Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Arisa Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Fate is the Hunter Review


It’s time to look at a film dealing with airplanes and a lot of tricky situations. It also throws in a court case for the second half which was definitely fun. It’s a movie that is admittedly pretty slow for the first half, but will keep you engaged enough to see it through to the end. The film doesn’t really do anything wrong it just isn’t very exciting. You have to be ready for a slow burner but as long as you are then there really won’t be a problem here.

So Jack was known as a great pilot but one day he crashes the plane and dies along with a lot of people. He was seen at a bar the day before so everyone thinks he got drunk and that’s why he crashed. Sam doesn’t believe this was the case, but getting proof will be tough. The court case is coming up and in order to clear Jack’s name Sam will need to revisit all of his old memories and meet up with Jack’s old gang. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. Sam knows he is going to have to try really hard to find the truth, but he won’t give up until he does!

The film does a lot of jumping between the present and the past so we can see Jack. After all since he’s dead in the present it’s not like he could actually show up in the main timeline right? Even the flashbacks are cut up as you see different bits and pieces as Sam meets the others. Jack seems like a nice guy from what we see even if he’s always running around. He’s got so many friends that he doesn’t seem to have time for any individual one for too long before dashing off with another. Still, he’s always around when you need him and this strengthens Sam’s resolve.

Sam goes down a bit of a dicey alley after meeting Sally though. She explains to him the concept of fate and how maybe this is just how things were meant to be. Sam is skeptical at first, but slowly starts to come around. This is not good for him for a few reasons. I’ll get to those in a minute. Before that, I’ll just say that Sally was a nice character otherwise. She was definitely very helpful in the investigation. Without her Sam would have had a tough time finding anyone else. Sam’s also not a bad character even if he doesn’t think things through nearly as well as he should have. Lets just say that the whole fate angle plays about as well in court as you would expect.

All right, lets talk about this whole fate thing. The first reason why Sam shouldn’t have used it is that the argument sounds so terrible in court. Sam effectively says that maybe it was fate for Jack to crash and for everyone to die. He goes as far as to imply that it was actually a good thing in that case as all the lives on the plane were meant to end. I don’t know about you, but if I lost family on that plane and someone said that in defense I would definitely be voting guilty and that company would really be in trouble. Sam seems a little surprised at the backlash but he really shouldn’t be. It’s a terrible argument to make.

The second reason why I never bought into fate is that it can’t be wrong. Put it this way, if you buy into fate as a concept then it can explain any and everything. If you lose at something it was fate. If you make a mistake then you can just say it was fate. Nothing ultimately matters because fate controls everything and you can’t escape it. At the same time, you never know what will be fate until it happens so it’s basically a loop. I see little point in subscribing to fate in that case since whether or not I believe in it, if it’s real it’ll happen anyway. So it’s all just circular logic that will drive Sam into a deeper and deeper hole in the court. He really should have avoided that.

That’s my thoughts on that at the very least. The writing is good here and the pacing is solid. There’s no sense of danger or anything which is just why the film has a weird vibe. I’ve certainly seen films with no such stakes, but the tone here just feels like there should be. At most the film tries to throw some in at the very end when the characters try to recreate the scenario. I don’t think the scene is quite as exciting as the film seems to think it is though. Points for effort of course, but the court scene is still the best part of the film. You just can’t go wrong with a court scene. That’s simply how it’s always been and I don’t expect that will be changing anytime soon.

Now there is some irony at the end of the film. As a quick disclaimer, ultimately the reason why Jack went into the bar was to buy some drinks for a friend of his. Jack didn’t actually have any so he wasn’t under the influence. The crash was because of something else….but it was still his fault. See, he got a coffee from the attendant and then he put it down on the controls while doing a turn. The cup fell and the coffee spilled into the engine which caused it to malfunction. So, in a way it was still his careless that caused the crash. Of course the planes should be made a little more carefully than that, but the first rule of any electronic device is that you are not to have any liquids nearby. That’s why you should have soda on a plane because you drink it right away and that’s that. For a coffee that has to be cooled first it’s simply not practical. So, I found a little irony there, but I suppose it might still be a little bit of a stretch to totally blame Jack. It was a 1 in a million kind of chance that led to the crash, but I think when they present these findings the people still won’t be all that thrilled.

Overall, This is an interesting film just not an engaging one. I think you will want to stick around for the ending once you start and see what happens. The writing is solid and the film has good fundamentals so there’s nothing bad to say about the film. I think it probably should have just added more time to the search but with the added bonus of a rival or some doubter to get in everyone’s way. This film lacks banter because there are no real antagonists. The best scenes in the film are when the company shows up to get in Sam’s way and offer their own input. That kind of thing always helps a film if you ask me. Regardless, it’s a fairly unique title that’s worth giving a look.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

An Experiment in Terror Review


It’s time for a noir murder mystery. This one even brings in the FBI and it’s interesting to see how they’re portrayed here. Nowadays it feels like the FBI is more secretive and if you call in you likely aren’t going to go all that high up. Granted, it’s not like I’ve ever tried. In this film you can casually fall them and someone will get on your case ASAP. In a way they feel more like a branch of the police. The film has its moments and some good detective work, but some parts really hold it back.

The film starts with Kelly getting into her apartment, but she is then put in a choke hold by a mysterious man behind her. He has a breathing issue and the camera is always zooming in on his mouth to up the creep factor. He tells her that he wants her to rob a bank for him so he can get rich or he’ll destroy her and her kid sister. After he leaves Kelly does try to call the cops, but she is taken down again since the guy apparently didn’t leave. Kelly will have to be careful about how she plays this because one wrong move could be her last. Fortunately FBI Agent John is on the case. Even though the first call was broken up he was able to be re-connected and will now aid her in identifying the man while keeping her safe.

As a noir thriller this film definitely still works. There’s always a sense of danger in the movie and the pacing is pretty solid. The film is careful to not really give you any clues as to who the assailant is. It’s not really a traditional mystery though as you’re not supposed to solve it. The FBI get clues and move in but it’s not like you have 5 suspects running around. The guy never bothers to show up in person at all. He’s already got a reputation in other places so there is no reason for him to do so.

The FBI also look pretty good here. John is quick on the uptake and doesn’t put Kelly in any more danger than necessary. All of his plans are as careful as can be and he does try to get the upper hand. I would argue that he can be a little short sighted at times though. His priority is saving Kelly and while he does a great job of that, he doesn’t really try to protect the others much. Her sister, the informant, and the other caller are all left defenseless while he pursues his main goal. The guy can’t be everywhere though so maybe the bureau should have just assigned more men to the case. I imagine they were spread pretty thin as it is though.

Unfortunately the film does go out of its way to make the villain pretty sketchy though. One such scene is when he has the sister strip. This is partially to mess with Kelly mentally as well but such a scene could have been handled a whole lot better. Given the guy’s past criminal history which is briefly brought up you can definitely tell that he’s a bad seed. This is just the latest in his crime spree and it’s good that the FBI were finally put on the case. I would have liked to have had a better villain though. Take away the breathing issue, work on the camera angles a bit, and make the villain have a better motivation. That would go a long way in helping the thriller get to the next level.

Meanwhile, the informant also does good by the end. He had a good run although his final scene is just a little off. The whole method of spying on the phone doesn’t seem too practical. I don’t see how he wasn’t caught during the many times he would use it. He made the tough calls by the end though. Then you’ve got one of the villain’s allies who has a son in the hospital. The villain has always been kind to her so she refuses to sell him out. There can be a lot of reasons as to why he never tried anything here and ultimately it doesn’t matter. As John points out, just because the guy is nice to her it doesn’t override the fact that he has murdered a bunch of people. She’s an accessory at this point either way.

One character you’ll feel bad for is the first lady who comes to the FBI because you know she is doomed from the start. At the same time, she handled the whole situation horribly and should have still been alive. There is no reason why she could not tell John at the station. I suppose she had crimes of her own but wouldn’t it be better to take the villain down and serve a little time? She could also say she had been under duress at the time and that probably would have been true to a large extent. Instead she heads back home to her secluded place where the villain has presumably already broken in several times. I can’t understand her rationale no matter how much I try to think about it.

Meanwhile Kelly does a much better job with her situation. She keeps the FBI in the loop and also tries to advise her little sister on how to act. It’s a pretty scary situation for her but she never cracks and does her best to stay on top of things. She probably tried calling the police a little too quickly the first time even if she had thought he left, but at least that also shows she wasn’t going to listen to the villain for a second. If someone tells you not to call the cops that’s usually the perfect time to do so. The threats get stronger the longer you isolate yourself from those who can help.

The film also does give us an explosive climax with a baseball stadium and a lot of shooting. The villain definitely made it surprisingly far at that point, but fortunately the heroes were ready in the end. I think with a chase scene like this there will always be times where you think they could have caught the villain sooner and you’re probably right. At least he didn’t get away, now that would have been really dicey.

Overall, An Experiment in Terror is definitely a thriller fans of the genre will want to check out. It’s definitely intense and is a fairly realistic look at a hostage type situation. If anything it’s probably slightly easier than in real life since you probably wouldn’t have any FBI backup. The villain is really the only aspect that drags the film down as it goes a bit overboard in trying to make him as repulsive as possible. All of his scenes are pretty iffy and tend to drag on. I suppose for thrillers I prefer them from the point of view of an action hero or someone trying to escape danger, but there’s a lot of different paths in the genre. I expect you’ll know if it’s your kind of film from the plot summary right away.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Glass Bottom Boat Review


It’s time to look at an old spy parody that you may or may not have heard of from back in the day. It’s a pretty fun movie although perhaps one that goes a bit far with the romance at times. It’s pretty crucial to the plot of course, but none of the characters look particularly great by the time this is all over. It just goes to show that when spies are involved everyone tends to get a little crazy. America wasn’t ready for this subtle Russian invasion.

The plot starts with Jennifer acting as a mermaid in what should have been a normal day at work until she is accidentally reeled in my local fisherman Bruce. See, Bruce is a rich CEO inventor by day and a casual fisherman on the weekends. They don’t get off to the best of starts here, but they see each other again during their real jobs and they hit it off. Jennifer is glad to be a part of the office, but unfortunately some of Bruce’s co-workers seem to think that she is a Russian spy who is here to take his invention. Even Bruce starts to entertain this thought. Jennifer will have to decide how she plays this and meanwhile the real spy is still out there and getting ready to make his move.

Naturally with such a convoluted plot there’s a lot of good potential here. I do tend to like the parody genre. With such a large array of jokes at the ready sometimes they may fall off the deep end, but usually the films will at least be very entertaining even if they don’t end up getting a really high score. That’s the idea at the very least and I’d say this one succeeds with that as well. There are a lot of good humorous scenes throughout the movie. It’s very long so that gives the plot time to change over and over again. At first it’s a classic slice of life romance turned comedy and then by the end it’s a full spy operation with some fight scenes. It’s never all that serious of course, but the stakes do gradually get higher and higher. The film has changed quite a bit by the end from where it started.

Naturally most of the gags that involve the romance are the weaker ones. Jennifer is extremely oblivious to the point where she makes some big mistakes near the beginning. One of them involves getting intimate with the wrong person for quite a while before she notices. That’s….pretty iffy and if anything Bruce should take that personally since she somehow didn’t realize that it was him. Then you’ve got all of the American generals and army officers falling head over heels for her which is pretty iffy. It goes to show that none of them ever had the strength of will that you would hope they have. Maybe Russia really would win the Cold War based on this film. Their agent was certainly a lot more impressive than the US ones.

There’s a lot of slapstick humor here, but it’s all handled pretty well. The scene of Jennifer and the electrician getting stuck was pretty intense. Certainly not realistic in the slightest of course, but that kind of absurd humor can definitely work pretty well. It’s like Tom and Jerry to an extent. Whatever the heroes would do only kept on making the situation worse and worse for both of them. Then you’ve got the personal robot who does too good a job of making the place clean. Throwing in that sci-fi angle was pretty fun.

As far as the characters are concerned, I think your mileage will vary. Jennifer means well, but she definitely is a bit too oblivious. Once she finds out about the spy stuff her plan was pretty reasonable. Might as well humiliate everyone involved right? If she was a few steps quicker she would have really gotten out of the whole situation without anyone being any the wiser. Inevitably they would find out, but not until it was too late. Usually Jennifer ends up losing her meetings with Bruce as I’d say it was more embarrassing for her, but she always kept up a straight face so that’s good.

Bruce is pretty good in that he kept believing in Jennifer the whole time. He had his small momentary doubts, but for the most part he kept taking her side even when everyone else was against her. That being said, the romance did happen awful fast and I wouldn’t really say it worked well. There’s nothing really wrong with Bruce, he’s fairly generic, but a good character all around. Then you’ve got Axel who is Jennifer’s dad. He doesn’t get a particularly big role, but the scenes that he does get are definitely solid. Seeing him take down multiple agents was pretty intense.

Then you’ve got Homer who is the chief of police. For the most part he was a great character although even he fell for Jennifer’s charms by the end. Too bad since before that he was on point. Sure, he ended up being wrong, but at the same time he really did his due diligence. You almost can’t blame him for coming to that conclusion since all of the evidence pointed to it. It just so happened that he was seriously at the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens to the best of us. He was way better than the American general after all, that guy cracked fast.

Overall, Glass Bottom Boat is definitely a pretty fun film. The humor can get pretty crazy and wacky but all in all it’s a quality experience. A lot of the early gags end up playing a role later and small references become important by the end as well. It’s just a very well thought out movie. It’s a long parody to be sure, but it’s one that has time to do everything it wanted to accomplish. There are quite a few characters here and we also do get a real climax. By the end Jennifer and her dog are running away from real villains and there are some good stakes here. These villains don’t take prisoners after all so if the heroine doesn’t run she would be in trouble. Especially since the US officers are taking their sweet time. I definitely recommend watching this film if you haven’t seen it yet. You don’t really see too many big parodies anymore so you really want to check out as many of the classics as you can.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Detour Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Nancy Drew… Detective Review


It’s time to look at a really old Nancy Drew film. She’s definitely solved a lot of mysteries in the books and has gotten quite a few movies in her day as well. I saw the mid 2000s one a while back which was pretty fun. This one also makes for an engaging watch although I admit that Nancy herself does not look very good here. She tends to panic and not look at the big picture as much as you’d expect. It’s a pretty old film though so it’s not like anyone here is a super genius. Nancy and Ted mostly just bicker a lot as they try to foil the schemes.

The main plot starts with an old lady deciding to donate some money to Nancy’s school. The girls are excited because now they’ll finally be able to get that swimming pool they’ve always wanted. Unfortunately for them it doesn’t appear that it’ll be quite as easy as all that. Ms. Eldridge vanishes the next day before she can give the money and the students show their true colors as they believe the lady never meant her words. Nancy chooses to believe that it wasn’t all a lie though and believes that she has been kidnapped. Nancy is determined to solve the case, but it’ll be difficult as she’ll need to get past the cops and her father to accomplish this mission. Fortunately she has her friend Ted for backup.

This seems to be Nancy’s first big mission as nobody in the town seems to think of her as a detective, but it’s also possible that she just never gets the credit for it. Captain Tweedy certainly wouldn’t since he likes to take the credit for everything. He’s a pretty good police captain though as he does try his best. The guy may be a bit out of his league, but at the same time he did travel a great distance to help the heroes when Nancy thought she had corners the heroes. He just doesn’t like being wrong and takes it as an opportunity to humiliate anyone who is around.

Back to Nancy though, she is determined which is a good thing. No matter how many people tell her to give up she refuses to do so. Instead she continues to search for the truth. The downside to this is that her inexperience often leads everyone else into danger. One such moment is when she goes to ask questions from a witness and then leaves him with no protection. The guy is promptly beaten up in the next scene once she has left. She also doesn’t look great at the end where she has to close her eyes while shooting and panics quite a bit. Nancy even faints which is not something you’d expect from a detective. Long story short, she’s a nice enough protagonist, but one who has a long ways to go in order to be the next Sherlock Holmes.

Her friend Ted does his best to help out, but this does result in him taking a lot of shots as well. There is one scene where everyone proceeds to drop things on his foot and even he drops a wrench on himself. He’s not the smartest guy in the area as he stops the car when the villains tell him to. Sure, they had a gun, but if he had gunned it then he would have been long gone. It’s always safest to make a break for it instead of heading back to villain HQ. Ted also fumbles the ball when he forgets to look at the bird because his neck was hurting. It’s not that tiring to be looking up for a few hours the way he was. At least he came through when he tackled the villains though. He ends up putting a lot of the work in this case as well. You could say that Nancy comes up with the plans and he executes them.

Nancy’s father could learn a thing or two as he spends most of the film getting manipulated by everyone else. For starters, he doesn’t really seem to care that someone’s been kidnapped. It’s just not his problem and that’s the justification he has for most of the film. He turns a blind eye to what’s going on so then he will be able to get away safely. It’s not exactly a heroic attitude to have and he gets in Nancy’s way almost as much as the villains do which is really saying something. At one point he sends a telegram that sounds so defeated you’ll be sure the villains sent it. Well, it turns out that he is the one who sent it after all which is just sad. He’s tricked pretty easily as well. Basically, this isn’t the guy you want as your local detective.

The writing is pretty strong as expected. It allows the film to balance out the comedy and suspense pretty well. It’s also got a good cast of characters even if they can all be a bit mean at times. Nancy uses Ted quite a bit, but then on the other hand he’s always trampling on her flower bed. That’s pretty unreasonable of him to be honest. The villains are pretty reasonable except for one of them who chickens out pretty suddenly by the end. No point in going this far if you’re going to suddenly doubt the cause. I think they were a little too idealistic here as they wanted to try and win without hurting anybody but that was never going to happen and I think the boss of the crew knew it from the start. Maybe they all did except for one guy.

Overall, This is a good start to the Nancy Drew stories. It’s a bit of a stretch that the cops didn’t notice the extra pigeons in the guy’s house, but I guess in their defense they just wanted to go home by that point. The film’s pretty good both when it’s trying to solve a mystery or just the banter with Nancy and Ted. You’ll probably feel bad for Ted by the end since his vacation definitely got very sidetracked by the end. He’s definitely a good friend though who sticks by Nancy even when things are being crazy. If you like a good low key mystery then this is a nice one to check out. The stakes are rarely high, but there’s still that element of danger which always lurks around the corner. The heroes are held at gunpoint on multiple occasions after all.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Fear in the Night Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 6 Review


It’s time for some more Scooby Doo adventures! These guys have helped quite a lot of people out by this point. They’ve aided heroes like Batman, Superman, and many more over the course of this series. It’s always fun to see how they interact with the other series and evidently many others must feel the same way for this title to have reached 6 trades. This volume is another solid one with a good array of stories.

The first issue has the team come over to aid the Atom in his fight against a ghost who exists on an atomic level. The gang is a little skeptical of a ghost showing up since usually they’re fake. That being said, how could someone put on a mask and then shrink to this size? The Atom gets a lot of hype here as he beats up on the enemies while also apologizing to the gang for not saving any for them. The Mystery Inc also keep their cool here (Aside from Shaggy and Scoob) as they realize what’s up. It’s definitely a pretty solid intro issue and the cool part is that it’s the only one that actually continues to the next.

The gang may have just escaped from their growing problems, but then they meet up with the Atomic Ant. I’m not familiar with the guy, but apparently his thing is that he has super strength and can fly thanks to a jet pack. It’s definitely a pretty handy thing to have up his sleeve. Still, he’s up against a group of monsters so Fred and the others have to think of a way to help them. This one isn’t really a mystery so much as just a team up battle. Daphne has learned how to fight thanks to a book she read during another issue which is a nice bit of character development that stuck. Together they end up having the edge in this fight.

Then we’ve got a team up issue with Huntress, Batgirl, and Black Canary. It’s tough for Huntress because she’s trying to get things done and just take out villains, but the rest of the group is busy dealing with the Mystery Inc comedy shenanigans. She is ultimately forced to play the straight man here as Huntress points out that this is no time for games. The rest of the gang apparently don’t really agree with that based on how they act. Still, the team will have to put their differences aside to save Gotham City, but can they do it? It’ll take all of their skills this time.

Then we’ve got a pretty fun comic with the Inferior Five. The story takes this moment to also bring in a lot of other infamous DC characters. I didn’t even know most of them so that was pretty neat. We finally have a group that is even more nervous than the Scooby Doo gang. There are a lot of other guest stars here as well and the whole thing takes place near a game show so that was pretty neat.

Following that we’ve also got an issue with the Legion of Superheroes. The Fatal Five have struck again and it also seems as though the ghost of Ferro Lad is here to haunt the heroes. He even has a twin brother who seems made up for the series and may have a grudge against the league. This one’s probably the closest case we have here to a full on mystery. It’s also one of the best comics in the collection as we get some fights and the gang looks reasonably good. It’s also cool to see Ferro Lad even if he is a ghost here because I remember reading the fateful issues where he ultimately paid the big price.

Finally we have Yogi Bear show up in another issue. He definitely steals the show here as he tricks the mystery gang into thinking that he is the police chief for a bit. In their defense, they’ve come across so many strange cases that it isn’t even unbelievable for that to be the case. Of course while he is guilty of many crimes it seems as if someone might be framing Yogi. Who would dare do such a thing? Furthermore, who would even want to frame Yogi? The bear seems like a nice guy and you have to make some pretty big enemies for this to happen.

Definitely a solid array of stories here as I mentioned. The art for the issues is also pretty good. The style lends itself well to team up adventures. All of the character designs are on point and it’s very easy to read through the adventures. 6 issues is also a reasonable length for a trade as I see a lot with only 4. You’re definitely getting some pretty good value for your dollar. The Mystery Inc are all in character as well. Naturally the two members who look the best here are Daphne and Fred. Daphne is the team’s best fighter by far and actually does contribute in quite a few of the fights against real villains. Then Fred always sticks up for the team and stands up to the others who try to talk down to them. Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby mostly just hold the team back which is why they should be glad that they have Fred and Daphne at the ready.

Overall, This is a solid collection to add to your pile. Whether you know a lot or a little about the Scooby Doo franchise and DC ones, the stories are very accessible. You can easily gather what is happening right away and then go from there. I definitely recommend checking it out and even more so if you are already a fan of these franchises. I definitely wonder if the series is still going. Hopefully so as there are always more heroes to cross over with. I don’t know when I’ll be reading another comic, but I’ll definitely be ready for whatever it is.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Lured Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10