Fallen 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

This next film is definitely a different take on your usual murder mystery. After all, we’ve got some supernatural elements here. The film throws this part in rather early on so I would say it is part of the actual plot. It’s certainly one of those films where you feel the hero has no chance from the start so you’re wondering what he will do to try and extend his time.

The movie starts with John visiting the mass murderer that he caught. The guy is about to be executed but wanted some last words with John. He starts speaking a lot of gibberish, singing songs, and trying to grab John. John lets the guy have his fun but then leaves so he can get his seat for the execution. The guy is promptly smoked to death and that should have been the end of it, but the murders start up again in the same exact way. The issue is that the murderer keeps changing. Here’s the thing, there was never just a man murdering everyone. John has to figure out what all these cryptic warnings mean before it’s too late. Then again…..it may already be too late.

You see this kind of predicament in a lot of horror films where the average joe angers some kind of lost spirit and has to figure out a way to win. Sometimes the main character did something wrong that comes back to bite him and sometimes it’s just a demon that wants to mess with people. This one is more the latter and the demon has taken a special interest in John. Azazel is his name by the way. Now the tricky thing with this is when you write a character that can’t possibly be stopped.

The Grudge and the Ring are examples of this where it’s a supernatural monster that has the powers to do just about anything so how are you going to stop it? Sometimes these creatures even allow you to find out their weakness like Freddy Krueger but then at the end of the film you find out they were trolling all along. That’s basically how it is with this guy. He’s portrayed as so invincible that you don’t see how the humans will ever have a chance.

Azazel has the ability to possess people. A fairly basic ability on its own I suppose but if you murder him then he can just body hop to someone else. He can possess anyone just by making physical contact with them. For those who have abnormally strong supernatural defenses, he can bypass them by dying and accessing his astro form. His only limitation is that he can only fly 1/6th of a mile when he is in his astro form so in theory the way to beat him is to try and murder his poor host somewhere where there isn’t anybody around. The film is fair about explaining why this weakness isn’t a big deal early on but it’s a small scene so I won’t spoil the twist there.

Now you know that sometimes the hero can activate a plot shield or something to try and get out of this mess but otherwise you can’t see how John will come out on top. It’s why you usually want to either not make the horror villain too out of the realm where nobody can do anything or give the main character some way of fighting back. That said, I suppose it’s not quite as crazy as some other monsters in that this one can’t alter reality or anything like that.

John’s a good main character. He’s really always done his best to do the right thing and help people out when he can. He doesn’t want to compromise on his ideals and makes that clear in the opening scene. He’s been pretty good at his job throughout his career and he handles this case as well as he can. If there’s anything he could have done differently, I’d say it would be to have just have talked to Gretta more. Maybe have her train him in the art of psychic defenses or something. I liked the scenes where he would have an internal monologue though. It felt like something out of a Noir title and was always interesting to listen to.

That said, when it came time for a battle she got wrecked anyway so that may not have really helped him at all either way. She talked a tougher game than she could back up when it was all said and done. Gretta was a decent character even if maybe she was a bit too reluctant to give him details, but who wants to get involved in a demonic fight anyway right? She probably figured that staying away was her best bet.

John’s colleagues were also fun. His best friend was quite loyal and in general it was a pretty good work atmosphere. Fallen is not a very happy movie though so usually John doesn’t really have time to just pal around with the gang or anything like that. Some kind of tragedy is always occurring. Azazel puts John into a lot of unwinnable situations. Where the film has most of its tragic elements is in how nobody can possibly understand what Azazel is doing so John just looks crazy any way you slice it. It’s just not possible for him to get people to help him against a supernatural threat.

Overall, Fallen is really about putting the lead in a completely hopeless situation. It’s rough because there is really absolutely nothing he can do about all of this. He was just unlucky enough to have angered a demon who wants vengeance on him. Azazel taunts John throughout the film by singing, quoting the Bible, and destroying John’s reputation as well. By the end of the film there isn’t much that can be salvaged. The film has a true horror type ending which was definitely pretty intense. Fallen’s a little tamer than I had expected but I wouldn’t call it a good film. My main problem with films that have a completely hopeless outlook for the main character is that you wonder what the point of it all is. If there is nothing John can do against the demon, then the journey of him trying to resist it just won’t be all that fun.

Overall 4/10

The Equalizer 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.

I vaguely remember seeing posters for the Equalizer back in the day but didn’t know anything about it. Seemed like just another one of those films about a guy with a gun taking people down. With Mission Impossible being the greatest version of that plot I figured this one was toast. Still, it turned out to be a pretty solid movie. It’s got a strong plot and the key part here is that Robert makes for a very solid main character. He may be equalizing things by taking villains down in a rather lethal way but most of the time he does give them an out and if the villain takes the deal then they get to keep their lives.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Robert. He has a very respectable job at a supply store that’s like Home Depot and always takes time to visit his favorite café and get an order of coffee. He likes everything to be very precise and throughout the film you see him making sure that things are neat and tidy. Another regular at the shop is Alina and the two of them always make a bit of small talk. One day Alina is badly beaten by her boss for not continuing with her job despite a client going beyond his boundaries. Alina hopes to be a singer someday so she can leave this kind of nightwork behind but wasn’t quite able to leave in time. Robert decides to get involved personally and begins to go after the Russian mafia. On the villains side they have sent a man named Teddy to take down Ralph. Now it’s a matter of who will go down first.

Robert is quite skilled at fighting and espionage. This is made pretty obvious from the start like with how he just walks into the Russian base with no difficulty whatsoever. He’s also very confident and quite sure of himself at all times. I like this demeanor, it’s always quite effective for a hero if you ask me. You don’t have time to be questioning yourself when you’re in the middle of a fight after all. Like Sherlock Holmes Robert always focuses on the situation at hand and finds the most efficient path to victory. Then he takes it and heads off to victory. He had another such impressive scene at the very end of the film. The last action scene has him tie up a few loose ends and it’s another great showing since he was so outnumbered.

At his core Robert isn’t even a guy who looks for trouble. He just doesn’t like to see any injustice and makes sure to balance the scales. It’s likely why he chose the title of Equalizer. Making things equal out is something he enjoys doing. Even at the end when he gets a final scene with Alina as closure you can see how it helped him realize that this whole journey was worth it. He probably saved quite a large number of lives by taking the villains down but in particular he saved Alina’s and that was something very tangible that he would always remember. It’s a pretty solid ending to the movie as well.

I wouldn’t call the film very upbeat or anything as it does have a lot of serious tones. There is a considerable body count and not all of the good guys get out of this one. Still, the ending is pretty upbeat and that makes for a great ending scene. Robert had a friend named Ralph who was also pretty good. He may not have been straight with Robert about what happened at the restaurant but he likely made up the story to keep Robert safe as well so at least the intentions were good. Ralph was a solid guy and he did well for himself at the end of the film and didn’t back down when things got tough.

Then you have the main villain Teddy. He’s the only one who is actually able to keep up with Robert for most of the movie. They have a lot of cat and mouse confrontations during the movie which are always fun to see. He does quite a lot of damage to the villains in his own way too though. There’s one scene where he starts a fight with them and ends up bumping off at least 4-5 to make an example out of them. It’s a pretty intense scene but since he would have been blown away without his right hand man making some clutch shots I don’t know if I can call it a good plan. The guy makes for an intense antagonist but he was never shown to be quite equal to Robert so I wouldn’t call him a big threat.

Then you have the big boss Vladimir but that guy doesn’t show up a whole lot anyway so there’s not much to say about him. he wasn’t quite ready for this. The music in the film is pretty intense and definitely works out pretty well. The effects are on point as well. Some of the action scenes can definitely get quite violent though as Robert takes them all out in rather gruesome ways. He uses whatever he has on hand after all so sometimes that doesn’t leave him any room for a clean cut.

Overall, The Equalizer is a solid film. I think part of why it succeeds is in large part due to how great Robert is as a character. In a way it’s why the sequel will have to be careful with how they follow this up. I imagine that they will want to give Robert more of a challenge next time but part of the fun here was in how easy it was for him to defeat all of the challengers. I hope that even if he doesn’t look quite as good next time, he doesn’t make any huge mistakes or anything like that. The movie also tackled some pretty dark themes without going too in depth the way some titles do for a gritty feel. It’s an intense movie but I wouldn’t call it edgy or over the top. If you want to check out a solid action film then I would recommend this one. It’s a very solid start to the series.

Overall 7/10

Deja Vu Review

I know that some like to spell “Deja” with a few symbols above the letters, but I prefer to just write it out like this. The title can already tell you that this is either the next Groundhog Day or it’s going to involve time. I can safely say that it’s the latter although it’s a bit of a trick question since Groundhog Day did involve time. It’s a decent film, but I am hesitant to say that it’s much more than that. The film doesn’t really end up leaving a big impact on you. You watch it…and it’s gone. (Like Battleship)

The plot involves special agent Doug as he tries to solve a case before it even begins. A terrorist attacks a ship and destroys over 500 people in the process. Nobody knows who did it or where the person went, which is where Doug comes in. Doug is the first person to confirm that it was a terrorist attack and he is then brought on to the elite squad. With the use of satellites, they can watch just about any spot on the planet as of 4 days ago. So, they can wait 4 days to see who did it, but it may be too late by then. Moreover, there is no rewinding available so they need to be able to identify the person right away. The plot thickens when Doug finds out that another person was murdered prior to the explosion and thrown into the ocean to make it appear as if the person was just another victim. Doug is now personally invested in this case and he’s ready to solve this case. Now, what if there is more to this satellite technology than meets the eye? What if Doug can stop the crime before it starts? That’s when the real film begins!

Well, the satellite thing is actually pretty scientific. I recall reading about it recently that at least 4 satellites are typically trained on the area. From there, it gets a little hazy since I don’t really think that the satellites would typically be able to look through buildings and get clear 1080P footage while you’re in a dark alley at night. It’s certainly possibly in theory though and it’s interesting to think about. If our government actually had perfected the tech to this extent though, the world would either be a really good place or our civil rights would be even more dismantled than they currently are. (America is still one of the best at protecting us though) Things get more than a little hazy once they start explaining about how you can actually look at the past with the satellites. That means that it’s fiction time!

I do give Doug credit for deciding to change the past while the others said that it wasn’t possible. If time travel was actually possible, then I definitely think it could be altered. The two events go hand in hand. If you can go back in time, then you can change it. If not, then time and the events within it are simply unchangeable. That’s always been my stance on the matter.

Doug is a decent lead. He definitely wants to solve the case and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to succeed without doing anything that’s really unheroic. This is the kind of character that you could call a little generic and get away with it. There’s nothing about him that really stands out and he’s only decent in a fight. His final stand off against the main villain was actually pretty bad since he was on the defensive the whole time. One could argue that his end is also a little tragic and not what you would expect while others can argue that it had to happen due to the plot. I dunno, I think he could have put in the extra effort and just moved to the Hotel California to avoid any missteps.

Claire is the main heroine and a lot of bad things happen to her in a very short amount of time. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a whole lot of street smarts. She gives away her home address to a random guy over the phone that wanted to buy her car. If you’re going to sell a car to someone, at least arrange to meet in a busy section that has a McDonalds. (Or a sports bar, since the guys inside can definitely fight) Her second big mistake is to open the door when she hears a sound outside. First rule of living in any area is that you never open the door unless you know exactly who’s outside. (And you should recognize their tone to know if they’re being held at gunpoint. Although, there’s not much you can do at that point) So, that was a really rough start for her and that leads to the events that transpire afterwards. She’s a decent character overall, but negative things happen to her left and right. She can’t really find any peace at this rate. This also means that she doesn’t get a whole lot of time for character development and the romance is pretty non existent. (It’s pretty one sided until the end where it’s probably both ways, but still rushed)

Oerstadt is the terrorist in the film and he’s as crazy as you may have expected. I doubt I’ll ever like a terrorist character in a film and that’s a good thing. Films shouldn’t even try to make them sympathetic or likable since they’re just bad people when it all boils down to it. Oerstadt is certifiably insane as he wants to murder everyone to show the United States that they need more patriots. He wants them to wake up and start controlling the world since they have the power. Instead, Oerstadt is woken up to the fact that he didn’t think this through and that his only escape options are death and life imprisonment. Not the best set of options right?

One of the complaints that I would have with the supporting characters is that they can be slow on the uptake. Take Doug’s partner. He gets a message informing him that a terrorist is going to blow up the boat so he heads there to stop him. He sees the guy get into the van so he runs towards him. “Stop….Stop…hands in the air” is basically what the agent says. The guy just takes out his gun and shoots him…..eh? When you’re dealing with a terrorist, you quickly let everyone know and you don’t just walk up to the window. At the very least, shoot all of the wheels so that the guy can’t escape. Then, don’t go in front of the window so the shot will at least be a little more difficult. This guy was an agent so I’m sure that he’ll have enough connections to inform the NSA that something’s up.

The film is also pretty gritty. The main heroine’s plight is pretty serious and the partner’s demise is also pretty gruesome. The film shows the aftermath of the terrorist attack and it’s grim as you would expect. They don’t want to make light of such a situation, but these three scenes are still not really any fun. The heroine’s plight happens twice. The first one is off screen and then we see part of the second until the guy is interrupted. That was good at least, but it’s still a bit much since we know what would have happened.

Finally, this film actually has some fanservice, which is a definite no no. I wasn’t really expecting any since I’ve actually gotten lucky on that angle recently. Most of the films that I’ve seen have actually stayed away from that angle. Not here. Doug and his co-workers decide to spy on Claire through their super satellites to see what happens and they definitely take a while to turn the camera. They’re spying on her constantly and that is decidedly unheroic. It’s okay when she’s in proper attire, but they should otherwise change the view immediately. Not a good move “heroes!”

There’s not much of a soundtrack of course. Luckily, that was to be expected here. We had a bit of a red herring involving the main agent in charge since he acts incredibly suspicious the whole time, but his plot never amounts to anything. At least it gives the viewers something to think about. His role is very small and I still wonder if the writers just forgot about him.

Overall, Deja Vu is a pretty standard film. It does end up losing some extra points for the gruesome violence and the fanservice though so it ultimately becomes a little sub par. The main character wasn’t bad and I always like a good time travel story, but the film just wasn’t terribly exciting or interesting. You sort of want to find out what’s going to happen, but you’ll find yourself to be pretty detached from the current events. It’s hard to really get into what’s happening and you could say that it’s a bit of a negative. A film should really keep you on the edge of your seat. An example of this is the big car chase scene. It’s a fun concept, but it’s not as thrilling as you would expect. Maybe the cars just weren’t going fast enough or it’s because I already saw Need For Speed. Well, I wouldn’t really recommend this one and I think you’d be better off watching The One for parallel universe explanations.

Overall 4/10