Identity Review

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

Identity is a movie with a pretty interesting premise. I’d actually say there was a whole lot of potential here and I do tend to like the premise of getting a bunch of people together and as they all start getting bumped off you have to wonder who the big villain is. There’s a whole lot that you can do with this but unfortunately the film didn’t really take advantage of this. Mainly because it was going really well but there was one twist which really didn’t work out and ended up weakening the experience.

The movie starts out with the viewer seeing a lot of violent crime photos as there was some kind of serial killer but he’s now being put to death. The Judge and some other people have to quickly talk things over though but then we cut away to the actual plot of a bunch of people getting stranded at a motel. You have the owner who is really shady and being super aggressive the whole time. A former cop who works as a chauffer for a famous movie actress. The actress in question is here as well. A family of 3 where the wife got his by the chauffer’s car so she’s in critical condition and the young boy is definitely traumatized. The father is also cracking the whole time as well. There was a girl who tried leaving the area but the road got blocked so she is stuck with them as well. Finally you have a cop who was transporting a murderer over to jail so he stops in as well along with the handcuffed prisoner. All of these people have to try and survive the night at the motel while they wait for the flood to end but slowly they start getting picked off. Who could possibly be doing this!?

So that’s the story premise that I really do enjoy. It’s very much a Clue kind of mystery and most of the characters don’t seem to have much of a motive at first but then all of their stories start falling apart the more the movie goes on. So after that then everyone starts feeling really suspicious which makes it just as hard to find the guilty party, just for different reasons than earlier. As the film goes on you get to really start coming to your own conclusions as well so it’s just a really good match. It’s just hard to get into this without spoilers but the final twist just defeats the entire purpose of everything. I don’t think it was a good idea and I would have played this one straight. It would immediately be way better. Now in part the final twist helps to establish how some of these events could have possibly happened.

It helps in a power scaling sense but I don’t want power scaling right now. I just wanted a really satisfying story with a lot of tension all around. You still get that for most of the film but this takes away that replay value once you know what’s going on from the start here. It changes the whole dynamic of the film retroactively and the payoff for this isn’t great as well. The film does have a horror film type ending as well which can be fun. I mean you do always want to see that but there’s a whole lot of plot convenience going on here. There’s a car scene near the end that makes no sense because nobody in their fight mind is taking such a chance with a dangerous person. The closest analogy I can use is you hear someone knocking on the door so you open it and get one shotted. That’s basically what happens here.

I did enjoy the meanwhile scenes with the judge and other people talking though. It was so random that it was just a bit funny and that actually leads into a very satisfying twist. The first twist in this plot was actually good and that’s why they always say to quit while you’re ahead. If there was ever a time to follow that advice, this was it. For another positive on the film I thought they did a good job with the atmosphere and effects. Everything did look really ominous and dreary the whole time. You felt that motel vibe all the way. Also the film didn’t overdo it with the violence. It could be violent at times to be sure but some of the visuals would be more creepy than over the top. I’d say the photos at the beginning were mainly more violent than the actual murders at times.

So if we ignore the final twist then I still did enjoy all the cat and mouse games. Aside from the motel owner and the prisoner who were both awful characters from the jump, at least the rest seemed decent. The father was going a bit crazy but considering what just happened to his wife I feel like that’s fair. The kid doesn’t do much but he’s a kid so that’s just how it goes. The Chauffer is one of the more mysterious characters but he’s very proactive and always trying to find some clues so you have to give him props there. He’s definitely taking some extra risks there assuming he isn’t the culprit.

Then you have the actress but she’s a bit on the spoiled side and doesn’t really help out a whole lot. Right from the start you figure things won’t go well for her. The lady who was trying to leave earlier is nice enough. She probably tries the hardest to keep everyone together but with the manager always being rather aggressive it can be hard on her. She keeps it together pretty well though so she was one of the stronger characters. Then you have the cop who adds a lot of the excitement to the film. After all he has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it. The guy’s a bit of a loose cannon and so you feel like he could dish out a lot of damage if he finds out who the culprit is.

With so many characters here there are a lot of dynamics to play into. The film is at its best when the characters are all trying to act normal but you can see how they’re starting to get suspicious. Now in defense of the final twist, you do see exactly what they’re going for here. I think it is possible to execute the twist and have a good movie but ironically it works better if you were not enjoying the movie. Or in fact if we knew about the twist from the start. It manages expectations and you can still have a lot of fun there. It just felt really out of place here and seriously hurt the movie’s momentum.

Overall, Identity is a really solid movie for over 80% of its run. It’s not perfect but it was doing well and then things really came to a halt. Ultimately once you know the twist you can try and recover from it, but it just completely changes the dynamic of the title so it’s never quite the same. I’d like to see a remake/reboot of this film but ignoring the last twist and just playing things straight. As the film gradually got weirder and weirder with so many things happening you just get really excited to see how the writers will tie it all together. That’s what I still need and is what would really make the ending a lot more satisfying.

Overall 4/10

See How They Run Review

See How They Run was a really fun mystery film. It’s poking fun at the genre a bit while also delivering on a very solid murder mystery. You’ve got solid music here and a really solid opening. Throw in the good cast and this is a movie that you don’t really forget. You don’t see a ton of mysteries compared to other genres so it’s always fun to pick out a winner. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out.

The movie starts off with Leo narrating as he talks about how the murders are always predictable and he takes a ton of shots at “The Mouse Trap” which is a play that’s being turned into a movie. The guy holds nothing back but then he ends up being bumped off himself. It made for a nice twist since the film had been leading him up to being the main character but that wasn’t the case. Instead Inspector Stoppard and Constable Stalker are the main characters as they take on the case. Yes, Stalker is actually her name which was another bit of fun by the film. Can these two solve the case or will their differing styles come between them?

The Inspector is a hardened detective type who likes to slowly gather the clues and figure things out. That’s his style and he’s rather good at it. Constable Stalker is more about quickly gathering the clues and jumping to the ending. She likes the thrill of the chase and means well but tends to jump to conclusions as a result which annoys the Inspector a lot. This makes for a fun dynamic with a whole lot of banter though so I definitely enjoyed that. A big part of why the film succeeds is because of these two characters who really steal the movie.

The Inspector has a whole lot of obstacles in his path like the police commissioner who is more worried about optics than what is actually going on. That guy is easily caught up in jumping to the end as well and gives promises that he can’t keep so he’s not exactly the highlight character here. The Inspector has to succeed in spite of him and does a good job. Even Stalker tends to get in the way sometimes but at least she also has a large list of contributions to offset that.

It was a bit underhanded that she wrote down a private conversation between the two of them and used it against him later on though. She nearly got the Inspector in a whole lot of trouble. Yes she was just trying her best to do the right thing but that’s why it’s important not to jump to conclusions. That nearly got very dicey for sure. At least she doesn’t let it get her down though, Stalker never lets her enthusiasm for the case wane.

Then we have Leo who may have died early but keeps a large presence in the film through a bunch of flashbacks. Basically every time the characters meet a suspect we get to see how this guy did something mean to them. Leo is basically as antagonistic as possible. He messes with the characters, tries to get characters to cheat with him, is full of himself, etc. He goes out of his way to antagonize every character in the movie which is impressive…but of course that is also what led to his end.

It was also fun to see Agatha Christie also get to appear here. For a bit there I thought they were going to keep her off screen throughout the movie but she actually has an active role in the climax and gets to interact with the characters. That was definitely a really intense moment and I like how she picked up a few things from her murder mystery novels. She actually came close to having the villain on the ropes.

As for the actual villain, of course I can’t say who that was, but the reveal worked well. The villain had a good motive so you can see how the villain cracked in the end and started bumping everyone off. There is something almost funny about the explanation too and how it led to all of this. It’s true that the reactions to the murders in a way incentivized them to keep on going because the intended effect wasn’t working. “The Show must go on!” is a powerful mantra that is used a lot but of course if someone is trying to stop the play then that means they will have to keep on going over and over again until it actually stops.

One thing I have to give the film a shout-out for are the visual techniques that are used here. You constantly get different boxes on screen at the same time so you see the moment from different perspectives. It’s almost like a comic book in some ways and it’s not overplayed. These moments always just help to enhance the scene and make it more memorable. It’s like going the extra mile for the actual mystery.

You also have a fair chance to try and guess who the murderer is. All of the characters have a good amount of screen time and have definitive personalities. If you’re really paying attention to the dialogue then you should have a good chance here. My pick ended up not being correct so we’ll see how it goes for you. The film is always ready to throw you a few curve balls as well.

Overall, See How They Run is a great mystery film. It’s got a lot of replay value and the fact that the movie is able to tie it into the original play while being different was very clever. The climax uses this really well and there was a lot of detail put into this one. The writing never falters and it works really well in being a bit self aware on what usually happens in murder mysteries while still taking itself very seriously. I was quite impressed with how this went and if we ever get a sequel that could be fun.

Overall 8/10

The Last of Sheila Review

Now this is a very different mystery movie. It feels really random at times and it’s just hard to get a read on it. The concept is sound and of course having everyone be super corrupt is always a classic way to make things interesting since any criminal could possibly be lying to protect themselves. The film goes a little too far in making some of the characters unlikable though and I think the actual premise could have been tightened up a bit. Still, it is a mystery where you should be kept engaged through to the end in trying to figure out who did it.

So one year ago after attending a party, a lady named Sheila was murdered in a hit and run attack. Now the whole gang from that party has gotten back together on a cruise ship and the host, Sheila’s husband Clinton wants to play a little game. It’s all harmless fun of course but he gives them all a card with a secret like “I’m a murderer” and the goal is to keep the others from finding out what you have on your card while finding out theirs. Everyone’s card has some kind of secret on it that actually seems to apply to them. Is this a coincidence or is Clinton’s little game something a little more serious than expected?

It’s a fun setup and I think I’ve even seen a film like this before. With everyone’s secrets at stake, nobody wants to reveal this but they may be in some real danger. If Clinton wants to avenge his wife and thinks he knows who the murderer is, then nobody is safe. The cruise fortunately does make some stops but nobody really wants to leave either. This guy is a big name in the movie business and they are all ready to keep being in more movies and all. In fairness to the characters, it’s probably also a bit of a reach to think that this game is anything serious for a while at least. Thinking that it’s a coincidence with the secret is reasonable and there is a lot of effort put into the game.

The first puzzle was actually tougher than I would have expected. You had to find a single apartment room based on a ton of super vague hints and when the first character solved the puzzle, I have to say that I still didn’t really understand it. It felt like a bit of a leap in logic but kudos to the characters for getting it right there. I liked the format of the puzzle though. Having to run across the whole island to solve this in time was really ambitious even if it feels nearly impossible to solve.

The movie never gets to do the full island adventure for the rest of the mysteries since the murders start up by the second case and then it’s time for everyone to really ponder what’s going on. Again this is a pretty solid premise and I like where the film can go from there but then it starts to fall off the rails. I can’t go into too much detail on some of this since for a mystery film you definitely don’t want to know any of the twists but one twist didn’t make a ton of sense.

I think you would know whether you bumped someone off or if something felt odd about it right? The twist is very bold but it’s a little hard to buy. There should just be so many ways to tell that you’ve been fooled but lets just say that tricking someone into thinking that they murdered someone is evidently easier than I would have thought. The rest of the plans make enough sense though so I think the film holds up on a logical level even if I didn’t buy into the first twist.

The film can get a little violent with the deaths. Not super crazy or anything but enough to remind you that this is still a bit of an old school film. It’s got that gritty 70s vibe to it that you don’t really see so much nowadays. It’s all in the camera work and atmosphere I’d say. The body count isn’t massive so the violent moments are few and far between. Of course the main issue here is that there’s nobody to root for. Of course some of the secrets aren’t as bad as the others but some go a bit too far.

One guy’s secret isn’t shown or anything so we just know about it but that should have been the first guy to be bumped off if you ask me. It would just be more fitting considering how serious that crime is and it’s a bit fishy that he made it through. I think the best way to handle a film where everyone has done something crazy at one point or another is to have a reasonable explanation for them that doesn’t excuse the action but still allows you to root for the character. There’s no way to get around this reason though or any explanation that could work so he was doomed either way.

By the end of the film you definitely feel Sheila’s influence even though she technically didn’t appear except for a very brief flashback. Once we find out the reason for her getting bumped off it is almost funny in a way at the lack of motive/reasoning for it compared to how intricate the rest of the film is. It goes to show how the past can haunt you for a long while through whatever path it needs to.

Overall, The Last of Sheila is a very dreary mystery film. Everything’s all so dark and it feels like nighttime is eternal. I think the actual mystery is very interesting but ultimately it is bogged down by how unlikable all of the characters are. None of them are particularly interesting either and you mainly just remember them all based on what their secret was. In a way you’re just waiting for them all to get bumped off and if I was on the party I’m telling you that I would have absolutely left the boat and just vanished. It did end up working out well enough for most of them but you don’t want to have been one of the unlucky ones to get taken out. I’m on the fence with this one so I guess you should check it out if you want a really weird mystery film. The whole thing was just bizarre, not always in a bad way but at least you won’t mix it up with any other films.

Overall 5/10

Copycat 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

Copycat is one of those films where you know it’s not going to be so good right from the jump. The question is will it rise to mid status or will it just be bad? Well, in this case it never ended up recovering and this is probably a film you aren’t going to be checking out a second time anyway. It’ll just fade away into obscurity.

The movie starts with Helen giving a lecture on the various mass murderers of the day and how you have to be scared because right now even some of the classmates could be evil. Her doom and gloom speech is a big hit but unfortunately one of those murderers was in attendance and attacks her. The guy murders one of the cops but is ultimately captured. Unfortunately the experience scarred Helen for life and she can no longer leave her apartment now. She is completely trapped.

This gets a little intense for her when she reads the news and sees that another mass murderer has appeared. This is her specialty but it’s not like she can go out there to take names and find out what’s going on. Helen is given little choice in the matter though when the villain sends her a threatening message. Monahan and Reuben are the two cops who will be helping her out here but can any of them take down this new villain? One thing’s for sure, they need to keep their guards up at all times.

I’ve noticed that these mass murder mystery films tend to put the main character in a rather difficult spot so they can’t help too much. At least it happened twice which is enough to make me raise an eyebrow as bone collector did the same thing. Since Helen can’t leave and is racked with fear that limits what she can actually contribute to the case. Considering all of this she actually does rather well in looking at the clues and helping out. You feel bad for her too because you figure one traumatic experience is enough for a life time and yet she’s going to have to go for a second one now.

I thought she was a good character though. Helen is tough and talks back to the other characters while also keeping up her boundaries. She only allows her friend Andy to see any moment of weakness within her. To everyone else she at least tries to keep the image up the whole time. Her friend Andy means well and looks after her but you get the feeling that he is doomed from the jump.

In these films just about everyone is doomed for being too close to the lead. Usually as soon as a character appears you know they could be next on the chopping block. The villain here doesn’t have any special powers or anything like that but at the end of the day he does have the element of surprise and that’s hard to fight off. Certainly it’s difficult to combat that on short notice at least.

The villain here is one of those psychotic kind of characters as you can probably guess. It’s also hard to call this a murder mystery to the extent that the film isn’t really giving you a chance to find out who the murderer is for the most part. I suppose the mystery is more about finding him before he bumps someone else off. Unfortunately the tricky part is that it takes a while to find a pattern or any leads so the body count here is already rather high.

I liked the two cops on the case though. Monahan does her best to manipulate everyone and shows that she has what it takes as a cop. Her approach to everything is rather by the book which isn’t a bad thing but the film uses that against her at one point. She ultimately gets off a shot just like how the manual said to do but in the end it wasn’t enough. I blame everyone else at the scene far more than her though because she still did her part.

At one point I almost started to wonder if she was going to end up being a villain in a twist or something but I’m glad the movie didn’t go in that direction. As for Reuben, he’s a good partner. Helen even tries to give him some romance tips at one point although I think it’s a little dicey to be thinking about how to make a move while there’s a serious threat on the loose like this. Ultimately Reuben may be a quick shot but that doesn’t mean he’s super safe.

The villain from the opening scene: Daryll, sticks around for the film and that was unfortunate. We already have one psychopath in this film, did we really need 2? Any scene with this guy in it is super annoying and drags on. I don’t think they should have even given that creep much attention. I suppose they were desperate for leads but that’s when you get someone on the inside to rough him up a bit. That may be easier said than done of course but it’s just a shame that Helen had to work with this guy even for a minute after what happened.

The movie’s stinger for the sequel is also really weak. It doesn’t make you hyped for a possible sequel at all and is just a groaner. It could have done something, almost anything more interesting than that. I would have no reason to believe the sequel would be any better than this film. In fact, there is even the chance that it would just be worse in the end depending on who the main villain is.

Overall, There isn’t much to like about Copycat. It’s your run of the mill horror/slasher title. It’s really gritty and by the time the heroes come around it’s always too late. The victories here feel hollow as a result and nobody is ever prepared so they get bumped like it’s nothing. The writing isn’t anything special and this film is really one of those dime a dozen horror titles. I would recommend just steering clear of this one. It doesn’t even have anything super entertaining to talk about or that at least would make it stand out. I suppose I won’t forget the scene with the random criminal at the police station because of how random it was. Whatever could go wrong for the heroes certainly did each time.

Overall 2/10

Se7en 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

When you’ve got a film with the heroes trying to stop a mass murderer you can often come up against the rather tricky dilemma of establishing this plot while trying not to let things get too dark. Having a psycho be the main villain usually makes this quite impossible though and this film was not able to survive it. It definitely gets twisted for all parties involved and with no real winners here you’re going to want to skip this one.

The movie starts with William getting ready for retirement. He’s had a good career on the force but it’s time to call it a day. Unfortunately his plans are slowed when a mass murderer shows up and starts creating headlines. William is paired with a younger detective known as David who is eager to prove himself here while William just wants out. They do not get along at all with William constantly pushing David. Still, the two will have to get their act together and quickly or this John Doe will continue his murder spree. The only pattern so far is that he’s murdering people along the line of the 7 Deadly Sin. Each of his murders are then stylized based on that.

You feel bad for William because of course something like this had to happen right when he was about to retire. Couldn’t have waited just a few more days right? Now in a way he can’t walk out because if he does it’ll be like he ran away from the case and he’ll probably also be living with a lot of guilt. William is incredibly jaded by this point as well since he’s been working in such a corrupt city for so long. He sees awful crimes every day and at this point doesn’t see a lot of hope left for humanity. There’s nothing left here for him if he stays on the job.

Unfortunately he’s also the best detective around and he knows this very well. Part of why he’s so antagonistic to David at first seems to be to try to get him out of here. He’s concerned why David specifically volunteered to enlist here and the guy never really gives him a straight answer which doesn’t help matters. Meanwhile David’s more of an optimist who thinks he can make the world better one case at a time. He’s got a lot of energy and definitely wants to prove himself. He means well and makes for a good main character. I actually thought he was a little better than William here.

Sure, William is more talented but the fact that he is so jaded means that he just isn’t enthusiastic about anything anymore. At least David is doing his best at all times to make sure that things go well. Then you have David’s wife Tracy who is not happy about being here at all. She would rather be in just about any city but came along because she wanted to be supportive at all times. She’s definitely well meaning in that respect but it would have been best to have a full conversation with him about it. Even their apartment is in rough shape and shakes whenever a train approaches. It would be very difficult to live like that for very long.

The actual villain “John” is your average psycho so there’s not a lot to say about him. He wants to see the world burn and to bring everyone to his level. He has a whole methodology on how he murders everyone but also enjoys it quite a lot and gets called out by the main characters. At the end of the day he’s just a criminal who has to be stopped. The guy has a lot of plans and certainly gets around but you’re just hoping he’ll be caught pretty soon.

One common issue with these kind of films is how much the villain gets away with before being taken down though. There are 7 deadly sins so you would hope the heroes could stop him after maybe 3 right? Really show how they prevented a tragedy but no, you quickly realize that he’s going to get all the way down the list so by the time he’s stopped, he’s already won in a sense. The film is definitely going for a very tragic ending with how this all plays out. There’s definitely no happiness to be found here that’s for sure.

The film takes a little time out to show how crazy parts of the legal system can be though with the villain admitting that he’ll just plead insanity if they actually try him in court. Since recordings outside of the court room don’t count he can blatantly admit to being the murderer as often as he wants but it won’t count. The whole thing definitely feels really crazy and I feel like the film was trying to point out how absurd the whole thing is. It’s unfortunately realistic in that sense. Sure, there’s a chance the heroes could win in court but it would all be a gamble so even by the end they’re playing to the villain’s tune.

Throughout the movie you’ve got a very heavy atmosphere since each of the deaths are so tragic. Each person is murdered in increasingly disturbing ways so it’s not like the murders were even quick or anything like that. Most of the murders aren’t on screen which is good at least but you do always see the aftermath and know what went down. It’s definitely not a film you’ll want to check out if you prefer to avoid the darker elements like that.

In the end that’s why the film can’t succeed. You ideally want a film where the heroes win and save the day on a fun adventure or if you’re going the darker route, have a villain who wins but has interesting ideals or the murders are quick and matter of fact. The more deranged you make the villain, the less likely the film is to succeed because it’s just going way too far the whole time. You don’t have time to enjoy the film because you’re constantly getting hit with these moments.

Overall, Se7en is a film you’ll want to avoid. It’s a rather gritty film where there are no winning battles. You can easily see why Williams is so jaded because every time he solves a case and sees these horrors, he has to know that more atrocities are being committed at the same time. After a while you just feel like giving up and that’s pretty much what happened to him. If you want to see a murder mystery film that reigns it in a lot more you’ll want to check out something like Clue instead. You’ve still got a lot of those themes and elements but without all the extra details that you’d rather not see.

Overall 3/10

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt Review

Time to look at a classic noir mystery film. This one has a pretty interesting plot about trying to fake a crime which is just as dangerous as it sounds. Probably not something you want to be doing on the regular but the reason behind it is interesting as well. The movie has its share of twists and turns as it comes to the ending and they all work pretty well. Definitely a must watch if you like noir.

So the movie starts with Tom accompanying his boss Austin to the latest execution. Austin wanted Tom to see this first hand to further explain why he was against capital punishment. The District Attorney has been bumping quite a few criminals off and Austin thinks it is so that he can make a play at being governor. The two certainly don’t like each other much which is understandable since it’s a big topic to disagree on. That is when Austin lets Tom in on his idea. He wants them to wait for a crime there there are no leads and then they will frame Tom for the crime. If he is convicted and sentenced to be murdered, then Austin will reveal that it was all a ruse and that might get the state to outlaw capital punishment. They’ll have photos and everything so this should be low risk.

Tom agrees to do it but quickly realizes that there will be a lot of complications here the whole time. For starters, this puts Tom’s engagement on the rocks because he is starting to act overly familiar with some other ladies as part of his cover. Tom probably should have just told Susan what was up from the start so this is all on him. Then with all of the fake evidence Tom’s position continues to look worse and worse. As long as Austin is ready as his safety net he should be good…but will that really work?

The writing here is very good which is absolutely critical since the dialogue is really what makes a film like this. I certainly didn’t see one of the final twists coming here. I also like how Tom’s very nonchalant about the whole court case until something happens later on. He doesn’t do anything to cause the judge to attack him or anything but Tom just doesn’t seem to care even though his life seems to be on the line. Since nobody else knows about his deal with Austin this makes sense and it makes for some fun moments.

As for the actual plan, I do think they took a decent amount of precautions here. The photos were definitely key and they should help answer a lot of questions. I think Tom took the “act” too far though. Like the scenes with him and the dancer where he is being quite aggressive were uncalled for there. He knew that the cops were around (presumably) but even so he should have tried to retain some class. I don’t blame Susan for being upset about the dinners either since there aren’t many explanations that would explain that.

Tom really didn’t do anything to make himself look good in her eyes. He has a lot of good banter with the cops and the DA but when it comes to his home life it definitely became a mess right away. So those scenes definitely hurt him and by the end he wasn’t one of the more solid characters. I’ll give Susan credit for handling things well though and not trying to make a scene. Clearly these events hurt her quite a lot but she never broke down. At the end of the film she also makes the right decision during crunch time too.

Then you have Austin who’s a solid character. His plan is a bold one but I do have to agree that it would strike a solid blow for his cause. It would really show why capital punishment is so dangerous and would have absolutely crushed the DA’s career. The DA was a solid character as well. He’s the antagonist but not a villain. The guy does think that he’s doing the right thing and the evidence was hard to overlook especially with how poorly Tom defended himself since he wasn’t taking things seriously.

It’s hard to blame the DA at all for going along the path that he did. As for the capital punishment debate, that will always be a tough one. On one hand, if you are falsely accused and die, you’re dead so that’s it. On the other hand it may be preferable to have a quick end than to rot in jail for 60 years before you finally get out when they find out you weren’t really guilty. In a lot of ways the first option just seems better and that’s before you even go into the logistics and all. Ultimately it’s for the best that we don’t have it but it will always remain as a tempting option as long as there are dangerous criminals who still exist.

Naturally a big part of why the film is so fun also comes down to the courtroom scenes. I always enjoy seeing those and this film has quite a lot of them. You get to see the DA make his case and Tom have to try and respond. While the heroes would take shots at how the DA was trying to win over the jury, I would say that he was just doing really well and they were sour grapes because they were so invested in this. I don’t blame them of course but it is without a doubt that I can say the DA did the best here and stole the show at least within the confines of the courts. That is his area of expertise after all.

The only weak parts of the film can be when Tom is under cover. As I said earlier he gets way too into the role if you ask me. Definitely seems like he’s having fun with it when he shouldn’t be. I also don’t even think we need some of the scenes there with the dancers performing or changing later on. Feels like the film added some unnecessary fanservice here when it could have been focusing more on the mystery. To an extent I imagine it was meant to show us their daily lives and how it was easy for the first one to be taken alone and murdered but if that’s the case then I’d like to see the management more and how they’re handling this. It seems like they’ve added 0 security since anyone like Tom can just walk right in through the front door.

Overall, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is a solid film. It keeps you engaged from start to finish with a solid cast and good writing at the ready. The whole film really ends quickly and the pacing is never an issue. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you are interested in the court room and debates on capital punishment. From the start you may figure that Tom should have just said no to even trying out this experiment which is valid but it does make for a good story.

Overall 7/10


Boomerang! is a rather odd name for this film. It’s certainly not one of the first names that you would guess when thinking about this one. That said, the film definitely gets a solid thumbs up all the way. The court scenes are handled very well and the story is a good one. With quality writing and a solid story backing it up, you can tell that a lot of heart was put into this film.

The story starts with a priest/minister being murdered and the assailant runs off into the night. Unfortunately it was late and nobody got a good look at the guy. He’s now on the run and the police are being put under a lot of heat in order to find him. The local government is getting involved as well and so nobody is happy. The current administration is trying to stay in business and this could be game over for them. Meanwhile the other side is naturally thrilled since this could be their chance to be in charge. Henry is right in the thick of it as the prosecutor in the case. He is being pressured every which way but has to decide to look at the case fairly.

It’s a very compelling story here and of course when there’s a lot of pressure put on you like this, it can make every decision feel very tough. Henry knows that his career could be over depending on how he goes about this and he is even threatened at gunpoint to make a certain decision. So he can’t forget that all eyes are on him here. The fact that it will be very difficult to get any tangible evidence on whoever committed the crime is really what will make this a tough battle to get around.

Throughout the film we see how the hysteria gradually reaches everyone. It starts out with some of the townsfolk being upset and before long everyone is watching the news real closely. At one point they are even ready to beat up the police to attack the main suspect in case the court system was going to let them off. By this point they’re no better than a mob of course and to think before now the town had been completely peaceful. It all changed within the span of a day. That’s how big this current case was.

As the main character, Henry is great from start to finish. He really does try to examine all of the evidence himself to make sure that he is doing the right thing. He isn’t afraid to look really closely into some of the evidence even if it could hurt his case as the prosecutor. Henry really wants to do the right thing even if it’ll hurt him politically and keeps his cool even when a gun is pointed on him. It’s hard to find a lead that’s much better than he is, Henry always made the right decisions when it counted.

Robinson is the police chief and I liked him as well. He makes sure to do a very thorough interrogation of the suspect John to make sure that he really is the criminal. Robinson is one of the last people to really buy into this guy being the crook and that’s established as one of his personality traits. He doesn’t change his mind easily which is very helpful at the start of the film and less so by the end. There is definitely a lot of tension between him and Henry later on in the film since they have two different ideas about how this situation should go. Definitely a good character though and the kind of guy you want as the police chief.

Then you have John who is the big suspect here. I would certainly make the case that John didn’t handle the situation very well but it probably wouldn’t have matter much to an extent. There was just too much circumstantial evidence here for him to have gone. He was in the town at the right time to commit the murder and even had a gun that is linked with the bullet. All signs pointed to him being the guilty party so it was difficult for him to not appear guilty.

John seemed really upset right from the jump but getting dragged in on murder charges will do that to you. Someone even comes in to give false testimony and mess him up just as a grudge which makes him even more upset. I feel like the lady was let off easy for completely showing up with a false statement to try and get rid of John but at least they warned her. John signing the document also made sense because after a few days of this kind of interrogation is seems likely that almost anyone would crack.

I tend to love court scenes so with a big part of this film taking place there, I knew this was going to be good. Henry does a great job of breaking down the case point by point in a way that’s easy to follow and that can get the jury on his side. He really dismantles every point that he tackles in a very systematic way. He was ready for some of the witnesses to give him a hard time and with ways to debunk everything. Some of these counters involved a lot of lengthy tests from before the trial which shows that he did his homework.

Henry was taking this case very seriously and it’s a flattering look at the justice system. It may not always work out but this town can certainly breathe easy when you have guys like Henry on the job. The corruption didn’t win this time as the politicians try messing around but they couldn’t break Henry. In part this is also thanks to one of the reporters who was around named Dave. This guy always knew when a story would strike and had quicker reaction times than the others. So he was the first to leave the room and the first to enter it. He’s also responsible for a lot of the snappy dialogue in the film which is always a blast. The banter here was top notch!

Overall, Boomerang! is a great film on all accounts. The writing and story are strong and the characters are just as solid to match that. The movie does a great job of showing how everyone just really wanted someone to pin the blame on regardless of how good the evidence was. A crowd can certainly be stirred up into a frenzy very quickly and that’s exactly what happened here. It was great to see the town get so engaged with what was going on but of course the obvious downside is how extreme they take this. The townsfolk sometimes end up being more of a hinderance than a help with how they try to get everyone arrested.

The Alphabet Murders Review

Time for a very different kind of Poirot film. Throw away everything you knew about the character beforehand as this one goes as far as to act like a parody the whole time. The movie even starts off with the lead breaking the third wall which is certainly something else. While I do like the film and will go into it in a second, I will say that the breaking the third wall gag felt flat as it often does. In very rare circumstances will I say that such a scene is good. It really just serves to take you out of the story in the same way as seeing the main character in the present talking about how he barely survived the events that we’re about to see. Fortunately the film didn’t go that far here.

So the movie starts with a poor clown getting murdered. He seemed to be shot by a mysterious woman. Then another victim takes their final dive and so Poirot will have to be the man to put a stop to this. Surely the world’s greatest detective can stop this criminal right? The only clue that the heroes have is that this villainous seems to be murdering people according to the alphabet. The first victim’s first and last names began with A, the second B, etc. Well, Poirot won’t have to search as hard as all that since the villainess confronts him straight up. She talks about how she doesn’t want to murder but that she must and other vague things as she beats the stuffing out of him and runs off

Prepare to see Poirot get beaten quite a bit in this film. He’s really not prepared for the kind of opponents that he is dealing with as this version is fairly weak and also not very intelligent. He has to rely on luck and physical ability in order to complete this case and I wouldn’t say that he is the toughest guy on the block either. Mix all of these things together and it doesn’t bode very well for him. The opening scene where he is getting choked by Amanda is also pretty odd. Perhaps intentionally and perhaps not but for me it didn’t even seem like she was seriously trying to murder him.

Or at least it was very half hearted with how they were tussling around. Poirot was calling for help the whole time but everyone would either misunderstand him or promptly get knocked out. It was crazy but I would say this was the best scene in the film partially because of how insane it all was. It can also be spooky, imagine calling out for help the whole time but nobody steps in because they think you’re all right? Now that will keep you up at night if you almost got choked to death. Poirot believes it was the lady’s way of asking for his help after it’s all over.

While Poirot is beaten and outsmarted throughout the film, he is a fun character. He does have some decent plans like pretending to choke himself to get Hastings to lower his guard. Poirot spends half the film trying to defeat the other good guys as opposed to going after the villains which is also meta in a sense. Fortunately for the heroes the villains don’t go around murdering too many people because they would have been in no position to stop these guys.

The hero is arrested and captured more than once. He’s not very good at being self aware like when he was chasing the girl. You’re actually rooting for the civilians to stop him since without context the whole thing that appear to be really crazy. It shows that these people aren’t just going to stand for this. The other main hero in the film is Hastings and he’s basically this film’s version of Watson. Hastings isn’t very smart and often gets outsmarted by Poirot but he means well.

What the man lacks in skill and bravery he makes up for in loyalty. You can always count on him to have your back and that’s a powerful thing. He even attempts to provide assistance during some of the more dangerous moments even if it doesn’t end up working out most of the time. I gained some respect for him when Poirot wasn’t able to outsmart him for once near the end of the film. It was almost like character development of sorts.

As for Amanda, well she’s a decent villain I guess. I think the whole plan was way more convoluted than it needs to be but granted, that could be due to the adaption. After all, in most cases it would be tough to murder Poirot or outsmart him so you can see villains coming up with all kinds of crazy plans to throw him off the scent. In this one though, well it would be extremely easy to bump him off. Poirot was being overpowered in the steam room after all and he was also chasing Amanda in the darkness with ease. Just set a trap for him at any time and I’m sure he would fall right into it. That’s absolutely the game plan the villains should have had without having to go with this whole ABC angle.

Amanda did a good job of completely tricking Poirot though so I have to give her some props there. All in all, the writing is good. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest but you’ll get a good amount of witty dialogue. Some of the visual humor is nice too like when each character is snapping their finger at the other to grab a hat and other things. They had good coordination there and it made for a peaceful scene.

Ms. Marple also gets a little cameo here which was neat. It’s always good to establish a crossover continuity here and it also is a good way to show where Poirot ranks in comparison with Marple. In her one scene she was able to easily crack the case but presumably the cops didn’t believe her. Meanwhile Poirot “solves” the case by the very end and it took everything he had.

Overall, The Alphabet Murders is pretty good. It’s a shame that we didn’t get some kind of sequel. Who knows, maybe it’s better as a one off, but there’s a whole lot you can do with this concept. The bumbling detective and his witless sidekick is not something that’s done very often at all. I’d also have liked a full crossover with Ms. Marple. From what we saw of her, she would likely have the advantage in a fight but with both characters having such a strong ego, I’m sure this would be a lot of fun. This film goes by pretty fast and ultimately how much you enjoy it will be directly related to how funny you find the characters to be. Does the dialogue feel naturally comedic or does it all feel forced? This is the question that will determine it all.

Overall 7/10

Murder Most Foul Review

Marple returns for another adventure in my little marathon but this time she really has a time limit since an innocent man will die if she doesn’t solve the case in time. Unless of course she is mistaken and the cops did grab the right fella in this case. Only time will tell but Marple is also going to have to become an actress for a little while if she is to succeed.

The movie starts out with someone getting attacked and murdered but unfortunately the police officer who was passing by did not notice. A trial is held with the primary suspect who was found near the lady who was murdered. Everyone including the police think it is an open and shut case but fortunately Miss Marple was there as one of the jurors and prevented the case from being concluded. She believes that he has been framed and intends to prove it but the Inspector shows up and reminds her not to interfere with police business. She is going to have to be on her own this time along with some help from Springer.

The first thing she will have to do is join a local acting circuit and while she is initially turned down for being too old, her money has a clear voice and alters the outcome. She must figure out which member of the troupe committed this foul deed and bring him or her to justice. It’ll be difficult though because all of these guys are rather young and fairly quick on their feet. Underestimating them would not be a good idea. Can she crack the case?

Marple is about as solid as always here. She makes sure to have the upper hand against the villains at all times and even reminds us that she has her gun skills at the ready. She isn’t afraid of anyone and takes all kinds of risks in order to get close to the case. Her confidence never wavers and you could go on and on about what a quality character she is. The overall point is that since she can fight as well, that elevates her character since she now has ways to defend herself.

As for the Inspector, well by now he’s starting to play a really central role in these films. He’s also starting to take the whole battle with Marple a lot more personally or at least that’s how I see it. At first he may not have believed her but he didn’t seem upset about it. Now he throws fits and even tries to arrest her. He’s really not happy to see her at all and you’d think he would be since she is always solving cases and putting murderers beyond bars. The Inspector starts to appear very unreasonable but he’s still fun as an antagonist.

He may mean well but since the guy is constantly trying to get in her way it’s hard to call him a protagonist at all. It’s a shame since he does want to be a defender of justice. Springer is helpful here as well as he always gets orders from Marple to head to various places and gather intel. In some ways his missions are very dangerous as well since he’s really going places to find out information that the villains don’t want to get out.

As for the actors/actresses, some of them do seem a bit unhinged so you can definitely see how things would get a bit crazy. One of them tries to strangle another only to say that it was all a joke at the end. Then you have a girl who hears voices and talks about spirits as she loses her mind every night. She comes close to even stabbing Marple which is crazy and shows that there may not be just 1 villain around. The director of the troupe is desperate for money so he at least makes a show of trying to be helpful but you don’t buy it. He’s more obsessed with having a good show than with actually aiding the police which is not a good look for him.

All of the usual musical tracks are here along with the quality writing you would expect from the series. The case is interesting and the characters are good which is all that you need. The suspects may not be the most likable bunch but as they are suspects, this works well enough for me. That said, I would consider this to be the weakest film in the series.

For starters, having the court case be almost completely off screen was disappointing. There’s a lot you could do with Miss Marple in a court setting. It would be an interesting dynamic to have had her solve the case while in the room with the jurors. Maybe it would have been difficult to turn that into a whole movie but I think the idea has potential.

Then you have Marple’s tryout scene which I thought was rather dragged out and not too interesting. It’s easy to see why she was initially denied entry since she just wouldn’t work very well in the play. None of the actual acting scenes were particularly exciting though as you just want to get in on the action. Near the end you have the main plot going on at the same time which works better since there is a point to it. The Inspector’s right hand man looks pretty bad in the process though since he really left his post completely. When you’ve got one task and there are life and death stakes you definitely need to take everything rather seriously if you ask me.

Overall, Murder Most Foul is still another quality title overall. I would have played things out a little differently but at the end it’s a murder mystery that does deliver on both aspects. You shouldn’t have any serious issues with this one as stay engaged with the case. With the inspector even getting a promotion at the end you like to think that maybe he will be a little nicer to Marple going forward and can even help her out in her cases right? Well, we’ll see in the final installment in the series.

Overall 7/10

Murder at the Gallop Review

Miss Marple is back in action once more to stop the upcoming murders. We once again deal with a will and a bunch of very suspicious family members. This time though Marple will have to make sure that her horse riding skills are still on point because otherwise this could get a little tricky. It’s a solid follow up and continues with most of the positives that you would have enjoyed from the first film.

The movie starts with Marple and Springer collecting some funds for charity when they visit the house of someone who notoriously never gives his money. He won’t be given the chance this time though as he is dead. His family shows up for the will and they each get a nice chunk of real estate but one of them says that he was murdered. Before Marple can properly check with her, this lady is murdered as well. Now this definitely seems like it can’t be a natural death so Marple joins the horse club as she explains that she was a bit of an expert back in her day. She will have to do this without the aid of the police since they believe the earlier deaths were due to natural causes. Marple may be on her own but she isn’t dissuaded and will fight hard until she can get the proof that she needs.

It’s a pretty good change of scenery here at the horse club. It’s pretty much a fancy hotel out in the country side after all and there are a lot of rooms where murder can happen. Marple spends a lot of time trying to find the right boot since her main clue is something that fits into the boot. I forget what term they used for it but it looks like Styrofoam and she has to try matching it each time she gets an opportunity. Not necessarily an easy thing in a high speed place like this.

The Inspector returns of course and he’s fun as always. This time you’d think he would cut her some more slack but he doesn’t believe Marple as always. At least they hint that she calls on them a lot and we only see the successful attempts but it would still be nice for him to be on her side this time. He does try his best but the guy is completely out of his depth in these cases.

Part of why he’s still a great character though is because he does try really hard. No matter how many times he is proven wrong or outshined by Marple, he continues doing his best to try and serve out some justice. Now that’s the kind of attitude you need to have as an inspector or else you will quickly fall behind.

As always Marple is a solid character as well. She is good at getting right into the thick of the action and also doing so in a way where the police can’t just remove her. Like here for example where she is a proud member of the hotel right now. They can’t just boot her out and it’s a very clever way of also pressuring the criminal into making a move.

I should also mention there is a bit of a running gag from the first film that continues here where someone falls in love with Marple at the very end. That happens here as well and it shows that while she makes a considerable amount of enemies in each film, people just tend to like her by the end. It is impressive to find an older lady who is still good at so many things but that’s just how good Marple is.

It goes without saying but the writing is solid here as well. The mystery is put together in a very solid way and the script is on point. The pacing is good and you’ll always enjoy the witty exchanges between the characters. Part of the fun in mysteries like this is seeing all of the characters quickly affirm their innocence as they grow more and more insistent on the fact. You know that one character is lying out of his or her mind but you just don’t know who yet.

The soundtrack also continues to be high energy as the main Marple theme plays whenever she is on the go. The fact that the soundtrack is memorable at all is impressive since a lot of films just don’t have a whole lot of music to keep you entertained.

It is nice how for once nobody has a proper alibi when the police show up. It makes sense though because in a hotel like this you would often be by yourself. 9/10 times in a movie like this I would have no alibi because I probably would have just been playing video games or eating somewhere. Of course some of the characters are quite happy to say they have no alibi but it’s hard to say if that makes then more suspicious or just bigger jerks.

Marple’s final plan involving a dance is a good way to get the villain to lower their guard even if it’s extremely risky. One thing you’ll notice about Marple is that her plans are as dangerous as they come. This one for example involves her pretending to be asleep and all alone in her room. It all tends to work out but in several cases you feel like she would have been murdered before anyone is even able to get close enough to save her. That’s my main critique of her strategy since I don’t think the results mean that the plan itself was sound.

Overall, This was a nice follow up to the series. Looks like the murder mystery series is on the right trail and Marple can hold her own with the rest. I’m slowly getting to learn more about her which is nice because if I ever watch Murder by Death again I’ll have an even better understanding of each detective. You can expect the third movie in the series to be reviewed in the very near future.

Overall 7/10