7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Review


It’s time to look at a recent Pokemon web series that ended. It’s always nice to get some new animated material. Pokemon recently did something similar with Pokemon Generations although that one was way too ambitious in scope and ended up being rather disappointing. Twilight Wings from the start is going for a much more inspirational/somber feel to the shorts. These aren’t about big action scenes or colorful backgrounds. It’s actually all very subdued which is where the somber part comes from while also showing that everyone is trying hard to get ready for their futures. It’s a fun little collection of shorts.

There are 7 shorts in all and they’re all under 10 minutes. So if you merge them together this could be around a 40 minute OVA or something like that. Each short changes main character except for the first and last shorts which are about a kid who is rather sick but wants to be a Pokemon trainer. His friend’s definitely a good kid to have around as he tries his best to make sure that the main character is able to get closer to his friend. The rest of the shorts vary in plot and will always have an ending scene that teases the lead of the next main character. I’ll talk briefly about each short.

The first one I already went over. It’s one of the weaker ones in the collection but is fun enough. It’s always nice to see the kids have a happy ending especially when they’ve clearly been through a lot already. The second one is about Bea who is training for her next fight. She actually spars with her Pokemon which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately she gets stuck in a cave in, but this helps her remember that her strength is with her friends as a team and not by doing everything on her own. We get a little action here which is always pretty neat so this was a solid followup.

Then we have one about Hop who is admiring how great Leon is as per usual. His Wooloo feels bad about this and runs away though so now Hop has to find him. Sometimes it can be obvious that the main character is in the wrong but this time I think Wooloo was making a mountain out of a molehill. It showed that Hop was as close to Wooloo as ever though by having him chase after his friend. This was one of the shorts going for a more emotional angle and it worked well. Hop may have been one of the least impressive rivals in Pokemon but it doesn’t take away from him being a pretty good guy in general.

The 4th short is about Nessa as she tries to balance her career of being a model and a gym leader. People say that it can’t be done and she will have to choose one. Ultimately she chooses to keep going in both fields and will prove her doubters wrong. It’s part of why she is one of the better gym leaders as it takes a lot of drive to maintain two careers at once like this. I was glad she didn’t choose to sacrifice any of them.

Next one’s a slice of life short about Oleana as she tries to deal with Chairman Rose’s rather impromptu ideas. He tends to vanish or get sidetracked very easily. It’s clear that she’s got a tough job on her shoulders. Another good special but a lot more low key compared to most of the others. Then we have the short with Allister which is the weakest short in the series. Still not saying it’s bad or anything but the gym leader’s personality doesn’t work for me. The character doesn’t really talk and the kids don’t have enough snappy dialogue to really make the atmosphere work. It’s hard to hold your own episode after all.

Finally, we end with the kid finally getting to meet Leon. Leon helps him realize that his dream to simply meet Leon wasn’t what he was actually meant to do. The kid really wants to go out there and beat Leon and so the champion gives him a little hope that he can pull this off someday. It’s a fun way to end and while the gym leaders seem to not understand Leon (Some going as far as to say he was holding back or not taking the fight seriously) at least they all understand his strength. I like the idea of an unbeatable champion like Leon because it makes the fight with him feel all the more grand.

So those are the 7 specials. Due to the length of the specials the summaries of each special pretty much tell the whole story but I tried to keep them brief. The series is so short that you should really go ahead and check them out. Especially since it’s only 7 episodes in total. They’re all fun and it’s a nice, calm series to check out. The animation style is going for the washed out look which isn’t exactly my favorite but I think they were going for a look to try and resemble the games a bit more than the anime. Something like Generations is going a lot more traditional with vibrant colors but since this one is going for that somber atmosphere perhaps they thought it would be a little distracting. The brief fight scenes we get still look good though with a lot of shockwave effects to show the scale of the attacks.

This is more about the stories than the visuals or soundtrack though so it makes sense that this would be the focus. I can’t really recall any particular big themes either but we had no long fights that would have taken advantage of them anyway. Twilight Wings thrives on the fact that it makes no real mistakes. After watching each episode you’ll be satisfied with what you saw and can easily binge the rest of it or do one episode at a time. Hopefully we get more Pokemon web series like this in the future. I think these bite sized portions are always a good idea for any series. They help to expand the franchise and give each character more development. They could also work as brief character moments in a future game. Imagine the next Pokemon game having 5-7 minute cutscenes that play out showing a character’s origin. I think it would work rather well.


Overall, Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a solid series. I would definitely recommend it whether you are a Pokemon fan or just a general viewer of media. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the themes it’s going for. At the end of the day it’s about showing that you make your own path and to keep going when things are getting tough. None of the characters in the series give up and it ultimately ends up benefiting each and every one of them. The payoff may not always be as great as literally becoming champion of the world but you can still get some personal victories in the meantime. Of course aside from more mini series I would still like to have either a bug budget anime version of Pokemon Ruby (Or Omega Ruby so we get Zinnia) or Pokemon Adventures. It’s time we get more media and it’s Pokemon so it would sell really well.

Overall 7/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Prétear Review


It’s time to look at a magical girl anime from the not so distant past. I haven’t seen a whole lot of titles from the genre but they tend to be pretty solid. This one’s no exception and makes for a good adventure. It’s not really trying to do anything particularly special and just tries to hit all the usual beats for what you would expect. So that means the show just has to execute well and I’d say that Pretear manages to do this. The show really ends before you know it and we get our good share of fight scenes.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Leafe Knights. They protect the world from demons and such that seek to suck the life out of the world. They operate in secret but have slowly been losing ground to the enemy. What they need is to find the legendary Pretear who is a teenage girl living somewhere on Earth. That leads us to Himeno whose father recently married into a rich family so now she has two step sisters and a step mom to get along with. Himeno really does her best to fit in but unfortunately her new family is not very receptive to her at all. Himeno never allows herself to get down about it though. One day a monster attacks and the Leafe Knights confirm that Himeno is their champion.

Himeno is a little reluctant to join at first but after getting insulted by Hayate she decides to become the Pretear. The only issue is that transforming is a little more awkward here as she has to merge with one of the guys to actually use her powers. Effectively which guy she merges with determines what element her abilities are. From there on she is tasked with destroying monsters as they appear but is there more to this than they are telling her? The Leafe Knights appear to be keeping quite a lot of secrets so this won’t be an easy journey for Himeno.

As the show is only 13 episodes it has to move at a pretty steady pace. While it doesn’t take a real dark turn the way Madoka did, we do get a pretty serious plot for the second half of the show that I thought was handled really well. We are introduced to the Princess of Disaster Fenrir. She is a very imposing villain and gave us a real threat. Her design was sharp and I liked her raw power output as well. I do think the series tries to go a little too hard for the emotional beats with her. It’s a little hard to buy into her backstory because she takes the whole thing way too hard. She is also quick on the rebound as well. Fenrir is at her best when she is just being an evil mastermind and messing with everyone. Her debut appearance in particular was really solid as she completely dismantled the team. I dare say that Fenrir did a lot in making the show’s plot pretty interesting.

Pretear is a very focused show which I appreciate. The episodes all tie into each other and something is always happening. There were no episodes that I would consider to be pointless/filler which is good since the title is so short. There is one character that I would consider to be pointless though and that is Yayoi. She’s supposed to be Himeno’s best friend from school but she rarely appears. When she does appear it’s just to talk about crazy ramblings and she really adds nothing to the story. Cutting her out entirely would have been fantastic because her scenes drag on and have no purpose. If you’re not enhancing the story then that’s just a bad thing.

Lets talk about the main character though. Himeno is pretty great. I like her enthusiasm throughout the show. She takes things in stride a lot better than most heroines. I would actually put her above Ichigo (Mew Mew Power), Sailor Moon (From…Sailor Moon), and Sakura (Cardcaptors) because of how resolute Himeno is. She just jumps into action and also proactively tries to get stronger. How many other leads do you see actually training between missions? I can’t think of a single time I saw the others actually training their abilities although it’s possible I’m not recalling their scenes. The point is that Himeno has a pretty tough living situation with characters actively trying to sabotage her and she never takes it personally. She has to put up with quite a lot but always ends up being the bigger person. Gradually this gets through to her new family and then they end up getting alone.

Himeno has some reservations about merging with the others but I don’t blame her there. Actually having to merge with someone doesn’t seem like an easy decision. Additionally it does lead to the show’s only real weak point in that the merging scenes are a bit fanservicey. More so than the other magical girl shows I’d say. It’s nothing too crazy but since she transforms in every episode with the same recycled animation it still does appear quite a bit. A good transformation scene shouldn’t need any fanservice. Just go for full silhouette and you’ll be okay.

Mayune is one of Himeno’s sisters and loves playing tricks on her. Most of the time they’re fairly harmless of course and Himeno dodges them all but that does mean Himeno always has to be on her guard. That’s got to be exhausting after a while. Mawata is the other sister and gets a much larger role. She has had a difficult time of it because she has always had to be the mature and sensible member of the family but that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. She’s naturally very quiet as well so the others don’t really reach out to see how she’s doing. Having this be a main plot in the show was good because we get a satisfying conclusion to it all. Ultimately Mawata doesn’t look great for parts of this but she has a much better excuse than other characters. Overall I thought she left more of an impression compared to most of the cast and she was solid. Definitely a character you can sympathize with.

Kaoru is Himeno’s father and he’s very annoying. For starters he doesn’t notice everyone picking on Himeno at all. He’s played completely for comic relief and is also oblivious to everyone’s insults. It’s great that he’s so in love with Natsue of course but I would have liked him to have been portrayed a little better. He should at least be aware of some of the things going on right? At the end he gets serious but it’s way too late. Meanwhile Natsue seems reasonable. I thought she was going to be portrayed as the extreme step mom but for the most part she’s amiable to Himeno. She may be slightly biased towards the others but it never gets too crazy. She also seems to think Kaoru goes a little too far at times but tries not to let it show.

Hayate is the main Leafe Knight so he gets a huge role. You probably know where his plot is headed the instant the show starts. He has a fun design and is definitely the “toughest” member of the group with how he acts. He’s always got a burn at the ready and doesn’t play nice like the others. In general the Knights are pretty weak without having a Pretear to merge with but at least he puts up a better fight than the others. I thought he worked pretty well. Meanwhile you have Sasami who is the quiet Knight but ends up being the worst one. He just can’t control himself very well and loses sight of what’s the right thing to do. He’s the kind of guy who lets romance end up ruining his life as he throws his morals away for a quick chance. I’ll give the show props for playing the second half straight though. Sasami completely goes in his direction. There’s no way I could forget that so he was one of the worst here but it was unexpected.

The show did a good job of throwing some twists and turns at you. For example there’s one character who is around quite a lot but in a very low key way so when a twist happens you’re pretty impressed. Sasami gets a plotline like that which is handled really well. It also gave Pretear an extra layer compared to what you would have expected and enhances the story quite well. It makes the show more memorable and when you throw in the action scenes you’ve got a solid show. It’s able to shift genres and get quite serious when needed as well.

After the main two Leafe Knights, the rest don’t have a whole lot to do. If anything the show probably had too many of them because the rest never get to do a whole lot. They show up and get their transformation episodes but otherwise they’re mainly around to get wrecked. I think the reason they are here is so we could have a whole team. I wouldn’t say any of them are bad characters though. I didn’t particularly like them much but as far as supporting characters go they served their purpose of being around for moral support. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand is more like Yoyoi in that he could have been cut out. His job in the series is to be the but of everyone’s jokes and to constantly get wrecked by everyone. The show didn’t need him as a comic relief character.

The show’s humor could get a little repetitive in that sense. There’s one running gag where Mayune constantly tries to seduce every guy she meets and this results in the exact same scenes over and over. Once or twice is fine I guess but it happens at least 3 times if not more. I feel like low key this was to save on budget but I dunno. The animation is good I’d say. It’s nothing particularly spectacular or anything but it’s not bad. It’s smooth enough where you can enjoy the fight scenes and the character designs. There’s one scene that is animated a bit oddly as Hayate tries to find Himeno though. We get a scene where he seemingly sees her and isn’t able to save her from a car in time but then later on it seems like that was a red herring and he never saw her. The whole thing was odd but that’s probably more of a directing thing than an animation error. So it’s not anything special but it works well enough.

The soundtrack isn’t too memorable but there was one theme I really liked. I guess I’d call it the danger theme or the Leafe Knight theme since it appears in one of the very first scenes in episode 1. Sadly after that it doesn’t appear much at all but it was good. It started the series off on a high note and let you know that things were getting serious right away. The villains may not have great designs but it quickly let you know that the aliens were ready to invade the planet. Fenrir may be the only big villain but she’s the only one we really need because of how powerful she is. The heroes aren’t ready to deal with someone like her.

Outside of the humor gag that didn’t work, the show’s writing and humor are solid overall. I like the banter with Hayate and Himeno. He definitely feels like a throwback to the classic Shojo hero who would always be rather standoffish with the main character. He insults her quite a lot but they still manage to grow fairly close. Now you knew this was coming but the romance isn’t particularly great though. Himeno seems confused on who she likes for a bit and there are a lot of rebounds happening here. I think you could cut out all of the romance to be sure but it could have been a lot worse. At least the tight script helps to make things work out here.

Overall, Pretear is definitely a really solid magical girl show. I haven’t seen too many in this genre so it was fun to jump on board. It develops the characters pretty quickly and gives us some nice writing and banter as well. The story is very direct and there are actually some twists and turns to keep you interested. If you’re looking for a fun little show to check out then this is definitely a good one to keep an eye on. That’s one thing that is always a lot of fun about shows that are only 12-13 episodes long. It’s easy to jump into them and more often than not the pacing is going to be fantastic because of how fast the plot has to move. Not every show has to be the next big all star and as long as you have solid fundamentals you’ll end up being a good adventure. That’s exactly how Pretear rolls.

Overall 7/10

1 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Swimmer Review


It’s time to look at our next certified stinker. This film’s about a crazy lead who decides to go home by swimming across everyone’s pools. He knows almost everyone in the neighborhood so he figures they won’t mind if he does this. You also have to wonder how he got to the first home as it is. The guy’s got good stamina I’ll give him that. The problems with this film are pretty numerous but easy to describe so we’ll tackle that in a moment. First just take a second to think about how creative the plot is. At the very least I’ll give the film this, the plot is pretty unique.

So, the film starts off with Ned jumping in someone’s pool. It turns out to belong to a group of his friends so they don’t really mind. Despite being married Ned does a ton of flirting with two other wives but their husbands don’t seem to care. Ned then says that he is going to use everyone’s pools. The others think he is joking but Ned is deadly serious. He heads off to do so, but the problem is that he seems to have severe memory loss while also being completely oblivious to everything as well as being morally bankrupt. This seemingly quick journey across the pools is about to get a whole lot more difficult than he thought.

In a way this film feels like it was going to a live action harem feel. It’s almost like how Nisekoi could have been if it was a movie instead of a series and if the characters were adults. Part of the problem is that Ned is married as I mentioned. He shouldn’t be making plays on anyone. He just seems way too overly familiar with the rest of the characters though as he breaks boundaries all the time. The real question mark here is how everyone else just watches and grins. The characters make no sense here and the whole story just doesn’t really work. You can maybe buy into the fact that Ned was so charismatic that everyone liked him. It’s not completely beyond the pale I suppose, but I like to think that everyone would be strong enough to have gotten over him by now or to at least establish boundaries. Nobody does and it makes for a lot of iffy interactions.

Still, this may not have hurt the film so much except for one of the picks. The film opts to go with a pretty crazy romance with Ned and one of the daughters. The film establishes that she is 20 at least which is good, but the age gap is still massive and the fact that Ned is completely obsessed with her as soon as they meet is terrible. It’s equally terrible that her family was ready to let her run off with him for a while. It was a safer time back then but the whole plot is crazy and unnecessary. The film would have been so much better had it not gone down that avenue. There’s just no real way to recover from that and the film just didn’t stand a chance. From there Ned doesn’t lose any momentum and continues his old tricks. The final lady has to say no many times before he finally gives up.

The Swimmer just isn’t a fun film. It tips its hand almost immediately that Ned is crazy so the final bits won’t really be any kind of twist if you were paying attention. The film gives you a whole lot of foreshadowing for everything but that doesn’t suddenly mean the plot is good. If you give foreshadowing that your ending is going to basically be pointless that really has no effect in the end. The movie doesn’t totally answer all of the questions but you can put it all together pretty well. I think the movie could have succeeded if the lead was likable though. For a film like this you need the lead to be likable so you can sympathize with him. Unfortunately, there is just no way to sympathize with Ned. From what we learn of his past, the guy just wasn’t very good.

This film doesn’t have good writing due to how unrealistically all of thee characters act. The pacing’s not terrible or anything but with no good plots to work with it was doomed to fail from the start. It’s a shame because the very beginning of the film was pretty solid. I like how extreme they presented the main character’s obsession with the pool. It’s immediate and shows that he is definitely a little too interested in learning if his neighbors got pools of their own. It’s pretty much a parody. Usually you’d see characters get obsessed with robots, cars, science, or something like that. Pools? That’s awfully specific but interesting. The whole film should have played up the comedy angle a bit more in that respect. Now, I’m not sure if the beginning was supposed to be played for laughs but that’s how I interpreted it at least and it worked out well that way. Once the film tried getting more and more serious that’s when it all started to fall to pieces.

Overall, The Swimmer ultimately didn’t have a chance of being great. It just made way too many mistakes and you can only make so many before you are ultimately doomed to fail. It’d be nice if another film decided to do the premise justice but I wouldn’t put that high up on the list of potential remakes. The premise itself is interesting but I’ve seen way better ones. Throw in some kind of sci-fi adventure or time travel and then you’ll have me at the ready. Maybe jumping into pools takes him to different timelines or something. I dunno, but that’s the direction I would start to take all of this in if I was at the helm. In the meantime you should absolutely avoid this film at all costs.

Overall 1/10

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

The Mad Genius Review


It’s time to look a a film from a while back that shows why you’ve always gotta stand up for yourself. If you just allow yourself to be a tool you’ll always end up on the losing side. Part of why this film ultimately ends up failing on every level is that the main characters don’t handle the situations very well at all. They end up appearing to be quite gullible and have low will power. It’s never fun to see them get tricked by the villains so easily. They just were not ready for the real world and it shows.

The movie starts off with Ivan deciding to adopt a kid. Ivan was never able to be a world famous dancer but he will make sure that Fedor will succeed where Ivan had failed. Things are going quite well for many years as Fedor is shaping up nicely. Unfortunately that all changes when Fedor falls in love with one of the dancers named Nana. Falling in love with a co-worker is pretty dangerous and usually doesn’t end up working out but that’s just how it went in this case. Ivan is determined to break these two up even if he has to use trickery to do so. Will he be able to keep Fedor as his living puppet or will he ultimately be unable to truly control Fedor’s life to such a degree?

To start with, Fedor is a pretty terrible character. Ivan’s a villain so that goes without saying for him, but Fedor handles himself poorly in every regard. Once he finds out about Ivan’s deception he quickly runs off with Nana which is at least a good start to what’s going on. That’s the right approach but where things go wrong is he starts sounding like Ivan and even guilt tripping Nana a bit. This leads her to decide to sell herself off to one of Ivan’s friends. Fortunately that guy ends up being rather decent to her the whole time but it felt like we went to 0-100 in an instant. Why couldn’t they just have talked things out real quick? Why did Fedor suddenly change overnight? He is a large part of why Nana felt so desperate in those scenes.

Fedor was also quick to believe Ivan and go back to being on his side. You’ve got to be a real sucker to believe someone who has made a career out of tricking others. Whenever Fedor showed up you could count on him to make the wrong decision. While Nana was a nice character she makes a lot of the same mistakes as well. She makes massive assumptions throughout the film and is too quick to ride the waves or go along with what the others are saying. She shouldn’t have even gone to meet Ivan the second time around as there is no way that could have ended well. It’s not so much a case of Nana being too nice as just being overly naive the whole time.

As for Ivan, he’s definitely one of those guys who quickly abuses his power as soon as he gets it. He allows his dancers to move up the ranks by giving personal favors. It goes against his entire motivation of wanting to have the best ballet. You can’t take his goal seriously if he doesn’t. That’s one of those things a villain just can’t do. If he can’t stand by his goal then that means it wasn’t really much of one to start with. Ultimately things start to catch up to him by the end of the movie but it certainly took a while for this to occur.

The Mad Genius can be rather slow paced at times and the weak characters don’t help matters either. You’ll struggle to find the film all that entertaining or interesting. The title also gives Ivan more credit than he is due as the guy doesn’t seem particularly intelligent. He could have very easily allowed the two main characters to be together and then they would have stayed in the show. By getting rid of them he lost his two best dancers so of course the show wouldn’t be quite as good. Ivan really didn’t think anything over particularly well.

Overall, The Mad Genius is definitely a film that you can skip. The writing isn’t all that good and the film can be quite slow. It feels like not a whole lot happens during the movie and with the characters making so many illogical choices it’s hard to sympathize with them either. The film also loses track of time within the scenes. There’s one scene where one of the ladies tells Ivan she will be right back. We then get a very long scene of a drunk Ivan talking to his partner, listening to his ideas and having an argument. After the argument they go back and forth a bit and then the girl finally returns as Ivan is leaving. That was a whole lot of time to vanish and didn’t really make sense. The film doesn’t really dwell on this though so neither should you. If you want a more interesting piece of media about ballet I would advise you to check out Princess Tutu instead.

Overall 3/10

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

The Lady Vanishes Review


It’s time to look at a very old school thriller mystery. It certainly goes down a few unexpected paths and makes for a pretty enjoyable experience. As with all movies where someone vanishes you do have to suspend a little disbelief with how this would have worked out at all. That said, the movie makes a better attempt to hide this than most do. At least we do have a few characters who saw things and for their own selfish reasons are just pretending that they didn’t. That’s more of a plot point that I can get behind.

The movie starts with some train delays so Iris and a lot of other people are forced to spend the night at a hotel. Iris is with two of her friends so it’s a nice enough stay but their upstairs neighbor is making a lot of noise. Iris complains and the guy (Gilbert) retaliates by breaking into her room and making a mess of things. Iris is pretty happy to leave but on the way to the train she is nearly murdered by a falling rock that was seemingly aimed at an old lady by the name of Ms. Froy. Froy is also taking the train to she gets on with Iris. Unfortunately after Iris takes a nap Froy is gone and everyone claims she was never there. Iris needs to find some proof and fast because this could all be a part of some kind of conspiracy.

Iris and Froy didn’t do a whole lot after they got on the train but enough where you’d expect a good amount of witnesses. They went to the cabin to have some tea and even had a brief polite spat with Charters and Caldicott so I’m sure some people would have noticed this. Again, we do have at least 4 characters who saw them but have motives for not saying. For reasons involving the twist we can’t count everyone in the car so it’s a limited pool. That’s why, while I don’t 100% buy this, the film put in a great effort compared to most. I can definitely respect the hustle there.

Speaking of twists, the film also did good by not letting you know who the true main character was for a while. In Act 1 Charters and Caldicott gets much more screen time than Iris. They’re too comedic characters who just want to know what’s going on with the cricket matches but nobody is able to assist them. It’s definitely not the most popular sport out there although I know a few big fans. As a result you expect these guys to be in the thick of it but when the situation comes to them, surprisingly they lie their way out of it. I was pretty shocked since that seemed primed to be their big moment where they jump in and take center stage. That was a solid flip the script kind of moment if I’ve ever seen one.

As the actual main character, Iris does a pretty good job of holding the movie pretty well. She’s a nice character and definitely a determined one as she doesn’t buy into the deceptions that Froy was never really there. I’m pretty glad about that because I always thought it was rather weak to believe the opposite of what you saw with your own eyes. Let’s bee real about this, if you see something then you shouldn’t be convinced otherwise. That’s one of those things I always have to shake my head at when it happens. Iris was also quick to get with the program when the climax occurs.

Some characters were not quite so lucky with this. When people are actually shooting at you then the time for talking is certainly past. You have to fire back and a few of the characters here were definitely super naive. That said, the climax was definitely a lot of fun. It was pretty high energy throughout and a lot was happening at any given time. The whole conspiracy was a bit bigger than I had suspected. The film was pretty low key for most of its run but I’ll never turn down a sequence of solid action scenes.

The main guy is a bit on the iffy side. Gilbert is pretty petty with breaking into Iris’ room the way that he did. It may have ended up turning out all right but it’s the kind of thing that would definitely not fly over very well if it actually happened. This leads us to a pretty rushed romance plot. Keep in mind that Iris already has a fiance so that’s pretty hard to buy into. She basically dumps him for no real reason. We barely even got to meet the guy which is pretty crazy. They could have just as easily written the film so that he didn’t exist and nothing would change. The romance is definitely not the best here but fortunately that plays a very small role.

I’d consider the writing in the film to generally be pretty solid. It has good pacing throughout and a nice set of characters. The film plays itself out a bit as an ensemble kind of movie with each character having his own plot and story to get back to. They all end up mixing together by the end of the experience so all of the characters feel pretty real. The movie doesn’t drag on and actually manages to capture quite a lot of story within the runtime. Mix that together with the explosive climax and you’ve got yourself a very satisfying ending.

Overall, The Lady Vanishes is a pretty solid movie. I’d definitely recommend it as this is a mystery film which has aged really well over the years.Some of the twists are still a bit unexpected which goes into how smooth the execution is. Gilbert does have a terrible final scene though as he ends up slipping on the most important assignment he was given. It’s one of those things that you just don’t do. You’ve got to at least make sure you get that right. Fortunately the real hero was ready to help as things could have gone badly otherwise.

Overall 7/10

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

Million Dollar Baby Review


It’s time for a film about boxing. There have been quite a few good ones over the years like Rocky and Creed. Those did a good job of delivering some pretty hype fights with epic storylines. Both of them will not be forgotten anytime soon. This one started out like it was going to be another one of the greats. Unfortunately it flew off the rails towards the end and ruined any potential it might have had. The first 2/3 of the film is quite good but the final part definitely destroys the film. That’s why they say a good ending is important. You can start off quite amazingly but if you trip over the end that’s what you will be remembered for.

The movie starts with Frankie winning more fights as the manager of a top ranked fighter Willy. Unfortunately his boxer eventually leaves him because Frankie never let him compete in the title matches. Frankie is now without a boxer. Meanwhile a girl named Maggie has started showing up as the gym and is determined to make Frankie her manager. He’s quite reluctant as he’s never coached a girl before and doesn’t want to start now. Still, she gradually weakens him and he starts to warm up to the idea. Still, a part of him is worried that this is a bad idea and he doesn’t want to have any more regrets.

There aren’t many big characters in this film but they all had to deal with a lot of issues throughout the film. Frankie has his own reasons for why he never lets his boxers attempt the big fight. His instincts are usually pretty good and it’s something that can come back to bite you. At the same time, it seems like this isn’t quite the right profession for him then. In boxing people are always going to get hurt so if you’re not prepared for that then you’re going to be in for a rough time. Frankie definitely plays the role of the angry coach who’s always got something stern to say. Deep down he’s a nice guy but it’s hard to get to that level. He makes for a good character though and a solid lead focus.

Then you’ve got his friend Eddie who does a lot of the work around the gym. He’s a lot quicker to give advice. Usually the other characters aren’t quite ready to hear what he has to say but he does his best. He has one especially good scene where he takes on one of the newer characters. He does pretty well and shows that he can still fight. He’s easily the nicest character in the film and I’d say that he steals the show. We all need an ally like Eddie. Someone who will have your back through the tough times no matter what.

Finally you have Maggie who really wants to be the world’s best boxer. She’s had a pretty tough life so far as her family turned out to be pretty toxic after her father died and she doesn’t really have anyone to support her. It’s been tough to make ends meet and boxing may be her only shot at a new life. She’s quite determined and that allows her to climb the ranks quite fast. Her technique is quite solid and she showed that she could hang with the best. Maggie takes all of the situations quite well and has some true grit.

While the film is focusing on the boxing it can be quite good. You really get to see proper footwork during the battles as well as the training you have to go through in order to get to the top. The characters are pretty solid and the pacing is good. The film would have been really solid if it had just ended with a slightly different outcome to the final fight or just cutting off at that point. Continuing further was ultimately a mistake.

I can’t really go much further into the ending because of course it’s a huge spoiler to the rest of the film. Needless to say, the movie decides to go for a lot of grit and dark themes towards the end. It suddenly stops being about boxing and becomes more of a tragedy drama where things continue to get worse and worse. The film doesn’t really leave any hope left and you’re just waiting for it to end at this point. The final act drags on for quite a long time. The film also randomly adds a backstory involving a dog dying and someone who was disabled getting beat up. It’s like the film suddenly changed gears and decided it wanted to be as mean spirited as possible.

Even the plot about Maggie’s family doesn’t feel truly necessary. I think the references from early on would have sufficed there rather than getting them involved. Even threatening Frankie at the hospital was a rather odd scene. I’m assuming after that Maggie told Frankie to leave for his own safety or at least I hope that was the case since it would seem out of character otherwise. Really what it boils down to is that the final act of the movie just wasn’t any fun at all. It crossed the line of getting a little too grim dark in what otherwise would have been a pretty solid adventure.

Overall, The Million Dollar Baby is a film that could not keep up its momentum. It built up a pretty solid plot with some good fight scenes and ultimately threw it all away for shock value. I’d definitely recommend watching something like Rocky or Creed instead. Those films manage to finish the ride and deliver with great endings to each of the installments. A good ending applies to just about every kind of game, sport, or entertainment. Finishing is the true skill you need to have in order to make it to the next level. Hopefully if this film was to ever get a remake or a sequel someday it would do a better job of finishing the fight. Until then this will definitely be known as the weakest boxing film I’ve seen.

Overall 3/10

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Ace in the Hole Review


It’s time to look at a film about how trying to get a story at the expense of a life may end up ruining things for everyone. I mean it’s a pretty clear message but it seemed to be a surprise to Chuck who suddenly starts regretting this a bit. It’s hard to rummage up any sympathy points for Chuck because the whole thing is completely his fault. It’s not like it’s only partially his fault or he didn’t know any better. He knew exactly what he was doing the entire time and this results in a rather unfortunate ending. It’s an interesting film but not one I would check out again.

The movie starts out with Chuck heading to another newspaper. He was fired yet again and is now known for being fired from the most papers. He’s been creative with how badly he’s failed though as he has been fired for being drunk, stealing someone’s wife, making up stories, etc. Well this next paper decides to hire him anyway since they’re nice like that. His first big assignment outside is going to be about a snake fight. Chuck doesn’t really care about this though and is glad to get sidetracked by a local tragedy. Leo has been trapped underground after wandering inside a cavern despite being told it was dangerous. Chuck realizes this is his big break. If he can stop anyone from saving Leo he can really exploit this event for big money. That’s exactly what he intends to do, but every day he stretches this out, Leo’s chances of recovery continue to dwindle.

The film definitely gives Chuck a whole lot of power here. Everyone listens to him unquestionably and he gets the upper hand on everyone. Even the guys called in to rescue Leo end up listening to Chuck and using the wrong method of recovery. Chuck does have a lot of confidence and tends to barrel right through everyone so I suppose the others didn’t want to mess with him. Part of why the plot works is because you have just enough powerful people in the wrong places. The Sheriff is corrupt and Leo’s wife actually likes Chuck and wants Leo dead anyway. Leo has really just got the worst luck here which is definitely pretty unfortunate for him. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I still find it a bit iffy that nobody pursued this further to try and free him before now. Just waiting on Chuck to do everything was pretty iffy. Unfortunately the only one who cared about Leo was his father who was quite old and wasn’t able to help much here.

This film’s main weakpoint is definitely the romance part. Leo’s wife liking Chuck feels like an extra plot point we don’t need. For the most part he shuts her down as he makes it clear that the story is the most important factor in his life, even more than romance for him. Chuck’s certainly dedicated. It’s particularly tragic for Leo since he doesn’t know any of this and thinks that his wife is readily awaiting his return. As the film goes on he never becomes wise to this and in a way I guess that would have been an extra blow. It makes Chuck look particularly bad with how he’s manipulating the guy though. Chuck’s clearly the villain here so definitely don’t get that sideways.

The writing is pretty solid though. There’s a lot of solid back and forth between all of the characters. Plans are made and every character’s got an angle. Chuck’s got everything sewn up so tight even the big papers start to beg him to return. He’s really got everything at this point which is really impressive in itself. The movie’s pacing is also pretty good. The opening may seem a little slow if you want to get to the main plot but I thought it did a pretty good job of setting Chuck up. He’s pretty straightforward on the fact that he’ll do anything for a story. He even convinces the youngest member of the group to go with him, thereby dooming both of them.

The ending’s definitely a downer though. I’d have preferred a different ending where Chuck still gets exposed but things go a bit better for Leo. The way his plot ends is particularly tragic since he thought right up til the end that he had a shot. He had absolutely no idea what was going on right outside. He was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film never gives us a great explanation on why he was defying orders and going into caverns he wasn’t supposed to be in though. His confidence ultimately ended up costing him big time.

Overall, Ace in the Hole shows that while having 1 ace is good, two is better. Chuck ultimately needed a good backup plan and then maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so badly for him. He ultimately didn’t think things through well enough at all and it cost him when it counted. I was glad that the smaller newspaper actually tried to get involved at the end when the boss showed up and questioned how Chuck had fallen so low. To an extent this is on him for letting Chuck join but at the same time he couldn’t have known what was going on. All things considered I think he did a good job and he was an upstanding guy. The problem is that not everyone is in the biz for the right reasons and that ultimately ended up hurting them all.

Overall 4/10

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Angels in the Outfield Review


It’s time to look at a Baseball film from a long time ago. This one’s definitely a pretty solid film. It’s always nice to have a sports flick and in this one we get some quality character development and good writing. It’s a very pleasant film throughout. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Baseball as I find the game to move a little too slowly. That said, in film format it tends to work out pretty well because you’re cutting right to the action every time.

The movie starts with the Guffy’s Pirates losing yet another game. They’ve now dropped 10 games in a row with no end in sight. They’re dead last in the conference. Guffy’s upset but he still wants to go and enjoy his dinner as usual. He beats people up and has caused such a ruckus that a reporter named Jennifer has written a story on him. Guffy then receives a message from an Angel who has been watching him. Guffy needs to clean up his act and in exchange the Angel will start delivering his team some free wins. Guffy agrees to do this but it’s going to be difficult to break his old habits so easily. Additionally there is a little girl named Bridget who seems to be able to see the Angels somehow. This has started to cause quite a stir.

Guffy’s your classic gruff main character who definitely seems to enjoy picking fights with just about everyone. He never backs down and whenever someone has a problem with him Guffy just goes and beats the guy up. Of course this is all catching up to him though. People used to like hanging out with him and now he has no friends. Guffy just didn’t care so this kept on happening. Now he has a reason to care and he’s started to be nicer, but people aren’t so quick to forgive. It’s pretty realistic. How likely are you to be friends with someone again after they’ve been badmouthing you for so long? it’s definitely not very likely if you think about it. Still, he does really try to change which is the important thing. He’s certainly a much better character by the end than when he started morally. Guffy makes for an entertaining character either way though.

As for Bridget, as far as kids go I wouldn’t say she was bad. I tend to still not be a big fan of them in films but she was helpful and never got in the way. She would see the Angels and called it like she saw it. Bridget was also pretty quick to defend Guffy which was nice. She never got tricked by the media or anything like that. Finally you have Jennifer who is a fun heroine even if she seems a bit oblivious at times. She just walked right into Guffy’s place and made herself right at home. I suppose as a reporter you’ve got to have that level of confidence though so she did good. At first I actually thought she was going to be the main character of the film. Her role is pretty sizable and she seems like a nice person. She was a great help to Guffy in getting his life back on track.

Meanwhile the Angels certainly helped quite a lot as well. Their assistance in winning all those ballgames was invaluable and the Angel certainly helped Guffy to understand that he needed to change things around as well. The movie did a good job with the writing and the humor here. There are a lot of clever little gags in the script and the jokes work quite well. If someone got the better of a character with a joke you could expect another character to fire back later on. There were a lot of callbacks and such. As I mentioned, the film is just a lot of fun the whole time. It has a nice sense of humor and tight pacing.

At times the film may not be super realistic like with the Baseball association taking Guffy to court though. You really think they would have this much drama right before the World Series? I don’t see them stopping that game for just about anything. Particularly something like this which isn’t even a crime. Even if Guffy had finally cracked, that’s something that would be looked at during the off season. That’s why I liked how the NY teams took it as they were so confident they didn’t care if Angels were helping the Pirates. At the end of the day they were still ready to square off.

I enjoyed the court scene quite a lot near the end of the film. Even if as I mentioned, it’s hard to see the court happening, it was fun to see the 3 pastor figures they invited wreck everyone else. They did point out (in a polite way) that it’s rather crazy to claim to believe in the Bible but to not believe in Angels. I know there are a lot of factions out there but it’s like how I was reading that many don’t believe that the story of Noah is real. That’s something that could warrant its own article but you can’t just pick bits and pieces of it to be accurate. Either you believe in the whole package or none of it. You can’t go halfway on something like this. After setting the judge straight and the Angel also appearing a bit, that concluded the scene but it was a lot of fun. I was a little surprised that Guffy got in one more punch but I suppose he just couldn’t help it. Fortunately the Angels had mercy on him because things could have gotten messy otherwise.

Overall, Angels in the Outfield is a very pleasant film. It’s pretty down to Earth and only focuses on a few characters so we could really see their character development. Quite a lot happens during the film and it’s never dull. While the Baseball players themselves don’t get the largest role here, I do like how one of them stuck up for Guffy when the others were calling him crazy. Additionally I was glad that the old pitcher got to have one last good game. It all makes for a pretty emotional film. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s aged very well over the years.

Overall 7/10

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Little Women (1949) Review


It’s time to look at the next adaption of the classic Little Women story. While it will feel very familiar to the last one as they mainly tackle the same events, I’d say that it is executed better. Personally I found this one to be quite a bit more enjoyable than the last version. Some of the plots still aren’t the best and the final romance feels rushed but at least the film tries to address this since there are technically a few time skips. I’ll give the film some points for effort there even if ultimately it didn’t work.

The film follows a group of sisters who are currently having fun times. Their father has went off to war and so the family isn’t doing particularly well financially but they have each other which has always been enough for them. Jo is the main character and she is an aspiring writer. One day she aims to be featured in the papers and to have her books published. In the meantime she writes plays for the family to perform. One day a boy moves in next day and they hit it off but Jo is determined to stay as friends. She believes that none of the main characters should fall in love because then the dynamic will change. She’s not wrong, but can you actually say no to romance in a movie?

Jo’s idea isn’t all that bad. The idea of having a friend is a good one. You shouldn’t always feel pressured to take that to the next step. It’s not really her place to hold any of the other sisters back though. It may be a shame that the dynamic has to change but ultimately that was bound to happen one way or the other. Time is not stagnant and so eventually every dynamic ends up crumbling. You either adapt with it or you’ll spend your time relying too much on your memories of the past. The film’s pretty predictable on if Jo ends up succumbing to romance or not so be prepared for that.

There are quite a few subplot though as each sister gets her own plot. They meet people, one of them grows sick, etc. The film isn’t afraid to tackle some tough themes as well with one character dying. Each character has their own burden to bear whether it be physical or emotional. Part of what hurt in the previous version was that it was really hard to care much about the story. It was all just way too old and the writing came across as rather sluggish. This one does a better job with the writing and streamlining the plot. There also appeared to be a significant age gap in the final romance in the last film which is corrected here. It’s hard to see an age gap of more than 10 which I tend to consider as the cut off. Even that is already on the wider side.

Jo’s definitely the most entertaining character of the group. She’s got a lot of energy and tends to dismiss formalities and just be herself. It’s something that was quite rare back in the day so it really makes her stand out from the rest. Meg, Amy, and Beth are reasonable characters as well although there is less notable about them. While Beth is a lot younger than the others she always composes herself well with solid dignity. Meg and Amy mainly follow the standard path of falling in love right away. They’re solid characters even if one of them does end up rebounding with someone who liked Jo at one point which is a bit sketchy. You’d think that if someone likes the sister you would definitely not start a relationship there. It seems a bit like a betrayal even if the relationship was over. I just don’t think that’s something you should ever do.

There’s not a whole lot more to say that I didn’t already say in the first film. It’s pretty much the same movie only this one is newer. Due to the nature of the movie it’s also not like a whole lot happens. The runtime is fairly long though. I’d say that the writing is fine. It may not be winning any awards anytime soon, but it does the job and everyone feels like a real character which is important. It’s all fairly realistic for its time. That’s why I’d like the next Little Women adaption to get a little more out there. Have it take place in the future or something. I think that would end up being quite excellent as a change of scenery would end up helping quite a lot. It’s exactly the surge of new energy that the film could use and I think it would end up taking it quite far.

Overall, Little Women seems to be pretty faithful to the book based on how similar it is to the last one. It’s a classic slice of life story and if anything may be one of the most fitting installments in the genre. This is exactly what you would expect out of a slice of life if you ask me. There may not be any danger or villains but you do get to see the characters live out their lives and change as time goes on. It’s all quite dramatic in a social way. If this kind of plot really interests you then you should check it out. Personally I think slice of life films need a bit more comedy to really hit it home for me. If you play it too serious then it becomes a bit too close to real life and so I don’t really see the point of the film. A good film needs to be highly entertaining. This film isn’t, but it’s not boring either which is why I place it squarely in the middle. It’s not a bad film but I couldn’t imagine watching it a second time.

Overall 5/10

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Glass Review


It’s time to look at the end of the Unbreakable trilogy. It definitely has not been the best one as both of the opening films were pretty bad. Perhaps it could pull off a bit of a miracle and end on a high note? The film tries its best but ultimately falters. As with any films from this director the movie doesn’t really start off that bad. It’s reasonably engaging throughout but the film quickly starts to lose steam and each plot twist is worse than the last. The final ones will almost make you roll your eyes because of how it hurts the logic of the film. The entire premise doesn’t work either but more on that in a minute.

So it’s been around 10+ years since David was running around and beating people up with his superhero powers. He is now a team with Joseph. Joseph finds the bad guys and David puts them away. Their latest target turns out to be Kevin as that villain managed to escape last time. David corners him and they have a pretty close fight but a company of soldiers appear and defeat them both. David, Kevin, and David’s old enemy Elijah are now being held in a psychiatric facility. Ellie explains that her job is to eliminate their delusions. Her theory is that these three characters don’t have powers and merely think that they do. What if she’s right?

Here’s the deal and perhaps the most tragic part of the film. This plot could actually work….if the first two films did not exist. Then it would really be her word against theirs and it would be completely possible that they do not have powers. A lot of people are delusional so you could totally ride that plot line to the bank. I think that could have made for a very interesting thriller. The problem is that this is the final film in the trilogy.

In the first two films we learn beyond the shadow of a doubt that both characters have powers. David is able to bench press over 350 pounds without ever coming close to that before and he knows that he has never been injured. Ellie’s comebacks against that are extremely weak and for some reason David doesn’t bring up any of the counters that he could have. I don’t really blame him though because Ellie probably would have dismissed them anyway.

Then for Kevin I dare say it’s even worse. He was shot multiple times in the first film and bent steel. Ellie’s comeback is that he could have grabbed a pair of pliers and used leverage to bend the bars. Nice theory…but we actually saw him do this in the last film and we know that the bullets hit him and weren’t weakened dummy rounds as she said. Again, this could have been an interesting exchange but since we know it’s fake that hurts the plot a lot. A great deal of the film is spent in the asylum as Ellie makes her various cases. The vast majority of the film takes place here and it drags on quite a bit.

This is in part because Elijah is pretending to be brain dead for most of the film and David never talks much anyway. That means that a lot of the dialogue is from Kevin who is the worst member of the 3. He’s crazy and totally evil which doesn’t work as a good combo if you’re one of the main characters. All of his scenes are pretty suspect. I didn’t like him in his movie and I certainly don’t like him here. Most of his personas are also pretty weak since in this film they joined the horde. In Split at least some of them were still good guys. In this film they all seem evil except for the Kevin persona who is naturally the weakest.

David talks a little more than the first film which is good. He’s still a little too quiet though and I’d like to have seen him talk a bit more and defend himself. He tends to take a pretty passive stance in the fights so the opponent always lands the hit first. He’s incredibly sloppy which is probably intentional but gets him into a pretty bad spot at the end. His weakness to water is also pretty massive to the point where it’s pretty tragic. He almost might as well not have powers. David’s also super gullible thanks to some scenes at the end. By default he’s one of the best characters here though.

Joseph was probably my favorite character. He helps David out a lot and is also pretty cautious. He warns his Dad that the cops are after him and also tries to make a case to get him out of the psychiatric place. Things may not turn out in his favor but at least he tried. I’d have liked to see him try harder to save David in the end but realistically it probably wouldn’t have done a whole lot of good.

Ellie is one of the key players here and she certainly gets some twists. Unfortunately those twists really don’t make any sense and don’t help her character. She’s definitely interesting but her goals are impossible unless the characters are incredibly gullible. I suppose she is a fun enough character, definitely pretty ruthless when she wants something done.

Elijah is still the big mastermind villain as always. I don’t see the point of the brain dead routine for most of the film though. If it’s to get people to let their guard down, then why keep showing that he can break out of the cell? If anything he’s lucky that they didn’t beef up security or start tying him up at night. Things go according to his plan and he has a lot of backups, but this part of the plan made no sense to me. It was also unfortunate because it meant that he wasn’t able to talk for most of the film.

Mrs Price gets to appear a bit here and she’s a fun character. I liked her in the first movie. Her role here is fairly minor as she just hyped up Elijah a bit. She never really tries to tell Elijah that he shouldn’t be evil here but I suppose it’s possible that she did off screen. Hard to say but maybe at this point he has had such a hard life she doesn’t blame him for falling off the deep end.

Casey’s character takes an unfortunate arc in this film. She appears to have a huge case of stockholders syndrome here as she’s grown to like Kevin and keeps defending him. The guy is a mass murderer who has been apparently murdering a bunch of people off screen. He would have gotten 3 more victims at the beginning if he wasn’t stopped. It was cool seeing Casey show up because it made this feel even more like a crossover. She just needed a much better role.

As I’ve mentioned above, the film is at its best during the intro scenes when it’s building up the crossover effect. There may only have been 2 films earlier but this feels like a big crossover right away. One of the things that helps with this is that we got supporting characters from both movies. The fact that it’s able to get a bit of hype going is impressive since both films weren’t good. So I’ll give the movie some props there. It was at least engaging for a while.

Ultimately I have to give the writing a thumbs down though. A lot of the scenes just don’t make any sense. The ending is also just pretty bad even aside from that. David’s plot certainly ends in a rather gruesome way. It’s definitely a callback which is interesting and all but not the way I’d end it there. I’m glad we did get a twist ending of sorts at least even if it’ll never actually lead to anything.

Overall, Glass was exactly the crossover you could expect from these two films. It is the best film in the trilogy but unfortunately that is not enough to actually make it a good movie. If you watched both of the earlier movies then you should check this out since you’re so close to the end as it is. That being said, if you want a hype crossover with more quality I’d recommend checking out Batman V Superman. It also builds up the atmosphere quite nicely but then also delivers with an amazing payoff at the end. That’s exactly the kind of experience that you want.

Overall 3/10