Live Action Movies

One Foot In Heaven


It’s time for a bio pic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these and what better time than around Easter? This movie follows a man named William Spence who was close to becoming a doctor but at the very end he decided instead to become a pastor. He had been at a particularly moving Church service which caused him to have this turning point in his life. His bride to be Hope decided to support him in this although her parents were not thrilled. From there point of view he threw away what would have been a handsome salary for a position where he will be making pennies. Still, William’s mind is made up and so he heads to his first Church. Unfortunately he is about to meet with some unexpected opposition.

While the core values of Christianity have not changed nor will they, this film does show how differently you were expected to act back in the day. One such thing was that you were not allowed to play on the Sabbath. William made sure his kids just played Bible memorization all day on that day every week. They weren’t allowed to watch movies at all and could barely play with the others. William also allowed himself to be walked on by the members of the congregation for pretty much the entire film except at the end when they start attacking his son. At that point he mentions that he goes from being a pastor to a parent. So…one implication is also that if they had been attacking him he may not have fought back.

That’s where his character needed a little more nuance. It’s certainly not true that being a Christian means you have to be a pushover. Standing up for yourself is not breaking any commandments nor is it a sin. When the locals start bullying Hope and bring her to tears, William does nothing and just tells Hope that they mustn’t do anything to rock the boat. Even though it’s their house, Hope has absolutely no power within it which makes no sense. If she wants to move something she should be able too. Then the heads keep pushing William and Hope to different states where the houses are in worse and worse condition each time. The film also makes the congregation look terrible as most of them turn out to be the meanest characters in the film.

It’s not necessarily inaccurate as you will find those kind of people in any institution, church or not. Still, it would have been nice if William had more people he could count on. The only one who was nice to him was ironically the Doctor who wasn’t a Christian but got converted off screen during one of the time skips. Then William also does some pretty petty things like changing the name of their child even though Hope had really wanted a different one. Worst part of this is that he gave his word that he would be okay with hers and at the last second switched it when she didn’t have a chance to fight back. Hope just lives with this, but it just wasn’t a nice thing to do.

So at times the film could be pretty mean spirited. Even the ending is pretty iffy as William decides to move on again. Hope has a point that this tends to happen a lot and then they’re taken advantage of. If you’re going to be a travelling pastor then of course you’ll have to deal with a lot of trials, but it’s not unreasonable to at least be able to walk with pride and all. Having to tip toe around each community is pretty dicey. Still, his overall goal was sound so I can support that.

It’s a well meaning film for sure and it does take a lot of guts and courage to throw away all you’ve got to help someone else out. The film also does throw in some humor and the writing is solid. The film is well paced so it doesn’t drag out and the main cast is solid enough to hold the film. The best character certainly is the doctor. Without him I think William and Hope would have certainly be doomed. He gives them a voice of reason and also has the expertise that they really needed to go on with their plans. William brings the passion while the doctor brings the logic.

Overall, One Foot In Heaven is a solid film. I don’t agree with most of William’s decisions in the film, but at least his journey was a righteous one. You’ll definitely feel bad for Hope and the kids, but they do their best with what they have. One nice thing is that the kids don’t spend most of the film complaining the way you see them do in many other films. Typically the kids are super annoying while these were more tolerable. It’s a good film to watch if you want to take a look into how hard it was to be a pastor back in the days as well as realizing that it is still very difficult in the modern day. It’s not a dream profession if you’re thinking financially but at the same time it’s a very fulfilling one.

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7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Rango Review


It’s time to look at a cash-in for a movie that I haven’t even seen yet. Rango is one of those games that I wasn’t initially planning to buy, but Gamestop had a B2 G1 Free sale and I needed a third game. The gameplay seemed reasonably fun and these titles are typically short so what’s the harm right? It’s a fun game even if there isn’t a whole lot to it. You can feel right away that this isn’t a AAA title and while the premise for the gameplay is good, it just isn’t very polished. It makes for a fun game for a one time playthrough.

The story involves a lizard who is the Sheriff of a village. One day, one of his friends runs into his bar and gets vaporized as he takes out a mysterious stone. Everyone at the tavern is shocked, but Rango calmly explains what has been going on. His story takes up most of the game as each level is a different experience that he had in the previous week. He doesn’t remember everything too well and likes to throw in some hyperbole so the viewers have to keep things real for him at times. Still, with aliens involved it does seem as if Rango is their best chance for survival. Can he do it?

The gameplay is pretty simple. It’s a 3D platformer game. You move and jump across the obstacles. You also have a gun on hand which you use to blast away at the enemies. Alternately you can engage them in hand to hand combat, but there is little reason to do that since the gun is simply better at all times. You’ll get the hang of the controls in mere moments. Jumping is important while shooting at all times to keep your counter combo up by not letting your opponents strike. You want the counter high because you get extra money that way and that’s how you get upgrades to all of your skills. The gun upgrades are definitely good to have. By the end you’ll be shooting so fast and the reload will be nonexistent. Of course, this game isn’t meant to be challenging anyway, but you’ll progress through the levels quicker which is always good.

There are around 9-10 levels in the game and most of them are quite short. You’ll be done with the game in 2-3 hours I’d say. It’s a pretty short amount of time, but at least there are trophies to obtain which helps a bit with the replay value. You’ll also be buying the game for a pretty cheap price at least which helps. I do have to still give it a thumbs down in the replay value department though. This is the kind of game that you play once, but typically won’t go back to. That’s just the way it’s built.

Naturally there isn’t all that much to say about the graphics either. It’s not as if they are downright bad or anything like that, but they just don’t stand out. They are as average as the graphics can get. Still, as long as the levels are clear that’s what counts. Likewise the soundtrack isn’t anything special either. It’s around, but you won’t remember any of the tunes once you have finished. Again, this is just a very average game, but I’ll take average over bad.

This review isn’t exactly all that positive, but you have to understand that I enjoy the average game. As long as a video game doesn’t make any big mistakes I’ll probably have fun with it. That’s the case with this game. Rango provides some fun levels with good gameplay. We also get a few racing levels and the fact that we get an actual story with cutscenes helps the game as well. It’ll keep you entertained throughout. One thing I have to warn you about is how often you shoot though. R2 is the trigger button which is normal but your finger will probably be sore by the end with how much you have to spam it. It’s because this is like in the Wild West so you have to keep pressing instead of holding the button down. I was ready for the game to be over by the end so my hand could get a break.

Overall, Rango is a good PS3 game. It is exactly what you would expect it to be like. These movie tie-ins rarely try to mislead you into thinking that they are something that they are not. This is a very basic 3D platformer game. It’s no Mario or Sonic nor is it trying to be. It’s just trying to earn some extra cash while giving you some good levels. If you tend to like these movie tie-ins then I would recommend checking it out. If you need something more from your gaming experiences then you can safely skip this one since it won’t give you any of that. At least we do get a retro arcade type level as a nice homage to the old days of gaming by the end.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movies

I Can Only Imagine


It’s time to look at a recent movie about the iconic song “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s definitely a pretty good song so I was up for having a film about how it was created. As you might expect it is also a bit of a tragic tale with a happy ending since it’s based on true events. It’s a good movie with quite a few songs which is good although I would have liked to have seen a few more tunes thrown in.

The movie follows Bart as he grows up in a rough household. He manages to get by, but the situation forces him to try and grow into the image his father wants him to be. He joins the Football team and it goes well for a while until he injures his leg and is forced to retire. I guess extra curricular activities are a necessity in this school so he is transferred to the music class where the teacher forces him to become a singer. Bart enjoys singing but the problem is that he knows Arthur (his father) won’t approve. His suspicions are correct and things boil over until Bart decides to run away from home and join a traveling band. In the process he breaks up with Shannon and prepares for his new life.

This life is tougher than Bart thought it would be though and he starts to have doubts. He tries to run back to Shannon, but that isn’t happening and his vocal skills are being doubted by the professionals. When all hope is lost he finally heads back to his home to confront Arthur who has seemingly been redeemed after becoming a Christian. Bart has to confront this fact by wondering if this is true and also if he will forgive Arthur regardless.

It’s a pretty emotional movie for sure. I think you’ll end up being a lot more invested in the musical scenes then the plot though. Partially this is because Bart just isn’t a very likable main character for the most part. It’s hard to blame him for all of the family stuff since that was pretty traumatic for him, but I’m talking about everything aside from that. First off is his relationship with Shannon. He had absolutely no reason to break up with her in that scene. It just didn’t really make any sense and I feel like it just happened to increase the dramatic tension. Of course it’s hard to say if that’s how it played out in real life as well. Then his attempt at getting back together with her was painful. He went to her house at midnight while pretending to be the police? That’s a prank that went way too far and she shouldn’t have even gone to the front door if you ask me. It’s no surprise that she didn’t go with him.

Then we have the scenes where the critics come to hear his band play. Their agent tells Bart that he’ll handle this and for the crew to wait in the back. They all listen except for Bart who runs to the stage and makes a mess out of everything. The film goes a little too far in making him super head strong and naive as far as the critics process goes. Surely he knows how these things go and that you can’t just yell at the critics to make them change their minds right? He just makes so many mistakes and then just saying that he’ll quit wasn’t very responsible either. Things could have really gone badly for his band mates at that point. Of course that’s when he chooses to take a long leave of absence from the band…great.

Still, if that’s exactly how it played out in real life then it’s good that the film played it straight there. Meanwhile Arthur is one of those characters who is so bad that it’s hard to buy into the redemption arc which is why you can understand Bart’s skepticism even if he doesn’t handle the situation well at all. (Why even show up at the house if you’re just going to guilt trip Arthur the whole time?) It’s definitely good that Arthur saw the light and ultimately found Christ. At the end of the day even if nobody believes that you have been truly redeemed it doesn’t matter. You know if you’ve become a Christian and that’s what counts.

Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a good film. While it can’t really be called a fun film for the most part as it can be pretty dark and dramatic, the songs are fun. It’s a quality movie and one that you’ll definitely want to see if you’re curious about the song’s origins. It’s not quite on the same level as God is Not Dead which is still quite excellent, but this movie doesn’t really make any big mistakes. It does manage to be a pretty realistic film without over embellishing the events.

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Mission Impossible Review


It’s time to take a look at the classic Mission Impossible films. First up is the original one of course. This started the long streak of success for the films and holds up quite well. It’s still a great action film with tight pacing and good writing. It also has the most memorable “Impossible Mission” set up with the heroes trying to break into the room that has so many different sensors.

The film starts with Ethan Hunt and his team heading into a big gala event to stop someone from stealing a list with the names of every operative who is in the field. Unfortunately it seems like the villains were waiting for them as all of Ethan’s friends are murdered one by one. Ethan is now suspected of being a traitor to the cause so he goes dark. Ethan realizes that he will have to infiltrate the villains circle of trust in order to find the guy who framed him. It seems like he will be alone in this mission but Claire shows up later and says that she managed to get out of the car before it blew up. That’s suspicious but Ethan has bigger things to worry about like revenge. He hires two former operatives to help him and the team prepares for their mission.

One of the big ironies here is that to gain the trust of the villains Ethan Hunt actually ends up breaking into the CIA himself to steal the very list he had been trying to defend earlier. Talk about a full reversal of roles here right? It reminds me of how annoying it always is to see the villains pull off a heist like this in films like White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen and naturally you don’t feel the same way when the heroes do it. It just goes to show how important the roles are here although the guards should have known better than to allow the firemen inside. Seems like a very suspicious setup…at least follow them right?

The main Impossible theme is catchy as always. It’s a tune that is easily remembered and has become very iconic over the years. It shows up multiple times here and even gets a remix at the end. Whenever music pops up here it is definitely fitting, but of course this was the highlight. Mission Impossible also has a lot of great visuals in the film like when the explosion propels Hunt onto the train or when he escapes from the restaurant with water exploding behind him. It could easily pass for a 2010 era film.

Ethan is pretty much the ideal main character. He’s a great field commander who always gets the job done. Even when everyone else is getting bumped off he tries to get in on the action to try and at least save someone. It doesn’t quite work out so well though. Then he quickly gathers his wits and moves in to find the real culprit. Unlike many other leads who freeze or start to panic when things go wrong, Ethan never has a moment of weakness like that. Even when he was talking to the CIA commander early on he immediately realized that something was off. It was the same when someone showed up from the grave trying to plead that he was innocent. Most main characters actually buy this for a moment but Ethan didn’t even entertain the notion. He’s certainly not perfect as he doesn’t see through another deception as quickly as he should have. He let his emotions get the better of him there which was unfortunate, but for the most part he made no mistakes. I also liked the masks he wore in this film as I forgot he used to do that.

Claire is the main heroine. She somehow managed to survive the initial sabotage which was certainly nice I suppose. Her character goes through a route that is a little predictable nowadays, but certainly much less so when this film originally came out. She’s a reasonable character I suppose, but one that can seem a bit sketchy at times. Her husband was murdered so you’d think that she would keep her distance from Ethan a little more of give him the cold shoulder. We have to keep this professional right?

Jim was Ethan’s boss before he was murdered. It’s easy to see why he typically wouldn’t be a field agent since the guy is just so old. The moment someone started tailing him you knew that the guy was doomed. He’s a bit of a generic character, but a reasonably good one I guess. He certainly enjoys living in fancy hotels but claims that he hasn’t lost his edge. I wonder about that, but the bosses in these kinds of films don’t typically end up doing all that well.

Luther is one of the two agents that Ethan hires to help him out on this mission. He’s definitely very well equipped to handle the data hacking and I can see why he became a fan favorite character by the end. He’s pretty confident and also has his morals unlike the other guy. Luther wasn’t going to let the villains actually leak out the codenames while Franz didn’t really care. Franz is the more annoying agent who isn’t always great at his job and only cares about the money. He even comes close to actually murdering someone. You’re definitely not meant to root for this guy.

One character who is an antagonist here, but still a fun character is Kittridge. Of course he isn’t correct in his hunch that Ethan is the mole, but at least the guy is trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. He’s fairly intelligent and comes up with a good plan to try and lure Ethan out. He’s also at the ready when he notices suspicious activity during the climax. Cutting a deal at the end may have been morally dubious, but it did seem like the villains would get away otherwise. He’s not exactly a hero, but he’s a very interesting character and a guy who is quite good at his job. If he wasn’t up against Ethan then he may have had a shot here.

Overall, This film was definitely a lot of fun. It’s probably got the biggest stealth aspect to it compared to the sequels as they became a lot more action oriented. Here we even get a lot of mystery aspects as players keep changing sides and you don’t know who to trust. The mystery angle is played quite well and the writing is always engaging. If you haven’t watched this film yet then now is the perfect time to do so since the new film is coming out soon. You’ll want to see for yourself why this is considered the best secret agent film series at the moment.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movies

The Greatest Game Ever Played


It’s time to look at a film based on a true story. This one is about The Greatest Game Ever Played, at least in Golf. If we’re talking ever, then it’s probably one of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys Championship games. I can see why this game is well known though as it was one of the first times an amateur was able to take on a professional in a game that went into overtime. It was definitely a very impressive showing. The film is also pretty good about not adding in too much drama and stuff once the Golf starts. It does seem to add in a bit of padding to the first half though which is the part that doesn’t work too well.

Basically Francis has always wanted to be a golfer. Unfortunately his father doesn’t like this option as it’s extremely risky and Francis may not make any money. He would then have a later start on life and that could ruin everything. Francis is okay with putting it all on the line though and after losing his first few golf games he gets ready for the US Open. It’s time to win the biggest tournament of his life, but is Francis really ready for such a feat? He will have to defeat the reigning champ from Europe as well as his counterpart from the U.S., and every other Golf player worth their salt. It won’t be easy, but Francis knows that ultimately you just have to play your own game of Golf and the rest will just sink in.

The golf visuals are pretty nice. The film does its best to make the actual golf look really exciting with how fast the balls move and everyone’s reactions the whole time. There are a bunch of cutaways and dramatic camera angles to sink it in. Some top players are able to erase the surroundings as if they held the Infinity Gauntlet and this lets them really focus. The ball makes uncanny turns to dodge obstacles and even picks up speed when it should have stopped. It may not be the most realistic game of golf out there, but it certainly makes the game more appealing.

The film didn’t always make Francis look great though. He did give his father his word that if he lost he wouldn’t pursue the game anymore and ultimately breaks that promise. He shouldn’t have agreed to such a thing in the first place even if he was under duress at the time. He was a kid at the time so I suppose I can’t be too hard on him. He does get distracted and knocked off of his game rather easily though. His partner has to constantly remind him to tune everyone out, but Francis still loses many shots as a direct result of this.

As I mentioned earlier, the first half of the film before the tournament doesn’t hold up quite as well. They try to give the older Europe champion a bit of a backstory. It’s never properly delved into, but you can get the gist of it from the images. It just feels a little forced into the story since it ultimately isn’t too relevant. Francis’ drama at the beginning also isn’t quite as interesting as the actual golf. I don’t know how much of this all happened in the real life accounts, but I suppose if it was all there then of course they would have to add it in.

I can’t say much about the ending since it’s all based on true events, but either way I thought it was handled pretty well. All in all there really wasn’t anything bad to say about the movie. At most you might not be thrilled to see just how bad and snobbish the people of England look the whole time. No one from the nobility looks even slightly good and they all just don’t seem to like the people from Jersey. It makes it very easy to root for the Americans. The American top player is a really loud guy who has a chip on his shoulder so he constantly yells at everybody. You still want to root for him over the others since at least he’s fighting for everyone. The others just want the rich to win so they can rub it in everyone’s face.

Overall, The Greatest Game Ever Played is definitely a classy film. The golf games are also the best that I’ve seen as I haven’t watched any other Golf movie at the moment. The writing is pretty solid and even the romance was handled rather well as it doesn’t eat up a ton of screen time or accelerate past realism. The characters just talked a bit and then left to their separate ways never to see each other again. It was a happy ending for all of the characters and aside from the rich nobility who were humiliated, the top players were just happy to have had a good game. At the end of the day that’s what you want. If you’re interested in this story then I definitely recommend checking it out. It’ll help you appreciate why we all take Golf so seriously.

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Batman and Harley Quinn Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent DC film. The DCAU was one of the best things to ever happen to comics in general so it’s good to see it make a comeback with this film. Unfortunately its comeback is on a rather low note here as the film makes too many mistakes but if this leads to a new Justice League installment or maybe even a Superman film then I’ll be up for it. It definitely got a good retro vibe going for it.

The film starts off with Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man deciding to form an alliance and turn the world into plants. Batman and Nightwing figure that they won’t be able stop this threat on their own so they enlist the help of Harley Quinn. She agrees to help but is determined to make the heroes regret bringing her along. Will this team be able to keep it together long enough to save the world or do they just need to hope that the villains make a mistake somewhere along the line? The time is ticking!

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film does a good job of recreating the classic sound effects from the DCAU. One thing that always stood out back then was how hard each blow sounded. Every movement had power behind it and it’s likely also due to the animation style. This film recreated it quite well and then throwing in the familiar voices made the experience even more authentic. On a technical level the film certainly didn’t disappoint. The hand to hand fights are also quite solid like Nightwing vs Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy vs Harley. Both fights were nice and long. It does bring up a mild question though of how Poison Ivy is so good at martial arts. I can understand Harley being really good, although I think she should not be able to do so well against Nightwing, but then how can Poison Ivy hold her own against such an opponent? It seems like everyone is apparently a martial arts master at this point.

Batman is a solid main character as always. While I think he was rather quick to throw in the towel by asking Harley to come along I guess time was of the essence here. The villains plan was actually pretty quick and well thought out for a change. It’s certainly a fairly unique threat. Batman is also upfront with the constant insults to the government so it’s nice to see that he is still feared by villains and heroes alike. I mean, the henchmen at the bar didn’t fear him, but they were quickly taught that lesson afterwards.

Lets talk about where the film went wrong now. For starters, it definitely is trying quite a bit to be edgier than the old days. Not in a cool well written way like Batman V Superman as that’s dark, but not edgy. Here we have Harley Quinn throwing in swear words just to remind us that she’s one of the villains from time to time. The script never gets too crazy, but each moment feels forced. Then we have random comments thrown in to show us that everyone is rather terrible in Gotham. The government agent guy is cheating for some reason and the normal citizens are all James Bond and Captain Kirk types.

The film also includes quite a bit of fanservice with Harley Quinn. As with Suicide Squad all it does it help defeat the point of trying to make her a strong character. The scene with her and Nightwing takes the cake of being the worst scene in the film though. It’s no surprise to see Harley Quinn back on the rebound, but Nightwing should have had the will power to stay true to the mission and refuse her. He looked terrible in that scene and this leads to a lot of painful lines later on as it keeps being brought up. On second thought, the writing was actually rather bad in this film. We even get crude humor thrown in.

So, Batman is the only good hero in this film. Nightwing was completely destroyed by this scene and just couldn’t make it back up the charts. There’s no way to take him seriously by this point. Then Harley Quinn is also beyond saving because her character is just no good. It’s great that she doesn’t want to be a villain anymore and she tries to earn sympathy points by showing how rough it is for an ex-con in Gotham, but she certainly doesn’t make it any easier on herself. She gets a happy ending at least so hopefully she doesn’t mess it up this time.

The villains are a lot more interesting and they’re better handled. The Floronic Man is the completely evil member of the duo and he can’t wait to destroy the humans. He’s a villain who has never gotten the spotlight before so it was cool to see him here. The guy seems like a reasonable villain. He may not be much of a threat, but can still put up a fairly good fight. Then we have Poison Ivy who was always good in the DCAU. She isn’t as insane as the average villain and ultimately at least has a good reason for being evil. I do think it was a bit iffy how Floronic Man was basically the leader of their partnership though since he is basically made out of plants. I think Ivy should be able to defeat him rather easily, but of course walking within punching distance wouldn’t be wise. These two villains are probably the 2nd and 3rd best characters in the film.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but we hear a really solid remix near the end of the film and overall it was rather fast paced. I wasn’t crazy about the lyrical songs though so I guess they roughly cancel out in the end. This film isn’t too long and the pacing is good so at least it doesn’t end up dragging on. I do have to question why the film plays up a certain death near the end like it’s a big deal though. It was a character that nobody cared about and it’s not as if he died in a particularly brutal way or anything. I guess the heroes are heroic enough to care though so I can’t fault them for that.

Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn wasn’t a good movie but I think anyone probably could have guessed that based on the title. Whenever there is a film based around Harley Quinn you know that it’s not going to work out very well. This film pretty much made every mistake that it could here. At least it wasn’t all that violent so it dodged that. Still, excessive fanservice and bad writing is enough to bring a film down. Also the quick case of animal violence as a mouse blows up. That scene is so incredibly unnecessary that you have to wonder what the film was thinking. I would recommend passing on this film as there are plenty of other, better DC films to watch instead.

Overall 4/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Duel Review


It’s time for an old thriller with a truck as the main villain. We’ve done the evil car trick a few times in the past, but this film is fairly old so it might have been one of the first times we’ve seen it in cinema. Level up the car to a truck and you’ve got yourself a good thriller that’s ready to go. The film does fumble the ball a little in the second half and the main character doesn’t always make the right moves, but it’s an enjoyable film. I do like the lead’s name.

David is a struggling 9-5 worker. He gets the job done, but at home there is a lot of stress and drama over something that we never quite learn about. That’s not too important. What’s important is that David has to be home in time or it’s going to get tricky. He sets off on the road, but a giant truck starts honking at him. David pulls out the sweet moves and slows down enough for the truck to pass him. The problem? Now the truck has slowed down just enough so that he will miss a big meeting. David passes him but the truck takes it personally and decides to murder him. Can the hero get out of this?

The whole film centers around the fact that this truck is trying to murder the hero. However, he is limited by a set of rules. One, he’ll only go after the main character if he is in his car and ahead of the vehicle or if he drives backwards. David is safe if he stays parked. Next, the truck will attack if he tries to get help from other drivers or alert the cops. Finally, the truck is faster than David’s car so he can’t be out driven. Those are the basics of the situation so you can see how it’s tough for the main character. It doesn’t help that his detective skills aren’t really on point.

David could be rather annoying at times though. After being passed by the truck 2-3 times and finally passing it again, he lets go of his lead so he can go fill up on gas at the nearest station. Big mistake since the truck just follows him. We learn by the end that the truck is super fast so it probably would have passed him anyway, but it wasn’t a great move. Then he considers stopping at a cafe later although the truck doesn’t give him a chance. Once in the restaurant, David gets a little too eager and attacks the wrong guy. I had actually thought it was a misdirect and the driver was the lady in red who appeared out of nowhere, but it was apparently someone who got out when the main character wasn’t looking near the beginning or there’s a back exit.

David started making some decent moves by the end since there wasn’t much he could do at that point. It was a little late though and he cracked several times so I wouldn’t say that he took the situation particularly well. He wasn’t exactly Tom Cruise. The driver of the truck really liked messing with David though as he even saved a school bus just to show off. At the very least that was a nice thing to do even if it was just a PR stunt.

The first half of the film is pretty tense as a result. At first it seems like the driver is just in a hurry or maybe he had some kind of reason for slowing down after that. Gradually it becomes apparent that this guy is crazy and just wants to murder the guy. It’s pretty nice and atmospheric. The occasional change in scenery like the cafe was also pretty good. I liked the scenes in there for sure as we got some nice suspects even if they may have all been red herrings.

My problem with the film is that the second half just feels like a rehash of the first. He gets back on the road and into the exact same situation that he was in the first time. I feel like the film may have limited its options a little too much with the plot so they were forced to just keep on going with the same plan. They should have changed things up a bit in the second half. As a result, the film did drag on a little as the pacing completely died. If you watched the first 15 minutes of the film and the last 15, the bulk of those scenes would look very similar. David is driving away from the enemy car. It was a little repetitive and even if you cut out a big chunk of the film, it would have still worked out quite well. The film’s plot is very direct and there really isn’t much of a cast so it didn’t need a full film’s length to tell the story. What it could have done was add some extra characters or a new sub plot. Maybe add that extra climax at the end where a driver steps out to have a fight with David.

There really weren’t any subplots which I was fine with. No need for random filler plots, but it is a way to pad out the story. On the other hand, I’m glad we didn’t see more animals. As it is, it was iffy when the trick attacked a place with a bunch of bugs and a dog. Fortunately they seemed to make it out all right. It was a pretty intense scene since it showed that the truck was finally getting serious. I was also glad because it confirmed that the whole thing wasn’t fake. For a little while there, I was worried that the truck was going to be a figment of his imagination or something. The film would have very quickly dropped down quite a bit if that had been the case. Fortunately the film took the high road.

Overall, This film is definitely more of a slow burner than Jaws or Godzilla. It’s also a fair bit more repetitive so find something to focus on in the film or you may get bored watching the same roads over and over again. With the effects being rather limited back in the old days, I suppose the movie may not have had a very many options. I’d recommend checking it out if you want to see a good ole speed race. The stakes are high here so they definitely have to go as fast as they can. The lesson to learn here is that if you’re going to race, make sure that you’re ready to win!

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Truman Show Review


What would you do if someone was going to record the rest of your life? I’ve always wondered that as I forgot to save my latest replay in Super Smash. If someone had been filming me, then they would have been able to see it and I could have rewatched it through the video on demand feature. I’ve won so many good matches and had many epic gaming moments that I feel should be preserved in the video game hall of fame. Naturally not every part of this would be glamorous and overall I’m glad that I’m not part of a reality show.

Truman doesn’t actually know that he’s on a show though. He grew up in this world and just enjoys leading a rather ordinary life. Every day he goes to his job and works to get more clients to buy things from him. He had a good time in school and made a lot of friends. Truman is even married. Truman starts to feel like something is weird when his dead father shows up out of nowhere and is quickly kidnapped by the proper authorities. He also notices people following him and even talking about him on the radio. The whole town seems to be trying to keep him from leaving the city as well. Is it all some conspiracy? Truman doesn’t know what to think, but he needs to get out of this town before it’s too late.

It’s definitely a pretty interesting concept. I do think it’s a little tricky in the sense that I just don’t see how it would work all that well with the amount of crazy variables at play. They’ve essentially hired everyone in the town as an actor. They all actually live there and to an extent it is their life. They can probably leave for a while under the context of it being a vacation, but I feel like a bunch of them would spill the beans at some point or cause some complications. The film briefly shows people breaking in to warn Truman, but fortunately for the studio the lead character is extremely slow on the uptake. We’ll suspend some disbelief though as the film did a fairly good job at taking the premise as far as it could go.

The other main part that could be a little tricky was Truman’s big escape plan at the end. How did he figure out exactly where the cameras were? Furthermore, he was able to move at an angle where nobody could see what he was doing at all? I had to suspend a little too much belief here as even when he was running to the boats nobody saw him. Surely there were a bunch of cameras in that area so it should not have been possible to escape them for any longer than a minute or two. Still, at least Truman kept trying even if it took him a while to get there.

Truman definitely got a lot of warnings even if he didn’t listen to them. Whether it was the ramblings of his school friend who told him it was all an illusion or seeing his father again, you’d want him to get a little suspicious. Then actually seeing first hand that everyone was performing the same actions every day and that they were following him was odd. The signs everywhere telling him not to leave the city…I just don’t see how he didn’t connect the dots sooner. The twist about his plan certainly helped him salvage some of his dignity though as it opens up the door on when he really found out. Perhaps it was a lot sooner then we expected.

The best scenes in the film were probably the early middle ones where Truman was trying to prove that he was in a show. Driving around town and outsmarting the NPCs was definitely fun and breaking into their base for a moment was pretty good as well. It would have been nice if he had kept on doing that. An interesting part of the dynamic is for once, the show isn’t evil. It’s not like they’ll murder him if he keeps on trying as they’re still paid actors who want their salaries. The country has probably lost some of their ethics by letting this go on and allowing a corporation to own someone in the first place, but there is probably still some humanity left. The final boat scene may disagree to an extent, but the show would probably be sued.

The people watching the show were definitely suspect though. Personally I’m not sure how it would be such a hit. People like watching others as you can tell from Twitch, but I do think they wouild grow bored after a while. Especially if the show is always on 24/7. You’ll want to watch something else after a while. Still, I guess Truman can at least he satisfied with the fact that he’s the star of the highest rated show in Earth’s history.

The main villain was pretty good. He definitely embodies the corporate image and is always a quick thinker. He doesn’t care about the ethics, just his check. He wants to keep making money and doesn’t want the show to stop. Of course, the show must end at some point and even he is forced to acknowledge this truth. The rest of the characters were okay I suppose. Truman’s wife was pretty iffy, but she was paid to keep getting in the way. Truman’s beer buddy was equally annoying for the same reasons. I do wonder what the show would have done if Truman had accepted the offer to move away in a few months. Would they have been able to create a set that massive to simulate the city? I think they actually would have written themselves into a dangerous situation there and would need to fake an accident or something.

Overall, The Truman show is a pretty enjoyable film. Truman himself may go overboard with the facial expressions, but the show probably influenced him to act like that right from the start. It may be a tough premise to really buy into, but it was still fun to watch. It would certainly be interesting if your life turned out to be a show. I always treat life as if I’m the main character of my story anyway so it wouldn’t really change much. I may try a little harder in eating competitions though for style points if I was on a show. I’d recommend checking this film out. It’s certainly pretty unique.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Phoenix Forgotten Review


Uh oh, it’s time for a found footage film. Honestly this is one of the worst genres out there. I already don’t like horror films, but found footage films tend to be even lower on the totem pole. The two genres do like to blend together as well although I think this would be considered more of a thriller than a horror. The film moves incredibly slow and by the end all you’ll be thinking is…”If I’m buying 4 slices and a drink from Little Caesars for 5, maybe I’m better off going to Little Italy and getting 2 slices but the infinite refills with it”

The story follows a reporter who is going around trying to find intel on 3 teenagers who went missing. Their names as Josh, Mark, and Ashley. The reporter has an interest in the case since Josh was her big brother. The problem is that the government keeps stiffing her and since this disappearance happened years ago, all of the trails have gone cold. Fortunately, Sophie is told that the school found a camcorder at a secluded facility in the middle of nowhere that actually still works. Sophie pops it in and finally learns the truth behind the mystery. She is stunned at the results!

So, that’s effectively the subplot as it takes place in the present, but most of the film is in the past. Since Sophie is making a documentary, naturally all of her scenes are filmed as if they’re found footage as well. We jump to the past where Josh decides that he wants to find some aliens. After all, he saw some strange lights a while back that seemed like UFOs. Mark and Ashley join him and the three decide to run through a bunch of mountains. They do this for a while and then get lost once it’s late. They do what any other mainstream teenager would do, they break open the beers and start panicking. Before long the aliens show up and take them down.

There are so many problems with this film that it’s quite tragic. For starters, we have the token animal violence. Why is there animal violence in this film? Well, apparently the aliens are still working on their tractor beams as they tend to burn the targets up instead of sending them into space. It’s also awfully fast since they burn parts of the animals but then leave them on the ground. The scenes are utterly pointless much like the film itself and you’ll wonder just how low this film will stoop before it finally ends.

The writing is terrible as you’d expect. All of the characters are really annoying and since the camera work is terrible on purpose, you’ll find yourself cringing the whole time. I don’t use the word lightly, but this is another reason why I don’t like the found footage genre. The zoom ins on all of the characters are much too close and the ametuer style in which they’re filmed is just not entertaining to look at. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of the old family videos everyone made back when it was trendy but at least I was starring in those so it made them a little more fun. I don’t want to watch a video of strangers just hanging out and drinking beer. It’s just not cool.

The aliens don’t actually do anything for the first 60 minutes so that time is just the heroes chatting about nothing really and trying to be as unlikable as possible. The film never even tried to make them good characters if you ask me, but there were none in the whole film. Even the government turned out to be evil and corrupt as always. It’s sad that the government is almost always either incompetent or evil. It’s rare to find movies where they are portrayed as capable heroes but I’m always glad when I see that happen.

The film’s plot is also just barely held together. See, the writers needed the whole story to be filmed on camera, but this wasn’t even possible without plot holes. Towards the end of the film we see Josh taken up by the aliens as he drops his camera and it gets thrown around in the twister. Then….Josh somehow fights his way through the alien ship in a matter of seconds, escapes through the hatch, makes his way back and grabs the camera, runs to a bathroom…and is then kidnapped again. Then the camera is sucked up again, survives a vicious crash, and then someone mails it to the school. The whole thing was super convenient and also unbelievable. I don’t see how Josh could have gotten out of the tractor beam when nobody else could have. I don’t see how nobody would notice the aliens this time when they’re so bright and loud. People would definitely notice that kind of thing. I just couldn’t get past this ending.

The aliens also don’t really show up. We see a claw or a foot for a split second and that’s it. Clearly this film didn’t have much of a special effects budget so this turned into an alien film without the aliens. That’s just peachy. Back to the humans not being likable, the film maybe tries to hint that the aliens mess with your mind. I’m not too sure about that and prefer to just think that the humans are terrible. Mark constantly panics and drinks. He refuses to talk with the others even though it would make the whole process quicker and is the main reason everyone was talking in circles for a while. They could have stayed in the car where it was semi safe, but he wanted to run the 15 miles to the nearest gas station. Even then he got distracted within seconds. Ashley also panics at everything and keeps forcing the group to stop so she can tie her shoes or panic about her hair falling out. The only guy I almost felt sorry for was Josh because he would have escaped the aliens if he didn’t have to stop for the other two every 5 seconds. Clearly he should have gone on by himself. He wasn’t a cool character either though so I was cool with the aliens claiming the win here. They just need to take on the rest of the town n ext.

The film is super dramatic and tries to be emotional constantly. We have a divorce subplot and they really try to forcefeed you the “You have to be sad now” memo as we see the parents cry about the teens being gone and everyone assuming the worst. The home cam videos are supposed to really reinforce this. All it does is stretch the film out even more and completely destroy whatever pacing the film could have had. This film could have been shortened to 30 minutes and you wouldn’t have missed a thing.

Also, why was Sophie’s camera man never really shown until the end? I thought the film was gearing up for some kind of big twist like he was Josh or something and that’s why everyone kept looking at Sophie like she was crazy. The twist would have been terrible but at least it would have been something. Otherwise, the camera man is just another empty character whose existence is only to hold the camera so Sophie can get a good shot.

Overall, As you can guess I really didn’t like the film. It’s basically just 90 minutes of nothing happening. The alien “jump scare” scenes are pitifully bad and wouldn’t scare a kid. The repetition is annoying and since the aliens keep taunting the main characters instead of doing something to them, I have to assume that they’re just petty. They don’t seem to have any actual goals so I’ll assume that they are mindless as well. There’s really only negative things to say about the film so as you can tell I really didn’t like it. I’d say that Cloverfield was a better found footage film and even Paranormal Activity which by all accounts should be worse as it’s a full horror plus this genre, but was actually far superior. Next time you secretly want to make a film about teens just running around and just acting like terrible people with no extra plot…don’t. Instead of this film I recommend watching something a little more intense like the first Jumanji.

Overall 1/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Running Man Review

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

I wasn’t too familiar with The Running Man, but the plot definitely sounded like a lot of fun. A corrupt dystopian world has come up with a reality show where assassins chase convicts around. Seems messed up enough for this future. Then throwing in Arnold Schwarzenegger into the picture just makes the whole thing that much more epic. I can safely say that the film was pretty fun and is one that you won’t want to miss.

Ben used to work for the government, but when he defied their orders to murder a bunch of innocents, he was sent to prison. He helps some other convicts escape and decides that instead of trying to beat the system, he’ll simply find a way to survive it. He breaks into his friend’s home, but it is now owned by a lady named Amber. She doesn’t take kindly to being threatened so she gets the cops to lock Ben up. He is now going to be forced to be in The Running Man, where he will have to outrun several hunters who are each armed with deadly weapons. His two expendable “friends” (They aren’t, but the show thinks that they are so why not let them believe that right?) have also been thrown in though along with Amber. Can Ben take these guys down and figure out a way to shut the show down or is it simply too late for any last second heroics?

One thing you’ll notice about the film right away is that the soundtrack is on point. There are quite a lot of fun themes that play during the film and it certainly amplifies the experience. A good film gets that much better with a dynamic soundtrack and they really make the action scenes come alive. The visuals also look pretty good. Considering how old the film is, the effects have aged pretty well and I like how they envisioned 2017 to be. The city looks realistic enough even if it’s not quite so run down. I imagine that this film must have gotten a pretty decent budget back in the day.

The characters are also solid. Ben makes for a great lead. He’s heroic and dependable. Sure, he’s not quite willing to risk his life to join the rebellion at the beginning, but he doesn’t turn his back on others once he is forced into the game. He also doesn’t murder the villains once they are unarmed. If it’s the fastest way then he won’t hesitate to do so, but he won’t go out of his way just for revenge….for the most part. Ben’s a strong fighter and the heroes would have been doomed without his military expertise. I have to say that he pulled off the role quite perfectly as few actors can be as convincing.

The main villain, Killian is also pretty good. He knows how to work the crowd and does a good job of building up the suspense. He doesn’t even let Ben get to him as he knows that this will bring the ratings up. He talks a good game to everyone and while he is a ruthless boss, you’ll be okay as long as you stay on his good side. Mop the floors at your own peril since it can certainly get you into heaps of trouble. The sub villains were all right as well. The only bad one is Dynamo as he fulfills every overweight villain cliche in the book. He’s awful petty and also isn’t much of a fighter. Once you get past the suit, he’s the kind of villain who begs for mercy. The others at least had more dignity than that. Chainsaw put up a good fight before going down and I also liked Sub Zero. It was an interesting take on the guy compared to the Mortal Kombat version. Not as deadly, but fun all the same. The Fire villain was also pretty good since he got quite a bit of foreshadowing and hype. He probably should have moved a bit quicker though. Captain Freedom probably had the most personality from the minions and I like how he simply refused to get into the ring. Nobody was about to talk back to him.

Amber isn’t the best of heroines. She spends most of the film running and panicking. You have to give her some credit for getting away from Ben though. If you put yourself in her shoes, she totally did the right thing. Kidnappers always tell you stuff like “Don’t try to escape” and make a bunch of threats to keep you in line. She took a big risk by making a break for it and yelling and it paid off. While it didn’t work out well for Ben, at least she made a move. Too bad she couldn’t keep up that confidence for the rest of the film right.

If I had a minor nitpick for the film, it’s that the costume in the poster doesn’t really match the one in the film. At the very least I don’t recall the spikes being quite so big. It’s not really a negative just something that I noticed. The film’s camera work is pretty good. Sometimes it can be a little tough to see what’s going on in the background with the low lighting, but I feel like that was made to capture that CSI Miami kind of atmosphere as everything is a little grittier and more life like. Fortunately it was just in the camera work as the actual film isn’t really gritty at all. Some characters get stabbed and such, but at least in the version that I saw it wasn’t explicit or anything.

There is some unfortunate fanservice as we get a really long dance sequence. I suppose it’s a parody to the fact that if society did go downhill we’d be seeing that in every show. It’s fortunately not a huge deal though. The ending to the film is also pretty funny. I was personally expecting it to go down a slightly different path as the guy in the tube lands safely but then sees Captain Freedom and has to try and escape from him. How it was handled worked well enough as well though.

The writing is pretty solid with classic lines like “I’ll be back” and more than a few one liners from Ben. I love puns and one liners as you may know from my comic reviews and the film pulls it off well. It’s just another drop in the bucket to help this film reach “great” status. The climax is also pretty great even aside from the ending. The banter between Ben and Killian was really good and I liked seeing the heroes finally infiltrate the TV station. They were pretty well organized and it added some extra action and excitement to the ending. Even Amber got to win a fight on her own. The film carefully balanced the epic and funny moments with the serious atmosphere.

Overall, The Running Man is just a fun film. It really breezes by to be honest and the pacing was on point. It never dragged on and still managed to bring in a lot of content. We got to see Ben before the game, during it, and even become a resistance fighter afterwards. None of the pieces felt rushed either and it shows that you can still pull off quite a lot in under 2 hours. I certainly recommend watching this film. It’s not quite as well known as it could have been. It has all of the elements that you could want in a big action film.

Overall 8/10