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.
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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

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The Lego Batman Movie Review

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It’s time to review the recent Lego Batman film that was in theaters a while back. This movie got a lot of hype as one person even told me that it was the greatest comic book movie of all time. Of course, that person didn’t enjoy Man of Steel or Batman V Superman so some credibility may have been lost there. It’s a fun film and has fun going over the top with the Lego visuals. Despite the epic action scenes, some of the jokes don’t work as well as the normal shorts as they are reused and stretched a bit much. It’s a fun film, but one with the typical flaws of turning what could have been a 30 minute Lego short into a full length film.

The film starts off with a pretty intense action scene as Batman reminds the world why he is the top crime fighter around. Joker has amassed an army of villains who obey his every order and he wants them to shut down Gotham City. Batman manages to defeat all of them rather effortlessly but also hurts Joker’s feelings when he admits that Superman is actually his greatest enemy. Joker decides to retaliate by destroying the city and hires some pretty notable figures like King Kong and Sauron to help him. Batman may need some help from Barbara and Robin if he’s going to survive this, but will he ask for help?

I was glad that Batman pointed out all of the tropes that companies use when starting movies. The ominous music and long logos always do seem to be a staple and starting the film out in all black is probably one of the more annoying ones. It shows that the film is trying to win an Oscar instead of trying to make a movie. Batman points all of this out and then gets to work on wrecking everyone. As always, his voice is perfect for the character. He gets Batman’s serious nature across and delivers his lines without sounding like he’s going to laugh.

Batman has looked great in the Lego films and for the most part this one is no exception. He’s as overconfident as ever and is even more of a loner in the Lego films than he is in the main ones. It’s the Batman that we wanted and the one that we deserve. He conquers overwhelming odds and doesn’t learn the teamwork moral until the final 15 minutes so he lasted quite a while. Yeah, Batman was basically on point. The only trouble here was his rapping gig on the side. That just felt a little out of character and was a new twist that I couldn’t get behind. Seriously…lets not bring the singing in. That just doesn’t feel right if you ask me. The songs are bad on purpose…but it doesn’t work.

Keep in mind that I’m just talking about Batman singing. The film had a lot of retro songs that worked fairly well. Remember Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up Never Gonna Let You Down” song? That one makes a cameo and it was brilliant. Batman chose another song instead though. Ironically I couldn’t actually hear the one he chose though because the sound effects were way louder than the movie. I can only imagine how hard it would be to hear the music in the theater with the sound effects bashing away at the walls. I’m pretty cool with that though as they brought the Adam West visual effects back at long last. That was pretty sweet.

The Lego graphics are also on point. It’s still Lego so it falls short of the average animated movie, but I feel like they brought the style to the height of what it can do. The cool Crisis City vibes I was getting from the climax made it that much more intense. The opening action scene was also really fast paced and visually interesting. At times it felt like the film was on 2x speed with how quickly everything was happening. That’s a good thing though as it made Batman’s skills appear to be even more extreme and hype.

Lets talk about some of the aspects where the film didn’t fare as well. It all starts with the Joker. His whole plot about wanting to be Batman’s greatest enemy starts off as annoying and very quickly turns cringe worthy. It ends up overriding his entire character as every single scene with him on screen is about that. The film goes way too far with its obvious parallels here and Batman is ultimately forced to admit that Joker has earned the title. Even if it could have possibly been funny for some, the joke drags on for way too long. It just keeps coming back over and over again well past the point where you just want it to go away. It really hurt the film in my opinion and was the biggest detriment to it in the end. The film should have just kept on focusing on the absurd parts of the film like the opening with the bombs over the city. That’s the film’s forte and it needed to remember that.

I can’t say that Robin was very likable either. He goes from being a big Batman fan who is fairly timid to just rummaging through Batman’s stuff without permission and messing with the guy. Where was the respect? He just ends up getting in the way a lot of the time and while I was glad that it gave us an excuse to hear Batman’s useful life lessons, Robin could have been a better character. Most of the humor with his character didn’t work well either. You know what the problem is? Batman’s the only character here who understands humor. I’d wager that over 90% of the jokes that worked in this film are the ones that Batman used. That’s just a guess off the top of my head, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the cast.

At least Batgirl was pretty good. Once she takes over as Commissioner she begins to take names. She did a good job ob taking down all of Batman’s most dangerous enemies without breaking a sweat. She may have taken all of Batman’s insults and attempts to get her out of the action a little too personally, but at least she could fight. From all of the supporting characters, she was easily the best. Alfred wasn’t bad either, but he spent more time trying to shut Batman down and get in his way than actually helping. Also, am I the only one who thinks that the group was way too ungrateful to Batman after he saved their lived from the Hollywood villains? He could have just not done that and they’d all be broken like the cops that he smashed at the prison.

The Justice League makes a nice little cameo. It’s fun to see them all around and while it may have been a little mean of Superman not to invite Batman to the party…Batman did say that they were worst enemies. I suppose Superman is just trying to live up to the title. I was kind of expecting him to show up at the end, but I suppose he wasn’t needed this time. The climax was already really explosive and intense anyway.

When it all boils down to it, I think the film had a stronger opening than ending. As I mentioned earlier, the first part was really on point with Batman taking names and then Bruce Wayne pointing out how awesome Batman was. Grabbing a glass of water just to dramatically spit it out is a classic Batman thing to do. The second half just got a little confused with all of the extra characters and the whole Joker plot when in reality it should have focused on Batman. I think the problem may have been the length. A lot of the DC Lego films are roughly 70 minutes at this point, but this one was closer to 90 I believe. Maybe they just couldn’t fit in all of the extra time. The plot is fairly basic after all so it could have been done a lot quicker.

That being said, the pacing was pretty good. Something is always happening so it’s not really a lack of ideas. It’s just a lack of focus. Maybe they thought people would get bored if Batman got too much screen time and wanted to include everyone. That didn’t work so well as you might expect. I admire the effort though and I am glad that this got to be in the theater. It’s pretty surreal to see Lego Batman actually get mainstream as people saw it in the theater. Not bad…not bad at all.

Overall, This wasn’t a bad film. It had its good moments and while it struggled a bit, the goods outweighed the bad. The Joker plot may have shed the film a star or 2, but Batman’s strong performance keeps the film on the positive side of the spectrum. If we get a sequel I’d like to see Superman get more of a role and the two characters can duke it out. This is a rare time where I’d like the character development to revert as well so Batman is a solo act again. That being said, since his personality didn’t change, they could also just come up with an excuse to have the other characters just be on vacation or something. I’d recommend checking this film out if you haven’t already. Otherwise, you should check out some of the earlier specials as the action is just as good, but you’ll also see a higher level of witty banter between the characters. The wit is what makes or breaks the Lego films after all and DC seems to have a knack for it.

Overall 6/10

Sengoku Basara: The Last Party Review

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It’s time for another Sengoku Basara adventure. This one’s the big movie so I expected a lot of action out of it. Fortunately the movie obliged. This one feels like more of an anniversary kind of film then a serious plot one although I feel it was gunning for the latter. The whole cast comes back and we get a lot of fights, but like always most of them are draws. This way both characters keep the hype. You know the drill. While it has some of the same issues as season 2 with all the cop outs, it still manages to tick off a lot of the right boxes and I’d end up calling it a great film.

It takes place almost immediately after season 2. Mitsunari wants to avenge his master Hideyoshi since the big boss ended up falling against Date. He challenges Date and overpowers him, but the commander retreats. This leads to a long time skip although we never know how long. Yukimura has now become leader of his clan after his boss “retired.” I put the quotations as it is vague on whether or not Yukimura murdered him or he just completely retired and gave up fighting. I like to hope that it’s the latter since the former is just so random and crazy. You see their sparring session and it does get a little intense, but I do like to think that this wouldn’t happen. On the other hand, it is realistic in a sense as I think this should happen quite frequently with training in comics and anime since it is usually portrayed as being rather lethal. Yukimura gets a letter from Tokugawa along with all of the other commanders. He tells them to join him at the Hotpot celebration so he can give them one last chance to unite peacefully or he’ll take them down hard. The whole cast heads down there and the big party begins!

Right off the bat lets get the usual aspects out of the way. The animation is really solid. All of the characters are solid and various attacks are flashy and colorful as you’d expect. We get a lot of nice visuals with the destruction scenes and Yukimura’s coat looks really good. It was still nostalgic to see him classic one come out during his fight with Date of course, but I can get behind the new look. It reminds me a lot of Naruto’s Sage Mode. The soundtrack is also excellent. We get to hear the classic Devil King theme along with Hideyoshi’s iconic theme. The two of them in one movie is a surefire method of success if you ask me. The rest of the tunes are solid as well and I’d like to give a shout out to the end credit theme. It’s pretty fun and inspiring. A nice upbeat song that would fit well at a party.

The writing and pacing for the film is pretty good. Something is always happening. The film also started off with a nice action scene as Mitsunari attacks Date. If you ask me, a film should always start with a big action scene. It sets the tone and even Pokemon realized that in its original films. We do get some portions of the film without action of course, but the plot is always engaging. You’re always ready for what’s going to happen next. One thing that can worry you is how the villains keep talking about the real party that’s going to start even when there is only around 30 minutes left. You know that this is hyping up something, but will there be enough time to execute it? Final Fantasy Advent Children did something similar with Sephiroth, but while the film was close to being over by then, the fight was incredibly satisfying with a solid outcome. This film’s climax is not quite up to that level.

Okay, lets back it up a bit. One unfortunate part of this film is that more dead characters come back. Remember how Yukimura beat Mori in season 2? Well, he escaped somehow. The Orochimaru look alike from season 1 has also returned. From these hints you may have figured it out by now, but a certain iconic villain returns as well. As Resurrection F showed, it’s always fun to have the most popular villain come back. It is pretty epic to a certain degree. That being said, it feels like this guy was mostly just thrown in here for the shock value. While he fires off a lot of cool explosions and kicks around the supporting characters, we don’t get to see him fight much. His durability is great as he takes everyone’s final smashes and keeps on grinning, but I would have liked a nice fight scene. Something like the fight where Aizen took on all of the Captains. That would have been awesome and I know this movie has the animation to pull it off. It was still a really cool appearance though and this character is my favorite villain, but I would have liked some more screen time. I wasn’t too thrilled with how his plot ended.

Nohime’s plot finally wrapped up as she started getting shadow abilities in the first two seasons. Her abilities are definitely pretty overpowered in this universe as a single hit from her shadow hands results in death. I did like her character development for the most part and at least she finally decided to stop running away when things got difficult. As for the Orochimaru guy….fine, I’ll use his name. Mitsuhide was a little disappointing here. He had a good plan at first and was pretty serious, but then went out in a rather comic relief fashion. He didn’t even put up a fight and was just thrown away. It was a rather odd and sudden way to go. I was hoping Yukimura could have taken him down since he was arguably losing their first round in season 1. This would have been a fun rematch.

The power levels are still a little out of whack here as Mitsunari is able to give Date a good fight as well as just about everyone else. The series needs to stop with the whole “Everyone is tied” nonsense since it’s just not accurate. Characters need to lost their hype. Ah well, it was cool that we finally got to see Date and Yukimura have another fight. The timing was a little odd as Date just cracked and decided that they should fight, but the absurdness of it all is part of what made the fight epic. Ignoring the ending, it was probably one of the best parts of the whole film. It shows that no matter how much time flies by, these two characters ultimately won’t change much. They’re always up for a good fight and especially if it’s against each other. It also brought Yukimura back to the happy fun loving guy that he used to be. He’s back to being in his prime and that was quite the treat to see. Once again his role wasn’t huge and Date had a bigger focus, but it was a vast improvement over the last time.

While Yukimura took the lead again, Date was a great main character as expected. The fact that he was able to put up a good bluff even while losing shows how tough the guy is. I’m not sure I can buy into him losing the fight, but it’s always good to have a villain who is a serious threat. He redeemed himself in the rematch at any rate and Date is definitely a charismatic guy. It was his idea to finish the fight with Yukimura at last so I have to give him a lot of credit for that. Keiji also steps in to have some fun, but unfortunately it is another scene that doesn’t really make sense in context. How is this guy going to possibly stop a strike from these two warriors and remain standing? It’s a little too much hype is all I’m saying.

A bunch of the old supporting characters also come for some posturing and tough talk. Mori and the pirate show up to fight once again, but as always it is dead even between them. The Warrior god of Echigo (Probably how you spell that) appeared very briefly in the beginning as he finally lost to Yukimura’s leader. At least that fight I could respect since it had an actual winner. It’s lightly hinted that the guy died which is rather dark, but I suppose they all have to die at some point right? The show may disagree though. I like to think that he was spared and that Yukimura’s leader just retired, but both thoughts may be rather optimistic.

For the new factions, lets start with Tokugawa. He wants peace and doesn’t use a weapon anymore, but it is hard to take him seriously with that mission. He is right as the wars never stop and everyone is still fighting each other, but such a plan cannot exist as long as any villains remain. Mori still wants to rule and now they also have to worry about Mitsunari. It is nice to have a character who fights with his fists as opposed to with a blade though. While Tokugawa’s mission appears to be futile, it is still a noble one. He is a reasonable character I guess and while he doesn’t bring much to the table, I think he can end up being a good character if used right.

Mitsunari is a whole lot more impressive though. He has some of the best action scenes in the film and his motivation to destroy Date is straight forward and one that I can get behind. Avenging his master makes sense and he isn’t using trickery or anything like that. He just went straight at Date. He did become a complete villain by the end though as he attacked villagers to lure Date out, but that’s mainly because Date was evading battle. Doesn’t change the fact that Mitsunari is evil of course. He’s probably the best villain here. I won’t count the final boss since he doesn’t appear until the very end but if he did then the guy steals the show no questions asked.

There was also a magician who was a little odd. He speaks in riddles a lot of the time and while he hinted that he was going to betray Mitsunari…he decided not to in the end. It was an interesting choice and I guess their bond was too strong to be broken like that, but the guy’s character development never actually went anywhere. I think the film could have definitely done more with him although since he isn’t a close combat fighter I don’t really mind him getting the shaft. A mage fight scene likely wouldn’t be all that interesting.

I may not have gotten to see all the fights that I wanted, but at least I was glued to the screen. The franchise’s hype is its greatest strength as well as its weakness. The former always has the greatest impact even if the latter is present. Seeing the old moments from the show during the prologue just helps you to remember that even further. While there was no time for planning things out like in the shows, the character interactions were still a lot of fun. If we ever did get another full length film like this one, I feel it should be made a little longer so we can really keep those scenes in. One thing I liked a lot in season 2 was the planning and counter planning that each group engaged in. It was pretty fun to follow.

Overall, This was a really fun movie. It still had some issues with not making up its mind for big fights and could be rushed at times, but had enough going for it to be considered a great movie. These issues aren’t as big for a movie as with a show since it’s shorter. Whether the action makes sense or not, it’s still action. As long as the characters are likable and I’m entertained the whole time, then it’s a full success. I can imagine that this would have really been a blast to have seen in theaters. I highly recommend checking this film out. It’s a very enthusiastic movie with all of the characters constantly talking about battle and it’s a movie where you can cheer along as there are many hype moments. I look forward to seeing how season 3 fares and if it can really match the movie.

Overall 8/10

Charlotte’s Web Review


It’s time for a classic film which touched upon some pretty tricky themes like death and how we all grow up. The film is rather somber and the first time I saw it I apparently gave the film a score of 2/10. Watching it again, the film is better than I remembered it to be. Sure, the film probably would have gotten a 2 if Fern had not stopped her father in time. Luckily, she saved Wilbur as well as the film in one shot. That was definitely pretty impressive of her. I suspect you must have heard of this film over the years, but if not, here’s the story.

Wilbur is a small pig and as such, he has a hard time getting any food during the day. His owner decides that they should eat Wilbur as soon as possible since it has been a while since he had any meat. Fortunately, his daughter Fern saves him. Wilbur then meets a spider named Charlotte who decides to help ensure Wilbur’s permanent safety. She uses her web skills to write words down and gives Wilbur all the credit. This saves Wilbur from imminent destruction and allows him to have time to grow naturally. Now Wilbur is a hero, but Charlotte starts to get sick. Will she live long enough to see him get the glory?

I don’t think spoilers really exist for this film since it’s such a classic, but I’ll give you time to leave. I did mention the whole death theme and all..but pretend you didn’t hear that. All right, well the tragic part of the story is that Charlotte dies. It’s a shame since she was probably the best character here by a landslide. Not saying the other characters weren’t good of course, but she stole the show. She definitely saved Wilbur’s bacon with her web tricks and was pivotal in the film. She also doesn’t put up with any wisecracks and nearly murders the rat, Templeton.

Templeton is a fairly likable character as well. His personality is the polar opposite though as he’s not a very nice guy and only helps out when there is something in it for him. He’s not sympathetic to anyone’s cause and just looks for his next meal. He’s a pragmatic guy I suppose, but also a downer. He’s more charismatic than Wilbur though. Despite being the main character, it’s hard to like the Pig. He actually faints from shock on more than once occasion. I’ll admit that I actually forgot that part so it was intriguing to see first hand. Wilbur doesn’t take any of his trials well and just keeps on fainting and taking more losses. He also does make a lot of noise for his animal neighbors so I can see why they were getting upset as well. He’d cry all night long and run around like crazy during the day. Certainly a realistic neighbor I’d say.

Fern is the only human character to actually get a role and she doesn’t appear much after the opening act. It was cool that she let Wilbur live in the house for a while, but a shame that he was kicked out before long. Trust me, the other human characters were absolutely terrible the whole time. It’s just impossible to like them and they seem to get worse and worse with every scene. Fortunately, the reporters weren’t as nosy as usual and nobody tried to stay at the farm after hours. They would have learned the deadly secret of Charlotte’s above average intellect. Having a short life while living on the farm is probably a good thing.

The animation is pretty good and probably a little nostalgic as well. You can tell that the animation is a little old of course, but it holds up well. Perhaps not quite as well as the Snow White film despite that one being older, but it hits enough of the right notes. I have no real complaints with the animation except possibly for the various liquids. The water and such just don’t look right for some reason, but I couldn’t quite identify why. It’s a super minor thing though.

I’m typically not a big fan of films taking place on farms. I prefer city landscapes on principle and I also just get wary when animals are all around. It just doesn’t bode well for a movie most of the time. This film did a good job of dodging that issue so that was a good thing. It’s an enjoyable ride and is probably did one of the best jobs of showcasing death for an animal without getting gritty or unnecessary. Naturally I would have preferred if Charlotte had lived, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Overall, Charlotte’s Web is a good film. It might not be the most fun one out there because of all the somber scenes throughout, but it’s definitely not bad. There’s a good amount of replay value here, especially considering that I’ve seen it quite a few times. The writing is good as well and I always have to take a double look at the pancakes during the beginning of the film. They look mighty crispy and I could use a few myself right now. It’s been even longer since I saw the sequel so I can’t really comment on how that one holds up, but this is a film that you shouldn’t miss.

Overall 7/10

The Ten Commandments

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I don’t watch 3 hour+ films often, but when I do I usually watch quality ones. The Ten Commandments is a legendary film and the poster is quite iconic at this point. The Bible is huge and as a result, most of it has not yet been adapted to the big screen. This film did a great job of essentially adapting the full story of Moses and adding in as many details as it can. Throwing in extra backstory is always a tricky process since you want to be careful not to deviate from what happened, but the film does a good job of it. It certainly is very long, but it’s an informative movie and a must watch for all viewers.

In case you aren’t familiar with this part of the Bible, here’s the situation. The Pharaoh decreed that all male Hebrew babies were to be slaughtered in an effort to prevent the deliverer from arising and freeing them from slavery. Fortunately for Moses, his mother sent him away in a basket to the Egyptians where he was raised up as a prince. Nobody knew about his true origin and he slowly grew to power. However, before he could become King, Moses found out the truth and decided he’d rather live as a slave with his people then rule under a false pretense. As a result, he lost everything and nearly died, but God was not finished with him. Moses was going to be the deliverer of the Hebrews after all.

Since the film is so long, it’s able to give a lot of time to each act. The first act is naturally about Moses growing up and then learning the truth. On one hand, you may think Moses could have helped the Hebrews right away if he had become King and then done away with slavery. On the other hand, living with the deception may not feel just. It’s one of those tough calls where it’s hard to know what you’d do. You have to have a lot of will power to trade fame, power, and a comfortable lifestyle over being a slave to do the right thing. Moses also lose his future wife and made an enemy out of everyone in power. It was certainly not an easy choice to make.

The second act covers when Moses returns to Egypt and God delivers many plagues as the Pharaoh continues to deny his people freedom. Once the final plague occurs and his son is killed, the Moses is finally able to lead his people out. Even then the Pharaoh decided to try one last attempt to slay them, which leads to the famous moment of the river parting and all of the soldiers being annihilated. The scene was handled very well and the film spared no expense on the effects. It would certainly be pretty amazing to see such a sight in person.

Finally, the last segment is about Moses obtaining the Ten Commandments from God. While he is on the mountain the Hebrews begin to worship fallen idols and regress almost entirely to how the Egyptians acted. Moses breaks the Commandments and has to get them a second time as a result. The film ends on a rather sad note though as Moses is not allowed to go on to the Promised Land because of how he hit the rock for water when he wasn’t supposed too. The scene is not in the movie though so if you only know this story through the film you may not understand why he wasn’t allowed inside. The film doesn’t really explain it and part of why the scene is so tragic is because it was such a small mistake. I think scholars have theorized that he struck the rock to show off his own power and had developed hubris over the years or something. There are quite a few theories out there, but sometimes there is no deep reason. Perhaps he just had a bad day and his patience was thin which led to him striking the rock. Whatever the reason, while the ending was tragic, Moses accomplished great things. Through God, Moses saved thousands of lives and brought everyone out of slavery.

The Ten Commandments is certainly an uplifting movie. It’s great to see the story of Moses in movie format and also great to see how well known and legendary it became. It goes to show that if the quality of the story is good then you can certainly have a film over 3 hours. The intermission was appreciated as well since it gave me time to grab a snack and then continue on. The visuals and soundtrack were on point throughout as well.

Overall, The Ten Commandments is a movie that you do not want to miss out on. It’s not everyday that we get a Christian film which gets this mainstream and is handled well. If I had anything I’d change with the film, I’d reduce a large part of the first section where we get a subplot of the carpenter and the servant who can’t be together because of a rich slave owner. That plot was extremely dark and I don’t see how it really contributed. Beyond that, the rest of the adaption was completely on point. While the film can be dark and somewhat brutal at times, it’s still something that you really should see. I avoid sad/tragic tales myself, but since this is real life and stuff that you can’t avoid, it’s worth checking out. The Bible can be rather violent as well, but it’s still something that you’ve got to read at some point. You can appreciate the sacrifices that our predecessors made even more when you understand their tribulations. As the saying goes, Light is always brightest after the darkness. Don’t think that the film is constantly dark either though, there’s a good balance throughout.

Tombstone

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It’s time for another historical film based on true events. This one deals with the good ole Wild West and has some famous shoot outs like the one at O.K. Corral. There’s quite a bit of action in this film since it’s fairly long with a large cast to boot. I’ll be covering another Wild West film that’s even longer with a bigger cast, but this one is a solid step ahead. It definitely has more hype for each of the battles since they’re set up well.

The main part of the plot takes place in Tombstone. A group of outlaws known as Cowboys have been terrorizing the place. They murder and steal all the time without fear of retribution because they outnumber the cops and are pretty quick on the trigger. The situation changes when a retired cop named Wyatt enters town along with his pal Doc Holliday. Now that the sides are more even, the new sheriff, Virgil decides that it’s time to take the Cowboys down once and for all. The two sides have a big fight with the cops emerging victorious. The criminals aren’t done yet though and decide to go for low blows by targeting their wives and innocent bystanders all around. Wyatt has had enough by this point and after sending the injured away, decides to destroy all of the Cowboys.

The climax has a lot of action as a result as there were many Cowboys. I didn’t realize quite how many until this sequence as the massacre took a while and the heroes had to go to many different areas. Wyatt is pretty skilled and good at dodging enemy fire, but he was still a little outmatched against the main bandit. Fortunately for him, Doc Holliday managed to get to the villain first and won in their big gunfight. Wyatt wouldn’t have lived through the experience without his friend and Doc Holliday did steal the show on quite a few occasions.

He was always eager for a fight and had the skills to back it up. He was the only figure that the villains were openly afraid of and they all ducked their fights with him throughout the movie. They never had a problem facing off with Wyatt and the others, but when Holliday would show up they’d make some excuses and get out of there. He felt like a good anime character in that respect as you rarely see characters so confident and battle hungry in films. It was a nice change of pace. The rest of the heroes were pretty good as well though. Wyatt stuck up for justice as well and could hold his own in a fight. Virgil helped spur the heroes on as well in the initial battles. While he may have lost by the end, he lasted a while.

The film was good at switching up the tempo as well. The rainstorm near the end where the characters were trapped in the tavern and being picked off one by one was pretty atmospheric. It was easy to forget that the characters were even in the desert at that point as it just felt like a completely different movie. One of the positives of being a long film is that you can dramatically change the tone and have enough content on both sides where the adventure feels even longer. The villains definitely had a powerful counter attack at this point.

While the film was pretty happy for most of it, it also got pretty dark during other moments. The scene where they have to operate on one of the characters was pretty violent as well. This definitely was the wild west as the heroes couldn’t rely on anyone else for help. They had to do everything by themselves and had no protection from the enemy as a result. It was pretty tense throughout with everyone being in trouble. The film has a happy ending, but it was difficult to get there.

The writing for this film is pretty solid as there are quite a lot of memorable lines. You’ll remember them well even after the film is over. Writing can certainly help to make a difference in a film like this. The villains are all rather unlikable, in particular the one who is always drunk. The writing does a good job of keeping him as a threat though without making him silly or incompetent. You want the villains to at least be a reasonable threat the whole time. It was also nice to see some of them defect and join the heroes as well so they weren’t all soulless yes men who eagerly went down the dark path.

On a side note, the bar tenders must have had nerves of steel back in these days. It seems like fights always break out over there and everyone had guns back in those days. I really would not have wanted that job since it seems so dangerous. I’m sure a lot of bandits and outlaws would not pay their tab and it was probably hard to enforce that. I imagine the average lifespan of a bartender was quite short, but then again, it probably was for any occupation. I can’t think of a single safe one in this environment. They were all rather lethal.

Overall, I’m still not really a fan of westerns in general. It’s not my favorite locale and I just prefer the cleaner city kind of atmosphere where the characters are constantly in air conditioned environments and you can forget that the great outdoors even exists. That being said, Tombstone is probably the best one that you can expect to find. It’ll be hard for a Western to topple it and this one is also educational at the same time as you’ll learn a bit about history in the process. Doc Holliday would certainly be proud of his portrayal in this film if he was still alive since he was given a lot of props and respect throughout. It’s an intense film and a lot certainly happens. Especially if you do like westerns, you should check this film out ASAP.

Hero

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It’s time for a Chinese film which depicts the assassination attempt on Qin’s King from way back when. I definitely don’t know much about this time period so it’s pretty neat to learn more about it. We also get a lot of fight scenes along the way and it’s pretty stylized which is fun. I also haven’t watched a lot of subbed live action films either so that was certainly different. It’s a pretty fun film and the movie did a good job of making each character feel like a threat.

The film starts off with our nameless protagonist being ushered into the throne room of the King. He never gets a name which should remind you of the classic video game protagonists. The King asks him how the cop ended up defeating the world’s 3 greatest assassins who has even conquered the army and eluded all attempts to defeat them. This leads to the protagonist giving 3 stories where he explains how he foiled each one. The first story has him go up against Long Sky. Long Sky’s gimmick is that he’s the world’s greatest swordsman and simply cannot be defeated. The hero was able to defeat him through pure technique as music played in the background. The King is skeptical, but listens further.

The second story had him go to the final 2 assassins, Flying Snow and Broken Sword. He brought up past romances and controversy to psyche them out so he could defeat them with ease. It was a foolproof strategy apparently and everything went perfectly. The stories were all pretty realistic, but the film has a big plot twist as the King debunks all of the stories and explains that the 3 assassins were actually in cahoots about murdering him. The main character confirms this and then decides not to murder the King because the story has also moved him. The King vows to help unite the country even if he has to be evil to do so. It’s a very mixed message and I wasn’t thrilled about the ending. Of course, it’s not as if there is much the film can do about the ending since it’s based on a true story.

So, I definitely didn’t like the ending. Let me just put that out there. The other assassins let the main character murder them so he could get close to the King through their convoluted plan and it was successful. They gave their lives so the country could be saved by the dictator and then the guy decided not to go through with it. It’s rather tragic if you ask me. That wasn’t satisfying.

On the positives side, the fight scenes were pretty good. Maybe there were too many moments of the characters just flying around and ignoring physics as I preferred the actual swordplay more. The first fight is the best example of how grounded swordsmanship is the best. At least in this movie it was the most engaging. Still, the aerial fights will remind you of Naruto as the characters fly with each jump and still manage to fight. The battle of heroines was interesting with this even if the fight was very lopsided. In general, the film just had a lot of action and that was fun to see.

The romance wasn’t handled quite as well. Of course, this was fake in the end as it was part of the fake story, but it was still pretty rough on the characters. Rebounding just to make others jealous is always a rather petty strategy and didn’t make any of the characters look good. Since it’s fake though, it won’t count against them. The cast was actually pretty solid with all of the characters being rather likable. Even the King was pretty solid as he was apparently quite intelligent since he saw through the plan. It’s good to see a king who is competent for once, even if he noticed a little too late to save himself. That’s how it goes sometimes.

The film had fun with the visuals and they were handled well. There were subtle changes in the attire for the characters based on who was telling the story and where they were. The film took advantage of the cherry blossoms at different moments to have the characters blend in with them. Sometimes everything would be the same color which was interesting. It was nice to see and you can tell that it was important to the film to get all of the colors on point. There wasn’t much of a soundtrack to go alongside it at least for me, but I’m sure they also put effort into that part. The visuals were just more impressive since I’m not really into soft music.

Overall, Hero was a good film. I don’t know how accurate it was to the real life events. I suspect it was a little exaggerated, but I could certainly see the general plot running pretty close to it. Maybe the characters didn’t dodge thousands of arrows with ease or block them all with 1 sword, but I could see 3 assassins deciding to die on purpose so that a cop could get inside and take out the King. Whether the assassin decided to fail on purpose or he was foiled is another story entirely. Still, I’d recommend checking this film out. It maybe takes itself a little too seriously at times like when the characters live the whole battle in their heads before fighting or listen to the music first to get in the mood, but the exaggeration may be the point. It’s a pretty good way to learn about the past without going to a complete documentary. Don’t get me wrong, Documentaries can actually be quite interesting and engaging, but watching a film version can typically be even more so. It depends on your preference I suppose and there can be bad movie adaptions and bad documentaries. It’s a case by case basis.

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

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Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time for the sequel to the original Guardians to see if it can live up to the reputation of the first one. Unfortunately, it definitely could not. The film’s own premise hurts it quite a lot as the main characters succeed at all being very unlikable jerks for the most part. That seems to be the point so to the film…You’re welcome! Unfortunately, this just isn’t an angle that they should have pursued. Still, thanks to a key scene and some nice action scenes along the way, the film was able to avoid an unfortunate fate.

Peter and the Guardians start the film out by getting into trouble as per usual. They decide to steal from their employers and are quickly found out. Fortunately, they have the help of Star Lord’s Dad who destroys most of the attacking ships and helps the heroes escape. He wants Peter to come to his planet to hang out so Gamora and Drax go along with him. Rocket and Groot stay behind to watch Nebula, the villain that the heroes picked up so they could get the bounty on her head. Unfortunately, they have a run in with Yondu. Meanwhile, Peter’s Dad may not be what he seems!

This is a pretty big movie so there’s certainly a lot to talk about. Lets start with the worst character in the film, Groot. I don’t know how this guy got to be such a fan favorite character. He was bad in the first film and he’s extraordinarily terrible in this film. He’s nothing but a big bully and he gives the film an extremely rocky start from which I don’t think it ever truly recovered. It can’t really be totally blamed on the opening since the film never really tried to get away from this, but it was a sign of things to come. Groot picks on a pair of creatures for no reason and then tries to eat a poor butterfly. It’s supposed to be a funny scene which shows just how twisted the humor is nowadays.

Now, Groot’s appeal is supposed to be that he’s cute because of how dumb and mean he is. Groot only cares about himself and never moves an inch to help his friends. Any scene with him is incredibly hard to sit through. One scene in particular which drags on a lot has him try to find something during a prison escape scene. He keeps on bringing the wrong things including a severed toe which was just gross and completely unnecessary. We get it, Groot is brainless. We knew that during the first film…why did the film have to shove it in our face the whole time? Groot was just terrible and I agree with critics that he was a scene stealer…just in the absolute worst possible way.

Next is Drax…who somehow found a way to be even worse and more unlikable than in the first film. One running gag as per usual is that he takes everything literally. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also grown even more grotesque and barbaric with his mannerisms. He talks about how his people are proud of talking about rather vile stuff and calls Mantis ugly multiple times. It’s fortunate that she is extremely naive so the insults went over her head. He’s just a very mean person which is why he fits in with the gang quite well. It’s just a shame that he’s such a terrible character. When you have Drax and Groot on the same team…you know that something’s wrong.

Next up is Rocket. Finally, we’ve got a step up from the other two. He’s the same Rocket that you’ll remember from the first film only he’s a lot meaner. Gee…what a surprise Rocket gets the gang into a lot of trouble but the team wouldn’t last long without his gadgets anyway so I suppose it’s a fair tradeoff. He’s surprisingly not very smart at times as Rocket can’t pick up on sarcasm or recognize insults when he hears them. I feel like he’s less intelligent than he was in the first film. Still, that’s fine since he still has his personality fully in tact. Rocket knows how to use his guns and does a good job of annoying Peter. We fortunately don’t dive too far into his origin story either as I got worried for a minute when Yondu started talking. Crisis averted. The winking subplot probably has Rocket’s best moments.

Gamora is my favorite character in this film. She’s still the only member who really knows what she’s doing. Gamora is actually trying to make the world a better place and she also knows all of the members well enough to know when something is wrong. She gives Peter a pep talk, helps Groot most of the time even when he doesn’t deserve it and she comes close to figuring out the sinister planet’s secret. She also does a good job of handling the situation with Nebula. It was a little hard to take Nebula seriously the whole time as a villain since she wasn’t very powerful but the film helps to fix that as well.

Finally, there’s Peter. After watching the TV show for so long, it took a little bit to get used to this version of the character again. At least he is trying to get away from his old flirting tendencies. If he can keep this up, this will really help him as a character. Peter is certainly a much better character than he used to be now that he is just focusing on one person. He does get a little unsympathetic though when he is tricked so easily. Thinking that Gamora is just jealous was pretty silly and I don’t think he was being mentally influenced at the time so it was all him. His reaction after learning a certain plot twist was also on point as well. Instantly blasting away and hitting all of the vitals was the optimal response. No questions like “But why!”, stuttering, going into shock, or any of the other terrible responses. Peter should never have been sucked in so easily prior to this, but at least he rectified the mistake.

There were also a few supporting characters. Yondu gets a fairly large role along with a lot of character development. I’m still not a fan of the character, but I do like his arrow. It’s certainly a potent weapon. Similar to Quicksilver getting a larger version of his scene in Apocalypse compared to Days of Future Past, Yondu gets a larger scale scene to use his arrow in this time. It’s a very good trick and if he was going all out he could likely do well against the cinematic Avengers. I highly doubt it would have an effect on the Hulk and Thor/Vision would be able to endure it as well. The others would be in a pickle and I’d include Iron-Man in that since his suit hasn’t been the most durable as of late. Now, why wasn’t Yondu the character convincing for me? Well, he did just kind of sit there when all of his men were being executed. He was also taken in pretty easily considering he had the really cool arrow and should have done something the instant a mutiny was starting. Take no chances when you’re the Captain! The transporting kids part didn’t do him any wonders either.

The Sovereign people weren’t bad either. I liked their video games and the idea of a virtual army is like something out of World Trigger. You actually feel bad for them to an extent since they held up their end of the bargain while the Guardians broke theirs. Still, we’re supposed to side with the Guardians since they’re the protagonists. I just couldn’t blame the Sovereign for wanting revenge. They just gotta work on their 3D Galaga skills and they’ll be all right for the re match. Their new secret weapon should help as well.

Nebula has probably improved the most since the first film. Her transition into being more of a rival went pretty smoothly. I think there was a little forced emotion when she was reminding the audience of her backstory since I don’t think Nebula cries easy. The whole film was maybe trying a little too hard in that end, but I guess as long as we get the “almost” death of the main character each time than it’s a good tradeoff. They always come so close, but don’t end up kicking the bucket because someone else is there to save them.

Mantis is an alien being who doesn’t know much about anything. She was raised by Ego in exchange for her assistance in getting him to rest every day. Unfortunately, the Guardians are the ones who help her expand her horizons so the lessons that she learns aren’t the greatest ones. She’s a decent character. Mantis’ character tropes aren’t really my style but I guess you can say that she did all that she could with them.

Finally, we have Ego. There’s nothing really likable about him and I can definitely say that the character fell flat. He didn’t do anything for me even if he did have cool abilities. The problem is that he’s way too overpowered. You know ahead of time that the heroes will need some plot hax if they want to come out on top. It delivers as it always comes through in the clutch, but they should have made him a little weaker. At least what wasn’t plot hax was the brief Man of Steel homage fight scene. That was pretty neat as you can instantly see where it took notes on the Zod vs Superman battle. If strength correlated with likability than Ego would be at the top, but it’s just not the case. He works well enough as a villain, but don’t expect to root for him.

As far as the soundtrack goes, the tunes are pretty good again. Most of them aren’t all that memorable, but it’s always nice to hear songs from the 80s. They’re just very catchy and it will remind you of the good ole days. The themes stand out and the best part is that you know the film had a soundtrack. There are a bunch of films that you’ll finish and wonder if they actually had any music to begin with. This film just didn’t have that problem.

The visuals are also pretty sharp for this film. Marvel is still a few years behind DC when it comes to the effects, but they’re getting closer. The brief fight with Peter and Ego was a lot of fun and I liked the Mass Effect Ego design. Peter’s element gun looked a little weaker this time as the blasts were quite small, but as long as it’s a blast I’ll take it anyway. You’ll go into the film expecting the graphics to be good since this is a space film and all so it’s good that you will not be disappointed.

One thing that the film definitely did right was its references. It was fun to be reminded of what we all loved about the 80’s. There’s a certain reference/guest star appearance in particular that worked really well. This iconic figure reminded me that I definitely couldn’t give the film a negative score. It had its issues, but the film reminded me that it could be classy. Moreover, you’ll probably gain some respect for the character who uses this guest star. It was a really exciting moment and the only thing that could have made it even better would have been an extended fight scene where Ego fights the Sm4sh version of this icon.

That was an example of humor done right. Unfortunately, as a whole the film did have an issue with the humor. The problem is that Guardians just isn’t a very funny film. Airplane probably had more laughs in 10 minutes than this film had in its whole generation. I blame it partially on the terrible writing, but it’s also because the film really televises all of its jokes ahead of time. For example, when a guy with a scarred face calls the gold villains. You instantly know what the joke will be and how it will be handled. That’s a bit of a problem because it’s not going to be as funny if you see it coming right? That’s how the film handled most of its jokes. It could have learned a thing or two from the Plane film.

One thing that made that film so funny was how sudden the jokes would occur. When the main character was asked if he wants a smoking or no smoking ticket you didn’t expect a good joke, but then they pull out a ticket that has smoke coming out of it. That was an excellently handled joke. Granted, the film had some bad jokes as well, but the ratio was in its favor and the good jokes wee really good. The best joke in Guardians would have trouble breaking even in Airplane. In this case, I don’t even think we can blame it on the characters all that much since they should still be good at humor.

Also, I’m not saying that the humor is terrible or anything like that. The film still did have a few moments here and there and you can definitely tell that it tried. It’s probably just a writing limitation. Unfortunately, the writing is fairly weak. There’s a lot of language throughout and edgy lines that serve no purpose being here. Some of the dialogues between the characters will make you wince or try to tune them out. Rocket threatening to place something vile on Peter’s bed was just sad and Ego talking about how he built his body was unnecessary. It’s little scenes like that coupled with everything else that begin to add up through the long haul.

Despite all of this, you should be satisfied with the action and explosions here. The film gives you everything you could want in a summer blockbuster. There’s a lot of banter and excitement around most corners. There are points in the film where not much happens, but I still wouldn’t really call these parts boring as the setting and characters are interesting enough. There are two kinds of films. Those that are fun to watch regardless of their quality and those that are not. I can safely say that this one is still enjoyable enough where you can try to overlook the negatives until the film ends. Your opinion of it will then start to deteriorate, but that’s an after effect. I’d also see this any day of the week over many other films.

One thing I’ll hope for in the third film is a longer fight. We had a brief fight with Peter and Quill, but that was the only real fight in the movie. The rest of the action scenes were just general action scenes against giant monsters or massacre fight scenes with the heroes wrecking a lot of flunkies. I’m hoping for more actual fights since the first film had quite a few of those. The Nebula vs Gamora fights here would be a highlight in that regard although again…they were pretty short. I always place fights above action scenes, but naturally having both of them is always a good thing.

There are quite a few post credit scenes 80’s style. They’re filmed like bloopers in a sense, but take place after the film. Some are important and others aren’t. One of them teases a new character who may show up in the 3rd film. Honestly, I wish he had shown up here since a fight with Ego probably would have been a lot of fun. Also, this guy is a personal favorite of mine so I have no doubt that he would have elevated the film. Another scene showed a group of classic characters. I can’t say that I’m super hyped for the group, but I did think that the rocky actor stole the show so it’d be pretty fun to see him return. A certain teenager who appears in one of the scenes is someone that I hope to never see show up. Luckily this wish will likely be granted. It was fun to see various cameos during the film as well. Referencing the rest of the Marvel cosmic mythos is always a good idea. Sadly Thanos didn’t show up this time, but Infinity War is finally getting closer so that’s good.

Overall, Volume 2 had quite a lot of problems. It started out really rough, had a bumpy ride during the middle, and then had a reasonably good climax. It’s still a fairly engaging film, but it tries way too hard to be funny. It’s an unsuccessful attempt. The characters are unlikable which takes you out of the film at times especially in Groot’s case. This is one of those films that I wouldn’t want to watch again at least not for a very, very long while, but for a one time viewing it wasn’t bad. At the very least you can’t say that the film isn’t engaging. There’s a good amount of action and excitement all around with witty dialogue in between all of the “witty” dialogue. I’d make a parallel to films like Suicide Squad, Lucy, Batman vs Robin, and other such films. They’re pretty entertaining while you watch them, but afterwards you still can’t give them a positive It’ll be fun to see the team show up in Infinity War, but beyond that, the Guardians don’t need another film. That or we just need a fresh new take on the Guardians. Get some new writers and we’ll see what they can do. In the meantime, I’m cautiously optimistic about Thor: Ragnarok (Gladiator scenarios don’t have the greatest track record and I can totally imagine some animal violence there, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt) and Spider-Man. (Worst Peter Parker…ever!) With the summer just starting, we’ll see how the rest of the films stack up. King Kong and Guardians may not have led it off to the strongest of starts, but the year is young.

Overall 5/10

Under The Shadow Review

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It’s time for an indie horror film. Now, that can sound like a very dangerous combo. I haven’t had great luck with indie films as of late nor have I had luck with the recent horror films. If you want to be more accurate, you could also just say that I haven’t had any luck with either genre at all. Whether past or present, they typically don’t work out all that well. Still, maybe they would cancel each other out and the movie would be a success. This horror film actually is better than the vast majority of them. It’s not a film that you’d want to re watch, but it was better than expected. For a horror film, it was actually pretty decent.

This is one of the few films that I’ve seen subbed aside from anime movies so that was pretty neat. Well, the film starts off with Shideh and Iraj. They live in a war torn country where bombs are dropped every once in a while and everyone is pretty much doomed. Your only two options are to stay and try your luck or move to America where things are going well. Everyone leaves for New York, but Shideh doesn’t want to leave her home. Iraj tries to convince her, but then he’s called to serve in the war. Shideh decides that staying in the home with their daughter Dorsa will still be doable, but then they begin to be haunted by the Djinn. These powerful genie want to take Dorsa away. They seem to prefer not to get their hands dirty so they rarely launch any actual attacks, but the threat remains. Can the heroes escape these spirits or is the house simply not big enough for the lot of them?

Well, lets go into the reasons as to why this film is better than the average horror. There’s no animal violence. You heard that right folks. I admit that it’s rather shocking, but there isn’t a random dog or bird death in the whole film. That’s a horror staple and I’m glad that this film ignored it. There aren’t any random fanservice scenes either if I recall correctly. No random shower scene to drop the film a few stars. It’s also not unnecessarily violent with the spirits just trying to eat everyone. As I mentioned, they’re pretty relaxed and chill the whole time. These are spirits that you can’t be friends with, but at least they’re not too over the top dangerous.

One thing that this film does have in common with other horror movies is that the main characters are pretty annoying though. Shideh overreacts for everything and comes across as super defensive. She blames her husband for not convincing her to stop partying and aiding the rebels in a futile mob display at her college which banned her from going back. She wants to stay at her house even though it’s not the smart thing to do and she constantly gets mad at her daughter and cracks. (Yells) It’s very hard to be sympathetic with her during the movie and she never really becomes a nice person. She does have a final confrontation with Iraj on the phone though where Iraj finally cracks, but more on that later.

Dorsa makes sure to get the heroes in as much trouble as she can. She’s really attached to this doll that she has, but she ends up letting the Djinn get it. How the Djinn work is that they can’t mess with you until they have one of your belongings. I mean, they did break into the house to grab it so they technically could attack witho or without the objects, but maybe it’s an honor code of sorts. Whatever the reason, Dora makes it very easy for them. She keeps leaving doors open and trying to break into their hideout. She stops Dora from escaping a few times because she wants the doll even more than life itself. It’s even her fault that the fake out at the end works because Dorsa is so mean and inconsiderate during the whole film that her actions at the end were pretty believable. Dorsa just isn’t a team player and she does her best to cast doubt on everyone.

Finally we have Iraj. He’s the most reasonable of the main characters. If he had been around it would have been a lot tougher for the Djinn which is why they had to break into the government offices and make sure that the guy was drafted. He calls from time to time to remind Shideh that she should leave already even if it’s always futile. Finally, he seemingly cracks at the end and throws out a lot of insults. Of course, another explanation is that the demons got to him and forced him to say that or they just mimicked his voice. I like to think that he just cracked though since everyone tends to crack in these horror films and that way he would be no exception.

One of the most well done parts of the film was the final triple fake out. So, Shideh starts to run for the basement because the walls were all caving in from the latest missille. Unfortunately, Dorsa stops because she really wants her doll. Shideh heads back and grabs her so then they make it down. That’s when Shideh seemingly hears Dorsa yelling for help from upstairs. If that’s Dorsa, then who is the girl with Shideh? The girl half heartedly tells Shideh to wait and see so she just shoves the girl away and heads upstairs. She finds Dorsa hiding under the bed, but then she shifts into a monster and grabs Shideh. No worries, Shideh’s dealt with these guys before and overpowers the comically weak Djinn and heads back downstairs.

Unfortunately, Dorsa is having another tantrum so she runs to the Djinn so she can be protected. Unfortunately..it was a trap! They use reality warping powers to try and take Dorsa down for the count, but Shideh just overpowers the illusion and sends them to oblivion once more. I suppose Shideh should get some claps for how she kept humiliating these monsters, but I still didn’t like her as a character. Either way, it was a pretty great moment since the scene had her running up and down the building since it was always hard to know which Dorsa was real. Get ready for that plot twist ending by the way…it makes things pretty interesting. All horror films need a twist ending after all so I’m glad that this film didn’t forget to add it. That’s a horror staple that we need to keep. Even action films are doing them nowadays and you know that that’s a good sign.

The film can drag a little when the Djinn aren’t around though. I can’t say that the actual story is very interesting. Since the cast isn’t likable and all of the neighbors vanish when important things are happening, you’re always just waiting for the haunting to start. Maybe it’s for the best since if the Djinn were to appear more, then there would be more time for dicey stuff to happen. Still, it’s a tough balancing act to follow. The visuals for the Djinn were fun when they popped up even if it was pretty rare to save the budget. I liked how fast the villains were as well since one even used super speed to blow by Shideh at one point. Seeing more scenes like that would have been cool.

Overall, if there’s anything that I’d change or add, I’d maybe reduce the time that the film spent looking for the doll. Everyone knew that they wouldn’t find it until the spirits wanted them too after all so we would get the general gist of the situation with a quick montage or something. The characters hold it back somewhat, but the film isn’t bad. It’s decently interesting and manages to fit in all of the jump scares at the end. You’ll be left with some questions like why a little kid knows so much about the Djinn, but I guess someone needs to know about them. After all, these guys have been around for a while so there should be other witnesses. If you want to see a horror film, then I’d recommend this one over most of the others. It may be the best horror film aside from Poltergeist III and maybe Lights Out. It may also beat Lights Out to be honest. It’s the kind of film where you’ll start to forget some of the specifics, but you’ll remember the overall film and that’s a good thing. Cut out Dorsa and I’m sure the film would instantly jump up a star.

Overall 5/10

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.
exorcist
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