Mary Poppins Returns Review


Mary Poppins is certainly a classic film that just about everyone as seen or at least heard of. The idea of it finally getting a sequel after all this time was certainly fun. It basically retreads the same ground as the original but it’s the kind of story that works well even more than once so this ended up being fun. I do think some characters don’t look great since their memories aren’t too good though.

The movie starts with Michael having a rather rough time of it. He has fallen behind on his payments. Despite getting a job as a teller, he hasn’t been able to make enough money to support his family. He took out a big loan with the house as collateral but forgot to make the payments on it so now the family is close to being evicted. Ever since his wife died things have just been tough and this adds another wrinkle to that. His sister Jane says they should find the stock certificate that their father had with the bank. If they can find it, William, the current chair of the bank, says that they won’t have to leave the house. The stakes are high but the 3 kids are a bit of a handful.

Fortunately, Mary Poppins has returned to be a housekeeper. She hasn’t aged a day since the characters saw her last but Michael and Jane are too busy to worry about such things. They figure that the events from the first film didn’t really happen anyway since it was all in their head. Mary is determined to show the kids what true imagination really is and along the way will try to help the main characters as well. Can she pull this off?

Of course she will be accompanied by a whole host of songs here. The music starts pretty much immediately in the film and never really lets up. You can expect song after song to be sure. Fortunately the songs chosen are pretty good. They may come out of nowhere at times and you feel like it slows the plot down but they could have been worse. For me the slowest part was when they went into the wonderland since I was ready to go back to the bank plot to see them take on William. That’s got to be the most intense part for sure.

I’ll give the film credit for allowing the kids to actually be useful this time around. Take Annabel for example, she’s a kid who is quite mature for her age. She helps with the chores and is always ready to jump in to help Michael out when she sees that things are a little overwhelming for him. Same with John who doesn’t mention that they don’t have enough money for groceries and tries to make do with what he has. The kids are young but they at least know how to improvise on their own and don’t really make things tougher on the others.

Georgie is the youngest of the kids and definitely isn’t as solid as the others. He runs off to grab a balloon despite the others warning him not to and runs on the grass as well. It’s a shame because the other two are so responsible but perhaps in time he should be able to match them. Then you have the caretaker Ellen who has a fairly small role but she’s a fun character. I would have liked her to have had a few more scenes but at least she didn’t back down to William’s minions.

There’s one subplot in the film about two sailors who fire off a cannon every hour. I admit that their plot may be the most forced as it’s a bit over the top so it’s hard to take seriously. It has an emotional end so at least the plot ends on a high note but I dare say you could have trimmed that plot out entirely. Instead we could have more scenes of Jack showing the world how talented he is. The guy is resourceful and definitely someone who likes to spread a lot of cheer around.

He’s certainly a reliable ally to have around and also works as Mary Poppins’ unofficial hype man. When the others are in doubt he just drives on through with his bike. He also has a knack for being at the right place at the right time. As for Mary Poppins, she is solid as usual. She has a lot of confidence and doesn’t really care when the other characters doubt her powers. She is very self assured of her abilities and that’s all that matters to her. Along the way she teaches the other characters how to have a good time in whatever they do. Alas, they will certainly miss all of her magical abilities.

We even meet one of Mary’s relatives in this film which was interesting. She can fix anything which is a nice magical spell of her own even if she has a weakness on 1 day a month. Now that the heroes helped her solve that she should be even more powerful in the future. Her role is very small but she was a fun supporting character. Then of course you have the villain William who was really good. I like how that guy really pretended to be a hero while manipulating people from the shadows. That’s certainly how you rise up the chains on the dark side. This guy took every opportunity possible and didn’t miss a beat.

His underlings are less memorable though. You have the mean one who is 100% on board and the nice one who wants the heroes to win but is worried that helping them out will cost him his job. Ultimately he steps up by the end though. Then you have the parents. Unfortunately Michael wasn’t a particularly strong character in this case. He panics far too often and always ends up taking it out on the kids by yelling at them for no good reason. He doesn’t even try to hear there side of the story and just forgetting to make a payment on the loan when he puts his house on it was pretty irresponsible. He’s generally a nice guy but folds too quickly.

Jane was holding it together much better in comparison as she was working her union job while helping out with this. It never broke her though so she was always around to lend a helping hand. The film also resisted the urge of setting her up with a romance plot here with Jack. She’s doing quite well for herself as it is and any kind of romance here would have been really rushed.

The writing and the effects are pretty good here so at the end of the day everything appears to be on point. The film will go by pretty quickly. They did a good job of making this film feel rather old school. There aren’t any giant explosions or anything and the characters talk in a rather distinguished manner like they did in the original film. It’s a very calm movie where you can just relax and watch the events proceed. Mainly my only gripe is just that the two parents look really bad thinking even for a second that everything was in their imagination. How could you possibly think that? Hopefully if we get a third film these kids don’t make the same mistake.

Overall, Mary Poppins Returns is a solid sequel and does a good job of bringing back all of the elements that made the first film good. In a lot of ways this is a film that is playing it super safe. It’s effectively a remake of the first film despite being a sequel so I’m sure they were banking on everyone enjoying it for that reason. It works well enough as it carries over the fact that there are no real negatives to be had in the film. If anything you might even feel sad for the main villain at the end since the film hits him with one last burn at the end. Of course when you consider how he was going to mess everyone over, you may just crack a grin instead. If you want to check out a nice little musical then this is a good movie to watch.

Overall 7/10

Multiplicity Review


Who wouldn’t want to have a gadget that could duplicate yourself right? Ideally of course you’d want one that only turns you into multiple copies for a little while though. Any option that is permanent will end up causing a lot of issues because then that person will have become real. Well this film takes a look at that concept a bit although in a comedy context of course. The main character could have handled this a whole lot better and things would have been fine but he definitely wasn’t prepared for this. It’s a decent film that has a lot of fun moments but you do feel like it could have been better.

Things have not been going well for Doug lately. He is having a very hard time balancing his home life with work. He’s slowly losing touch with his wife Laura who wants to go back to work and as it is he keeps missing various events for his kids. Just when everything seems to be too much, he meets up with a doctor who suggests that cloning is the solution. Doug agrees and so they quickly create a clone. #2. #2 will handle the work obligations while Doug handles the home life. Can he pull this off?

Mainly a lot of the issues here come from the fact that both Dougs don’t actually discuss things with each other. For example, what to do if Laura calls the wrong one, how to switch out when things get dangerous, etc. The sad thing for Doug is that #2 actually does better at work than he ever did. Doug should be enjoying his time at home but he’s not a big fan of dishes and chores so he creates another double. You can imagine how this only increases the difficulties he starts to encounter.

Each double seems to take on a different personality though. #2 is a lot more aggressive and stern as I guess the workplace made him tougher. #3 is the one who does the chores so he is a lot more polite and even becomes an expert at folding. Doug is more of an all around guy I suppose so he does a bit of everything. The tricky part here is that Doug just wants to go and watch Basketball games or mess around but still wants to be at home at the end of the day. So that means one of the others has to find an excuse to leave the house to make the switch every time but that’s not always easy especially when Doug is coming home late at night.

Doug really doesn’t make things easy on the other characters, especially when he leaves home for days at a time. He imposes two rules on the clones, not to get together with his wife and to stop making clones after we get #4. That being said, since they are all him, he should probably realize that this is going to be a very hard ask. Another issue is that they don’t share memories so Doug is always incredibly out of the loop when he gets back which causes a lot of issues.

Really they should have had a quick recap meeting with each other at the end of the day before the switch or something. That would have definitely been a lot easier. Of course Doug isn’t really the planning sort but you feel like it would have made things easier. Surprisingly he doesn’t tell Laura even at the end either. Of course telling her from the start would have absolutely been the easiest way out of this. I don’t even think she would have had much of an issue with this although I guess it’s hard to say for sure.

One subplot the film could have done without was #4 appearing though. To be honest that guy just didn’t add anything to the mix and was more annoying than funny. I can’t think of a single fun scene the guy had since he was just way too overboard with how he became a kid version of Doug. I would have kept the film to 3 versions of Doug and that is more than enough to carry out all of the plots. Alternately just make hundreds of Dougs for the final scene of the film as you know that he’s going to be in trouble now.

Also, the film does go a bit overboard on each clone basically getting overpowered by Laura as they break rule number 1. Not much will power to be found with these guys. Less of those romance scenes would have been good so we could focus on the actual plot at hand. The film is at its best when Doug is confronting these guys. It’s always interesting to see a character effectively talking to himself. I was also a bit surprised that we didn’t see more of the scientist at the end but since the clones all actually worked out without issue I guess there wasn’t much of a use for him.

So Doug’s a decent main character I suppose but he definitely isn’t a smart one. He messes up everything he possibly could in this situation and that’s almost impressive in a sense since he couldn’t possibly have done any worse after a point. Doug has a tendency to panic a lot and his reactions can be amusing. Laura is a good heroine even if she doesn’t put two and two together but in her defense it would be really hard to assume that clones exist and that Doug somehow got a few. It would have been nice if she had found out about this but I suppose this keeps the chances for a sequel.

That said, a fun final gag would have been her driving home in a blue shirt and handing him some groceries. He goes inside and sees her with a red shirt as the credits roll. Then you have to wonder at what point she started with the clones as well. That would have been a great turn of events to end on. Still, that’s going off on a bit of a tangent so lets get back to the film.

Overall, Multiplicity is a film with a pretty solid concept. It’s original and I like the idea of a lot of clones running around and causing trouble. There’s a whole lot you can do with that. The film could have taken a lot of better angles with this or at least having Doug construct a better plan but it makes for a decent watch. I basically shaved off a star for the existence of #4 as well as for the over the top seduction scenes but there’s enough good here to keep the film in the green. There are a lot of humorous scenes here after all.

Overall 6/10

The Best Man Review


It’s been a little while since I’ve seen a political thriller so this was sure to be fun. A lot of times these old school films tend to be pretty fun with both sides trying to one up each other. The writing is strong here and so the film ends up being pretty great. There’s a few things I definitely would have done differently but at the end of the day you’re definitely going to be quite engaged the whole time.

The movie starts by first showing us William’s side of the story. He is a guy who wants to be President but isn’t quite as aggressive as the other candidate. He prefers to think things through slowly and then get to the right answer. He tends to hesitate a lot more when it comes to using the more under handed kind of tricks and wants to win in a clean fight. The issue is that he doesn’t like his rival Joe and believes that the guy isn’t the right man for the job. William is having troubles with his wife who is really only here for the power but it looks like things are going to break down between them plus William has had a troubled history of cheating and a breakdown.

Then you have Joe. Joe believes in the ole attack first in all situations and you’ll be okay. He tries to find dirt on all other candidates so that he can knock them out of the picture. He has no hesitation about using illegal means to find these items as well. Naturally that’s why he doesn’t like William since he feels like the guy isn’t tough enough to be President. Joe really serves as the main antagonist of the film since I would say at the end of the day William seems to be the true main character although both of them get a lot of screen time.

I should say that both of these candidates are from the same party so whoever wins the nomination will then be fighting the other party’s candidate. In theory they will all need to band together after this, but whether they will or not is another story. That’s really the premise of the film so you can imagine there is a lot of back and forth debate between them. I would say the only weakness in the film is that the characters only meet up twice and don’t really get to mix it up much beyond that. As it is the first time mainly had a third character in the mix so they weren’t actively debating each other and in the second meetup there wasn’t much time.

I would have set this film a little earlier so we could have had an actual debate with both of them fielding questions and attacking each other. I think there’s a whole lot they could have done with that. Still, their meetings are solid and the writing is just top notch here. Each character is desperately trying to win in their own ways which just are not compatible with each other. No matter what, one of these guys will have to lose.

Art is a big character here since both candidates want his nomination since it could tip the scale either way. William tries to nudge Art in his direction while Joe openly threatens him. Again you can see the big difference in each of their respective styles. Art’s a solid character and he does pick one side over the other. He does get quite frustrated with both characters as the film goes on though since Joe doesn’t pick up on hints well enough and William just doesn’t act. I’m sure Art wishes he could have just run again instead.

He was always a good voice of reason though so I liked the guy. Ultimately I would say Joe was the best character in the film though. He just made for a great antagonist with how over the top he was and how determined Joe got. Joe was willing to do anything he could such as in a long scene where we see him detailing the dirt he has on every candidate. He is also quick to break the rules if it helps him get what he wants. It’s all done in a rather serious fashion though so don’t think he is suddenly getting cartoony. The guy is ruthless but also quite smart about it.

Then you have William who does try to take the high road a lot of the time. He does seem to regret a lot of the mistakes he made early on his career and that is probably why he wants to stay on the up and up now. His approach of going through things slowly does seem like it would be dangerous though. He’s a good foil to Joe either way since they are polar opposites but it’s why he also doesn’t stand out quite as much.

There are a few supporting characters of course like the wives for both candidates. Joe’s wife was easily the more supportive of the two and she was fun to be sure. William’s wife made it clear she wasn’t thrilled about any of this but at least she was ready to support him in public and by the end they have a bit of a character arc. There’s also a lady who follows both of the candidates around a lot as she represents the woman’s division and gives advice on what the first lady should do. She made for a fun character on the side and at least the characters know she will always be there if they have a question on what they should do next.

Naturally the worst character here is Sheldon who seems like a con artist the moment he walks in. He takes years to actually get to the point and is always trying to start his sentence over. His nervousness is so over the top that you can’t help but distrust the guy. It just doesn’t feel like what he is saying can possibly be legit if he’s acting like that. It was interesting to have a guy this shaky running around but he couldn’t compete with the other characters.

Overall, The Best Man is definitely a great title. I liked the back and forth as we saw both candidates talk about their plans. Having dual main characters is always an ambitious idea that can pay off big time when it is executed well. As for the ending, I feel like the plan would ultimately backfire in most cases but here it sounds like it paid off. Bravo I suppose, but it always feels like such a decision is betraying everyone who was in your corner. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you like to see a classic battle of wills. It’s a shame we couldn’t have a formal debate but you still get a really good understanding of each character’s position in this thing.

Overall 8/10

Anonymous Noise


This manga utilizes masks even before COVID came out so it’s definitely interesting to see the main character rocking the mask ahead of time. The series is off to a good start so far with a pretty engaging plot even if the main character has a tendency to completely ignore everyone for kicks. I’ll have a review for the series up when I’ve finished it. I’m expecting a big battle of the bands to end the series with.

Overall 7/10

The Thing That Couldn’t Die Review


When you have a title like this you know that you’re about to be in for a true creature feature title. It’s definitely a very classic film that isn’t trying to do anything new or different. The heroes fight among themselves a whole lot here which just makes things even easier for the villain. It’s a solid film that flies by very quickly.

The movie starts with Jessica helping some people find treasure using her dowsing abilities. She has psychic abilities that let her know things in general and she specializes in locating objects. That being said, people are skeptical of her abilities and probably a little jealous as well. She doesn’t let it get to her too much though. Unfortunately when they find a haunted treasure chest that Jessica forbids them from opening, nobody listens. A troublemaker tricks someone into opening the chest where they find a the head of Gideon. Gideon quickly enslaves the poor guy with his hypnotic abilities. Now he is trying to locate the rest of his body.

Gideon is one of those guys who is fairly overpowered in this world. All he needs is a quick glance and he can mind control anyone. Fortunately it does seem like he can only control one person at a time though so he has to relinquish his hold over the other person. To defeat him you have to just take him down quickly without making contact or by holding a cross. Gideon gets wrecked twice when people grab their local crosses. He’s not a very intimidating villain though since for most of the film he’s just a head that people are holding up. He really has to bank on the fact that nobody is able to see him.

I thought perhaps the film was going to go for the angle that he brings out the worst in people as well which would explain why everyone was acting so shady. That said, it just turned out that none of the town’s folk liked each other very much. It’s not a particularly strong cast. Take Jessica, her powers are pretty handy but she panics a lot and never elaborates. When they dig up the chest she is quick to say that they better not open it and that she’ll leave but she can’t elaborate more except to say that it feels evil. Of course people aren’t going to take her seriously.

She didn’t do a good job of explaining herself which is normal for psychic users. They always just talk really vaguely and hope people will take them seriously. Then you have the main guy Gordon. His role isn’t all that big though. He is on Jessica’s side the whole time at least like when telling the town to back off when they kept asking her to use her talents. That said, it was a lot of money they were all going to make. Ultimately Jessica got mind controlled so she ended up helping out anyway though.

The characters just didn’t do themselves any favors. The aunt was nice enough at least. She didn’t seem to understand what was happening but did try to chip in. We even get the cops involved at one point which was pretty intense as they showed up to take names and solve this case. Gideon made it awfully easy on them by sending in his first victim. It does seem like he is able to at least give a final order when transferring his hostage possession over to someone else.

There’s also a rather pointless subplot with a painter who is dumped by one of the girls after she is mind controlled. The guy takes it really hard and then decides to go after Jessica as a rebound. Again, this makes more sense if Gideon is basically corrupting the town, but the evil atmosphere Jessica would sense seemed to only apply to Gieon’s mind control itself. Also, she didn’t notice when her best friend was mind controlled so ultimately the psychic abilities didn’t help when they mattered most.

The best part of the film would have to be the climax where they finally get to go up against Gideon. Naturally as you can imagine there was a lot of panicking here but at least we got to finally see the villain in his whole state trying to stir up some action. Now that’s what you want to see here to make things a little more interesting. I’d have been up for more of that action but the general plot of someone basically messing with the town by switching hosts over and over again isn’t bad either.

The movie is just very by the books and what keeps it from being as interesting as other films in the genre is that the character roster is fairly weak. Usually you have really strong writing to keep this at a high level but this film’s writing is more standard. It’s good but it doesn’t jump out at you or anything like that. There’s also a brief flashback for Gideon but it doesn’t really do much for him as a character since you already knew roughly what happened to him in the past.

Overall, The Thing That Couldn’t Die is a forgettable film. It’s a good title but there are just better versions of this kind of story out there as it is so I don’t think this one will stand out for you very much. If you want to see a film with some suspense and thriller elements then I’d recommend checking it out though. At the very least you can see how a small town community could try to handle this development although they aren’t quite aware of the threat for most of the movie. Jessica knows something is happening but everyone else just seriously doubts anything is amiss. I suppose there isn’t much reason to believe a head is going around controlling people though since it all seems like normal crimes going around. The shady townsperson who got bumped off early on was pretty close to becoming a big villain himself.

Overall 6/10

Libel Review


Whenever a film has a court scene I know it’s going to be good and the effect naturally increases when almost the whole film is built around such a case. Libel is a movie that really handles all of its elements really well. You’ve got a strong cast here and a lot going on as well. The movie has a very satisfying journey and conclusion so it’s definitely worth your time to check it out.

The movie starts with Jeffrey arriving home in between tours at the army. He is enjoying a quick drink when a program goes on TV that startles him. It’s his old friend Mark except some things don’t make sense. Mark has convenient memory loss but Jeffrey knows this has to be fake. His friend Mark is dead and this has to be an imposter known as Frank. Jeffrey publishes an article in the paper exposing Mark and so Mark retaliates by suing him. The two of them must now go into court to battle it out and see if Mark is telling the truth or if he is actually Frank. Only one man can walk away the victor this time so they will have to battle it out pretty carefully.

The court is in session for a good chunk of the film spanning several days. It’s definitely a blast seeing the case unfold in real time as the characters try to connect the dots and see what is going on. We get several different flashbacks, some of which we see more than once from different points of view. We learn a whole lot about the characters, particularly Frank who is clearly an antagonist. In the flashbacks he is quick to threaten Jeffrey’s life with a pipe he found and just seems unhinged the entire time. Certainly not someone you can get along with. If anything I think Mark had too loose of an attitude with him. He shakes off the fact that a murder was nearly committed or that Frank was reading his letter. Throughout the flashbacks we see that Mark never took him very seriously which definitely ends up being a bit of a mistake.

It was hard to understand him there. The whole “Both of you stop” is always the worst response when it’s clearly only one of the characters starting something. Mark is a solid main character in the present though. He definitely has a of self doubt thanks to what happened in the war and being a bit traumatized here and there but on the whole he seems to be a good guy. This case is definitely doing a number on him as well though.

Meanwhile you have Margaret who is doing her best to support him even when things get rather tricky. He really isn’t giving her a lot to work with though so Margaret has to find everything out along with the Jury which puts her in a pretty tricky spot. Finally you have Jeffrey who has to be the standout character here. He is quite determined to see justice done and that’s always something you have to respect in a character. He’s not doing any of this for money but to keep up the honor of his friend’s name and to protect everyone from the deception. From his point of view, he can’t exactly let this slide.

You’ve also got some side characters running around as well. One of them is Mark’s cousin who has a story about a scar that makes things difficult at trial. He definitely seems like a slippery character. Then you have the two lawyers who were really good. Both of them do a really good job of defending their clients and I do like how it was mentioned that they get along really well outside of work. It shows that they do a good job of not letting the work ever get too personal. They do their jobs and just make sure to do them well.

All of the court scenes were handled with a lot of dignity which is always important. Everyone follows the rules and so the experience goes pretty smoothly. The actual mystery is explained pretty well too. It’s all pretty logical and does take us from point A to B. The whole amnesia thing is super convenient of course but I guess without that we would not have a film at all. As a result Mark ends up acting a little shady near the beginning of the film with how he keeps so many secrets all the time. Part of it was memory loss and the other part was just hiding things so he doesn’t take any chances which is extremely risky.

The main characters have a dog and a kid but surprisingly they don’t appear much. I’m definitely fine with that so we can cut to the heart of the matter. That said, it does illustrate why it is such a bad idea to keep your doors unlocked all day and allow tours of the residence. If it had been more of a dangerous guy instead of Jeffrey, he would have easily had time to kidnap the family or even just rob some things as he walked out. Of course this film is quite old but you still feel like the whole thing was a bit reckless of the leads. It’s not really important to the plot but when you see the reporters just walking in and taking names, it definitely makes you think.

Overall, Libel is a solid film. The story is very interesting and the characters are good. When you mix that together then you have a good film that can stand on its own and has a good amount of replay value. One thing that was not fully explained was the moment with the jacket. Best thing I could think of was the character being worried that anyone finding out what had happened could get him in trouble but if anything then you would want less evidence right? Leaving the jacket could be worse so I’m not sure exactly what was going on there but that’s really my own question. Beyond that you’re all set to just jump in and have a good time here.

Overall 7/10

Cast a Dark Shadow Review


Usually characters making a lot of shaky decisions is thought to be more of a horror trope. Well, this film manages to give that a run for its money since none of the characters are all that smart here. They make a ton of mistakes so by the end there is a lot of tension since you can’t trust them to pull through. It’s always a bit of a twist to have the main villain act as the main character and it works rather well here. The film keeps you guessing.

The movie starts by introducing us to Edward and his much older wife. It’s one of those age gap marriages where Edward did it for the money while Monica doesn’t notice this since she just wanted a companion. Well, Edward had been slowly accelerating her death by constantly feeding her wine but one day she mentions that she will be setting up a will so Edward quickly murders her. He figured that she would be giving all of her money to family when in fact she was going to give it all to him. Edward now realizes that he should have held off on the murder for another day at least but it’s too late. So he quickly goes on a trip and finds the rich Freda and decides to marry her. He’s back to being rich but can he keep the truth from her?

I want to say that the writing is pretty good. While a lot of the characters act rather questionably, I wouldn’t say this is a writing thing but simply that the characters were not meant to be all that smart. It’s not exactly unheard of after all. At best I would say Freda is the character where you have to wonder what she has done to secure herself if anything. But lets take a step back and talk about some of the characters and why I didn’t think they handled things well.

First up is Edward. So of course if he had just waited 1 more day he would have been rich beyond belief. Considering what a final moment this was and how big a deal it was, he definitely could have asked her a little more directly about her intentions. I also dare say he could have read the room a bit more when her attorney was around and how displeased he was. That should have been a big tipoff that she was about to give him a lot of money. It just makes the most amount of sense and yet Edward did not realize this which cost him. He’s certainly not a good character anyway though so you’re glad to see him fail.

Then you have Monica who just didn’t see the writing in the wall here. She didn’t realize that he was after her money and ultimately didn’t last too long. It’s tough when you’re rich since peo0ple may want you for the money so it’s always hard to know when the love was genuine. It’s too bad she couldn’t have found companionship through a club or something instead. Then you have the maid Emmie who you’ll feel bad for. She has done a good job for the family and yet Monica left her with almost nothing. I feel like she should have gotten more. Then you feel bad for her with Edward just tricking her the whole time and not paying her. Definitely another underhanded trick. Emmie gets tricked a lot and is just too trusting for her own good.

Then you have Phillip who is the most sensible member of the cast. He doesn’t trust Edward and has no reservations about saying this to his face either. Phillip puts the guy in his place and does a really good job of it too. He really deserves a lot of credit in this film for always staying one step ahead of Edward and also for not getting intimidated. With this we’re down to the final two main characters who both get sizable roles.

First up is Freda who is the lady who ends up marrying Edward. She talks a really good game about not getting tricked and keeping close watch of her money but to marry Edward so quickly was a rookie mistake. Naturally he was hiding a ton of secrets even if she never could have guessed to this extent. So, she did make sure not to cut a check so I wonder if when marrying they signed something keeping the money separate. Otherwise I was surprised he couldn’t just take her money or sign in his name. It’s fortunate it wasn’t that easy at least. She held her ground but there were so many red flags here after they were married. Yelling at her for going into the old wife’s room is a big one and of course all the threats of violence and such against her. She made sure to always see things in a humorous light but she really got herself into a bad situation. Her final scene nearly made things even more dangerous.

Finally you have Charlotte, a rich lady who showed up recently and is looking to buy a house. Naturally Edward has an interest in her as well. Charlotte’s role here is pretty solid and I do like her plan. Admittedly, it is still an incredibly risky plan. She made a lot of rational points which in theory guarantee her safety but when you’re dealing with a psychotic murderer there is no guarantee that they will act rationally. She was risking an awful lot with her plan so I appreciate the fact that she stuck to her guns but things almost got dicey anyway. Particularly in the final scene as well things almost went sideways.

Cast a Dark Shadow is definitely a film that reminds you to always be cautious around people you don’t truly know. Just because you meet someone for a few minutes and they seem nice doesn’t mean that you should suddenly marry them or go over to their house past midnight when you give a call. People can lie after all and then suddenly their nice story isn’t as pleasant as it appeared to me. A lot of the characters in this film took way too much at face value which is what really let to things being pretty difficult for them. Edward was outsmarting most of the cast for quite a while and the whole time you’re waiting for him to be defeated.

Overall, Cast a Dark Shadow is a very interesting villain. It can be annoying seeing everyone fall into Edward’s traps though. Particularly Freda since I liked her tough personality and how she would stand up to him. Just after all the bravado it would usually lead to her falling into the trap anyway so I wouldn’t say it went perfectly. The lawyer Phillip definitely deserves a lot of credit though because he was definitely crucial to making sure things go well. In general he was just a fun guy too. If you’re up for a solid thriller then this film is good to watch. Have a glass of water with you and take a shot every time a character says or does something that makes you shake your head.

Overall 6/10

Southpaw 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.

Southpaw is in a lot of ways a modern Rocky film. That said, as long as Creed exists we have a much better version of how to follow Rocky up. The fight scenes in Southpaw aren’t nearly as dynamic as Creed’s and the film goes a little too far in getting Billy to absolute rock bottom for his eventual climb back to success. This isn’t really a film I would recommend but it does have enough positives to keep it from being a bad movie. A sequel would have potential.

The movie starts with Billy becoming the world champion after another big win. His wife Maureen wants him to finally give up boxing though. They have a lot of money as it is and Billy is slowly taking more injuries with each battle. Billy agrees so he prepares a speech but when heading out he is confronted by an up and coming boxer named Miguel. Miguel baits Billy into a fight and during the scuffle one of Miguel’s minions fatally shoots Maureen. After she dies Billy’s life goes into ruins as he tries to end himself which results in his daughter being taken away from him as well. Billy’s also in danger of being bankrupt as he can no longer afford his lifestyle and mansion without money. His only choice is to get back in the ring once more but he’ll need a coach. Can he find someone to help him become the champion again?

So you can definitely see what the film is going for. Absolutely obliterate Billy’s life so then you can see him rise back to the top in order to set things right. The issue for any kind of adventure like this though is if you go too far in blowing up his life then even the climax won’t be as uplifting because there is no going back. That’s basically what happens here. For example, Maureen’s death is a big one. It’s not like she can come back to life so no matter what he does, that’s it. I think a better way to handle that plot would have been to have her get seriously injured or something and he doesn’t have the money to pay for her bills. That leads him to need to become champion again or win some more fights.

Something like that would still allow for almost all of the other big plots to continue. The only exception would be Leila’s story which would definitely need to be retooled a bit. It’s not as crushing a twist as having her die but that just felt unnecessary. Maureen was a fun character so it’s too bad that she got written out so quickly. Billy’s a bit of a tough character to root for most of the time. She helped steer him in the right direction but it’s clear that without her he wasn’t in nearly as good a spot as he once was. He blows up at his own friends to the point where he pulls a gun on one of them. He’s not very co-operative with getting a job initially and doesn’t exactly set a good example for his daughter.

He makes so many mistakes throughout the movie that even when he eventually solves them, you feel like he went quite far. Rocky at his lowest never made these mistakes. Additionally, Billy’s highs aren’t as high as Rocky’s. Rocky’s montages still hold up exceptionally well even after all this time. Billy’s is good as well but it’s clear that it isn’t even in the same league. The song isn’t as memorable and it just doesn’t have as much energy.

Leila’s a kid so it’s hard for her to process all of this of course but she’s not a very fun character most of the time. She definitely doesn’t make things any easier on Billy. Her worst scene is probably when she begs everyone to let her watch his big fight and then has a hard time watching because of how violent it is. That’s exactly why they were warning her not to watch it. Angela was a solid supporting character though. She’s the child services agent in charge of this case and was reasonable the whole time. She did seem to care about making sure Leila was doing well here.

Then you have the villain Miguel. There’s not much to him other than the fact that he fights dirty and likes to egg his opponents on. It wasn’t exactly hard for him to bait Billy into a match. He can fight really well so he’s not all talk but he definitely made sure to be as unlikable as possible. There’s just nothing nice about the guy or charismatic unlike someone like Apollo. Miguel’s fairly one note but his role in the film isn’t nearly as big as you might expect so it’s not a big deal. Finally we have Tick who ends up training Billy for the big fight. He’s a fun enough character and helps to set Billy straight on some things. You can’t win tournaments without a quality coach after all.

The fight scenes are pretty good. Southpaw is clearly going for a very realistic feel so you don’t have the dynamic cuts and lighting as other boxing films. I’ll admit that I miss those since these can’t standout as well without them but by and large I have no complaints with these scenes. You can definitely feel the intensity behind each swing which is the important thing at the end of the days. It also fits in with the rather gritty nature of the film.

Southpaw’s dark outlook can only take it so far though. You’d be hard pressed to call this a fun film. It tries to balance out being an uplifting film with giving Billy a new setback every few minutes so by the end of it you’ll be more exhausted than hyped. Maureen’s death was really my biggest issue with the film but other small scenes like Billy pulling a gun on his friend and threatening to murder him don’t help matters. You’ve got Billy’s suicide attempt as well and the film took the notion of “rock bottom” a little too far.

Overall, Southpaw will serve as a quick fix if you need to watch a big Boxing film while we wait for Creed III. That said, I would just recommend watching the Rocky films again instead. Those are just a lot of fun or check out the two Creed films if you haven’t already. Southpaw doesn’t do anything better than its rivals and as a standalone film it just barely manages to break even. The script isn’t great and there isn’t much replay value but I still wouldn’t call this a bad film because it has enough strengths in the fight scenes to keep it afloat.

Overall 5/10

A Raisin in the Sun Review


A Raisin in the Sun is a film that decides to bet everything on its writing. The entire film is structured around a few characters having a lot of disagreements with each others. Tensions grow pretty high the whole time. I’ve seen a few other films with this style but they have consistently failed in the past. Usually the issue being that throughout the arguments all of the characters will expose themselves as just being awful people so you can’t root for them anymore. Where this film succeeds is in keeping each character likable no matter how tough things get which is important.

The film starts off by introducing us to Walter. You could argue he is the main character since he is the only character who gets scenes by himself without the other characters. It’s close though since all of the characters get pretty big roles. He wants to open up a liquor store. Right now he is not satisfied with his current job or living conditions where his family is always low on money. Well, his mother is about to receive a check for $10,000 for life insurance from her husband. Walter believes that she should give him the check to put into the store. She isn’t keen on doing this though because she believes opening up a store like that would be luring people over into drinking a lot of wine and becoming alcoholics. Walter’s wife Ruth doesn’t think this is a good idea but Walter puts a lot of pressure on her to be on his side.

Ruth’s sister Beneatha meanwhile just wants to find someone she can marry and also enjoys getting involved in a lot of hobbies even if she ultimately tends to ditch them pretty quickly. One of her goals is to attend medical school which will be expensive so she hopes Lena may help contribute to that. Then you have the Mom Lena who wants to do what’s best for the family but at this point it’s clear that there is no way to make everyone happy. What can she do to ensure the family doesn’t go off on the wrong path?

From the main characters the weakest one would have to be Beneatha. Mainly I’d say the issue here isn’t so much that she wants to try out a lot of hobbies but that she is aware of how broke the family is right now. In light of this, she has to realize that buying so much expensive equipment all the time is a bit of a burden there. She definitely has the biggest personality of the group though as she always makes her thoughts known. Aside from Lena, I would say Beneatha is the most straight forward with everyone as she speaks her mind. That’s a good quality.

In comparison I’d say Walter’s not as good at that. Several times when he’s making his case about the liquor store you feel like he could make a better case for why he wants it. He clearly knows why he needs the store but a lot of the time he isn’t really able to explain why that is. In his head it’s because he has already explained it a ton of times but that should be good practice. He tends to give up more than the other characters and is quicker to compromise on his morals. While you can understand this in large part, I do think his final mistake in the film is pretty inexcusable. Once you’ve made a promise and are given a lot of responsibility you can’t just throw it all away like that. He wasn’t really able to recover after that and he had already been on shaky ground with his reaction to Ruth’s baby.

As for Ruth, she’s a very solid character. She does her best to make ends meet and works as hard as she can. She doesn’t want Lena to have to do everything for them so Ruth tries to be as pro active as possible. She’s patient with Walter as well and may have the biggest workload here. She’s also able to talk civilly with everyone and doesn’t get drunk so she stays mature throughout. The best character though is Lena. She is always ready to offer the correct advice and has always lived her life in a way where she can keep her head high with dignity.

Lena probably has a lot of the more emotional scenes here as she watches her household effective start to get torn down with the decisions they are making. She was clearly disappointed on many occasions. The film does end on a high note after all of the trials at least but it was definitely a tough road for all of them. The movie did a good job of adding a new obstacle to the family every time they would get past one. It’s good because it also keeps the conversations fresh and there is also some pretty good set up here.

For example, from the start we know that Walter wants the money but the check doesn’t actually arrive for a while. Even after that you have to wait until Walter arrives for the big confrontation. So the plot is pretty dynamic and the story is constantly adapting for the new challenges. You could easily make a sequel for their experiences in the next home but at the same time without one you can at least hope that things finally went smoothly for them and they didn’t have to worry about any extra drama this time around. It’ll be good if they can finally relax here.

Overall, A Raisin in the Sun is a solid movie. The dialogue is pretty strong all the way through. The movie may only really have the one main backdrop of being in the house but the characters are all written well so this doesn’t feel like an issue. Lena is definitely the standout character here. When Beneatha tries the whole “God is dead” argument Lena quickly shuts that down and establishes the ground rules that this won’t be allowed in the house. She consistently pushes the characters to make the right choices and without her they definitely wouldn’t have made it through this experience. If you’re up for a good drama as the characters discuss how the family should move forward then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

To Sir, with Love


Time to continue the films with an education battle this time around. Students definitely love to give teachers a hard time and in this film that’s the entire premise so you can bet that they aren’t going to go easy. It’s always nice to hear the British accents in a film because they’re just fun. It’s part of why Dragon’s Den tends to be pretty fun. This is a solid all around film that has a pretty satisfying ending.

The film starts with Mark getting hired as a teacher. This is a pretty tricky school though that’s not in the best neighborhood so a lot of the students have their own share of personal issues to deal with. As a result school has become more like a game of rebellion where they can cut loose and do whatever they want. The other teachers don’t exactly want to be here either so that leads to a bit of an endless cycle as you might expect. Well, Mark is determined to crush this cycle once and for all before leaving for another job but will he be able to stick around?

Right away the film does a nice job of showing the defeated atmosphere among the teachers. The very first teacher he meets is a very sarcastic guy who doesn’t even bother trying anymore. The children broke him so now he just slacks off and watches the days go by. He made for a pretty fun supporting character though with how consistently negative the guy was. He definitely wasn’t about to change his tune, not anytime soon that’s for sure.

The other teachers are a lot more reasonable of course. From them, the teacher with the biggest role is definitely Gillian. She’s also pretty new at this and does her best to support Mark when he’s trying to surpass the system. She was quick to volunteer to go to the museum so his project would pan out. Definitely a solid ally to have around the whole time. The principal was a lot less helpful since he gave up immediately despite not helping out at all. That’s just how it goes I suppose.

Mark makes for a solid lead because he’s pretty careful and puts up with a whole lot without cracking. He does a good job of engaging the students and always trying to stay a few steps ahead. I also think it made sense that he kept applying to jobs the whole time as well. No sense in boxing yourself in when there are other options at the ready right? In the meantime he didn’t give up though and just kept on going. He’s the kind of teacher you would probably want to have in school since he is sure to make the topics interesting. His down to Earth approach was quite solid.

School tends to have a lot of different kinds of teachers. Fortunately nowadays you’re more likely to find relatively relaxed ones but it’s still anyone’s guess at the end of the day. As for the students, you would hope that they wouldn’t be quite this tough. Most of them become quite receptive to the lessons though aside from Bert. The way his plot ends out was pretty solid though. Sometimes the quickest way to an understanding there is with a quick spar and Mark was able to get his point across without seriously getting involved in the fight. That definitely could have easily gone sideways but he handled it well.

The other student to have a big role here was Pamela. She’s one of the only kids to give the lead a fair shake pretty quickly in part because she hadn’t been around a whole lot of respectable people. Her home situation was rather difficult and most of the kids were being pretty sketchy at ties so he served as a role model. The film does a good job of giving all of the students a presence though. They all get a lot of dialogue and while you may not recall all of their names by the end, it was a memorable class of students.

One of the most important things a film like this has to have is strong writing. You can’t have a solid drama containing a battle of wits without it. Both the teacher and students are given a suitable amount of respect here and the back and forth is handled well. You’ll be kept engaged the whole time. The story moves pretty well and the film never drags on. It’s a very tight story after all without much room for fluff. All of the scenes are pretty important. There was one subplot with Pamela that I’m glad remained just a vague subplot as that could have definitely been some extra drama that we didn’t need. The film remains rather upbeat throughout though and knew how to add in tension without going overboard.

Overall, To Sir, with Love is a good movie. It’s aged pretty well with a solid cast to hold it up. The dialogue is good and it doesn’t drag so there’s nothing really negative to say about it. The film also avoids the typical rushed romance here by hinting at one but not actually doing anything with it. A romance just wouldn’t have made sense with how much was going on and how short the timeframe here was. So it was the correct decision and the movie was better off for it. The ending also leaves room for a sequel and apparently it did get one so it’ll be interesting to see how things go on there. This is the kind of plot that you can do over and over again but I imagine it’ll be tougher and tougher to execute each time. Either you try to make the kids double trouble this time and go too far in making them edgy or you have everything go too well and people wonder what the point is. Well, sequels have a lot of pressure but of course if it works out well then that’ll be good.