7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Old Dark House Review


I’ve had this review in the backburner for quite a while so it was finally time to write this review. It’s a pretty unique film as it’s going for that comedy/horror blend but at times you don’t know which it’s going for. That’s a good thing because it means the blend is working well. Some parts you can definitely tell are being a bit of a parody but other bits are played straight. I wouldn’t call this a great film, but it had some good moments and fun characters. The lead is a good example of a fun character with a lot of humorous moments.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Tom. He seems like a scam artist at first as he tries to get into a club by claiming that he is looking for a friend. He was actually telling the truth though and meets up with Casper. Casper invites Tom to come to his house but says they should travel there separately. His life is in danger and he needs Tom for support. Tom agrees to come, but by the time he arrives Casper is already dead. He is now surrounded by Casper’s rather odd family. All of them have some kind of quirk and nobody is allowed to leave the house. If any member is not present at a specific time every day then he/she will lose their portion of the inheritance. As a result tensions are constantly high and some of them think Tom is here to try and make a claim for it. Can Tom find out who the murderer is before the rest of the family gets bumped off and Tom finds himself 6 feet under?

I’ll give Tom this, he’s a pretty good friend. He goes into what is obviously a very dangerous house just because he wanted to help his friend. It was a long/boring ride all by himself as well and there were not any real upsides to this journey. He was just being a good guy and it ends up costing him his car right away. Tom does his best to tough it out though so the point where he can be a bit slow on the uptake. He was super close to burning himself in acid and just ended up getting lucky. He gets locked in Noah’s arc, gets threatened by just about everyone…..it’s going to be a long trip for him.

I have to deduct some points from Tom for trying to play the field though. Right away he likes Cecily. She tries to get him out of the house before things get dangerous but he is a little slow on the uptake so that doesn’t end up happening. From there Tom is pretty much doomed to stay in the house, but at least he has a friend now right? Well, then Morgana shows up and Tom immediately falls for her as well. You really shouldn’t be falling for two people so easily. You can have crushes on different people at different times, but on the same day? That just shows that Tom isn’t the most loyal guy around. He barely fights his feelings and most times has to get help from Cecily.

The writing was enjoyable and is part of what makes the film work. The characters are reasonable and the humor works pretty well with how absurd it can be at times. Noah’s Ark was definitely the craziest part of the film and probably the only one that will really make you do a double take though. At times it’s hard to believe just how large the estate is. These guys definitely are pretty rich I guess so it’s not a huge stretch but still a little crazy to say the least. Some gags like Tom falling down into the basement are definitely handled pretty well too.

The part about all of the family members needing to be in the room does raise some questions though. Why would they even bother forcing Tom to stay in the house? If they don’t want him to get the money then making sure he is outside makes way more sense. Additionally I don’t see why they always try to make sure everyone is around. The less people in the room the better right? Naturally characters don’t always make the decision that makes sense. It’s not a super serious film like that, but it’s still a fair question. Jasper and his mother look the worst in terms of logic since they know they are in danger and barely seem to care. They really don’t do a good job of trying to hide out or surviving this ordeal.

In comparison Roderick handles this the best. He actually has a gun and talks tough the whole time. He makes a lot of threats and isn’t afraid to call people out. You need that kind of gusto when you’re trapped in a house filled with crazed murderers who can turn on you at the drop of a hat. Meanwhile the least reasonable one was the Uncle who just went around trying to beat Tom up the whole time. Surely he could have picked a better time to do so right? Also he could see that Morgana was the one approaching Tom.

A big part of this film is being a murder mystery so you should try to see if you can guess who the murderer is. There are a good amount of suspects and you get to be introduced to all of them pretty early on in the film which lets you fairly try to guess who the villain is. The film gives you a fair chance to solve this so at the end of the day you’ll need to trust your instincts on this. Put yourself in the main character’s position and just remember that choosing the right answer is a matter of life and death.

Overall, The Old Dark House is an appropriate name for the film. All of the scenes take place in this house once Tom arrives after all and the place is pretty dark. If you are in the mood for a solid parody with a lot happening at all times then this is the film for you. The body count does begin to increase so there are real stakes at play here. There is a sense of danger because Tom can never really let his guard down. This is a strange film, but it surprisingly just ends up working out.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Please Murder Me Review


It’s time to look at an old noir film with a pretty interesting plot. Right from the title you can probably tell that this will be an interesting case though. You don’t really see titles like this much anymore and it does leave an impression. I was expecting the film to be good but I can safely say that it exceeded expectations. This will ultimately go down as one of the definitive Noir titles out there.

The movie starts with Craig heading to his office and beginning a recording. The actual recording is basically the rest of the film so lets head into the past. Craig heads to his best friend Joe’s office and lets him know that he is having an affair with the man’s wife. Well, Craig’s character is officially ruined. Craig wants Joe to have a divorce so he can marry Myra properly. Joe wants a day to think it over, but the next day he is murdered by Myra. She says it was in self defense and since Craig is a defense attorney he agrees to take over her case as she is being tried for murder. If Craig can prove her innocence then they can finally be married but will it be so simple?

So I have to tackle the romance part of this film right away. There is no way you can root for Craig or Myra here right from the jump because they were having a relationship while she was married. No matter how you slice it that is cheating and nothing should have happened until she was officially split. Craig tries to say that he didn’t mean for it to happen, but the reasoning doesn’t matter. You can never put yourself in a position where you may have an affair with a married person. It’s just not done and it’s even worse to the fact that it was Craig’s best friend. It’s the ultimate betrayal and it was a pretty tough way for Joe to get bumped off there.

Craig is a good attorney and pulls out all the tricks, but he still comes off as a bit of a sucker. Without getting into plot specifics he misses a lot of signs in the face of love and by the time he realizes what is going on it is pretty late. That’s why his plan is pretty clever and not one that you would expect to see. Usually the plot is completely reversed in terms of framing and paying for crimes you didn’t commit. This one flips that in a full 180 which was unexpected. The ending actually plays it straight and is a solid conclusion to a great film.

Meanwhile Myra is just as unsympathetic as Craig. She’s really just looking out for herself and in court the prosecutor (Ray) quickly drills down into what actually happened. He was definitely my favorite character in the film. He did a good job of connecting the dots and wasn’t falling for any traps. At the end of the film he does come across as possibly being a little naive but I like to think he was going to figure things out in a few moments. He was likely just trying to make sure that the others did not suspect what happened.

In general the film is a pretty good cautionary tale. You should always have a healthy amount of trust but when weird things happen left and right you do need to think about it a bit. Karma hits like a truck in movies like this where people get their just desserts right away but in real life it’s not always like that so you can’t afford to make the same mistakes as the characters in the film. Craig basically got what he deserved here along with the rest of the characters and if he had stopped to do the right thing in the beginning then none of this would have happened. Another character in the film is Carl who seems just as gullible in his short time of appearing.

The writing is quite good here with the characters all making quite a lot of threats as the film goes on while being subtle about it. I miss how everyone would always pretend to be quite polite back in these days with veiled threats behind every word. The film also does deliver on the noir aspect with a lot of narration from Craig and a bunch of dark scenes. He even works in the dark at times just like you would expect from this era. The film’s pacing is solid as things move quite quickly and I greatly enjoyed the court scenes as always. It’s all played pretty seriously with both sides looking competent in their arguments.

Joe could have played this whole thing a lot better though. Getting murdered aside since it would be hard to avoid that, he probably should have had some more details in his will or something to protect against what happened. Especially if you’re well off then putting extra contingents in your will or in various paperwork before getting married is just a good idea to cover your bases. It probably will put a strain on the relationship right from the start, but it’ll also ensure that you’re with someone who actually wants to be with you and isn’t just in it for other reasons.

Overall, Please Murder Me is a great film and I recommend it to anyone that likes a good thriller with some twists along the way. I believe a lot of viewers will suspect what happened right away but that’s fine because there is a good chunk of film left after the event happens. Technically in my plot summary I probably stopped a lot earlier than most summaries would because you could make the case that the twist is part of the plot and even on the poster. I’d argue that the film works even better if you don’t know this, but regardless you will like it. It’s just a very complete film with a compelling beginning and a satisfying ending.

Overall 8/10

2 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die Review


It’s time to look at an old film that is pretty bad right out of the gate. The plot itself will let you know that this is a movie that’s not going to be very good. If you don’t know the plot then I suppose you wouldn’t know what you’re getting yourself into since the title isn’t half bad. While the actual “wouldn’t die” part of the film is a little interesting, it’s too little too late to save this horrible movie.

The film starts off by introducing us to Raymond and his wife Ellen. Nobody seems to like Ellen. While she is a rich lady who has built a great empire, she did it by being rather ruthless. Her top worker Richard wants to destroy her, but he can’t think of a way to do it without going to jail. Meanwhile Raymond no longer likes Ellen all that much, but she’s rich so that’s reason enough for him to stick around. One day their niece Alice shows up and Raymond decides that he wants to be with her instead of Ellen. Looks like he’ll need to team up with Richard to bump her off. Ellen has mystical trances though so is it possible that her spirit will avenge her?

No matter how you slice it, the romance between Raymond and his niece Alice is trash. That’s the kind of plot we really never need to see in a film. It’s so far beyond the pale that it dooms the film to a low score immediately. There is literally nothing that can save the film from this. Even if they do some kind of twist where they are not related it doesn’t change the fact that he wouldn’t have known that so the film is finished. It puts a sour spin on the film and that’s not even counting the fact that Raymond is a terrible main character.

There can be no excuses for cheating on your wife. Once you marry and commit to the vows then that’s the end of that. If he has any regrets then too bad, but he’ll have to live with them. There is no way to root for Raymond and it’s always hard for a film to succeed with a main character like that. Any scene with him on screen is one scene too many. You’re just waiting for him to ideally get bumped off at the end of the movie. That being said, the way his character arc ends is incredibly convenient to the point where it isn’t even remotely believable. It’s the kind of thing that simply wouldn’t happen in real life. There’s just no way.

Meanwhile Alice is no saint either. Both parties are complicit when it comes to cheating particularly since she knows what is going on. She’s almost as bad as Raymond in that sense. It’s really showing that neither one of them had a lot of respect for Ellen. Ellen’s the only character to reasonably root for in this film. Everyone is ganging up on her so you hope that she’ll find some way to tip the scales. She is super old though which doesn’t help matters. Nor does the fact that she is constantly plagued by powerful pain spasms where she can’t even move. That’s very dangerous when you’re in a place where everyone wants to bump you off.

Then you have Richard who you know is a villain from the start when he casually talks about getting rid of Ellen. The fact that Raymond just sits there and lets him say all those things also shows how Raymond’s going to turn out. In general this is just a very mean spirited film the more you think about it. One example of this is the nice actress who ends up getting manipulated by the villains and then meets a fiery ending. She literally only appears to quickly get murdered here. All of the characters who are left are really bad and so there is nobody to root for. You certainly aren’t going to feel bad for the main characters when things go sideways. There’s no fun to be had in this film. The romance is just so bad that it can’t be overstated. Since that’s the main premise here it means that you’ll be cringing the whole time.

At least the movie isn’t particularly long. You’ll be done with it before long. If anything the tag-line/altered title ends up spoiling most of the film since the death takes quite a long while to happen. I always do wonder where people put the cut-off for spoilers. See, I’d consider the title to be a spoiler in this case. In general I never mind spoilers as you’ll see what happens sooner or later, but for people who don’t like to be spoiled I’d say that the title gives a whole lot away. Maybe it was the only way to sell tickets. In some cases you’ve just gotta do what you gotta do I suppose.

Overall, I highly recommend sticking away from this film. It’s a movie all about betrayal and deception but not handled in a good way at all. The ending happens in the one way that this plan could ever work which is extremely convenient and not believable in the slightest. At least the ending gives us some hope that the villains will end up paying for their crimes. It’s a very open ended kind of finale where you can really decide for yourself what happens. I’d make the case that there is enough evidence here for the cops to be able to claim the win, but different people will likely come up with different verdicts.

Overall 2/10

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Review


It’s time to look at a terrible film from back in the day. When you think of Jekyll and Hyde you already know it was one of the weakest horror classics from back in the day. There’s really just not much to the concept and it’s really just a classic horror slasher with no soul or personality. It ends up faltering pretty early on and there’s no real way to root for the main character. It may not be the longest film out there, but prepare for it to drag on quite a lot.

The film starts with introducing us to Jekyll who is currently engaged to a lady named Muriel. He wants to marry her, but her father believes that they should wait another 10 months so the wedding happens on one of the anniversaries of his wedding. Jekyll isn’t happy about this, but that’s how it’s got to be. He then cheats on Muriel in the meantime with a lady named Ivy and decides to create a serum that will release his evil side. He succeeds and then uses this as an excuse to go around committing murder and other such crimes. Can anyone stop this guy?

There’s no need to feel sympathetic with Jekyll right from the start because nobody was forcing him to do any of this. It was all of his own free will and no amount of whining later on can change that. Even before the whole Hyde plot he was cheating on Muriel with Ivy. When he is called out on it Jekyll gets defensive and tries to pull the “You’d do it too card.” That’s not even a defense as it’s just trying to say that anyone would make the same mistake, but not trying to say that it isn’t wrong. It’s really just a way for him to justify his own actions and he spends the entire film doing this. Nothing is ever his fault and he just blames everyone around it while feeling sorry for himself the whole time. These scenes drag on quite a lot.

Muriel’s father was right about Jekyll from the start and so he ends up being the most reasonable character around. If only Muriel had listened to him. Nothing much would have changed to be honest, but Jekyll had a ton of red flags all around him from day 1. He can’t keep on calling out sick every time there is a big function. After a while enough is just enough with that. Ivy is easily the most tragic character of the lot. True, she did convince Jekyll to cheat despite knowing that he was taken so she isn’t exactly a saint, but it doesn’t mean that she deserved the terror that was to come for the rest of the film. Hyde gets away with way too much in the film and the scenes are all in poor taste. It drags on and on as the film tries to be as gritty as possible.

There’s no real reason for the film to go down this road as we have already established that Hyde was the evil persona of Jekyll. This is where films make their big mistake as they don’t need to keep hitting us over the head with how dark the film can be. Since this is old knowledge it’s just a waste of screen time. Take away the whole Ivy plot and the film would be way better. Instead her scenes just add an extra layer of violence and grit not to mention fanservice that further seals the deal of the movie. Throughout this the character who doesn’t really have to own up to anything for most of the film is Jekyll himself. You’d think he would have had to put up with a little more as payback for all that happened, but he actually gets to mostly enjoy his victories until the very last scene. That doesn’t seem all that balanced.

The police also look pretty bad here. At one point around 20 of them are losing to Jekyll. Why didn’t anyone think to shoot him until the one guy took out his gun? This guy is already a confirmed murderer who is resisting arrest and assaulting other officers. I think that’s more than enough reason to take out your gun at this point. Otherwise you’re really just allowing yourself to become the next victim and at that point you’re really doomed. Jekyll’s one friend also made that mistake. He had the gun, he needed to at least have used it or grabbed the cops earlier. Playing it defensively the way he did didn’t really do anything except let Jekyll cause more terrors in the mean time.

Overall, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a terrible film. There are no real redeeming qualities about it and it just continues to sink further and further as the film goes on. You’re just hoping it’ll reach a speedy conclusion before long. The writing was poor, the characters were bad, and at that point there really isn’t much that can save it. If you’re going to watch an old horror film then you’re better off watching just about anything else. Check out the original Godzilla film or perhaps the Werewolf titles with Lon Chaney. Those films certainly have a lot more heart to them than this one.

Overall 0/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Arisa Review


To think, I started this manga all the way back in 2011. It’s been 9 years and so I decided to re-start the series from scratch and marathoned the series all the way to the end. It’s definitely a very solid mystery thriller as I remembered from my earlier visits. It does sputter a bit during the end though. It was close to getting a solid 8 but I just had to take away a star by the end because the cast were starting to all shoot themselves in the foot by the end. You’ll definitely be glued to each volume as you await the ending though.

The manga starts by introducing us to Tsubasa who is a pretty good fighter. She’s so strong that the guys think of her as one of the gang and the other classmates end up being scared of her. It’s a fun life though and Tsubasa is excited to finally be seeing her twin sister Arisa for the first time in years. After their parents split up Tsubasa stayed with her Dad while Arisa went with the Mom. Tsubasa and Arisa have a great time chatting with each other, but then the next morning Arisa jumps out the window and falls into a coma. Tsubasa decides to impersonate Arisa and find out what was going on at school. The only hint she has is that it has something to do with “King Time.”

King Time is a period every Friday where the class gets together and they all make a wish on their phones. A mysterious being known as the King will then grant one of those wishes. While it started out as harmless fun like granting a good test score or baking a cake, the wishes have become drastically more dangerous since then. With people being bumped off one by one, Tsubasa has to put a stop to this. As you can see there is a lot of plot going on.

Arisa does a good job of throwing a lot of red herrings at you so it’s hard to figure out just who the villain is. I’m thinking you’ll probably have it figured out by volume 4-5 but if you double guess yourself then maybe a little later. There are a lot of credible suspects here after all so you really have to think long and hard about who you want to pick. Part of why I was able to throw myself into the series so fullly and just blast through all of the volumes was because the story is just so good. As I mentioned earlier, it’s just a very engaging series and that’s one of the reasons why this is a terrific series. It’s easily one of the very best Shojo titles that I’ve read.

The art is very clear and the character designs are unique which is always a good thing. The twins look similar but that makes sense of course. There is only one panel in the series where I wasn’t sure exactly who was talking in the final volume. I think it was the mother, but it’s a little hard to say. Hopefully it wasn’t because the scene would make her look pretty bad to be honest. This is definitely top tier art all around though and the author does a good job of keeping the mystery fresh for 12 volumes. I was wondering how it would last all the way to 12 pretty early on because it always felt like the series was pretty close to wrapping up. Granted, the ending volumes did really hurt 2 volumes so they didn’t all get away without injury.

Lets talk about the character cast. First up is Tsubasa who is definitely a very solid main character. Without her determination in finding out what was going on things definitely would have gotten very dicey for the rest of the class. She has to do a lot of the groundwork on her own and in the process she puts her own academic career in jeopardy. Despite these real threats and knowing that she is in personal danger, Tsubasa never wavers. She really just makes one main mistake and the series missed the boat with her on one thing. For her mistake, it’s the fact that Tsubasa falls for Midori and doesn’t try to shut down these feelings for very long.

Keep in mind that Midori is dating her twin sister Arisa. Under no circumstances should she even entertain the thought of getting together with him. Look, you can’t stop yourself from falling for someone entirely if that person is simply your type. What you can do is stop yourself from actually pursuing such a desire though. Just accept that it will always be a one way crush and keep the feelings buried until you get over it. The instant Tsubasa lost sight of this she did in fact betray Arisa and someone even calls her out on this. Tsubasa is sorry for what she did, but it was a massive mistake all the same.

Where the series missed some opportunities here is in the fact that Tsubasa is a good fighter. She’s portrayed as being very strong and yet when it’s crunch time she ends up losing without much of a fight like any other Shojo heroine. She is defeated numerous times in the series and never fights back when it really counts. The series could have dropped the whole storyline of her being a fighter and nothing would really change. I would have liked to have seen her get out of some of these situations on her own without assistance. The only moment this was handled well was against Kudo. It’s not a huge deal, but it is noticeable and does limit Tsubasa’s character. This review is basically spoiler free, but the next paragraph may still hint at things that you would rather not know. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid spoilers then skip the next 3 paragraphs. Then skip the next 2 paragraphs after that which are total spoilers. So skip 5 paragraphs total or just look for the next image. It’s safe to start reading right after that. I figured that by putting the spoiler warning at the end of this paragraph it would give you time to get out and not hit the spoiler by mistake. You out? Last chance…..here we go!

Then you have Arisa. Now she is a pretty complex character and after thinking about her opening scene again the ending does mesh to an extent. Arisa really has 3 personas. The first is the one we learn about from Tsubasa and through everyone else. She is a very nice character who always does her best to help everyone out. Arisa is nice to a fault to the point where everyone only has nice things to say about her. She just seems like the perfect character. Then you’ve got the Arisa we got to see for one chapter with Tsubasa. She seemed to live up to this image but then we get the scene where she throws herself out of the window to despair while saying that Tsubasa is the one who had the perfect life. This does hint at some resentment since she waited til Tsubasa was around to do this which would mentally mess Tsubasa up for life. Then we have Arisa from when she wakes up.

Arisa is a lot meaner than you may expect. She gives everyone the cold shoulder and sides with the King the whole time. Even after she explains herself later on it doesn’t really excuse her. She is complicit at the very least to putting Tsubasa’s life in danger by making the wish to get rid of her. She makes things very tough on someone who is already dying of a heart condition and is generally an obstacle getting in everyone’s way. I really didn’t like Arisa which was surprising and part of why I didn’t care for the last few volumes. She comes across as short sided and needlessly mean. Arisa doesn’t even have a plan to justify this so Tsubasa is forced to step up once again and fix things. It’s just a shame because Arisa seemed like such a great character in the flashbacks. At the end of each volume is a short story and I read pretty much all of em. In one of them Arisa ends up pretending to be Tsubasa for a day to help her sister’s school rep and saves the day. That’s the Arisa I was expecting to see and she never showed up.

It is clever from a writing standpoint as it does follow the theme of the series. We saw the part of Arisa that everyone else saw and were then hit with the rude awakening of her real personality. Again, part of it is to keep everyone else safe and Arisa is never portrayed as being a total villain, but she just makes a lot of bad decisions. Maybe the old Arisa was never truly real or maybe she was buried after meeting up with Midori. Either way I missed that version of Arisa and if I could change anything about the manga I would just make it so that she didn’t wake up until the final volume. Maybe have a few chapters with her explaining to Tsubasa that she tried to end King Time and after not being able to think of anything figured that by eliminating herself that would stop Midori’s plan. We could have at least salvaged her character that way. I just don’t think Arisa waking up so soon was a good move.

Then we have Midori who I definitely wasn’t a fan of. The guy has a sob story of his own which is pretty sad, but still not an excuse for turning into a total psycho. He wants to free Arisa from her mother since Arisa apparently would confide in him a lot about how she was feeling insecure. It’s too bad that he takes everything to the extreme. In the most zoomed out of lens point of view you can see how he had a good intent to protect her, but then it totally morphed into something evil. He openly manipulated her so I don’t buy any kind of justification that he was trying to help her. Then even if it was part of his plan he does flirt with Tsubasa and cheats on Arisa so you can’t cut him any more slack at that point.

The guy tries to murder people many, many times. There’s just no goodness in him so it’s hard to buy the ending of the series. He should be serving hard time for a very long time and Arisa shouldn’t be so quick to forgive him. It’s great that they can forgive him of course, but it’s easy to do so when they got out okay. What about all of the students who had their lives permanently crushed thanks to him? There were quite a few victims before Tsubasa was able to step in and they don’t have the fortune of being a main character with plot armor.

Along the journey of trying to solve the mystery Tsubasa ends up helping a few other characters through their plots. One such character is Mariko who is supposed to be Arisa’s best friend. It’s hard to imagine how they got together though since Mariko is an incredibly obsessive character who is not very heroic at all. Mariko enjoys tormenting others and I would argue that she goes so far down into villain territory that she never truly returns. I wasn’t able to buy into her redemption arc and just didn’t like her. As a villain you could make the case that she was more sinister than the others. Even in the bonus story that takes place after she was supposedly redeemed she ends up being rather menacing. Fortunately it was to another villain but otherwise things were going to get out of hand again.

Then you have Shizuka who blames Akira for the loss of her legs. Now this is a tragic backstory that I can buy into because she was viciously hazed and nobody helps her. I have to blame Akira and Arisa a lot on this one. This is a case where Arisa seems to be completely complicit in what was happening. Maybe she was also tricked or maybe not, but the fact remains that the outcome really sucked for Shizuka. She had to put up with more pain than anyone else in the series. Sure, she did get tricked but the circumstances were pretty believable compared to the others and I did feel bad for her. Shizuka fortunately gets a happy ending because she’s already been through enough.

Kudo is a transfer student who arrives later on in the series. Unfortunately he is one of the most gullible characters in the series. The guy believes whatever he is told and just obeys orders. I want to like the guy since he has a good character motivation and origin story but he really should have questioned what he was hearing a little more if you ask me. He’s also like Mariko in that he falls into the purely evil territory. The guy knew what he was doing and actually did try directly murdering Tsubasa so that’s that.

Then we have Tsubasa’s supporting characters who don’t get to appear all that much. It’s too bad because they all seemed to be solid characters. In particular Tsubasa’s best friend gets a very small role and I was expecting him to be a major player at some point. The other guys in Tsubasa’s gang are all very loyal and I was glad that she had some friends who could fight. If anything she should have leaned on them a little more to help her through the issues that were going on. We really only get to see them more in the bonus stories.

Then there is Akira who is the main guy here. He’s solid and isn’t a sucker like the rest of the class. He’s at least trying to solve the mystery of the King. He’s not perfect and I do blame him for Shizuka’s fate, but for the most part he makes the right choices. Unlike Tsubasa, he likes Arisa who is already taken but has enough resolve not to actually try and make a move. He ultimately learns to appreciate her as a friend which is the right thing to do. Having Akira along for the ride is really helpful since it makes it more difficult for the King to try and bump Tsubasa off. Akira still does get knocked out pretty easily but he’s probably the only character aside from Tsubasa who actually digs up some clues so that’s good.

While Arisa/Tsubasa’s Mom doesn’t get to appear all that much I have to say that she was a character who was really mis-handled. I always got the impression that she was a pretty nice person even if the manga never outright stated that. I guess the parents did get divorced so they may not have been the best people or they just didn’t mesh well. Still, everything we saw indicated that the parents were good and yet at the end she appears to be pretty defensive and distant. Arisa didn’t have as happy a life as we thought. Then there is one panel where she seems to be downright rude, but that’s a panel where I couldn’t be 100% sure that it was her. Regardless she didn’t believe her daughter when it counted so she loses points there. She’s another character who probably just shouldn’t have appeared at the end if this is how her plot was going to go down.

There’s a lot to talk about with this series and I think that’s due in part to the fact that this is a mystery series. There’s just a lot to unpack as a result. I think a good amount of credit also needs to be given to the writing in the series. It’s just so engaging that you want to talk about what you just read. I’d be down with a sequel series at some point, but this is really the kind of title where it’s really hard to make a sequel. Either it’ll have a new threat that feels a bit redundant or it’ll be more of a classic slice of life. The latter makes more sense and could be a lot of fun just to see the old characters, but I suppose it isn’t really necessary.

Overall, Arisa is a very solid series. I just questioned a lot of the final decisions in the manga. The ending isn’t too satisfying for me, but it’s always hard to make an ending that pleases everyone. You will also have to throw logic out the window to an extent for a lot of the series as the grown ups never find out what is happening or step in to stop the chaos. After a certain point you would just expect some kind of investigation or a way for things to move forward. Well, I’ve seen bigger leaps in logic. Definitely check this series out either way and be prepared for a fun time.

Overall 7/10

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Detour Review


It’s time to take a look at a very old noir film. This one is definitely a movie that you likely haven’t heard of unless you are a really big fan of the genre. It’s pretty obscure and I certainly had not heard of it until after I had seen it. It’s a pretty fun film, although one that will likely cause you to have to suspend some disbelief here. There were a lot of ways for the main guy to get out of his predicament, but ultimately he didn’t choose any of them. That was definitely his big mistake.

The film starts off with Al and Sue getting ready to be married. At least, that’s what Al had in mind, but then Sue lets him know what is really going to happen. She’s heading off to Hollywood to become a famous star and so she’ll se him later. Al isn’t happy about this at all and heads back to his music gig to sulk. That’s when he decides that job or not he will head over to Sue’s place. The problem is that he’s in New York and only has ten dollars on him. He’ll have to travel a long way in order to reach her, but he is determined to hitch hike all the way. The problem is that the guy he is driving with ends up falling asleep after having a lot of pills. Al opens the door which causes the guy to hit his head on a rock and die. Al must now deal with his conscience as he heads to California.

That would already be a reasonably difficult drive for him, but then he notices a lady hitch hiking as well and decides to lend her a hand. The only problem is that she knew the previous owner of the car so now she is blackmailing him to do whatever she wants or she will get the police involved. Can Al satisfy Vera long enough to get to Sue or should he cut his losses and run now? Either way it is about to be one adventure that Al will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Al is the really annoying character here. He complains a lot about how life isn’t fair, but half of the time it’s because he isn’t making the smart calls. Even the first incident where he lets his co-driver die was a little suspect. How did he not see the rock? Also, he knew the guy wasn’t conscious so why would you open the door and then not prepare to catch the guy falling out of it? It’s all a bit iffy there which does reduce your sympathy levels for the guy. He also should have been pretty grateful to the guy for giving him a ride instead of grumbling inwardly the whole time. (Admittedly the guy seemed shady, but they wouldn’t be together for too long)

Then the last straw is when he meets up with Vera. Sure, giving her a ride is nice, but he’s on a deadline and is already mixed up in criminal business. Not letting her in the car is almost the nice thing to do if you think about it since you don’t want her to get messed up in all of this right? Keeping her out is one way to keep her safe. Instead he lets her in and then she starts blackmailing him. Now, he could have just walked out at any time, ditched his car like he was planning or something like that. He could have told her he was stopping at any point except where he was actually going. Where’s the benefit in telling her that he has to get to California?

As far as I’m concerned Al blew it 7 ways to Sunday. Again, there’s just no point in feeling bad for the guy because everything that happened was on him. There are a lot of unfortunate coincidences for him of course like the phone cord with Vera at the end, but beyond that he shouldn’t have even been in this situation that whole time. Al should have cut out early. Meanwhile Vera is the main antagonist here so you’re not really supposed to like her either. She definitely talks tough the whole time and does her best to get in Al’s way. Like he said though, she’s just greedy. Her final plan doesn’t even make a whole lot of sense because there’s no way it would work and she already could have gotten a whole lot of money otherwise. That’s why you end up losing everything when you try for too much.

Meanwhile Sue seems like a decent heroine, but I felt like the film was hinting that she didn’t care for Al all that much. She did leave at the drop of a hat and didn’t even bother calling him. If Al hadn’t called first she may have even forgotten all about him. As a result it makes his journey feel even more futile. I was half expecting him to finally make it only for Sue to tell him that she found someone else. Maybe that would have just been too tragic for Al since by that point he’d already been through the ringer. Still, if the movie had kept going I could see that happening.

The ending definitely works out pretty well though. It’s one of those solid endings that may not work out too well for Al, but after a while something had to end his journey. By this point he was already too far gone. I’ll give him credit for never cheating on Sue though. There was a brief moment where I thought he was going to weaken, but fortunately he did not. That’s a really good thing since it definitely would have crushed his character and probably would have hurt the film a bit as well.

Overall, Detour is a solid film. It’s surprisingly short so the film ends just when you think it’s getting to the second act. The ending is abrupt, but not bad. While there aren’t any real likable characters, I do like the premise/plot quite a bit and since the writing is solid it lets the film succeed even without a good cast. It’s not as if the cast is painful either, they all do well in their roles except for Al. He is maybe just a bit too annoying the whole time and I think the film should have just put him in a tougher situation so there would have been less ways for him to escape. That would have made his complaints a little more valid. Still, valid or not I did enjoy the inner monologue. That’s definitely a noir trope that I’ve always enjoyed. It’s nice to see exactly what the character is thinking the whole time.

Overall 7/10

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Fear in the Night Review


It’s time to look at a really old murder mystery film. It’s definitely an interesting noir title, but one that is held back by some issues. The biggest of these issues is naturally the main character who is extremely annoying throughout the entire film. The guy just never knows when to man up and face the music. Still, while this one won’t be winning any film awards, I’d recommend checking it out. It does still have a pretty interesting premise.

So the film starts with Vince breaking into some lady’s house and murdering someone. He then runs home and “wakes” from his dream. The problem is that Vince has quite a few pieces of physical evidence that prove he was at the house. He then gets caught in a rainstorm with his brother in law who’s a detective, the detective’s wife, and a co-worker from his job. They have to take shelter in a nearby house which is the place from Vince’s dream. The pieces all fit together and it seems like Vince did commit murder. Why doesn’t he remember? Vince better think of something soon or he may be put in the chair.

As soon as Vince wakes up with the physical evidence you know that the dream was certainly true. The real mystery is just why he did it. Does Vince have a split personality or was he being manipulated? We find out the answer near the very end of the film, but it really makes Vince look worse and worse. If a strange guy busts into your room at night and starts talking nonsense about you being tired would you just roll back to sleep? That’s what Vince does as locking a door is a foreign concept to him. Then he also displays low will power as someone offers him a mysterious cough drop thing. He declines several times, but then breaks down and haves it. Clearly Vince isn’t all that smart or determined. It’s just hard to take him seriously.

At first I thought he had potential because upon appearing I immediately took note at his striking resemblance to Matt Damon. The guy looks just like him which was crazy. It’s sort of how Lon Chaney looks just like Bill Murray. Unfortunately he didn’t get any of the signature toughness that Matt usually has. He freaks out quite a lot and isn’t any good at acting innocent. When they get to the house he keeps on knowing things that he shouldn’t. Doesn’t Vince have the common sense not to make himself look so incredibly guilty? Probably not because he makes every mistake in the book. Even near the end he decides to try taking a shortcut by jumping out the window. He had been told numerous times that one of the ladies was having a kid so this was a bad time for stress and he was about to jump out while she was right there. Definitely selfish as well as being a terrible mistake. Vince singlehandily weakens the film.

Fortunately Cliff is a much more reasonable character. He really hopes that Vince is talking nonsense, but it is his duty to investigate so the more Vince goes over the edge the more he has to take this seriously. I can see why he’s pretty irritable about the whole thing. He does go off on Vince during one moment, but Vince had been acting so shifty earlier. I also liked the deputy who shows up at one point to aid Cliff. The cops are all on point here which is always nice to see. They may not have cracked the case, but it was a pretty tough one especially if you didn’t really have context for it.

Now, did the film do a good job with how it wrapped things up? I think it’s a bit iffy honestly. A lot of things had to happen conveniently for the villain’s plan to succeed. The first major point is that the main character had to be terribly weak for this to work in the first place. Also, Vince couldn’t even do that right as he would have lost if not for one of the victims giving him a weapon by mistake. Definitely a very sloppy move on her part as she should have just stabbed him directly. Still, this twist at the end did add a bit of a supernatural element to the film since I never bought into this particular technique. Every time I’ve seen it used in person it was complete hooey. Maybe it can work, but not this quickly and not with this particular method.

The film can be quite dramatic, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty interesting from cover to cover. You just have to get past the fact that Vince can’t seem to do anything right. Beyond that the rest of the characters are good and the writing is certainly on point. Even minor characters like the bank owner look pretty good here as they all scramble to do their jobs correctly. When Vince wasn’t home, I definitely agree with the manager checking his books just in case. Don’t want anyone running off with the money right? Fear in the Night plays the noir genre pretty straight. There aren’t a lot of twists and wrinkles, but there isn’t really anything bad about the film either. It’s just pretty low key.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Fear in the Night. It’s a solid movie that you will enjoy so long as you like mysteries or old school thrillers. There isn’t any real action so the whole thing is built up using pure suspense. It’s definitely not the kind of film you could really expect to see nowadays. It’s a relic of the past, but one that has definitely aged well. How much you’ll enjoy it will likely depend on how many other noir titles you’ve seen over the years. If you haven’t seen a whole lot then you’ll really enjoy it. If you have seen a bunch then this one may feel a little more generic. Still, on the whole I don’t think you’ll regret watching it. Just remember that if a stranger shows up and starts acting shifty you should show him the door. That or just don’t be weak.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

4D Man Review


It’s time for a retro film with one of those names that will give you a lot of preconceived notions before the movie even starts. 4D Man is just a total B film name and you immediately expect a campy type of adventure. You wouldn’t really be wrong either. The film isn’t inherently campy or cheesy, but it does have a pretty crazy plot and the main villain turns evil for pretty much no reason. It’s fairly entertaining all things considered but it never does anything all that extraordinary. It’s certainly worth more of a watch than the average film of this type though.

The film starts with Tony blowing up his lab again. He does mean to do this all the time, but the experiment he is running is highly dangerous and he has yet to perfect it. This leads to a lot of bad results for him. As a result he is let go so he heads over to his brother Scott for some help. Scott offers him a job there, but Tony doesn’t want any handouts. Plus, Tony is irresistible and knows that if he sticks around then Scott’s girlfriend Linda will soon be his. It’s almost presumptuous of him, but he turns out to be correct and decides to stick around to be with Linda. Scott finds out and while he acts like he doesn’t care, he does deep down. He steals Tony’s research and completes it, turning him into the 4D Man. He can now go through things, but it costs him a lot of life points. The only way to replenish them is to murder someone by stealing their life force. Scott decides to do this and now Tony may be the only one who can stop him.

Parts of the plot can be a bit annoying though. Nothing goes right for Scott. First off, he’s being completely taken advantage of by his boss and then his girlfriend starts going with his brother instead. Scott isn’t very good at dealing with people either so he isn’t able to try to talk his way out of it. As a result, becoming a super villain was the only path that he thought he could take. It’s all pretty tragic even if Scott does go off the deep end almost right away though. After he absorbs the energy of 1-2 people by mistake he seems to start enjoying it. If he wasn’t shot at the end he likely would have kept going. Definitely a very sudden character shift if you ask me.

As for Tony, he’s not bad I suppose, but he definitely should have tried harder to stay away from Linda. She tries to go for him almost as soon as they meet which should have been a red flag from the start. Rather than beat around the bush he probably should have told Scott as well why he needed to leave. Instead neither character listens to the other and it all becomes a mess. I have to give half of the blame to Linda as well though. It’s seems to be like she was giving Scott a lot of signals before Tony showed up. Maybe she didn’t and it was all in his head, but from what we saw it seemed like that was the case. Moving on so quickly definitely wasn’t a great move. She did good in the climax though as she actively defended herself. That’s more than what most heroines did back in the day. (Linda did faint in another scene so this was a good way of making a comeback)

The film pretty much plays it by the numbers as it goes on. The writing is solid and the premise was interesting to it manages to coast by. Having one character work on a material that is unbreakable while the other tries to get matter to go through things is interesting. I don’t think we needed to add in the other jealous co-worker though. His plot ultimately doesn’t really have time to go anywhere and feels like a dead end by the time the film ends. Maybe he was just there to give a reason as to why the boss would have Tony’s idea with him which adds to the climax. Still, it would have been easy to have the scene anyway since Scott had a bone to pick with him from the start.

I don’t think the cops handled the climax well though. Sure, they surrounded Scott, but they knew about his powers so why would the guy get so close to him? Scott’s abilities are pretty dangerous, but against a group they aren’t as potent since he needs to become tangible at some point to grab them. Instead the cops get completely outmaneuvered and it costs them dearly. Even at the end everyone runs off so Linda has to deal with the threat on her own. She handles herself well but I’d probably ditch Tony after that.

Overall, 4D Man was a decently fun film. Parts of the story do feel a little forced though like Tony agreeing to cheat with Linda on Scott or Scott turning evil. I dunno, he just didn’t seem quite crazy enough to go full psycho compared to most of the other characters. The film does hint that the actual radiation and such affected his mind a bit though. That or his mind being different from the start which triggered the transformation is to blame. Either way, I think the film could have played him up more as an anti hero than turning full mass murderer by the end. Still, I’d recommend checking this film out if you want to look at a retro thriller film. It’s like watching a villain about Shadowcat but if she was the villain. Intangibility is a simple power, but a very deadly one nonetheless.

Overall 6/10

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Lured Review


It’s time to look at an old school thriller film as the heroes try to find a mass murderer. The premise of having a lady sign up to be an officer and try to use her wiles to get to the villain is always a pretty iffy one. Fortunately this film manages to handle itself with a bit more care than most as she is being bait without having to go too far. It’s a pretty good film and the police actually look very competent this time around.

The movie starts off with Sandra making ends meet at a dance club. It’s a pretty tough job, but it pays the bills. She is then scouted by a talent manager for a more high end location. Before Sandra can properly go and interview one of her friends becomes the latest in a string of victims from a mass murderer. The only clue is tat he always sends a poem to the cops and he has been getting his victims by putting ads in the paper. The cops head to Sandra and enlist her help. She’s certainly eager to help apprehend this villain and agrees, but this task may prove to be even more dangerous than she had expected.

After all, Sandra ends up finding herself wrapped in not one, not two, but three different villainous plots. It seems like this is a pretty shady town as you have kidnappers and psychos running around who aren’t even related to the main murderer. They do make for good red herrings though. Fortunately Sandra is definitely a tough character so none of this scares her out of the game. She takes it all in stride and keeps on going. Sandra is one of those characters who will use a lot of wit to cover her emotions which works pretty effectively. I’m glad she’s not nearly as easy to get as many other heroines and ends up being one of the stronger characters here. I think the only time she slipped up a bit was in trying to hide the evidence from Fleming as confronting it directly might have helped speed up the climax a bit.

I mentioned earlier how the police actually look pretty good here and that is thanks in no small part to Harley and Barrett. Harley is the police chief and he continues to try and solve the case from the start to the end of the film. He comes pretty close to solving it quite a few times even if he ultimately fell short. Then we have Barrett who is Sandra’s bodyguard and usually manages to keep himself close enough to help. A lot of times the bodyguard just ends up vanishing so I’m glad that wasn’t the case here. He was a bit slow to the park so it’s not like he’s infallible or anything, but he definitely tries. If the police are going to use you as bait they had better have someone at the ready. Whenever they are supposed to be guarding the character and the villain gets to the witness anyway it can definitely be pretty iffy.

Then we have Fleming. He’s a rich guy who likes a good challenge and solid music. He does tend to flirt a lot though so he is another one of those characters where you can’t really trust his sincerity. As a result that does hurt the romance between him and Sandra. You just don’t think it’ll ultimately last so with them rushing so much towards marriage it seems like they will likely regret it at some point in the future. At least he can fight though, Fleming gets into a scuffle and comes out on top. He also does have a decent sense of humor like pretending to be the secretary for a while. As he said, Sandra started it so he may as well continue to play the game.

As is typical of these classic films the writing is also on point. Pretty much all of the characters are very tactical and always planning out their next move. The script has a lot of witty dialogue and solid moments for all of the characters. It’s also always nice to see the heroes and villains beating around the bush the whole time as they passively accuse each other. Makes for a fun dynamic. The film is a bit long and does tend to drag on towards the end, but still ends up being an enjoyable adventure.

Overall, Lured is a pretty good film. It’s a fun noir title that is well constructed. The police actually have a solid plan right from the start and while Sandra has to do a lot of work to make it succeed, they aren’t just callously throwing her away like in other operations. They are still all about protecting the people and agent or not, Sandra is one of them. They get the whole team on the case and there’s just a lot of good teamwork here. You’ll probably figure out the mystery before long, but there are enough suspects where the film doesn’t make it too easy for you either. You’ll have to at least connect a few dots in order to get to the right place. The romance is a bit weak, but if that’s the most negative thing I can say about the film then you know it’s still a winner. I’d recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

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Double Jeopardy Review

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

It’s time to look at a murder thriller from a little while back. The concept of Double Jeopardy is definitely an interesting one. I get the feeling that there is a little more to it than what the film would have you believe, but it certainly works for the premise. Of course, that’s part of the problem. The film keeps building up to this but we ultimately don’t really get to see it in action. I was expecting the heroine to use it to her advantage but in the end it feels like more of a red herring/missed opportunity.

The film starts with Libby and her husband Nick finally getting ready to take the voyage they had been planning for a while. Unfortunately after Libby goes to bed she wakes up to find that he is seemingly dead. (No body tho) The cops arrest her and blame her for the murder. There’s way too much evidence for this to be an accident and that’s when Libby finds out that Nick faked his death so he could go live with her best friend. Libby’s kid is also with them naturally so she swears revenge against him. Another inmate lets her know that because of double jeopardy she can go destroy Nick now since she already did so once and can’t be tried again. After 6 years Libby is out of prison and ready to begin the hunt. Unfortunately, officer Travis is on her tail so Libby’s really gonna need to hurry here.

Naturally it’s tough to track someone down when you haven’t seen them in years and there’s no handy Google to check things out. Fortunately Libby is pretty good at social engineering and quickly begins to break the human element that always fails the various computer systems and works her way to Nick. She’s definitely very determined in that goal and makes for a fun lead. Libby’s tough and to the point, definitely well ahead of her time as far as protagonists go. She does get a bit iffy towards the end though which is where the writing drops the ball. So at one point she finally finds Nick. At this point there is no reason why Libby shouldn’t just shoot him. Keep in mind that she’s not a super hero or anything like that. Libby’s here for her kid and could care less about the rest. The justice system failed her so she wants to make things right. By that logic shooting Nick is the quickest way to end things. She can easily prove that he was her old husband after that through photos and then she would get her kid.

I suspect that her kid is the only excuse as to why she wouldn’t do that, but logically it would all work out. Just take Nick down and you’re good. Instead she falls for one of the most obvious tricks in cinema and then gets tricked a second time in the climax. It was hard to watch this because she had been looking so good for quite a while to slip up like that. It’s a shame, but I guess the character couldn’t be perfect. She’s far and away the best character in the film despite this though as you can only be so hard on her for making these mistakes.

Then you have Travis who certainly isn’t having a fun time. He gets beat up by his own captive and then is playing catch up for the rest of the film. He’s a bit slow on the uptake but ultimately does try to look into the situation so I’ll give him some credit there. He is a fun character and while the characters give him a hard time for not giving someone a second chance, he made it crystal clear from the start that they were already on their last shot. Miss the curfew and it’s back to prison for you. He’s also pretty sloppy towards the end of the film though. I guess maybe the lighting messed with them all or he popped off too soon thinking the case was over.

Finally you’ve got the main villain Nick. He’s pretty much your average rich villain. The guy switched identities twice which is impressive enough and goes farther than you’d expect. Still, nothing much to like about his character. He just wanted to escape the taxes and all of his excuses are pretty fake. I do also have to wonder how he was able to escape so smoothly in both cases. I get that everything was more lax back in the day, but in all 3 identities he kept the same exact job and status. Didn’t anyone in those fancy art circles recognize him? You’d think that they would.

Before Nick’s death the film tries to sell you on what a good guy he is, but you’d likely know the premise of the film so it doesn’t work. Even if you don’t, the film lays the seeds of doubt early on as he jokes with the friend that Libby won’t like the truth when she finds out. There’s a lot of dialogue between the words hinting at his cheating the whole time. As such, we could have cut down on the romance scenes early on as they don’t add to anything. If the film was determined to try and show us that Nick was a good guy for a while, maybe show scenes with people in the neighborhood saying what a great guy he was. Otherwise he just seems like a corrupt rich guy from the start.

Overall, Double Jeopardy is a pretty decent thriller, but really missed the whole point of its title by not actually utilizing Double Jeopardy intentionally by the main heroine. She should have shot him in the middle of the big parade to prove the point or something like that. Instead the law never really gets taken into effect as the ending can still be considered self defense. Still, that aside it’s solid. The opening is a bit slow but things pick up once she’s on the hunt. The story of the lone vigilante is always an enticing one and this film handles it well. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I recommend checking it out once it’s on TV again. Once she’s in jail the film really starts.

Overall 7/10