The Black Sleep Review


Cheating death never tends out to work very well in these films. Why would it right? The scientists tend to be quite mad and will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. It isn’t really a recipe for success I would say. The movie has a decent premise but the main character is definitely not very bright in the slightest. I wouldn’t say this works quite as well as a lot of the other retro films I’ve seen but it should keep your attention decently well as you progress through the adventure.

The movie starts with the main character (Gordon) preparing for death’s door. He was said to have murdered someone and so he got the death penalty. His friend Joel shows up and offers him a path to escape his fate. He has to ingest the drug known as the Black Sleep. Gordon has nothing to lose so he does this and then wakes up in the doctor’s office. The drug simulates death so Joel pulled some tricks and got him out of it. Gordon owes his life to the man now though so he agrees to help in the experiments. Basically, Joel is trying to revolutionize brain surgery. He’s trying to prove that each part of the brain operates a different part of the body. Gordon is on board with this but then he finds out just how drastic these operations are. Joel is experimenting on people who are still alive and may scar them for life. Can Gordon really help him with this?

Well, any reasonable person would walk away right? Not Gordon, he’s definitely willing to play ball. Here’s the problem with this, the film could have played it off like Gordon felt he owed Joel a lot so he would go through with it despite his personal feelings. The film doesn’t really play that angle up. Gordon just seems to think that Joel has a point that this is worth the sacrifice. Even after seeing how shady Joel was, Gordon wouldn’t believe Laurie either. It takes quite a lot to convince him that this is all pretty sinister and then he quickly tries to play the hero. The problem is that Gordon is a very willing accomplice the whole time so his big turnaround at the end doesn’t feel very earned or heroic. The guy is just playing the field the whole time and doing whatever he wants. It’s hard to find him likable.

Joel isn’t likable either of course but he’s your standard mad scientist. I wouldn’t say that he’s a weak villain or anything. He’s just completely standard and you either like the villain type or you don’t. At least he actually has a reason for doing this but it just doesn’t excuse anything. He’s also failed many times as we learn when we see the dungeons later on. You’d think he would have gotten a little better at it. The idea is that he has made a creation by turning off a different part of the brain each time. So one person can’t talk, another can’t hear, etc. Definitely makes for a collection of crazy mistakes from his side.

It also makes the whole place pretty unsafe. In particular you’ve got one monster running around who keeps trying to choke people or attack Laurie. Only one lady in the house is able to calm him down and she rarely appears in time to stop his initial attack. Gordon nearly died early on when he walked into the hallway although I don’t think he could have expected anything else when it was so late at night. He’s not exactly a super sleuth and even when he has his big James Bond moment of using the secret passage he is caught rather quickly.

There isn’t a lot to say about Laurie meanwhile. She’s really hoping Gordon realizes what’s up so he can get her out of there. The problem is that he’s not very quick on the uptake and in the meantime she’s stuck. I have a lot more sympathy for her than Gordon because you do feel like there’s no way she could escape on her own. Then you’ve got Udu who is Joel’s right hand man and supplies the bodies. Typically a mad scientist always needs some kind of brute to do the heavy lifting while he’s doing the research. Udu fills that role for sure.

You can see that some parts of the film are pretty strong as you go through it. For example, I thought the writing was pretty good. The characters may not be super likable but there is some good back and forth dialogue between the characters. We have your classic debates of how much research you should do and to what ends. The film’s pacing is on point as well so I wouldn’t say it drags on. It’ll just depend really on if you can get past the characters not being great. It’s also not the most original plot and while that’s not a bad thing, you feel like other films have executed the themes better than this one. The Black Sleep just isn’t a very memorable film.

Overall, The Black Sleep tries to execute a fairly straightforward plot with a rather small cast. There just isn’t any standout member to be had though and while the creations may make for good shock value it’s not like they can do much to further the plot. You could cut or keep them and it doesn’t effect the film all that much. I’d say it was just here to convince Gordon in the end that he had to get out but he should have realized that a lot sooner. If I was Laurie I would still be rather sore at him taking it all for granted. It’s not a bad movie though, I’d put it a little above the middle. It’s definitely not a bad movie. I can’t picture myself checking it out again but if you want a quick little adventure about the horrors of science then this could be a decent pick.

Overall 6/10

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die Review


Storing brains by themselves is always a recipe for disaster. Usually you’ll end up bringing back a zombie or a monster or at least the odds of that are far greater than the odds of bringing someone back in one piece. It’s just not going to happen and while a single head may sound like it should be easy to defeat, you really can’t underestimate these villains. This film’s not very good. It can be cheesy at times with some good dialogue but it just makes a lot of mistakes along the way. There’s not really much of a cast to root for here and the film made a mistake that I never thought I’d see. It’s a short film that actually drags on quite a bit.

The movie starts with Bill managing to save someone through the use of a brain transplant. His father doesn’t approve since this is really outside of the books but Bill doesn’t care. He speeds a little too fast in his car and ends up getting his girlfriend Jan murdered. He’s able to grab her head which fortunately popped out smoothly and then gets her into a jar. He aims to put her head on someone else’s body and then stitch it together. The tricky part is going to be finding a body so he decides to just find some girls and will pick the best one. Can someone stop this madman before it’s too late?

So I’ve got a lot of problems with the film but my only real question is where did the monster come from? It just feels very out of place and random. I don’t believe it’s the guy from the first operation because that would just make absolutely no sense. How would that guy have gotten downstairs and how was he so deformed? So it seems like this is an unrelated incident and in that case how did Bill not know about it? His sidekick Kurt had to tell him about it and while Bill was surprised, he didn’t seem to care a whole lot because he was just too busy. So where did this monster come from? The film doesn’t seem too care too much but it just did seem out of the blue.

This is the plotline that drags on a lot though. The film is under 2 hours but there are so many scenes of Jan’s head talking to the monster while he beats on the door. A lot of these scenes are basically identical and they just keep going back and forth over and over again. The payoff isn’t until the final few minutes at which point it’s just too late. Some of these scenes could have been cut and nothing would have changed. Bill definitely looks pretty bad though considering there is only one way to get in range and that’s to walk near the window. He did see the body next to him right? Definitely not a good look but it’s not like he was someone to root for anyway so I was pretty okay with this.

Bill just makes for a poor antagonist. Most of his scenes are just him oogling different characters as he chooses his next victim. He flirts quite a bit although he claims his whole goal is to bring his girlfriend back. The whole thing is pretty suspect at best, it’s not really even bringing Jan back at that point since the body will be completely different. I’m sure there are debates to be had on that but either way he’s a pretty unrepentant murderer. It’s also a shame since the heroine at the end already had a hard time trusting people. This is definitely not going to help that in the slightest. So the film’s got a pretty lousy main character and an excuse for random modeling shows and some fanservice. What else is there for the film?

Kurt’s pretty crazy. He tries to tell everyone that he’s not afraid of anything but he’s not even fooling himself with this. The worst part is that he shouldn’t be afraid. Why be afraid of a severed head? I can see him being afraid of the monster. Sure, that makes sense but Jan? Jan did undergo a complete 180 in terms of personality when she became a head though. I didn’t realize that she would become such a fierce character, but I guess dying will do that to you. I also don’t imagine that it’s any fun to live life as a head so I completely understand why she was so upset at Bill. It’s not like he was listening to her at all so you can make a strong case that he just wanted to prove that his methods worked. Jan even had the classic evil laughter at her disposal as she would crack up quite a lot. I was glad that she gets the last word in though. The film ends abruptly but you could say it was a pretty happy ending.

The film’s pretty tame in terms of violence for the most part although near the end it suddenly gets intense. One character literally has his arm ripped off and another one gets chewed up. Those scenes were more intense than you may expect here. The creature’s design also looks pretty painful as you can tell that things went very wrong when trying to work on him. This movie could definitely get intense at times that’s for sure. It just didn’t channel that intensity into being a quality picture and ultimately that’s what held it back here. It didn’t have that decisive moment to take it to the next level.

Overall, This is not a film that I would recommend. While many films back in these days had top tier writing and plot progression, this was not one of them. It really manages to underperform in all areas. The fact that there are no likable characters in the film is already a big red flag. How can you ultimately succeed without any? Bill comes across as rather sinister right from the start as he goes in with the threats immediately and I already talked about Jan. The supporting characters like the old friend who does some modeling and the leader of the modelers were probably the best characters and it’s not like they got a ton of screen time. They were also a bit gullible with how quickly they were trusting Bill. The old friend has a better excuse then the head. The random fight in the dressing room as also as random as they come. If you want to watch a good sci-fi film then you’ve come to the wrong title. I’d recommend checking Men in Black instead.

Overall 4/10

Hand of Death Review


Sometimes when you turn a film on you know right away that things are going to get pretty deadly. The title itself can be a pretty good indicator of that after all. Well, this film’s definitely pretty solid and you’ll be glad to have checked it out. It can be a bit by the books at times of course, but at the end of the day it’s all executed well. The film’s pretty short though so it really breezes by. You really feel like they don’t make 1 hour movies like this anymore. Granted, I always think a movie should be as long as possible since it makes the experience even better but if you know ahead of time that the plot won’t hold then going short makes sense.

The movie starts with a driver noticing that something’s not right as there are a few sheep fast asleep inside of private property. He rushes inside and is promptly knocked out. When he wakes up a scientist named Alex lets the guy know that they’re running some secret experiments so he better not tell anyone. Alex is glad this happened though because it proves that the serum is safe on humans. He rushes home and explains to Ramsey that he has built the ultimate weapon for war. You can spray a whole country with this gas which will immobilizze them and also make them susceptible to hypnosis and all kinds of commands. Ramsey lets Alex know that their lab isn’t for war but Alex wants to proceed and Ramsey allows it. Alex is rather clumsy though and splashes himself with the mixture. He has now become a walking monster of death. Anyone he touches will surely perish. Alex threatens Ramsey that a cure must be made and soon or he’ll start murdering people. Can Ramsey make the cure in time or is the town already doomed?

One thing that was a bit surprising is how crazy Alex was. At first you expect that he’ll be your standard hero but the movie doesn’t really play out that way. Now, you can make the case that the mixture turned him crazy and he was actually a good guy otherwise. I have my doubts but it’s certainly a valid argument. The guy just dials it up to 11 though as he instantly threatens Ramsey and isn’t very reasonable about anything. I felt bad for the old guy because Ramsey did warn Alex that this was a risky endeavor. It’s hard to sympathize with Alex as much as you could have since he actively goes around murdering people. If it felt like he was a little more hesitant then that would help but I just did not get that vibe from him.

This does play into the interesting dynamic between him, Carol, and Tom. Technically Alex is with Carol but Tom seems to like her and she decides to mess with Alex to get him jealous. Mix that in with the fact that Alex is never around while Carol and Tom have to work together all the time and the whole thing already seemed dicey. It definitely put in some warning bells for Alex because the film had to do something to have one of them win. I think we know how that went now. Carol’s a reasonable character but I wouldn’t say she handles the situations all that well. She tends to panic quite a lot although at least she wasn’t really the fainting type. Then you have Tom who is pretty confident the whole time. I do feel like his sudden lunge at the end was all to bait Alex into charging to get shot. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but it seemed like it was all part of an elaborate plan.

Ramsey was the best character. It’s just a shame that there’s not a whole lot that he can do. The guy can’t really walk all that well as it is. His final scene was a bit odd though because it made no sense. It’s like he lunged at Alex which I’m sure was not the intention but it certainly came across that way. At least you hope that wasn’t what he was trying to do because it wouldn’t really make any sense. As the film goes on there is a pretty decent body count stockpiling up. Most of the characters were just trying to have a good day so it certainly didn’t work out for them.

The design for the monster isn’t bad but he definitely doesn’t look too intimidating. I’d say it’s sort of like a cross between the Thing and Swamp Thing. The fact that Alex can’t really talk all that well in this form doesn’t help matters for him. As expected the writing is pretty solid here. The characters are on point and it makes the whole experience pretty interesting. As I mentioned the film is pretty short so the pacing is also very fast. We even got to have the detectives and cops show up near the end which is always fun. Having the government get involved tends to bring any monster film to the next level and they looked pretty good here. They were definitely ready to deal with Alex and his super powers.

Overall, Hand of Death is a very accurate title. A single touch from this guy and that’s game over almost instantly. It’s a very lethal ability to the point where it could be very lethal in war as well. Of course you have to get close enough to touch someone so if you’re shot then I suppose this won’t be doing you a whole lot of good anyway. It’s a very basic movie with a small cast and a direct plot but I wouldn’t say that it has any weaknesses either. The fundamentals are very sound and that’s really all that you need. These retro horror films tend to be some of the best in the genre. They just don’t make them like they used to.

Overall 7/10

The Boy with the Striped Pajamas Review


It’s time to look at an old tragedy film and unfortunately this one did not manage to really get anything right. You get the feeling that it’s not going to be a very good movie early on when you learn that the main characters are Nazi’s. Two of the main characters are kids so the adults are trying to indoctrinate them into this. As you can probably guess the film tends to be quite mean spirited throughout and ultimately by the end of it you’ll feel like the experience was a waste of time. Any message the film was trying to get at was quickly washed away.

So the film starts with Ralf getting a promotion. He is to move closer to one of the concentration camps to oversee the atrocities being committed over there. Ralf is eager to get started and so the whole group moves in where they will now be accompanied by soldiers at all times. His wife Elsa didn’t realize just how close they would be to the farms but that seems to be more of a concern than what is actually taking place. Their children Bruno and Gretel aren’t quite old enough to understand this either although they have begone to be molded into future Nazi’s by their tutor. One day Bruno meets a kid in the camp named Shmuel and decides to be friends. Bruno is convinced that Shmuel is just enjoying a game on the other side even though Shmuel tries to explain what is happening. Can there possibly be a happy ending here?

So there are a ton of issues. One of the more basic ones is that it’s always been very hard for children to hold their own films. They just aren’t interesting enough to work as the lead and that ends up holding them back quite a bit. Bruno is portrayed as being so slow to understand the situation that it gets old pretty quick. At the very least seeing that Shmuel is behind a cage should make things pretty obvious. It’s not like he appeared to be in good condition either so the whole “game” idea didn’t make sense from the jump. Bruno also has enough knowledge of the situation to sell Shmuel out later on in the film.

The betrayal scene was definitely pretty bad as Bruno allowed Shmuel to be beaten for a lie that was entirely Bruno’s fault. Definitely not a good scene. Bruno also watches Ralf stand by as their house attendant was beaten to death for pretty much no reason. It’s a pretty toxic environment he was in and Bruno never put the pieces together. Gretel gets less of a role but she is very easily thrown into full mania over the cause so I wouldn’t say that she looked very good either. It was very easy to convert her.

Naturally when it comes to the adults they are even worse. The kids at least have the excuse of being children so not only is there not much that they could do, but they don’t have all of the information at hand. Ralf and Elsa certainly do. Elsa is portrayed as being a little more sympathetic than Ralf as she is not completely on board with the cause but she does go along with it enough to have gotten to this point. Ralf on the other hand is definitely one of the main villains here as he fully supports everything that’s being done. Part of the problem with having the Nazi’s as the main characters is that there is no way to sympathize with them so no matter what happens you’re left feeling that it is all due to what they have done. They’ve murdered numerous people already and likely even after this event there will be more to come.

Pretty much every other scene is something bad happening to someone. Someone’s being beaten or intimidated at all times. The ending keeps that mean spirited approach as well and you’ll probably understand what is about to happen as soon as the final scene starts to develop. I suppose it at least doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. The plot just never stood a chance from the start. It’s conceivable that you could try to have some kind of a decent film with a Nazi main character who learns the error of his ways and truly converts out of that. It would still have to be handled with the utmost care though and more times than not I would expect the attempt to fail. This film didn’t even try to go for that. The main characters are still Nazi’s by the end even if they are not pleased with what went on. I don’t really expect that to change in the end either. Maybe Elsa will put some distance but I’m not really sure about that.

In general if you’re going to have the main characters be on the villain’s side then there’s one of two ways to handle that. One is to make the villain fairly likable. The way to do that is by having a motive that you can understand and root for the villain to an extent or by having the villain be super charismatic so even while things are going on it’s not a tough watch. The other is to have the main character grow up on the villain’s side but realize it isn’t the right way and revolt. To do that the main character has to be old enough to make a difference though. So having a kid as a main character wasn’t going to work either way.

Overall, Even the name of the film will remind you of Bruno’s odd attempts to escape reality. It’s always tough when a film has no real redeemable qualities but I would have to say that this film fits the bill. There’s never a moment in the film where you will actually be enjoying it and that’s the problem. It tends to drag on for quite a long while and I would highly recommend skipping this film and going for something else instead. You’ve definitely got many better options for titles to check out.

Overall 0/10

The V.I.P.s Review


It’s time to look at a film with a few different plots all happening at the same time. Usually in a film you have all of the plots come together rather smoothly but in this case they tend to keep some distance from each other. They do overlap to an extent but still remain separate by and large. It’s a pretty fun film. On the whole all of the plots are rather solid although for the main plot it’s hard to say that you’re ever really rooting for the main two.

So lets take this one point by point. All of the main characters are getting ready to board a plane and get out of the area. They all have different reasons for wanting to get on the plane but unfortunately there are a lot of delays. The cast will now have to try and adjust their plans accordingly but a simple delay has ended up inconveniencing a whole lot of people. First up we’ve got Frances who has decided to abandon her husband Paul and escape with a guy named Marc. She doesn’t intend for him to find out yet so she left him a message at home. Ideally she will be long gone before he reads it but the delay has thrown a bit of a wrench into that idea. Paul’s a powerful man so if he finds out in time that will complicate things.

Then you have Max who has figured out a pretty great way to earn a lot of money and then skip out on the taxes. The trick is that he has to be able to leave the country within a certain amount of days or then he will have to pay off the sum. If the plane is delayed overnight then he will be in a real pickle. The actress Gloria is really enjoying this and the two have a lot of back and forth banter the whole time. Next up is Les who is trying to secure a huge business deal. He thought he had a sure thing with one of the buyers, but the guy broke their handshake agreement and has raised the price. Les needs to make a purchase with money he doesn’t have and if he can’t get the money into the bank in time then it’s all over. Completing a deal over the phone is very difficult though. His secretary Mead wants to help but ultimately that doesn’t mean Les will appreciate that.

Then you’ve also got a nice old lady who just so happens to be the Duchess. She isn’t used to flying all that much given how much difficulty she has in boarding the plane. She handles things a lot smoother than the rest of the cast. While everyone else is constantly stressing out and running around in terror, she keeps things in perspective and just makes sure to have a good time. Nobody is going to spoil her vacation that’s for sure. While her plot may not have been as intense as the others, she was a fun character to have around.

So with all of these characters there was quite a lot happening throughout the film. There was rarely any kind of slow moment and so the film keeps your interest rather well. The writing is on point and the character roster had a lot of variety. I wouldn’t say that I had any real problems with the film. Certainly some of the characters may not have been as likable as intended, but this just ends up feeling like a rather complete experience. I’m always up for stories with a lot of different characters.

Back to the top. For the first plot, naturally I didn’t care for Frances deciding to cheat on Paul with Marc. While the film tries to make the case that Frances abandoned Paul because he wasn’t very good at showing affection, it’s not for a lack of trying. From what we see in the film Paul seems like a good guy. It would be something if he turned out to be an antagonist but the guy fights as hard as he can for Frances. It does come across as his having being betrayed out of nowhere and Frances didn’t try to make amends. You’ve also got to consider that Marc has been a player for a while now and even has that reputation. He breaks down and goes back to his gambling habits during the movie as well. Would he have been able to change for Frances? I suppose that’s left up for you to decide but I would have my doubts.

While the film portrays Marc as a nice guy, you have to consider that he was having an affair with a married woman. By default that means he wasn’t actually a good person no matter how he tries to present himself. Paul is the one who really stole the show here. It was a pretty intense plot either way though and certainly got the most screen time. The next plot would be with team Max and it was a fun one. The resolution was a bit iffy though because it doesn’t seem like Gloria actually likes Max. The whole thing seems like it just flew over her head and she has no idea what is going on. Hopefully she is able to get on top of things in time though. Max may act like a crook but the rules he’s using appear to be legitimate loopholes so if anything you’d just have to blame the law on how he can get away with all of the money. He was a fun character to have around. While the plot itself couldn’t match the main one, I did like the constant insults they would throw at each other.

Then you have the plot with Les. He is definitely responsible for getting himself in this mess. You can’t trust a verbal agreement when millions of dollars are on the line. It’s just not the right call and of course he was going to get messed over in the end. That’s just the way it goes in business. I also thought he wasn’t very appreciative of Mead’s efforts. He was very quick to drop her whenever something would happen and the scene at the diner was most telling. Mead was a bit desperate and shouldn’t have been trying for Les since he was taken anyway though so as a whole that romance plot is one you couldn’t really root for just like the main one. I’d consider it to be the weakest of the main plots. It’s not bad though and just like the other plots you can feel how the plane delay really messed things up for him.

Overall, V.I.P.S. is a pretty good film. It’s a pretty fun look at what things are like in first class seating. The characters really only get to all interact at once when they briefly go to the lobby to try and make phone calls. All of them are desperate for the phone but they’re still courteous about it which is nice. If you like films with a good amount of drama then this is a solid one to check out. You’ll also get to see who you’re rooting for here. At one point a character even takes out a gun which makes for a pretty tense scene. With the stakes this high some characters can definitely endure it better than others.

Overall 7/10

Children of the Damned Review


It’s time to look at a sequel to a film that you would have thought would just end. I suppose there’s always room for a sequel though and I’ll never fault the idea of it, but this movie clearly didn’t have much of a plan. The villains themselves don’t have much of a plan and since the alien angle has been removed the movie is lacking that big punch that it could have had. Throw in some animal violence and I’m afraid that you’re in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

The film starts by reintroducing us to the 6 miracle children. As in the last film they all share a brain and so they all know what each others learns. Then you’ve got the fact that they have advanced hypnosis where they can control a person to do whatever they want with ease. These abilities make them hard to control or defeat. Tom and David are two people who are interested in these children but the situation quickly goes above their paygrade. Members of each embassy have decided that the children are too dangerous and are led by a man named Colin in destroying them. Can Tom and David stop them or will they ultimately decide that perhaps Colin is right and these children are too dangerous to live?

Naturally this film confronts you with the question of if it’s right to destroy these kids. Whether they’re aliens or not, the kids still appear to be children so right off the bat destroying them does not seem to be just. It’s also true that they tend to not strike unless someone attacks first but due to the nature of their powers you can never know if that is correct. When you are mind controlled you have no memory of this happening and so they could have already been manipulating people. Their abilities are effectively impossible to stop so your only bet is to take them down from afar.

I don’t think we needed to be reintroduced to the gang though. Having Tom and David know about the kids beforehand would have been pretty good I’d say. They make for solid main characters though. At first they’re just interested in what’s going on. They have some fun debates with Colin, a man the government has sent to put a stop to this. There is a lot of theorizing going on until eventually everyone is forced to choose a side which even leads to some in-fighting. At the end of the day they don’t handle the situations very well though. From Colin’s side, since he wants to destroy the kids that should be very easy. If you blow up the buildings or snipe from afar then there’s nothing their mental abilities can do. Instead a lot of the time you see them send in guards at close range who are promptly defeated. The worst attempt was likely when they had 3 guys walk up to the main kid and try to attack him. As if that stood a chance of succeeding.

The film could have gone a long way if it actually made the kids likable. Then you’d be able to sympathize with them or something. The problem is that they act like emotionless robots. Additionally they all seem to be evil from the jump, forcing their parents to crash into cars and messing with the dog. Yes, the film had to force in a dog death which did not do it any favors. I don’t see what the point of having the dog in the film was either. It’s not like it changes anything so in the end all it does is give the film another chance to fail. Why were the kids acting like this anyway? I suppose it’s the ole power corrupts case where growing up with invincible telepathy made them turn to the dark side. I could see it I suppose but from the first film the kids seemed evil from the start as if they were being controlled.

It’s why the film should not have gone away from the alien angle. These kids just being ahead of their time makes a whole lot less sense. I suppose aliens could be trolling by evolving people at random but the idea that aliens sent in advance scouts makes a lot more sense. Of course that could still be the case since the humans are just guessing but usually when the guess is presented like this is means that we’re supposed to take it as correct. Too bad, the film could have had a lot more mileage out of the alien idea. Towards the end the characters even ask the kids if they have any kind of plan and they basically shrug and say no. So much for the villains being interesting.

All I can say for the film is that it had some decent characters at least. I enjoyed the banter with the main 3 guys as well as Paul’s guardian who did her best for most of the film. She was effectively held as a hostage for the second half of it though so there wasn’t a whole lot she can do. The scenes of the kids just staring into the screen can get old pretty quickly though. It’s just hard to make a kid look scary at that age so you’re more likely to chuckle than grimace.

Overall, This is definitely not a film that I would recommend. It feels rather aimless for most of its run to the point where you question why the film has come out. What is the message that the film is going for? I suspect you will still be puzzling through that notion at the film concludes. The ending is pretty bad even if it was all part of the kids’ plans. It still makes the characters not look so good and you feel like things never had to escalate to this point. Surely characters with genius level intellect could think of another path or something right? Almost any other plan would have been more effective.

Overall 1/10

Selector Spread WIXOSS Review


It’s time to look at the next season of Wixoss. This one directly continues from the first since there was such a cliffhanger there. The characters are still trying to pick up the pieces as their next adventure starts. Unfortunately some characters have been gravely broken to the point where they are practically written out of the show (Midoriko, Kazuki) and others have been mentally drained and no longer have the same fire that they once did (Ruko, Akira) so have the villains already won? This season is weaker than the first in almost every way but the Yuzuki plot takes a backseat here which is always great. Thanks to the body snatching the scenes with Hanayo and Kazuki also aren’t as bad although since he doesn’t know it doesn’t make him look any better.

The series picks up with Ruko on the rooftop staring in shock as her partner is now Iona instead of Tama. Iona proclaims that her wish was to be teamed with the strongest so now it has come true. Ruko isn’t thrilled about this and vows not to fight in anymore Wixoss battles as she tries to save Tama. The problem is, how can you hope to find and save Tama without battling? It’s a difficult problem that Ruko doesn’t really have a solution for. Her friends are no help as they constantly pressure her not to fight. Additionally the villains are on the move. Urith has decided to manipulate Akira so that she can plunge more people into despair. Ruko’s realistically the only one who can stand up to this menace.

Mainly I had some issues with Ruko here as her character went south very quickly. In the first season she finally steeled her resolve in the climax that she would do whatever it took to save all of the Lrigs. To that effect she lied to Tama and tried to sacrifice herself. Tama saw through this goal and stopped her so Ruko is back to square one. Instead of continuing with that same energy Ruko is back to being way more hesitant to fight. Even when Hitoe is being beaten up in front of her it takes an awful long time to battle. Battling is really the only way you can stand up to the villains. No matter what her friends may think, Ruko’s only recourse here is to fight. If she doesn’t fight then they don’t stand a chance and at the end of the day that’s the big hurdle that they need to get past.

So even by the end I wasn’t a big fan of Ruko here. She does what she has to do very reluctantly all the way through to the final episode where Tama has to ask her to actually fight seriously. As a result of her half hearted determination the ending doesn’t exactly seem to work out for everyone as smoothly as it could have. In contrast Tama was pretty solid here. She makes all of the right moves. Tama is given a chance to escape but doing so would have unlocked her dark side for good so she stayed in. She figures out how to exit a cage on her own and in general just seems to have a good grasp on the situation. Now that her memories are back she’s also able to reason things out rather well regarding Mayu’s goals. She’s still the strongest LRig out there even if her max power form makes her lose control.

Then you have Iona. Now that could be referring to quite a few characters at this point but I’m talking about the one from season 1 who is Ruko’s LRig the whole time. You can’t help but feel bad for her here since she seemingly got her wish but it’s nothing like what she was expecting since Ruko refuses to fight. Now she has effectively trapped herself in a card for no reason. She doesn’t let it get her down though and does a good job of hanging in there throughout. Iona looks good throughout the whole series. I was still half expecting the twist about her being Ruko’s mother since I felt like season 1 foreshadowed that a bit but I guess that’s not the case. Probably for the best since Ruko’s mother didn’t appear to be the nicest person back in the flashbacks.

As you’d expect Yuzuki’s role here is a lot smaller than in season 1. She’s trapped in a card after all so she can talk a lot but there’s no chance for her to act. I can see her fans being a little upset at this since once you’re in a card it just feels like you aren’t as important. The worst part for her is that Hitoe owns her so she can’t expect to get many wins either. In her only big battle I was rooting for the opponent. So Yuzuki’s okay here compared to season 1 but she gives the worst advice all of the time. She’s one of the main reasons why Ruko is so confused.

Naturally this doesn’t reflect well on Hitoe as well. She manages to get kidnapped here and just seems to hold Ruko back. I’d like to see her improve her Wixoss skills a bit and actually become an ally Ruko can rely on. I think that would do a world of good for her character and would be the first step to getting her on the map. It doesn’t seem likely but I suppose there is always a chance in the world of Wixoss. Hanayo also appears a bit of course but not a whole lot. She’s definitely not taking the situation all that well and ends up panicking near the end. She is far gone from her days of being the cold calculating LRig.

It goes without saying that Kazuki is still pretty annoying here. He suspects nothing to the point where the only explanation is that he just doesn’t know Wixoss anymore. Why else would he completely stop contacting Ruko and Hitoe? If he had talked to them at all he probably would have gotten a better sense of what is happening. How did he also not suspect that something was up? Yuzuki is back but no more cards and she never hangs out with her friends anymore? I say, Kazuki’s either extremely dense or extremely gullible if Hanayo just made up some story. Either way it’s not a good look for him.

Chiyori gets a much bigger role in this season and it’s for the better. She quickly rose up to be one of the best characters in the season with ease. She brings a lot of energy to the game and doesn’t get scared the way the others do. She really wants to win and has already accepted the risks. Her final duel is definitely the most emotional since everyone is against her. The “heroes” have decided that her being knocked out of the game would be best and her own LRig is trying to lose. It’s very difficult to win under those circumstances. I definitely felt bad for Chiyori since she easily gets one of the saddest endings out of all the characters in the series. Still, she had a great run though and ended up being one of the best characters either way. She definitely won’t be forgotten.

Fumio appears briefly but doesn’t have much of a role in the season beyond giving the heroes a quick info dump. Doesn’t really do anything beyond that though so you would be forgiven for forgetting that Fumio exists. Urith gets a bigger role here than in season 1 but I wouldn’t say that she looks great. She’s going for more of a manipulative angle for sure as she messes with Akira the whole time but the main problem is just that it shouldn’t work. Akira has never been portrayed as such a gullible character before so why start now? The whole plot was rather weak and it didn’t do wonders for Urith. She is good as a card but not great as a human.

As for Akira, she has taken the biggest fall this season. In season 1 she was hardcore as she went around stomping everyone in her path and just dishing out damage. In this season she is portrayed as extremely needy and gets depressed if Urith isn’t around. What happened to her? Gone are definitely the days when she was a big threat that everyone had to fear. It’s a shame because almost all of Akira’s scenes are just painful now. She will get the occasional good moment but they are very rare. The stab for example was good but the fact that it was not fatal wasn’t. She had quite the character turn but it’s so sudden and so massive that it just doesn’t feel like the same character anymore. I gotta say that this was just a mistake and this is the kind of plot that does hurt a season. Her scenes can be tough to watch.

Finally we have Mayu who is the mastermind behind all of this. She’s fairly spoiled and seems twisted from the start. At first you may figure that she’s a good person who went down the wrong path but that’s not the case at all. She’s portrayed as being clearly twisted right from the start. So much for that idea eh? It’s hard to feel bad for her. Sure, she is trapped in a room for all of eternity but she has magical powers by which she can make an entire game. If she had left it at that she would have been good. Why add the final rule that the lower has to get corrupted and live a life of misery while the winner turns into a card? These are rules that are completely unnecessary and definitely destroy any chance Mayu had at being sympathetic. She just wants to see the other characters suffer which isn’t very heroic of her.

The animation is definitely solid like in the first season. There isn’t a noticeable difference between them which makes sense since the season came out shortly after the first. If anything the first season may still have some of the most dynamic scenes like Yuzuki’s contract still being the most awe inspiring with all of the crimson effects everywhere. All of the contract scenes are always stunning with all of the energy effects being used though. Beyond that the animation is just smooth with the action scenes being very dynamic. Tama landing her hand to hand combo while in dark mode for example was definitely pretty intense. There’s definitely nothing to dislike there. As for the soundtrack the themes are mainly the same as in the first season. We do get a new opening though which is pretty solid. Both openings are very close to each other so it’s hard to say which is better. They both have a solid ominous theme behind them.

Ultimately I would say that the season is a little weaker than the first thanks in part to Akira really being thrown away as a character. She was so cool in season 1 so I don’t know why the show would go in this direction. It was unexpected so I’ll give the writers that but she just doesn’t feel like the same character. Her Akalucky name just doesn’t work now with all of these bad things happening to her. It’s also always hard to quite match the first season for a mysterious anime like this. Now we know the rules of the game and such so the main obstacle is the heroes trying to stop Mayu and get Tama back as opposed to figuring out why they are battling.

We get more origin stories and such which are good for lore but not quite as interesting as the main story itself. I still feel like Fumio doesn’t serve much of a role in the story and Mayu is a pretty weak villain. Her goals and plans aren’t all that good. That’s not a writing thing though, I’m pretty sure you’re meant to think that Mayu has just confused herself over and over with her plans. She could have easily had a happy ending if she had actually tried for it. The season itself has a far more definitive ending than the first season though. This is the kind of ending where you almost wouldn’t even need another season. Of course it’s always good to have more and more since I think all franchises should strive to be as long as possible. There’s always a way to bring more to the story and future plotlines for Ruko are pretty obvious. Her goals are not yet 100% complete so she’ll need to work on that.

The rules of the game are still not really explained but this season tries to show them a bit more. We actually acknowledge trap cards now and we see opponents using counters and strategies against each other. Evidently the elemental nature of the decks is also quite important here to the point where it’s hard for some elements to beat others. I have to say that this seems like a potentially troublesome mechanic since that invites a bit of rock paper scissors into the mix. It’s all the more reason to feel bad for Chiyori since she was trying her best. Not everyone can be a winner of course as there will be a loser in each fight but it would have been nice to see her win more. At the end of the day she is just a kid though and I suppose she hasn’t come into her own in terms of ability quite yet.

Overall, Wixoss continues to be a pretty interesting magical girl show even if the execution isn’t quite there yet. It’s still not able to get the same sense of dread as Madoka or if it’s slowly trying to transition it still doesn’t have the same energy as Angelic Layer. So it’s sort of stuck in the middle where bad things happen happen to the heroes and there is a sense of danger but not at the same level and the heroes are a little too hesitant to do anything about it. In a way it’s tough for the cast because Ruko is the only hero who can really fight well. It’ll be good for her to get some more reliable allies at some point in the future. If you already saw season 1 then you should definitely continue the saga. There’s less Yuzuki and Kazuki which is always good but Akira’s plot is really bad so get ready to shake your head once she appears. How the mighty have fallen!

Overall 5/10

Selector Infected WIXOSS Review


It’s time to look at the first season of Wixoss. Wixoss is one of those series that has a pretty cool concept but limits itself with a particular subplot. Online a lot of times you see people mention how they love anime but have a hard time recommending them to people who are not yet initiated into the format because of a plot or character that can be iffy. I can definitely see what they mean as even the best of titles tend to have some iffy elements that you more or less get used to as you watch them. That said, this one definitely sabotages itself early on but I’ll get more into that in a bit.

The series follows a girl named Ruko who doesn’t really have any friends. As a result her brother and grandma tend to worry about her. One day she is introduced to the game of Wixoss and can even talk to one of her cards. The card is an Lrig named Tama. Ruko then meets up with a girl named Yuzuki who challenges her to a battle. Ruko is winning the battle but it is then interrupted and she is told the full story. Ruko has been chosen as a “Selector” which means that her battles of Wixoss will be different from most. If she wins enough battles then she will have her wish granted. The problem is that Ruko has no wish that she wants to grant. All of the other girls are fighting as if their lives are on the line because their wish is so important. Can Ruko really fight and destroy these wishes with none of her own? At the same time, Ruko has only started to make some friends because of the game so if she stops now then she may lose them all.

Right from the start I imagine you’ll have some doubts on how legit the game is. In magical girl shows like this there is always a catch. Just look at Madoka where you end up turning into a witch at the end. I’ll go into this more later on in a spoiler paragraph that I’ll warn you about before entering. In the meantime lets talk more about the show in general. The rules of Wixoss are never really explained. The show doesn’t bother to lay the groundwork here which is a shame. Scripting out entire battles can be pretty difficult which is why it’s always so impressive when Yugioh does it. This show takes the easy way out as it focuses on just showing us the characters attacking and you have to trust that they’re following the rules. There’s no way to really tell though so that makes things a little easier on the writers.

The animation for the show is definitely pretty solid. The character designs are on point and the energy effects look sharp. When we do get the occasional hand to hand technique combo the animation is quite smooth as well. This isn’t really an action title at its core but it can certainly deliver. The animation is also really sharp whenever a contract is made. I liked the lighting during episode 12 as well which helped solidify that as the best episode. It had a very theatrical feel to it as the end drew near.

As for the soundtrack, it’s a little less memorable but I did like it. It’s not a huge soundtrack or anything but I wouldn’t expect it to be for only 12 episodes. There will be a handful of tunes you will enjoy though. I also liked the opening well enough. Wixoss definitely did well in all of the technical areas as you would expect. It’s basically like Megaman or Angelic Layer with the setting and this is just taking a darker look at the genre. Even then it’s nowhere near as dark as Madoka or something but throughout the show you know things are not going to go well for the heroes.

All right, lets talk about the troublesome plot. Yuzuki is one of the main characters and her wish is for her to be together with her brother Kazuki. Unfortunately along the way she started to like him and not in a family sense. It’s an unfortunate plot here in part because it takes up so much space. This isn’t super uncommon for anime. Usually though it’s played for laughs like in Black Clover or Railgun. It’s a comedy plot that shows up every now and then and you can almost write it off as not actually being serious from the character’s perspective in some anime. I’d say both of those are serious but they’re gag plots in the background that don’t effect much. Wixoss decides to take this plot quite seriously and have them deal with everyone’s reactions and how society considers it taboo. Unfortunately it doesn’t land.

Sword Art Online gets attacked a lot for its similar plot with Suguha and Kirito but that series actually tackled it a lot better. Suguha actually tried to get over Kirito by playing video games but unfortunately the next guy she liked turned out to be Kirito in disguise. So at least she tried to escape. When Kirito found out he very quickly and decisively shut that down. He did it in a nice way of course but did not entertain the notion for an instant. She’s his sister even if that’s not literally the case it’s how he sees her so it wouldn’t work. In this show Kazuki very quickly crumbles after 10 minutes of Yuzuki being direct and it’s all over for him.

The show definitely approaches this in a serious way but it’s not a good idea from the start. That’s because there’s no way you could spin this into a good thing. It just comes across as creepy immediately and gets way more screen time than it should. I was originally hoping Yuzuki’s wish was that they weren’t related so she could then make her move. That would have at least helped but since it wasn’t then this issue was not solved. So this plot is really what would prevent me from being able to recommend this show. It’s just a hard plot to get around and ends up dramatically hurting both of their characters. Kazuki in particular since he folds so easily. You’d think he could have stayed strong for more than a day. Instead he proves to be quite weak willed.

As for Yuzuki, it’s a shame since she was probably the most enjoyable character for a little while there. I like that she has a tougher disposition than the others. When the two characters get held at knifepoint by Akira Yuzuki is pretty quick to push her away. When the bullies are after Ruko Yuzuki is also key to eluding them and helping her evacuate the school. There’s just no way to overlook this plot though which definitely has her take a huge hit in the character department. I do doubt her skills as a Wixoss player though since she was losing to a girl who had never played before and didn’t even know the rules. How does that happen?

Ruko is the main character and she ends up being a strong one by the end. She really just wants to have some friends and is glad to have someone to talk too. She didn’t have the greatest childhood although her situation is a lot better now that she’s with her grandma. Getting involved in a game of life or death to her wishes is a pretty big next step though. While she is fairly undecided for a good portion of the story, she does get herself resolved by the end. I greatly enjoyed her character in the final episodes as she finally got serious. She’s consistently been shown to be the strongest character in the series here and the only thing that holds her back is self doubt. Without that she would be able to crush her opponents with ease.

Tama is one of the main Lrigs and definitely the best one. She’s not manipulative the way the others are. In a way this is because she lost her memories though. Unlike the others she has no idea on what is going on here and just wants a good fight. She loves fighting and as a result is always asking Ruko to participate. It’s definitely good to have an LRig who enjoys the game. It makes things easier on Ruko at least and they make for a good combo. Tama’s card must have great stats as well with how she easily takes care of her opponents.

Then you have Iona who is one of the main antagonists here. She’s rich and one of the most powerful players so she can come across as rather intimidating. She’s not unhinged the way that Akira is but still exudes an aura of great power. She’s not someone that you want to mess with and she’s a very solid character. She’s probably the only person who doesn’t back down to Akira. Aside from her fights with Ruko you never get the feeling that she’s in trouble. It’s why she makes for a great villain and the back and forth with Ruko in the final episode made for a very intense final battle.

Then you have Hanayo who is Yuzuki’s partner. She comes across as one of the wiser Lrigs although because of that you can’t really trust her. After all, the more you know about the game the more that you are keeping from your Selector. Hanayo certainly has plans of her own. The show tries to make her a sympathetic figure but it’s hard to buy into it. She knew exactly what she was doing and the only reason she didn’t say anything is for her own benefit. So no matter how you slice it, she’s not someone that you can trust.

Akira is one of the villains of the series and easily the best character by the end. She is definitely willing to win by any means necessary and is the most savage fighter. What I also liked about her was her quick wit. She can read into the wish of her opponents and always twists it in such a way where the opponent loses confidence. She does this to all 3 of the main characters with great success. In particular it was impressive with how she handled Ruko since you’d think that not having a wish would trip her up but Akira takes it in stride. She can be rather insane and cruel but that’s what makes Akira so good. Her nickname gimmick is fun as well. You won’t find a character tougher than Akira. From this season you can tell that nothing will break her. The fact that she even tried attacking the characters in the real world showed her true resolve.

Chiyori is a character who shows up briefly in the series but doesn’t get much of a role here. She basically serves as a quick opponent to be defeated and someone who still plays the game for fun. By the end of the season she won’t have made much of an impression on you although her outfit is cool. Midoriko is probably the worst of the LRigs in the series. Just a very weak character all around and doesn’t make any of the right decisions. As an LRig you either need to embrace being the villain or try to be a rare hero. Midoriko tries to act sympathetic the entire time but when you’re always saying the plot twists a bit too late, it starts to ring as hollow.

Urith is an example of an LRig who likes being the antagonist. She talks tough throughout the series and definitely isn’t afraid of anyone. She is a very interesting character and definitely one that you like to have around. It helps that she can back up her tough talk. Finally we have Hitoe who is definitely the most timid member of the main group. She’s not really much of a fighter at all and tends to lose just about every battle she’s in. Her backstory is rather tough since she’s never had friends before and wants some but isn’t sure how to go about it. I was glad that her mother appears as a very reasonable character and not one who is making things even tougher on her. Ultimately Hitoe has a solid character arc but she never quite rose up for me. She stayed as a fairly weak character and I’ll need to see her step up to the plate to change that.

These next 2 paragraphs are the spoiler ones so please keep that in mind and skip them if you have not seen the show yet. You don’t want to keep on reading. So it turns out that the cost for losing 3 battles is that your wish becomes distorted and you forget about Wixoss. For example if your wish is to make friends then you can never make friends again. It’s a tough penalty but not one that really sticks. We find out in the series that you can override the negative wish if you have enough willpower. It makes sense though because the wish also has limits. It turns out that the Wixoss cards can’t really use magic to make wishes come true. What happens is if you win enough battles, your Lrig takes over your body and you take its place. It actually makes a lot of sense since it’s pronounced Elrig and the girls are told they will become Eternal Girls when they win. If you spell that backwards it would be GirlE. (Eternal Girl) It turns out that it’s spelled a different way as I found out when writing this review but because of that you may figure out the twist almost immediately.

With few exceptions, the Lrigs have no real powers. So that means if your wish is to take over a Kingdom or something it’s not going to happen. Literally how the pact works is once the LRig takes over your body it has to fulfill the wish you asked for to the best of its abilities. A lot of these wishes are pretty easy like becoming an author or making friends. Some like claiming a romance should be more difficult but the Lrigs tend to have some charm. It does then make sense why they can’t enforce the negative wishes so well either. I do still question how Akira overrode hers so easily though. She didn’t forget the game for an instant and went right back on the attack. I suppose her will is just rock solid. So the whole game feels like a scam the more you think about it but of course the characters don’t know this. It’s an interesting twist since usually the powers are absolute.

The best episode of the series is definitely the last one for me. I was glad that Ruko finally had a strong resolve and fought for it. Her deception to Tama was a pretty big one though. I suppose she figured Tama would never know but in a game where your LRig can read your mind at times that is very risky. I do think Ruko’s decision was a good one but while I understand the lie, she should have been upfront with Tama. It may not have worked but it’s a risk you have to take. The idea of a quick tournament while climbing up the tower made for a solid climax as well. It’s just a great way to end the season and the cliffhanger is intense. You definitely know there will be a season 2 from how it ends but if not that would have been quite the ending for sure.

Overall, Wixoss had a rocky first season. If you take away Yuzuki’s plot then this definitely gets bumped up a pair of stars but ultimately that plot is absolutely crucial to the season in the sense that it appears in almost every episode. It would basically be a different show without it. There are ways the show could have fixed it and had a similar plot instead but the past is the past. With how events unfold in this season the next one will have changed the dynamic a bit. So the show handles most of its aspects rather well but I’d sooner recommend checking out the original Magical Girl show with high stakes known as Madoka Magica. To this day that’s still one of the all stars of anime.

Overall 5/10

Draft Day Review


It’s time to look at an NFL film from a while back. I always like to see films based on Football because it’s such an interesting sport. Watching the live games is already great so a film like this would be sure to land as well. Having the Browns be the main focus also makes sense since they tend to never be doing all that well. This year is the first time they’ve had a winning record in many years as it is. Of course that means you feel like the Browns are doomed no matter what here but at least they’re trying to draft well. Ultimately this is a solid title even if I feel like some plots weren’t really needed.

Draft Day is here and the Browns GM Sonny is being pressured on who to draft. The owner Anthony wants Sonny to pick up the #1 quarterback since he is guaranteed to make a splash. The coach thinks that Sonny should be picking up a running back to help the offensive team really have a balanced attack. Personally Sonny wants a linebacker since he believes that this guy is the best fit for the team but defensive players don’t tend to make big headlines like that. It’s just the way it’s always been and Sonny knows that his job is on the line here. Is there a way he can make this draft a success without getting himself fired?

Naturally the owner has a lot of pull so you can’t blame Sonny for quickly thinking he just needs to go with what his boss says. At the end of the day if the owner wants something it’s going to be pretty hard to stop him if you want to keep your job. The pressure he gets from the coach isn’t nearly as serious. It’s also tough because a fresh quarterback can change everything while a superstar defensive player can only do so much on his own. It’s why quarterbacks tend to make so much money. No single player is a whole team but the quarterback does have his hands on the ball for every offensive play so he has more control than any other player on the field. Additionally this quarterback seemingly has no weaknesses and is considered the best player in the draft.

I’m glad that the film didn’t give us a cop out by making the quarterback turn out to be terrible or anything. We do get some potential weaknesses on and off the field here but the film doesn’t do anything too drastic so there’s still a good debate to be had. The linebacker, running back, and quarterback are all very valid picks to be sure. I also enjoyed all of the banter between the teams. There was a lot of fun back and forth with the Seahawks for example. He definitely manipulated the Browns GM with ease initially although Sonny gets ready to start turning the tables later on. None of the other teams get huge roles although they are certainly present the whole time.

What I could have done without here was mainly the plot with Sonny and his family. In particular he had some issues with his mother and his Ex. This plot didn’t really seem to add much to the film and also hurt Sonny as the main character. While their demands weren’t always the most reasonable, it just makes Sonny a bit less sympathetic when he’s yelling and breaking laptops. He seems like a guy who ultimately balks when there’s a lot of pressure as seen with his opening draft deal which was pretty terrible. The film tries to make this up by showing his greatness later on but the final deal is extremely convenient to the point where it’s not very realistic. Personally I’d say an ideal ending would have just omitted the final part of the deal or nerfed it a bit so there was still some sacrifice while giving an ending that worked out for all of the characters. I think that would have worked out quite nicely.

One character I enjoyed quite a bit was the coach. He definitely disagreed with Sonny at almost literally every turn but I liked his confidence. The guy clearly just wanted to make sure his offense was intact and didn’t like that Sonny’s trade threatened to jeopardize everything. Sonny’s right that he has no obligation to bring the coach in on these decisions but when the decisions are incredibly suspect like that it does make you think that the coach had a point. In a way the film shows the organization as being very split in their decision making which makes a decent amount of sense when you consider how poorly the team tends to handle its new recruits. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a lot of disagreements within the staff there.

We also have a subplot with Sonny and his secret girlfriend Ali that doesn’t seem to add a whole lot to the film. It’s the kind of romance where you feel like they could have just gone public with it a lot sooner and it wouldn’t have been an issue. As it is it seems like all of the important characters knew that they were together anyway. Sonny also didn’t take Ali’s news at the beginning very well either although interestingly the film mainly starts right as/after the announcement was made rather than having a whole scene devoted to it. I thought that was a good idea.

So what I’m getting at here is that the sports aspect of the film was great but the drama around it wasn’t as solid as it could have been. The sports angle is why I liked the film though and it more than makes up for the rest. The writing is definitely really solid when it’s focused on the main plot. The pacing is nice and tight with a lot happening at all times. Whether you like Football or not I expect you can enjoy this film. Some of the terminology may go over your head but the film at least explains the main parts so you should understand what is going on with the draft.

Overall, Draft Day is a solid film. I don’t think it’ll go down as being the definitive NFL title or anything like that but I thought it was handled well. Draft Day is definitely one of the biggest days for a GM since a lot of important calls are made on that day and they will be remembered for the rest of your career. Make a mistake and people aren’t going to let you forget it even after years have passed. That’s just the way things shake out here and not without due cause. A GM makes a whole lot of money to be able to prepare for days like this so you have to be ready. In that sense Sonny should have had his team prepared a little better than he did at the start but he learned gradually as the film went on. It was also a really nice touch that the coach had been with the Cowboys and won a Super Bowl. Even this film had to remember to acknowledge that the Cowboys are always winners!

Overall 7/10

Light in the Piazza Review


It’s time to look at a romance film from a long time ago. We get to spend most of it in Italy so it’s always fun to have another location at the ready. It’s definitely a very busy area with a lot of people running around throughout the film. The heroines even come close to getting hit by a car near the beginning of the film. I wouldn’t say it’s all that good, but the film has some unique twists. Ultimately it’s just hard to get behind the romance plots here and Meg has one scene near the end that is very suspect.

The film starts with Meg and Clara enjoying the sights in Italy. Clara ends up dropping her hat but fortunately a nice young man by the name of Fabrizio shows up to snatch it. He has some fun running with the hat before finally giving it back to Clara. He instantly confesses to being deeply in love with Clara but Meg tries to break this off right away. See, Clara effectively has the mental abilities of a child so she always speaks her mind instantly and throws tantrums. She also falls in love quite easily and ultimately has gotten rejected quite a few times once they find out. This is what happened even in the latest relationship before this one which is why they went to Italy. So, Clara is always rebounding with someone and that makes you doubt how serious the relationship itself is.

With this in mind Meg just wants to avert another disaster but Fabrizio is far too cunning. He is fairly wealthy so he pays everyone off so they say where the main characters are at all times. It’s pretty impressive in some respects since this was before the age of cell phones. That means the guy had to do a whole lot of legwork to keep up with them. He’s determined to be sure but can’t really take no for an answer. He works well for a movie but I don’t see this approach working out too well nowadays otherwise. At least he never doubts his love for Clara so even if it started out as purely superficial (Love at first sight can be nothing else as you know nothing about the person at the time) it’s fair to say that it was genuine shortly after. The language gap if anything was actually a good thing since it helped them connect. The film is consistent in portraying Fabrizio as a nice guy.

Now, Meg could have quickly just laid the cards out on the table and see if he still feels the same way. Ultimately she just isn’t able to work up the courage to do so. She bonds fairly well with Fabrizio’s father Signor although that guy is less reasonable. He gives us the worst scene in the film where he convinces Meg to briefly cheat with him and would have gone further if she hadn’t declined. Definitely not a classy guy in the slightest since he is supposed to be married as well. Why couldn’t this guy have stayed classy? He was handling himself rather well for most of the film but definitely messed up the landing there. The whole ID fiasco was also sketchy.

It’s effectively the film trying to throw a quick red herring into the mix. Now if this is a big cultural thing then I guess it could work, but I don’t buy Signor forgetting Fabrizio’s age. I figured there would be a twist about that but the film never really goes into it. When it comes to age, so long as both parties are over 18 a few years isn’t a big deal. I think you definitely can’t go over 10 though or at least I don’t see it going well. Ideally you should be within 2-3 years of each other but I don’t think a few more make much of a difference either. Eventually it becomes a bit relative. Signor seemed more interested in the money by the end though as he perks up when Meg lies about their giving them a bigger gift from the father.

The way the film ends, Fabrizio and his family don’t know much of anything yet. They’ll have to deal with the consequences of the money and Clara’s status at a later date. Perhaps they will never find out as Meg suspects since their days are mostly spent sitting and gossiping but the money will have to be addressed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Noel would just give it though. Now that he won’t have to pay for the school either way he will have extra money on hand so perhaps it won’t really matter. Either way Signor was definitely no good and as I recall his character he would have to be the worst one in the film.

The film’s writing isn’t bad. Again, I can’t buy into the romance because it all feels like a lot of rebounds but in general it is hard to write romances. You tend to see more misses than hits in that field. Otherwise it’s a fun enough script and it’s also interesting seeing the process of learning Italian. I find it to be a little difficult since I’m already a little familiar with Spanish so it just gets confusing with the slight changes. I’m sure if you learned it first then it would be a lot easier or for some it may be easier to learn it after since a lot of it would be the same.

As for Clara herself, she’s an ok character. She can definitely be pretty unreasonable at times like not wanting to listen to any worries about Fabrizio and getting a bit obsessive at times. She definitely put him as the top priority even though they just met which isn’t a good move. Romance shouldn’t be at your top of the list of priorities. It ends up wrecking her day more often than not since she can’t really enjoy any of the other activities on the trip. They all seemed pretty fun too like hanging out as fancy restaurants and visiting the landmarks.

Overall, Light in the Piazza is definitely one of those stories about how love triumphs over all. At the end of the day Fabrizio’s persistence was definitely rewarded. He never gave up and did everything he could in order to win over Clara’s heart. In truth he won it over very quickly and Meg was the only real obstacle in his path. It does show that you have to be careful since everyone can be bought though. Even the hotel manager wasn’t safe as he called right when they left the place. So, next time someone nonchalantly asks where you’re going you may want to think twice before giving out that information.

Overall 5/10