All the King’s Men Review

This is one of those films where everyone cracks in the end but ultimately you just figure that someone should stay strong by the end. In the end nobody can stop the allure of money, fame, or general power. It’s a pretty entertaining film the whole way through and definitely one that I would consider to be on the tragic side as well. It shows just how quickly things can start to snowball when you’re on the wrong side.

The movie starts off with Jack being sent on a mission to cover some political goings on in a small town. It’s basically run like a mafia where you can’t talk against the people in charge or they will start to try to bully and scare you into leaving. It’s certainly not an easy town to beat but one man named Willie Stark wants to make a difference. He loses in his bid to join the council and then loses his bid to become governor but something changes within him. 4 years later he runs for governor and this time he wins. The guy has a lot of fire to him and is a passionate spokesperson. Still, is he really the same man fighting for the common folk or did he lose something along the way?

There’s an old saying about how the only way to climb to the top is to use the skeletons in your closet as footholds. Basically you’re going to be accumulating a whole lot of them as you make shady deals in order to stay one step ahead. While the saying is likely a bit dramatic, that’s effectively what happens here. Willie always had some edge to him but by and large he had good intentions. Then he got more and more desperate to the point where becoming governor became his dream more for the sake of doing it than for actually helping people anymore. Perhaps he was still better than the opposing party but at this point it was going to be hard to tell them apart because they ended up being the same kind of people.

It’s pretty crazy how Willie started using his power to beat people up, murder them, and even to cheat on his wife. The guy had absolutely 0 moral scruples by this point and yet his friends just went along with it for the greater good. That’s why the supporting characters are annoying here because they are all complicit in what’s going on. They ended up going along with this plan even when they knew it wasn’t right and never really tried to talk some sense into him. Sure, halfheartedly they would say something here or there but I mean just standing up to him and saying straight up that this was a bad idea. If he could have turned over a new leaf sooner then that would have been a really good thing.

In the end Willie is basically a big antagonist here. He’s an interesting character to watch as we really saw his whole journey but yeah he was just another mobster by the end. It’s just rare that you get to see the origin of how he rose up like this. He’s also a charismatic main character so you can see how some of the other people in the movie would be fooled. You have to keep your guard up at all times. His secretary Sadie should have kept her guard up around her feelings and then the whole thing would have been less emotional for her. Basically she liked him but never really stood a chance since he likes to mess around which would just make her more and more upset. It would have been a toxic dynamic either way.

Jack was the main character for a while although you can argue that the role does shift between him and Willie at times. It can always be close at the very least. Jack isn’t very likable here though because the guy just doesn’t have a backbone. When Willie starts an affair with the girl he’s always loved (Anne) he doesn’t do anything about it. He still works for Willie and while he’ll throw in some insults once in a while, he doesn’t just leave. Leaving could be easier said than done but you have to rip the band-aid off at some point and how can you work for the guy who took your girl? It just doesn’t make any sense.

He also straddles the fence for way too long before actually choosing a side and a lot of damage is done in the meantime. Of course Anne doesn’t look good for any of this either and ultimately she enjoyed being rich way too much. She didn’t seem to care who she would be with as long as she had stature and money. So Anne felt very insincere and Jack was probably a bit too desperate in trying to be together with her. She didn’t exactly have his back when he had to leave his parents’ house in disgrace and so even if she were to come back to him once he had money, it just wouldn’t be worth it.

Then you have the Judge who had a great reputation and always tried to do the right thing. Unfortunately one of the messages in the film is about how everyone has made at least one big mistake and unfortunately that was true of him as well. We never actually learn exactly what he did and I would say that’s a style change that works well. We don’t have to know exactly what he did to know that it was easily recognizable and that it was something really bad. It’s so bad that the Judge basically calls it quite at that point and it’s a shame because it would have been nice if he could have stayed true to the end.

Finally you have Adam who was the best character in the movie for me. He had a tough road as well but at the end of the day he tried to stay true to his sense of justice while helping out as many people as possible. It’s still a tricky road for him though and he has to watch all of the lives being lost all around him. Ultimately he continues to do what he thinks he has to by the end.

Overall, All the King’s Men is a pretty good movie. It’s got a bit of a jaded view on humanity and on how everyone will ultimately be corrupted in the end but beyond that I would say the execution is on point. Even as things keep on getting worse for the heroes you can’t help but wonder how things will play out next. The film is fairly long and so the journey really feels complete as we watch Willie from beginning to end. It shows just how much he has changed within that adventure to the point you can barely recognize him. It works well as a cautionary tale. I’d like for some of the characters to have been a little more likable and gotten off the train early but sometimes nobody actually steps up as they wait for someone else to do it.

Overall 7/10

Gun Crazy Review

Gun Crazy is a very appropriate title for this film. It shows how you can quickly be dragged over to the dark side when you become reliant on your gun too much. The main guy started as someone who just enjoyed his hobby and had a good time but by the end that’s no longer the case. Unfortunately I would say he wasn’t the most stable guy from the jump anyway with how the film shows him murdering a bird. Even though he stops murdering after that it was a very bad look for him. It’s hard to really rebound from something like that.

The movie starts with Bart stealing a gun and he’s taken to court. Some people say he’s dangerous but his friends stick up for him and ultimately he gets to stay free. Years pass by and he goes on adventures but eventually he goes back home and meets a traveling gunwoman named Laurie. She’s exceptional with a gun and has defeated everyone prior but Bart defeats her much to the happiness of the crowd. They then get together and everything looks like it’ll be just fine until she shows her true colors. Laurie wants to live a very fancy lifestyle at any cost and because Bart doesn’t make enough she wants to start robbing banks and stealing money from people. This is where Bart needed to very quickly shut this idea down completely. Laurie says that she will leave him if he doesn’t become a crook with her and he folds. Can he convince her to stop?

I can answer that right now, he can’t. Look if someone wants to be a criminal then there is very little that you can do to stop them. A person needs to absolutely not want to be a criminal and then you can throw attacks on him. The problem here really gets serious when the criminal enjoys the life of crime because at that point we’re really talking about a psycho who can’t be stopped. Laurie is very open about the fact that she loves using a gun and being as rich as possible. Her personality doesn’t change and in fact seems to get worse and worse the more they talk. Any ideas Bart may have had of fixing her were just dreams at this point.

Hey that’s just who she is, but his tolerating this and going alongside it makes him just as guilty. I don’t care how many times he said this was a bad idea or that they shouldn’t do it, he still went along for the ride. You can’t have it both ways and he really made his choice here. It was inevitable that things would continue to get worse and Bart has to own that. No excuses and no double talk, he is a criminal too and so you’re rooting to Bart and Laurie to be taken down by the cops as soon as possible.

Bart even chooses Laurie over his childhood friends Dave and Clyde who stuck up for him through thick and thin in the court room. It was a shame that he was so quick to point his gun at them as well. They were good friends and even tried to plead with him one last time even if it was no use. I don’t think there are very many friends who would have been willing to stick their necks out like that but these did. They didn’t even bring their guns to the confrontation to help their odds but it was no use.

Bart was just too far gone and he was also gullible as Laurie would always manipulate him by saying exactly what he wanted to hear. You just have to take a stand at some point because deciding not to just makes you look really bad. Well, I’ve bashed this guy enough. It goes without saying that the same issues are present with Laurie but at least she isn’t hesitant about the whole thing. At the end of the day if you’re a villain then you’re a villain, it’s better not to be complaining about it. It’s a shame that she was able to drag him so far into the criminal world though.

The film definitely should have cut out the scene of Bart shooting the bird too though. It doesn’t add anything to the film and actually hurts the message. It may be the reason why he doesn’t shoot animals anymore but the reasoning would have been even better if he had never murdered a bird before. That’s exactly how I would have handled it and it would have made the main character a bit more salvageable. A bit more mind you as he would still look pretty bad late on. It wouldn’t be as bad at least.

It is always interesting when you watch a film where you are rooting for the main characters to lose the whole time. I think it can absolutely work but I would say that it is a bit tougher to achieve than a classic hero. You have to balance things right where you still see the real heroes take down the main characters at some point or make sure the leads don’t go too far in being unbearable to everyone because if the tone gets too malicious or annoying then that wouldn’t be good.

In this case the main characters weren’t likable in the slightest so you’re really rooting for them to lose but a bit more balance could have been nice. Maybe if they’re going to be crooks anyway, have Bart keep Laurie from taking her gun so they’re still robbing people but it’s a slight concession. He’s at least making sure nobody gets hurt. You could have had Laurie lie to him and still bring her gun but it would make Bart have a little bit of a backbone there and then I could say with a straight face that he actually did something as opposed to just getting pressured into making all the wrong calls all the time.

Overall, Gun Crazy is an interesting film about why you should always be careful about who you pick to be your girlfriend. Make sure that you are choosing someone whose morals align with your own and that if you did make a mistake you stay true to your ideals to the very end. The instant you concede on that is a moment where you have lost yourself and it can be very hard to get back to where you were. There are things you can never take back and murdering someone is absolutely one of them. Bart would do everything Laurie would say and that’s not the basis for a good relationship. In the end I would say to give this one a skip. At the end of the day you want a film with a better lead and this one just doesn’t have a whole lot of great qualities to bring to the table.

Overall 4/10

On the Waterfront Review

I haven’t seen too many films about unions and the mob getting mixed up in some dirty dealings so this made for a fun watch. The union is definitely a powerful thing that you always want to encourage and help grow. Without them employees are easily bullied and exploited all over the place. It’s why I always say it’s better to take a lower paying job that has a union, aka job security over a high paying one where you can be fired at will. It’s just a world of difference in how much you will stress out about things on a day to day basis and in a way life just becomes easier. Of course it’s not a blanket rule and there are many people who enjoy great jobs out of the union. As with almost everything, it will be a case by case basis but on the whole I do support unions. Clearly they do need oversight though or you get an incident like the Waterfront happening behind your back.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Terry who tricks a guy into walking through a fatal ambush. Basically this guy was going to speak with some detectives about the corruption on Waterfront and the mafia wasn’t having that. Terry regrets what he did though because he didn’t realize that the mob was going to murder this guy. He figured they would just rough him up but now he’s in too deep to get out. Basically this segment of the union is run by Johnny who and for all intents and purposes it is the mafia. He chooses who gets to earn money and live an easy life while the others scramble for pennies and go home hungry. Terry and his brother Charley have fairly high positions within the mafia and so they are taken care of but Terry feels guilty all the same.

Edie, the sister of the man who was destroyed resolves to do something about this and she gets Father Barry to help her out with this. Together they aim to take a stand and get someone to cooperate with the police in outing the mobsters. This does put them in the crosshairs of the villains though so Terry is going to have to make a choice and soon. If he stands by and lets them get murdered then it is as if he did the deed himself and if he helps them out then he may die. Time is no longer on his side.

I think Terry was a bit naïve in believing that the mob would spare the first guy in the opening scene though. From the mob’s perspective he’s a squealer and no matter what kind of gang you go to, that is obviously frowned upon. They were always going to use him as an example and I suppose in this case Terry just didn’t have enough street smarts to recognize that. He wisens up a bit as the film goes on but even by the end he didn’t always seem to be very quick on the uptake. Near the end of the film his brother Charley tries to convince him to confirm that he won’t talk to the detectives and Terry keeps saying that he is unsure. He doesn’t realize that this is a final plea to him because Terry is slated to be destroyed and it has to be spelled out for him.

Throughout the film Terry seems to underestimate the level of trouble that he’s in and it just strikes me as a bit odd. He doesn’t seem like someone who would be that sheltered from the mob and the cruel realities of life. I guess in a way his brother Charley did a good job of shielding him from the worst elements. Ultimately Charley is a villain here particularly as he knew exactly what he was doing the whole time. Still, I can appreciate that he looked out for his brother all the way to the end and was willing to sacrifice himself to buy more time.

Meanwhile Johnny made for a solid villain. He’s the kind of guy who rules through fear and never forgets how he rose to the top. He’s stayed in shape and is still quite strong. He’s not going to be taking down a professional boxer or anything like that but against the average joe you have to believe that he would do pretty well. He’s good at baiting Terry (You also just blame Terry for being a bit too reactive at times) and it’s easy to see why he managed to climb to the top. Johnny may not be a good guy but he knows his way around the streets.

Barry ends up doing a good job here as well since he puts himself in a lot of danger as well and doesn’t waver. He’s willing to go the distance on this one and so even when some people die, you know that he’s not going to give up. In those days as a member of the church he would have been in 0 danger if he had just stayed within the church. So it was courageous of him to go out there and really risk his life like that. I’d say he was the best character here.

Then you have Edie who was also proactive in doing her best to get to the bottom of this and really try to avenge her brother. She attends the meetings and really gets the ball rolling. Without her kicking things off it is extremely likely that nothing would have been done. She has to take a whole lot of credit in getting things set up here.

One weak area of the film is the romance though. You just can’t convince me that someone would fall for the man who assisted in murdering her brother. Yes we know it was an accident but even so I just don’t see how you move past that. Maybe after a lot of years or something but short term it’s just not going to happen. That’s such a personal thing that you can’t simply get over it. Nah the film should have cut the romance angle out since it’s not like this was really going to enhance the story in any way.

My one issue narratively is in the climax how nobody helps Terry. The whole group in the union feel extremely soft here. You’re telling me that after the boss has finally been pretty much dethroned and you’re at the end of the race, nobody is going to help out? Surely there would be either enough resentment or comradery to get one of them to jump in and land some serious damage. Terry was beating Johnny one on one and only lost because it became a 4 against 1. There were dozens and dozens of other workers watching from a very close distance. They should have jumped in to help. It was such a bad scene here because it instantly makes the ending lose a lot of punch since they didn’t help out. When the chips were down Terry was alone and that goes against the whole ending where everyone is in solidarity. It would have meant so much more if they helped him take down the attackers and then walked in with him.

Throughout the film it felt like they were starting to gain some confidence too. That they all had enough and were willing to fight back but I guess that wasn’t to be. In the end the fear Johnny engrained in them ran far too deep and that’s unfortunate. Would have been nice if the detectives showed up or something to lead him away in handcuffs too since he lost the court case. There are a lot of charges you could throw at him at that point and compound them into the previous verdict but the detectives basically vanished early on.

Now there was one scene that did hurt the film near the end and it comes out of nowhere. There is this random subplot where Terry likes raising a bunch of pigeons as a side gig and naturally it ends with all of them being murdered by some psychotic kids. They should definitely be in jail and got off way too easy here. It’s pretty rough because they murdered a whole flock of birds here and suffer absolutely no penalty. It’s another way of showing how Terry burned all of his bridges by going against the mob but you didn’t have to include this plot at all. It’s definitely the most tragic moment in the film and the sheer body count is also astounding.

Overall, On The Waterfront is a very engaging movie even if it did lose a lot of momentum in the end. You’ve got a solid script here and a good atmosphere in the background. The scene where the villains call Terry out was really good because you knew that he could die if he went down there and yet he had to because his brother was being used as bait. You can also see how stressful it is to be within a gang because you can be in their good graces one moment and then they turn on you in the blink of an eye. The best way to survive is to simply avoid them from the start. Part of the dilemma here was that some people really had no other opportunities which is why Johnny lasted for so long. There was no real witness protection with how everyone was getting bumped off so it made for a very negative cycle. It’s definitely good that Edie and Barry were here to close out the situation once and for all.

Overall 5/10

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Review

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is definitely a really fun film about how a guy is given a lot of money and has to quickly decide how to live his life. It’s always hard to know what to do when you get enough money to last for the rest of your life. My advice is to go by yourself a meal at McDonalds with a cookie and then take that time to think it over. Don’t try to consider everything at once and having a good old fashioned meal will be just the trick to get you in the right frame of mind. With a satisfying ending and a good length to allow for every plot to get a lot of screen time, this film really hits all of the right notes.

The movie starts with Deeds’ rich relative dying so the attorney Cedar and his subordinate Cobb show up to the small town where Deeds lives to let him now what’s up. The opening scenes start off with the right tone as an old man gives them the runaround for a while. Eventually they find Deeds and give him the money but Deeds has to head to New York for it. Once there, everyone wants a piece of his money. You have “relatives” showing up to claim their piece of the pie, random people asking him to join their clubs and pay off debts, etc.

The newspapers want some scandals after him too so the editor sends in his big gun: Louise. If there’s any way to get a story out of Deeds then she can do it. She will have to use a lot of deceptions and wits to get to him. Can she succeed? Deeds better watch out because romance has been the downfall for many main characters in these films and it doesn’t help that Deeds tends to create a lot of attention on his own by picking fights.

The whole situation is tough on Deeds in some respects while easy in others. You may initially expect him to get suckered at every turn but he has a lot of good business sense and puts all of the scams in their place. It was nice to see him talk back to everyone and not just give his money away. Usually it seems like the main character isn’t quite so aware of what is going on so that was a really nice change of pace. I immediately gained a whole lot of respect for that guy. With that out of the way he could actually enjoy his riches a little. Deeds never starts being wasteful or anything like that though.

The tragic part for him is that he does want to help out and make this a better place but everyone he meets tends to be mean and cynical. Even Louise who appears to be nice is stringing him along the whole time even if he doesn’t know it. It takes a while for him to meet really nice people and they are always outnumbered. I was expecting him to start going into charity a little sooner though. It seemed like the natural next step for him so I was surprised when that didn’t happen for a while. You do have to be careful how you give your money away of course but I feel like he didn’t really think about this until the end.

Not that you should be expected to just give your money away but he seemed like someone who would probably be supporting a lot of local charities right from the jump. Perhaps he would have started sooner if he wasn’t kept busy by all of the moochers. By the end he’s certainly doing his best. The only thing I disagreed with him on was staying quiet in court. It’s not just his life on the line there after all, but all of the people he was helping as well. If he were to lose then they all would so I would have liked him to have been a little more firm there.

Ultimately the editor of the magazine comes in clutch near the end. I definitely liked that guy, not saying he’s super heroic or anything but he does seem to have a conscience which is something that the other characters mostly lacked. Even Louise was definitely not the nicest person as she wrote all kinds of mean things about Deeds. It’s hard to say she really turned over a new leaf by the end because she fell for Deeds. Does that not imply that she would have kept on going if she didn’t end up falling in love with him? Because that was my takeaway there. I don’t think that was the film’s implication per say, but she has been in the game for a long time and this was the first time she had any issues with her deceptions so I think it works if you put the pieces together.

As for Cedar, well he’s a sketchy character from the start. Someone who will be a great asset as long as your goals align but he will betray you without a second thought. Cobb was really the standout kind of guy you want on your side because he was actually loyal. He’s not the kind of guy who will betray you and he did his best to help Deeds out. Not always an easy job but he always gets it done. The guy also doesn’t act with any pretenses and just calls it like he sees it.

Now the conclusion was always going to be the deciding factor on just how good this film was. Fortunately it is really good so as a result I would give the whole film a big thumbs up. We have a big court case to end things off where every character gets to appear. It was a nice way to wrap all of the threads in as every scene suddenly became important. The random scene where Deeds got drunk, the people he pushed out of his house, etc. Every act he did, both good and bad would reappear at the end of the film. SO it made the court case feel really grand and I thought the trial was handled really well. The characters were all reasonable and it was fun seeing the evidence pile up as you wondered how Deeds would find a way to make a comeback here.

Overall, This was a fun film. Deeds also makes for a solid main character. I think he did let his guard down a little too easily though like getting super drunk and immediately talking about his past with Louise though. The big rule for conversations like this is to always assume that whatever you tell someone will be public knowledge in a moment. Of course you won’t expect it to quite go into the newspaper but all the same you’d think he would be a little more careful. Things worked out by the end though and it was also a practical look at how you can change so many other lives once you become rich. Whether you choose to do so or not is another matter entirely. The writing is strong throughout and so I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good story.

Overall 8/10

Black and Blue Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

Eye of the Tiger 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

Eye of the Tiger is definitely one of those films that gives revenge titles a bad name. I mean, it’s probably not a genre you want to see a whole lot of anyway as it’s difficult to succeed in so many attempts would fail but this one just never stood a chance. It puts the main character in a rough environment where everyone is evil or mean and so by the time Buck gets his revenge, there isn’t a lot left to fight for. That’s usually the downfall with revenge films, at least this one has a good soundtrack though even if the timing is often pretty bad.

The movie starts with Buck finally getting out of jail. He made some friends in there but it’s time to head home. Unfortunately his small town is even worse off than usual. The place is run by a corrupt sheriff who is in league with gangs that go around assaulting everyone and forcing people to live in a life of fear. Nobody has ever risen up to do anything about this and they all just look the other way. Well, Buck isn’t going to do that and he foils one of the gang’s attacks. They retaliate and murder Buck’s wife while also putting his daughter in the hospital. Buck aims to take them all down now but to do so he will need a lot of weapons. Additionally he will also have to go up against the cops who are in the pocket of the gang.

In this movie it’s nearly everyone teaming up against Buck. The only person on Buck’s side is his old friend J.B. and even then that guy usually just warns Buck not to fight against the villains since he thinks the lead will lose. Buck doesn’t like backing down though so he plans to fight either way. He has some good equipment and plans like when he stretches a wire across the street to take one villain down. The problem is that he has to beat a lot of them and quickly or they just run to the police to have Buck arrested. As the film goes on Buck starts carrying his gun at all times which is a good idea. At least with that he always has a fighting chance.

Buck definitely should have left with the family as soon as he got back though. I don’t think your life can ever be all that easy if the cops have it out for you. We know that the Sheriff is willing to go quite far to mess with Buck right from the start given that he was put into jail on account of that guy. So just leave the place and start roots somewhere else. That’s absolutely the best thing to do and the only way to get out of this cycle. By the time Buck decides to go it’s unfortunately too late. So the rest of the film will be bitter sweet at best since his wife isn’t around anymore.

I’ll still give Buck props as a main character because he stands up to the gang and does what’s right. It would have been easy to have just walked away or ignored what they were doing but he didn’t do any of that. So definitely some credit there. He also does well in the fights even through to the end when he takes on the leader of the gang. Buck doesn’t go down easy and never loses a true 1 on 1 fight in the movie. The guy just keeps going forward and landing hits until he can’t anymore.

As mentioned, Buck’s friend J.B. takes a long while to actually step in and help though. It’s understandable why he doesn’t want to get mixed up in any of this but it does mean that I’m probably not going to be rooting for him a whole lot. If Buck had some help sooner the film could have potentially been over a lot quicker. The rest of the police officers all look terrible as they work for the corrupt sheriff. The whole town is complicit to an extent as they all look the other way and allow him to stay in control. It’s no wonder that the village is under such tough times. There’s nobody there who is willing to fight back against the villains.

One area that holds the film back big time is how gritty the whole thing is. It’s got Mad Max vibes from the start with the gang going around and attacking people. If they were just murdering people then that’d be one thing but of course they’re all going after the women and piling on the crimes. It’s always a bad way to build up tension in these films, having the villains just be murderers is good enough to show why they need to be stopped. No reason to go any further than that. The extra details are what puts the film in the red right away and it’s hard to get out from there.

Then as I mentioned the music timing is always very off. It is nice to hear the Eye of the Tiger song since that one’s always filled with energy. This film has some good heroic themes as well. The issue is that they will play right after a tragic scene or during one. It’s like the film’s trying to say this is a happy moment even while the heroes are still taking hits. The timing was never quite right and it’s hard to get into the music and experience the hype/fun that’s going on because you know that the moment just isn’t happy yet. The only time the song works is the very last time it plays because that’s after the big battle and so it makes sense to celebrate. The other attempts fell flat.

Overall, Eye of the Tiger is a film I would avoid. It’s a classic revenge film through and through where Buck is put through the wringer so you can get some satisfaction when he inevitably caches the villains. The reason why this genre is tough is because it’s easy to make things go too far in how much the villains are winning so it’s just hollow even when the lead gets his revenge. I don’t think the wife needed to die here and additionally the gang could have just been about getting rich and murdering people. It would be a lot less dark and would help the film as a whole. In the end, you should definitely watch Taken instead if you want a better revenge film.

Overall 2/10

Gator Review

It’s time to look at the film known as Gator. You may be thinking of a monster film or something based on the title, but this one’s actually a pretty down to earth story about the government blackmailing someone growing drugs into helping them nab some others. It’s a reasonable movie, but one that doesn’t really have much to it. It goes through the thriller motions, but doesn’t really go out of its way to do anything else. It’s also hard to get behind the main character. How could he possibly get caught up in this drug stuff again after his first adventure??

The movie starts off with Gator and his family enjoying a peaceful morning at the cabin. Their day is thrown for a loop though when a bunch of helicopters show up to try and arrest them. We get a chase scene with Gator beating them up while on a boat before eventually succumbing to their blackmail. Since he has started growing Moonshine again they want Gator to head to a shady town where a lot of drug dealing is going on. The government had their eyes on Gator from the start though given how they were also going to blackmail him through his father. It was a lose-lose situation for the hero. So Gator heads to town and sees that the leader is an old friend of his. Maybe he can talk some sense into the guy…

I think we can’t really talk about this film without talking about why Gator isn’t ready for this line of work. He slips up constantly with one instance of this being particularly bad. He already knows that Bama is a bad guy, but is holding out some hope that he’s not so bad. Maybe he’s one of those nice gangsters who only murders people sometimes right? Well, he quickly finds out that this isn’t the case so he walks up to Bama and says that he’s leaving. Not a smart play, but if he’s got a plan then maybe it’ll work out right? Well, that’s not really the case. Bama agrees to this but offers Gator one last drink first. He makes an obvious motion to his henchman who spikes the drink and then Gator downs the whole thing. At first you figure he has a plan, but this isn’t the case.

Gator slowly succumbs to the drink while insulting the villains the whole time. Even that could have been a plan like he was hoping he’d get punched to block the effects of the drink but that didn’t happen either. So ultimately all this leaves Gator looking absolutely terrible. By the time he is able to make a comeback at the very end of the film as he runs over some people you are still left doubting his abilities. Even leaving Irving by himself so he can mess around with Aggie wasn’t a good idea.

The romance with Gator and Aggie definitely wasn’t good. It’s one of those really rushed affairs where they just get together to check off a few boxes, but ultimately it doesn’t really add to the film and comes across as pretty pointless. I preferred Aggie’s character to Gator’s though. At least she was actively looking into the criminal situation and trying to do something about it. Gator only ended up doing something after he was blackmailed into it. Aggie’s profession is also super dangerous since she is a reporter in a city that has been completely conquered by crime. That’s never an easy task.

Meanwhile we do have one more rookie in the film. His name is Irving and he is the main American agent. Here’s my problem with the guy. He talks a good game about being from NY and all, but then he walks into a bar and gets drunk. Naturally he gets beat up by the villains pretty badly, but why would he go in there like that? He also let the villains steal his gun which was terrible. Pretty much any scene with the guy was one where you knew he would mess up. Then there is Emmeline who is here as the quirky character with her cats and all. She thinks of this as a game and does her best to slow everyone down. It’s fair to say that things would have gone smoother if she had just given them the keys or been willing to leave her cats, but naturally that wasn’t going to happen. Bringing the cats is just putting them in harm’s way.

Also, this is another scene where the government looks suspect. If the proof that Bama is a villain is in the courthouse, why can’t they just grab it? That seems like something that would be really easy to do. Also, why didn’t Bama realize that they had the records? There’s a lot of parts in this film where you wonder why the government can’t do anything. Sure the town is bought out, but apparently not the rest of the country since they’re gunning for Bama. It should have been so much easier to take the guy down.

As for Bama, he’s a pretty generic villain. The guy likes selling drugs and going on power trips all the time. He’s got a shotgun and can fight a bit, but there’s nothing more to him. He’s certainly not my kind of villain. His minions have more character if anything. The big one is like the Jaws villain from James Bond. He’s pretty big and has a lot of strength, but ultimately that doesn’t mean much in a gun fight. Then you’ve got the other guy who is surprisingly durable since he survives a ton of things in this film. As a trio they were hard to stop.

Overall, While I do consider this film to be an upgrade over the first one, it really doesn’t hold up on close inspection. You’ve got a weak character cast in a rather bland backdrop. Everyone makes the wrong choices at all times and the film has to rely on quirky characters and a rushed romance to pad out the time. There just isn’t much here so the film has to drag it all out. It can be fun at times, but not really fun enough to get the film above the break even point.

Overall 5/10

Mr Smith Goes To Washington Review

It’s time to look at an old political film that shows one man’s fight against endless corruption. It can be a lost cause at times but if nobody takes a stand then the situation will never get better will it? It’s a pretty interesting movie even if the ending starts to stretch disbelief a bit. Still, the concept certainly isn’t hard to believe and sometimes things just work out this way.

The film starts off with the local mayor/governor worrying about which new senator to elect as the old one died. He gets pressure from his higher ups to bring in people who are corrupt or have skeletons in the closet so they can be blackmailed. The mayor is close to doing this until his kids guilt trip him into appointing a local ranger leader named Mr. Jeff Smith. Smith is a very down to earth guy who wants to uphold the original ideals of the US, but Mr. Taylor doesn’t like this. Taylor is the kingpin in the shadows who has been controlling the state for years. He decides to do whatever he can to stop this Mr. Smith.

I’m always up for a political film like this, especially when it’s in a court type setting. The senate meetings here are close enough. I remember hearing about how you could hold the floor indefinitely provided the circumstances were right so it was nice to see Smith use such a technique here. I’m sure there is probably a little more to it than this but it’s definitely fun to see. Smith has to talk for essentially an entire day which is pretty impressive for sure. That’s a lot of stamina.

Of course, the corruption was quite deep here so the effects weren’t as powerful as he would have liked. I can buy into Taylor blocking all of the radio channels and newspapers but where it starts to get a little fishy is when he hires a mob to go around and start beating up on the kids. That part’s definitely a little hard to believe. They ran into the kid’s car and actually knocked one to the ground. By the end even the grownups on Smith’s side are telling him to stop because too many kids are being injured.

Even if we are to assume that Taylor’s influence is so strong that all of these guys would be willing to fight kids, what about their parents or other resisters? We see in one scene a large group of adults running around with signs and such until the cops spray them, but then there should have been some adults to protect the kids as well. So while this part was dramatic I think it ends up getting a bit unrealistic by the end.

During the film, Smith’s mentor (Paine) talks to him about the rampant corruption. Paine explains that it isn’t everyone who is corrupt, just most of them. I thought this was foreshadowing for some senators agreeing with Smith by the end and the film would have ended with the Senate in full disagreement. In the end, it appears even he underestimated how corrupt the place was as everyone was involved. He’s definitely the worst character in the film but at least you do know that he’s a traitor from the start so it’s not like you were surprised at this turn of events.

While the writing is pretty solid and the film has good pacing, there is one plot that doesn’t work out well. It’s the comic relief one sided romance plot between Clarissa and a reporter. Their scenes don’t really add to the plot and the drunk bar one goes on for quite a while. I suppose it’s to show how she felt bad for Smith but you could already glean that information early on. Clarissa is a pretty reasonable character even if she does keep flipping from one side to the other. At first she thinks the situation is hopeless for Jeff so she just pretends to be on his side. Finally she does end up going to his side and to her credit she is indispensable by the end. Without her Jeff would have certainly been tricked or have lost the will to fight earlier.

Jeff’s a good character, but pretty gullible. While he ended up sticking to his core values and beliefs despite the overwhelming pressure he wouldn’t have gone far without help. If Clarissa hadn’t tipped him off he would have kept falling for that other girl’s tricks. The instant he let romance get above his duty I had to admit that this senator business may have been a little too much for him. He’s earnest, but to that end I’d figure that he would have done more reading up on what it means to be a senator. Sure, it was harder to get information back in the day but I’d like to have seen him be a bit more pro-active. These are more in-depth critiques of his character though, on the whole he was still pretty solid. It’s just that he could have been even better.

One character who stole the show quite a bit was the chairman for the senate. I like how the whole thing was basically one big joke to him. He’s a fair judge who doesn’t bend to the others. He knows his importance. Whether the right choice is made or not isn’t something he cares about so long as they follow the rules. It may not be heroic, but it is pretty enjoyable to see.

Overall, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a pretty solid film. It definitely shows how hard it is to get your point across when you’re up against corruption. Smith could have stood there all day without the senators reacting and that’s just what he did. Honestly I would have done more whistles to wake them up like he did in one scene, but I suppose he also didn’t want to be held in contempt of court or anything like that. That probably would have backfired. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out. It’s pretty original.

Overall 7/10