Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

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

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. 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.
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

Paths of Glory

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

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

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

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

Black Castle, The_02 (Large)
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

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

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