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

The Mask of Zorro Review


It’s time to look at a modern interpretation of a pretty old hero. I’m pretty sure just about everyone knows who Zorro is even if they haven’t actually watched a film with him. I don’t know the character too well aside from the general premise myself but he’s definitely got quite a history under his belt. The movie does a pretty good job of adapting the character. While not perfect you’ll stay entertained throughout the adventure.

The movie starts off with the best scene in the film as Zorro rescues a few people from being executed and takes on a whole army. It’s vintage Zorro as he mocks his opponents and displays his amazing fencing skills. After injuring the leader Rafael, Zorro heads home and decides to retire. His retirement is short lived as Rafael shows up and murders Zorro’s wife before imprisoning Zorro for 20 years. 20 years later Zorro is ready to get revenge but his daughter Elena has been tricked into thinking she is now Rafael’s daughter. Zorro will need to think carefully about how he get his revenge.

Meanwhile we cut to Alejandro who was one of the kids who saved Zorro’s life back in the day. He has spent the last 20 years roaming with his brother and another guy as they rob people and have a jolly old time. One day Alejandro’s two traveling companions are murdered by Harrison, a general working for Rafael. Alejandro wants revenge but he doesn’t have the skills to do so. Zorro decides to train Alejandro so that guy can become the new Zorro and deal with Harrison while Zorro gets his revenge. The two heroes prepare to attack the villains but they are heavily outnumbered. They are going to need to have a proper plan in order to win.

The film is a full 2 hours which is good because it gives us time to get introduced to the various characters. Alejandro gets a pretty good training arc as he goes from not being able to fight to being the best fighter in town. While it may seem a little fast we do get a few minor time skips so I think it took place over the course of a few months or something like that. His first outing as Zorro actually goes really well all things considered. It’s clear that he is not on the same level as the original but he can still hold his own really well.

The fight scenes are all about proper fencing and footwork which is nice to see. You don’t really see a lot of these kinds of fights anymore. It’s certainly not quite as dynamic or striking as a classic sword fight but the footwork is what makes these battles fun to watch. Fencing certainly seems pretty tricky and you have to be quite athletic to pull the fighting style off. Otherwise you are liable to get stabbed or hit with a sucker punch while fighting. A lot of the time Zorro has to fend off numerous opponents at once which is definitely not easy.

The whole chivalrous aspect of fencing can be a bit much though. There are a bunch of times when the heroes could take the win but they choose to give the villain his weapon back so they can have a proper fight. I understand not murdering the guys since they aim to be heroes, but at least disarm him and break the weapon or throw it away. By leaving the villains with their weapons it always comes back to bite the heroes. This happens quite often and so you feel like Zorro will definitely push his luck too far eventually.

Zorro makes for a good main character during the intro. I’d actually say that he’s a far better lead than Alejandro so it was too bad that we didn’t get to see him in his prime for a longer period of time. He’s a decent mentor type character as well but not quite as exciting. I still hold that the opening fight scene was the best moment in the film. Meanwhile Rafael is a solid main villain. He can actually fight really well which is definitely important and his plan is pretty solid. The guy is cunning and very good at manipulating others. He made for a very solid rival to Zorro.

Elena is a solid heroine as well. She is trying to do her best to shun her royal upbringing and defend the common people. This plot isn’t looked at all too closely so we don’t really get to see her do this but at least she is not corrupt unlike the others. Meanwhile she also knows how to fight quite well. While perhaps not on the level as Zorro she is shown to be very good. I’d like to see her fight a little more in the sequel since she has been training ever since she was a kid. The other villain in the film is Harrison. His skills are mainly with a gun although at the end he is also quite good with a rapier. Alejandro is lucky that this guy didn’t want to actually use his gun in the fight because then that would have certainly been game over for the new Zorro. Harrison was a fun villain to have around. I liked his confidence and he did seem to figure out Zorro’s identity pretty quickly.

Finally we have Alejandro who is really the main character of the film. He wants to avenge his brother but is also calm enough to accept training first. He is a good lead who is eager to learn so I can’t really fault him there. The guy means well and by the end he is instrumental in saving the day while the old Zorro was content to be on the sidelines. Alejandro just seems more heroic by the end which is a little surprising. I doubt fans of the original Zorro will be happy about that part.

The weak part of the film is unsurprisingly the romance. It’s all a bit quick and considering how many times Alejandro is forced to put Elena on the spot you can’t see why she would still want to be with him for at least a while. It’s all an act of course but it’s hard to forget being put on the spot in front of such a huge gathering. The scene of Elena fighting Zorro was also suspect. While the actual fight scene was real good Zorro definitely got a little too familiar all things considered. While she didn’t end up having a problem with it that’s another scene that is really stretching things. The film could probably have jumped up another star if we had just left the romance alone.

Overall, I enjoyed the Mask of Zorro. It’s a pretty good revenge story that doesn’t go out of its way to be too gritty. It has a lot of the classic charm you’d expect from the series while still maintaining a good amount of stakes. It’s a good blend of humor and action with the fight scenes holding up quite nicely. If you want a nice old school action film then this is a good one to check out. It hits the right notes and does a nice job of continuing the legacy of Zorro.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Guns of the Magnificent Seven Review


It’s time for Chris to round up some more gunmen in this third installment in the series. The series actually seems to take the premise of Suicide Squad more seriously than that film did with how high the body count is in these titles. Chris’ friends almost always die in these so you can see why they are always so hesitant to join him. Sure, Chris will live but the rest of them are usually all out of luck before the day is gone. It doesn’t feel like a great balance to them when you put it like that. This one is definitely better than the second film but still a far cry under the first. At least the series is back on an upward trend.

The film starts off with the rebellion leader getting kidnapped by the villain forces. This time the enemies are actually the government as Mexican forces are trying to get these rebels to submit. They aim to break the captured leader and end this once and for all. Max is able to escape and finds Chris over in town who has just helped a thief get away from being hanged. He convinces Chris to help him in exchange for some money and Chris must now round up a few guys once again. He really never has a chance to relax in these days. With the 7 of them rounded up he heads over to the prison to free the rebel leader. Will he really be able to break into the base and take out a huge number of adversaries though?

Let’s look at the supporting cast here. First we’ve got Keno, who was actually guilty of stealing a horse as revenge. The guy is a pretty good shot and pretty reasonable. He seems like the new version of Vin although he’s not quite as solid as the man from the first film. I’d still put him as the best ally in this movie though and is fun enough. Then you’ve got Cassie who is definitely happy to come along since at his old job the boss was quite unpleasant and treated him like a slave. Cassie doesn’t put up with any nonsense so he’s a pretty solid character to have on the team. He also seems to be the strongest physically.

Then you have Slater who is pretty annoying. The guy only has one good arm now so he’s always upset. Having only one arm is very difficult when you’re a shooter but he insists on taking it out on everyone else which definitely isn’t a good idea. He gets Cassie upset a few times and it was really all Slater’s fault with the remark he made. Then he goes on a drunken rampage shooting left and right. Even the way he goes out is pretty terrible. This guy really never managed to become a quality character. P.J. is another character who wasn’t very good. In his case the issue is that he is so sickly. He really wasn’t ready for a gunfight like this. It’s great that he came along to help I suppose but he looks very unimpressive next to the other characters.

Finally you have Levi who is a nice guy. He’s pretty old so he can’t move around quite as well as the younger guys but his gun skills are the real deal so he does help out a fair bit. He also takes one of the kids under his wing. Levi was a fun addition to the cast. So on the whole most of the characters were good. Meanwhile Chris is solid as always. I do feel like his skills seem less and less impressive with each movie, but he still ultimately gets the job done which is what counts. He manages to take down the enemy captain which was crucial. That guy managed to take down quite a number on his own which made him a pretty imposing villain.

This movie went back to its roots in some respects which was good such as developing the characters before uniting the group. Each one actually got a full scene to himself this time as opposed to everyone just teaming up right from the jump. It’s important to set up all of the characters individually before they team up. It gives you more of an actual reason to root for them. The villain also gets more development this time around. He has some good back and forth discussions with Chris. The guy is definitely as ruthless as they come and makes for a pretty intense villain. He certainly isn’t messing around.

The oddest part about the film is probably the music selection though. While the next installment would take this to a whole new level, the music here just didn’t feel appropriate at times. You’d have the very happy hero theme playing even during a sad scene or a moment where nothing is going right for the heroes. It felt like the soundtrack was so limited that they had to keep on playing the theme. It’s played even more than the main Star Wars theme and you know how much the films like to use that one. I don’t think the music director did a good job here. It’s not enough to have a solid theme, you need to know when to play it.

As always the villagers look pretty bad for the most part. The leader of the main group of rebels was a drunk who wasn’t taking anything seriously. It’s easy to see why the group had absolutely no luck over the last few years with a guy like that in charge. You can’t hope to succeed if your leader isn’t taking things seriously and that was definitely the case here. By the end the rebels move on without him, but if they had showed up earlier then way less people had to die. It seems like the cavalry always comes way too late.

The action scenes are solid as always though. The gunfights are good and the heroes make good plans the whole time. The Magnificent Seven feel a little less invincible this time though. The main villain took out 2-3 of them by himself which would have been pretty much impossible in the first film. I suppose eventually Chris was bound to run out of the top brass sooner or later though. These guys would just have to do in the meantime.

Overall, Guns of the Magnificent Seven is a solid film. It’s not quite as good as the first one but it’s good enough to check out if you like the genre. The music is not always placed well as it seems like the guy in charge would just slap the main theme on whenever he felt like it, but it is a catchy theme. Some parts of the film can definitely get a little dark with the main characters not doing anything to save them. Naturally in such a position they would likely lose and then there would be even more casualties but I never like to see the heroes do nothing as people are getting murdered. This one is more of a standard wild west film, you won’t be disappointed if you go and give this one a look.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Annie Review


It’s time to look at a pretty popular musical from back in the day. Musicals can definitely be hit or miss depending on how good the songs are. Ironically the songs are usually way better in films that aren’t musicals and just happen to have a song or two. There are a lot of reasons for this, but a big one is that the songs are usually professionally done in the background as opposed to the characters actually singing on screen. The on screen songs just don’t end up having the same effect and pale in comparison to these big blockbuster songs. Annie’s songs aren’t bad for the most part but they won’t really stack up in the long run.

The movie starts by introducing us to an orphanage run by Agatha. She really doesn’t like kids, but needs money in this tough economy so she made the hard call to run the place. Annie tries to keep the kids moral up but it gets tougher with each passing day. What is there to look forward to when you’re in such a mean place? Well, Annie won’t have to deal with this for much longer because she was selected to spend a week with the rich Mr. Warbucks. Warbucks is so rich that even the President defers to him. Now Annie can learn what it’s like to live in wealth with her dog, but can she learn to enjoy this or will she continue to look back and forget the future?

The premise is one of those plots that can be fun to think about. Who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend being as rich as humanly possible? Money can’t buy happiness but it can help you lease it for a while. Even more so considering that Annie was an orphan at a pretty badly run orphanage so she has a lot of reason to be happy at this new place. That’s why she can seem rather ungrateful at times. Even after Warbucks has given her one of the best weekends ever she is still desperate to meet her parents and hops in the car of the first strangers who claim to be them. You can understand her wanting to meet her folks for closure, but just leaving with them like that? Doesn’t seem like the wisest course of action because you really don’t know if they’re good people or not. Whether they had reasons for leaving Annie or if they did it on a whim, it doesn’t change the fact that they never looked for her until a reward was placed.

Meanwhile Warbucks is definitely a lot of fun. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of his making money prior to Annie showing up. While he has a gruff exterior he ultimately does let Annie stay so the guy is pretty nice deep down. His romance plot with Grace is very cheesy though. For starters she works for him and workplace romances are always a landmine that you don’t want to go to. It would have been perfect if they were just good friends the whole time. So Warbucks’ character got watered down quite a bit by the end of the film, but he was still an engaging character on the whole.

Then we have Agatha who is one of the main antagonists here. She’s definitely a very mean character who is always messing with the orphans and somehow nobody has caught or fired her yet. She makes moves on any guy who shows up and somehow even seems to be succeeding with two of them. Her character is way too exaggerated and most of her scenes are pretty iffy. I think the film could have dialed down the her desperate romance angle a bit. She’s also rather mean to the dog, I never like how they used to lift the dog by the scruff of their neck, same with cats. There’s no way that’s comfortable for the animal. By the end you just aren’t able to buy into her redemption arc.

You’ve got two more villains in Rooster and Lily. They’re a little more sinister than Agatha as they don’t mind hurting the kids if it means they will get rich. They have a long song with the 3 of them where Lily keeps beating up Agatha mid-dance without Rooster realizing it so he’s not the brightest guy in the bunch. Agatha was also losing that match entirely so we know who the tougher character is. It’s almost a bit odd since Agatha seemed to be winning in their initial encounter but I suppose you can’t win them all. The villains weren’t bad. They served their purpose at least and gave us a little danger in the climax.

As for Grace, she’s probably the nicest character in the group. Without her Annie wouldn’t have had a chance at all. Grace got her in even if it meant using some blackmail and then she convinced Warbucks to let Annie stay. Grace really put in a lot of effort to make sure that everything worked out and was the unsung hero of the movie. You’d think that the other orphans would have been helpful but most of them were mean and petty throughout the film. Even when Annie was in trouble one of them didn’t want to hear about it and several of the others were ready to give up. Some friends right? Warbucks had some good assistants but none of them were around when Annie was really in danger.

Annie has a lot of fun little moments with her exploring the mansion and the film is at its best when things are going well there. I’d be up for a full movie of just having fun enjoying the rich life. There is so much you can do when you’ve got that much money and the film could have explored that angle. Throwing in the villains distracted from that part as there was far less time for such things. Sandy was a lot of fun though and I’m always up for a dog companion so long as he gets a happy ending. I’d like to see Hallmark do a modern version of this with a grown up who is selected to live in a castle for a week. It’s a plot that I’d say could be executed better than how this one went about it.

Overall, Annie is a decent musical that can be a bit too extreme at times. . Agatha’s character is a bit odd with how mean she is yet the kids keep messing with her. It’s likely done to keep the film from being too dark which I can appreciate. How much you enjoy the film will likely depend on how much you can tolerate Annie. Warbucks is a really fun character and in a sense you’re hoping he doesn’t crack under the pressure and stays as the suave rich guy that we all know. The film is largely predictable so you’re really just along for the ride as you hope the execution is good. You should be entertained all the way through which is the important thing.

Overall 5/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Arctic Fury Review


It’s time to look at a really old film. While this may not be the oldest film I’ve seen it certainly felt that way. Everything about this film feels incredibly old and unfortunately not in a good way. There isn’t much of a cast so we don’t get to take advantage of the usual high level of dialogue you would expect from an old film. The whole plot involves a lot of animals as well which is a recipe for disaster. In the end this movie was a big miss.

The movie starts by introducing us to one of the world’s greatest doctors. His name is Thomas and he has just arrived home in time for his daughter’s birthday after a long time abroad. He is ready to finally have some fun, but is then alerted to the fact that a village is being hit with a powerful illness. Thomas warns these guys that his plane is in no condition to fly, but they don’t have another option so he takes the flight. Thomas crashes halfway through to the village and must now try to survive in the arctic by himself. Hoping to be rescued is a long shot so he must use all of his medical expertise in order to get past this.

The entire film is Thomas’ journey. In general I can’t really say that survival films are really my thing. They can be interesting and all if handled extremely well, but that isn’t the case here. The arctic makes for a better backdrop than the jungle in some ways, but it’s still no city. You’ll have to try and focus on the landscapes to keep yourself entertained since there isn’t a lot of dialogue. His two pets bears were fun and at least gave the film a little more of an adventure kind of spirit. It was a better move than having Thomas on his own even if it makes the film pretty tense the whole time since you’re worried that something’s going to happen.

The film managed to show some restraint most of the time. Even when the bear got knocked over by the avalanche he ended up surviving which was a key part. Likewise the bear cubs were okay in the end. The only pretty sketchy part was the climax with the dogs. They were all crazed with hunger and then some got trapped in the burning building. Even assuming most or all of them survived the film made it clear that they wouldn’t be alive for long because of how sick they were. It’s definitely a way to try and make the situation a little more depressing but this is the way to destroy your film, not a way to enhance it.

Thomas seemed like a pretty reasonable character. He doesn’t go crazy which is an important first step and getting past the arctic is definitely not something that would be very easy to do. When you consider all of these pieces then he did a perfectly reasonable job here. I had no real qualms with him. He’s not the most interesting lead out there, but he didn’t have an opportunity to really develop his character so you can’t fault him all that much. The other characters didn’t really get a chance to do anything except for his wife who never gave up hope which is important. At least she believed in him while everyone else quickly wrote him off as dead and continued about their business.

This movie is also incredibly short. It’s only about an hour give or take so it should pass by very quickly right? The movie feels a lot longer than it actually is though so I can’t give it much props when it comes to the pacing. Perhaps this is one genre that old films will be put at a disadvantage with since newer ones will be able to give you more detail and interesting backdrops to the survival aspect. I’d need to see more survival films to be sure of this though and in general it is a tough genre to get right no matter what genre you are in. Perhaps we could ditch the narrator as well. A good one can amplify the scenes like in DBZ but you don’t really need one depending on the genre. There was no hype to be built here.

Overall, Arctic Fury is not really my kind of film. I can see some people enjoying this if they really like the concept of having to survive on your own against overwhelming odds. That kind of thing is okay for an episode or two but I just don’t think you can do a whole film with that premise. Maybe if it were two guys stuck since at least you would be able to have banter between them. Otherwise it just doesn’t work for me. Not much happens here and to survive you always have to eat animals which doesn’t do wonders for the movie. Whether it is just fish or not you still realize that the film is racking up Ls.

Overall 3/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Bugsy Malone Review


It’s time for a rather odd parody of the usual gangster film. Gangster films can be hit or miss as they all tend to be pretty similar but I haven’t watched enough of them to say that the whole genre is the same. That being said, a parody of one should have a lot of potential. This potential vanished when the kids showed up. The plot of this movie is that it’s kids who are acting like gangsters…and it doesn’t really work. The gimmick gets old after about 5 minutes and the rest of the film proceeds to drag on.

The film starts off with one of the gangsters getting iced by an opposing gang. He was supposedly one of the best in the biz but you would never guess it from the scene. He is murdered by whip cream bullets. His boss isn’t happy about this but he doesn’t have much time to worry since his other minions are pretty incompetent as well. He decides to start messing up the opposing gang in retaliation. Nobody crosses Bugsy Malone! There is actually a fairly large cast in this film which is a bit surprising. You do have to give the film props for effort. We’ve got 2 different romance plots, several of the gangsters have their own leads and it all results in a big meetup at the end of the film.

The whole film is a parody including the climax but if you take that away then the setting of the climax and the scale is pretty impressive. The film basically breaks the third wall here though as everyone survives the bullet shower and they all become friends. It’s a wholesome ending I suppose, but not the one you would be hoping for. It would have been fun if everyone just fainted from the whip cream and the narrator just says that this is why gangs are dying out. Eventually all of the gangs would always start fighting so there is no way to truly come out on top.

Here’s why the film didn’t work for me. I’m already not a big fan of most kid characters in these kinds of things. Kids can be pretty annoying and it’s hard to take them seriously. It’s rare to have a kid character who is really on the ball and talking with eloquent dialogue. That is not the case in this film. The gangster accents work pretty well as they are fairly realistic so I have to give a good amount of credit for that. Aside from that I just couldn’t take them seriously. The film would have ironically been far superior if the characters had all been adults. The way I see it, the kids part was a gimmick that the film was leaning on. It didn’t pan out. After the initial few minutes you’re over this “twist” and are ready to go back to the actual movie.

The movie also ends up being rather boring as a result. The characters go through the motions but kids have a really hard time being funny or engaging. I don’t think you’ll even crack a smile from start to finish while watching this movie. The romance plot is pretty terrible with the characters both being unreasonable. The gangsters are villains of course, but they’re not even charismatic so it’s not like you can really root for them. So the film didn’t have engaging characters, had fairly subpar writing and the pacing was pretty bad. There’s really not much left to salvage it.

It’s still not a 2 or lower because it’s not like there was any terrible content here. It’s still pretty kid friendly and as I mentioned the film tries to be ambitious, it just doesn’t work. Ah yes, did I mention this was a musical? We get quite a few songs here. There’s the one from the kid who wants people to recognize that he is a tap dancer so he goes on a long tangent about this. There’s a big one in the climax as all of the gang members sing around and try to have a good time, etc. None of the songs are all that good and certainly pale in comparison to the classic Disney songs.

Overall, Bugsy Malone was certainly an experimental film. You can always make the case that it’s good to try new things out even if it doesn’t work out. It’s a tough case but I understand the logic. Eventually you’ll hopefully find a formula that works out, but this isn’t it. Even if you’re a big fan of gangster films I would advise you to stay far away from this one. The fact that it goes through every typical gangster plot doesn’t really help its case because you could just watch one of those instead of this one. Bugsy Malone is not exciting or engaging and if anything it’ll just make you want to watch a real gangster film. Kids can’t hold their own films and if I ever need to give someone proof of that I’ll have them watch this film. It’s the easiest way to explain why this is the case.

Overall 3/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Short Circuit 2 Review


It’s time to take a look at the sequel to the original Short Circuit. This time we get more of a focus on the sidekick Ben as the leads from the last film do not return. I actually thought this film was an improvement over the first one. I still wouldn’t call it great or anything, but it was pretty entertaining and I did like the climax. We get a fairly iconic song and a lot of tension.

So the film starts off by showing us that Ben is now selling tiny Johnnys down at the street. I don’t know how they let him sell government technology like this or even how nobody is buying them when they are clearly super sophisticated. There’s a lot of plot details that you just have to roll with right off the bat. Anyway, that aside he ends up meeting a girl named Sandy who is interested in the product. She wants 1000 of them within the month so she can finally have a good deal to show her boss. Her job is on the line because she has been unable to develop any good toys for the company. Ben is convinced he can’t do this, but he is stiff armed by Fred into doing so. Once Sandy leaves the two of them realize that they are in big trouble. Especially since some thugs keep showing up to their factory and beating everyone up. Luckily Johnny 5 shows up and decides that he is going to help these two.

Johnny 5 is incredibly advanced so making the 1000 is a piece of cake at this point. As a result the film needs to add some drama to make the film longer. We get that in a few different ways. First we have Fred who is trying to sell Johnny for big bucks which causes a trust issue between them. Then you have Ben who has fallen for Sandy immediately and keeps trying to ask her out but failing. Finally you have 3 comic relief villains who are trying to steal from the nearby bank. When intimidation doesn’t work it appears that they will have to use Johnny’s naivety against him. It’s an underhanded technique…which means it is perfect for these villains! Johnny also isn’t the smartest tool in the shed so it’s not like it’s a very difficult plan.

The main thing that holds this film back is the romance plot. It’s one of the worst ones that I’ve seen in a while. The point of the plot is to be rather cringey as Ben isn’t exactly used to dealing with girls, but that doesn’t make the plot any more tolerable. It’s all rather cheesy and forced the whole time. Even Ben should know better than to just read off the screen when it’s saying absurd things. The whole plot goes a bit too far. Ben is a lot better than he was in the first film, but he’s not yet a great character. He still gets in over his head and makes too many mistakes.

Fred is the far more entertaining character. He’s got a lot of street smarts so he isn’t about to get tricked or swindled by corporate. He does let greed go to his head though and it’s hard to simply wave off his betrayal of Johnny 5 in the climax. He really was going to sell the guy which is crazy since by then he knew that Johnny was alive. When it came time to fight off the thugs Fred also looked absolutely terrible. He is definitely the definition of a character who is all talk and no action. Still a fun character who elevates the movie though.

Then we have Sandy who is a big step up from the first heroine. Her journey to try and impress her boss is a lot more sympathetic than what they were going for with Stephanie. She is really desperate to do well this time and puts in the effort. The romance is pretty cheesy as I mentioned but at least Sandy was just ignoring that bit for as long as she could. The cast of the film isn’t all that big so the only other major character would be Oscar. Compared to most of these characters he is a genius so it’s pretty easy for him to get his plan across. The heroes just didn’t really know how to deal with a character like this. Johnny looked terrible in letting the comic relief villains sneak up on him in the end though.

That does take us to Johnny. He is much better than in the first film because he is no longer quite as new to the game. He still does act like a rookie at times like when people trick him into breaking into cars though. Johnny also tends to lose most of his battles by underestimating his opponents which isn’t a great trick either. I know this all sounds negative, but what helps is how he handles himself in the climax. Right when the “I Need a Hero” song starts to play you know that things are going to get good. Yes it’s a little over dramatic but this is a moment where a little cheese is fine. You’re not really meant to take this seriously but it’s still a powerful moment since Johnny is close to death at this point. It was a solid way to redeem his character right at the end and it also bumped up the movie’s soundtrack at the same time.

Overall, Short Circuit 2 was more fun than the first one. The writing was a little better with some more enjoyable jokes. Perhaps it is just that the New York style or humor works better for these guys. Fred was just a really good character to have some banter with Ben. Johnny also looked better and the climax was actually fun. It’s too bad we never got a third film since they were having this upward trend. Perhaps it will still come out at some point although it sounds like that isn’t very likely at this point. If you want to see a fun little film then this is a solid one to check out. It really doesn’t connect to the first almost at all so you can easily just jump into this one.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movies

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale


It’s time to look at a film based on a true story from a long time ago. I’m sure you’ve heard the tale of Hachi/Hachiko from back in the day. Well, this is a modern re-imagining of it. With films based on true stories you already know the ending so it’s all about the execution. Is the film still able to sell you on the characters when you know how their stories conclude or will you be left wanting for more. I’d say the film seems like a pretty good adaption of the event. The characters are nice enough and the film doesn’t try to get too over dramatic.

The film starts off with Parker’s grandson talking about his hero. He picks Parker’s dog Hachi as his hero. We then cut to a flashback where we learn about this. Once upon a time, Parker was leaving his train when he saw a lost puppy all alone. He picked up the dog and took him home. He couldn’t find the owner for the puppy even after posting flyers everywhere so he ended up keeping him. The dog’s name appeared to be Hachi based on the symbol on his collar so that became his name. Parker’s wife Cate was not a fan of the dog for a while but eventually relented. The two of them shared a good time until the end of Parker’s days. Hachi never forgot him and ultimately a statue was built in Hachi’s honor.

It’s a pretty good emotional film. I’m glad Hachi ultimately had a good run and the film didn’t go for a tragic twist like him dying of anything other than natural causes. The film portrays Hachi as a very intelligent dog who really knew what was going on and even memorized Parker’s trains. He was a nice dog who always brightened up everyone’s day. Hachi was also resourceful with how he would find ways out of the house and paths to Parker. Even the family moving out of the neighborhood wasn’t enough to stop him.

Meanwhile Parker did a pretty good job of looking after Hachi. While he did his best not to get attached he always treated Hachi very well. If anything he would have spoiled him further if not for Cate slowing things down initially. My only real complaint is Hachi having to stay outdoors the whole time. I’ve never agreed with having the dog outside. The dog should always be in the apartment/house at all times free to do what he wants. A dog should be given complete freedom to have fun. A dog house is really excluding the dog from the full experience the film shows that Hachi was always sad to be out there.

Cate was the worst character for a majority of the film, but fortunately she got better by the end. Deciding not to look after Hachi even by the end was pretty sketchy though. Hachi needed at least one of the owners to stay with him even if they never developed a bond the way he did with Parker. It just makes sense that they wouldn’t be super close since we never got to see her play with him. Cate was definitely a much tougher owner than the rest of the family.

Then you’ve got the daughter Andy and her husband Michael. They do their best to look after Hachi a bit too, but give up way too fast. They definitely should have kept Hachi with them instead of letting him freeze out in the cold for so long. Things worked out well for Hachi but it was still quite the gamble. They had to depend on the fact that it was a nice community for Hachi to have a good time. One of the best characters in the film was definitely the hot dog vendor Jasjeet. Jasjeet provided for Hachi in the end and liked the dog from the start. He was always glad to have some company and it did both characters good.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film like this where every character is fundamentally nice. It’s not the kind of movie that really needs an antagonist because real life doesn’t always have a villain like that. It’s hard to picture a community being so nice and welcoming to Hachi nowadays though. These were just different times and it’s nice to see how peaceful and wholesome the adventure was. The film isn’t particularly long so it’s over with pretty quick.

Overall, Hachi is a solid film. It’s definitely on the emotional side especially since you know how it’s going to end. It’s easier for a person to be alone than for an animal because they don’t really understand why they are now alone. It’s as if the person just vanished out of the blue. They won’t be able to meet up again until Heaven and that’s even assuming that the owner was Christian. If you’re up for a story like this then Hachi is as good an adaption as any. It’s not really my kind of film but you should more or less know what you’re getting into right away unless you’re unfamiliar with the legend. If you don’t know how it ends then I suppose the film will be more unexpected which could work out well.

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

It’s Alive Review


It’s time to check out a film about a monster baby. This seems to have been quite the popular genre back in the day with a lot of terrible films that had a similar premise. I can’t say that this film is much better than those. It’s pretty much what you would expect as the monster slashes through everyone until eventually someone remembers how to fire a gun. The plot requires a lot of suspense of disbelief with how slow everyone is to react and how nobody acts realistically. It’s definitely a movie that you will want to avoid.

The movie starts with Frank and Lenore excited about their next baby. It’s about to show up so they head to the hospital. Unfortunately the baby jumps out and murders a bunch of people before escaping through the air ducts. The hospital asks Frank to keep this quiet so they can exterminate the monster in peace. Frank gives them his blessing and is promptly fired from his job as a PR guy. He takes Lenore home and they tell their kid Chris to stay at a different house while this all blows over. Unfortunately the hospital and the police have a hard time tracking down this baby so it goes on a murder spree as it gets closer and closer to where Frank lives. After it murders a few more people it is now ready to go home. Can Frank stop the monster and save the day or are they all about to get eaten?

There are a ton of problems with this film but lets start with the biggest one. The film squeezes in some animal violence for no discernible reason. The instant you see that Chris owns a cat you know that things are going to go south. It’s pretty much the film throwing in the white flag before it has even started. It naturally gets destroyed by the end of the film in a pretty gruesome fashion. It takes away from the film’s attempt to humanize the monster by the end by saying that it won’t murder family. The family pet is clearly family so I don’t think the writers were really looking at the right script. There’s no way to sympathize with the baby at this point.

It also makes Chris’ reaction feel rather off. He notices the cat right away, but then dismisses this as he tries to console the baby. That’s not really a proper reaction, it just makes you think Chris has gone nuts. Perhaps the experience broke his mind the way that it did for Lenore. She looks pretty bad the whole time too. At first she is pretty crazy when the experience first happens and seems to be on board with destroying the creature. Later on she grows attached to it after it’s already murdered tons of people. It’s simply too far gone by then and she should realize that storing it in the back will only delay the inevitable. Again I must also point out that the cat was taken down by this point which is no good.

Then the film is also quite violent. It’s one of those films where the director must have had many pots of paint at the ready because he tends to throw it at all of the characters right off the bat. Everyone dies as violently as possible. We rarely see the creature move so it’s hard to say how fast it is, but it’s the size of a baby. How is it destroying so many people? People never seem to use their guns in times and just stand there like sacks of potatoes as they get completely train wrecked. I’d have liked to see people at least put up some kind of fight. It’s like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. There’s no realistic way you should be losing to a tomato. This film’s all about shock value so that’s really the only point to all of this. I guess they figured it doesn’t have to make sense so long as it is entertaining. Unfortunately it wasn’t entertaining.

At least Frank is trying to end this although he also gets a little too obsessive on trying to put distance between himself and the creature. What he should have done was move out of town for the 3 weeks with Lenore and Chris and hope that the monster couldn’t follow them. It would allow them to get some new surroundings and hopefully help with the coping process. So long as that was accomplished perhaps they would all be able to move on. To be fair, he had no reason to assume the baby could follow him all the way home but in horror films like this the overall message is really that nobody is safe. Wherever you go there will always be the monster right around the corner.

One of the worst parts about the film is the fact that it’s just not interesting. An evil baby doesn’t make for a visually interesting villain nor are the characters good enough to keep you engaged. It’s a very bleak film the whole time where the heroes can’t trust anyone. Everyone seems to be out to get them and if you’re a remotely nice character then you’re gonna get bumped off. Ironically the nicest characters are the ones who end up paying the highest price. If you’re looking out for yourself then odds are that you’ll survive this experience which is pretty odd. That’s not exactly what you would have expected. The film could have been a little more decent if Lenore hadn’t gone crazy by the end but I don’t think the score could have been saved all that much if at all. This film was just beyond help.

Overall, It’s Alive is a pretty terrible film. There really isn’t anything redeemable about it as it checks off all the wrong boxes. The characters are pretty terrible and really make the worst decisions possible. The creature murders way too many people before being taken down to the point where you have to stretch your disbelief quite a lot because there is no way all of the humans should be losing like this. It’s just crazy to see everyone going down like dominoes. I’d highly recommend watching something a little more wholesome like Alvin and the Chipmunks. That one shows how you can bond with a nice creature as a child or sorts as opposed to an evil child in this film who doesn’t even appear to be human. Perhaps there was a good message here once but it’s all gone as the film goes on.

Overall 0/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Blind Date Review


It’s time to take a look at a rom-com from a while back. It definitely gets quite crazy and is at its best when the film is being as nuts as possible. The very premise does hurt a bit though as Walter is not a character you can really sympathize with from the start and Nadia also looks pretty bad in not going with her instincts. All in all, everyone comes out of this film pretty messy, but it is an entertaining movie with a fun guard dog.

The movie starts off with Walter getting ready to head to a party, but he doesn’t have a date. He’s desperate enough to ask his brother Ted for help despite being burned on many occasions. Ted sets him up with a character named Nadia. The only warning Walter needs to abide by is that she really can’t handle having any alcohol. Walter realizes that he has a very prestigious party to go to with Nadia. His job is on the line here to land this big investor and he would never want to do anything to ruin that. So…with a heavy heart and a clear mind Walter buys Nadia the biggest bottle of alcohol he can find and pressures her into drinking it. She does and proceeds to go nuts on his party. Maybe this wasn’t exactly his best idea?

Walter’s one of the biggest fools I’ve seen in a while and no matter how much he blows up at Nadia later on you have to pin 100% of the blame on him. None of this would be happening if he had just not given her the drink. I’m going to give Nadia some grief for this later on as well, but Walter’s got to know better. This was a serious party with people he knew and not respecting Nadia’s wishes to avoid the drink is pretty bad as well. He also tries to take revenge on Nadia by messing up her party but he’s not even drunk so he has no excuse. It’s just petty revenge at that point and makes him look terrible. At the end of the day a blind date is always going to be risky because you don’t know the person. The whole concept of a blind date is a little suspect if you ask me.

As for Nadia, if she knows that she can’t have alcohol then she should really just put her foot down. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol myself, people naturally offer me to have some quite frequently. There’s always a lot of pressure to drink, but as long as you’re comfortable in the fact that this isn’t who you are, it should be easy to turn it aside. I’m not going to say that peer pressure is underrated because a lot of people have trouble with it, but one surefire way to block it out is to fully accept yourself. That’s something Nadia hasn’t quite done yet. She has the drink and then goes crazy. Now, we know that when you’re drunk you still wouldn’t do anything that you at least didn’t think about while sober. Nadia doesn’t do anything super out of character and if anything she does help some people out. It just comes at the expense of dignity and Walter’s job.

While it’s played off as a bad thing, she did help one lady get a bunch of money by suing her husband so that part worked out. Unfortunately the film does try to still give us the romance plot between Walter and Nadia which really doesn’t make any sense here. The two can’t stand each other from start to finish so it’s a little hard to buy into the ending. Nadia is also way too quick to give a deal to David that she will marry him if he helps out Walter. That’s just not a deal that you can make. She should have tried just about anything else, but basically selling yourself away forever is not the thing to do. Particularly not to someone that bad.

David’s the worst character in the film. He’s a super violent ex of Nadia’s and it’s easy to see why the two aren’t together when the film starts up. He’s constantly trying to murder Walter and gets pretty crazy about it. The film makes it a point to say what a bad guy he is. The fact that his Dad is a judge just makes for a lucky break for him since he gets away with a whole lot more than he would otherwise. The court scene is fun as always though. I always like a court room setting whether it is played seriously or for laughs. In this film’s case it was definitely the latter but it worked well. I liked the judge, the guy made for a charismatic character. He may allow family to get in the way of justice, but at least we can assume that he is able to handle most cases in a fair manner.

The climax involves a long espionage sequence as Walter tries to break in the building, but must get past the guard dog. One mistake that most owners make in this film is that they always tell the dog to quiet down when he’s trying to alert them to danger. Isn’t the whole point of having a guard dog hoping that he will bark if a stranger is near? I mean…this isn’t exactly rocket science people. If the dog is barking and he never does that then something is wrong. All of the characters act like he’s never barked before so that should warrant a full examination of the grounds. This is a comedy, but I bring it up because it happens in serious films too. It’s always a shame for the dog who is just trying to do his best.

At times the film goes pretty far with its slapstick humor to the point where the characters will likely never regain their reputation. How do you bounce back from all of this? The most tragic part of the film is when Walter gets his car stolen by a gang of thieves and even gets held at knife point. He was a few inches from death which has definitely got to be traumatic. The scene is pretty crazy because these guys even kidnap the entire house somehow. I figured it was a movie set at first but surprisingly the film didn’t seem to go that way.

Overall, Blind Date is a fun film. The romance is very weak and just seems to be there to fulfill the cliches. The film is at its best when the characters are ruining each other’s lives or the climax at the end which is a lot of fun. It may go on for a little too long, but I liked seeing the guard dog chase everyone around. It’s always nice to see everyone trying to sneak around in such a large mansion. While this film won’t quite have enough replay value or high points for me to make it a high recommendation, it’s still a solid comedy film if you haven’t checked it out yet.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movies

Searching for Bobby Fischer


At first with this title I figured that the movie was actually going to be about finding Bobby. It soon became apparent that it was more in a meta sense though as the main character uses chess in a similar fashion so in a way the world is re-obtaining Bobby’s skills through him. It’s probably a little too soon to say for sure since Josh is so young, but he is definitely a prodigy so he is getting there.

The movie starts with Josh walking through the park with his Mom and notices some guys playing speed chess in the park. There’s a lot of trash talking going on and he quickly gets interested in the game. At home he makes a chess board of sorts with his action figures and teaches himself how to play. After that he goes to the park and fights one of the champs. Even though Josh lost he used a lot of crazy techniques that most 6 year olds wouldn’t have been able to do. Eventually he starts to play the game seriously and the parents hire a coach named Bruce. Thing is, Bruce has very radical views on chess and is trying to teach Josh to be a meaner person and to hold people in contempt. Can Josh prove that he can win without changing himself for the worse?

This is definitely a pretty enjoyable film. I have to admit that Josh being a bit older would have been nice though. It would have taken away from the prodigy part though. He’s not a bad main kid even if he makes some questionable moves at the film goes on. There is a fight or two where it feels like he threw the match on purpose but the film actually plays it off like he may have lost legitimately by the end. If he wasn’t in the right state of mind then it is reasonable that his play would suffer as a result although to that extent is a little odd. I guess we do have to take into account the fact that all of the kids in these tournaments are pretty well versed in the game so making one or two big mistakes could be fatal.

Josh receives a lot of pressure from all sides on being better at chess which does come close to breaking him. I am glad that he ultimately did not become a mean kid though and with thew support of his Mom was able to escape the tutor before things escalated too far. Bonnie gets less of a role than some of the other characters, but all of her scenes are solid. She doesn’t give an inch when Bruce makes various demands and clearly doesn’t care for the guy fairly early on. Chess is important, but she doesn’t want Josh to lose any other part of himself in the meantime. At some point Chess had become more than just a game which was dangerous.

Meanwhile Josh’s Dad got a pretty big role. Fred got pretty excited when Josh began to get really good at Chess. He is proud of him, but then at the same time the victories started becoming a big part of Fred’s life as well. He did enjoy being in the spotlight and got fairly possessive of Fred. After a while he wouldn’t even console Josh that a loss would be okay as he expected the win every time. Fred never goes off the deep end as Bonnie brings him back from that and ultimately he is able to remember what is really important. Fred and Josh go fishing and do a lot of the other fun activities they used to do before Chess and that gives Josh a more balanced life.

Bruce is the teacher and he’s definitely the worst character in the movie. The film goes too far in painting him as an antagonist for you to like him much by the end. Part of it goes back to how Bruce grew up since he is used to everything being strict and applies it in his teaching. Once he starts to tell Josh to hate everybody and skips games that’s when it goes too far. I also don’t get Bruce’s rationale here. He’s teaching Josh how to play Chess but doesn’t want him to play in the park or enter tournaments? What is Josh going to do with these skills then? The tournaments part I was particularly surprised about. Fred accuses Bruce of just wanting to make money and he may be right. 60 an hour to hang out is crazy since Bruce wasn’t even playing Chess with him in every meeting. I think once they kicked him out of the house that really should have been it for his screen time in the film. It was too late for him.

You also didn’t need Bruce to return because Vinnie smoothly stepped into the mentor role. While his style of play is primarily advantageous for speed chess, the fundamentals don’t go away. I also agree with him that it’s best to play to win as opposed to “not to lose.” because at the end of the day you should be aiming for victory. He’s the most entertaining character in the film and I was glad he was invited to watch the match in the end. He was a great friend for Josh and was the only one who was there for him 100% of the time. Vinnie doesn’t hold grudges and just seems like a fun guy. Vinnie’s the kind of guy you’d want to play in a chess match as his constant banter helps make the whole round more enjoyable as well.]

The movie also tackles the unique issue of being the best in your field. It’s something you see from a lot of people in real life as it’s a tough spot to be in. If you lose then everyone’s disappointed in you, but if you win everyone will either dislike you for beating the underdog or at the very least won’t be impressed because you always win. A lot of times the player at the top ultimately retires or just tries to get a lower ranking because the pressure is too much. For a kid this would especially be difficult.

Overall, You’ll need to like Chess a lot to get the most out of the film, but the story is strong enough where you can watch just for Josh. I think the only weak part of the film is all of the flashbacks about Bobby Fischer because it didn’t really feel all that relevant. You could cut him out of the film and nothing would really change. If anything it just took away from the main story but I suppose the film was trying to go for some parallels here. Based on what we hear about Bobby, Josh is already a much kinder player and that should take him far. Based on the epilogue we get, he already made quite a name for himself in Chess.