as well. In most films they go down immediately so at least here he put up a fight and even turned the tables. Even the fights are pretty violent, but this was a good example of flipping over the usual trope. If this film sounds interesting to you then by all means check it out. Otherwise I would sooner recommend watching The One.

Overall 2/10

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Futureworld Review


That tagline is definitely a little dicey. It’s clever in its own way, but I get the feeling that it wouldn’t really fly nowadays. Here’s the problem, we don’t actually see the twist about fake people until the very climax of the film. Were the posters that came out before the film actually spoiling the entire movie so casually? All of the various posters that I’ve seen for the film have other lines more or less with the same premise. I’m surprised that the film would do such a thing since while it doesn’t come out of nowhere it is still treated as a rather big twist near the end of the film.

The film starts off by showing us Chuck the reporter. He’s a tough guy who always gets his scoop. He is the one who wrote the original piece on Westworld which destroyed whatever reputation the place had left after it murdered all of the guests. Well, he gets a call from someone who claims to have a scoop on the place, but just as Chuck arrives the guy is murdered. Chuck decides to go back to that amusement park and has to work alongside Tracy on the project. The two don’t get along but don’t mind quickly going past the friend zone anyway just to be contradictory. Westworld has reopened all of its sections except that one and now Futureworld is the main attraction. Chuck suspects that everything isn’t as it appears to be though and decides to check it out.

The elephant in the room is certainly how the place could still be operating. It is a huge leap in logic that the film never even tries to defend. The CEO talks about how they got some bad publicity but shrugs it off as if there was just a minor technical malfunction. Over 50 people died, but apparently the world doesn’t care as it is still quite busy. Surprisingly enough, World Leaders from around the planet are attending which is certainly fortunate for the company but would anyone really allow someone important to go to such a potentially dangerous place? I really don’t think so.

The main characters are also pretty unrealistic. As I mentioned a romance quickly starts between the main characters and it’s about as rushed as can be. It makes no sense and is just there to fulfill a quota. Tracy herself also comes across as way too mean and bold. She talks back to her boss and doesn’t care that he could fire her. Tracy goes out of her way to try and love Futureworld which is quite sad since she should at least stay objective about the place. She also can be a little slow on the uptake like when she fought her doppleganger. She is absolutely shocked even though she just saw the mech a few scenes ago. I’ll give her credit for somehow winning the gunfight though. That was still pretty impressive of her since I assume that the robot has a quick trigger finger.

As far as Chuck goes, I do like how antagonistic he is to everyone. He tries to get along with Tracy, but doesn’t give Mr. Duffy and corporate the same effort. After all, he’s not here to make friends with them, he’s just here to get a story. After seeing his informant murdered so casually it makes sense that he would be rather obsessed at this point. Still, he’s not very smart. At one point he grabs his gun and is ready for anything. In the next scene he puts the gun down to make a phone call and then gives his back to the door. Naturally this is when Mr. Duffy walks in to snatch the gun and hold him at gun point. Chuck only wins because Duffy isn’t very smart and doesn’t even bother to check the rooms properly even though he suspects that Tracy is there.

For more scenes that will make you roll your eyes we do get a scene with the Gunslinger from the original film as Tracy goes for a rebound. Is it still a rebound if you get together with someone in your dreams? Absolutely, it’s just as valid cheating as if you were doing it in the real world, maybe even more so. It was definitely a scene that really didn’t feel necessary with the rest of the film and should have been cut out to be honest.

I guess the biggest problem with Futureworld is that it can be rather dull. There aren’t any real action scenes until the very end of the film. Most of it is just the characters wandering around. The beginning of the film started it off with a lot of tension and suspense, but it all dissipates by the time the film gets around to actually doing anything. The writing is also not that good so you can’t expect it to hold the film up either. That’s probably the biggest reason why Futureworld doesn’t end up being all that great. You need solid writing to pull this off. I also have to say that the actual Futureworld looked so boring that only a few minutes are actually spent on the spaceship. The rest of the film is just them in the labs or wandering around Westworld.

A sequel to this film would probably be more exciting. We now know that the whole island is filled with robots and run by other robots. Since their scheme to conquer the world may take a backseat after the story gets out, fighting will be their only option. It’ll be Terminator level action scenes happening everywhere although since the robots aren’t bullet proof the ending will be a lot different. Still, at least it’ll have more going on for it than this one had. For all of the first film’s faults, at least it was never all that dull.

Overall, Futureworld isn’t a great sequel, but to be fair Westworld wasn’t a good movie. Lets put it this way, Westworld has the far superior premise, but Futureworld has the better execution. It’s not by much though and the films are rather close to each other in quality. I think I would give Futureworld the edge overall, but it’s close if we look at it purely from how entertained you’ll be. If you can get past the annoying characters and the rather slow moving plot then it’s not all that bad. The film doesn’t do anything all that original this time around, but at least it avoids easy mistakes like animal violence since mainly there are just a lot of robots around. I wouldn’t recommend this film unless you’re a big sci-fi fan and like robots. Then I suppose that it’s probably worth checking out.

Overall 5/10

The Anderson Tapes Review


It’s time to look at the Anderson Tapes conspiracy film. Will this one fare any better than the last one? Not really I’m afraid. It makes quite a lot of mistakes as the film goes on and by the end you wonder if the film even knew what it was doing. After all, you’d almost think it was promoting the view of everyone being watched as a good thing even though you would assume the opposite from the film’s premise. It’s just a very confused movie.

The film follows an ex con named Anderson. From the start you will wonder if he is really reformed or not as he isn’t exactly a pleasant guy and seems to be carrying around some grudges. Still, the film could just be trying to make him a very ambiguous character where you don’t know what his goals are…nah. Turns out that the guy still is a crook and he decides to get all the local thieves together for one more crime to make them all rich. We may need some extra surveillance to stop him.

You probably see what the problem here is and that it gives the surveillance people a leg to stand on. They thought this guy was suspicious and were watching him and it turns out that they were completely right. They didn’t actually help out at all so the whole thing is moot but it’s something to think about. Of course, it’s the principle of the matter that many will not agree with and one film’s positive portrayal of it shouldn’t really have any kind of impact on anyone who is watching. It’s one of those things that you know is going on and you pick a side but at the end of the day at least it’s good that you are aware of it. The government’s already got most of your information along with many large corporations so the best you can do is roll with it. The ironic part is that most of this stuff can’t really be used in court anyway so don’t expect it to prove your innocence even if it can do the opposite.

Naturally the film goes for the low hanging fruit by having the villains spy on the character during romance moments to give him some extra humiliation. Given that Anderson has been gone for 10 years he certainly didn’t waste any time. It’s a pretty painful scene to watch and I would basically have to call it a rebound since the girl dumps the other guy over the phone. The romance here (if you can even call it that) is pretty brutal. It doesn’t help this film’s case at any rate.

One thing the film handles reasonably well is the heist I guess. I like how confident everyone was during that scene as they really didn’t even seem to care that they were being robbed. They just took it in stride and were confident that their safe could not be cracked. The main characters are basically amateurs anyway so it’s not as if there was much to fear in the first place. The main characters even let the kid get to his walkie talkie to alert the proper authorities.

There are definitely quite a few comedy moments like that sprinkled into the film but they are spread too far apart. It was nice to see one of the crooks try to drive away so quickly that he crashed. The scene may have been unintentionally funny but sometimes that is why it works. While some of the humor lands it isn’t enough to distract you from the dreadfully boring story and poor writing. It just won’t be able to keep your interest for very long and you’ll quickly start wondering why the film is just so unfocused. It really didn’t play out anything like I thought it would and unfortunately this isn’t a good thing. It should have been a straight up conspiracy story where the main character tries to find out why everyone is spying on him.

Instead this is surprisingly not much of an issue. Once he finds out that someone is spying on him he just locks the door in the guy which doesn’t actually help matters at all. He then forgets about this for the rest of the film or just chooses not to think about it. Either way the whole plan was already compromised at this point. You also have to wonder why everyone was still in place after 10 years. You can’t stress this point enough. Anderson was locked up for a full decade but then he walks out and acts like he still owns the crime syndicate. His usual informants are still in the game and he is the head honcho. The way I see it, if Anderson was caught and locked up, that would have been reason enough for one of the underlings to decide to take him down and become the new king. I wouldn’t have minded some internal conflict among the gang members as it would have at least been a little exciting.

It’s rare that I ever say this, but maybe the whole film should have taken place at the prison. At the very least that place seemed like a more interesting backdrop than what we got. Some of the dialogue there was rather sketchy so maybe the film would have just gotten even worse, but at the very least I didn’t mind the Doctor. He seemed all right and talked tough to Anderson even if he lost the verbal battle. His bluff was called, but I applaud the guy for giving it a try. Once Anderson left the prison the film still stayed strong for a little longer as the three ex cons went to an airport to hang out. Once they split up, the film split along with them.

Overall, The Anderson Tapes was definitely another flop. The plot isn’t very interesting at all and the characters aren’t any good. The spying aspect of the film doesn’t actually go anywhere and the heist is a pale imitation of a real one. Pretty much every other heist film I have ever seen has managed to pull it off in a more effective fashion. There is really no reason to actually watch this film so I’d recommend leaving it where you found the movie. If you want a film that will make you think more then you should watch Resurrection F. At the very least that film will give you a lot of power level questions to think about.

Overall 3/10

The Parrallax View Review

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

It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film that will keep you guessing as it goes on. You can’t trust anyone and have to keep your guard up at all times. Naturally the main character couldn’t quite handle these tasks and throw in the fact that this film feels quite lazy at times and you have a decently good premise with very poor execution. Conspiracy films are hard to do well when that’s the main genre, but they do make for good twist endings. Oh yeah, this review will have spoilers btw.

The film starts off with a political figure giving a big speech when he is murdered. The cops catch the first guy while the second gets away. Years pass by and everyone eventually believes that there only ever was 1 murderer. Even the main character Joe believes this until he is visited by an old friend who was also at the place where the guy was shot and she dies soon after. This means that everyone who was at the plaza is being systematically eliminated. Only a handful of people still exist..including Joe. Joe must get to the bottom of this conspiracy and to do it he will have to try and get enlisted.

Here’s one problem with Joe’s plan right off the bat and it’s never addressed by him or any of the characters in the film. He was in the picture. I’ll discuss the ramifications of that in a second after we look at Joe’s plan again. So, Joe murders one of the members and fakes his death. Both weren’t actually part of Joe’s plan, but they happened so lets roll with it. He decides to go undercover by submitting an application as a new person and acting like he’s a little off the chains. The organization seems to buy it and gives him his first mission. I’m not exactly sure what that mission was, but Joe basically ends up being the scape goat for another murder and is quickly gunned down. So ends his brief stint as a detective. Do you see what was wrong with his plan?

He was never going to fool them into thinking that he was some random nut who wanted to join. He was on their most wanted list for years and never even put on a wig or did anything to change his look. He went in under the impression that the organization didn’t even care about him so they wouldn’t be able to tell. That’s like a guy who always goes to the local pizza store going in one day and pretending to be someone else without putting on a disguise. It just won’t work and Joe’s plan was doomed to fail. His friend also didn’t give him a great fake ID apparently since the villains saw through that as well and Joe had to make a second one. It was a terrible plan, but Joe never was much of a thinker I guess. His friend came to him for help and he basically just laughed at her and sent the girl back to her doom.

Finally, Joe compromised his safety even more by sending cassettes to his old newspaper boss and revealing that he was still alive. Lets put it this way, the more people that know, the more likely it is that the secret will gt out right? Joe even impacted events by telling Bill not to make any charges or allegations against the organization. Instead Bill stayed quiet and the villains probably thought that this was extremely suspicious. Then they were also probably watching Joe at all times so I’m sure that they saw him send in the audio every week to the boss. His plan was just full of holes and that’s why he plunged into the abyss.

There is also a long brainwashing video that is just brutal to watch. They could only afford a handful of pictures so they just keep replaying them over and over. You’ll get the point of the video a few seconds into it or more likely as Joe is heading over to the seat. This film isn’t exactly subtle. So, then we don’t need to see the entire video that feels like 5-10 minutes long. The Thor picture was fun, but the rest was all just gritty stuff to remind us that the organization is serious business. I also find it laughable how they expect that to brainwash everyone. You can’t show 1 video and expect it to work so easily or even have any kind of effect on the person it is on. If the film had said something like *10 hours later* then that would be better since it would have meant that Joe had been there for a long time.

There are also a lot of really drawn out scenes like Joe walking through the airplane. Watching everyone do nothing much gets old pretty quick. Everyone moves very slowly so you get to stare at them all. We even head to a crooked town where the Sheriff and Deputy go around beating everyone up. Of course, as we find out later they were fired ages ago, but I guess nobody in the town ever knew that. The cover ups here are hard to believe as well. Unless everyone who speaks up is getting instantly murdered I don’t see how word isn’t getting out. What was the cover up for Joe’s death at the end? The dialogue at the end basically says that Joe was the only killer so did nobody take fingerprints of the gun to find others on it? I don’t think Joe actually picked up the gun either so that should be easy, but I suppose the fingerprint guy was in on it as well. Conspiracy films definitely don’t tend to follow logic all that much and it’s not a big thing, but you will certainly find it hard to buy into any of this. Even the cops at the beginning of the film are corrupt just to reinforce the idea that everyone is evil here.

The second half of the film just feels uneventful. Joe is just following orders and slowly getting into the villain group but it basically takes him the whole film to get his first mission and then he is instantly murdered. He didn’t actually learn anything nor did he make any progress in stopping them. As a result, the entire film also feels pointless as well. It’s an interesting approach to effectively show a futile attempt at stopping them rather than the epic actin hero who defies all odds and takes dozens down. Still, it’s not necessarily a good approach or at least not this time. Joe just wasn’t smart at all and why would you just stand around by a gun for about 10 minutes? He really wasn’t thinking. The writing in the film isn’t particularly good either. The heroes aren’t smart as I mentioned and the villains have no real personality either. I do like the Illuminati though. You rarely actually get to see them appear in these films.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend checking out this film. You can find conspiracy theories anywhere so it’s not as if they’re rare, but I guess a whole film about one theory just couldn’t end up floating. The brainwashing video drags out much like the rest of this film. It loves going for zoomed out shots of people walking and running around. Joe couldn’t save anyone in the film and he couldn’t save the film itself. If you want to look at a real conspiracy, check out the whole Berenstein vs Berenstain Bears issue. That one has always peaked my interest and has a better climax/conclusion than this film since we are still living in the conclusion.

Overall 3/10

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review


Time to check out a recent Sci-Fi film by the name of Valerian. I remember seeing the trailer a few times but being skeptical as to whether it’d be good or not. It looked like the kind of movie that would rely on weird environments and good visuals over the story or good characters. I wasn’t really wrong on some of that and the characters are pretty bad, but the film is reasonable. At the very least the film is pretty fast paced.

The film starts off with our two main characters, Valerian and Loreline. They are tasked with collecting a money hedgehog and do so after beating up everyone involved with the transaction. During a universal peace conference they are attacked by a group of blue beings who were thought to be long extinct. The heroes head off to stop them but they may be in for a political war that is above their pay grade.

Valerian is unfortunately a pretty bad main character. He’s a serious flirt who even has a playlist of everyone he has “conquered.” That’s as bad as it sounds. His next target is Loreline and he is slowly breaking through her defenses. Even aside from his morally disappointing personality, he isn’t even that strong. He is portrayed as an elite agent who never fails and that’s why he is supremely confident. Yet, in his first mission in the film he has to be rescued by Loreline because he made a bunch of rookie mistakes and got wrecked. It’s something that happens a little too often in live action productions where the hype characters simply can’t live up to their reputation. He just never becomes a good character which is unfortunate.

Loreline is the main heroine and I can’t say that she is any better. She is also supposed to be a hype character as well as the “tough” one in the group. This is quickly negated as she loses to Valerian in wrestling during the opening minute. She gets her ”burns” in as she mocks him and his playlist but knowing about it just makes her inevitable pairing with Valerian even worse. She also spends the entire film glaring which is certainly trying a little too hard to be tough.

It’s the side characters who are a little better as is sometimes the case. The main villain is a political General from the army who covered up a bunch of murders. He keeps his confident persona even when being attacked and threatened. He makes a good speech at the end and is always many steps ahead of the other characters. He was playing chess while they were playing checkers. One weird moment was when he was kidnapped though. The whole time I figured it was part of his plan, but it seems unlikely by the end. I guess he just wasn’t ready for the aliens to make their move.

Naturally the film has to force in a very long strip show scene which introduces a shape shifting character. Not only is this the worst way to introduce a character but this is a sci-fi trope that needs to die. It seems like a bunch of alien based films love to show off the costumes or cgi by including a scene like this or set pieces where everyone forgets to dress out well. It’s something that should never happen as if you feel a need to show off your animation then it probably wasn’t very good to begin with. The character is all right I guess but her role is rather small and needlessly tragic. I didn’t really see a point to her dying. It doesn’t work for shock value since we didn’t know her and from a narrative perspective it had no impact on any of the characters.

This film apparently had a really big budget and I think it was misplaced. Through my followings with RWBY, I’ve gotten to see a lot about how a budget is spent in terms of animation and how it is often not worth it. You can spend a significant chunk on a cgi landscape with a lot of NPCs in the background. Those guys don’t matter so why spend budget on them? I’d say that a budget should be spent primarily on fight scenes, backgrounds are secondary. This film had some nice backgrounds, but a good chunk of it was in a very ancient desert planet and then on a beach with no technology. So I’m assuming that the bulk of the budget was spent on Valerian running through various worlds in the quick 5 minute scene. Using up a huge budget on a minor scene is just not worth it and using practical effects would possibly have cut the budget in half then. The sci-do guns look good and the fight scene where Valerian takes on a bunch of ogres was good. Use the budget for that instead and have a super speed battle where he is zipping around then at lightning speed and dodging energy blasts. Now that would be hype!
I have to question how useful the cannon tech from the first scene was as well. Sure, the villains were pretty scared of Valerian and he was invisible so they had a hard time hitting him but he was still there and would have been destroyed if he couldn’t jack out. An impressive piece of tech to be sure and virtual reality has certainly peaked in this universe but the heroes may want to start thinking of better security options.

The robots made for pretty good minions for the main villain. They would have been perfect if they had also been bulletproof. As it stands, Valerian was able to dish out the pain against these guys but they got a lot of the aliens in the process. The aliens really shouldn’t have just walked outside while defenseless in front of the enemy. They were practically asking to be shot and I get how they’re pacifists and all, but at least do the peace thing behind the magical barrier. Alls well that ends well for the survivors though so at least the race isn’t extinct.

As mentioned earlier, Valerian’s best strength is in the film’s quick pacing. It’s over 2 hours, but the movie never drags on and you’ll stay entertained the whole time. It may make its share of mistakes and so I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but at least it’s a fun one the way that Resident Evil is enjoyable. The two are still in completely different leagues when it comes to quality as well. I think there could be some potential for a sequel here since there’s a lot you can do in space, but I want them to head to a high tech world that can take advantage of the future setting. Also, give the main actor/actress some more sleep before filming next time. They look dead tired in every scene of the film to the point where I’m sure they must have gone through many takes for each scene.

Overall, Valerian is one of those movies that just tries to throw a lot of things at the screen and hopes they will stick. Unfortunately it is very 50/50 in this regard. The film needed more action scenes and choosing a desert planet and then a beach planet when the film is supposed to be futuristic was a mistake. Get some better characters and then we can really begin thinking of a sequel. Until then, this film will need to stay under the radar as we open the way for other sci-fi films. If you just want a film where you get a future setting then I suppose this is a film worth checking out. There weren’t too many films that take place in the future this year. If you want a better film about the future, check out the DBZ Trunks movie.

Overall 5/10

Barracuda Review


It’s time for a government conspiracy film that hides itself as an animal horror for the start. It’s definitely pretty interesting and actually handles itself for the most part. It is a slow burner so don’t expect a fast paced film or anything, but the payoff is good. Keep in mind that the film is rather mean spirited though so it is absolutely not for everyone. The overall message is definitely “Don’t mess with Corporate”

The film starts off with a group of kids breaking into a private facility so they can test if the water is good or not. They want to prove that the corporation has been messing with the water for their own personal gain. Naturally they are escorted off the premises, but Mike manages to keep a sample. He finds strange ingredients in the water. Meanwhile, Barracudas have been attacking any human who decides to go for a swim and even the inhabitants of the town are starting to act very angry at each other. Everyone is snapping at just about everything so something just doesn’t seem right. Sheriff Ben decides that the town is going to need Mike, but can they really defy this evil business scheme?

Lets open the can of worms right away. If you came here for the Barracuda, then you’re not going to have a good time. After the intro scenes they basically vanish for the rest of the film. They’re just used as a tool to show you that something is wrong with the water. Considering that it’s why Mike came here in the first place, he takes a very long time to figure this out. It’s almost like he doesn’t want to believe that this is the case for whatever reason. Still, the proof is in the pudding and they have to accept that corporate has stepped up. Here’s where things get tricky though.

As it is, the Sheriff mentions that the private henchmen of the rich guy down the block have started to get a little too intense. They’re basically breaking laws, but are still untouchable because they are privately employed. This leads to the final scene where we realize that everyone has been paid off. It’s an intense moment, but one that the heroes could have handled better. I’ll keep the spoilers to this paragraph so skip the rest of it if necessary. All righty then, time to press on with the spoilers. The government shows up with a squad of FBI cars and shoots the main characters down. They shoot down all of the witnesses during the movie and just relocate the mission. The rest of the town doesn’t know that they were poisoned and they won’t ever know either. The government made it clear that if anyone gets close to finding out the truth they’ll be silenced without a second thought. There’s definitely no gray area here, the government is portrayed as being completely evil and they’re proud of it.

There’s a lot of tension throughout the film which is handled well. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the cast is quite as solid. Ben was a good sheriff and he was reasonable the whole time. He didn’t want anyone fooling around with his city, not on his watch. Mike wasn’t quite as good. Sure, I get the whole standing up against corporate thing, but if you have to do this by breaking a bunch of laws and being confrontational with everyone, then you’re doing it wrong. He’s pretty annoying whenever he’s on screen and don’t get me started on his romance with the main heroine. They bond almost instantly upon meeting up even though he’s rather mean and sarcastic to her the whole time. He was probably trying to be funny, but I wouldn’t say that it worked. He’s also rather naive like when he left his experiment in the lab all night while he went to rest. Of course it was going to get sabotaged. Even if you ignore the whole conspiracy angle where everyone is out to get him, he knows that the corporate guys who made the fish aren’t going to stand up for this. If you leave them an empty room, they’re going to make a move.

A few people die against the Barracuda, but I don’t believe it was all that violent. The scenes are very quick and the movie doesn’t really swell on them. Should the Beach have been closed immediately? Yes, but the town isn’t quite that quick. The town will get on your nerves after a while as well since everyone is rather gullible. There’s no way they could know that the water is tampered with, but someone should have noticed that the company was up to no good. Was nobody monitoring them at all even though it was their only supply of water? I guess the town is optimistic, but that’s not a good thing when taken to the extreme.

It’s a very unique movie and at the end of the day, it’ll all depend on if you find the situation annoying or engaging. Which side wins will determine if you enjoy the film or not. I personally found it to be pretty interesting and the writing was also pretty good. The film’s aged pretty well even if the characters have not. I think adding in one or two good characters would have earned the film an extra star. After all, the main annoying part of the movie is that the heroes never seem to have a chance against the villains. Throwing in someone who could fight and would get into the gunfights with the enemies would have changed the whole situation quite drastically.

Overall, The film is incredibly misleading from the posters and title, but that’s not a bad thing. I actually think I liked this film more this way than I would have if it was about the Barracuda since it probably would have led to animal violence and been more graphic in general. Since the enemies were human, it made for more mind games and stuff instead of people just getting eaten. There’s not a lot of action either way, but the climax is fun. It can also be unintentionally funny as everyone keeps missing shot after shot and they’re also casual about it, but I appreciated the attempt at a real thrilling conclusion. If this film sounds up your alley then you should go for it. I’d recommend the film and it’s fairly obscure so you can mention this to score brownie points with film buffs.

Overall 6/10

Total Recall Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such. A review of the unedited version would likely be far harsher.

It’s time for an old action film. I mean, it’s not that old compared to some of the films that I’ve seen, but 1990 is definitely not in the current decade anymore. It’s definitely an exciting flick where the thrills never stop…but it’s not a good movie. Think of it like a classic horror film or an engaging zombie thriller where you’re entertained and invested while watching it, but afterwards you still admit it was a bad movie. This film makes far too many mistakes for it to get anywhere near a positive score, but at the very least you won’t be bored.

Doug is your classic film protagonist. He wants to leave his construction job and head to Mars. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a civil war going on there with terrorists constantly launching attacks and destroying civilians. As such, Doug’s wife rejects his request. Doug decides to do the next best thing, pretend to go to Mars. He had to a memory altering place so they can implant the fake memories. Unfortunately, the procedure doesn’t work as planned when Doug’s memories of the past come to the surface. Now everyone wants to murder Doug while he finds a recording of himself saying that he is a hero. Doug has to go to Mars for real this time and save the planet. Does Doug have what it takes to accomplish this mission?

While the film is action packed as I mentioned, it does have a very boring intro. The first 10-15 minutes feel like something out of a romance film as the characters exchange very poorly written dialogue with each other and everyone in the audience cringes. We finally move past this brutal intro and the film really starts once Doug has the procedure. You have to question what kind of guy Doug is even before it though. The memory altercation is essentially a way for him to cheat on his wife without actually doing it as he goes on a spy mission and has to do a lot of edgy things. Why do they have to make the leads so morally dubious? Couldn’t Doug have chosen the happy pizza salesman option or something instead of the double agent? It’s hard to be too sympathetic to Doug from the start.

Anyway, the fast paced nature of the film is pretty good from here on out. We get the classic chase scenes where Doug is chased by the villain organization. Fortunately for Doug, he knows how to use a gun and can handle himself pretty well. He makes use of an illusion device to get the drop on the villains and Doug is effectively a one man wrecking crew. He destroys dozens of guys on his own. He also doesn’t tend to backup from any threats as he fears no one.

I thought the soundtrack was fairly good. Not downright amazing or anything, but I recall enjoying it during the film. It wouldn’t do to have low budget themes during a big action scene right? The effects also hold up decently well for the overall landscape and gun design. There’s not much room for it to actually shine since by and large the place looks pretty realistic even though it’s the future.

Time to start looking at the negatives now. First of all, the film is incredibly violent. It tries to be grotesque whenever possible and playing the maximum grit card. Characters get burned so hard their eyes start popping out. Others have limbs getting severed or are blasted full of holes. The characters who survive get deep cuts into their skin which the film tries to show as much as possible. There’s rarely any happy scene aside from the main character as everyone has to suffer from being trapped without air or burned. There are no alternatives. If you try to help the main character, you’re probably doomed.

There’s also animal violence to look out for. Poor rats are shot for absolutely no reason and then a bunch of Goldfish meet a similarly fatal fate. There’s no reason to get the animals involved and that’s just poor writing. Speaking of poor writing though, the script is absolutely terrible and would fit in with the average horror movie. The amount of language in this film is crazy. Fortunately the TV airing I saw managed to air them all out, but with how often they had to do this you get a pretty good feeling on how much language was there. It’s a crutch that lesser writers use to make everyone sound edgy and realistic. In actuality, it just makes the film look amateur-esque compared to the big hitters. I’d expect nothing less though.

It also feels like the stories that take place in the future always focus on the wrong aspects. Instead of looking at how we’ve changed the world with science and how our weapons are better, it focuses on how society is more deprived now. We have very sketchy bars that have survived and they’re always about messing around instead of ordering a good burger. This film isn’t the only one guilty of it, but it doesn’t help to mitigate the damage either. These scenes are pretty bad and the romance in the film is laughable at best. The only thing the film was particularly good at was the action scenes and even those were wrecked by the gratuitous violence. The film should have quit while it was ahead, but then it would only be about 30 seconds long since it opened on a bad note.

The head honcho of the villains was fairly decent in his role. He just wanted to make a lot of money and keep up his success. Naturally he’s evil and all, but at least his reasoning for why he was evil was more original than some other villains. His main lackey wasn’t the greatest though and always got humiliated whenever he’d appear. Technically he is a competent fighter..it’s just that Doug is better. I didn’t like the leader of the rebellion, but his design was also pretty terrible once again just to mess with the film. The main heroine was all right I suppose but she didn’t have a lot of time to do much. At least she did well against Doug’s fake wife.

Overall, the reasons above are why the film’s just no good. It ultimately crosses the line from epic to edgy and it does this with no remorse. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone and you’d be better off watching Jingle All The Way to see Arnold get into some good fights without worrying about the negatives. I don’t have a whole lot of hope for the remake either but surely it should be a little better than this one…..right? If not, maybe the film needs to try and focus on the whole concept of Total Recall a little more instead of everything else. Being given fake memories could be pretty cool, but that part never really happens at all. The film tries a misdirect at one point that the whole thing is fake, but I don’t think you’ll buy it at that point. I do have to give Doug some credit there though. He absolutely never believes the villains and always laughs at their attempts at a plot twist. He usually does get convinced or almost convinced once they activate their feigned outrage and start to show him videos, but he starts out on a solid note. I feel like there is a good and engaging movie hidden in here somewhere, but it just never broke out into the light.

Overall 2/10

Murder on the Orient Express Review


It’s time for a mystery thriller from Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is still her best work as it’s a perfect example of how a murder thriller should go. While this one couldn’t quite match that master piece, it’s a very solid film and one that you should add to your repertoire. With all of the suspects boxed in on the train, it’s the perfect scenario for Detective Poirot. Still, he’ll have to work fast since the snow won’t last forever.

Poirot was enjoying a very peaceful train ride and was off duty for a change. He hadn’t expected to have any problems, but then a dead body is found. He quickly begins to deduce that there was something more to the victim than it would appear. Poirot also decides to interview all of the suspects and there were certainly a bunch. First is Harriet, a bold woman who loves to voice her opinions and is constantly chattering. She has something to say about everything so it is difficult to actually find out what she knows. Next is Hector, the secretary of the deceased. He is fairly mild mannered and always nervous. Then there’s Beddoes, a seemingly perfect butler who is always ready to answer politely. He was close to the deceased and delivers the nightly wine. Princess Natalia may be rather old, but that would also make it easier for her to do something while staying inconspicuous. She has a maid named Hildegarde who has served the master faithfully for many years so maybe it was all for this moment. Diplomat Rudolf and his wife Elena appear to be rather quiet for most of the journey. Rudolf does blow up whenever someone talks to him though so are his nerves cracking or are they both quiet because they know something? Mary, the teacher is around as well and her scholarly knowledge could be sinister. The Missionary Greta always seems rather timid and doesn’t know English too well, but is it all an act? There’s also Antonio, a car salesman and one of the only reasonable people here. He’s loud and bold and certainly isn’t nervous like the rest of the passengers. He’s ready to help the country and that could be suspicious. Finally, there’s the actor Cyrus. He always seems to fade into the background and that may not be an accident. We also can’t forget Poirot’s friend Signor. Sometimes friends aren’t as innocent as they appear to be. Poirot has a lot of suspects to flip through so this’ll be tough.

I love a good mystery and the whole film is about that. Poirot’s interrogation of every member is pretty fun as he grills them. Since most of the riders are either lying or hiding something, it really does make his job very difficult. The only co-operative guy was the car salesman who also happened to be the best character in the film. It’s no coincidence as I was glad to see someone being at least a little co-operative. Perhaps he was a little too eager so that makes him suspicious as well, but something to think about for sure.

The pacing is pretty tight here. The opening which shows a crime in progress is fairly short. It just gives you enough time to see each of the characters and then we are quickly taken to the train. Once at the train, it never feels like the movie is dragging on. While the mystery doesn’t start immediately, it gives you a chance to learn about each of the characters and gauge the reactions of each when things finally start. Naturally in any good thriller, you know not to pay too much attention to the reactions though. The guilty party is typically an expert and can feign any reaction somehow.

I was pretty satisfied with the ending. It’s not really a cop-out or anything like that. It’s probably not an ending I would want to see all that much as it would then start to feel like one, but done sparingly like this it works well enough. We’ll see if you can end up guessing what happened.

The underlying story in the prologue is fairly dark, but fortunately the film doesn’t go into it much. It was handled optimally as you know enough to understand the situation, but the film doesn’t go over details or try too hard for the edgy angle. It’s something that I hope the modern remake is taking notes on. The writing is quite good as you likely have suspected. I don’t know how strict of an adaption it was from the book, but I suspect that the writing is rather similar. All of the characters are sophisticated and it makes for multi layered dialogue as a characters says one thing and means the other. It results in everyone trying to manipulate one another.

If there’s one character who’s rather annoying (Aside from the guy who died rather instantly) it would be the missionary who has a hard time speaking English. Her scene dragged on for quite a while and it can be hard to get what she is saying. Moreover, it feels like what she is saying doesn’t actually matter. I’m sure it was relevant in some way as Poirot explained everything at the end and went into great detail with each member. It was probably relevant, but it didn’t feel like it was and I forget what part of it helped solve the case. I would have chopped that scene a little. Still, that’s really my only complaint with the film so you can tell that this is quite a solid one.i

Overall, The mystery genre is a tough one. I personally think it is one of the toughest ones to write and maybe it is The toughest one. Coming up with a good mystery sounds difficult and that’s probably why I enjoy reading them so much. It may be the best genre next to action, but it’s one that has to be handled delicately. Case Closed is an example of an excellent one. The only pitfall that they have is that the mystery only works once. They don’t have much replay value because when you watch it again, you already know the ending. It’s why the remake coming up should tread carefully. Granted, you won’t actually know if it’s the same ending until you’re at the end of the film so maybe it won’t matter all that much. Regardless, if you haven’t seen this film, I’d suggest changing that right away. It’s aged quite well and makes for an engaging watch.

Overall 8/10

Weird Woman Review


It’s time for a fun retro film with Lon Chaney. I have to admit that he is to the 40’s-50’s what Tom Cruise is to the 2000s. He’s easily the best retro actors and his films have definitely been pretty fun. This one is no exception and while everything about the film from the posters to the premise is misleading, it makes for a nice ride. The film is only about an hour so it has to make haste, but it develops soundly. There is time for some nice monologues and nothing ever feels too rushed.

Norman is a respected professor who’s been doing rather well for himself. He visits a tribe in order to gather some intel for his book about Facts vs Myths and Superstition. There he meets a girl named Paula who knows English because her father was a professor. Norman is a little too eager to finally meet someone who can understand him and goes past the sacred line of no return. Paula saves him along with her guardian with the voodoo practices. The two heroes head home and are immediately married, much to the scorn of Ilona. She had previously been with Norman and wasn’t really given a heads up on this. Norman lets her know that they never loved each other though so that makes it okay. She decides to get revenge by getting everyone to dislike Norman so they can all murder each other, but this may not be as easy as it sounds. Paula has a lot of protective magics from her tribe to block all such attempts, but Norman destroys them so that she can put the superstitions away. Has he just doomed them all?

It’s a pretty fun film from start to finish. Norman does a lot of inner monologue about what is happening. While he may over analyze everything and ultimately confuse himself, it’s fun to see the step by step logic to what he is doing. Eventually, he begins to think so much that he starts to lose confidence in facts and believes in myths a little more. This begins to be his undoing, but Norman won’t lose so easily. He’s a solid main character and he even takes care of the gun wielding student who ambushes him at the gym. His one character flaw is from the intro of the film and it’ll depend on how you interpret it. Based on how Ilona was talking to him, it sounded like they were still together when he returned before letting them all know that he was actually married. If so, then that does make Norman pretty inconsiderate, but there is the chance that they had already broken up and Ilona was just making life hard on him. It’s hard to say one way or the other since Ilona is pretty desperate and crazy by the end.

Paula is a nice enough person. She never actively curses people and just puts in clauses. If someone tries to hurt Norman, then the person will die, but she sets it up in a way where the mystical trap won’t activate unless someone does act with malicious intent. That’s awfully considerate of her right? Lying to Norman about this was a little iffy though. She does begin to crack once she loses her protective armaments though. I would have liked for her to have been a little more confident and aggressive. Perhaps that will be the case if the film ever got a remake or a reboot.

Ilona is the main villain and at the very least, you have to admit that she planned things out rather well. She blackmails one of the professors, encourages a young student to work for Norman so her boyfriend would get jealous, eggs on that very student, spreads a lot of rumors about Norman, and finally terrorizes Paula by playing a death chant over the phone. Ilona really covers all of the bases and because she very subtlety eggs everyone on, nobody ever thinks to blame her. Only one of the Deans seems to know that something is going on, but she can’t even begin to suspect the complete depth of the plan. It’s simply too ingenious and radical for someone to guess at a moment’s notice. Ilona’s motives may have been rather petty, but she was a nice villain.

The supporting characters were a little less charismatic. The female student (Who seems just like Simmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the point where I think the latter got inspiration) is pretty over dramatic and too extreme about trying to get Norman to betray his wife. Her boyfriend was just as drastic as he quickly grabs his gun (Doesn’t everyone have one?) and immediately goes to destroy Norman. This doesn’t go too well though since Norman is surprisingly tough. You rarely get to see him fight so that was certainly pretty fun. There’s also the wife of the professor who was being black mailed and she certainly gets pretty heated about the whole thing. Her rage is probably the most justified even if it is reaching a little to blame Norman for what happened. Even with the false intel that was being supplied to her, you can’t really blame someone else when the guy just decided to take the easy way out. You can’t just give up on life and leave everyone else to pick up the pieces.

The misleading part is really about how the Weird Woman was portrayed as some very powerful mystical person with malicious intent. Sure, Paula may have had some special powers, but she was never mysterious in the slightest apart from the very beginning of the film. The film actually had a large chunk of time where Paula didn’t even appear. There’s not a lot of suspense and danger like you would assume from the poster although there is a decent level of tension. While there aren’t many supernatural elements here, the stakes are still real since the body count starts to rise. I’ll take this over a classic horror film any day.

The final plan that the heroes put into place is thought out reasonably well although it does ride on the assumption that someone would take the threat seriously. I think most villains wouldn’t take a threat too seriously after they’ve been the ones dishing it out and Ilona just seemed to be too confident to actually buy into any of this. At least she didn’t escape though and attempted to make a break for it in the end. I won’t say how it goes, but you do have to admire her can do attitude and refusal to give up.

Overall, Weird Woman was a fun film. As someone noted, the tribal dance and chant even seemed to be inspired from the Mothra films. The main characters are all either likable or make for good villains. The cast can easily hold this film up and keep it interesting. The writing is very solid and there’s really no big negatives to speak of. The short length helps to keep it from getting a really high score like an 8, but considering this isn’t an action film, a 7 is certainly solid. It’s just a fun way to pass the time by and ultimately you just want a film to be fun. It’s hard to say if this one beats Calling Doctor Death since they are really close, but I might give this one the slight edge. It also certainly beats the Frozen Ghost even if there wasn’t a Dog here. That film was a lot more emotional. This one never tried to be too sad and it’s just popcorn fun. It also reminds you to choose your friends carefully as just about everyone in this film is (not so) secretly a gossip so word travels fast. Norman’s good reputation did help him out quite a lot in the end though as it bought him some time to get to the truth. I definitely recommend it so you can see how well written films like this one are just a lot of fun. I wish we still got films like this, but unfortunately, they are all but extinct from Hollywood now.

Overall 7/10

The Frozen Ghost Review


It’s time to look at a retro Lon Chaney film. I’ve seen quite a few of his films and still have a bunch of others to see someday. This one is a classic tale of hypnosis and whether it is real or not. There are certainly quite a few antagonists in this film and their plans are so risky that they can even prove fatal. It’s a pretty interesting film, even if it can get a tad convoluted at times.

Alex is a skilled master of mental abilities and has been working in this trade for a long time. One day a drunk individual shows up declaring that Alex is a fraud. Alex decides to prove him wrong by hypnotizing the guy, but then he also ends up wishing that the drunk would die. The drunk does abruptly die and Alex is thrown into a state of shock. It can’t be proven that he did it of course and everyone tells him that it was a coincidence, but Alex doesn’t think so. He moves into a wax museum to try and get past this and even breaks up with his fiancee Maura. Unfortunately, he has just entered the Lion’s Den as George, Rudi, and Valerie all want him dead. Nina is the only person in the Wax Museum who doesn’t have any ill will towards him, but it’s rather easy to be fooled when everyone around you is giving you false intel. How will Alex get out of this situation without using his mental abilities to fatally end this?

Alex is a good character as always although he can maybe be a little too low in confidence. He immediately blames himself quite a bit and goes into mourning so fiercely that he just tries to make life as tough for himself as possible. It’s not really necessary and pushing Maura away was also a little too extreme. Dishing out his own punishments was definitely not a great call on his part. Alex did have a good plan at the end though and at least he didn’t totally lose himself in what was happening. Maura was a good heroine and she never stopped trying to help Alex. She was able to persevere and was definitely a trust worthy ally that Alex could depend on. He was lucky to have her around.

Nina was rather naive and didn’t handle any situation too well, but it can’t all be blamed on her. As I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to really get what is happening when there is nobody around to give you even a semi-accurate account of what has transpired. She wasn’t a villain at least so that was someone else that Alex could trust or at least not fear. George and the other villains were rather petty and did all they could to smear Alex’s name and erase whatever confidence he had left. They were decent in their roles, but not nearly as interesting as Ilona from another film that I have a review coming out for soon and other such antagonists.

I did like Inspector Brant and while he kept on doubting Alex and not believing in mind powers, I can’t really blame him for that. At least he was doing his job well and quickly hustled to take down the villains. He even swallowed his pride and asked Alex for help at the end with a particularly difficult case. In a rare moment of selfishness, Alex declined as he claimed that he didn’t have any powers just to mess with Brant. I thought that was a little mean of Alex and his decision could have some real consequences. He could have saved a person or even many depending on what kind of crime he may have been able to stop. The fact of the matter is that he let his personal grudge with Brant interfere with his job to help society. Even if it wasn’t a grudge and Alex just wanted to have some fun, it was certainly at the wrong time and I can only hope that Brant was able to solve the case by himself.

You can draw a lot of similarities between this film and Calling Doctor Death. There was a lot of betrayal and hypnosis going around between the main cast. The climaxes may have been a little different, but overall it felt like two alternate routes to what was essentially the same main plot. This film had less monologue from Alex though. Both films were solid, but I might have to give the ever so slight edge to Calling Doctor Death. Regardless, both are rather short films and you can even see them back to back since they’re both pretty fun and fast paced.

You may just lose track of some of the characters after a while. It’s not so much that the cast is big, but everyone has quite a few motives and since Alex is oblivious to everything around him, it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what is happening. I still say that the villain’s plans also were a little iffy and they definitely wouldn’t work too well against a different main character. There were a lot of gambles here, but most of them paid off I suppose. Without Maura, the villains probably would have had the last laugh here.

Overall, this is definitely another fun film to add to your collection. It doesn’t take itself too seriously aside from Alex since Chaney always takes himself very seriously and always makes sure to be an upstanding guy. Seriously, it feels like people try to tempt Alex to the dark side in every film or give him chances for revenge, but Alex never cracks. He always stays as an upstanding hero and makes all of the right calls. The plot is pretty good and will keep you guessing the whole way. One villain’s fate is rather sad since the plan backfired a little, but that’s why you shouldn’t lock yourself away in a freezer. I forget if that was purely part of the plan or not, but even if it was an improvisation, it’s a sad way to go out. You’ll probably sympathize with Alex as the film goes on and his strong conscience just makes it all the worse for him. I definitely recommend checking this film out and then you can make your own guesses as to whether or not his powers were actually real. For the record, I’d definitely say that they are based on the very first circumstance. I don’t buy into coincidences and it just makes sense. It’d be cool to see how this version of Chaney would stack up against the Werewolf. I may have to actually give this one the edge although the Man-Made Monster, electric version of himself is probably the most lethal. It’s cool to see how many different monsters he’s become over the years.

Overall 7/10