Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Review

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

It’s no secret that I thought the first Mad Max was dreadfully awful. Well, unfortunately this one isn’t much of a step up. It’s still a film that is pointlessly bleak at all times with no corner of hope for any of the characters. You can survive in this future as best you can but you certainly can’t thrive here. The instant a dog showed up as one of the main characters I knew the film was doomed. It’s all downhill right from when the film starts so at least this isn’t a surprise. I will say that the poster is really good though, feels like a completely different movie!

The movie starts with a big flashback/narration explaining what happened in the first film. Considering that not a lot happened I think they could have sped this up but the film is really big on being as dramatic as possible. The opening and ending narrations are both very long and do well to lower your expectations. From there we see Max who is minding his own business with his beat up car when he’s attacked. He fends these guys off but then finds himself in the middle of a skirmish between two gangs.

One is a violent group that goes around terrorizing everyone. They’re all intent on causing as much terror and destruction as possible with no real goal beyond that. Their objective right now is to steal the fuel from the other group though so they can go back to committing mindless destruction against everyone else. The group on the defense seem nice enough but their group is split on fighting back or running off. Both options will lead to their ultimate destruction so they aren’t keen on either plan. Ma will end up being the deciding factor here. They manage to get his car and also have all of the fuel so if Max wants to go anywhere he will have to barter with them. Nobody can trust anybody around here so we’ll see how that goes.

It’s easy to see how so many people became crooks here though because there is absolutely nothing to do in this world. The entire planet is covered in sand and dust. It’s got to be one of the most depressing futures imaginable. Not only is there no sense of government or humanity so you’re surrounded by thugs everywhere you go, but there don’t even seem to be human essentials like stores and such. You’re stuck scavenging for your own things for the rest of your life which is as bleak as it gets. Seriously, it’s hard to have any fun in this place.

Max isn’t intending on having any fun though as he is still depressed from the events of the first film. I can’t say I blame him because the world has only gone south since then. At least in the first film it felt like there was still a civilization. Maybe it’s just the area that the second film takes place in but any civilization appears to be long gone at this point. There isn’t much to say about Max because he doesn’t say much and barely has any real character. He’s certainly not awful but he’s not that good either. The kind of character you forget even exists really.

None of the villains are any good. You’ve got Humungus as the leader of the group and the best thing I can say about the guy is that he is very strong. Nobody’s going to mess with him, that’s for sure and he chokes out the one villain who started to get out of line. Other than that, he’s just another thug trying to make a name for himself. Wez is much worse as the guy is one of those crazy types who only barely manages to get through his missions without going overboard.

The villains were just bad here because they had no real personality. The leader is the strong guy and Wez is the crazy guy. That’s the extent of their character here and I never got very interested in what was going to happen to them. This just isn’t that kind of film and that’s a shame. To make a good villain you’ve got to give them a solid goal or just make them generally charismatic. Some fun dialogue and a few good lines would have gone a really long way here.

As for the other group, well you have two main members. There’s Papagallo who could have been an action hero in a different movie. In this one the guy is still in the leadership role and makes the tough calls but he’s not all that likable. I’ll give him some points for being one of the most developed characters in the movie though, maybe even the most. You can at least see that he has some rationale behind his decisions and he certainly earned the unofficial title as leader. When the group needs a decision, then he comes through.

Then there’s the kid who can’t talk yet and acts like a wild animal. Well, he’s certainly savage enough and lands a lot of good blows so that’s impressive. His skills with a boomerang can’t be denied. Not really my kind of character but he proves helpful which is important. Then you have the gyro captain (I don’t think he ever got a name and this is what Wikipedia refers to him as so I’ll take their lead here) who goes from being Max’s fugitive for a while to actually helping out in the end. He definitely came in handy since aerial mobility is huge in a fight like this. In a car battle one wrong bump can take you out but in the air it’s hard to counter.
So those are the characters but I was less than impressed with them. As mentioned earlier, there is some animal violence here which really doomed the flick. You should not have a dog die in your film…ever. It’s just never going to end up being a good move and ends up backfiring horribly! Definitely a regrettable move. I mean, the film was going to get a low score regardless because I didn’t really like anything about it, but this ensured that it fell almost all the way down.

At the end of the day, the deck was really stacked against the film. I don’t care for the desert environment as it is. Then you’ve got a futuristic world with absolutely no high tech concepts which is missing the point of a future based film in the first place. I would also make the case that the film barely has a plot. Yes, we have to protect the fuel and Max just wants to get out of there but that’s a 20 minute plot, not a whole film’s worth.

Overall, I would give this film a hard thumbs down. Max Max is really not a film I would recommend. Even the newer films tend to not look very interesting but maybe it will eventually break out. The issue is that I feel the series would need a complete revamp in order to be good and that’s not likely happening anytime soon. If anything I’m sure that would be extremely controversial.

Overall 1/10

Free Guy Review

Free Guy definitely got a ton of promotion and hype when it was coming out. The movie really looked to be throwing in tons of references and fun gaming moments into its adventure and Free Guy did deliver on that. It’s also always a cool concept to find yourself inside of a game. It may not be life and death stakes for most of the characters like in Sword Art Online but it still gives you that fun feeling of actually being inside a game. So while Free Guy could have been better in some areas, I would definitely say it’s a good film.

The movie starts with a day in the life of Guy. He lives as an NPC in the Free City game. His duty is to be a bank clerk who helps people get their money before being held up by a random crook every day. He doesn’t realize that this is strange though as that’s just how life works. He doesn’t even know that this is all a game since it feels real to him. Well, one day he wants to talk to one of the people wearing glasses (a user) and figures he just needs a pair of his own. He grabs them and this changes his life forever. He can now see the world as a player does.

Meanwhile, Millie is trying to track down some code which will prove that Antwan and team corporate actually stole the game that she and Keys created in order to get mega rich. The issue is that the code could be anywhere and she has had no luck finding it so far. If she doesn’t find it before the sequel comes out then she will really be out of luck. Perhaps Guy is her last chance. After all, as a player from inside the game, perhaps he will be able to see a new perspective. She better hope this is the case as there won’t be any second chances.

I have to say that the actual world of Free City looks like a blast to play in. It’s got a very Grand Theft Auto feel to it but with even more to do. I’d say there’s even a bit of Fortnite inspiration in this as you create walls to run and jump on. Of course, that seems to be a power limited to admins, I can see how that might be overpowered in a GTA setting otherwise. You can choose whether you want to live peacefully in the game or attack people. I imagine most would do the latter, but it could make playing the hero role fun since you will always be outnumbered.

As for Guy, he’s very much a Lego movie kind of lead. He has a perfect life right now and doesn’t even think about anything grander until it arrives at his doorstep. From there Guy does a good job of adapting and becoming a true lead in his own right. He is fairly skilled and has a whole lifetime of experience which explains why he is so good at navigating through the town. He may be a bit slow on the uptake of this all being a game but like with Truman, I can cut him some slack there because it is really hard to jump to the conclusion that your whole world is fake. Realistically that would be hard to buy at first but he does start to catch on when he sees how everyone always acts in the same way.

Free Guy is at its best when it’s about Guy just living his life and having a good time. The Mega Buster cameo was a blast as well as the Avengers reference. When the film is just going all crazy like this you’re really going to be engaged with what’s going on. The film has a lot of funny moments and the pacing is on point as well. Since Guy’s such a likable main character, the film is off on the right foot there. The soundtrack also has some fun songs. It may not be a huge soundtrack but it gets the job done.

The film’s at its weakest when it’s focusing on the humans plots. I’m always up for a good story about evil corporate but it’s hard to go from the video game world with its fun physics back to a normal workplace subplot. It just doesn’t really do many new or different things here. You have Millie as one of the main characters and her goal to find the piece of code is a good one. You may have some questions on how exactly she intends to find this on her own though. Without Guy it seems like this would have been truly impossible without some kind of extra hacking ability.

She gets points for being more proactive than Keys though. Keys literally joins with the villains and gives up on his dreams. He let the villains steal them all away and that’s not what you want to see from the main character. You want Keys to get out there and fight with the best of them. Instead he even discourages Millie from fighting back. Even in the romance plot he’s very laid back as he leaves a lot of clues for Millie but when she doesn’t notice them he basically gave up. If not for other characters acting on his behalf, he would not have ever made any progress.

Antwan’s a fun villain though. He’s your classic evil CEO who dials himself up to 11 with how crazy he gets. Perhaps this isn’t very original but he was entertaining enough so I’d give him a pass. The guy just wants to become mega rich and do whatever he wants. It’s a classic villain motivation but one that doesn’t want to get old since so many people want to be rich. He probably could have handled the situation a whole lot better though. Shutting down the first game sooner would have helped him a whole lot.

One of the worst humans in the film had to be Mouser though. He’s Keys’ friend but not a very loyal one. Mouser is always quick to follow orders and does whatever he can to stay in the company’s good graces. Sure, he steps up at the very end of the film but it’s way too late by then. The guy read none of the writing on the wall and didn’t even try to approach Keys and ask him about what was going on. That would have really been a good idea here since they were friends and all. Mouser was just disappointing here.

Guy’s friend Buddy isn’t much better though. At the end of the day he wasn’t brave enough to follow Guy’s example. It shows the difference between being a main character and being a sidekick. In the end Buddy was just not ready to enter the main stage. Also, he just doesn’t tend to be as funny as the other characters. He has his moments to be sure but sometimes his jokes just tend to drag on instead and that’s never a good thing for this kind of character.

As a comedy film, Free Guy will naturally be throwing an onslaught of jokes at you. I would say it’s nearly impossible for any comedy film to land with all of their jokes, the idea is that if you land on most of them then you should be good. Well, I would say Free Guy does land more often than not which is the sign of being a good film. For every iffy joke like the goldfish, the top pro player, or Buddy being too obsessive, you’ll have a solid array of good jokes to balance it out.

The only real weakness for the film naturally goes back to the human side as I mentioned. The romance is rather weak in this film. Both with the Guy plot and then with Keys. None of those romance plots really do anything but slow down the movie’s pacing. I’d also say the movie just isn’t good at getting really serious. When you have the cameos from real life pro players and such, it might make you cringe just a tad. They’re just a little too over the top which does match their persona in most streams but it’s hard to take seriously. Especially since the rest of the film is more comical. Free Guy has its serious moments of course but usually it’s still chuckling a bit in the background while these scenes are 100% serious.

Overall, Free Guy is a solid movie and definitely one that I would consider as a feel good film. It’s rather upbeat the whole time with a quick tempo so the movie never gets boring. I do think it’s best when the film is just having fun and exploring the video game world. When it gets serious and focuses on the human characters it doesn’t have the same amount of pop. I would definitely be game for a sequel though, there’s a whole lot you can do with this. Just keep up the solid references and cameos and you will have a great formula for a sequel. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend changing that.

Overall 6/10

Monster Hunter Review

Monster Hunter is a franchise that always seemed pretty fun. I haven’t played any of the games yet but I did watch one of the anime and it was solid. The monster designs are on point and so a movie for this could have a lot of potential. In some ways the movie is really stellar like with the effects and soundtrack, but unfortunately that doesn’t translate to the actual movie which suffers greatly from a lack of quality characters and no real good dynamics. The sequel would likely take things to the next level but we’ll see if that ever manages to come out.

The movie starts with Artemis and her team looking for some missing soldiers. They find an abandoned truck with signs of a struggle around it but no bodies. Then a giant storm appears and throws the gang through a portal into a different world. This world is dangerous with lots of giant monsters and crazy creatures running around. There is seemingly no escape from them and one by one they pick off all of Artemis’ team. She is now alone and must try to find her way back to Earth. She will have to reluctantly team up with a mysterious hunter who isn’t the nicest guy around. Can they put aside their differences and stay alive?

So lets quickly talk about what went right for this film and why I thought it had potential rather deep into the film until I realized it wasn’t going to happen. First off, the soundtrack really is excellent. It’s one of the best that I’ve heard in a long time with a good amount of electronic tunes. This sounds like something straight out of the Tron film series. It also has some solid action tunes and as a result this is a soundtrack that you could throw right into a video game without any issues. That’s how solid it is.

Then you have the special effects which are on point. We meet several monsters but of course the Diablos is the main one from all of the trailers. They all look good and rather faithful to the games where they came from. It’s clear that there was a good amount of effort put into the research part of the movie. I would have liked to have seen some more monsters of course but the ones that we did get were solid. Then you have the flame sword and some more intense weapons at the end of the film. The cliffhanger makes you feel like the next film would have really gotten involved with the lore of the series and even thrown in some villains. It could have been a Final Fantasy type experience.

Also, the first chunk of the film about Artemis and her team running around the island is like something out of Alien only much better. The gang are all experienced soldiers in an unfamiliar territory fighting off monsters that are basically Xenomorphs. One by one they are picked off but the scene shave a lot of tension and suspense. You could even call the film part horror for this whole part until the final members die and Hunter appears. This was the best part of the film. Now I still have some issues like with the neck bursters taking the place of the chest bursters. Do we need any kind of bursters in every alien film? I’d rather get torn apart by a Xenomorph than have that happen to be honest.

The film can’t really resist having this happen to one member at least but the film mostly has restraint otherwise. The scenes can be intense but it’s more about the atmosphere than what is actually happening on screen and I do think that is the right approach here. Finally, the last positive I can give for the movie is that Artemis is a very solid main character. She’s a no nonsense fighter who knows how to keep her team focused and not get sidetracked by every little thing. It’s easy to see how she earned the captain role and never falters throughout the movie.

In general the film’s pacing is solid as well so things never drag on. Still, the second half is a big downgrades and a big part of that is Hunter’s fault. So, Hunter can only talk in the language of the new world so he and Artemis don’t understand each other. I think that already puts the film in a tough position since it’s very hard to write good banter in such a situation. I absolutely think it’s possible with top tier writers but do you think Monster Hunter has that level of talent at the ready? Most of the conversations are basically just the two characters making fun of each other. It takes them a while to actually get along and by that point the film is nearly over.

They even have a very serious fight early on where they nearly murder each other. It was certainly quite the way to get introduced to each other. Hunter’s mostly the one at fault here though as he kept on taunting Artemis. She had to put him in his place to establish the chain of command around here. Hunter just never gets all that interesting though and I would have almost preferred Artemis was on her own the whole time.

There’s also one scene that will take you out of the immersion for a bit because of how ludicrous it is. So, after hours of being in the desert and fighting monsters, Artemis reaches in her pocket and takes out a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. It is perfectly solid and not melted at all. She uses it as a peace offering with Hunter who loves it since this is the best brand of chocolate of all time. Here’s the problem, while I don’t mind shameless product placement since I always find that entertaining, there’s no way it wouldn’t have melted. Try carrying a chocolate bar in your pocket while you’re walking around and handling day to day tasks. I’ve done this a few times in my day and let me tell you, your pocket’s going to be a mess after this.

There is no way that would even resemble a bar by the time she was done with the first act of the film. It may be a minor thing but I couldn’t stop thinking about that because of how obvious it was. As usual for these kinds of films the heroes are rather desperate for whatever they can eat which usually ends up looking rather gross. The characters have to skin the monsters to get weapons and bait which can also be rather messy and gross. That part of Monster Hunter I would be cool with skipping so we can just get to the action already.

That’s not even counting the rest of Hunter’s crew who was completely forgettable. It’s easy to forget they even had an intro scene in the film. I think what this boils down to is that the film was a lot more interesting when it was Artemis and her team. I would have changed it so the whole film was about them trying to survive rather than switching to Hunter and his crew. That would have just ended up being a lot more fun in the end.

One thing you want to have for a sci-fi film like this..or any film really is some fun banter and dialogue while blasting your way through the enemy planet. This film doesn’t have any of that since nobody who can speak English even appear until we’re near the end of the film. You also won’t get answers to the interesting parts of the film yet like who put up the towers to cause the portals between worlds.

At the very end of the film we see a glimpse of the likely culprit but there’s no clue on who this is. There’s so much you can do with this, particularly since there seems to be a castle of some kind at the end. A villain group all fighting with magical swords/weapons would make for an amazing sequel. Sure, the monsters may get less screen time but I would be fine with that. It was fun seeing the government step in again near the end but even then this was a very brief moment.

Overall, Monster Hunter could have been a lot better. It just made a lot of questionable choices in the second half. Hunter could have been much more interesting than how he ended up being. I could do with less of the crude humor like the cat getting his fur in the drink that they end up having to drink. Those scenes don’t need to be there and the writing just doesn’t feel nearly as good as it could have been. Artemis can’t hold the entire film on her own and it’s an issue that the film is trying to give her the full load. At least the excellent soundtrack ensures that you will have a good audio experience, but the solid first act is not enough to keep this movie afloat so it’s time to give this one a skip.

Overall 4/10

Redemption Review

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

Redemption is one of those films that could have worked really well as a stylistic action blockbuster where things are happening around every corner. Instead the film goes for grit and more often than not this ends up hurting the film. By the end everyone’s in rather poor shape and the film does not go for a happy ending. You just know that they’re all doomed.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe. He’s currently homeless and just trying to survive in the back alleys. Unfortunately there are a group of thugs who go around beating up the homeless every night. Joe ends up escaping but not before getting roughed up quite a bit. He ends up falling into an empty apartment and takes refuge there. The owner won’t be back for a while so this may be his chance to finally start over. Joe stops taking drugs and even gets a job in a restaurant washing dishes. Things are looking up but then he starts getting into some dangerous territory when he accepts a job as an enforcer. On one hand the pay is excellent, but on the other hand he’s basically become a thug now. Can he find true romance like this?

A big part of the film is that he likes a lady named Cristina who works as a nun and as a result can’t actually date him. Joe doesn’t seem to care about that and pressures her into an affair all the time. She half heartedly tries rejecting him a few times but the issue is that she does enjoy the presents. At one point he gives her a ton of cash which she uses to buy some opera tickets. As the film goes on she definitely starts to lower her defenses but Joe tends to make things harder on himself by getting mixed into more dangerous situations so he isn’t always ready at the right time.

The romance is just pretty bad here. If Christina is interested then she should have just retired right away. The life of a nun isn’t for everyone and if that is the case for her then there’s no shame in walking away from that. It would have definitely been a much better option than trying to have it both ways. That’s what gets her into trouble quite a bit. She is a nice person who does a lot for the community so I won’t knock Christina entirely, but this plot just really dragged on throughout.

Never one to miss up a chance for adding some dark elements to the story, we also find out that Christina has a very dark backstory. It’s got to point being in the film except to add some shock value. Likewise we eventually learn about how Joe got into his present situation and lets just say it was not a pleasant experience. The film goes into it but effectively he was a soldier who ended up going on a bit of a revenge mission that rewarded him with a lot of guilt for the rest of his life. While it does explain how he became so broken in the film, it doesn’t make the rest of it any more enjoyable.

We’ve got a lead character here who is an excellent fighter, is intelligent, and resourceful. When Joe puts his mind to it he is able to quickly get a job and turn his life around. He gets off the drugs and even gets in shape again. It was a really solid turnaround but then the ending just throws that on its head for no real reason. There’s no good explanation for why he would just throw his life back out of whack like that. He can try to atone for his previous crimes or ignore it and push on. Intentionally putting himself back in a position where he’s going to be getting beat up and hunted again just isn’t a good way to end things.

There is a mild subplot where people are hunting him down with some security drones. By the end of the film we know who these guys are and this had potential but the film really doesn’t go into it very much. This ends up being more of an after thought that occurs so randomly you may forget it is even happening at some points. If this plot was played up more as Joe is on the run from this group then that would be interesting. I could have definitely gotten behind that.

Instead the film is mainly about showing us just how corrupt the place is. Joe never ends up being a likable character because he does a really bad job of coping with what’s going on. For example, becoming a shady enforcer was a bad move right from the jump. The instant he took that position he lost a lot of credit with me. There were so many other things he could have done instead. Had Joe kept on focusing on feeding the homeless and bettering himself then I think the movie would have been better off for it.

Maybe throw in some more fight scenes to show that he still has skills. We get a few fights but not really the stylized ones you would expect. They’re street fights through and through but at least they give us a break from how depressing the rest of the film can be. Even the main villain of the film naturally can’t be some random evil gangster but instead he’s really depraved. The film gives a whole lot of detail on how he takes down his victims and it’s just more grit.

Overall, Redemption is a film you will definitely want to avoid. If the film is supposed to be about Joe trying to redeem himself then it definitely failed at that approach. Joe starts off on a decent path for that and then just falls off the cliff. There are a whole lot of ways he could have helped people out with his skillset. A film about him taking the city back over from the gangs or something like that could have potentially been inspiring. Whether you’re looking for a dramatic film or a romance thriller, you’ll want to stay far away from this one.

Overall 2/10

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster Review

It’s a really good thing they didn’t call this Frankenstein vs the Space Monster because the fight doesn’t happen until the final 2 minutes of the film. So if you’re looking at the poster and getting hyped…don’t be. At least not for the fight. Also, Frankenstein doesn’t even appear in this film so…heh this film is taking a lot of liberties right off the gate. Now, I would say this is still a good film but it definitely could have been so much better. The writing and characters are fun so throw in a bit more action, better villain motivations and you’d really have a hit here.

The movie starts with a group of aliens from Mars deciding to head to Earth and kidnap all of the women so they can repopulate. Right off the gate I can say this isn’t a great plot. When that is the villain’s entire goal then there is no way to really like the villains or find them very interesting. That is a considerable issue because you need good villains in order to get the film to the next level. There are really three villains of note here. You’ve got the Princess Marcuzan who really just sits on her throne the whole time. She can’t fight and doesn’t do a lot of leading either so I wouldn’t expect a whole lot from her.

Then there’s her right hand man Nadir who does a lot of the actual planning. For some reason he will always stare right at the camera and grin after delivering his lines. I have a feeling that wasn’t exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Then you have the monster himself but he doesn’t do anything until the final 4-5 minutes of the film and is just caged up instead. Not a great way to make me impressed with the villain right out of the gate.

As for the human plot, well the government is getting ready to send a spaceship from Earth. To make sure there are no human risks this time, they are sending up an android named Frank. Unfortunately, he isn’t quite perfected yet as he will randomly go into a kind of stasis where he is frozen. It did make for an entertaining scene where he freezes and the camera just stays still for a while. Now you may think this could pose a problem when he is in space with no back-up but the scientists don’t see it that way. They send him up but he gets blasted down by the aliens. Now he is injured with some memory loss and has turned into a monster who will destroy anyone in his way.

Like the actual Frankenstein monster it’s hard to find this guy all that heroic or likable because he does go around murdering people in the meantime. Now at this point he can only read emotions so he just kind of goes berserk but you’d hope that he could fight the system programming a little better. The film continues to show you why sending this guy into space would be an absolutely awful decision all around. There are two human characters of importance in Adam and Karen but they are pretty much non factors here. Adam sees Frank as a pure robot with no feelings or emotions so he doesn’t feel bad when he sees how beat up the guy is. I suppose to an extent this is probably true since I don’t see this android being sophisticated enough to have a soul but at the same time it still makes him come across as rather heartless.

Then you have Karen who feels bad for Frank the whole time but doesn’t really do much to help him. She may act concerned but if you’re not going to do anything about it then it doesn’t make much of a difference. So both of these humans are rather forgettable and you’re just here for the sci-fi action anyway. I will say the writing is solid and the pacing is on point which you would expect for a retro film like this. It’s the kind of movie that just flows into each scene really smoothly.

The soundtrack is surprisingly fast paced and upbeat. It’s got some classic beach tunes and never really lets up. The fact that the film has a real soundtrack automatically means it beats most of its competitors for this kind of title. The tracks aren’t great or anything but they are memorable and give the movie a little more personality. The film may have had a bit of a hard time deciding what kind of film it wanted to be but if you take it as a really cheesy sci-fi flick then you’ll be fine.

I would have just liked to have seen a bit more action. That would have really helped the film since the whole point of a creature feature is to have some real fight scenes. What’s the point of coming up with a monster design and everything if he isn’t going to do anything until the film is ending? That just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you ask me. I would also get rid of the repopulation plot entirely and just switch the villain’s goals to a classic take over the world kind of plan. It may have been done before but it’s still a better plan than what the film came up with.

That’s the biggest weakness of the film. It sometimes tries too hard to be a beach type film where you have characters modeling for no real reason or having to be shown off like exhibits by the aliens. The film has more fanservice than you would expect and the scenes all feel like complete filler. All of the beach scenes should have been cut out along with this sub plot and the film would have been all the better for it. It still comes off as a storyline that’s really random. Maybe the writers couldn’t figure out how to stretch the plot of aliens attacking without this but if that’s the case, that’s not a good look. There’s so much you can do with alien invasions. For starters I would have liked seeing more of the government’s overall response to this.

Overall, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is the kind of film that you feel you have seen many times before. It isn’t trying anything new but at the same time the execution is good enough where you won’t be bored. As the movie goes through the motions you will be engaged. It’s always fun to see how the alien films were made back in the day. There aren’t a lot of explosions or action, it’s really a very down to Earth title..aside from the aliens of course. There is still a body count but even that feels low key. The aliens just go around blasting everyone with their fancy ray guns and the humans don’t take it all that personally. Some of them barely react. It’s the kind of movie that certainly wouldn’t come out nowadays so this is really a relic of an older time. If you like science fiction then I expect you’ll definitely like this one. One advantage to being such a simple film is that you can jump right in at any point and understand what is going on.

Overall 6/10

House of Frankenstein Review

The House of Frankenstein is a big crossover with Dracula, The Werewolf, and Frankenstein’s monster. Once again I found myself impressed at the continuity here with the same settings reappearing and the movie actively acknowledging previous ones. It’s definitely a fun film and really my only issue here is that none of the 3 monsters get to interact at all which is a shame. Dracula shows up in the first act, the Wolfman makes his move in the second, then Frankenstein acts in the climax. Seeing them all duke it out would have really been a blast but the story is strong enough where you don’t need the monster action to have a good time. With good writing and solid characters, the movie was in a good spot from the start.

The movie starts off with Niemann finally getting out of prison along with his loyal sidekick Daniel. (The guard looked awful in the first scene when he got close enough to the door to be choked though. Doesn’t even seem like this was the first time that happened and the scientist is surprisingly strong to do that considering he doesn’t look like he has lifted weights for a day) The villains want to find Frankenstein’s journal for different reasons. Doctor Niemann so that he can finish the research and do some body swapping and Daniel so he can shed his hunchback form and look like a normal person. They murder the guy who got Dracula’s body and head off to the caste where the monster and wolfman were last seen.

Now you have to give the scientist Niemann a lot of credit here. He is extremely well informed to the point where he knows the wolfman’s whole life story. This guy knows the plot of the last film and what the wolfman was doing at the castle. Furthermore, he is able to threaten/blackmail Dracula himself. Now Dracula fans won’t be thrilled at his appearance here because he looks utterly disgraceful. I would go as far as to say at the worst a Dracula has ever looked in a movie, even worse than his slipping and falling off a cliff in an earlier film.

This Dracula is terrified of Niemann and doesn’t have enough strength to overpower him either. What happens is Niemann awakens Dracula by taking the stake out and then threatens to put it back in of Dracula doesn’t obey his every move. It seems like Dracula considers trying to overpower Niemann but then realizes this would not work. Niemann sweetens the deal by saying he will guard the coffin and Dracula is very quick to swear his undying allegiance. You’ll probably be dying laughing instead at how this guy has fallen. It’s even worse when you see how quickly he is dispatched.

One of the strengths of the film though is how each villain brings his own cast in. For the Dracula part of the film we get to meet a group of characters who even seem like they would be the leads. You have the main heroine who is ready for a good adventure, the skeptic who doesn’t believe in vampires and such, the police chief who thinks something fishy is going on, and the heroine’s husband who is cracking lots of jokes. Once Dracula is gone these guys are quickly written out to the point where we never know exactly how their situation ended up. You will have to imagine how all of the reactions were.

Once we get to the Wolfman, Larry Talbot then we are at the emotional part of the story. Larry is still cursed with being a werewolf so he’s hoping to die at this point which is a really dark plot for such an old film. The problem is this is very difficult since it’s like the Hulk where the werewolf has some regen and can’t die easily. The only way is with a silver bullet from someone who loves him. Larry agrees to work with Niemann since the guy promises to give him a new body. Of course that guy is more interested in running other experiments so he takes his time with him. I really question Niemann’s decision making though since each full moon runs the risk of Larry murdering him. I feel like Niemann never even considered that possibility though which is odd.

I always liked the Wolfman so it’s cool to see him appear here. He is certainly the most heroic of the monster group although I suppose that really isn’t saying a whole lot. He is just cursed to transform against his will which is really a rough fate. As for Frankenstein, there isn’t much to say about him because he’s pretty much a mindless monster. He does true to protect Niemann so perhaps he sees the guy as his creator. Either way he still has his weakness to fire though which is always tricky. It was satisfying to see him take down Daniel really quick though since that guy was the new super strong monster and I was rooting for the original to take that round.

Daniel is a character with an emotional backstory too of course. He can’t find anyone who loves him with the hunchback appearance so he follows Niemann in the hope that the guy will cure him at some point. At the end of the day he is still a villain who will murder anyone in his way though. There is a brief romance plot with Ilonka who goes around leading on Daniel and then crushing on Larry. It’s safe to say that this plot was never going to have a happy ending in this monster film. Particularly as she only helped to put Daniel on the darker path a lot sooner than he would have otherwise.

The ending of the film is actually pretty funny. While the film is taken seriously the whole time and I can only assume this is for the ending as well, it’s just the way that it all happens will make you chuckle. Niemann certainly had quite the ending, that’s for sure. In fact, you could say that each of the villains really paved the way to their own demise without the heroes having to do a whole lot.

Overall, this was a really fun film. I still think it loses some energy by not having any of the 3 monsters interact though to the point where the Dracula part feels like a completely different movie with different supporting characters. The pacing is solid though and the film goes by in a flash. Also, I do like the fact that Niemann is quite strong both verbally and physically despite being an old scientist. Choking out the guard was still incredibly impressive and then of course threatening/blackmailing Dracula has to put you up there as well. I would go as far as to say this might be the best evil scientist in these creature features. If you like seeing these supernatural monsters then this is a film that you can’t miss!

Overall 7/10

The Snake Pit Review

With The Snake Pit I was on the fence about whether I should make this a full film review or since it’s based on a semi-autobiographical novel make this one of those non scored film look throughs. The names are switched of course but based on the book quite a lot of this seems to be based on her adventures if the book is to be believed. Semi-Autobiographical seems like an odd term since I guess some parts are true and some aren’t….Well mix that in with how the film apparently changes some things as well I’ll just go with the review approach on this one.

The movie starts by introducing us to a lady named Virginia Cunningham. She’s currently staying at a hospital because she has grown insane over the years. She is married to Robert but no longer recognizes him and has a lot of voices in her head that cause her to doubt things further. She has no real memory now and tends to go off on tangents. Right now, she is in one of the deeper wings of the hospital with other people currently having mental issues and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope. Fortunately, Dr. Kik takes an interest in her case and decides to cure her. Will he be able to pull this off and what caused her breakdown in the first place?

The film isn’t a mystery title but it does follow that kind of formula where we slowly begin to learn more about her backstory as the movie goes on. At first we have no context for what happened to her but Kik begins to bring this out slowly but surely during their sessions. Of course that in itself is a big part of the mystery so I won’t be saying what the results were. Needless to say, a big thing here is moving on from the past and trying to reclaim your life again.

Virginia is a good main character and the voices in her head are always entertaining especially when they’re arguing with each other. One might say “Smile” but the other one quickly responds with “Careful” so Virginia isn’t sure what to do. These debates are usually very quick but always fun. Naturally the voices start to vanish as the film goes on but they help make everything feel like a conspiracy. At one point she even thinks that Roger may be fake and the whole thing is a trap. Now that would have been crazy if that ended up being the case.

Virginia does her best to recover even though she is sometimes put in tricky situations like with Nurse Davis. Davis didn’t like her from the start and that definitely slows Virginia down near the end. For the most part Virginia gets along with everyone else though and she is a nice character so that makes it easy to gain allies here. She even helps some of the other patients start to recover with how supportive she is.

While the film’s pacing is pretty good there was one act that I think could have really been cut out. Throughout the film we see Virginia’s journey upwards. In this hospital you start at a low numbered ward to show that you are still quite ill and you move up as you start to recover. If you make it to Ward 1 then you’re about ready to leave. So it was a clear cut journey and then right when it seems like you’re at the end of the film….they send Virginia all the way back to the end in Ward 33 or something like that. It’s like completing a video game at level 100 and suddenly being forced back to 1 for New Game+.

I thought this really only served to drag the film out a bit and definitely could have been cut out. The film had been moving really well before that with no issues or anything like that. This was the only part of the film that felt a little boring at some points because it just seemed like we had been through this already. This ward was even worse than the one Virginia was in at first so I guess that adds to the tension but it just wasn’t needed.

The supporting characters were solid. First you have Robert who really wants Virginia to be well at soon as possible. He ends up rushing the process at one point which doesn’t work out so well but you can see why he did this. In a lot of these films the wards end up having some kind of sinister twist to them and she seemed well enough from his perspective. He was consistent about visiting her every day and not giving up so you have to give him a lot of credit there. He was definitely someone she could count on and really lived up to his part of the vow.

Then there is Kik who ends up being quite solid. At first I had my reservations about him, particularly when he was recommending shock treatment since 9 times out of 10 that’s a really bad idea. He did know what he was doing though and it all worked out pretty well. In the end he was the most reasonable doctor there and definitely a master of his craft. For once there was no dark secret here or nefarious intentions. He just wanted to make her better.

As for Virginia’s backstory, well it was definitely an intense one. It’s interesting seeing the events from her point of view as well since you can’t trust anything 100% since she is framing it in the way that she wants to see things. You may be a little skeptical at how this causes the complete breakdown later on but I suppose you can never know what will be the trigger. I didn’t think it really explained her more violent tendencies so well but either way aside from the bite she never attacked anyone so that may have been a more mild effect.

Overall, while the film deals with a lot of darker themes here, I would say it’s an uplifting movie overall. It’s got a very clear journey of recovery as Virginia is able to regain her senses and be normal again. The character cast is good and the writing is solid as well. The only part of the film where it hits a snag is with going back to the final ward. It just felt like a big way to lose momentum and give us events we had just gotten past. You could easily have cut out moments like the dance and all related plot lines as well. Ultimately if we had to go in this direction I would have had her start out in Ward 33. At least it does explain the Snake Pit title for the film by the end.

Overall 6/10

Night Moves Review

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

Oh boy, this is one of those films that starts out on a rather dicey note and then just gets worse and worse as it goes on. The movie is really going for pure shock value half the time and with nobody to root for you are in for a very grueling 99 minutes. I also wonder why they couldn’t just stretch this movie by one minute to be a perfect 100. If you’re that close…why not do it right? Not like it would have helped the movie or anything but you might as well.

So the movie is about a private investigator named Harry. He specializes in divorce cases and a lot of little cases like that which his wife Ellen mocks him about. Still, he enjoys the work but one day he finds out she is cheating with a guy named Marty. Does this matter to the plot? No….but did it shock you?? From there Harry heads back to his main case where Arlene asks him to find her daughter who has gone missing. Harry looks around and finds her fairly quick but it will be difficult to bring her back. She certainly doesn’t want to go home.

Right away we learn that Delly is quite the free spirit who goes around having affairs with everyone despite only being 16. Unfortunately, she has really gone off the wall crazy and everyone around her is the same way. She’s currently staying with her stepfather Tom and Paula. The less said about this part of the plot the better but needless to say, nobody here is a good person. They’re all engaged in very serious crimes and have no sense of moral decency anymore.

This is the kind of movie that is very jaded and believes that everyone is a villain or will turn to the dark side if given the chance. Harry isn’t exactly exempt from that as he makes his share of mistakes as well. He’s not a very nice guy which does make him a strong investigator as the guy won’t be pushed around. That said, it’s very difficult to have a candid conversation with him as a result and everyone takes shots at how hard he is trying to be an iconic investigator or like one out of the movies. In terms of investigating he does a good job though so I don’t think you can slam him too hard on that.

His personality and decision making? Sure that’s fair game. When he finds out that Ellen is cheating I don’t see why he was so desperate to get her back the whole time. Note that he catches her twice and he cheats on her with someone else later on. Perhaps he figures if they’re both cheating on each other then it doesn’t really matter. That just feels really twisted though. Ellen’s no better as her excuses don’t hold any weight. Being lonely is never an excuse to be cheating at all. Marty doesn’t have any personality except to be threatened by Harry every time.

As for Delly, well there’s not much to say about her. She is as immoral as can be and never makes the right life choices. Ultimately this doesn’t end well and I can’t even say that she has a happy ending. This was a really rough film for her. Her stepfather Tom is horrendous and you feel like he got off extremely easy here. With everyone dying left and right you’d have thought that he would be one of the prime targets to be bumped off. Where’s the justice in this film?

Paula feels bad for herself a lot as the world around her goes to oblivion but you feel like she needs to get out of this environment first thing. She’s just sticking around to see the violence and crimes being committed but only assists in this instead of doing anything about it. She’s as guilty as the rest of the characters. It’s clear that Arlene isn’t innocent either. She beats some of the other characters almost by default but I still would consider her to be a bad character. She’s just interested in herself and getting rich.

The atmosphere is suitably depressing and without a whole lot of color during the movie. It really has that classic 70s feel to it where everything is really grimy. You can make a good thriller or noir film our of that but you can’t rely on overt shock value. There are so many aspects of this film that really don’t need to be here. You can absolutely nail this plot without the extra aspects. Take away Delly’s character traits as constantly stripping, being desperate for men, etc. Remove all implications of her and Tom, lets remove the cheating subplot with Harry, lets remove his affair as well.

I suppose by this time you’ve got a completely different movie but it shows just how much of this film really needed to change. It’s just not a fun watch and you can’t be a good film without being enjoyable in some sense. Whether it’s having a good soundtrack, an engaging plot, or good characters; every movie needs to have something. If you have nothing then you’re really in a very tough spot that is hard to get out of.

Overall , Night Moves is a film I highly recommend avoiding at all costs. It’s just a terrible movie on all accounts. Any semblance of interest you may have had in the film is completely destroyed once Harry gets to the Florida Keyes and finds out just how depraved the whole situation is. This is a movie of shock value where terrible things keep on happening to everyone. There is really no way to save the film at that point so I would even say this should not get a remake. At that point you’re better off just making a whole new experience so lets just put this film back on the shelf and pretend it never existed.

Overall 1/10

Nightmare Alley Review

Nightmare Alley is a film where you are going to need to suspend a lot of disbelief since the main guy’s ability is that he can effectively mind control you by talking. I’ve always been a big hypnosis skeptic and this would fall into that ballpark. There’s one scene in particular where he talks a sheriff into backing off and I was shaking my head. Still, it’s an interesting film that does manage to stick the landing.

The movie starts off with Stan being the new guy at the circus but really wanting to be more of a main star. His target is Zeena who used to have a really famous act with Pete. They would answer questions from the audience and always managed to read out the question and give the right answer while one of them was blind folded. It seemed an awful lot like magic but it comes down to word codes. Thing is, Zeena won’t give the code to anyone so Stan may have to use some of his persuasion skills. Will his ambitions to be the main star work out or is he really just setting the entire circus on a one way trip to oblivion?

Now, I will say that I am a little skeptical of the word codes as well. That by itself would not be nearly enough to figure out these exact questions and answers. Perhaps if the film showed that they were using some kind of special frequency radio or camera I could buy into it, but just by enunciating words and phrases Stan was able to figure it all out? I dunno, that seems like a really big stretch to me. At least they weren’t trying to play it off as magic though so that works. Stan just has really good intuition when he foils several traps that are laid against him.

The first half of the movie is really about Stan at the circus. It’s a little slow at times as you’re just waiting for him to leave but it does show right away how slick the guy can be. He acts nice enough to everyone else but he’s really just trying to steal their acts. He certainly makes a lot of passes at Zeena even though she is with Pete and doesn’t waste a second once Pete is out of the picture. The guy doesn’t have a lot of morals and gets together with quite a few characters before the film is over.

He is the antagonist here so you expect that he will keep on going down the dark path. It’s always risky to have a villainous main character. It works sometimes but more often than not it backfires. Well, at least this is one time I can point to it working pretty well. The guy is charismatic even if the film exaggerates that point and you’re interested to see how far he can go in his schemes. His personality is part of what makes the ending so satisfying as well. Stan is absolutely the kind of guy who can lead the film pretty well.

As for Zeena, well I’m definitely not a fan of hers. She really wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention with how she fells for Stan’s schemes so easily. Pete wasn’t exactly the best guy as he was constantly drunk and out of it but Zeena really should have taken that opportunity to dash out of the circus rather than going along with Stan’s schemes. Then you have Molly who also falls into the trap pretty quickly. She really wanted to believe in the best of Stan but I would say by this point it was clear that he wasn’t going to be a loyal guy. She nearly walks out on him a few times but always ends up being convinced to stay. It would have been good if she could have followed her gut.

The second half of the film is really about Stan taking his act global. He figured that he can market himself as someone who can actually talk to the dead and uses this to great effect as he gets a lot of money from everyone. This forces him to keep on escalating his act further and further to the point where he has to materialize someone for the rich Grindle. If he pulls this off then he will have really conquered the planet.

This act introduced quite a few new characters which was cool. Grindle felt like a sucker through and through though. The guy allows himself to be tricked so easily considering how he completely didn’t believe in magic and talks so tough at the start. By the end he’s crying and just not thinking critically anymore. It was a shame but in this film almost nobody could resist Stan’s various deceptions.

Finally there was Lilith, a psychologist who seems to live on the up and up but quickly grows tempted by Stan’s plans. She is a very complex character and easily the best one in the film. She is also quite intelligent since her business is about reading people’s emotions and helping them through it. As a result there is a bit of a cat and mouse battle between the two as they analyze each other. By the end of the film it goes to such a psychological ending that you can debate how the climax actually played out. (I’d say the sirens were real but they weren’t called in. Keeping it vague so as to avoid spoilers) No matter how you interpret the ending though, I’d say that Lilith looked very good here. She has a satisfying end to the character arc and helps end the film on a high note.

Now I wouldn’t say the film’s ending is happy. By the time it ends quite a lot has happened and it’s not like there are many heroes left to root for. Still, it’s meant to at least give you a little hope that this time Stan will go onto the path of light. I’ll also give the film credit for showing great restraint by not actually showing his new occupation on screen. That would have easily gotten rather gritty and would have completely crippled the film’s score. As it stands, you can understand exactly what is going on and the film keeps a bit of a dark atmosphere while not crossing the line here.

Really the weakest part of the film is the romance(s). We know Stan’s a phony from the start but you wish the other characters could see that. Instead they all get tricked one by one with all of his affairs. The guy keeps getting win after win but if the heroines had let things play out a bit longer then they could have seen through him. I’m not even sure what genre I would call the film but it has enough romance where that is definitely a focus here. I would cut that out and get him on his journey to being a master manipulator a bit earlier. That would also reduce the length of the first half which isn’t quite as interesting anyway. That way you jump right to his battles with Lilith.

Overall, The film may feel unbelievable at quite a few points with how the characters bend to Stan’s will but it’s still an engaging film. As with many titles in its time, the writing is good and the pacing is on point. You should have a good time watching the movie on the whole even if you are rooting for Stan to lose the whole time. I’d like to have seen various characters resist his pseudo hypnosis more but the ending is really good with how the situation suddenly shifts. It’s a good reminder to always keep your guard up. Just because you think you’re the smartest person in the room, doesn’t mean that this is actually the case.

Overall 6/10

The Sea of Grass Review

It’s time for a very dramatic romance film where quite a lot of tragedies occur. Sea of Grass isn’t what I would call an uplifting movie but it is well written. You’ll be invested in what is going on from start to finish so even though the film is long, I wouldn’t say that it really drags on. If anything it’s impressive how the journey keeps changing as the characters grow older to the point where it’s like there are multiple movies squeezed into this one.

The movie starts with Lutie getting ready to meet up with her fiance Brewton. He’s the owner of a whole lot of property but she discovers that he isn’t very well liked within the land. See, he refuses to let anyone else go onto the land to build houses and such as he believes that it will destroy the environment. As a result he seemingly attacks and drives off anyone who attempts this. The law can’t do much of anything about it at the moment and so most people resent him. Lutie is confident that she can change this though and that Brewton will at least let her friends hang out there. Well, this is going to be a much tougher ordeal than she had planned.

That’s at least the plot of the first act I’d say but of course it changes a whole lot as the film goes on. Lutie certainly was warned about Brewton early on but as they are already engaged when the film starts, I imagine she had already known him rather well so it makes sense that she wasn’t buying these rumors. It’s why you do want to know your partner rather well before making the lifelong commitment though as learning things the hard way like in this film is definitely not fun.

Right off the bat you can see how Brewton is an antagonist here. He talks in a way that makes his goals and ambitions sound noble but at the end of the day he’s breaking the law so he can keep his vast fortune. It turns out that he was correct about the new settlers destroying all of the land with their houses when they move in but it’s not his place to block them all out. Unfortunately nobody is really strong enough to stop him. As the film goes on he gets more and more desperate and it’s just hard to sympathize with him. He doesn’t listen to the counsel of his best friends and basically drives Lutie away.

Then you have Lutie herself who starts out as a real idealist who thinks she can make everything go well but by the end she is painfully made aware of how difficult this will really be. For the most part she was good but there’s one point in the film when Lutie makes the ultimate mistake and it hurts her character a whole lot. See there’s this guy named Chamberlain who was openly flirting with her from the start. She tries to defuse the situation by openly talking about this with him but he’s not the type to take no for an answer.

Ultimately she relents and has an affair with him. While she breaks it off in the end it takes too long and this causes some more issues due to her having another kid. It causes a whole lot of drama in the second half and it’s the only angle where Brewton does get a lot of sympathy here. It’s going to be really hard to ever trust his wife again after something like that and in a way it’ll also feel like Chamberlain “won” now that he will have permanent proof of their affair. It makes Brewton’s life in the town even worse and of course Lutie has to deal with severe feelings of guilt after this.

So the movie made sure that the two leads were deeply flawed by the end of this. Naturally I didn’t like Chamberlain as the guy knew Lutie was already married but kept going after her regardless. I never like that kind of character and he clearly did not have much respect for her to be going with such tactics. He just put on pressure until he won but that only serves to hurt his character even more.

Brock is Chamberlain’s kid and he gets a big role in the second half. He’s a very rebellious kid who is always a little out of control and nobody really tries to reign him in. In a wild west town like this one with guns everywhere, that ends up being a very dangerous situation to be in. Then you have Brewton’s kid Sara who was nice. She looked out for Brock as best she could before being shipped off to school and did her best to protect Brewton as well when she found out Lutie was coming to town. Sara may not have given Lutie much of a chance but from her position it made sense even as Jeff did his best to talk positively about Lutie.

Jeff was easily the standout character of the movie though. He helped Lutie fit in with the crew at the ranch right away and always had her back. He did his best to make sure she was okay at all times and was really the only person she could count on for the full duration of the movie. The guy had a lot of fun moments and really helped give the movie some light hearted moments. At the end of the day he really took a lot of risks in helping her out like this as well.

So as a very somber romance film with the two leads being completely unlikable after a point you may wonder if the film itself is any good. Well, I would still say this is a good movie. I may not have liked most of the characters all that much but the story is strong and I was engaged with what was going on. It’s quite sad a lot of the time but without trying too hard. You don’t have sad music playing on loop or things going too wrong for the characters. It’s just sad enough where the whole thing is emotional without feeling forced. The script is solid and the pacing is on point. The film can feel long at times but not really in a bad way, it just feels like you’ve gone through a lot by the end with how many time skips we get.

Overall, The Sea of Grass is a film that may not sound all that exciting on paper but it’s a good movie. I would have just changed the brock subplot so it’s more like Brewton suspected that Lutie cheated while she denies it. That way with Lutie saying that she didn’t go all the way with Chamberlain you can believe her and the character isn’t really hurt in the same way. Cheating’s just a really tough thing to get past for a character, especially in one movie. Otherwise you did have Jeff to carry the film and this was a very complete adventure so you’ll be satisfied with the ending.

Overall 6/10