4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Two Weeks in Another Town Review


It’s time to look at another film about a celebrity ruining his career and then seeing if he can make a comeback. It seems to be a bit of a classic plotline over the years. Unfortunately this one isn’t quite able to handle it. The film’s reasonably entertaining the whole time, but the ending is pretty sketchy and the romance plot here is also not one of the better ones. Jack definitely makes the most of his two weeks though and after lighting up the towns he should be tired enough to stay ready this time.

The movie opens up with Jack finally finished with his restoration after being a drunk for a while. His old pal Kruger the director has mailed him asking if Jack would like a big part in his new movie. When Jack gets there Kruger admits that it was all a scam and the psychiatrist asked him to write, but he’ll at least let Jack do the dubbing. Jack never lets an opportunity to make a quick buck slip away so he demands a raise and then takes the job. The tough part is he has to deal with the main actor Davie who really doesn’t care about the project at all. The guy is just here for the check and spends his days as drunk as can be. Jack doesn’t like this but there’s not much he can do about it either. At least there’s the heroine Veronica here. She’s currently in an abusive relationship with Davie so Jack decides to be her rebound guy. Can this possibly end well?

The film sets Davie up to be so antagonistic that there’s no way for you to buy into his redemption arc by the end. Veronica even gets a black eye at one point which shows just how bad Davie was. The film doesn’t get into it much deeper than that but tells you all you need to know about the guy. Davie also waves a knife around at Jack before getting subdued. Jack’s way too lenient at the guy and the way the romance plot ends is also not very satisfying. Davie’s just a pretty terrible character.

Unfortunately I can’t say that I liked Jack and Veronica very much either. Veronica seemed to rebound way too quickly. She got together with Jack with no real effort but ultimately went back to Davie very quickly. She seemed to be someone who was always trying to get some action so I don’t see their relationship being great long term. Jack’s no better though as he goes from Veronica to Carlotta with ease. Considering how tough he talked about not falling for Carlotta again he sure fell pretty easily. This is where the closing act just didn’t work for me. After he is betrayed, Jack takes it very hard and falls back into literally every single one of his old vices. He gets super drunk, he has an affair with Carlotta, and then he loses his mind and starts driving like a maniac. That scene’s definitely pretty terrible as the guy undoes all of his progress from the last few months.

The film quickly spins this into a happy ending after that somehow. With all the fights and property damage he caused the guy will probably get arrested the next week though. The only character here who seemed reasonable at first was Kruger. Then slowly but surely the film begins to break him down piece by piece until he’s just as bad as the others. First off, he cheats on his wife consistently. The film plays this off as a comedic subplot but it’s all pretty tragic. He also does this very openly so everyone in Hollywood knows about this which is even more humiliating to her. Kruger is only interested in making films and getting famous and it shows at the end when he decides to back stab Jack. I think Jack should have suspected as much since he seemed pretty cynical about showbiz at the start. I think he just allowed himself to get a little too hopeful and it’s a shame that doing so would get him in trouble.

So there are quite a few negatives I’ve got in the bag here like characters and romance, but one positive the film does have is the writing. I always enjoy the scripts from this era. Everyone just sounds very regal and the dialogue allows for good back and forth discussions with the characters. They’re all professional and make reasonable sounding arguments even if they’re actually crazy when you think about it. There’s always a lot of passive aggressive comments here as people rarely say what they actually mean. It’s really something to think about how people would actually speak like that back in the day because it’s certainly nothing like that in the modern day.

I’d also say that the pacing is good. The film will hold your interest as it’s going on and it never drags on. Each scene serves some kind of purpose so I wouldn’t say that there was any real filler here. Even if you don’t like the characters they still manage to be compelling which is important. It was nice to see Jack work as a director for a bit even if it didn’t ultimately work out. One character I did like was Kruger’s boss. That guy seemed very practical. He may not have said the things Kruger was hoping to hear but the guy clearly runs a tight ship and that’s important for a director.

Overall, Two Weeks in Another Town is a film with an idea that’s been tried in the past and it has been done more successfully. The problem here is that while the film does succeed in showing a cynical Hollywood where everyone is out to get you, it’s done without likable characters. All of the characters lose their morals when they need too. The film can be quite mean spirited. Basically this amounts to Jack going to another town and for two weeks making as much of a mess as he wants and then getting out quickly. While the ending suddenly tries to be a happy one it’s almost more of a grim ending since Jack ended up cracking once again. I’d say to skip it this time and you could watch almost any of Kirk Douglas’ other films and you’ll have a better time.

Overall 4/10

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

The Bad and the Beautiful Review


It’s time to take a look at a guy trying to succeed in Hollywood. While this initially starts out as a fun journey for the guy it ultimately starts getting darker and sadder as things don’t work out. He seems like a decent guy who made some critical mistakes, but each one was a mistake of his own doing. It’s a pretty engaging film that does have a tragic ending but one that may not be so bad depending on how you interpret it.

The movie starts with Jonathan trying to contact a famous director, (Fred) Actress, (Georgia) and Author (James) but all three of them refuse to speak with him. His agent manages to get them into a house where Jonathan will be able to make a call once more. We then learn why each of them does not want to speak with Jonathan through three stories. The film is effectively an anthology as we learn what happened to them and how Jonathan went from being the most successful man in Hollywood to being near bankrupt.

The first story starts with Fred attending a funeral where everyone was paid to pretend to be sad about Jonathan’s father dying. Fred doesn’t keep up the act though but one thing leads to another and he agrees to team up with Jonathan. The two of them work quite well and start making some very successful pictures. They may not be rolling in dough yet but things are going well. Things sour when Jonathan decides to push Fred out of the way when they adapt a screenplay that Fred wrote. Jonathan intends to be the one who will take the credit for it and this was Fred’s lifework. They went from being best friends to worst enemies in an instant. To Jonathan it wasn’t personal but to Fred it was everything.

This was a strong first story. It’s paced pretty well and could have been a film in itself. In this story Jonathan was totally at fault. You can’t just steal someone’s work like that and expect everything to be okay. That’s a film Fred will never go back and you can’t really apologize for it either. Jonathan made it clear that he didn’t think Fred was good enough for the film which is a personal blow. That was how Jonathan burned his first bridge and you can see why Fred doesn’t want to work with him.

The second story involved Georgia who was a drunk that had a hard time keeping a job. Jonathan notices her during a bit role one day and decides to make her a star. Unfortunately it is hard for her to beat her old habits and he figures that the only way to get Georgia on board is to let her believe that he is interested in her. The affair never really felt genuine from his end but it’s mostly all implied so you have to decide on that yourself. Regardless, he ends up crushing her feelings when it’s revealed that he is having an affair with another woman.

Jonathan made it clear initially that they couldn’t have a relationship so he didn’t think it was super personal but it doesn’t change the fact that he went on with the facade for quite a while. Georgia may have been the only one interested but this did go on presumably for quite a few months so Jonathan should have called things off much sooner or just not been in any other affairs in the meantime. Once again this is on Jonathan and you can see why she was pretty upset. You don’t really get over something like that.

Finally we get the story with James. James was a writer who led a comfortable life with his wife. He had a hard time writing anything but was pretty happy. One day he gets a call from Jonathan and heads on over reluctantly to Hollywood since his wife was really excited about going there. Things get a little tense at times in part because of how excited she is and James gets jealous easily. One day a tragedy happens and Jonathan covers it up but ultimately the truth comes out and James cuts ties with him for good. It’s a pretty solid third story and James easily has the best reason for never working with Jonathan again. You just can’t go back from something like that.

Part of what makes the film a bit tragic is the fact that Jonathan seemed like a nice guy overall. He could be pretty forceful and direct in how he talked, but ultimately he did befriend the three main characters. In particular he got along with Fred the best but did betray him rather directly. So the film doesn’t build Jonathan up as an evil villain or anything, but at the same time his mistakes were pretty bad. You feel bad for him in the climax since he is desperate enough to effectively be begging his old friends to return, but he’s in this hole due completely to his own actions. Even cancelling the film at the end was a selfish move that cost two of his co-workers all of their money. He kept on digging his hole deeper and deeper.

The ending is left open ended so you can decide how the 3 decide. Personally I think they’ve got to say no here. They’re all quite successful and the manager is making the case that it’s because of Jonathan. Certainly he put them on the right track but that doesn’t mean they owe him anything. He still made a mess of their lives in quite powerful ways. When you get betrayed in the ways that they did you don’t really get over that. In particular there is no way James should even entertain the notion of going back. At the very least, that’s the path I would see the ending going if it continued. They just put the phone back down and walk away.

Overall, The Bad and the Beautiful is a pretty deep film. The title is likely referring to Jonathan as we see him as a good guy and as a villain. At times he sees like a genuinely nice guy and then he turns at the drop of a hat. He’s hard to figure out which is tragic in itself. At least he got to enjoy success for quite a while though and I suppose that will have to be enough. This is a solid anthology and one that I’d recommend checking out. It’s a pretty interesting movie and it’s a cautionary tale to remind you to always keep your guard up. You shouldn’t live a cynical life where you think everyone’s out to get you but you should also remember to look after yourself a bit or you could be betrayed in an instant.

Overall 7/10

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

All About Eve Review


It’s time to look at an old film where Hollywood once again plays a major role. While it doesn’t actually appear as it did in A Star is Born, its mere presence is enough to shape many decisions in this title. It’s a story of betrayal and how you must always be careful not to let your guard down among outsiders. Anyone can put up a mask, you’ve got to either break through or just go about life imagining that everyone’s got it up. It’s very easy to keep your guard up while still being friendly. There’s no reason to throw in any deep dark secrets with a friend you’ve made, no matter how close. Only tell what you wouldn’t mind being told again in the future. That’s a lesson most of the characters in this film likely learned by the end.

The film starts off with Karen running into an obsessive fan outside. This fan has attended this Broadway show during every single one of its performances. Karen figures it’ll be nice to introduce this fan to the stars and invites her in. The fan’s name is Eve and she is thrilled to be meeting all of her icons. Eve quickly becomes Margo’s (Star of the show) attendant and seems to be loving the experience. However, while this initially appears to be innocent Eve slowly begins to start making moves without letting Margo know and may even have dreams of being the star herself. Will Margo be able to stay successful or is this the end for her?

I’d say that the movie does a good job of making Eve a fairly hard to read character. I dare say that if you did not know the plot of the film you could possibly be fooled for at least a good 30 minutes. Eve does seem genuine even if a bit over the top with the fake modesty. She always acts as if she isn’t ready even when she actually does think that she has something to offer. I suppose that definitely would qualify as a true red flag. Eve’s definitely a fun villain though. She does a good job of being pretty manipulative the whole time and playing everyone against each other. All told, her acting in-film is the real deal so at the very least you can’t say that she doesn’t have the talent for the position. Her whole plan wouldn’t have worked otherwise. She’s certainly underhanded, but somewhere along the way she actually did pick up some skills.

Then you’ve got Margo who is the actual main character here. She’s pretty sensitive about her age and it has gotten to the point where she is now very paranoid. Eve showing up doesn’t help matters and so she begins to have a lot of fights with Bill over the girl. Margo’s definitely a very dramatic lead, but one who has not yet cracked unlike the main guy from A Star is Born. At the very least while she is rather mean to some of her friends she never goes too far. I’m sure some definitely wouldn’t be her friend after her outbursts, but it does seem like most of the characters are used to it by this point. They’ve just grown used to Margo at this point, but as a result they don’t take her complaints against Eve very seriously. Margo’s fun, but she definitely could have had a much easier time of things if she had acted a little more professionally from the beginning. Then she could have really had the upper hand.

Karen’s a good friend even if she does make some mistakes along the way. I don’t think you can blame her for wanting to give Eve a shot to meet her idol, but I do think that she was probably a bit too quick to get Eve an inside track through the job and all. Of course everyone was trusted a lot more back in the day, but I still think it was a bit much to let this person into her house just like that. Everyone rolls with it so I suppose this was normal, but still tricky. Karen gets blackmailed at one point due to a particularly big mistake she made. Karen really dropped the ball there.

Meanwhile you have Bill who is portrayed as a pretty fair guy. He gives everyone a fair shake and as a result he does stick up for Eve quite a bit. At that point there is no reason for him not to do so though. Once he finds out the truth then he is in it with Margo for the long haul. The guy can be rather oblivious like when he gets home and spends 30 minutes talking to Eve rather than greeting Margo. That was definitely not his best moment, but at least he doesn’t even entertain the thought of betraying Margo.

Then you have Lloyd who is a little more gullible than Bill. He manages not to make the fatal mistake, but it’s extremely easy for Eve to manipulate him the entire time. You’d think that since he is a writer he would be careful not to fall for the classic traps. Ah well, he’s still a good character. There were times when it was hard not to mix him up with Bill though since the two look so similar. That was one thing I had to be careful about the whole time.

Finally you’ve also got Addison who is another powerful figure in the film. This guy is used to being the one in control so you can bet that he isn’t getting suckered by Eve like the others. He’s at least able to hold his own and gets a particularly big role in the end. The guy was definitely underestimated quite a bit. There’s also a very minor supporting character who shows up for a scene or two. She doesn’t get much to do, but is definitely a fun character. She’s straight forward compared to the others and doesn’t care about the drama. She just wants her drinks and shoots straight for the top. Her plot never gets any closure, but I don’t think it was ever supposed to have any.

As for the ending of the film, I have a hard time buying into what it seems to be selling. The movie is going for a full circle kind of ending as Eve is about to face the quick wrath of karma. I just don’t see her making the same mistakes as Margo because her character is already a lot more cynical. Eve invented the betrayal tactics so I really don’t think anyone will get to turn around and use them on her. Her last scene feels out of character if this is the implication but if you take it as her deciding to take advantage of another character then it fits in quite well.

Another aspect of the film that is pretty solid is the low key humor. This is a drama with a lot of characters who are being portrayed as dramatic so this leads to a lot of fun metaphors and back and forth conversations between the characters. At one point during a debate Bill just goes to bed to sleep for a while during the argument that the others have. All of the characters here can give as well as they take so the scenes never feel one sided. The only character who always shrinks away is Eve and of course that may not be what it seems.

Overall, this is a pretty fun film. It’s a solid drama with a lot of twists and turns. Margo really steals the show with how theatrical her character is. It really makes all the difference with how much it adds to the experience. Most of the difficulties she experiences in this film she can take at least half of the blame for even if someone was ultimately plotting her downfall in the background. You definitely need to have a fun lead/solid villain to make the drama all the better and this film really nails it. I’d definitely recommend checking it out and seeing what you think. The ending certainly gives you a lot of room to think up your own aftermath.

Overall 7/10

5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

A Star is Born Review


It’s time to look at the original version of A Star is Born. It’s definitely a title that I’m sure just about everyone is familiar with thanks to all of the remakes. Does it really hold up to such an illustrious legacy though? It’s not a bad film, but the second half does ultimately end up hurting the movie. It’s an ending that isn’t particularly great and one character is pretty annoying the whole time.

The film starts off with a girl named Esther expressing her desire to be an actress. Her family almost literally laughs her out of the house so her grandmother tells her to pursue her dreams. Esther heads on the train to Hollywood and gets ready to be famous. The problem is that there are a lot of other people who want to be famous and so she has hit a dead end. She meets a guy named Danny who has some connections, but instead of a part in the picture she is relegated to maid service. Still, this works out as she is noticed by washed up actor Norman who still has a lot of influence within the company. He’s happy to help her get famous so that they can get married, but when she begins to exceed his popularity can he handle the pressure?

One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of the old school male leads is that most of them seem to be really insecure. The instant that the heroine passes them they start getting really whiny and petty. Unfortunately Norman is no exception. He crashes her party and sulks for the majority of the movie. It’s easy to forget that they’re together at times. I’d give him credit for retiring and all, but he then starts to get into fights and tarnishes her reputation. He even gets thrown into the asylum for his antics. Sure, Norman’s over the hill, but he was famous for a while so you’d think that he could at least enjoy that part. Of course, how famous he ever was is probably debatable since nobody seems to even know the poor guy.

Esther is certainly a much better character. Her only weakness is that she gets emotional very quickly as she cries if you insult her. Fortunately I’d say that showbiz went well for her and has toughened her up by the end. She is able to put up a strong front and her talent was shown to be the real deal. She didn’t just go to Hollywood, she excelled while she was there. It’s also good that her granny was around to keep her on the right track as she almost made a big mistake at the end of the film. So, Esther was solid, but I think if she was less emotional then she would have been even better.

Meanwhile we have Danny, who was an interesting character. His voice is incredibly memorable so odds are that it is the part about him that you will remember the most. I’m not sure if it was intentionally humorous or not, but it did make him fun. His first scene was a bit rough though as he starts yelling as Esther for no reason. That scene probably could have been cut out since it makes absolutely no sense. He pretty much gets written out once Norman shows up though. Norman’s pr agent makes for an intense, albeit mean spirited character. He’s good at his job and he can even fight so you can’t ask for much more than that. Meanwhile the owner of the company is a nice enough guy. He kept trying to help Norman even when the actor made that difficult.

As for the ending, while it was unexpected I can’t say that it was good. If anything it just makes Norman look a whole lot worse than he was looking already. Rather than accept the new status quo and turn his act together he figures that it’s time for desperate measures. His answer is never the proper answer to anything. It’s just a way to escape a problem, not a way to solve one. I wonder if the newer films will switch that ending. I hope they do since it will definitely help the character be a little more redeemable.

As for the writing, it’s pretty solid for the most part. When the film attempts some humor scenes they tend to work well like Norman’s beer with a touch of soda gag. The romance isn’t handled quite as well as it’s hard to take Norman seriously since it seems like he typically likes flirting with everyone. It doesn’t make him look all that genuine but I suppose we can give him the benefit of the doubt. Esther just seems a little too trusting and quick to romance as well. Given that her goal is to be the best, I feel like romance would just be a big distraction for her. Ah well. The film’s pacing is pretty solid and although the film is fairly long it never drags on which is always important.

Overall, A Star is Born is a reasonable film. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it was passable. The idea of someone walking into Hollywood and then rising to the top is a classic, but consistent premise. If executed well it makes for a nice, uplifting story. If it’s cashed in then it ends up being super cheesy and you wonder what happened to the other actors for them to all be surpassed in such a short amount of time. I’ll probably see the remakes soon and I get the feeling that they may have the edge this time, but if you haven’t seen the original it’s probably worth checking out. It is a classic after all.

Overall 5/10

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

Halloween 2 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 of the film would be more negative.

Well, it looks like the sequel to Halloween has finally arrived. There’s only so much that this film can try to do to be good. From the start you know that it’s not going to be good, but can it at least be entertaining? Well, I’ve seen worse horror films so I’ll give it that, but this is still one of those sequels where you just shake your head. Myers has also grown a lot more powerful over the course of a few minutes as he suddenly becomes just about invincible here. Why is he bullet proof!?

The film takes place seconds after the first which is impressive. It’s an underrated approach and a super cool one if you ask me. I always like when the story picks up immediately like this. Basically, Michael Myers escaped capture last time and he decides to go right back to his goal of murdering everyone in the neighborhood. The cops have to try and stop him, but they can’t seem to save everybody. It looks like Laurie is going to have to save herself as expected. After all, when everyone else fails then it’s time to just do it yourself right?

Most of what I’m going to say here could be applied to the first film or any film in the series. That’s because Halloween follows what I’d consider to be the typical horror film outline. The only trope it seems to avoid is the animal violence one which I will give it some props there. I’m glad it was able to do that at least. The first thing dragging the film down is naturally the over the top violence. Naturally everyone meets pretty grim ends at the hand of Michael Myers. Most of the characters don’t even put up a fight or they go down without making a sound. (Rhyme intentional) Given that he has super strength and such at least it’s a little more believable than in some of the other films. Still, the body count in this film is incredibly high as nobody seems to have a way to communicate and he just takes down the whole town one at a time. It’s scary just how many people he gets and the cops never even find out about it.

Then you’ve also got horror trope #2, the terrible characters. All the characters seem to care about is getting past the friend zone. Two characters decide to hang out at a hot springs when they’re supposed to be on duty and looking after the patients. Then they can’t even tell when the other character has been bumped off. It’s also just an excuse to get a fanservice scene in since horror films seem to need that. There’s also the pointless emergency staff guy who keeps on flirting with Laurie throughout. The plot doesn’t go anywhere and I don’t even really get how the guy died. Sure, he tripped, but why would he die from that? Perhaps part of the scene was cut for the TV version or something but if there is no more context to that scene then this guy’s just a joke. He should have been written out of the film.

Laurie’s a reasonable character here. In fact, she’s the only reasonable character. She realizes very quickly that nobody else here is even remotely competent so she escapes from the hospital to try and save herself. Of course the other characters give away her hiding spot and drop the gun. If I was Laurie I’d definitely leave this town and never come back. Sam talks tough and he has a gun so he’s better than most of the characters, but he still isn’t the smartest of the characters. He plugs Myers 6 times and the guy doesn’t go down. What does he do in round 2? He shoots him 4 times. Look, if you think that this guy is basically unstoppable then you have to do all that you can to stop him. Trying to walk over and take his knife away isn’t smart so Sam is smarter than the policeman, but then go for a head shot or something. Do whatever it takes to make sure Myers stays down. Then Sam just goes back into running mode and his gun jams. Well gee…that’s just bad luck now.

Finally we’ve got Myers, but he isn’t even a character in this film. He’s basically just a zombie that is going around murdering people. I don’t think he got a single line here so maybe the film is trying to hint that he is basically dead by this point. Maybe the 6 bullets did finish him off and he is a zombie. Then again, I forget if he talked in the first film. Maybe he just can’t talk. Either way there’s not much to his character. The rest of the characters in the film just exist to die so you feel bad for them. In slasher films like this one only the main character tends to live while everyone else dies. It’s a rather tragic existence for the whole town, they were just outgunned.

There’s just nothing positive to say about the film. It’s not fun to watch and I dare say that it might be more over the top than the first film. Although I think the first film had animal violence so it was probably still worse than this film. The only positive I can say for this film is that it avoided the big 0 by avoiding the animal violence. Even then it was fairly close, but I think a 1 is reasonable. The film also isn’t particularly long so at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome quite as drastically as you might fear. Imagine this going for 2 hours? Now that would be really brutal!

Overall, Halloween 2 doesn’t try to do anything particularly clever or unique. It’s basically just a rehash of the last film. If the last film was a good movie then that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but there’s just nothing particularly good here. It’s a pretty mean spirited film where the villain has the edge throughout. Surprisingly there isn’t even a stinger here so I suppose the heroes can finally get a little peace at least. It’s a silver lining, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’d highly recommend avoiding this film as much as possible. Just stick away from it and you’ll be the better off for it.

Overall 1/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Reviews

The Maze Runner Review

Maze-Runner-Poster2
The Maze Runner was hyped up as the next Hunger Games and that series hasn’t even finished in cinema world yet! Obviously the Maze Runner must have known something that I didn’t so I finally got around to checking it out on DVD. Great concept, but the execution left much to be desired. No worries, the Maze scenes are the best part so that did live up to the billing.

Well, the film takes place in the near future. A lot of kids have been trapped in a Maze and they don’t know how to get out. Every month, a box is sent to them from underground with one more teenager and food supplies. They’ve spent the last few years just trying to survive in their living space as they hope for the best. There are “Runners” who are teenagers that are selected to check out the maze. They have to be careful though since the Maze closes every night and staying inside will mean imminent destruction. So, they have clung to their lives for quite a while and that’s when good ole Thomas shows up. He doesn’t like this status quo…and he’s going to shake things up!

As you can expect, we’re all just waiting for Thomas to go into the Maze. It was in the trailer and we all would have expected it anyway. At first, I was pleasantly surprised with the film’s pacing since Thomas went inside it sooner than I had thought he would. I was practically cheering…until he left and we spent another long period of time outside the maze. (The living quarters are at the center of the maze so I say “out of the maze”) Don’t get the wrong idea….seeing teenagers discuss how they’re all doomed can be entertaining if handled right, but it just isn’t.

Most of the scenes at the living space are just boring or not fun to watch. We have the stereotypical bullies and the twist is that almost all of them are bullies. Everyone falls for peer pressure and the natural born leader wants the status quo to stay. The actual leader is a nice enough guy…or is he? I actually didn’t like him and his replacement was not much better. The whole thing just felt like a scam from Thomas’ point of view and nobody wanted to give him any intel. Just about everyone seemed to be mindless as they would just follow the order’s of the leader. It’s basically a dictatorship and this is certainly not the kind of place that you would want to hang out in.

The atmosphere of the film is very similar to Resident Evil during the climax. Once the maze is…no longer a factor, you expect zombies to start jumping out at you. It’s hard to describe of course, but the area is just very foggy and everything looks very hi tech. You quickly start to get your hopes up about aliens, zombies, or something else. Naturally, the film sends you crashing back down to reality with one of the worst plot twists that I have seen in a long time. The cliffhanger just makes you uninterested in what’s going to happen to the heroes or you at least lose most of your interest. There just doesn’t seem to be much of a point in their journey right now and they should have gone with the aliens/zombies idea. The atmospheric effect is pretty good and few films can actually pull it off, but you need something to happen to keep the atmosphere or it’s just going to fly away.

Thomas is a decent main character….I guess. He just strikes me as pretty annoying to be honest and he’s not very quick on the uptake. It doesn’t help that the other kids shun him of course, but he is always in the dark. He decision to help another one of the kids during a dicey time was pretty good of course and he managed to do well against one of the monsters, but that was mainly plot hax. He also could have put up a much better fight in the getting beat up wrestling game. I’ll never understand how someone can just stand there and watch himself get pushed around without much of an effort. Naturally, Thomas does land one hit so he quickly starts to gloat and then takes his eyes off his opponent. I can’t even…..

Teresa is the main heroine and she shows up as the final person to be sent to the ring. Naturally, she’s a girl so the other boys are mad/afraid that she’s here and she’s also shunned. She doesn’t help her case as she throws rocks at everyone, but I can’t blame her and I just hope that she can fight. Thing is…she feels like she is only here so that we can have a female character involved. Most films don’t pull a reverse harem situation like this in Hollywood so it’s pretty intriguing and I don’t mind so long as they don’t start to fall into the romance game. At most it is implied here and you can easily deny that. I have to give the Maze Runner props where it is due right?

As for the other characters, they’re all pretty unlikable and it’s hard to even talk about them. Newt is the second in command who gets very defensive at the drop of a hat and he just wants Thomas to stop asking questions. He’s the kind of guy who is immensely annoying to be around and he can’t completely stand up for himself even if he’s the leader. Alby actually seems like a nice kid at first, but we know that this can’t last and sure enough…he shows his dark side. He gives Thomas a very lightly veiled threat about what will happen to him if he breaks the rules and he did allow Thomas to be roughly handled when he first came out of the box. Sure, Thomas may have ran, but it was definitely uncalled for. Then, he cracks towards the end and while we’ll probably get a lot of sob stories and twists so make this seem reasonable, it’s still pretty sad.

We can’t forget about good ole Gali. He’s the main bully and he would rather thin the ranks of the heroes then go up against the maze. He’s always pretty unreasonable and he resents Thomas from the very start. You have to wonder how he got along with everyone else. He’s just your stereotypical bully and he pushes everyone around when he feels like it. There’s nothing likable about this guy and the film basically admits that he’s crazy by the end. We also have Chuck, who is the only guy who is really nice to Thomas and wants to be his friend. He also wants to see his parents someday…..Hollywood loves their drama so I’m sure you can imagine how this subplot ends. Minho is the main runner and he warms up to Thomas after the hero proves his worth, but I wouldn’t call him a very good character. He basically doesn’t mind Thomas because the main character is useful to him…that’s about it. Before that, he is pretty cold and he doesn’t mind leaving allies to get stomped on.

We can’t forget the monsters right? There is a pretty chilling moment where we think that there might not be any actual monsters here thanks to a twist, but that it luckily thrown out of the window right away. There are monsters here and they are almost tough. They are essentially mechanical scorpions that move like spiders and there are a lot of them. They’re definitely not very strong as you can destroy them with a simple, sharp stick, but they move quickly, which can make this difficult for the average kid. I’m always glad to have monsters here, but they are definitely not impressive power wise. Their design is decent though.

The actual violence isn’t as repulsive as the first Hunger Games, but it can get rather intense as we peer through one of the monster’s remains. The rest is pretty tame as we just hear/know things without seeing them. It uses the implied violence tactic that the Dark Knight used, which is actually pretty good if you need the violence angle. It’s a safe way to still get the message across. It naturally results in a rather dark tone like The Lord of The Flies and it continues on til the end, but it could be worse. The violence isn’t much of a negative here, but it’s still worth a mention that this definitely isn’t the kind of film that you want to show your kid.

There isn’t really a soundtrack although I’m sure that there are some generic/free domain themes in this film. That certainly doesn’t help the film. The main reason why I just didn’t like this film is because of the scenes at the home base. It’s hard to really describe why it’s so awful there and it may be a number of things. I’ve seen the “main character gets bullied” plot to death at this point and it is definitely not cool to see. Especially since the film is already devoid of any hope, we’d rather not see the main character get put in such a position. The actual setting is also very unimaginative and not very fun to look at the then the disappointing ending didn’t help matters. This is the kind of film that could be much better with adults as the main characters and better still if it had come out in the 80’s/60’s as a black and white film with a lot of debate. Sort of like 12 Angry Men. A reasonable discussion about whether they should leave the Maze or not as the whole film could have been much more interesting. The film just dropped the ball in all of these areas.

Overall, The Maze Runner is about as “good” as I expected. It does manage to crush the Hunger Games, but you are still left feeling empty. Is this the extent of our novel adaptions or are there other titles that we are missing? The Seeker and Alex Rider seemed like good bet back in the day, but they were cancelled and Harry Potter is already over. Ah well, maybe The Maze Runner gets even better with the sequel. The mystery is pretty engaging and I did like the concept. I could almost recommend it to you on that alone, but I could also just recommend the trailer instead. If you don’t mind monster violence and the classic bully scenarios going on for a very long time, then I recommend this film. If the thought of a rather depressing film where all of the main characters are teenagers who are pretty unlikable is too much to handle…you may want to run all the way back to the first Harry Potter film. It’s your choice!

Overall 4/10

Live Action Movies

Noah

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I’m sure that we were all thrilled to see Hollywood finally start to adapt the events of the Bible. It was long overdo. We’ve had many films about the Civil War and other big events and these deserve just as much screentime. On the other hand, many Christians were pretty skeptical since the trailer did look pretty suspect. Unfortunately, they were right to be wary of this film since it’s example of how the theater can try to make the Bible “mainstream” and inaccurate.

As you may have guessed, this is a Very loose adaption of the classic tale. In the Bible, God decides to wipe out most of the human race by having a flood appear on the Earth to wipe everything out. He tells Noah to build an ark. 2 of every animal would go on it along with Noah and his family. The story was not very long in the Bible, but it was a very significant event in history. After all, it was where God said that he would never end the world by flood again. The film takes that plot and adds tons of stuff to it while “fleshing out” the characters to make sure that they are all pretty unlikable.

Now, adapting the Bible is a tricky matter in itself. I’ll definitely admit to that. Some of the events can be pretty brutal and it can be tough to see all of the animals being sacrificed on screen from the old testament. That being said, everything that is contained within the Bible is there for a reason so it must be kept in. It’s tough for me to watch as a big animal lover and the events can be pretty violent. Still, it must never be changed as it can trick new believers and they can miss out. So, I may still have a tough time watching a faithful adaption, but at least I would be watching it as it was meant to be seen. Dragging out the tale of Noah to 2 hours would be tricky for anyone and keeping it completely accurate would be challenging. That being said, the film didn’t need to be over 2 hours and the writers could have consulted with Christian scholars and pastors to get a better consensus of how the film should go. It would be more work, but it would be worth it. It would have also been worth their while to have made the film only run for about an hour or an hour and a half instead of adding tons of plot elements. Where did the film go wrong? Just about everywhere.

We have “The Watchers” who are fallen angels that disobeyed God because they wanted to help the humans while God had already decreed that the descendants of Cain would have to live by the sweat of their brow. God punished them by merging them with the soil of the Earth so that they became rock creatures. Then, the humans betrayed them and destroyed most of The Watchers. The Watchers became angry with humankind and they fled to a rocky area. Well….do you remember any of that from the Bible? I certainly don’t and I read that saga pretty recently. The whole concept of The Watchers is something that I don’t like. Personally, I have always pictured the Angels to be humanoid and made of light. (The Watchers transform back into this form when they die so at least their natural form was more in line with my thoughts) Of course, we won’t really know until we go to Heaven and their forms may not be so easily comprehended. Nontheless, I don’t believe that a human could ever destroy one of them, even if they were cursed to walk the Earth. Ever. That’s simply not possible and a complete insult to them.

It should also be noted that the word God is never used. They just refer to him as “The Creator.” The way that the universe is formed also makes it seem like it was a natural occurrence. God created the light and then everything just formed on its own….yeah right. The film likely didn’t want to offend atheists by mentioning God, but then why are they even making this film? This is supposed to enlighten more people to the word of God and to be a good way for Christians to see the story. If the writers won’t go all the way in making this a true adaption of the story of Noah, then there is no point.

Noah is also a pale shadow of himself. His big moment involves….disobeying God. He believes that God wanted him to murder two babies (You can already see how insane this is right?) so he does everything in his power to destroy them until he is finally next to them. Then he tells God that he will not do it and he leaves. One of the characters tries to tell him that God actually wanted him to spare the babies and he made the right choice, but it was handled poorly. Noah basically ended up choosing his family over God. He definitely misinterpreted God’s message as destroying the babies was not what he was meant to do, but it would have been better if God had told him to stop.

Another thing that I didn’t like was that God never actually spoke to Noah. Noah got brief visions about people drowning and other things, but God never actually talked to him. In the Bible, God told him exactly how to make the Ark, down to the specific size specifications. Again, the general audience may have found that hard to believe, but it’s what happened so that’s what should have happened in the film. We can’t alter the facts just to make things more “believable.” God never explains the visions either and Noah does everything by his own interpretation. In the Bible, everything was made clear to Noah. In the film, they act as if God barely cares about what is transgressing and the angels are the only real proof that he exists. (There are some minor scenes like a flower growing and the flood of course, but not talking at all is not a good move on the film’s part)

Back to Noah himself. He mostly just went around beating everyone up as he got the Ark ready. This just wasn’t the Noah that I was expecting. Self defense is good and all, but having him murder a bunch of people in one of the opening scenes isn’t how his character portrayal should have started. We’re supposed to see that he is a good man in a corrupt world, but we never really see this. He seems to be just another villain as he tries to murder the infants.

You can tell that my experience with the film was pretty negative. It’s just hard not to take a few shots at the film when everything was so wrong. Want to know another big problem with the film? One of the villains actually breaks into the Ark. That definitely did not happen in the Bible and it undermines everything. The whole point was that God protected Noah and his family once they were in the ark. They had nothing to fear because they knew that God would keep them safe. Not in this version and the villain actually murders a few of the animals. There is seriously no justice in this film.

The film has a ton of unnecessary animal violence and it’s very gritty throughout. We see many people dying and injured on the ground as they cannot leave. One of the worst scenes is when Noah walks into the enemy city and witnesses slave auctions and merciless animal violence. Don’t worry, I can possibly top that with another scene. Perhaps it can’t top that last one in terms of terribleness, but it comes close. Noah’s son helps a girl to escape this place and she trips on one of the bear traps. Noah’s son calls for Noah to come and help. So…Noah grabs him and runs away as we see the girl get trampled to death by the incoming mob. Noah regrets nothing since he believes that everyone in the village is evil with no exceptions. No exceptions. After all, he believes that his family are the chosen ones that God has deemed to live so any new life must be destroyed. Hence, why the baby must die.

I could likely go on for a while, but you get the jist of it and this technically isn’t a review. Just know that Noah is a really bad film interpretation of the story and I definitely would not recommend it. God’s Not Dead is a perfect Christian movie to watch that is fictional, but tells a good story. Son of God also came out recently and I can assure you that it is a pretty faithful movie about Jesus. Let’s hope that Exodus will be better as it will be hard to be worse…..but I wouldn’t get my hopes too high. Even if this was just movie that didn’t adapt the Bible, it would have still been a pretty poor one and you can bet that my score for it would have been extremely low. This is a story of brutality and of a man who lived through the great flood, but there is nothing about God’s kindness or anything to really show that he is alive at all. In the end, I’d say that the film….sunk.