The Exorcist 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 even more negative…literally.
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It’s time to tackle one of the most well known horror films of all time. I’ve never liked horror films and watching the classics hasn’t worked out so well thus far. I had pretty low expectations heading into this film, but The Exorcist managed to surprise me. It delivered a product that was so below expectations that I was slightly taken aback, but quickly realized how I had to respond. This film is one that you’ll want to avoid at all costs and will remind you that shock value isn’t as good as jump scares.

Chris is a popular actress and everything is going right for her at the moment. Life can’t get much better than it already is at the moment. Unfortunately, that changes when her daughter Regan is possessed by a vengeful spirit. It claims to be Lucifer himself and she has been unable to break free. Chris goes to many experts, but they are all unsuccessful in their attempts. Finally, she is forced to call in a pastor/psychologist to try and perform an exorcism, but he has yet to break his drinking/smoking habits. The Church realizes that this guy is out of his league so they bring in another priest who is experienced, but already very exhausted from another exorcism that he performed. Can the two save the day or will the body count continue to rise?

Some films like this one are a little overwhelming as it’s hard to know where to start. I suppose there are so many negatives that I should start with the positives first. The soundtrack isn’t bad. The iconic theme is definitely fun even if it only shows up for a few seconds. It actually felt like a remix since I’m used to a more battle ready version of the song. Still, it’s definitely withstood the test of time. The visuals are pretty advanced for their time as well although they typically go for grotesque imagery as opposed to cool sci-fi elements. Poltergeist III has definitely got it beat in this area. The film puts out a lot of effort….yeah now lets go to the negatives.

The film paints a pretty bleak picture on our struggle against demons. First of all, I’d like to give it props for giving the Church some credibility and having them go up against the demon. However…it acts as if the demons are far more powerful than any of our counters. Our Exorcism (This film’s old, but just in case I’ll give out a warning. Spoilers ahead, spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril!) fails miserably as the demon just overpowers the two pastors. The two pastors/priests give it their all as they use a lot of verses from the Bible, Holy Water, A Cross, and more. None of it is effective as the demon breaks one of the guys anyway and then possesses the other as it knocks him off. The spirit is then free to go and possess someone else.

There is no happy ending here at all. The demon won and murdered quite a few people in the process. It also vandalized the Church in the process with no repercussions. It’s a pretty sad message from the film in the end. Evil’s not supposed to conquer all. Now, demons are certainly real and they are powerful. That’s certainly true, but they still cannot ultimately resist when called out in the name of Jesus and God. The counter argument could be that the priests simply weren’t skilled or didn’t have enough faith, but at least one of them was supposed to be the best of the best. It’s hard to say whether or not Regan was a Christian or not in the film. She was still pretty young, but maybe she had put the Cross under her pillow since nobody could figure out how it got there. I don’t believe a Christian can be possessed. One could get tempted or put through trials and tribulations like Job, but I believe that we are given an immunity. Playing with the Ouja board wasn’t a smart idea, but it’s not as if playing with a thing like that can suddenly make you free domain. Especially since Regan clearly didn’t really know the ramifications of that thing.

She definitely got the short end of the stick here as the rest of the film’s pretty painful for her. It’s a really violent horror film and while you could clearly tell where the film cut away in the TV version, there was enough where you can tell that this was an intense experience. Regan got a lot of injuries and had to go through many operations during this period. Quite a few people were murdered as well. The film also goes for gross moments like having characters vomit and have to use the bathroom in public. Those moments certainly didn’t help the film at all either. In case you couldn’t tell, this film’s getting a pretty easy 0.

The only reasonable characters here are the Expert Priest and Chris. Chris can be annoying though like when she went to the various doctors and put Regan through a bunch of experiments. She should have known that it’d do no good since it clearly wasn’t a mental issue. The Expert Priest was good, it’s a shame that he couldn’t win. The main priest, Damien was pretty weak willed. He fell for the mind games rather easily and his subplot didn’t add anything to the film. It added more dark themes and grit of course, but the film was so full of that already that you wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. There was a police chief who liked to subtly imply that various people were murderers and did his best to solve the case. It was naturally futile though since it wasn’t a human opponent who he was up against. I suppose he did his best, but bribery definitely isn’t a very legitimate tactic. There weren’t a whole lot of other characters in the film as it was a pretty small cast. We have the demon of course, but it’s only character is that it is a demon. It’s pretty clever as it makes the ordeal or proving that it’s a demon very tricky for the heroes.

Overall, This isn’t exactly a “Feel good” film. You’re not going to be laughing and taking shots of Pepsi and Doritos during this film as you discuss the current state of the movie industry and Twinkie flavors. It’s very somber from start to finish and you’ll be ready for it to end after 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s a very long film so that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the whole film had just been about Chris and her acting career, I have a feeling that it would certainly be a lot more enjoyable. Even just removing all of the cuts and slashes on Regan would help the film at least be watchable. You’re averting your gaze for most of the film otherwise since it’s pretty distasteful to have a kid be so violently injured for such a long time after all. Better to just look at the ceiling in the film and wonder when it was last painted. If you want a quality horror film, check out Poltergeist III as it’s one of the only good horror films out there. I can see why this one earned its reputation as it is pretty gritty, but that’s all the more reason why you should stay away from it. It’s just not worth it!

Overall 0/10

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Paths of Glory

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It’s time for an old war film that takes place in France. It certainly doesn’t make the country look all that good though and it’s not exactly a feel good film. The movie is based on true events so I won’t be giving a rating on this post although you can probably get the jist of what I thought of it anyway. It’s a rather shady part of French history although every country seems to have a dark path at this point.

The plot of the movie is that France is unable to advance during a key battle. One of the commanders is pretty upset about this and orders that three French soldiers be executed for cowardice. Whether the charge is true or not is immaterial as he merely wishes to make a demonstration out of them to spur the rest of the force into action. One captain argues in their defense, but it is too late as the court hearing is just for show. Their executions are to remain and remain they do. It’s a rather somber ending to the film as a result and the captain has to head back to the barracks and prepare for more fighting.

It’s easy to see why a country like France didn’t do so well during the World Wars if they were engaging in these kinds of acts. They had the soldiers draw straws to see who would be executed in one division because none of them had actually run from battle. It was merely an empty charge, but one that had to be obeyed nonetheless. It’s a shame that none of the soldiers could be saved. They really got the raw end of the deal here and the rest of the soldiers would definitely be pretty bitter about this. If your only two options are a suicide run into enemy territory or being executed at home for not trying hard enough, it’s easy to also see how soldiers could just defect to the enemy side.

Making the movie even more somber is that one soldier’s friend is gunned down by the general by mistake and then the general submits him to be one of the soldiers to be executed so there are no witnesses. The general even ends up being one of the guys who gives the command to be fired. This was done intentionally to completely sow the seeds of the hierarchy. It showed that the soldiers had to follow any order, no matter how over the top and crazy it could be.

It goes back to the question of when it is acceptable to disobey an order. In the army, you are expected to listen to your commander without reservation, but anyone with a lick of common sense should know that this isn’t always the case. If you are given a morally wrong order, I should hope that you would not listen to it. Even if everyone tells you it is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean that it is. Unfortunately, group think and mob mentality are two very real concepts and in the end nobody was able to step in to save these men in the film. It’s unfortunate, but they really didn’t have much of a chance. There was always going to be a scape goat in this situation and hundreds of soldiers died in vain. We try to forget these bleak moments in history, but there’s always another one around the bend. It’s why history is always fascinating, but depressing at the same times. The further back in time you go, the more tales of horror you will end up hearing.

Overall, I don’t know how faithful of an adaption this was, but it got the message across pretty smoothly. If you’re interested in history or strongly believe that the army was infallible back in the day, then this could be an educational watch for you. Just keep in mind that this film is very somber and since it is based on the true story, there is no happy ending. The situation just gets bleaker and bleaker until the film just ends. There are no winners in this tale and no perfect climax. You just see the soldiers grow saddened as their execution grows closer and closer. They panic and do everything that they can to get out of it, but there’s just no escape…and then it’s the end for them. The other soldiers go back to partying as their way of coping and you’re left to be reminded of why war is always a bad thing. It should also help you appreciate America’s democracy a little more. I like to believe that our Court System wouldn’t have allowed such a case to have gone so far and would have overturned the charges. I am somewhat bias for America though.

War Room

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It’s time for another Christian film that I got to see a while back. This one plays out more like God Is Not Dead. It has a full plot and everything where Elizabeth must turn to the Lord to save her marriage before it falls apart. It can get a little too extreme and silly at times for it to come close to matching up with God Is Not Dead, but it’s still a solid film with a good overall message.

Things have been rough for Elizabeth. Her husband refuses to let her send money to help her relative who married someone that can’t find a job and she also noticed that Tony has been getting a little colder. He strays so far away from the faith that he pockets money from his job. As a result, Tony goes from being a very wealthy guy to losing his job and facing potential jail time. His bond with their daughter has also grown strained since he is never around for her and also insults her favorite past time. (Jumping rope) With the family’s back against the wall and Tony getting more and more defensive, Elizabeth visits an old lady who tells her that she should let God fight round 2 in her place.

The main message is about fighting fire with peace. Tony’s portrayed as a really bad guy the whole time, but Elizabeth tries to roll with it as she hopes that he’ll have a change of heart. It’s a good message since you can’t go around fighting people all the time. Divorce also shouldn’t be the first option since it’ll just lead to Tony being turned away from God forever and Elizabeth’s life will also be in shambles. That being said, being too timid and “nice” will also just result in you being walked all over. You need to achieve a nice balance. Tony doesn’t make it easy though as he even attempts to cheat on Elizabeth, but he developed food poisoning right before he could breach the point of no return.

Tony turns over a new leaf after he sees Elizabeth’s prayer well and finds out that she knew about him getting ready to cheat, but didn’t say anything. The film ends with the family finally being united and stronger than ever. Even if the execution wasn’t the strongest, it’s always good to watch a film with happy endings and to remind yourself that miracles can and still do happen. Bringing a family back together like that is something that only God can do. We can’t simply mend broken relationships like that and without him, we are sorely limited in what we can do.

Another point of discussion that the film brings up is about not letting your relationship with God get too routine or “lukewarm.” It’s easy for things to get automatic when you do them the same way every day to the point where you don’t think about it much. If you read a chapter of the Bible every morning or a daily devotional, but don’t actually remember what you read a few hours later, then you need some kind of change. You don’t need to stop reading in the morning of course, but maybe add something else in or change things up every few weeks. I’d say that we all have automatic modes at some points so you have to watch out for them.

For example, I have automatic responses myself. “Cool” is my main one. If I don’t know what you said, I’ll just respond with this since it is the safest word ever. It should correctly answer just about 90% of what people are saying in case you missed something. I try not to be automatic too often, but my hearing’s always been about a second or two behind when I’m taken by surprise. I won’t actually understand what someone said unless I wait an extra second or two and who wants to do that? I prefer to just talk right away even if I have to play the old bluffing game. You can do just about anything automatically, but you won’t remember the details quite as much and it ultimately won’t help you develop.

So just keep that in mind at all times. I’d say that talking to God informally during the day is the best way to make sure that you’re active even if you’re not next to a Bible for a while. (Not a great excuse anymore since Smartphones exist, but talking 1 on 1 is still a great thing to do) I’m still working on finishing my run through of the Bible from start to finish. It’s taken an extremely long time, but part of the problem is that sometimes I’ll forget where I’m up too and have to re read some chapters. (Bookmarks? Ha! I don’t use those…….) Once in a blue moon, I also won’t be able to find the Bible when a big cleaning was done. I think of it as a desperate last ditch effort by Satan to not let me read the next chapter, but I chuckle at the attempt since we have like 20 different Bibles at home. The versions may be a little different, but I can live with that. My bad back, permanently disfigured knee, allergies to just about every single tasty food in the world, short term memory loss, fading eyesight, laggy hearing, and my body just breaking down bit by bit in general are other attempts that I’ll laugh off between coughs and colds. (Power Smoothies are something that I recommend for this by the way) I also subscribe to Bible Gateway and Up Words from Max Lucado. Then there’s also the Daily Devotionals when my memory is working and I do it straight away. Sometimes it’s easier to wrap up at night and it’s a good thing to do before bed. Regardless of when you make time for God, ensure that you do. If you can make time for a quick round of Super Smash or an extra helping of dinner, then you can certainly make time for your creator. It may not get you the next high score at your local, (It could though since you’ll have a more disciplined mind and a healthier outset on life which will give you a good work ethic) but it’ll save your eternal soul from damnation so that’s a good consolation. In the end, nobody can actually see your relationship with Christ except for yourself so don’t put too much stock into what others think of how you’re developing it. What works for one person may not work for another and they won’t be the ones judging you at the end of days. What interests me a lot are debates and quizzes. I’m bad at memorizing stuff since my memory is shot, but I do like winning things so watching Christian debates and entering quizzes are a good way to help me learn new things. I’ll probably be challenging my cousin in one of those quizzes very soon. Don’t worry readers, I aim to win. For others, they’ll develop better through Christian songs as the words leap into their mind and help them appreciate the messages and finally, others develop best through formal sermons where Bible teachings can be unwrapped and explained. A nice dose of all these options is another really solid way to go about it.

Overall, War Room is a good film. I may have not actually talked about it all that much in this post, but talking about the points that it brings up is a little more important. The film would be even better if it eliminated some unnecessary plots like the foot one (Which added nothing but crude humor to the film and was a little gross) and toned down some of the comedy and Tony so that his 180 turnaround didn’t feel too forced. This isn’t a formal review though and the intent is more important than the execution this time. It’s good to get more films out there that expose the mainstream media to God and the principles that Christians follow. With how degrading the world gets every day, it’s good to have some kind of positive media to counteract it. It’s worth checking it out and supporting the company is a good thing so that they can continue to churn out more movies like this one.

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

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As Hillsong is my main Church, I definitely had to go and watch the Hillsong movie. I saw it in theaters a while back so this post is rather late, but better late than never right? When you’re given lemons, you make lemonade and that was my logic as I grabbed my backlog and turned it into a pile of future reviews. The movie is essentially a biographical film about how the Church started up and their expansion since then. It’s pretty interesting and while you may already know a lot of the bullet points from a quick online search, it’s fun to see.

The main selling point of the film was the music. Hillsong’s always been known for its solid array of music during service and many other Churches use their songs as well. On that note, I do think that the movie could have had some more songs. There were a decent amount of them I suppose, but not nearly as many as I had expected when I went into the film. It’s not as if the history part was boring or anything, it was just a little unexpected.

The biographical parts play out like your old family movies. We see recordings of the Hillsong founders going to the original location of the Church and talking about the good ole days. We also have some footage of those days that are played, like when the gang was stopped in a traffic jam. The way that the film plays out does make it a little hard for this post to not be short though since it’s easy to run out of things to say. At this point, you’ve already got the gist of the film. Obviously, you’ll enjoy the film even more if you’re a Hillsong Church-goer and want to learn more about the Church or if you just want to see a nice success story about a Church that continues to help people out far and wide. It doesn’t really do anything provocative to warrant discussion (That’s a good thing by the way) and since there isn’t really a plot since this is a documentary, there aren’t characters to discuss.

It’s just a pleasant history film to watch. I may be a little biased, but I’d say that the NYC branch of Hillsong actually has the others beat in the song department though. The songs here were great as always, but NYC just has that extra kick in its voice as we have such talented singers at the ready. NYC’s Hillsong has always set the bar super high after all and that won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Overall, I won’t stall too much here. Let Hope Rise is a very solid film and it’s neat that the Church got the film to go into theaters. It had a short, but lively run and I’d recommend checking it out on DVD. I don’t watch too many biographical pics so it was a nice change of pace. The music is definitely solid and everything about the movie is on point. It’s the kind of film that will leave you in a good mood and that’s the kind of flick that’s always in season.

The Jungle Book Review

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It’s time to finally get to the Jungle Book review. This film got a lot of recognition for its superb CGI and how realistic the animals ended up looking. They definitely do look pretty sharp and I’ll give the film a lot of kudos for its effects. Despite being a film with a lot of animals around and having a kid as the main character, Jungle Book did pretty well for itself. Honestly, the film would have been even better if Mowgli was older, but that’s for the sequel.

Mowgli is a kid who was raised in the forest. As such, he is used to being around animals instead of humans. Unfortunately, Shere Khan doesn’t approve of this. He faced a human once and lost his eye so now he thinks that all humans are evil. Honestly, most of the humans probably would come to the forest with the intent to do the animals harm, but Mowgli is too young for any of that. Mowgli is forced to go on the run when his clan is taken over by Shere Khan so now he must find some reinforcements and stop Khan before anyone gets hurt. He’ll need the help of a friendly bear, a panther, and a host of other animals who are around the bend. Mowgli is not a bad character, but I still think that kids can’t really hold their own films effectively. It’s just too hard to take him seriously. The scenes of him roaring, running around, or getting stung by bees all rank among the lower moments of the film. It’s really the side characters who do a good job of showing us why this film is good.

Take Baloo for example. He’s the best character in the film and since he is a bear, the guy is also a threat to the villains. A Bear would probably lose to a Lion in real life if they fought….but it would be very close. Both of them can conceivably defeat the other. Shere Khan is a tiger so then this helps Baloo’s case, but this bear isn’t a fighter anyway so that minimizes the advantage. Baloo is all about making equal partnerships and he’s a reasonable fellow. He’s a great friend to have around and he added some nice humor to the film. If he was intended to be the fan favorite all along, then the film definitely did a good job of making him a likable character.

Bagheera is the main Panther and the one who raised Mowgli ever since he was a kid. He’ll remind you of the main Panther from Animal Land and you can really draw a lot of similarities between this and that series. That one is a lot more extreme with the violence though and I don’t actually recommend it. It also got pretty supernatural by the end with all of the Chimeras running around and being as strong as Kaiju. That was certainly crazy. Bagheera may not be the absolute strongest animal here, but he’s a good all around fighter. I’d say that he seems to be a little stronger than the wolves, but not quite as powerful as the tigers. Bagheera is definitely one of the more likable characters in the film and while he may not be great at working with others, he learns to be a team player in the end.

Shere Khan is a great villain and he certainly makes his presence felt. I do think it was a little iffy how easily he defeated the Wolves though. They had numbers on their side and the leader shouldn’t have allowed himself to be taken out so easily. It’s a classic example of why arrogance leads to a fall. The Wolf wanted to show that he was in control of the situation so he lay down and pretended to be at ease. This made Khan’s plan all the easier. Khan would have won anyway, but I like to think that a prolonged fight against the whole clan would have been far too difficult, even for him. Khan is definitely persistent and you have to give him credit for never giving up. He never went down without a fight.

Kaa is another villain who got a big scene in the trailers, but didn’t actually do all that much in the film. She really got a glorified cameo if anything. Her illusion abilities are certainly handy, but in a fight she is clearly outmatched against the rest of the characters. The main character is one of the only people that she can defeat although to be fair, he’s the only one that she needs to eat in order to end the adventure.

If the film has any weakness, it’s that it can drag a little bit at certain points. For example, the escapade over to the Baboons. The plot didn’t really add anything to the movie and I never really care for the monkeys. It was impressive just how large the King was and the chase scene was cool, but it just felt like filler. The heroes were also so vastly outnumbered that it was just hard to see how they escaped from that plight without more serious injuries. I didn’t want any more bee injuries though because that always looks pretty gross so Monkeys were preferable. I also would have loved it if the film had taken place in the city, but then it’d be a completely different film right?

The writing was good, which always goes a long way in these movies. Bad writing would have made this film quite sad. I can’t say that I really recall there being much of a soundtrack in this film. That would have been pretty neat, but it wasn’t a bad soundtrack at any rate. I think there were some generic danger and action themes in there somewhere. As mentioned before, the graphics are pretty realistic. I prefer more fantasy esque graphics of course, but this wasn’t supposed to be that kind of movie anyway. As far as realistic animals go, Jungle Book did a really good job.

Overall, The Jungle Book is a good film. You’ll definitely get some Lion King vibes from the main villain and the scene where he “befriends” the cubs as a threat to the Mom is certainly familiar. Shere Khan definitely made for an epic villain. This is the kind of film that can definitely stand on its own without a sequel, but a sequel certainly wouldn’t hurt. There is definitely a lot that they can do with this series, but there are also a lot of ways that it can jump the fence. The writers will have to be careful how they handle this. I’d recommend checking out the film. There may be some scenes that drag on and Mowgli isn’t all that good, but by and large this is a solid film. The positives clearly outweigh the negatives and that’s always the important part. I think this film would have easily gotten a 7 if the main character had just been a little older, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

Overall 6/10

The Black Castle Review

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It’s time for another old film so I’m sure you know what that means right? This one’s another stinker, but at least it doesn’t even try to be all that good so that’s a start. The film is fairly short and so it doesn’t really drag on, but at the same time, you wonder when the characters will stop making bad decisions. They walk into one trap after another and don’t really think anything through. At the very least, they remind you that rich parties typically aren’t that fun. All you do is get drunk and run around a lot.

Two of Ronald’s friends were mysteriously murdered a while back. Ronald suspects that the Baron (Bruno) assassinated them because his group had exposed Bruno’s mortality to a tribe which ran him out. Ronald wants to prove that Bruno did this so he decides to pay the guy a visit. Bruno never met Ronald in person so Ronald still has the element of surprise. He makes it to the castle under a false guise just in time for a large party that is being held. The situation gets a little more complicated when Ronald finds out that Bruno’s wife is also in a sticky situation so he has to try and save her, but that may tip Bruno off. Can Ronald’s sword skills save the day?

At the very least, I can safely say that Ronald talks a good game. He berates his opponents and likes to keep up the fake formalities. The villains know that they tried to destroy Ronald and he knows it as well, but he pretends not too. He still goes to enjoy their hospitality and Bruno tries to destroy him a few more times until Ronald finally puts an end to that. I can’t say that he’s a very likable main character though. For starters, he does nothing to help the Black Panther since it would put his own life at risk. He also can’t control himself and flirts with Bruno’s wife quite a lot. Naturally, Bruno and Elga don’t get along at all and the marriage was an arranged one, but it should still be kept in mind that at the moment she is married. Ronald still leaves anyway, but is convinced to return to the villain base. Will this end badly for him? Yes…yes it will.

See, let us keep in mind the fact that Ronald knows this is a trap. He knows that everyone is out to destroy him yet Ronald quickly runs forward into the cage without looking behind him. This quickly gets him locked up and beaten up several times. Even after he crosses the trail of Crocodiles, the villains just calmly walk around and one shot him again. It definitely wasn’t Ronald’s day. Despite the bold words, it is actually Bruno who gets the most laughs the whole time. He is in control and reminds Ronald of this at every turn. Even taunting him when Ronald tried to be defiant in walking towards the secret door. It didn’t work of course as this activated a trap, but Ronald tried…

Bruno’s certainly not a likable villain though. He likes committing animal violence and is a womanizer. There’s no redeemable qualities to find in him even if the film tries to show that he can be a decent competitor. It’s really all just an act and he probably bumps off anyone who beats him at an event. It’s just the kind of guy that he is. I can’t say that I cared for Elga much either. There’s nothing that she can really do in her situation, but I would have liked to have seen her try a little more. Even just sneaking out of the house when Ronald first left could have worked. Then she also does a good job of nearly spilling the beans a few times when she is interrogated.

If you’re a supporting character in this film, then you’re probably doomed. Ronald’s best friend tries to hold off an army with a chair. It’s not a bad plan, but then he breaks it on the first guy who approaches so that’s that. There was also a crooked doctor who had some fairly convenient medicine in his pocket, but he made the mistake of using it and then going back to the main villains. They somehow didn’t pick up the clues immediately, but it was only a matter of time. Not to mention the fact that he pulls this off more than once so anyone could figure it out at that point. He still didn’t seem to suspect the shot in the back though.

Either way, this film was doomed right away. Even if you take away the unlikable characters, you’ve still got the animal violence. It seems to be a trait that a lot of these retro villains share. They like to beat on the weak to make themselves feel strong. Real villains don’t need to bother about such lesser things. Seeing the Black Panther starved and then shot was the film’s way of reminding me that it was terrible. I quickly agreed and here we are.

I also found the situation to be a little too unbelievable. So, the government can’t intervene because there is no proof. I can understand that, but Ronald is apparently one of their great war heroes. Shouldn’t they at least send a few guards along with him? It sounds like everyone knows that Bruno is evil and leading a tribe is rather nebulous. He is also forcing everyone in the city to pay him taxes so the guy is an official dictator. Ronald’s allies could have helped him liberate the city, I don’t think Bruno’s clout should have been enough to completely deter them all. Bruno gets too much hype in general. His first big scene is him watching someone get painful medicine and then nullifying a lot of it by injuring the guy’s wound. It’s supposed to be hardcore, but instead it is painful to watch, just like most of the movie.

The Black Castle simply isn’t any fun. It’s a very mean spirited movie that leaves only a bleak outcome for everyone. The fate of the heroes would have been quite sad as well since they were completely paralyzed and nearly got buried alive. If you’re looking for any happy scenes here, then you’re not going to get much at all. The main romance is hard to get behind and the party is basically filled with rather soulless people who don’t seem to care about anything. I guess they all want to be on Bruno’s good side, but that just shows how desperate they are.

Overall, The Black Castle is one of those films where you’ll end up shaking your head quite a lot. What was the point of this movie? Who knows! Why should I be interested in the plot? Nobody knows! Is the ending supposed to be happy because the two main leads can be together now or is it sad because everyone else died? I think it’s supposed to be happy because Ronald seemed to get over the side characters quite quickly. He was also super sloppy and one of the villains found out about him almost immediately because of it. He got lucky with the fact that another villain decided to quickly dust off his license to kill. This is definitely not a film that you will want to check out and I’d recommend going to Burger King and ordering 5 whoppers instead of checking out this film again. It may be a little more pricey, but at least it’ll keep your attention.

Overall 1/10

Lego Scooby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood

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It’s time for another Scooby Doo adventure. This one is back to the Lego style. What I like about Scooby Doo venturing into all of these different styles is it means that the films can come out more frequently. Think of the Lego films as a hold over while waiting for the traditional ones. As long as the writing is on point, it will still make for a fun story. Fred steals the show once again, but the rest of the gang do their best to keep up with his lead.

Shaggy and Scooby Doo have finally had enough of Fred and the gang. They refuse to be tricked by Scooby Snacks any longer and have decided to stop eating them for good. The gang takes them on a field trip to Hollywood to celebrate, but it turns out that the place is haunted. Shaggy and Scooby might have to go back to Scooby Snacks if they want to survive this experience. Luckily, with all of the real film producers running away from the monsters, this is Fred’s chance to take the limelight and make the best film possible!

This film plays out like your average Scooby Doo adventure. The animation isn’t my favorite as it is lego style, but it’s not all that bad either. If anything, the one thing about Lego style that irks me the most is how Legos can’t eat. As a result, there’s always an excuse for Shaggy and Scooby to not eat their food or a quick cutaway. We need to find a way to get past that limitation. As for the soundtrack, I can’t remember any of the tunes, but I’m sure that they were decent enough.

The subplot of Scooby and Shaggy deciding not to eat Scooby Snacks anymore was decent, even if you knew from the start that the franchise would never dare change the status quo quite so much. It’s still good to see the heroes have some restraint and go for actual food instead. The other subplot with Daphne wanting to be a film lead was annoying. She could have at least been halfway decent at being a supporting character instead of actively trying to wreck Fred’s film. I’d say that the plot was definitely too over dramatized. Velma didn’t really have a plot this time. As a result, she wasn’t as bad as she usually is although she’s definitely still not much of a likable character to be honest.

Luckily, Fred’s got this. Once he gets the film producer role, he does a good job of putting everyone in their place and completing the job to the best of his ability. He didn’t have much to work with, but Fred pulled through with the project anyway. He stopped most of the monsters on his own and came up with the plans needed to save the day. I can’t imagine where the gang would be without him. I don’t imagine that they would last long, that’s for sure.

Naturally, we’ve also got a few characters who were made up for the film. There weren’t a whole lot of them this time. One character was an actress who decided to help out in Fred’s film. She handled the role fairly well and definitely had an air of professionalism. The only problem is that she never felt like a suspect. I don’t suppose that she was ever supposed to be considered as one, but then you really only have 2-3 actual suspects with one of them being the culprit. The film does its best to weave around that, but it’s quite difficult.

There’s also the horror fan who doesn’t like the fact that Hollywood has decided to go with Rom Coms instead of more horror. Fred and the gang don’t sympathize all that much. This kid has to perform just about every job at the place himself since everyone else ran off. He’s brave and has a motive, that’s reason enough to add him onto the suspect box. There’s also his boss. He likely stands to gain a lot if Hollywood is shut down since he is probably insured. He half heartedly tells Fred and the others to film a movie themselves, but it could just be his way of getting them out of the picture. You’ll want to keep your eye on this guy. Finally, we’ve got the inspector who is looking to buy Hollywood. As more and more people run away from the place, the going rate will continue to drop so that’s likely a good proposition for the man. He stands to gain a lot from this monster.

As for the actual monster(s) in question, the designs aren’t bad. They’re all based off of the original monsters like Dracula and the Werewolf so they aren’t new designs, but they are tried and true. They make some effort to get to Fred and the gang, but the Mystery Inc had a larger advantage than usual this time. The monsters were actually on the defensive for most of the film. They simply lacked the ferociousness that most of the other villains had.

The film’s pretty short as you’d expect and since there were a short mission at the start of the film, the main one didn’t get too much screen time. Relatively speaking of course since it probably only took an extra 5-10 minutes. That may have been why the cast was so small this time around. The pacing is still solid though and maybe it was for the best as the original characters here are all likable. The best character was probably the investor to be honest, but the horror fan did a decent job of keeping everyone in check. The boss would probably be the blandest character, but he serves his purpose.

This review ended up being a little on the short side so let me use this paragraph to make a suggestion on where Scooby Doo can go from here. I like the current formula as much as the next guy, but there is one addition that could really help the series. The franchise needs a rival team. Granted, the team could be obnoxious if handled wrong, but stay with me here. Imagine a Mystery Inc that only cares about profits and uses any means necessary to catch the crooks. Even if they don’t become main supporting characters, one film like this could be genius. I believe that the films have dabbled around with having other sleuths once in a while, but I’m talking a full team here. Just think about it, a rival team could really be awesome. Fred’s competitive nature would ensure a fun dynamic as well.

Overall, If you’ve seen the older Scooby Doo films, then you should like this one. It stays pretty true to the overall formula and sits comfortably away from the lower tier films. Everyone is in character, which actually is not a given since in recent films some characters have been a bit dicey. Daphne didn’t bring her A game this time and was easily the weakest member, but even she could have been a little more exaggerated. Fred’s been looking really good these last few films so I’m hoping that the franchise can keep it up. Next up, the Wrestling sequel is arriving and that should definitely be a fun film. The first title was one of the better Scooby Doo films so I’m certainly hoping for more of the same from its sequel.

Overall 7/10

The Next Three Days Review

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It’s time for another thriller, but this one has a few chase scenes in it. It depicts how an average joe can defeat homeland security when they put the wrong convict on the prison for life sentence. The cops were good…John’s better! It’s a fun film and one that does a good job of pacing itself as the title is well over 2 hours, but never gets around to dragging on. The plan doesn’t go perfectly of course, so both sides have to make some adjustments.

The film starts out with John and Lara having dinner with their “friends.” Their debate quickly becomes one about meta physical power and the tough work dynamics of having a boss. It’s a pretty painful conversation and one that would have felt right at home in Cloverfield. Luckily, those characters never show up again after the two main characters leave. Unfortunately, the insults may have shaken Lara more than she let on as she is arrested for murder later that week. John doesn’t understand how she could have been framed. Years later, it has become clear that nobody believes Lara’s innocence and she will be locked up for life. John’s only chance now is to break into prison and give her freedom. It won’t be easy, but he’s got a gun and is not afraid to use it! Of course, directly breaking into prison would not be the smartest thing to do so he targets the transfer like in the classic superhero films.

It was fun to have a cameo by Liam Neeson as well. He’s pulled off this kind of caper in the past after all so he lets John know the basics. You have to have a super convoluted plan at the ready involving which turns to take and how to get there. You have to have an exit ready at every area in order to dodge the cops. John’s plan is pretty well thought out. Should it actually work? Eh….No, but I appreciate the attempt. In a way, I’d say that he should have succeeded once he blended in with the crowd though. At that point, it was a little iffy that the cop happened to see him as he was heading down the stairs. John escaping the hospital in the first place was the tricky part though.

You’ve got a few dozen cops chasing you and nobody thinks to guard the main lobby? Hmmmmm. Well, beyond that and the fact that the main characters kept getting lucky with guards changing shifts and such, I’d say that the film did a reasonable job. It’s a little worrisome if the main characters had actually been villains, but I like to think that the cops in this film will have learned from their mistakes in this round.

Before the actual plan is put into operation, we do get a long flurry of scenes as John gets ready for this test. He gets punked after going into a shady neighborhood while trying to get some passports. It was definitely pretty realistic since you don’t get accepted into a place like that so easily. Especially if you’re flaunting money around since that will just get you a lot of enemies. John goes to an enemy stronghold and attacks it in order to get some money since he’ll need it for the operation. This part is only one that I would have cut out had I been the director. It’s meant to show that John will go all the way if necessary and while these guys were all villains, they helped to corrupt John as well. He went out of his way to try and help someone, but it was too late. John had increased his body count to two people. At least he was not so far gone as to attack a bank. That would have definitely made it impossible to root for the guy.

As it stands, the main character was decent, but I preferred the police agents. Had I written the ending, I would have had them capture John and Lara, but then explain over at the police office that they had finally caught the real crook. It’d be a happy ending, but with the police showing that they’re still on top of things and Lara wouldn’t have to live her life as a convict. The film came close to going down that route, but ultimately decided that it would be too cheesy and left a more somber finale. For the most part, the film played it seriously, but we did get some light hearted banter from the cops. The main agent was always pushing everyone as hard as he could so that they could make the arrest, but there was always one agent who would talk back to him. She had the crispy replies and made it clear that she wouldn’t be ordered around. They really tried their best, but it wasn’t to be.

John’s kid was easily the most annoying character in the film. His subplot didn’t really need to happen at all. He becomes friends with one kid and that kid’s mother tries to talk to John a few times, but he’s always a little too distracted. I believe she was only added so she could have a reaction as she realizes that John busted his wife out of prison. Beyond that, the whole subplot never really amounted to much. George (The kid) also turned against the mother very quickly and just kept to himself quite a lot. Any scene with him in it would always lead to stress for everyone else.

That being said, I can’t say that I like Lara either. I much preferred the friend’s mom as a heroine and it would have been interesting if she had stepped in to help with the getaway. Distracting a cop or something could have made for a small role. Back to Lara though. She’s just about as bad as George, but in different ways. For starters, she does try to destroy herself upon hearing the bad news, but even then she’s unwilling to go with John. Even once they are finally making it away, she tries to destroy herself again. Lara also does her best to try and get John to doubt her so he could stop trying to save her, but this plan doesn’t work. Prison can be a trying time so Lara wasn’t really in her right mind for the whole film, but at the same time she was definitely hard to like. All of the iffy moments just kept on adding up.

Films like this can certainly lead one to believe that circumstantial evidence is a bad thing, but always remember that for every case like this one, we probably have another few hundred where a villain has been put away using this technique. There is not always tangible evidence to put someone away and without having circumstantial evidence at the ready, a lot of people would get away. Unfortunately, innocent people getting put behind bars is nothing new in real life, but I like to think that it is a very small number relative to the criminals and naturally the justice system tries to improve over the years. It will never be 100% safe and perfect, but getting it as close to that as possible is the goal.

Overall, The Next Three Days is a solid action film. There are a lot of chases and I always like the mind games that are played between the main character and the cops. They keep on trying to stay one step ahead of each other and a few steps ahead of the audience. The writing could be a little trying at times and a few of the main characters were very unlikable, but the lead was solid. The main character from both sides turned out to be good and the chase scenes were solid. Once the fugitive makes it to open ground, it definitely gets a lot harder to stop him/her. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a solid one and a good title to check out. You’ll stay engrossed throughout the adventure. The dog got to live despite the burning house so that was a huge positive in the film’s favor. Things could have gotten very dicey there otherwise.

Overall 7/10

Mega Man X The Day of Σ Review

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It’s time to quickly review a short Mega Man OVA that came out a while back. This one was pretty fun and it was definitely cool how it came with the Mega Man X remake. I’ve seen it a few times over the years and it certainly holds up well. This OVA reminds me why we need more specials like this one in the future. The possibilities with Mega Man are simply endless!

The special is a little under 30 minutes and it shows how Sigma became the leader of the Mavericks. It works as an origin story and explores a time period that we never got to see much of. Mega Man X and Zero are tasked with finding out who is manipulating the reploids and turning them against their allies. The mystery takes them through a few massacres until they arrive at the deadly truth. Zero handles the shock of Sigma being a traitor pretty well while Mega Man X is a little more shocked. The special is fast paced as you would expect and the ending is open ended since you need to play the games to see how the saga really ended.

The animation is quite good. Zero’s character model at times felt a little too tall, but I’m just used to him looking a little more hunched over. The design is quite good if you look at it without thinking about the others and likewise with Megaman X. The energy blasts and effects look great. This could have easily been turned into a TV show and I’m certain that fans would have been very pleased with the results. The soundtrack is all right. It doesn’t use as many video game themes as I would have liked, but it still does sound nice and futuristic. The theme when Mega Man X was getting the charge shot ready was solid and overall it worked pretty well here.

The power levels are a little wonky as I feel like Mega Man X and Zero should be portrayed as much stronger. One Mechaniloid (I doubt that is how it is spelled, but close enough) should not last so long against a combined assault. Zero should have taken out his sword unless he acquired it later on. That would have been very handy. Mega Man X’s fully powered charge shot looked very accurate though and it is good to see. His power level should really be off the charts since he was essentially built to be the ultimate reploid. Also, Zero knew about Sigma which is how he countered the Maverick’s stab, but he looked pretty bad in that fight anyway. He should have been thinking about how to land a hit of his own instead of bragging for so long. I like his overconfidence, but landing at least one hit would have certainly helped a lot as well. Sigma is strong so it should be a good fight, but Zero’s no slouch either.

We got a cameo from Doctor Light and Doctor Cain as well. This helped to tie into the classic universe and I’m still waiting for the game where we see the events between them. I know that a popular theory is that Zero destroyed Bass and supposedly he may have destroyed Mega Man as well, but most of that is speculation. Others believe that Mega Man X was built from Mega Man’s parts. Personally, I’m hoping that this theory isn’t true since I want them to be completely separate. The special ends in a very sad way for Doctor Cain since he really underestimated the Mavericks. It seems like this was all just a game to Cain though so he may not be too distraught about his fate.

There were also cameos from other Mavericks and the legendary Vile. It would have been great to have seen Vile more since he is such an awesome character, but I suppose that I’ll have to wait a while. Maybe if the Mega Man show does well they’ll eventually introduce the X characters. It may be more of a comedy than anything, but hopefully they’re portrayed right. At least we have the Mega Man X episode from the 90’s cartoon. Mega Man X was nice and heroic here unlike his extreme cartoon version (to an extent) so that was nice to see. He definitely was not going to put the hostage at risk although he should have at least tried going for a leg or something. It was also interesting to note that Zero did hit the hostage in the training simulation, which basically proved that Mega Man X made the right call here. The hostage was grateful as well, which was a nice touch since they can be silent or condeming at times. The reploids here seemed very reasonable. The universe built around the characters definitely has a lot of room for growth and there is still a lot to explore.

Overall, Day of Sigma is a must watch for all Mega Man fans. It finally shows the story of how the Maverick war started in the first place. This war would basically not end for quite a few games so this trigger is very important. Unfortunately, it does go against canon events so it is considered to be more of an AU/non canon adventure than anything, but it still gives you a lot of context. The original version would likely be very similar as well. With solid animation and a good soundtrack, this OVA has all of the tools necessary to succeed. Mega Man X is a great main character as well and Zero is as cool as always. One day, maybe I’ll be saying the same thing about Mighty No 9, but it is unlikely.

Overall 8/10

A Few Good Men Review

This review is of the edited TV 14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such since a review of the unedited version would likely be more negative.
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It’s time for a classic film and one that’s more critically applauded when compared to Galaxy Quest. Even the title can be seen as deep because you have to decide who the title is referring too. I personally think that it shouldn’t really go towards the two guys who choked the poor victim so I’d place it on Daniel and his partners, but I suppose that it’s ultimately your choice there.

Dawson and Downey are two U.S. Army Marines who have been charged with murder of another cadet in a hazing incident. They have pleaded innocent as the other cadet was murdered, but they claim to have been ordered to haze him. Their superior officer has given another story so it is time to go to court. Daniel has been assigned to the case, but while he is known as a skilled lawyer who can reduce a client’s sentence quite easily, he likes to take the easy way out. If a deal is offered, he’ll take it. JoAnne doesn’t want this to happen since she thinks the two guys are totally innocent and assigns herself as Daniel’s partner. There’s also a third partner who is involved, but he’s not thrilled at the prospect of helping these two bullies.

Before getting into anything else, I will say that I definitely agree with the third guy. Dawson and Downey are in the wrong here and spending a lifetime in prison is essentially what they deserve. Knowingly or not, they did murder someone and took away his chance at a future. They may say that they were ordered to put him into a suffocating position long enough to strike fear into him, but that’s essentially torture and any amount of common sense will tell you that this isn’t okay. When you’re in the Marines you’re expected to follow orders no matter what. Well, then you’ve got to set the example for the others or allow yourself to be discharged from your post. Assaulting a defenseless person is definitely not the right choice to make in any situation. It doesn’t make it any better when you consider that it was 2 vs 1 and the fact that these guys were supposed to be friends. Yeah, Dawson and Downey got no sympathy from me.

It doesn’t help that they don’t make it very easy for Daniel either. They hide crucial bits of information from their allies until the prosecutors bring up the evidence in court. (It’s way too late by then of course) They also don’t seem all that sorry about their actions either. There is basically no remorse for a while. They even say that they have a code. “Units, Corp, God, Country.” So, God’s third on that list and your Unit is above your Country? The priorities are really messed up here and when you put the Unit above morality then you know something is going to go wrong. As it stands, I was basically rooting for the opposing team although naturally I wanted the lie about not giving the order to come out.

Nathan is a pretty good villain and I instantly recognized the villain from the Shining. The actor’s voice is certainly iconic and he does a good job of playing the role here. Nathan is pretty confident and in his old age he really wants to command respect from just about everyone that he talks to. He has no respect for anyone but himself and he is committed to doing things his way. His personality is ultimately his downfall, but this was a villain that I could get behind.

Daniel’s a pretty good main character. I like the overconfidence and the fact that he treats everything like a game. It’s ultimately a front as he shows on different occasions that he actually has a good grasp on everything so it seems like he just has fun trolling everyone. His superiors clearly see his talent as they chose him…or that’s what he wants to think. They probably just wanted someone who would roll over when they attacked in court. Daniel’s only downfall is the fact that he panics a lot. When he panics, Daniel gets drunk and then he’ll start running around and yelling. This happens to a lot of main characters to be honest, they’ll just panic and then try to get sober in time for the climax. It may have been discouraging as the case had a lot of set backs, but getting drunk won’t help.

JoAnne’s a good heroine and she certainly does a good job of digging up a lot of info on her own. Without her prodding, the heroes would have definitely lost the case as she is the one who started to make Nathan look suspicious and Daniel would have given up several times if not for her. JoAnne is strong willed and you always need that in a lawyer. I’m also glad that the film avoided the predictable romance between her and Daniel. They ultimately stay in the friend zone and that’s the realistic way to handle this. Getting together after a few days of working on a case would have been dicey.

Daniel’s rival was a pretty interesting antagonist and he was actually reasonable, which is something that usually doesn’t happen. They were fighting as part of the case, but off the record they were still pals and even went out for drinks. They would feed each other info and the banter was always good. Meanwhile, the hardened secret agent was a bit of a let down. He talked tough and he got a lot of hype as well, but when the going got tough he decided to get out of there. By “there” I mean life and it was a rather anticlimactic way to go. There was really no point to doing any of that and it just made the guy look weak.

Of course, the main reason why this film was a lot of fun was the court room scenes. I always enjoy those and a good part of the film took place in court once the action started. The Judge kept them all honest as he overruled some of the objections. He also wouldn’t stand for any insults and not even Nathan could get away with any rudeness here. The court scenes were where you could really see what the characters were made of. Who had the skills and who simply did not. Daniel snatching away the rule book and bringing up the lunch room question was certainly one of the highlight moments in the court. He certainly did a great job debating even if the evidence was stacked against him from the start.

Overall, A Few Good Men is a solid film. There really isn’t much negative to say about it. The ending was satisfying since Dawson and Downey didn’t get a super happy ending. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just as guilty as anyone else. The characters were all pretty charismatic and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Nathan at the base. A few more scenes over there would have definitely been a blast. If you want a solid strategic film with good dialogue throughout, this is the film for you. You know that Nathan is lying from the start so you just have to wonder how the heroes can prove it. To an extent, the ending involves plot hax since there is no other way that the heroes could have made it, but it’s still pretty fun and the debate doesn’t use any hax until the very end so the rest is all very legit. We need more good court room films.

Overall 8/10