Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

West Side Story Review


It’s time to look at another popular musical from back in the day. This one has not aged nearly as well as Footloose and ends up being a pretty bad film. It has some interesting storylines and characters, but ultimately the movie falls apart because it is lacking in true heroes. There really isn’t anyone to root for by the end and while the film left the door open to a team up in the second half, it ultimately never happened. The ending isn’t really satisfying for any of the characters.

The movie starts by introducing us to two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. These two do not get along and have been fighting over turf for a very long time. Both groups are roughly equal in power so nothing ever changes. One day the leaders of both gangs decide to end things once and for all with a big fight. Bernardo and Riff shake on it and prepare for battle. A wrinkle to this is that Tony has fallen in love with Maria and they are both in different gangs. Maria pleads with Tony to put an end to this fight and he decides to do so, but it won’t be so easy. In trying to stop this confrontation he may just end up making it worse.

I mentioned that there aren’t any characters to really root for. This is because they tend to be corrupt or make terrible decisions, but one solid character was Riff. He’s the leader of the Jets and seemed to be a lot more capable than the others. He was ready to fight at any time and always kept his cool. If not for Tony’s meddling he definitely had the win pretty decisively. He actually looked a lot like a younger captain Kirk and fought like him as well. His long skit which poked fun at the justice system was also solid and one of the best songs in the movie. It’s a shame that he didn’t get to appear more since I also think he would have kept his gang from crossing the line with Anita later on.

There’s little reason to root for the Jets because of that scene. There’s a moment later on in the film when Anita is sent by Maria to deliver a message to Tony. She is stopped by the gang though and while it is reasonable for them to stop her from meeting with him, they also decide to attack her. It’s basically 10 vs 1 and very quickly gets into downright villain territory with how they try to degrade her. There’s just no coming back from that especially since everyone was in on it. So, that means that not a single one of the remaining Jets was a decent human being.

The film also gives you reason to root for the Sharks if anything as the dialogue implies that the Jets started the fight with them just because the Sharks are outsiders. The cops are also more on the Jets side even if they just don’t like teens in general. The deck is stacked against the Sharks. Bernardo also seemed reasonable at times even if he definitely was not when Tony showed up. At that point he wasn’t helping matters and that’s why Riff had to step in. The rest of the gang doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

We’ve got Tony who is the pacifist, but he comes across as more annoying than anything else. I never liked the trope of the character holding back his ally from fighting while allowing the villain to get a cheap shot in. If you’re going to try and stop a fight then you’ve also got to make sure you stop the other side from attacking as well. Tony’s final move to try and get himself destroyed is also not a good one. You’d expect him to at least try and avenge Maria instead.

As for Maria, she was giving Tony a lot of pretty unreasonable demands the whole time. Ultimately she is the one who is getting him into all of this trouble. Why should it be his responsibility to stop two gangs single handily? That’s just very hard to do and so she definitely takes some of the blame for the ending as well. Anita was a more selfless character if anything as she put aside her feelings to help Maria time and time again despite knowing that this was a bad idea. Her character arc is definitely one of the most tragic ones as she ends up losing almost everything with nothing to gain.

There are quite a few songs here, but they aren’t very catchy in comparison to other musicals. The “Keep it cool” song was very surreal though and was fun in an ironic way. It was cool to see the characters dancing around silently in the garage. The dancing was handled pretty well in general. The opening scene might have been a little slow with all of the clicking and silent moving, but it did ultimately lead to a fun little confrontation. The film is at its best when it tries to throw a little humor around like with the skit that I mentioned earlier.

The serious moments don’t work nearly as well. This includes the romance which ends up being more annoying than anything. One such scene is when the characters are meeting by the balcony. Both of them make a lot of noise considering that they are supposed to be doing this in total secrecy. Then you have the ending which definitely doesn’t work for me either. At the very least you would expect Maria to take a shot. Knocking out both gangs would have been very interesting.

Really, this film wasn’t very good from start to finish, but what really made it cross the line into distasteful territory was the scene of the gang attacking Anita. It’s the straw that broke the film’s back so to speak. This is just a very mean spirited film which is almost surprising after you’ve seen the first few scenes since you would expect it to be fairly happy. The tone just shifts throughout which is impressive, but ultimately it did not work in the movie’s favor this time.

Overall, I would recommend staying away from West Side Story. Not only is it a fairly bad film, but it really drags on. The run time is incredibly long and that’s mainly because the pacing is so slow. You can go through long periods of the film with absolutely nothing happening and that’s never a good sign. If you want to go watch a good musical then I recommend watching Footloose. At least that one has the iconic hero song which works well to this day.

Overall 1/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Footloose Review


It’s time to look at one of the most influential musicals of the old days. This film redefined the genre as we know it and brought in some good tunes. It’s a little better than I would have expected although it still does make enough wrong turns to keep it from being real solid. Fans of the musical genre should get a kick out of it and at the very least you will enjoy the soundtrack.

The film starts off with a kid named Ren who moves into a new town with his mother. This town is pretty well insulated from the rest of society as they have decided to come up with their own rules. One of them is that dancing is now banned within town limits and everyone must only do things that are deemed acceptable by the adults. The council is only made up of old adults so these limitations end up being quite strict on the town including a curfew although this is just a “suggestion” and not a law unlike the dancing one. Ren is quickly shown the fact that he is not wanted in the town as everyone bands against him and he decides that he can save the town with dancing. He will have to endure a lot of oppression both physically and emotionally as the town bands together against him, but he does have one friend in Willard and that will have to be enough.

The town definitely appears to be quite corrupt and unfair to Ren right from the start. I’m not too surprised at this though because I feel like a lot of towns probably would not have liked newcomers back in the day. It does get to be a bit much though when they start framing him for drugs, fights, broken property, etc. It seems like the teens were already rebellious before Ren showed up so I don’t see why his presence accelerated it so much. Take the early scene where Ariel and the other kids went to the fast food place and got caught by her father Shaw. They were all rebelling and dancing and this was completely without Ren’s influence. They always seemed a bit rowdy and Ren just took the fall for this.

I suppose they just wanted a scape goat though and in that sense this did work out. Ren’s a pretty reasonable character for the most part. One thing I do like a lot is the fact that he stands up for himself. A lot of other characters would have simply retreated or tried to move out, but Ren confronts the bullies directly. He doesn’t back down and I suppose it does help that he is physically fit which is why he can’t be intimidated so easily. He does really well in the final fight and he did ace the game of chicken even if the situation was forced on him. The guy’s a solid lead.

Then you have Shaw who is the main antagonist. He starts out as a preacher who seems to have the town’s best interests at heart, but slowly it seems to become more of an issue of pride, which his wife exposes. I like the idea of the character, but by the end you definitely won’t be on his side even a little bit. For the most part he keeps his emotions in check, but he does lose it with Ariel once and isn’t always all that open to dialogue. I would argue that a lot of this is also Ariel’s fault for the lack of communication, but she is the kid in this context so it is really up to Shaw to take the high road. Striking Ariel under any circumstance was not that right path.

Then you have Ariel who is the main heroine, but I can’t say that I liked her all that much. She seems to be playing the field with everyone in the village so right away she doesn’t seem very faithful. She is very quick to try to get together with various people and that’s why I’m glad Ren played hard to get for a little while at least. I don’t think they should have gotten together at all to be honest as that romance just didn’t work. By the end of the film Ariel starts to get a little better and this is all clearly rebellion against her father, but it does happen at the expense of her character. After a while your motivation becomes less important and you just have to consider how much damage you’re doing.

Her early scene was already a red flag as she nearly gets a few other teens murdered by pulling a really dumb stunt with a few cars. She definitely had no regard for their safety and I feel like their friendship should have ended after that. The characters never really appear again after that so maybe they did distance themselves a bit. It’s hard to say though.

Then you’ve got her current boyfriend who is the bully of the school. The guy’s just not a good person and relishes his various power trips. He definitely gets a beating by the end of the film in the solid action scene. Considering how skilled Ren appears to be it isn’t surprising that he claimed the win. Bullies usually spend a lot of time talking and likely don’t have the discipline to stick with a professional fighting style for long.

Willard is Ren’s main friend and he does pretty good. He may not know how to dance, but Ren works on fixing that pretty quick. He also does good to stick to his deal of no fighting for as long as possible, but depending on the situation that simply isn’t possible. If a group of guys are attacking you then you’ve simply got to make a move. Ren certainly didn’t hesitate and Willard quickly joined him there. Fights can be defensive and if the heroes didn’t fight back things would have gotten ugly.

There are quite a few songs here but the big one is definitely the “I need a hero” song. There are a ton of “Hero” songs out there and originally I thought that the skillet version was just a remix or vice verse as opposed to being totally different. It’s definitely got a retro vibe to it and the song she’s well to this day. It definitely makes the tractor scene a little more hype then it would have been otherwise. I do prefer the song selection here to Dirty Dancing and in general I would say that the film was a big improvement. I know these tend to be rivals and I’ve definitely got my pick here.

The film can be pretty surreal and the characters are fun, but ultimately the romance does hurt it quite a bit. It doesn’t help that I really didn’t like Ariel, but the whole town basically being villains was also annoying after a while. A missed opportunity here was not seeing more of the Mom. I imagine she was feeling a lot of the backlash as well and this is hinted at when she is fired from her job which was likely the latest instance of this. Surprisingly she has no presence in the film and I would have liked to have seen her defend Ren more. Why they even moved in with these other guys is beyond me. I think the film briefly touched on it at the beginning, but none of them seem particularly nice so it’s a rough situation.

I’m also not sold on the writing. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it came across as a little cheesy in some areas, but half heartedly. It wasn’t exactly Adam West Batman or the old creature feature films. The character lines just felt like something nobody would say at times like when Ren tried to explain why he is doing this in the first place. It was all pretty vague.

Overall, Footloose has its moments and is definitely a powerful musical title. I did like some of the songs (particularly Hero) and it also had a solid character cast to back it up. The heroine and some of the supporting characters hold it back along with some missed opportunities on the film’s part, but if you like musicals a lot then this is for you. I’d be interesting to see a remake of this. I could see big improvements in some areas, but some would be hard to top. You don’t really see floaty fight scenes like these quite as much anymore. The film struck a good balance between being realistic and quick without being too gritty or drawn out. It was a dancing fight scene to an extent although not as dramatic as West Side Story which I will get onto pretty soon.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

It’s A Bikini World Review


It’s time to look at another beach movie. These don’t tend to be all that good so I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that this one didn’t exactly hit it out of the park. Interesting the main plot is something that I’ve already seen twice recently so that didn’t really help matters either. I suppose it’s the kind of plot that all of the writers want to take a shot at during their careers, but you really don’t need to give it a try. Having the movie take place on the beach doesn’t help much either.

The film starts off with the characters hanging out on the beach as per usual. They’re surfing and all until a new girl arrives on the beach for a visit. Her name is Delilah and Mike decides that he wants to hang with her. She won’t give him the time of day though because he is generally not a great guy and is always going from one girl to the next. He’s currently with 5-6 different girls as it is. Mike won’t take no for an answer though and decides to pretend that he’s a kid named Herbert who happens to be Mike’s nerdy brother. In this form he gets along with Delilah, but things get complicated when Delilah decides to try and compete with Mike in a lot of big competitions. Can Mike manage to be in two places at once and also keep the deception up? It’ll be difficult, but the main thing is that we’ll be rooting against him.

That’s the tough part with these beach movies. How can the film work when you’re actively rooting against the main character? Mike is everything that’s wrong with the beach movies. He’s always going from girl to girl and has no sense of loyalty about him. Even by the end he starts a big montage about how he’s free once his secret is out and it seems like he’ll be going back to his old roots. Hopefully Delilah doesn’t actually fall for this and gets out as soon as possible. It’s just a bad idea to hang out with Mike for very long.

As for Delilah, she’s a nice character but you kind of know how her plot will end from the start which is a bit of a damper. Really Delilah should be able to stay by her lonesome without having to get a partner and it’d be nice if she could actually beat Mike. Unfortunately that never happens and Mike just keeps on winning throughout the film. It does make sense since a few days of training won’t be able to stop years of it, but you end up feeling bad for Delilah. Nobody seems all that sympathetic either since everyone else likes Mike. It is his home field court so that makes sense I suppose.

Then you’ve got Woody who is the exaggerated comic relief character. He’s basically around to keep getting Mike in trouble. The guy can’t pick up a hint, but at the same time I wonder why Mike would even be remotely surprised because he’s surely been living with this for years by now right? He’s got to know what kind of guy Woody is and I think he didn’t plan things out right. Meanwhile Woody’s friend doesn’t like that he keeps having her cook the meals and pay the bill, but the way their plot ends is pretty bad. Woody’s just not the kind of guy you want to have around and while his silly type of humor can be decent, in this case it ended up falling flat.

As per usual the film also loses a bunch of points due to the poor writing, bad romance, and fanservice throughout the film. As far as beach movies go it isn’t nearly as bad in the last area as some others, but I ultimately still gotta give it a thumbs down here. There’s not a whole lot of substance to the film so it can’t really hold its own for very long at all. The film could and should have ended way sooner than it did.

One such instance of this is seen in the final challenge exhibition. There are like 15 rounds and it’s the characters doing everything from driving to hitchhiking to swimming. There’s no rhyme or reason to the sports though and winning each individual segment doesn’t even seem to matter. It should at least give you a head start to the next event or something, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I don’t think the film thought that part through and probably should have done something else for the climax.

The subplot of the photographer and the editor helping in the event also didn’t really matter at all. They don’t impact the plot one way or the other and were likely just here to set up the final race. The grownups in these films are rarely all that good but I guess that’s not saying much since the whole cast is pretty suspect in general. What the film needs is a bunch of other supporting characters in a New York subplot far away from the Beach. Something to distract you from what’s actually happening.

Overall, It’s a Bikini World basically checks all of the boxes for a beach movie and that’s not a good thing in this case. There’s nothing particularly compelling about this movie nor is there any reason to actually stick around. It’s just a movie that feels very long and will remind you why people don’t go to the beach very often anymore. I’ve gone once, but opted not to go into the water because of that virus going around lately. Sometimes it’s best to just play it safe and dodge the risks much like you’ll want to dodge this film. I guarantee that you’ll have a better time with just about any other title.

Overall 2/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

A Star is Born (1954) Review


It’s time to look at the second adaption of A Star is Born. The film plays it pretty straight compared to the first movie so there aren’t a lot of changes. Mainly it’s the heroine’s backstory that has been altered for this one. In the first film she had a modest upbringing and wanted to follow her dreams of being a movie star. In this one she is already a pretty talented singer but is then given the opportunity to be a star thanks to being noticed by Norman Maine. She can’t turn down an opportunity like that right?

The basic plot revolves around both Norman and Esther. Norman used to be a very big star, but he became an alcoholic and ever since then his talents have suffered. Nobody wants to work with him at this point and even though he is under contract that may not be the case for long. One night he spots Esther and decides that she is someone who should be a part of Hollywood. He gets her the audition and her talents take her the rest of the way. They get married, but the problem is that Esther’s fame quickly eclipses Norman and his ego isn’t ready for this. He starts going back into his spiral of doom and threatens to destroy both of their careers once and for all.

This movie does try to make Norman a little less antagonistic although his being drunk is a crucial part of the movie. In the original he broke Esther’s Oscar statue while at least here is showed some restraint there. Still, he’s not a character that you are likely going to root for. He is simply too far gone and from the start he gets hurt too quickly when people don’t recognize him. Even in the first minutes of the film before Esther is introduced he is already getting himself into a lot of trouble. As the judge says later on, he got a lot of advantages that nobody else had and yet he squandered them all. Even at the end of the film he takes the easy way out. Sure, he was doing it for Esther’s sake so he wouldn’t sabotage her anymore, but at the same time that’s also saying that he couldn’t stop his bad habits.

As for Esther, she’s definitely a solid character. I’d say that she was more likable here than in the first film as well. As she was already a singer she was well equipped for Hollywood from the start. She never felt out of her depth or anything like that and dived right into the action. Even once the difficulties with Norman started to arise she always put it behind her and acted as always. Once it became obvious that her success wasn’t helping matters she was willing to throw it all away to help him. Esther’s definitely a selfless heroine and one that is easy to root for.

Libby serves as one of the antagonists here to an extent. He may be Norman’s agent, but he definitely doesn’t like the guy. He waits for the day it all catches up to Norman and seems to be bitter about all the times Norman threw him through windows or caused a general mess of things. He gloats a lot by the end. He’s a pretty fun character and definitely made sure Norman did not recover. Meanwhile Niles is a guy from Hollywood who actually was looking out for Norman. He did his best all things considered. While he was not quite able to help him in the end you can’t say that he didn’t try.

Then you have Danny who is probably in the most tragic situation. He helped Esther get a career but was then thrown away once she had this gig. He was always trying to help her, but got friend zoned in favor of Norman. Still, he never stopped being her friend so that was definitely nice of him. Even by the end he is the one who comes in with the speech to finally help her get a hold of the situation.

As for the musical aspect of the film, it was okay although I can’t really say that the songs were my thing. They sounded well enough but the beats weren’t fast enough and the singers were only okay. You’re not going to find anyone at the level of “Let It Go” here. Not every film needs to have a standout number like that though. The scene of Esther running about the house showing her latest number to Norman also was maybe a tad too long. The musical did show restraint with the number of songs though, at times you may not have even known this was a musical to be honest. Songs are featured, but it’s not quite as constant as something like High School Musical. Of course, it helps that this movie is about 3 hours so you have time for both the songs and the plot.

The writing is pretty solid as well. The characters are pretty quick witted. Norman’s sudden personality shifts from being aggressive to normal are very rapid which works well for how his character went. The romance between him and Esther is pretty weak though. It’s hard to see it escalating so quickly considering that he almost ruined her dancing number and then comes across as very over the top. She goes from treating him as a nuisance right away to quickly becoming more than friends. It all happens so quickly and I dare say that the original one made more sense. At least there you could also say that it was part gratitude since he helped her from nearly being penniless to being a star. Here? He forgot about her for several weeks after convincing her to quit her job. She shouldn’t be all that grateful after such a turn of events.

Overall, A Star is Born has its solid moments, but still does suffer from a pretty weak ending. It’s definitely not a very satisfactory way to end the movie as in a sense Norman lost. He proved everyone else right and while Esther’s legacy hasn’t been tarnished, it would have been good for both of them to have gotten their win. Esther ensured that Norman wouldn’t be forgotten with her final line in the film so as always she did a good job of making the best of the situation. As the movie is also very long there isn’t a whole lot of replay value here, but it’s not a bad movie. It’s good for a one time watch at least and as long as you can get around the fact that you can’t root for Norman then I’d recommend checking it out.

Overall 5/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

The Little Mermaid Review


It’s time to look at the classic story of The Little Mermaid. It’s definitely a very well known Disney film and for good reason. It’s got solid animation, a tight plot, and even good action scenes. This is a very complete Disney movie and one that holds up well to this day. One of these days I ought to do a ranking of the classic Disney titles, but this one would be pretty high. It beats Aladdin, Dumbo, Snow White, Cinderella, but isn’t quite ready for Mulan.

The film does a good job of showing off the underwater kingdom and really illustrating how much better it is than the human world. Ariel lives in pretty much a paradise, but unfortunately the grass always looks greener on the outside. She has always had a fascination with the human world and after saving a prince she realizes that she wants to be with him instead of the kingdom. Ariel makes a deal with Ursula that she can woo the prince in 3 days or she will obtain the mermaid’s immortal soul. The stakes are high, but Ariel is ready for action.

Right away you can tell that this title is a little more intense than the previous Disney films. Maybe they wanted to take advantage of the fact that is was a newer title, but it is noticeably more violent than the others. Now, when I say “violent” keep in mind that this is still G-PG. It’s nothing crazy, but the stab at the end is pretty brutal and then you have Ursula eating creatures that are still alive. Her lipstick seems to be quite nefarious and then there’s also the scenes of the cook chopping up the fish. It does raise the stakes a bit here as the heroes are in real danger most of the times. There isn’t all that much slapstick or humor during the chase scenes compared to some of the other titles. When the villains are after the heroes it is life or death.

The animation is also quite stunning. In that regard I can definitely say that this is the best Disney animated flick from this era. The colors are all very vibrant and yes, I did see it in Blu Ray, but I’m sure the film also deserves most of the credit here. Naturally the songs keep pace as well with quite a few excellent tunes in there. In particular Sebastian gets a really solid song “Under the Sea” which is rightfully as popular as it is right now. There really isn’t a weak song in the mix.

As expected the pacing is also pretty sound. There’s never a dull moment here and the story is always transitioning into something. We also get development for all of the characters. The Prince even has his own supporting characters like his attendant who wants him to settle down. This is usually where I’d bash Prince Eric for going for rebounds, but I guess he was being mind controlled so it isn’t quite as awful as it usually is. Once the control was gone he went back to being normal and seemed more or less loyal. I can see why he was interested in the voice, at first, but it’s good he tossed his instrument away when the going got tough. You’ll still feel bad for the attendant who has to get hit with all of these shenanigans the whole time. He just wants a peaceful day, but he isn’t likely to get one.

Sebastian is definitely the best character here though. He has the hype song of course and aside from that he is always the guy who stays calm and collected. He does try to stand up to the King for a while even if the other characters in the film don’t really give him credit for that. He gets put into a lot of difficult situations and I don’t think we can fairly blame him for most of those. Stuff happened and he made the best choices he could under the circumstances. Then we have Ariel’s friend Flounder. He isn’t quite as resourceful or interesting, but he’s a nice guy I suppose. He’s certainly got Ariel’s back and tries his best to help her.

The King is definitely not as reasonable as some of the other Kings. He definitely isn’t willing to hear Ariel out after all, but at the same time she probably should have approached him about it first. I think we can reasonably assume from the dialogue that she did in the past though so even though I’m going in a loop here I ultimately have to pass the verdict that he wasn’t too reasonable. He also gets played like a fiddle against Ursula. He should have aimed anywhere else but at the scroll if he wanted to stop her.

Ariel’s a charismatic character of course even if she is a little too desperate to get to the human world. Everyone warns her that this is a bad idea, but she just won’t listen. She did make the right choice in saving Eric regardless though. Just letting someone drown is never the right answer. From there she was doing a good job at fulfilling her end of the bargain if not for Ursula’s meddling. She just shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. As for Ursula, she’s definitely a pretty solid villain. She’s ready to win at any price and is totally content with playing the long game. Who knows how long she was waiting until someone like Ariel was finally ready to make a deal? She’s clearly gotten other clients in the past as well so her business is booming.

Overall, there’s a whole lot to this story and that’s why Little Mermaid holds up to this day. The action is intense and the graphics are quite sound as well. Throw in an excellent soundtrack along with a solid cast and you’ve definitely got a winner. I imagine that it’ll be tough for the sequel to match up to this one, but naturally I’ll hope for the best. If you somehow have not seen this film yet then I’d recommend fixing that straightaway. It’s definitely a solid title that I’d recommend to any viewer. You can’t go wrong here and at the end of the day it’s just a fun movie.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movies

I Can Only Imagine


It’s time to look at a recent movie about the iconic song “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s definitely a pretty good song so I was up for having a film about how it was created. As you might expect it is also a bit of a tragic tale with a happy ending since it’s based on true events. It’s a good movie with quite a few songs which is good although I would have liked to have seen a few more tunes thrown in.

The movie follows Bart as he grows up in a rough household. He manages to get by, but the situation forces him to try and grow into the image his father wants him to be. He joins the Football team and it goes well for a while until he injures his leg and is forced to retire. I guess extra curricular activities are a necessity in this school so he is transferred to the music class where the teacher forces him to become a singer. Bart enjoys singing but the problem is that he knows Arthur (his father) won’t approve. His suspicions are correct and things boil over until Bart decides to run away from home and join a traveling band. In the process he breaks up with Shannon and prepares for his new life.

This life is tougher than Bart thought it would be though and he starts to have doubts. He tries to run back to Shannon, but that isn’t happening and his vocal skills are being doubted by the professionals. When all hope is lost he finally heads back to his home to confront Arthur who has seemingly been redeemed after becoming a Christian. Bart has to confront this fact by wondering if this is true and also if he will forgive Arthur regardless.

It’s a pretty emotional movie for sure. I think you’ll end up being a lot more invested in the musical scenes then the plot though. Partially this is because Bart just isn’t a very likable main character for the most part. It’s hard to blame him for all of the family stuff since that was pretty traumatic for him, but I’m talking about everything aside from that. First off is his relationship with Shannon. He had absolutely no reason to break up with her in that scene. It just didn’t really make any sense and I feel like it just happened to increase the dramatic tension. Of course it’s hard to say if that’s how it played out in real life as well. Then his attempt at getting back together with her was painful. He went to her house at midnight while pretending to be the police? That’s a prank that went way too far and she shouldn’t have even gone to the front door if you ask me. It’s no surprise that she didn’t go with him.

Then we have the scenes where the critics come to hear his band play. Their agent tells Bart that he’ll handle this and for the crew to wait in the back. They all listen except for Bart who runs to the stage and makes a mess out of everything. The film goes a little too far in making him super head strong and naive as far as the critics process goes. Surely he knows how these things go and that you can’t just yell at the critics to make them change their minds right? He just makes so many mistakes and then just saying that he’ll quit wasn’t very responsible either. Things could have really gone badly for his band mates at that point. Of course that’s when he chooses to take a long leave of absence from the band…great.

Still, if that’s exactly how it played out in real life then it’s good that the film played it straight there. Meanwhile Arthur is one of those characters who is so bad that it’s hard to buy into the redemption arc which is why you can understand Bart’s skepticism even if he doesn’t handle the situation well at all. (Why even show up at the house if you’re just going to guilt trip Arthur the whole time?) It’s definitely good that Arthur saw the light and ultimately found Christ. At the end of the day even if nobody believes that you have been truly redeemed it doesn’t matter. You know if you’ve become a Christian and that’s what counts.

Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a good film. While it can’t really be called a fun film for the most part as it can be pretty dark and dramatic, the songs are fun. It’s a quality movie and one that you’ll definitely want to see if you’re curious about the song’s origins. It’s not quite on the same level as God is Not Dead which is still quite excellent, but this movie doesn’t really make any big mistakes. It does manage to be a pretty realistic film without over embellishing the events.

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Review


It’s time to look at an old school musical from Dr. Seuss. This film is definitely very strange and outlandish as you would expect from the famous writer. As always he does a good job of making a world so utterly bonkers yet with some sort of rhyme and reason behind it. It’s a fairly fun film with a lot of ideas, but one that does drag on a little more than it should have. Trim the length a bit and you would have a real winner here. Alas, the score does take a minor hit as a result, but this is still a film that I could easily recommend.

The film starts off with Bart having a dream where a bunch of people are running around. They have so many chances to catch Bart that you start to wonder if he’s misread the situation. Nonetheless, Bart continues to run and tumble until he is shaken awake by the best character in the film, Terwilliker. Terwilliker reminds Bart that he has to become a famous pianist and quickly. Bart tries to deflect the issue by learning a different instrument but Terwilliker reminds him that the Piano is the only good one. After he leaves Heloise, Bart’s mother reminds the kid that he should try harder. Bart’s response is to fall back asleep which triggers the dream that takes up the rest of the movie. If you were engaged with the real world plot, then you’ll be disappointed to know that it doesn’t show up again until the final minutes.

In the dream world Bart has been taken prisoner by Terwilliker who now rules the world. The villain intends to use the world’s greatest piano to get rich and famous. He has also mind controlled Bart’s mother with his telepathic abilities. Bart decides to put an end to this so he runs over to the local plumber, August. August is skeptical about the whole thing since the villain bought him some pickle wine. Can Bart convince this guy in time to save his mother? They’ll have to get past Terwilliker’s incredibly powerful army of villains so this will be no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination.

As expected I wasn’t a big fan of Bart. I won’t say that he is a bad character or anything, but at the end of the day he is just a kid so there is only so much that he can do. He tends to get shocked at just about everything and doesn’t react all that well. He could have been a lot worse I suppose, but he can’t hold his own movie. Unfortunately his mother doesn’t look much better as she spends the bulk of the film being mind controlled. Her willpower just wasn’t enough to block the villain’s influence and she never has a big moment where she overcomes this madness. Looks like it’s up to the main villain and August to hold this film up.

Terwilliker was a fun villain because for the most part he was rather reasonable. Not the marriage plot which was out of nowhere, but just wanting everyone to appreciate the Piano. While the Piano may not be the best instrument, I would argue that it may be the most effective if you could only choose one. The Piano has a wide range of sounds so it can be used for all kinds of music while others may have a little trouble there. Terwilliker isn’t afraid of getting into fights and holds his own rather well so he’s also not the kind of guy to hide behind his lackeys. I do wish we got to see him more in the real world though since he was definitely on point there.

Finally we have August who is skeptical of everything. He’s always lived his life with his nose to the grindstone so he doesn’t believe that kids are being kept captive at his workplace. He thinks this is all on the up and up, plus he’s getting overtime. Still, when he is convinced to check out the situation he goes in fists swinging. As soon as he enters the lair, Terwilliker tries hitting him with an energy blast that August quickly recovers from. I liked his fast reaction times there as other characters may have panicked or just wasted time asking questions like “What’s going on!?” August may have been suckered after that, but his response was good.

The writing is pretty solid for the film. As mentioned, I also did like the action scene where both fighters were using The Force even if it was a little long. Where the film suffers a bit is with how passive the heroes are. When the villain arrests them they don’t put up a struggle or even try to resist. August just blames Bart again while the kid just takes it. Fortunately they came up with an invention to stop the villain, but even then Bart has to rub it in the guy’s face. Couldn’t he just take the high road and claim the win? Well, I suppose he paid a price for this by the end.

As I mentioned, the film is super zany so while that is mostly a strength it doesn’t always work. I do appreciate the attempt though and it’s one of the better handled films with this level of abstract concepts. I liked the caps that everyone had to wear, those were pretty fun. It’s a shame that Terwilliker was on the wrong side since he had good design choices. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief quite a lot the whole time, but since it’s all a dream you can cut it a little more slack since the kid just imagines the scenario that’s most convenient for him. If it was all real then that would be a bit more of an issue.

Overall, This was a reasonable film. If you’ve wanted to see a film that was just absolutely crazy then this is the one for you. It is rather cheesy at times, but you probably won’t cringe except for possibly the invisible fishing scene. The over the top acting from all of the characters is probably part of its charm. Nobody involved in this film is actually taking it seriously. They’re just having fun and you will aim to do the same. It’s not the kind of film you’ll likely care to re watch but on your first time it’s definitely quite the trip. Just remember to use your imagination for all of the invisible scenes.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Muscle Beach Party Review


I’ve seen quite a few beach movies in my day, but never have I seen one about a group of Muscle dudes trying to take over the Beach from the crew. It’s a pretty interesting dynamic because you just aren’t sure who to root for. After all, which party is more sympathetic here? Probably the crew and that’s saying something. It’s certainly not any better than the other beach films, but it can make for some decent entertainment at times.

Frankie and the gang are hanging out at the beach like usual when the film starts off. Dee Dee wants them to eventually get married while Frankie insults the very concept. He believes that people should mess around with each other but stay available in case a better offer comes along. Sure enough, one does. A rich Contessa shows up and decides that she wants Frankie. Frankie’s eager to go with her and ditch his beach band. Can Dee Dee stop Frankie from doing this..and does she want to?

This film’s certainly old and you can tell that it is because of how Frankie acts. As I mentioned he believes being married is sort of like being trapped and the film never really plays this off as one of those “He’s totally wrong” angles. No, it’s just something that’s to be accepted and Dee Dee is the one who has to compromise and allow him to keep his freedom. She really looks bad in this film all things considered as Frankie gets to do whatever he wants with total freedom while she can’t get away. In all of the other films if she ends up with someone else than Frankie steals her back. In this case Frankie was totally willing to leave her for good, but then he was told that he would never be quite as rich as the Contessa so he went back to Dee Dee for the rebound. It’s just not a good look and both of them come out worse for it. Dee Dee shouldn’t take him back and Frankie certainly won’t get any sympathy from me for all of this. I was hoping she would finally dump him here.

The Contessa isn’t really any better. She buys a whole body builder team just so she can be with one of them, but then ditches them over night for Frankie. She doesn’t seem like the type of person who would actually be very loyal so I couldn’t feel bad for her either at the end. She definitely should have fired her manager for messing everything up though. It wasn’t even an accident, the manager intentionally sabotaged her chances with Frankie. In comparison, the other manager (Fanny) was okay I guess. At the very least he wasn’t afraid to challenge his opponents. The downside is that Fanny’s not very smart and quite a bit of his screen time is for proving this. So much for this guy.

The body builders are also poorly developed characters. They’re all built, but that’s their only character. They act like puppets most of the time as they only move when they are told too and the poses get old very quickly. You also can’t take them seriously since Frankie is able to get past all of them even once he was cornered. If these guys can’t even beat a normal teenager then what good was all that training for? I do have to give the film some credit for not pulling a cop out with the climax here. The teenagers actually had a real fight for a change with the body builders and it may be the best fight of the series. There was another film where we had a big fight scene, but I dare say that this one managed to come out on top. It is a little cheesy that the body builders didn’t win though.

Unfortunately as this is a beach film there is a considerable amount of fanservice. Certainly enough to drop this film to low tier territory. You just can’t go a single scene without something sketchy happening. Some of it is used for running gags, but that doesn’t really help its case. Then the villains also seem sketchy at times and it just doesn’t make for a good mix. This is why we need more films to take place somewhere colder like Russia. Then the films wouldn’t have this issue.

Of course at the end of the day what really hurts this film above all else is the writing. The film just doesn’t flow very well and none of the characters are even remotely likable. They all try to outdo the other in terms of who can make the worst decisions. Instead of being loyal the friends will even watch as you are dragged across the beach. That’s definitely not cool even if the opponents are doing their best Superman impressions. Not to mention that the muscle men are outnumbered quite badly.

Surprisingly we didn’t see Eric Von Zipperman as for once the actor played someone else instead. I can’t say that I missed him,but his iconic yell was always pretty fun to have around. There’s not a whole lot more to say about this film as you get the general gist of it. It really promotes the whole rebound play angle and that’s the part that really doesn’t age too well. You simply can’t be so easily swayed like Frankie is and still get such a happy ending. Maybe one day Dee Dee will realize the truth.

Overall, Muscle Beach Party is everything that you think it will be. The film hits all of the Beach tropes and then some. As a result you can also pretty accurately predict everything that will happen as the films have a very solid flow chart at this point. Frankie makes Dee Dee jealous, she returns the favor, he actually gets together with someone else, Dee Dee pretends to, Frankie goes even further, Dee Dee finally leaves, Frankie chases her,…then start from the first step. It’s not a great formula. Well, at least Frankie does warn her every film that he wants to stay free so in a sense she knows what she’s getting into. Their plot still needs some closure though. Instead of recommending this beach movie I’d recommend you watch something very wholesome like Mortal Kombat!

Overall 2/10

Live Action Movies

The Greatest Showman


It’s time to look at a fairly recent film that did quite well for itself. I’m sure many people have heard of the famous Barnum circus for which this film is based off of. When I was a kid I went to a few circus shows, but it didn’t really follow me as I entered my teen years. I sort of just grew out of the circus. It’s certainly impressive with how they are able to perform the acts many times over without an incident but it just isn’t as exciting as a nice arcade or in this case, watching a movie about a circus. The Greatest Showman is a fun film even if the main character adds some unnecessary drama.

So the film starts off with Barnum having a dream where he is the greatest showman on Earth. Everyone loves his shows. Then he wakes up in reality where he is a commoner who works for the rich. Everyone disrespects him and his father dies from all of the pressure. Barnum decides that he will be a great man someday. He gets a nice 9-5 job and ends up marrying his childhood friend Charity. They are low on money, but still have a good life. One day Barnum loses his job so he decides to gamble on the circus. Now he can make his dream a reality. His circus is a very different one as he decides to only hire people with a unique act. A lady with a beard, a guy with tattoos, a guy who is short, the Wolf Man, etc. He gets them all together and the show is a big success. Still, it isn’t enough. Barnum wants to keep getting more and more famous no matter what it ends up costing him!

You can probably already guess how this can get a little dicey. Barnum had literally achieved his dream. The show was amazing and he was rich enough to quickly move into a castle. Then he decides to risk it all by letting the fame get to him. He ditches the people who got him this far to go on a tour with a rich celebrity. He even comes close to having an affair on the side. He manages to avoid making this mistake, but isn’t quick enough to prevent the singer from pulling him into a scandal. It adds some extra drama and suspense to the film, but honestly it wasn’t needed. Perhaps the film would have been a little too happy otherwise I guess, but they could have just kept the whole circus in flames scene and that would have delivered the necessary tension.

So, I can’t say that I liked Barnum. When you achieve your dreams and still aren’t satisfied, then it’s tough to sympathize with a character like that. He learns the error of his ways by the end, but it was awful late for that. They probably should have just restarted without him. A shame since he was a quality character for the first half of the film. His wife Charity was certainly more enjoyable than him. She kept it real throughout the film and never let herself get corrupted. She defied her extravagant lifestyle and risked it all to live the life of a pauper. I can’t picture Barnum making the same decision.

Philip was the other co-star here. He decides to also put aside his rich life to have fun at the circus. He is a fun character but his romance started a little too quickly. He falls for one of the performers almost instantly and even then he can’t stay strong after hearing the super singer Jenny who apparently ensnares everyone while in the act. Philip is a charismatic character, but he needs to have more willpower than that. I can see why Anne was worried about starting anything with him after such a moment and I don’t blame her.

In general I can’t say that the romance here was all that good. Perhaps sticking to just one romance plot instead of having 2 would have helped. The main character one I can understand and it did take years so it’s not like they married out of the blue. Philip’s romance on the other hand just feels tacked on. What happened to keeping up the friend zone while at work? They don’t have time to be getting distracted like this.

As this is a musical there are quite a few songs in here. For the most part they are pretty solid. I think the cicus troup probably can’t sing quite as well as the main characters but they do well enough. The best song in the film is certainly the one in the bar between Barnum and Philip. The bartender there was low key the best character in the film. I like how he always had the drinks ready and would slide up and down the aisle as he followed the dance. He knew that he was going to make a lot of money out of these 2 guys and he was absolutely right. When there is a buck to be made you can’t afford to hesitate. That’s what it means to be a true performer. They should have hired the performer to get an act. I do have to say that if I were Philip I would have certainly turned down the offer though. Losing everything just to get to be in a circus? I dunno, doesn’t really seem like a tempting offer to me.

Overall, The Greatest Showman is definitely a pretty fun film. There is a short period in the film where it starts to get rather somber and dramatic, but for the most part it’s pretty lighthearted. The first half of the film probably does beat the second half, but it’s still a good all around film. It never drags on and the cast is likable for the most part. They all simply lack willpower and the conviction to see their dreams through to the end. Better luck next time in that regard I guess. I’d recommend checking out this film especially if you like musicals but also if you like a good time at the circus.

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Beach Party Review


It’s time to look at another old school beach movie. This one’s title is pretty well suited for the movie since that’s really the extent of the plot. The heroes are going to have a big party on the beach so cue the hijinx and shenanigans. It’s definitely not a film for the faint of heart or for those who like to watch quality films. If you like the beach genre though then I think it’s fair to say that you will like this film. After all, that’s what this one is all about!

The main characters are Frankie and Dolores. They have decided to head over to an abandoned beach house so they can finally hang out without the rest of the gang. The two of them like their friends of course, but sometimes it’s best to just get away from all of them. At least that’s what Frankie had in mind, but then Dolores admits that she actually didn’t like that plan so she invited everyone to the house. Frankie gets upset and after Dolores gives him the silent treatment he decides to get even. He’ll get together with Ava to upset her and in retaliation she gets together with an old guy named Robert. Both of them have to push this as far as they can until the other relents, but who will crack first?

The plot of trying to get the other person jealous is always a classic for the romance genre, but it’s still not a good plot. While they are using these other people the main characters are also degrading themselves. Frankie does let Ava have her way with him even though he puts up some mild resistance. You can tell that he is rather half hearted about it. Likewise Dolores is quite extreme with Robert and seems willing to do anything. It’s only thanks to Robert continuing to refuse her that things don’t go too far. These actions don’t make the two leads look very good at all.

It probably works more on Frankie than vice versa. He gets upset enough to go and threaten Robert a few times although that never actually goes anywhere. Frankie always appears to want Dolores back (but not enough to apologize) while she is content with Robert. Again, that plot only ended because Robert actually broke up with her instead of the other way around. That’s why you will actually feel bad for Ava by the end of the movie. She was just fine by herself until Frankie decided to claim her and then he just dumped her when her use was at an end. She really got a sour deal but fortunately she didn’t take it too hard.

As for Robert, I’m afraid that he was a bad character from the very beginning. He is writing a book on the teens which essentially involves spying on them 24/7 while laughing like a maniac the whole time. Having a romance with one of them is naturally just as cringe worthy. This character definitely didn’t need to be in the film and I think it’s safe to say that he is nowhere near the villains from the previous beach film that I saw. The only thing interesting about him as a character is that he is a master martial artist. He can actually bend time to his will using a technique that freezes a person in time for hours. That’s extremely useful if you think about it.

Then we’ve also got Eric Zipper and his gang as per usual. They still get beat up by every character who encounters them, but I suppose they try their best with their sound effects and over the top reactions. I’d say that you would root for them after a while, but that’s definitely not going to happen. Lets just say that they weren’t ready for Robert. The scene where Robert first confronts them may be the best scene in the film.

As you would expect the romance in this film is terrible. The characters all seem to be fans of rebound maneuvers as they switch partners very quickly. The characters can get betrayed multiple times and overlook it quite quickly. Robert’s partner pretends not to like him, but then gets jealous when he partners up with someone and doesn’t mind being the 2nd choice at the end. The characters must just have very low self esteem to not mind all of this. None of the characters know what it means to slow down either as they jump right into the romance as soon as possible. Definitely makes you double think if being with one of them is the right move since you can’t trust any of the characters here.

Then we’ve also got the Beach scenery which doesn’t do the film any favors. It always goes for poor camera angles to add as much fanservice to the film as possible. It’s something that you don’t see too much in live action which shows you just how low this genre will go. I’d say that I expected better from the Beach genre, but honestly this is what you would expect from beach movies. Typically beach scenes in any film or show are some of the worst so a whole film taking place there just isn’t a good idea. The film just hasn’t aged well. Especially Dolores’ song where she basically admits that she should concede defeat first even though Frankie has just as much to do with the issue. Maybe more if you think about it since he certainly gets away with more than she does.

Overall, Beach Party is a film to avoid. None of the characters are good and the romance is terrible. There aren’t many redeemable scenes in this film and any scene that is around gets surrounded by bad ones. You need to stay as far away from this film as possible, but fortunately the title probably tipped you off to that from the beginning. The Beach genre is one that definitely deserved to be taken down a few pegs. Imagine seeing this in theaters? That’d be totally crazy. I’m ready for a Winter Mountain film genre to take off instead. I think that would be a lot better.

Overall 2/10