The Marathon Man Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film. I think it probably would have ended up doing better if we had gotten to see more marathon running and such. As it stands the whole marathon thing is only useful/relevant for one or two scenes. A weak script and over the top violence ensures that this film doesn’t end up going far. It’s not a suspense-thriller that will be fondly remembered. If anything it quickly gets overshadowed by many other titles.

It turns out that a few Nazi troopers survived and they are bent on causing havoc in America. They have a lot of gold in one of our vaults and plan to re-obtain all of their riches so they can go ahead and launch future schemes. They’ll have to find the key to the vault though which was lost in a big explosion. Agents Henry and Peter have to stop these guys, but there may be more forces at work here than they know. Meanwhile a local student named Thomas is just trying to live an ordinary life. He is running around a lot to prep his marathon skills, but isn’t looking for any trouble. Still, trouble finds him as he is roped into this secret battle of countries. Can he survive this experience?

I’ll give the film some credit for keeping the main character separate from the plot for quite a while. I dare say that Thomas doesn’t have anything to do for the whole first half of the film. He’s just walking around and trying to get to know other students at this point. Meanwhile his brother Henry is a secret agent who seems to work for hire. He apparently used to be the best in the business although he has slowly grown pretty sluggish over the years. The villains want him dead and he knows it, but getting out of the situation is still pretty difficult. He didn’t handle his final scene very well though. He basically just walks up to the villain and starts making threats. What did he think was going to happen? I mean, you’ve got to keep your guard up for moments like these, especially if you’re making threats at someone. Otherwise you’re just asking to get stabbed.

As for the main villain, Szell, he’s basically your average mad scientist. In this case he is also a dentist. He’s not the smartest tool in the shed as he very nearly gets caught several times as he suspiciously walks in and out of jewelry shops. The whole dentist thing is also really just used so we can get a torture scene in the film. Definitely another moment that hurt the film quite a bit. By the end Szell refuses to betray his honor and throws in one last attack, but even that shouldn’t have been as close as it was. The characters in this film seem to keep forgetting that he is an old man.

Back to the lead, Thomas isn’t a very good character. For starters he is very gullible. Henry easily sees past Elsa’s fake cover story while Thomas doesn’t care. So long as Elsa gives him a nice time he doesn’t mind that he’s being played for the fool. That’s not the kind of lead you want. He also should have known that something was up since the whole situation with Elsa was incredibly convenient and contrived. As if a proper romance would start so quickly. He never becomes a lead that you can depend on and naturally I wasn’t a fan of Elsa either. She’s not someone you would want to trust.

Peter is another agent who was Henry’s best friend. I think the problem with his character is that he looks evil from the start. Yeah, that can be deceiving I suppose, but he acts so suspicious in his very first scene that you instantly don’t trust him. It’s so obvious that you feel like Henry should have noticed as well. He doesn’t technically work for Szell as they each have their own motivations, but at the end of the day they’re both villains. Now, you may want to know if it’s possible for 3 guys with guns to lose to one amateur with a gun and that fight happens in the film so I won’t tell you who wins. All I can say is that if you have a gun you should probably use it. Otherwise you’ll just end up being shot.

As I mentioned the writing isn’t particularly good here. The film had to air-beep so many words you’d be surprised. None of the characters are particularly likable and the villains didn’t even seem well coordinated. How come none of them thought to look for the key in the rubble of the explosion? Why bother with a second key when you have a backup? Why not capture Henry instead of offing him so they could make him talk? You’ll be questioning the characters quite a lot throughout the movie. Likewise, Thomas rarely makes the right call. If you hear someone fiddling around in your apartment and breaking things down then you should probably get out of the bathtub right? That will just leave you as a sitting duck if you stay in there. I already spoke a bit about how the romance was very rushed so no need to elaborate on it. It’s a classic love at first sight plot which doesn’t work well for any film.

Overall, The Marathon Man is a film where I’d give it a thumbs down. The plot could be a little on the interesting side, but there are too many things holding it down. The film’s pretty violent and torture scenes are always a thumbs down. The writing is bad and the romance isn’t well done. The film doesn’t do a whole lot of things right. The only good parts here are when Henry is running around acting like he’s James Bond. That definitely feels like the approach the film was going for at least. I do like the fact that he didn’t immediately die when someone tried to choke him with the wires as well. In most films they go down immediately so at least here he put up a fight and even turned the tables. Even the fights are pretty violent, but this was a good example of flipping over the usual trope. If this film sounds interesting to you then by all means check it out. Otherwise I would sooner recommend watching The One.

Overall 2/10

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Kramer vs Kramer Review


It’s time to look at a film about a custody battle. You’ll have to decide which Kramer you’re rooting for and then go from there. Interestingly enough the film doesn’t opt to go for the classic apperoach of having each parent get 50% screen time and shifting perspectives. In this case the main character is always Ted but Joanna shows up from time to time to spook them all. It’s a decent film I suppose, but one where it is tough to root for someone too much since both seem to be pretty flawed.

The film starts off with Ted having another late night at the office. Still, he is pretty pleased with himself since he finally landed a big contract. He goes home to celebrate with his wife Joanna, but she has decided to move out and start the divorce proceedings. She tells Ted that he has to look after the kid since she can’t handle any liabilities right now. Ted is now determined to be the best parent he can be. There are ups and downs, but he is finally starting to get the hang of it. That’s when Joanna returns and demands that their son move in with her. Billy doesn’t really know who he wants to be with since the situation is way above his head. It’s time to see what the judge has to say about this.

As you may or may not know I’m not a big fan of kids getting a big role in films. They certainly can’t act and most of their scenes tend to be annoying. Unfortunately Billy is no exception. He comes across as very spoiled at times like when he tries to steal some ice cream instead of eating his dinner. Things had been going pretty well so why would Billy pull something like that? His character doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of agency since he’s so young and can’t weigh in on these topics. Then he tends to get very emotional very quickly as well. All in all, that just isn’t a recipe for success.

Then we’ve got the parents. Joanna was too far gone for her redemption arc to work at all. She’s the one who ditched Billy so it’s a little too late to come back and try to get him now. Moreover, she’s already dating some other guy so she didn’t waste any time in doing that. It’ll make for a very awkward household for Billy and since she may also be moving he’ll have to get used to a new school. Of course, she does try to act like she feels bad for Ted at times, but you can probably feel a bit of a smirk beneath her gaze.

Ted certainly isn’t faultless either though. He does a good job of looking after Billy by the end, but his multi tasking skills do not seem to be particularly good. He apparently messed up on every project after that so you can see why he was let go. THe boss was pretty petty about when he fired Ted as he seemed to do it just to get the lead in a bad spot, but Ted should have done a better job of balancing both of his main duties. I also think Billy inheireted Ted’s temperment as he tends to throw stuff when he gets upset and he gets upset a lot.

The judge definitely had a tough choice here because either way it’s not like any option is perfect, but that’s why he is paid the big bucks. The lawyers were definitely pretty intense. I’d say that they were both pretty evenly matched as well. They weren’t afraid to go for the low blows if it meant winning the case. This is another moment where Ted and Joanna didn’t seem quite as resolved as they should be. Look, it’s tough to take the personal shots, but the stakes are high enough where they should be able to roll with it. They do want Billy right?

The ending is left to a bit of interpretation on how exactly you think it plays out. I personally think the film was leading up to a surrender where Ted would find out that he gets Billy after all. Of course you could also take the opposite approach and believe that Ted is now doomed. Either way, an open ended final scene like this can work well for this kind of movie since whoever you were hoping would win can still win in your head.

The writing is pretty reasonable although of course there are parts of the film that can be a bit annoying. One is the annoying gimmick of the characters heading to the bathroom. The main part that hurts this scene aside from the crude aspect of it is that neither character washes their hands upon leaving the bathroom which is pretty unhygienic. Then the characters head immediately for the kitchen where they make a lot of food with their hands. You won’t want to eat any of that. It’s even worse then the other thing films make you believe is okay like tasting the food that you’re cooking and then putting the spoon back in. Don’t pick up any of the bad habits you see in this film folks.

Overall, Kramer vs Kramer is definitely a decent film. It’s quite a bit different from the more over the top slapstick comedy neighbor vs neighbor battle I was expecting. I think I ended up mixing this one up with a different movie. Custody battles like this are rarely very fun so it does limit this film’s enjoyment factor to a degree as well. I wouldn’t call it a bad film though and if this premise sounds interesting then you should check it out.

Overall 5/10

The Graduate Review


It’s time to look at an old film about an affair. I haven’t seen too many home wrecker films and the ones I have seen like the Home Alone sequels don’t really focus on that part of the plot. As this one puts that at the front of the plot, it was doomed right from the start. After all, you can’t really root for a lead like that.

The film starts with the lead heading home after finally getting his bachelors degree. Right away you can tell that something is off with the lead as he doesn’t want to talk to everyone and keeps running away. It’s played partially for humor but even so the lead’s being overwhelmed by everyone happens too soon. You’d think that he could have at least bluffed through it for a while. Instead he tries to spoil the party for everyone. Eventually he is caught by Ms. Robinson who suggests they have an affair. The lead knows she is married but decides to go through it anyway. Then he starts to like her daughter and now he wants to try and marry her while dodging Ms. Robinson’s threats.

As you can see from the very premise, this film didn’t really have any potential. There’s just no way that a film like this could be good since there is no way for you to possibly root for Benjamin. He never even tries to deny Ms. Robinson as everything he says isn’t convincing in the slightest. As I mentioned he also handled his opening scene terribly as he gets upset at all of the guests for no reason. Why couldn’t he have just played along at least for a bit? He isn’t a motivated lead and just gets himself into more and more trouble.

Then his attempted romance with the daughter is just as bad. Naturally he shouldn’t be trying to get together with her and he didn’t even take the time to break up with her mother before starting. Then he follows her to the school and pesters her until she agrees to marry him. Benjamin has no tact and you’ll probably cringe at the ending. It’s a pretty sad ending for everyone involved and I’m going to say that there was a lot of plot hax in the scene. There’s no way that Benjamin should be able to overpower such a big group the way that he did. They should have knocked him out right there.

Naturally with a plot like this one there is quite a bit of fanservice to bring the film down with. You’ve also got some pretty terrible writing to worry about as well which doesn’t do the film any favors. If anything it just helps it sink further and further down the food chain. None of the characters are written well or even realistically. At that point all you’re left with is a sinking ship and I don’t recommend going down with it.

At least the song was fairly memorable with the Darkness bit being a meme recently. It’s a pretty reasonable tune although I’m not sure that I can really give the lyrics a whole lot of credit here. At the very least they weren’t as annoying as you may have suspected so that’ll have to do this time. Having even just one memorable song is still more than most can say.

On an unrelated note, I did like how the food looked. The amount of fries that the main characters got was pretty impressive. They definitely don’t give you that much nowadays unless you pay quite a bit to the store. If only we could have had more scenes with food then maybe the film would have had less time to dig its own grave. There’s not really any one thing that could have saved the film, but something that would have helped would have been a different main character.

If the main guy is going to be an antagonist anyway then he may as well be a confident one. Benjamin keeps on stuttering and acting timid the whole film which is always super annoying. It’s the film’s terrible way of trying to show that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he certainly does. He’s just putting up an act and it’s one that is a little too obvious to actually work. Also, it’s not as if there is any kind of justification for what he’s doing. He’s just trying to wreck someone’s family and he never actually feels any guilt over it. By the end of the film you get the startling impression that he doesn’t actually regret anything or even that he sees himself as the villain. He’s just happy to keep on going and probably wouldn’t change a thing.

Overall, This film isn’t particularly long, but it sure does manage to drag on and on anyway. I’d advise taking a step back and considering a different film over this one. You’ll be glad that you did and it’ll save you a whole lot of time and effort. There’s nothing good about this film from the writing to the “humor” to the terrible plot. A film like The Graduate just never graduated to the level of cinema that you would expect to see. As such it hasn’t aged well and I’d make the case that it was never even a good movie in the first place. It was dead on arrival.

Overall 1/10