Flatliners (2017) Review

It’s been quite a while since I watched the original Flatliners. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly good film to say the least. This one does improve upon it in some way and so while it’s not as ambitious, it’s a more stable film. The main characters still aren’t particularly likable here though and the whole plot only kicks off because they make the wrong calls.

So the movie starts with Courtney figuring that she should probably try to die real quick to see what the afterlife is like. She plays on Jamie’s feelings for her to trick him into going downstairs and invites Sophia as well. The idea is to put her under and after she’s dead, revive her in under a minute. This way her brain activity is unaltered and in theory she will not suffer from any side effects. That’s the complete plan here and they pull it off but only thanks to Ray showing up at the end to save the day. Now Courtney is a super genius who is heading the class and the other students except for Ray all want a turn. Is there a downside to doing this?

Short answer is yes, of course there is a downside. This wouldn’t be much of a movie without one right? So they’re opening the doors to the next world and by doing so, their personal demons are appearing. Each of the characters has had some kind of trauma or made a big mistake back in the day and it’s coming back to haunt them. Unless they can face their fears, this will be game over so they have to move fast.

One big difference here is that their fears don’t seem as dangerous here. Perhaps they are and the heroes just didn’t give them enough of a chance but in the first film these dreams were knocking the stuffing out of the main characters. They would come out of nowhere and just turn violent. In this movie they mostly just sort of stand there in the distance and glare at the heroes. Rarely do you feel like they’re in a lot of danger. The closest might have been when Marlo was in the basement with the lights off but even then the spirits didn’t take her out. You feel like the ones in the original film would have pulled that off.

Of course the film is greatly toned down from the original so that does work wonders for this one. No animal violence or anything crazy like that. The film isn’t all that violent either, it’s fairly tame. So in that way it’s a very different kind of horror film because you keep waiting for the main characters to be taken down and then it just doesn’t happen. I guess you could say that the heroes are very lucky in that respect since they wouldn’t last nearly as long in other settings.

The ending of the film misses a really big chance to go for a twist ending though. The way the scene was shot it felt like something was coming and there were a lot of interesting ways this could have gone. I was thinking about a certain character just popping out to get everyone or something like that but instead it’s played straight with a fairly happy ending. Not exactly what you would expect for a horror film either so this one really is unique.

Of course, the issues come with the fact that this one is still eager to make the teens as annoying as possible. The romance is very weak with a lot of affairs all around. The characters can’t stay professional with each other for a single moment. They also choose to all go under and effectively take the easy way to being geniuses. This comes complete with a lot of crazy parties and everything though. The characters confirmed they take drugs so they were able to recognize this as a similar effect. There’s no real point to the scenes at all though. It’s a really weird side effect but one that could have been shown a lot differently than to have everyone go mental like this.

Courtney deserves most of the blame for being the one to start up with this idea. It was a bad idea right from the jump and she pressed ahead anyway. Of course everyone else is guilty for jumping in as well. Only Ray stayed strong and tried to warn them against this. He also seemed to have the strongest moral compass like trying to tell Marlo to correct her mistakes and all. You have to give him props for trying even if ultimately she was tough to convince. He is easily the best character and someone who actually cared about being a doctor. The rest seemed to just be messing around a lot.

Jamie is the flirt of the group who is constantly having affairs so there’s no way you were going to like him. His big mistake from the past is also an absolutely massive one that just makes him look even worse. It’s another one of those moments that’s really hard to recover from. Same for Sophia who looks really petty in how far she took things. Wrecking someone’s life in an instant is not something that you can easily take back. Based on how the characters acted before being forced to relive their fears, I have my doubts that they learned much of anything.

Of course the literal threat of death shocked some sense into them but it’s sad that it took this much. Then of course Marlo had her big mistake that quite directly ruined someone’s life. Yeah none of these characters are good role models. In a way the film is almost like a Christmas Carol in how the characters reflect on their pasts, just with a horror element to it. This one is able to be a lot more direct about the second chances kind of message to it since the body count wasn’t quite the same as in the first one. With less scares you have time for more character development.

It’s just that once you make the character bad enough, the development isn’t really going to save them at that point. That’s why you have to really hold back when making the characters delinquents in the beginning because otherwise this is what you get. You could be forgiven for not realizing that this is a horror film by the way because there are barely any scares here at all. Sure, you get the fake jump scare for the elevator but for the most part the scenes are fairly light. The scariest moment was probably Jamie biking through a dark street by himself in one of the dreams and even that wasn’t all that intense. You keep thinking something is going to happen but nothing does which is a common event in the movie.

Overall, Flatliners beats the original but it’s still not a good movie. At the end of the day the characters are annoying and the writing is weak. The romance isn’t any good and it feels like the movie is a little confused about what it wants to do. It even takes a long while for the actual plot to start. They don’t start hallucinating about their past until you’re very deep into the movie so the pacing could have used a little work too. The concept of having to confront your past or face destruction is an interesting one though. In the right hands I think you could definitely do something really good there. These just weren’t the right hands apparently.

Overall 4/10

Harry and Tonto Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Harry and Tonto is a movie with a fairly basic premise. The two of them are going on a big adventure and getting to see the world. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest of course but I would say the execution was not very good at all. It ends up being rather boring a lot of the time but the writing is always very weak. It reminds me of some Woody Allen films from a while back where it’s just the characters talking but the script is so bad that it falls on its face. That’s pretty much what happens here so you don’t even have that to keep the film afloat.

The movie starts by having Harry get mugged again. The neighborhood used to be good but it’s really been sinking a lot. So he goes to move in with his family but it’s rather tense there as the place is really small. One of his grand kids has taken a vow of silence for some reason and only his son is glad about him staying. So Harry decides to go on a journey with his pet cat Tonto. Along the way they run into a girl who ran away from home named Ginger. The initial goal is to find more of Harry’s family members and even an old flame before he decides where to stay but along the way it just becomes more about experiencing life.

A movie like this can only survive if the characters and writing are both really great. That would probably be the case for a 50s or 60s film but one this late in the game has more of an annoying dialogue style than anything else. When the conversations aren’t about mundane things like the weather, you have Harry being shocked at how depraved the world has gotten. He’s able to hook up with a random girl during one of the drives for money and the runaway Ginger is not shy about just stripping down. Other characters talk to him about when the last time he had an affair was and it’s like nobody ever grew up here.

The romance that we do get later on in the film is more of a cringeworthy affair. Then to show us that Harry can never really be happy, he’s thrown for another loop near the end. The world is moving fast and just won’t let him catch up. In theory he’s good now but this rollercoaster had too many pitfalls. By the end I wouldn’t say there are any real likable characters. Harry’s son would be the best for sticking by him the whole time. The rest of the family wasn’t too helpful like the guy who lost all his money, the son’s wife who wasn’t subtle about wanting him to leave, the daughter who didn’t even try, etc.

Harry was definitely on his own. Harry was a prideful man too so it’s not like he tried super hard though. He did the best he could to keep his old place but once that was gone then it was pretty much all over for him. Tonto was good the whole time though. He always ended up making you nervous though when he’d run off in general because this was the kind of film that wouldn’t pull its punches.

I think Harry may have ultimately had a better time staying in his neighborhood. Sure it was fairly dangerous but at least he knew everybody there. I’d say the best moments were when the film would slow down to actually let him enjoy the adventure. Like going to the casino and trying to play dice for a bit. At least there he got to have a little more fun before unfortunately not being able to make it to the bathroom in time. The crazy adventure with the chieftain in the cell was certainly something that’s for sure.

Maybe Harry needed to have a dog for some more fun Hijinx. But there really isn’t a lot to the film so it does come down to the human. Harry just wasn’t interesting enough to lead his own film. I dare say that he needed to be a little younger to have an easier time of it. Otherwise you have to be super charismatic and likable which didn’t really work here. Having Harry be a very confident guy who figures he’ll have a new place in no time flat could have been a good angle to have here.

As for the writing, maybe you needed more of a solid hook. If not, I think some humor could have gone a long way here. Yeah, this time I would say throwing in some jokes would not have hurt. It would be a good way to keep the adventure light and also give the characters some more substance to talk about. Just something to make it be a lot more interesting because otherwise you’ll be falling asleep here. Also, they probably shouldn’t have written Harry as having a wife who ultimately died before him because it just makes him look even worse when he is still interested in other women and messing around. At his age he should be all over that and definitely not going for a rebound. That’s really it, just live the rest of your life with a lot of fun and enjoyment but not trying to start another relationship like that.

Overall, A film can certainly get by without having much of a focus or a plot but to do that you need to be very funny or wholesome. One or the other can certainly do the trick but when you’re neither then that is going to be a really big issue. This film never ended up getting interesting. It’s a shame because a journey movie will usually be good even if just to see all of the various sites along the way. Maybe if that guy who was with Ginger could have stayed longer then he would have been a good addition to the party. Could have added something to the dynamic I suppose. A subplot that wouldn’t end tragically like Harry finally getting to meet the girl who liked him way back in the day.

Overall 3/10

Looper Review

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

Looper has a very interesting premise of having to try and take yourself down. If you succeed then you already know that you’re doomed but if you fail then you will be axed a whole lot sooner. It’s a lose-lose situation no matter how you slice it and that’s the kind of decision that the main character has to wrestle with. It asks some interesting questions as the movie goes on.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe who murders whoever his bosses tell him too. Basically the future finally got wise to all the strategies of hiding bodies so the only way to make someone disappear is to send them to the past and murder them that way. Joe is in this business as well and eventually he will be told to murder his future self which ends his loop but he will be paid handsomely for it. In a way it’s like a form of retirement so people in the business know that their time is limited but they will live like kings in the meantime. Considering that this world seems pretty rundown, a lot of people are fine with the risks.

Of course this means that you are murdering people that you don’t even know about so don’t mistake these guys for heroes. They are still very much the villains of the story every which way you look at it. Well, one day Joe is about to murder his next target except it’s an older version of himself (Who looks so different I doubt anyone would guess that it’s the same person) who isn’t tied up (The victims are always tied up in previous scenarios) and has a gun. Naturally old Joe gets away and regroups.

The situation is made very plain to Joe, he has to make old Joe go away or he will be terminated. Old Joe also states his objectives to Joe, he needs to murder a few kids in this timeline because one of them will grow up to become the Rainaker. A villainous leader so cruel and powerful that nobody can stop him and this leads to the death of Old Joe’s future. So if there is no Rainmaker then he is hoping that his future will turn out well. He asks Joe not to get in his way.

So that’s the basic scenario here and you can already see how things get messy here. If Joe destroys his old version then his loop is closed and he’ll be dooming himself down the line. Of course if Old Joe destroys Joe then he will cease to exist immediately so he has to try and win without harming him. It makes this more of a cat and mouse game as opposed to a straight gunfight. They have to be very careful of their moves and Old Joe also has to account for the fact that the villain groups are after him in the past now too so they have to be knocked off.

Old Joe is clearly a villain here. He’s trying to murder children who haven’t done anything yet and acknowledges that he will be getting some innocents too. So lets not get that twisted. Old Joe is an interesting villain because of this viewpoint. He’s ultimately trying to save his present/Joe’s future but is taking the most extreme route to doing so. From his perspective he feels like it’s the only way out and as his current form is already a villain by being in that line of work, it’s easy to see how this escalated.

He even takes out a lot of the villains in the present timeline as well. I would say that Old Joe easily steals the show in every scene that he is in. The guy is the highlight in this adventure. Then you have classic Joe who is not nearly as likable. The first scene with him selling out the friend was particularly brutal. Yes, the friend was pretty bad there with his decision making and made the whole thing Joe’s problem out of nowhere but betraying him is not the right call. Especially for money which is what it came down too.

Over the course of the movie Joe learns how to be someone who can make the right calls but it’s a long journey. Even by the end he makes things a little hard on himself by not keeping his guard up which leads to a really rough call. I’ll give the film kudos for constructing a scenario where Joe pulling the trigger actually turned out to be the right call. In nearly any other situation I would be writing that Joe did the wrong thing here but for once that was not the case. I can’t go into specifics without your seeing the movie as it would be a spoiler but it’s good that he took the show.

One issue that I have with the movie is I don’t think it took full advantage of this world and the mechanics behind it. Time travel sounds awesome and I’d like to hear more about the world but it’s never really a focus. In fact, we rarely see the future as most of the film takes place in the past. There is also a long portion of the film that starts to become more of a drama than an action.

Joe meeting up with Sara and her kid Cid could be a little on the dull side at times. Sara means well though and does a good job of protecting her house. Considering how dangerous this place is, you have to give her a lot of credit there. The inevitable romance was really extremely weak though. It’s super sudden, makes no sense and just doesn’t work. I would say the film could have dodged that entirely.

As for Cid and the whole rainmaker plot, it feels random at first but eventually becomes really important. I would usually say you could have just cut Cid out but that would change the film as a whole. His super powers/corruption just felt really out of place even next to the other powers. He would appear to almost be demonic at times. I guess that’s just his super powers in the end but he does seem like he’s going to go off a dark path right away even without any tragic moments.

Kid Blue is one of the main villains here. He’s not a leader or anything but he’s always wanting to try and stop Joe so he gets a big role as a result. He’s not super skilled or anything though so things don’t usually end up going his way. His boss even stabs and humiliates him and there isn’t much Blue can do about it. So I didn’t find him particularly threatening or interesting at all. At least Abe had the whole leader thing going for him but Old Joe overshadowed him by a lot. Old Joe is what gives the film all of its depth. Fighting for his family for so long that he eventually became one of the villains himself continuing the cycle of violence.

The film can get a little violent at times but never too crazy. It holds back a lot and uses the time elements to its advantage. Like at one point one guy starts disappearing and you quickly realize why that is with how the past affects the future. Showing it would have been way too crazy so in this way you get it across without being too gritty. The movie did good on that.

Overall, Looper is an interesting sci-fi film. I do think it loses a lot of momentum in the middle and also wastes some of the potential of the concept though. It’s all very interesting which is why Sci-Fi’s can be fun but you need to spend more time on the actual time travel. I would still recommend giving this one a look but you’ll find that Joe is a very annoying character. He’s not heroic, not trustworthy, and his priorities are all wrong. The romance is weak here and you don’t buy into it since he’s one of those guys who is more about having quick affairs like early on in the movie.

Overall 6/10

Wanted Review

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

Wanted is definitely a comic book movie that’s fairly obscure. I wouldn’t say it’s hidden but I’m guessing not a whole lot of people would know that it’s a super hero movie right away. Even I didn’t know that at first and that’s saying something. It’s got some pretty good ideas and solid fights but definitely has its share of things holding it back as well.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Wesley who has not had a fun time of it. He’s not very confident at all to the point where he has constant stress attacks just by existing. He’s broke and his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend. This last one’s on him since he could at least just not be friends with them but it all keeps adding up and his boss is always chewing him out for slacking off. (Which he is slacking off but mainly because of all the stress attacks) Well, one day he is nearly murdered at the supermarket but gets saved by a girl named Fox. He’s taken to a shady building where a bunch of people with big knifes and weapons explain that he has super powers. He can use his enhanced reaction times to perform superhuman feats and also curve bullets with his mind. They want him to join their group of assassins to murder people based on names they get from the future. Then down the road he can take out his father’s murderer. Wesley would rather do anything than keep living out life in the way that he has been so he jumps at the opportunity.

Now right from the jump this sounds a bit sketchy right? You’re just murdering names from a sheet of paper? The context for this is that they have a printing press which directly leads to god in the future which lets them know of anyone who is going to commit some kind of crime and has to be murdered right away. The whole thing is on a trust basis of course and everyone has confirmation bias that helps them justify all the murders. Make no mistake though, by their own admission they are potentially murdering people who haven’t committed any crimes yet. In fact it’s very likely.

There are whole debates to be had on this for sure. It may be worth an editorial at some point but in general the consensus is that this is not a good thing because you’re still murdering someone who’s innocent. It’s also impossible to prove that destiny is fixed or that the future cannot be changed. You also have to be confident that the source writing the names is 100% accurate too because a single slip up would cause you to be murdering someone who shouldn’t be murdered.

Wesley does contemplate this for a minute but he quickly gets past that. He’s not the most heroic guy out there that’s for sure. The first half of the movie can go quite far with how the group beats him up to whip Wesley into shape. The only reason it works is related to another twist later on but if I was Wesley I would have gotten out of there asap or taken them out. What they put him through goes way beyond simple training and it’s just abusive the whole time. They’re lucky that he didn’t just snap at some point because he quickly surpassed most of them.

The final 20 minutes or so suddenly feels like they’re adapting the whole plot of a sequel really quick. I was surprised that they squeezed this all into one movie. It did help to make the ending really intense though so I can appreciate that. It ends the movie off on a rather solid note. So even if I had some issues, I didn’t have any with that part of the ending. It just goes to show that you should be careful when dealing with super powered opponents.

Now for the not as solid parts. First up is Wesley because I never ended up liking him. He’s just way too whiny at the start. I know that he’s had a tough road but he only just makes things worse and worse for himself. He whines a lot in his head as well and the whole speech is always very dramatic. It can be a bit funny at times from an outside perspective here but the character himself just needs to try and change things for the better on his own. Then once he gets strong the power immediately goes to his head and he becomes stuck up in all the wrong ways. It’s not until the very end where he is finally a balanced character. So he would be good for the sequel but he’s not quite there yet.

Then you’ve got Fox as the tough mentor type character but taken to the absolute extreme. She is not the person that you want mentoring you. After all you might not even survive such an ordeal. The only traces of romance in the film here also just feel like she’s manipulating Wesley so I wouldn’t consider that to be all that genuine either. She’s a tough fighter to have on your side but certainly not someone that I would trust at all.

Sloan is the big leader of the group so you can imagine that a place this shady would have a shady guy at the top. He’s interesting as it’s hard to really say what he’s thinking until he explains it later on. I would say that he’s an interesting character. Not a standout villain or anything but one that does make you think. I thought that he was more impressive than most of the other characters at least and I liked his grand master plan.

Cross was also cool in the brief time that we saw him. The opening scene was very impressive and he consistently does well throughout the film. I do think he could have played things way differently though and would have been able to do better. After we see what his true objective was, I don’t think it would have been super difficult to establish contact. At least from what we saw I don’t think it would have been too unreasonable to get that started. He just waited too long and got a raw deal but he may have been the best character here.

The film can definitely be a bit violent with all the head shots. Neither the villains or heroes are playing around here that’s for sure. As mentioned, the main character is also annoying the whole time and he really puts up with a lot in the training. I absolutely would have fought back more if I was him. It all makes sense in retrospect of course but it also shows why Wesley should have just done more to protect himself. If the film toned down how excessive it could be at times then it would be all the better for it. It’s not super crazy but enough to be noticeable. Making Wesley a bit more independent and able to do things on his own would have been nice too.

Overall, Wanted had a lot of good fight scenes and an interesting premise. I’d certainly be interested to see how they would build off of this for the sequel. With the introductions out of the way and the main character a little more accustomed to his abilities I think it would probably beat the first one. Assassin films can always be very interesting when done right. They’d need to build up some solid threats for him to face but that shouldn’t be hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more powerful organizations out there. With most of the character cast gone too we’ll have an opportunity for a much better character cast and lets cut out the exploding mice too. Don’t need any of those kind of weapons that make the main character look even worse and more villain-like.

Overall 5/10

Witness Review

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

Witness is one of those thriller films with the lead on the run as he has to quickly think of what to do next. I would say the main difference here compared to most is that there is actually a large portion of the film where there isn’t any real action. Instead you have John getting used to the Amish life before the big climax. I would still say it works well though and it’s a solid all around movie.

The story starts with Rachel and her son Samuel heading off to the big city. I forget exactly why they were here but they’ll be heading back to the Amish community pretty soon. Their plans are derailed though when her son Samuel witnesses a murder in the bathroom. A cop was murdered by two attackers, one who is another officer. So this was an inside job but why? That’s for John Book to find out but in the meantime Rachel and Samuel have to stick around as material witnesses. This changes when the corruption appears to go higher than John thought possible so they have to take off. Hiding in an Amish community is a good bet but how long will this last?

For once the villains actually have a tough time locating the heroes because of how nobody here uses phones or anything like that. Nobody is really playing ball with helping the villains get in either so they have to take the long approach to this. It’s an interesting dynamic and something that’s not seen very often at all. So I liked the change of pace here and John is a good sport about trying to fit in. He may not be too familiar with their ways but this doesn’t stop him from helping out like with carpentry.

John isn’t willing to go all the way like suddenly being a pacifist when someone is picking a fight. He still insists on doing things his way and can’t say that I blame him there. I understand it’s the Amish way not to fight back when you’re being attacked at least based on this film but to me it definitely can hit a point where it goes too far and so of course you have to defend yourself here. If John didn’t do anything then things were only going to keep on escalating. So I could definitely back him up there.

In general he’s just a very reasonable character and does well the whole time. Even at the end of the film he makes the right call I would say. Choosing to stay would have been messy and he has a lot of responsibilities of his own. In the end you can count on him to make a rational decision no matter what. As for the heroine Rachel, she is at a bit of a crossroads in her life as she starts to see how the system can be a bit restrictive but at the same time it’s all that she’s ever known. I feel like she would have ended up choosing John over everything if he had asked but ultimately neither one wanted to make the first move.

Rachel is initially very antagonistic towards him but gradually softens up as the film goes on. Her son Samuel did well to not get murdered during the opening scene. He was able to think fast which came in handy and then he also had a critical moment near the end of the film. As far as kids go he was okay. Then I liked John’s partner Carter. Ultimately that guy was a real loyal companion. Usually things don’t go well for that character in these things so you can always appreciate their bravery for doing the right thing and standing up to the villains.

Schaeffer is the main villain here and he’s certainly a difficult obstacle to get past for John. I thought he was handled well here as a solid mastermind type character. You know that he’s quite twisted right from the jump even as he’s always joking around. To him murder just isn’t that big of a deal and he’s the kind of villain you really want to avoid. Ultimately they’re lucky that he wasn’t any crazier because the ending could have easily turned out badly for all parties involved. It was still a good plan of course but yeah it came close to backfiring in the end.

Really the weakest part of the film is the romance. It just doesn’t have much of a purpose being here. It’s expected as soon as we find out that Rachel is a single mom and all but it still doesn’t feel natural. It would have been a lot better to have kept them as friends. Additionally you have her childhood friend who seems to expect that he will marry her someday but she’s not really in love with him. He seems like the fallback plan since she feels like she has to marry someone at some point. With how the film goes it seems like this is still on the table but it has to be in the least satisfying way possible for both of them. How could either one of them be happy with the setup being this way? All this is going to do is frustrate both of them.

The action scenes are solid and John has to try and hang in there without his gun for a little while. That helps to make the climax a little more tense the whole time since it would have been a lot easier if he had his gun. The battle in the parking area was also solid. The movie has a very fast beginning and ending. The middle will drag if you’re expecting a lot of action but the non-action scenes were still solid. Rachel’s father Eli could be annoying as he was super rigid in his customs though. You definitely want someone who’s a little more flexible so you can have a real dialogue there. He didn’t do much to try and close the gap between them.

Overall, Witness is a pretty good movie. I thought the writing and plot were sound. Corruption can always be a good vehicle for a lot of scenarios and having John use the Amish location as a way to hide was genius. I did always think it was an interesting lifestyle. It’s not for me since I need my electronics and everything but I’m sure it’s a good way to really build a lot of community and for everyone to get used to leaning on each other when the going gets tough. In the big city life you’re less likely to get close to a lot of people like that.

Overall 7/10

Viva Las Vegas Review

It’s time for another Elvis adventure. I thought this one was quite a bit better than the last one as it embraces the humor and good cheer that you would want out of a musical film like this. There are a lot of good tunes here throughout and you won’t be disappointed. The romance may be a bit weak but as it’s played for laughs most of the time it doesn’t end up dragging anything down.

The movie starts with Lucky and Elmo getting ready for the big race. This is the ultimate grand prix and you could say that they’re rivals of sorts. Elmo is rich and has the better car so he invites Lucky to race for him but Lucky is eager to win this on his own. Nobody’s going to stop him! Well it’s a nice idea but it won’t be so easy. See, Lucky meets up with a lady named Rusty that he falls for and so he wastes an entire day running through every club with Elmo to find her. He finally locates her at the swimming pool but after his flirting attempts fail quite massively, he drops his money in the pool and it’s gone. He’ll have to get money quickly in order to get an engine for the race. Can he pull this off?

One thing that works really well in the film from start to finish is the humor. This is a film that will live or die on how funny it is after all and fortunately this lands. The best sequence is definitely when Rusty decides to go on a revenge date with Elmo so Lucky takes it upon himself to mess this up. He does this by making sure that he is the waiter assigned to them and messes up all of the dishes and keeps causing a lot of noise. Lucky isn’t subtle about this either. He just runs in and starts causing general mayhem the whole time.

Elmo tries to politely tell him off but it never works. As for Rusty, since she was only doing this to get back at Lucky anyway, she seemed happy enough to just get out of there. So in a way Elmo was just being used the whole time but in a way I think he knew this. He was just desperate enough to play along the whole time. See, Elmo and Lucky were rivals for Rusty but she only ever had eyes for Lucky. Elmo was out of the game before it ever started.

It was almost surprising that the two of them stayed friends throughout all of this but I suppose at the end of the day they weren’t taking it all very seriously. Their friendship wasn’t about to be broken so easily! It’s a nice change of pace from how fragile these things usually are. In the end Elmo was a decent character. He may have been too much of a flirt like Lucky but at least he was a fun guy.

Meanwhile Lucky is okay but definitely not the loyal type. He seems to instantly fall for any girl that he sees so if I’m Rusty I’d be very weary here. He also doesn’t take a hint too quickly like when he was singing the song to Rusty but getting shot down the whole time. Ultimately he doesn’t plan things out too well in advance either like with the whole money situation. Why let the engine be an issue so close to the actual race? If he had ended up missing it then that would have been very bad for him.

The actual race is only a very small part of the film though so you will need to be watching this for the comedy and romance instead. That takes up almost the entire film after all. There are also a lot of songs I suppose. They’re all reasonably catchy. You’ve got that classic Elvis feel to each of the tunes. I wouldn’t say any of them are home run hits but they do the job. There are a lot of songs here after all and so it’s good that they’re fun. Boring songs would have been a really bad idea here since you want to keep up the full momentum the whole time.

Then for Rusty, she’s a good heroine but should have stuck to her guns. Initially she wanted nothing to do with Lucky but ultimately falls for him anyway and then starts to get jealous a lot. Her character flaw here is that she wants him to stop racing since she thinks its dangerous and wants to be the focus point of his life. It makes her come across as rather selfish the whole time. She knew what she was getting into here so why change it up at the last second like this? It didn’t make a lot of sense and ultimately you know she’s just going to have to get used to it because Lucky was not going to leave the race.

Their banter was good while they were rivals and I think they should have kept it that way. Would have been a much better way to go about it if you ask me. They were really going at it too. Like their battle at the competition, it was nice to see them both trying so hard to win it all. You don’t get that same energy once they’re together. It’s also just cheesy in general because of how quickly everything moves. Slow the roll a bit and the film would work better for it.

Overall, Viva Las Vegas is a solid all around film. The plot is good and a lot of the gags in the movie really work well. The movie knows how to get a good laugh out of you. The main guy and his rival definitely get too distracted by girls though. At least Elmo doesn’t scam them because he’s too nice for that but the same isn’t said for Lucky. You will have a hard time rooting for Lucky the whole time since Elmo just seems like a better person in every way. You still know how it’s all going to play out either way though. That’s just how it goes.

Overall 7/10

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Review

It’s time to finally take a look at the big Sonic sequel! There was a lot of hype going into this one because Knuckles was finally going to show up! In some ways the hype for the 3rd film had already started before the second even came out because that was going to be the big one with the key player finally showing up but this one is the true build up. Sonic had to first learn responsibility and what true power is before the third one so he would be ready. Fortunately I would say this one even ended up beating the original in pretty much all areas. Only the human plot isn’t as good so in the third maybe they can balance that out.

The movie starts out very quickly as Knuckles shows up and helps Eggman return to Earth. Eggman aims to use this guy to take out Sonic once and for all and becomes interested in the Master Emerald which can grant unlimited power! Sonic has been trying to fight crime lately but it’s awfully difficult. It’s hard to minimize casualties and all that so the humans keep telling him not to help out at all which seems a bit selfish if you ask me. Sonic is still saving lives after all. When a fox named Tails shows up, Sonic realizes that his time to be a true hero has finally arrived. Is he up to the task?

Since the human plot has almost nothing to do with anything we may as well knock that one out first. As I said this is the weak point of the film. So Tom has to head over to Rachel’s wedding but she really dislikes him and aims to make this a rough time for the guy. Unfortunately Tom does end up having to mess with the wedding a bit but duty calls. I was glad that he made the right call in the end even if it did make things tricky for him socially.

Tom is ultimately a good character who is stuck in a rather weak plot the whole time. He is ready to fight and isn’t afraid of Eggman. The biggest shame here is that he doesn’t get to banter with Eggman much in this film since they don’t meet up until the end. It’s too bad because that dynamic was actually really solid in the original. I would have just included Tom with Sonic’s plot and I think that would have amped things up a lot. The guy has a lot of good lines.

Rachel is just annoying though. She needs to stop trying to dunk on Tom and just have a good time. It’s her wedding after all so why get so stressed right? She gets a comedy plot where she teams up with Maddie to clown on the government and get some revenge. The music may be reasonably solid here but the scene’s a bit dragged out and does start to cross the line of being a little too over the top.

The one thing I will give for the human plot is I loved the introduction of GUN. This is a group that should have a massive role in the next film. Yes, I can already tell their role won’t be as good since that group was highly competent in the games while this one looks to be comic relief. It’s a shame but that’s how it goes. Still, I was glad to see them and their plan here was actually good. I mean by all accounts it really worked so not bad right?

Meanwhile in town you had Wade trying to prove himself as the sheriff in stopping Stone but that ultimately didn’t really go anywhere or have much relevance to the plot. You could cut Wade out entirely and nothing would really change so it was pretty much filler. Stone still looks up to Eggman a whole lot and just wants to feel appreciated. That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon though. Stone’s dedicated, I’ll give him that.

Now we start to get into the main plot. Sonic and Tails fighting it out with Knuckles and Eggman to try and get the Master Emerald first. This had a lot of fun tributes to the games like the avalanche levels and the Sonic vs Knuckles fights definitely deliver. I did have some power level issues with this though like how Sonic should have smoked Knuckles. Why did he keep running straight at the guy? In a battle of speed vs power you always have to use your speed in order to gain the upper hand and land some devastating blows.

Trying to beat the power guy with power isn’t going to work. I thought Sonic could and should have fought a lot better here. Ultimately even while he lands some good blows, it always feels like he’s on the losing end here. Also, the speed difference between him and the others isn’t emphasized enough. When Sonic’s sandbagging sure he can look as fast as Knuckles or Tails. He likes to be running with them together but otherwise he should be zipping around like crazy. The film does understand his speed in some cases like when he’s dodging lasers or missiles but then in the fights he is suddenly a lot more normal.

I get that they had to try and make Knuckles seem like a threat but they went a bit far beyond the believability territory. By that point you’re really just shaking your head. Still great for the visuals and all plus Knuckles fans should be happy but it’s very noticeable. It’s always the issue you face as a writer when your lead character is so fast but you just have to adapt and keep it moving.

This plot had its share of serious and somber moments along with the light hearted adventuring. It’s well balanced and a lot of fun. This is definitely the highlight of the movie and it’s no surprise since you probably are watching this for Sonic after all. He delivers in each of his scenes without a doubt. Sonic also does get some decent development from the first film. He’s at least trying to be a hero even if he hasn’t mastered it yet. I wouldn’t expect any drastic changes to his character any time soon so he’s probably still going to appear as a younger version to the Sonic we’re used to from the games but he’s done well.

Tails is also really solid here and feels a lot like his classic self. He looks up to Sonic a lot and is lacking in confidence but is slowly building it. If they adapt the tearjerker scene from Adventure 2 next time then that’ll be the perfect place to give Tails the rest of his character arc. It’s always good to have a genius on your side so having him around is a great help to Sonic.

As for Knuckles, fans of his should definitely have fun with his character. He’s super strong and is devoted to finding the Master Emerald at all times. He feels a little less smart than his game counterpart as it almost seems like they were going to start taking inspiration more from Sonic Boom Knuckles who takes things literally and doesn’t know a ton but the writing is good enough here to where he is not super exaggerated like that. So in the end he still made for a great antagonist. I’d like to see him stick around and be a main character for the next adventure.

Then we have Eggman and I was not expecting him to gain super powers the way that he did. It was an interesting take on his character though. I hope he would return for future films but if not, this was a good exit. He has a lot of clever little puns that he would throw in throughout the movie that were a blast. At times he can be a little more crazy than genius and the film could maybe dial it back a bit at times but all in all I still had a lot of fun with him. Eggman is an iconic part of the film and you definitely couldn’t do this adventure without him.

Naturally there is an after credits scene. You’ve likely heard or seen it since that was everywhere even before the film was fully out, but if not then you’re going to really be in for a treat. Hype levels for Sonic 3 are now out of this universe so get ready. If it adapts even 10% of what the next adventure should be then we’re really going to be in for a treat. It’s not too early to say that the film has a shot at being movie of the year at this point. I would be surprised and dismayed if it’s anything lower than that.

Just based on how different the characters are it’s bound to not be a 1 to 1 adaption but as long as you get the bullet points then you’re good. I’d also like them to include some more of the video game tunes. The soundtrack was still good and all but hearing some of those classic tunes would make it even better. At least if you ask me that would be the best move here. There would be no turning back from that. The effects and everything are good here as well.

Overall, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is a great film. It really capitalized on the development and hype moments from the first film while taking this one to the next level. The human scenes are a weakness but they’re not so bad that they drag the film down too much. Without them would this be a 9 star film? Probably not so in the end the damage was minimal and you’ll be okay. Like I said, at least we got GUN out of it so that’s a start.

Overall 8/10

Jailhouse Rock Review

I haven’t seen a whole lot of Elvis so this was a good chance to see him in action. It’s a very retro kind of film that is entertaining but I wouldn’t say it’s one of the greats. The movie does avoid one major source of drama that I was expecting so that was impressive though. It actually threw me for a bit of a loop there and I appreciated that. Either way you’ll have a good time here.

The movie starts off with Vince murdering someone that was bothering a lady at the local shop. He’s taken to jail as a result and there he meets Hunk, the prisoner who pretty much runs the place. The main currency here is cigarette packs. If you have a lot of those then you’re in good shape but otherwise you’re in for a rough time. Hunk teaches Vince how to play some music and explains that this is the best way to get rich. They end up doing really well on a show together, although mainly it was Vince who was the hit. Hunk figures he can leverage this into some success down the road so he has Vince sign an agreement that they will team up in the future with Hunk getting a 40% cut.

Well, Vince heads out into the world where he meets a girl named Peggy who is a bit of a records agent. She gets the music to the people who need to hear it. It’s a long road to the top but Vince does rather well for himself. The only trouble now is that it’s starting to get to his head and he’s taking Peggy for granted. Additionally Hunk shows up and wants his cut. Will Vince be able to get out of this in one piece or has he doomed himself already?

I can’t say I liked Vince much at all here though. The guy was always acting rather aggressive and antagonistic for no real reason. Like when he got to meet Peggy’s parents he jumped right into being defensive and landing a bunch of insults. He keeps this up throughout the entire movie and can never seem to have one conversation without immediately attacking. Even the scene where he murders the guy early on is because he doesn’t know when to stop during the fight. He just keeps going and gets himself into trouble. He’s lucky that his fight at the prison didn’t end up setting his return date back in a big way because that could have been bad.

Vince seems to think he can cure all of his problems with a kiss and unfortunately that tends to be true. For both Peggy and the actress he was working on in the latter scenes, he just acts as mean as he wants because then whenever they start to tell him that they’re leaving, he just pulls out the moves and they’re okay with it. Because of that he doesn’t feel any real need to change and so he doesn’t. I think the film could have been a little tougher on him or at least made sure that things didn’t go Vince’s way all the time. Would have made for better character development.

It also hurts the other characters a bit like Peggy. It’s hard to see what she sees in him as a result. She should have laid out better boundaries here and once he cut things off, I’d say the romance should have been off the table too. He was just too greedy and wanted everything without giving anything up in return. That’s not the right way to kick off any relationship.

Now I did appreciate the part in the film where Hunk confronts Vince with his blackmail but is quickly defeated. Vince wisely checked with his attorney first and confirmed that the contract was not going to hold up. I liked this because usually what would have happened is that this would have been a whole big mess as Hunk keeps blackmailing him into doing a lot of stuff like giving Hunk more commercials and it would have all been pretty sad. Instead this was stopped at the jump. Vince still gave Hunk a chance to play live but when that didn’t work out, that was it. He gave Hunk a side job and called it a day. That was the right way to handle this but it’s just so rare to see that I ended up being surprised. Most impressive I would say.

So I may have had my issues with the film like the main character and the weak romance but at the end of the day it was still fun. It doesn’t drag on and the film is really quick. It also handled Hunk in the right way. He’s a greedy guy who wants a lot of money and all but he ended up not being comically evil. Once he got a good deal then he was ready to be supportive. That’s absolutely what you want to see here.

Really if Vince wasn’t determined to be awful at every turn then he really would have been mega rich. Why would he be slacking on the records of all things? That was his first big career move and it felt like music was his passion. I guess in the end relaxing and just enjoying his spoils was really the most important thing to him. Definitely a shame.

As for the music, well I wouldn’t say I’m a big Elvis fan but the songs were catchy enough. I can see why they would have gotten big back in the day. They’re certainly easy to dance to and that’s really the main ingredient you want to see in a song. The country song was a little slow but as Hunk was doomed to fail that was probably intentional. The songs properly enhance the film without taking it over so I would also say that the balance was on point here.

Overall, Jailhouse Rock is a good movie. It’s one that probably could have been better but either way I’d recommend checking it out if you want to have a fun ole time. There’s a good amount of replay value here and it’s just an uplifting movie from start to finish. Even when things get serious like at the ending, it’s never for very long so you can go back to grinning and cheering again. I’ve certainly got another Elvis film coming up so we’ll see how it stands up to this one.

Overall 6/10

The Naked Spur Review

It’s time for a trip down the Wild West, but unfortunately this one’s not a winner. The characters rarely make the right choices and so this becomes a lot harder for everyone involved than it needs to be. There’s also a random moment with a sick horse that has to be put down and it really has nothing to do with anything here. It’s a shame because you always want to think through every scene before putting it in a feature film or any kind of media tbh.

The movie starts with Kemp trying to track down Vandergroat to bring him to justice. Unfortunately the guy is holed up at the top of a mountain and it’s difficult to approach since he keeps throwing rocks down which can easily destroy anyone who gets close. Fortunately Kemp gets help from a local guy named Jesse and an ex-law enforcer named Roy. They’re able to take this villain down and his companion Lina. Now all Kemp has to do is quietly take Vandergroat back to the town to get his money but the villain lets the others know about the bounty as well. Roy and Jesse now insist on traveling the whole way too. Can the three of them mind their own business long enough make it to town or will Vandergroat be able to exploit their lack of intelligence?

This is one of those films that only works if each character is absolutely awful at long term decision making. Fortunately for Vandergroat that is the case. We already know that Kemp is really greedy with how he wasn’t about to tell the others about the reward money. He’s only looking out for himself but you like to think that after that he would have been able to keep his head in the game and stay focused. Instead, he is constantly goaded by the villain and has disagreements with his two companions. I want to say the burden or blame starts with Kemp since it’s his initial deception that caused everyone to stop trusting him. Additionally he should be keeping Vandergroat more securely bound. That guy is as tricky as they come after all.

Then we have Roy who is my favorite member of the 3 but he’s not above suspicion and mistakes either. For starters he tends to promote ideas that would split up the group which implies that he is trying to make a move for the money. Even if he isn’t, he should realize how this all sounds. There’s also a scene near the end where he is a little too desperate in going after a body. I get that he’s worked hard for this but risking your life too much is not a good idea. You can’t use the money when you’re dead after all.

I did think he made the right move in startling the Indians when the heroes were around though which forced them to all fight together. Otherwise the other characters were absolutely prepared to have him be sacrificed by fighting on his own. This trio really had absolutely 0 unity and it certainly shows. At least he had a lot of confidence and a quick wit. His flirting could be well over the top at times though which holds him back.

Finally you have Jesse and he has to be the worst character of the trio because he falls for the easiest bait. All Vandergroat has to do is start talking to the guy and you can immediately see him slipping. That’s just awful, you shouldn’t be falling for things like that. No shot and the whole thing is very embarrassing to the point where it’s hard to feel bad for him. He absolutely had to know what he was getting into and yet he just didn’t make a move to stop it. His greed got the best of him.

Then there’s Vandergroat who would easily be doing better if he would at least pretend to care about Lina. Instead he always acts like she’s just an accessory who will stay by him no matter what. With some more support they could have fooled the heroes due to how disorganized they were. Instead Vandergroat is just one of those guys who goes crazy with power and is determined to make things as tough on himself as possible.

I wouldn’t spare Lina from some guilt here as well. She lets the guy treat her any which way and still follows him when given the chance. I think she could have been more helpful to the heroes and just chosen them instead. Granted, none of the heroes are all that good but surely it’s better to be on their side rather than this guy right? It’s not like a future with him sounds good at all. Most likely she would be regretting this the whole time.

So what really holds the film back is that the characters just aren’t very likable. There’s a whole lot of internal fighting and it’s the only way the villain would have a chance here. Otherwise the film really could have been over in minutes. That’s how bad Vandergroat’s position was. Also there’s the fact that the bounty was for dead or alive so if the heroes had been more cruel, they would have shot him off the jump. The deck was stacked in their favor this time and they still come close to blowing it.

The horse dying scene is also just crazy. It should have absolutely been skipped. Why add a scene like that? Finally the ending is not satisfying. Way I see it, Kemp made the wrong call here. I get what the film is trying to say but it’s still not worth it. What’s done is done so why throw out something which can at least give you some value out of the experience? I don’t think it in anyway hurts your character or integrity by this point in the game. If anything you owe it to everyone else to finish the job. So the ending did not land for me at all.

Overall, You can do way better with Wild West films than this one. The whole thing feels very contrived with how the villain is able to split everyone apart. They’re all way too easily influenced. Why put so much stock into what the villain is saying? He clearly has an agenda and a reason to get the heroes to fight so listening to him is just asking for trouble. They probably should have gagged him right at the start. Would have been the smarter move imo.

Overall 4/10

The Pelican Brief Review

It’s time for a movie about a full government conspiracy. This one goes very deep into the inner government and so the characters can’t be safe anywhere. Conspiracy films can be a lot of fun with how you can’t really trust anyone but have to be able to use people to get your message across. Otherwise on your own there’s only so much that you can do. There’s a good amount of twists and espionage throughout the movie so it makes for a really solid adventure.

The film starts off with two supreme court justices being taken out by some kind of assassin. People wonder why and how this happened but nobody really knows. That’s when we meet our main character Darby. She wrote a quick paper/theory on who she thought actually set this up and it’s a big conspiracy involving the government. She tells her teacher that she’s having an affair with and he tells his contact within the White House. Soon enough the teacher is dead and eventually the same is true of the White House contact. It’s clear that Darby struck a nerve in her paper and so she needs to try and put as much distance between her and these guys as possible. The last person she can trust is a reporter named Gray but can she really trust him?

The film definitely makes it look easy with how the justices were taken out but you figure it had to be tough and so the only people who could do this would be professionals. That’s pretty much what the government says here. They all doubt each other like the FBI going up against the CIA but at the end of the day they have so many “leads” and theories that it’s hard to put any stock in any of them. The government is not close to cracking this case at all except for Darby who seems to have a handle on it. We don’t really get to find out most of the details until near the end of the film but it’s definitely very interconnected.

Darby is a solid main character and I can definitely understand why she wanted to stay out of this. Everybody around her keeps on dying and she doesn’t want to be next. Absolutely understandable since it’s not like Gray could likely protect her from the whole government if it comes to that. At the same time, he really needs her around as a witness because otherwise he doesn’t have a case. His boss reminds him of that a lot. Honestly the boss is a pretty good character, I would say he’s reasonable and at the end of the day he’s someone who actually will have your back.

Darby puts herself in a lot of risky positions throughout the film so I’d definitely give her kudos there. As for Gray, he’s a good guy as well. He won’t be bought by the government or any of the villains. He’ll just keep on going until he has the truth in hand. Having someone you can depend on like this is absolutely massive. The heroes have to survive being shot at and tracked down after all. If either one of them had been on their own for the whole movie then they would have certainly been defeated. You need teamwork to survive a situation like this.

The Pelican Brief has a really strong atmosphere going on the whole time too. You always feel a bit unsettled as the characters are walking around because danger can be anywhere. Like when Darcy is walking with the white house guy and doesn’t realize that he was taken out by an imposter. You know that things could go very badly for her right from the start. You also don’t get all of the answers right away as the film likes to leave you guessing on which squad actually sent out the it this time. Every group has their own reasons foe either trying to destroy the brief or in allowing it to succeed.

There aren’t too many heroes here as a result since everybody is protecting their own self interests. Even the President of the USA doesn’t look very good here as he’s also very suspicious and cares more about being re-elected than being just. As a result you see him quite a few times taking the low road here. In general it’s hard to win when everyone above you is so corrupt. That feeling of powerlessness is definitely a classic in the conspiracy genre.

This movie is fairly long but it’s executed well. In this case you can understand the length because of how complex the plot is and how the film has to develop everything. It does lead into a very satisfying ending so I’d say that worked out well. Additionally it has a good amount of replay value as you look at the scenes now knowing what you learn from the ending. It would make for a fun re-watch.

I would say one of the best scenes in the movie is when the heroes have to head to a law firm to track someone down. Needless to say, the villains had already anticipated this so it’s not very easy but it was a good try either way. Getting out of there alive was a puzzle in itself as choosing the wrong way out or showing weakness could be fatal. There is definitely a body count here as learning just about anything can put you in the hot seat. There may be some times you figure that the main characters should be dead at that. I suppose a defense you can make is that the villains still have to be a tiny bit subtle or this will become a big thing. So they can’t go around popping everyone off and have to at least have some kind of cover-up. They definitely took out the other characters quick enough but we don’t actually know how long they were planning that. So it could have taken longer than expected.

When it’s you against the world then you really can’t afford to take it easy. The heroes are always on the move and the only real ally here was Gray’s boss. That guy deserves a special shout-out because he actually was very helpful and wasn’t just around to waste time or slow the pacing down. Once he saw how serious this was, he was ready to help right away. I think that’s one thing this film has over other conspiracy titles. This time not everyone was in on it so you actually had a few good men who were helping out or minding their business. It wasn’t completely hopeless and the ending helps to support that as well. Mix in the solid writing and you’ve really got a winner here.

Overall, The Pelican Brief is a pretty good government conspiracy film. These kind of films can make you feel paranoid or you can just say that the whole thing feels bonkers. Either way you can have a good time here. The name is also rather catchy and actually becomes something to think about as opposed to just being some random title. Everything has some meaning in this film. So check this one out if it sounds like your cup of tea.

Overall 7/10