Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 4 Review

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It’s time to look at the next Scooby Doo crossover adventure! The gang is back to solve a bunch of cases, but they may need a little extra muscle to back them up this time. The villains are growing more dangerous and most of them don’t even bother with a mask anymore. It’s unfortunate but the Mystery Inc may be out of their depth this time. As always it is a pretty fun assortment of stories. The franchise has always done a pretty good job of being consistent.

One of the stories involves the Men in Black (Not literally them but same concept) going after all of the alien superheroes on Earth. This is because the Martian Manhunter delivered a press conference to the world where he said that the aliens were going to take over. That’s when the real one shows up and asks the Mystery gang to help him clear his name. They are happy to do so, but it won’t be as easy as all that. Who can they trust and how can they debunk a television broadcast that everyone saw?

There is a bit of a cop out ending to this one, but nonetheless it is a fun story. The stakes probably felt a little higher here than in some of the other stories to be honest. The aliens really needed the help of a good detective and the main characters delivered. Well, most of the detectives did t any rate. This may have been the best story.

Then we’ve got an adventure with Zatanna. Her father is missing so she heads to our usual gang of detectives. They aren’t very helpful though and just recommend that she checks with some other magicians instead. They all meet up with a bunch of spellcasters, but they’ve all been robbed of their magical artifacts and are now helpless. Whoever has done this is certainly a big threat, but the heroes won’t give up. It’s a fun enough comic although I have a hard time believing that all of the magicians would get punked so easily. Zatanna’s always a fun character though so it was nice to see her get a story. The Mystery Inc needs to step up their game a bit though because Shaggy and Scooby always make them look so bad.

Another comic has the heroes go to a concert where the Infinities are playing. They’re a bunch of teenage superheroes who thought it would be smart to use the same name for both their human activities and super ones. Fortunately nobody has suspected a thing yet. A giant robot attacks along with a bunch of giant monsters so the heroes have to stop them. Thing is, the robot is usually a good guy, but he is being controlled remotely by an evil scientist with a criminally devious master plan. The heroes will have to think of something very quickly but what can they do? It’s a fun comic even if I’m not really familiar with any of the characters here. I didn’t like the giant robot but everyone else seemed mostly reasonable. I don’t think I would like the Infinities much either, but at least they can fight so it was good that they were around. This issue was a little weaker than the others.

Then we have a comic where Harley Quinn shows up to join the heroes. Fred and the others are skeptical but allow her to join anyway. It turns out that she is pretty good at the mystery business but the problem is that the Joker is after her. By extension this means that the heroes are also in quite the jam now. Batman is on the way but can they hold out long enough? This comic was fun, but what really took it to the next level was the surprise appearances of Batman and Robin at the end. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see them so that was neat. They do end up stealing the show as you would expect, but that’s par for the course for the Dynamic Duo.

Then we have the worst comic of the bunch. The heroes make it to the wild west where they decide to help out a pair of Donkeys. The Donkey sheriff has a secret identity where he puts on a cape and acts as a Zorro impersonation. The costume isn’t downright terrible but you know what the humor style will be like from the start and it never tries to be anything more than that. I couldn’t really get invested in the comic because the guest characters just weren’t interesting. I suppose they tried their best and it still isn’t a bad comic, but it just wasn’t very eventful.

Then we also can’t forget the appearance of the Space Ghost. He’s all business as per usual while the kid assistants just get captured a lot. The Space Ghost also look just as frightening on the page as in the universe going by how even Fred and the others seemed a little nervous in his presence. The Space Ghost commands respect after all. The villains know better than to mess with him and that’s why they always go after the kids. The comic isn’t really a mystery so much as it is just a fight against the Space Ghost’s usual villains, but it was definitely a lot of fun. The hero’s design has really aged very well.

The art is nice as always. The characters are always on point and it is just very consistent. You will be able to easily fly through the pages on your way to the end. The writing is also on point so you know what you are getting yourself into from the start. If you’re a fan of the Scooby Doo team and their usual antics then you should have absolutely no problem here. If you find them annoying then this won’t change your mind. Honestly, there’s just no saving Scooby and Shaggy at this point since they just aren’t brave enough to hope to stand up to anyone. The team needs to cut them loose. It’s unfortunate of course, but they just don’t add anything to the team.

Overall, This was another solid team up volume. It has the right blend of humor and some action that the franchise is know for. If anything, it probably has a little more action than the show would thanks to all of the superheroes running around. There’s nothing particularly unique about the volume as its just another installment that you could interchange with the previous 2, but that’s why you are focusing on the guest stars. Every time a new issue comes out we have a chance at a new guest star. Hopefully we get many more volumes of this series in the future.

Overall 7/10

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Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman Review

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It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes case! This is definitely one of the better ones as we see Holmes match wits against a new adversary. Interestingly enough, he knows who the culprit is right away so the main objective in the film is gathering evidence. Whether you would consider this as more of a thriller than a mystery or not will be up to you. Nonetheless, I’m always up for seeing a villain walk right up to Holmes to make threats and that ended up being pretty entertaining.

The film starts with Holmes deciding to retire from the criminal business. He has been having headaches as of late and so he won’t be of much use to the Police. Watson protests this, but then Holmes accidentally murders himself by falling into the water. Watson mourns, but then Holmes shows up and lets Watson know that it was all part of the plan. Watson isn’t thrilled about being used like this, but he has no time to pout since the Pajama murders are still going strong. Holmes figures that the best way to get in contact with the murderer is to go undercover as someone who is down on his luck. He will have to be careful not to go too far into this disguise though or it could cost him his life!

The villainous Adrea makes for a fun villain with over confidence and smug personality throughout the film. Saving people from despair only to murder them after they get life insurance is certainly a clever play. She also isn’t afraid of anyone and that includes Sherlock Holmes. She sees through disguise pretty quick. It’s not even that it was a bad disguise but she is naturally wary of anyone who shows up and does what she can to prove whether the person is legit or not.

What really legitimized Adrea as a big threat was when she went to Sherlock Holmes’ office to file a missing report for the guy Holmes was pretending to be. It was a nice, subtle way to threaten him while Holmes fired back. Watson doesn’t seem to pick up on any of this, but he was busy reading so I guess it is to be expected. Adrea certainly wins this round as she gets her nephew to throw a poison wrapper into the fireplace which nearly finishes off Holmes and Watson. Admittedly I was a little surprised that Holmes didn’t see this coming. After all, a villain wouldn’t just go to his base to gloat right? Well, some might I suppose but with how suspicious the kid was I was certainly expecting something to happen. This just goes to show how important it is not to litter as getting the kid to throw the wrapper in the trash would have prevented this from occurring.

Even at the end she managed to outwit Holmes as she pretended to leave an opening which allows Holmes to follow her into a trap. He tries to save face by pointing out that if he didn’t take the bait she would have gotten away, but it just shows that she got him into an impossible situation. It’s only luck that allows Holmes to ultimately keep his life. Adrea was definitely the standout character here and while Holmes is still my favorite, she gives Moriarty some competition as far as the villains are concerned.

Holmes is still a fun lead as always. Once again he does appear to be on the losing side when it comes to fighting another genius. Perhaps even though Holmes is the most intelligent hero he still isn’t quite as smart as the villains. Granted, villains always have the edge in these battles since they get to make a move whenever they want while the heroes end up playing catch up at first. Holmes deciding to have a sudden retirement would have hurt his character but as long as it was just a ruse then it’s okay. I doubt he could resist the allure of a good mystery for very long.

Watson is a mixed bag as you would expect. He has some nice moments like when he gets some clever burns in or when he believes that a man is actually Sherlock Holmes. On the other hand, he is still a little too weak and bad at his job considering how long he has been with Holmes. Allowing the villain to knock the gun out of his hand was quite unfortunate since the heroes really had the upper hand there. I just don’t see how you can lose your gun so easily.

As a minor villain I also liked the fake Spider expert. He did a good job of pretending to be the genuine article and at least he had a gun at the ready. The little slip ups that he made while talking were fairly small ones so at least it wasn’t something that you could really blame him for. He got his revenge for losing to Holmes later on as well so this wasn’t your average 2 bit criminal. The rest of the usual supporting characters like Lestrade were around as well and looked about as good as you would expect. He’s always a fun guy to have tagging along.

Overall, This was definitely a fun Holmes adventure. I want to say that it’s Top 3 for sure. Once I finish the 14 films in the series perhaps I will do some kind of official rankings for all of them. Nonetheless, this is definitely a film that you will want to check if you are a Holmes fan or just like a good film with a lot of suspense. The writing is on point as always and the pacing is really good. The film is very short, but still manages to give a good amount of development to all of the characters involved. It doesn’t feel rushed which is important. It’s going to be tough for the next film to beat this one.

Overall 8/10

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death Review

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It’s time to look at the next Holmes mystery. This one goes back to the more classic days of Holmes as there is a murder and various suspects. He has to find out which one is guilty after talking to them all and evaluating the evidence. The case is extra personal though as it occurred within Watson’s own professional workplace.

Watson gets some extra background in this film. He is always referred to as a doctor but we never actually get to see him at work. Here we find out that he has taken in quite a few patients who need some slight help. They are all rather eccentric but supposedly harmless. Their current home is that of a fairly wealthy jewel evaluator who doesn’t get along with anybody. He definitely likes to be the leader of the household. Well, he is murdered and since nobody liked the guy that doesn’t help Holmes narrow the list of subjects.

First we have the man’s younger brother. This guy seemed content to follow his senior’s orders and thought whatever he was told to think. This didn’t stop him from eavesdropping though and curious enough he also had a tendency to crack his knuckles when asking questions. That could be seen as a threat.

Then we have the Butler and the Maid. The Butler is always eavesdropping and as such he knows a little bit about everyone. He also likes to get very drunk and maybe this is just to throw Holmes off the case. Who can say for sure eh? The maid seems less suspicious at first glance but she keeps trying to convince the Butler not to say anything to Holmes. Does he know something that he shouldn’t?

We can’t forget the other two guests either. One is an old guest from out of town who threatens to beat up the latest member of the deceased. On the other hand, the cops grab him as the one they picked as the culprit so that gives him a huge chance of being innocent. There is also the heroine who is with him but her role isn’t all that large once he leaves the picture. With a colorful cast of suspects it looks as though we have quite the mystery on our hands.

As always Holmes is the best character here. He learns of the mystery and quickly gets to work on solving it. He wastes absolutely no time here and that’s what makes him so good at his job. He isn’t here to make friends so he is able to walk into any house with a lot of confidence and look for the clues. This time his plan actually involves having a fight with the main villain and pulling a gun on him. Holmes doesn’t get to fight very often but when he does it is always fun. He does seem to be quite proficient in hand to hand to the point where he is able to alter the battle to whatever direction he wants.

Then we have Watson who is back to his old self. He isn’t quite at Holmes level but he is earnest and always has a lot of confidence himself. Despite Holmes constantly hitting him with subtle insults Watson never lets it get him down. As this mystery takes place in his place of work he actually can move around like he owns the place. Although, Watson typically does anyway. He’s definitely a very good character and the films wouldn’t be the same without him.

We can’t forget the Police Chief Lestrade either. His rivalry with Watson continues as neither one of them cares much for the other. I do feel bad for the Chief since he always tries deductions of his own but they never seem to go very well. He just has no luck in finding the secret mystery that is underneath the obvious one. At least you can’t say that he doesn’t try hard though as Lestrade even heads into a dark tunnel on his own to catch the culprit.

As always the writing is on point. One of the strengths of this Holmes film series is that the dialogue is always fast and snappy. This is part of what has helped this Holmes become the definitive one. He just embodies the character so completely and faithfully. Every character does their best to contribute as well though. Then the humor is on point as well which usually comes in the form of some sarcasm. I find that this is consistently the best kind of humor.

Overall, This Sherlock Holmes film was pretty fun. It brought the series back to its roots and it will be nice if this style has been brought back for good. The thrillers are fun as well of course but the series certainly made its mark on the world through its mysteries. If you haven’t seen a Holmes film yet then this is as good a jumping on point as any. So far you never really need knowledge on previous films to get the gist of what’s happening. They do a good job of explaining the plot right away.

Overall 8/10

Sherlock Holmes in Washington Review

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It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes film. This time he gets to take in the sights of America so that’s always cool. The movie made a point to show New York so I like to think that this was foreshadowing for a future film. That would definitely be a lot of fun. The Sherlock Holmes film series seems to be pretty consistent so far which is certainly a good thing. It’s an enjoyable film although one that also seems a tad darker than the last few Holmes titles as the heroes struggle to really protect anyone.

The film starts off with London sending in two agents to head to Washington in order to give a sensitive document to the Americans. Naturally they decided to be quite clever about this and so they didn’t bring any bodyguards in. Big mistake if you ask me. Well, there was a mole within the London ranks as always so they figure out which agent is actually holding the documents and murder him. Fortunately the agent saw that his end was at hand and gave the documents to another lady aboard the train without her even realizing it. Now Sherlock Holmes must find this lady before the villains do, but his opponent is fairly smart himself.

I always have to wonder why people would just casually go with the villains to their car. Lets be honest with ourselves, if a group of guys with guns ask you to come with them, it’s not going to end well. At the very least they will almost certainly murder you. The reason you are going with them in the first place is because you are worried that they will shoot you otherwise, but your fate will be the same either way so you may as well make a scene. They won’t have much time to mess with you in this situation so they’ll be forced to shoot you right there and then. A far less painful death than otherwise. Alas, characters in these films never quite understand this.

Sherlock Holmes looks very smart as always. He is definitely one step ahead of the villains most of the time. Once in a while he will trip up and make a questionable move like hiding behind the soda, but since he didn’t know where the secret door was it’s not something you can blame him on too much. He did call in for backup as well which was definitely a good move. I also like how Holmes makes sure to rub it in against the villains on how he was right. He may as well since they’re gonna be locked up for a very long time and this is his only chance to make them feel even worse about it. No sympathy for these murderers.

Watson unfortunately looks worse than usual here. I dare say that this was probably his worst appearance from any of the Holmes films and that is really saying something. I don’t know what was up with this, but he kept trying to talk about sports and such while everyone else was talking about the implications this kidnapping could have on the war. In the other films Watson may not have always realized the gravity of the situation right away, but he wouldn’t joke around about it either. It was a little forced, but at least Watson still destroyed one of the villains so he was still useful.

The supporting cast don’t get to do much. We have the American cop who tries to talk tough, but his team can’t seem to do anything right. They were holding the train car as evidence yet the place was broken into by the villains without them even realizing. I don’t see how this was possible unless the Americans actually didn’t think to guard the main exhibition of an active murder case. Not their best moment.

As for the main villain, he is all right. Definitely a big step down from Moriarty, but I’d say that he is better than the average crook. The film did make sure to point out several times that he is very intelligent and even Holmes knew of his reputation. That also speaks to how smart the dead agent was since his microfilm strategy was air tight enough that a villainous genius couldn’t guess it. Even Holmes would not have been able to reach this conclusion without consulting the witnesses of the event.

There is one part to this mystery that was a little too convenient though. At the very beginning the villains pull off the kidnapping by turning off the lights, knocking the guy out, and then kidnapping him into a car on the train until it departed. From there they forced him into pretending that he was with them. (Still should have ran once they were outside) How did the employees not know that the culprits were the guys who turned the lights off? I don’t really see how the villains pulled this off without completely tipping their hand. It would also be obvious if the staff quickly checked on the guy’s room to see if he was okay. Definitely some plot convenience here, but the rest of the film played it pretty straight.

Overall, It was nice to see Holmes get to work in America. To be honest, it’s not as if the scenery looks all that different in this film, but it’s still good to see him moving to a different place for a change. I also like how naturally the villains own a fake antique shop as nobody in America realized that they were buying fakes. Considering that the villain’s whole angle was built around him being the most trust worthy and reputable person in Washington I have to question why he took such a risk. If it was discovered that his whole store was full of fakes that would have really hurt his credibility don’t you think? I guess this guy just likes walking on the edge. If you haven’t seen a Sherlock Holmes film yet then I definitely would say that this is a fair jumping on point. It’s still in the WW II tie-in days so it’s not your standard Holmes case, but it’s a mystery nonetheless.

Overall 7/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Review

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It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes installment! Once again he is busy trying to help the world during World War II. As with the last film this one isn’t a traditional mystery as a result and plays out more like a thriller. You aren’t going to be given a list of suspects and then watch Holmes try to nab the culprit. The mystery here is simply finding out what Moriarty plans to do and why Tobel is so unintelligent despite being touted as a genius.

The film starts off with this Tobel character deciding to give his new invention to Britain. It is a new kind of bomb which is highly effective for Air Strikes. Over 10x better than the current option so naturally the government can’t wait to get it. The problem is that someone is after his life so Sherlock Holmes is in charge of guarding him. Making this even more difficult is the fact that Tobel isn’t keen on co-operating. In fact, he’s come to the country just to troll Britain as he won’t let them learn anything about the weapon. Tensions run high and Holmes might have to accept that he is being played once again.

I do have to say that this film did a better job of handling the rivalry with Holmes and Moriarty than the last time. For starters, it’s more of an even battle this time. Moriarty wins round 1 by getting to Tobel first and also securing the first 3 inventors. Holmes then strikes back in round 2 by cracking the final puzzle first and also for locating Moriarty’s stronghold twice. Holmes certainly has some very solid costumes up his sleeve. Of course Moriarty is able to figure them out, but he is a genius so it’s not like they were ever supposed to fool him. They just gave Holmes a good way to buy some time. The banter between the two characters is definitely on point as always.

Holmes never loses his confidence, but I do have to say that his plans are mighty risky. Quite a few of them revolve around waiting for other characters to come to his rescue. Watson can be reasonably trust worthy, but with the stakes this high I’m not sure I would gamble on him. Still, Holmes definitely lives up to his reputation in this film. Moriarty also still looked good. He may not have won the mental battle quite as well as the last time, but keeping it even with Holmes is still really good.

Meanwhile, Watson looks pretty solid so you feel bad for him when he messes up. In the beginning of the film he is quite ready when the two villains break in and even has his gun out. Unfortunately it just turned out to be Holmes in a disguise. Watson talks back to everybody in this film. The only scene where he really did look bad was when he fell asleep and allowed Tobel to escape. I can’t really make any excuses for him there. He was critical to saving Holmes twice though so he deserves some credit for that. His rivalry with the Police Chief is also a nice mirror to Holmes and Moriarty. All told, Watson definitely fulfills his role as the fighter quite well.

The Police Chief is quite good as I mentioned. He is supremely confident in his task force and while he defers to Holmes on the criminal matters, he keeps his dignity while doing so. Then there is Tobel who is the worst character in the film. His plan doesn’t make any sense at all. Holmes is guarding him free of charge, but then he breaks away to head home and write a letter telling Holmes the secret location of the 4 scientists? Why not tell Holmes in person? If he couldn’t trust Holmes, then why send the letter to him afterwards? I suppose he was desperate by that point, but there wasn’t even much of a point to keeping the invention a secret. It felt like he was playing cat and mouse with the government. The guy seemed like he just wanted to feel high and mighty compared to the others and there was nothing likable about him. If he had simply been a little nicer he would have spared himself a great deal of pain and time.

As expected the writing is very good here. All of the characters sound like they know what they are doing and certainly are smarter than the average underlings. Even Holmes has to back off after one of them takes out a knife, but fortunately Holmes had one as well. The film also has some nice humor moments as characters make sarcastic one liners. The quick pacing of the humor is really what sells it as opposed to dragging a joke out forever. The pacing is quite good, but that’s not really a surprise when you consider that this film is barely over an hour. The Holmes titles so far have definitely been quite short, but they always manage to cram in a good amount of story. I’d expect nothing less.

Overall, this was definitely a fun Sherlock Holmes adventure. It certainly beat the last one and the ending is a lot more satisfying. Leaving a certain trap in operation is just the kind of thing I’d expect from Holmes here since he is not the kind of character who takes prisoners. It may not be the standard mystery story, but Holmes is hardly a standard detective. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out if you haven’t already. I can’t see any reason why you won’t enjoy it if you like a good thriller or are a fan of Sherlock Holmes in general.

Overall 8/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Review

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It’s time to look at another Sherlock Holmes film. This one definitely takes a very different approach as it deals with taking down the Nazi’s as opposed to the average crook. It is still a mystery adventure as always but one with the highest of stakes. Should Holmes fail to win the day all of England will fall. Considering that this film came out during World War II it definitely makes sense to have it tie in. While it’s a good movie, this one does feel like a step down from the last adventure.

So there is a mysterious voice which goes on the air once a week to boast about how the Germans keep destroying secret British agents and supply trains. Many civilians perish as well. After the government has had enough of this they call in Sherlock Holmes. Naturally the high council isn’t thrilled as they mock Holmes quite a bit and state that a detective can’t stop such a threat. Holmes didn’t take the case to make friends so he doesn’t care about their chilly attitude all that much but he is determined to crack this case. To that end he will need to get the aid of the underground but will these criminals really band together to help him?

Seeing Holmes talk tough to all of the high ranking officials was definitely amusing. He is portrayed as being absolutely fearless here and that’s really the way that it should be. You don’t get to be the best detective in the world by playing it safe or beating around the bush so naturally he has learned to defend himself. This version of Holmes is a fighter and even at gunpoint he keeps his cool. He’s definitely the highlight of the film although his character doesn’t work quite as well for the emotional scenes.

The scene of him recruiting one of his old underworld contacts, Kitty dragged on quite a bit. We got long zoom ins of her reacting to the news and him trying to look sincere. That being said, the film probably just should have stuck to its guns with the serious mystery and some humor as the other emotional moment also doesn’t sail. We get a long speech from Kitty to the crooks where she attempts to mock them a lot which would theoretically make them want to help. Eventually they took the bait but the speech was a little cheesy.

While it may sound like Kitty just wasn’t a good character, these moments were the exception. She is actually the most important character in the film as she did all of the brain work while Holmes ironically did the leg work. Without Kitty finding out all of the important information off screen, Holmes would have been in quite the pickle. Honestly he didn’t do a whole lot of sleuthing in comparison to the average film. That’s why the conclusion to the film is rather disappointing. It comes across as rather unnecessary as there is no reason why Kitty couldn’t have a happy ending like everyone else. The heroes don’t even mourn much at all as they halfheartedly give one line in remembrance of her and go right back to cracking jokes and having a grand time.

This is especially mean spirited since Holmes is the one who gave her the very unreasonably dangerous job in the first place. He had her allow herself to be kidnapped and then she would be a mole from the inside. There are so many reasons why this could fail but at the very least she should be given an escape plan. At the very least don’t let Kitty be around for the final confrontation but what happened there was mostly just overconfidence on the part of the heroes.

I will say that the villain was pretty interesting. I’m talking about the true culprit who is revealed at the end. I like his smug demeanor and his plan was certainly long term. Waiting 10 years to actually make a move certainly takes a considerable amount of patience. The main underling isn’t quite as interesting. All things considered the guy is pretty generic. You won’t remember him much by the time you finish the film.

As always the writing is pretty good. The banter between the characters is always fun and it’s easy to root for either Watson or Holmes. While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, he always sticks up for the lead. He is portrayed as more competent than usual here at the very least. Holmes does the talking and Watson always takes his gun out and stays prepared. They have a lot of teamwork here and it’s easy to see why the pair has lasted so long.

As for the council, they are the main suspects in this film. I mean, you could make the assumption that none of them are the villain, but then there wouldn’t be much of a mystery right? Always suspect every character in a Sherlock Holmes film. I feel like the film didn’t really leave any clues as to who the culprit was til near the end but one story was certainly more suspicious than the rest so I guess that is enough to go on. I enjoyed the council though. Sure, they were all fairly stuck up and really seemed to be out of their league all the time, but that always makes for good banter. Holmes definitely had the edge here right from the start though, but the council did their best.

Overall, This is definitely a unique take on Sherlock Holmes and it isn’t a bad one. The ending does slightly sour the experience though. Fortunately the writing is sound and the characters are interesting so there is still a decent amount of replay value here. The film is also quite short as well. If you want to check out a Holmes film for the first time then this isn’t the one to pick. However, this is still a solid film for fans who just want to enjoy a good thriller and for longtime Holmes fans to see him in a different environment.

Overall 7/10

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Review

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It’s time to take a look at another Sherlock Holmes title. This one brings in his arch nemesis Moriarty to match wits against. It’s a very solid mystery film where we actually see Holmes on the losing side for once. It’s rare to see him have trouble intellectually against an opponent but that actually turned out to be the case here. With two main cases to deal with here, there is plenty to keep you busy.

The film starts with Holmes finally solving the secret to Moriarty’s alibi but he arrives too late to testify in court and the villain gets away. Moriarty then decides to commit another crime and aims to use his innate knowledge of how Holmes operates to pull it off. The first case for Holmes is that someone appears to be trying to murder various members of one of the families. The lady asks for Holmes’ help and he eagerly helps as he figures Moriarty’s hand is at work here. Meanwhile someone is after one of the largest gems in all of England. This case bores Holmes so he decides to send Watson in his place. Can Holmes solve the true meaning behind these crimes?

It’s always a bold move in any form of media for a villain to explain the whole plan at the beginning. Typically you assume that the plan won’t work then or that he is leaving a lot out which will make for shocking plot twists at the end. That’s why it is actually surprising when the plan goes without a hitch. Moriarty’s goal was to get Holmes to pay attention to the 2nd case by making it sound more dangerous and it worked completely. The only reason the plan didn’t finish 100% is simply because the villain took too long at the end. A big part of the rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty is how they know each other so well and they can predict each other’s movements that way. Holmes was rather confident in how he could predict Moriarty’s actions so maybe that was his downfall. Of course, Holmes was also stuck being reactive while Moriarty was proactive and the latter always gets the advantage as well.

Just because he lost doesn’t mean Holmes looked bad though. His disguise was on point once again in this film and he is a fun character to have around. He isn’t afraid to point out how smart he is and insults Watson for not living up to this rather high bar. His violin is also a solid hobby to have on hand. I didn’t quite buy into the look of surprise Holmes had on his face when he punched someone off a building though. He clearly knew what would happen as a result of that and it’s not like it happened too quickly to react to either. He just wanted to get the win.

I also have to go off on a quick tangent to say just how interesting it is to see Sherlock live in a rather public place. Everyone knows where he lives so a villain could pop in and try to destroy him at any time. I suppose just like how Holmes has a tight grip on the police, Moriarty may have influence on the mobsters which prevents them from trying such a tactic. Usually the great minds have to be a little more discreet, but not Mr. Holmes. I guess that’s another plus about either bumping off all of his opponents or arresting them. They won’t be able to enact any kind of revenge in the near future.

Watson is a fun sidekick as always. While he may not be as smart as Holmes at least he always tries hard. He is conventionally smart which means that he will find the obvious answers to each question which are the ones that the villains want him to find. Honestly he can’t really be blamed for the police scene either since the cops should have known about that or Holmes should have had a way to make sure they were authentic. It was sad for Watson when a kid was proving to be his match in wit though. He certainly beats his evil counterpart as Watson will talk back to Holmes while the other guy does not. It’s certainly an interesting parallel though.

Then we also can’t forget Moriarty. He is definitely a very memorable character so it’s almost a shame that he might be written out so soon. It’s nice to have someone who can actually keep up with Holmes and I could see him acting as a rival in future films if he ever had a common enemy along with Sherlock. His plan is solid and he also knows how to fight so he is definitely a complete villain. We also get to meet the Police Chief here which was fun. I always like his character type because the guy comes in with such confidence whether he is right or wrong. Throw in the fact that Sherlock is looking out for him and this guy’s career is certainly set.

I haven’t spoken much about the actual cases. There isn’t much to say about the diamond as it barely appears until the end. I definitely agree with the police chief’s disappointment since Sherlock promised multiple times that he would show up, but ultimately sent Watson instead. The other case is the main one as we have several suspects and a lot happening the whole time. I will say that the main heroine’s fiancee was particularly bad though and I don’t think she should have forgiven him so easily. The whole movie he knows that someone is targeting her brother but still goes out of his way to convince them all that it’s just a prank. He tries to prevent Sherlock Holmes from getting involved (To no avail) and just comes off as a villain. Despite his half hearted protest that he was trying to protect Lloyd on his own, he certainly did a poor job of it. He should have walked with Lloyd to the house or stayed inside since the villain wouldn’t be able to commit the murder once the day was up. All of the characters who are being targeted play their parts rather terribly as they fall into every possible trap. 5 minutes left til midnight? Perfect time to run into the forest all alone! The characters do this sort of thing quite a lot and definitely make the situation harder for Sherlock Holmes.

Overall, This was definitely a very solid mystery. You’ll be engaged all the way through. Even if the main mystery is a diversion and you the viewer are aware of this, you’ll still be able to enjoy it. You’ll probably be shaking your head at some of the decisions that are made, but the scenes are still delivered with good writing. The dialogue is really what makes this film. For a mystery film it is especially important and this will be a tough Holmes film to beat, but there are plenty of other installments left so I’m sure we’ll have quite a few contenders by the end. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I definitely recommend checking it out!

Overall 8/10

The Hound of the Baskervilles Review

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It’s time to look at a really retro Sherlock Holmes film. The franchise has always been rather enjoyable since I do like a good mystery. I also like it when the detective is incredibly smart and tends to know what is going to happen at all times. It’s why Detective Conan is so good since he is always the smartest guy in the room. The same can be said for Sherlock Holmes who typically knows the guilty party right away and is only slowed down by a lack of evidence.

The film starts with Holmes trying to make Watson feel bad as per usual by showing him a cane and asking the assistant to try and glean some information from it. Watson does learn some information and seems rather proud of himself, but Holmes quickly points out that Watson was sloppy once again. That’s when Mortimer shows up and tells Holmes about a demon dog who has been going around murdering a family for generations. The next victim will be Henry who is inheiriting the estate. Holmes had actually figured that Henry was going to die, but didn’t particularly care. Now that it is an official case he has to make sure to see it through though. Can Holmes solve this supernatural case or will this mark the beginning of the end for the famous sleuth?

Naturally I was rather worried about having a dog be the main villain. It’s why this story has never sounded quite as interesting as some of the others. It was inevitable that the heroes would have to fight the dog after all. Fortunately the dog only really shows up once, but naturally the scene is pretty tragic. Especially since it wasn’t the dog’s fault that he was an antagonist, it was all the owner’s fault. The film definitely lost some points on account of the animal violence even if it was a solid film otherwise. It’s just hard to fully make a comeback after such a plot.

Beyond that, it’s a sound mystery. Holmes decides to stay in London, but as you may expect this doesn’t mean that he is gone for good. His disguise in the film is actually rather genius. He plays the role perfectly and is certainly the best character in the film. The person he was pretending to be had been my favorite prior to the reveal so it just makes sense that Holmes earned the top spot. His detective work is flawless as always. If anything you may find it a little suspect how he was tricked so easily into falling down to the basement, but I suppose you could maybe try and argue that it was all part of the plan. He still made it back quickly enough to help the characters who were less intelligent.

While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, at least he tries hard. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy since he is insulted quite a bit, but that’s because being around Holmes all the time just sets a rather high bar for him to top. At least he was armed and ready for a majority of the film and never seemed like he would be an easy mark for the villain. Watson can either be a fun character or an annoying one throughout the various adaptions and fortunately this was in the former category.

Then you have Henry who is not smart in the slightest. He knows that people are out to murder him, but he doesn’t care one bit. He is too interested in romance for any of that and even heads to the swamp when nobody is around. There’s no point to this other than to try and taunt the villains by showing that he isn’t afraid of them. I’m sure the culprit would have been thrilled since Henry would have just fallen into the quick sand and died if not for a timely rescue by one of the neighbors. Henry nearly gets shot in the opening scene and doesn’t even realize it either. It’s hard to find this character likable in the slightest since he is so slow on the uptake the whole time. This character would have benefited quite a lot from a little more intelligence or common sense. Even accepting a drink at the end was rather sketchy on his part.

Then we have the suspects. First there is Mortimer who is the first character to show up. He puts Holmes on the case, but then seemingly lies about owning a large dog as his cane has big teeth marks. The guy says that it was just a small dog that he used to own. Is Holmes wrong for once or does this guy have something to hide? Then there is the Butler. What more needs to be said about this guy? The butler is always prowling around the corridors at night and naturally has quite a lot of good excuses at the ready in case anyone asks him why he is there. It’s simply his job. Then there is the butler’s wife who is a psychic. She doesn’t like to talk to the ghosts but always has a change of heart off screen. Is it all part of her plans? There are also the 3 neighbors. The sister who is romantically entangled with Henry. Is she simply trying to get him to lower his guard? There’s her brother who is super glad to have Henry show up so perhaps he is overcompensating so that he won’t seem suspicious? Finally we have an old man who seems to know things about all of the cast. Perhaps these secrets include some financial ones about the estate so he will need Henry out of the picture. Of course we also can’t forget the dangerous guy running around the moor trying to flatten everyone with rocks.

Definitely a lot to think about as you try to solve the mystery before Holmes does. The pacing is rather good so something is always happening on screen. The film doesn’t feel long either and we should also give some credit to the writing for that as well since the script was sound. Sherlock Holmes certainly earned its rep as a solid book series and this was a good film to start the retro movies out on in that sense. A shame about the dog scene, but since that likely wouldn’t return for future movies, it’s still a good sign for the film series as a whole.

Overall, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a solid mystery film so long as you can get past the dog scene. If you can see the dog as simply an antagonistic monster then maybe it won’t hurt quite so much. The Sherlock Holmes and Watson dynamic is always fun, especially when Holmes whips out his violin and begins to troll his assistant. Of course, they aren’t together for most of the film since they used a divide and conquer strategy this time. We’ll see how the team goes about it next time.

Overall 4/10

Spiral Alive Review

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It’s time to look at a prequel to one of the best mystery manga on the block, Spiral Alive. A long time ago I had read most of the series but then the last chapters took a few years to get scanned. I decided to re read the series from the beginning since there were quite a few gaps in my memory. This was definitely a good move since I forgot about 95% of the plot. It’s definitely a great series that I’d recommend as the cast is solid and the art is really good. Those are the solid foundations you need for a good series.

The series starts off as a typical school drama. Imari has been trying to get Shirou to notice her but it’s tough goings as she has to work up the nerve and whenever she does something happens which gets in her way. Months pass and she finally has a chance when a mysterious girl known as Yukine lets her know where he is. Unfortunately this girl is currently his girlfriend so Shirou has to turn Imari down. Imari is pretty upset of course since she was trolled so thoroughly but finding Yukine will be difficult since the girl is the lead suspect of a string of murders that have begun to occur. Shirou vows to stop her, but he will be in a race against time with the police as well as the world’s greatest detective Kiyotaka. There are also a bunch of third parties who aim to get involved as well. The series definitely changes quite a bit from the happy beginning.

Naturally as this is a prequel there are quite a few characters from the main series who show up. The main character even makes a cameo in the final chapter and the heroine also appears as a guest star two or three times. Most of them don’t get too large of a role except for a handful of the blade children who are always popping up. For reference, there exists a group of teenagers known as the Blade Children. They are all around the same age since that is when the period of experimentation was until it was stopped. Kiyotaka and the special ops have a list of all the Blade Children to ensure that they keep tabs on them. The sad fact of life for these children is that once they turn a certain age a trigger is unlocked which turns them into murder weapons. Effectively they are all sleeper agents and they know this, but are unable to stop it. One group seeks to destroy all of them before this happens, another group aims to save them and finally we have Kiyotaka’s group which just observes and steps in when things get messy. Given that he knows all about them anyway, a good number of the Blade Children work for Kiyotaka in exchange for safety.

There’s a lot more to all of this, but you get the general idea. Imari is the main character of the first bit of the series, but then the role switches to Kousuke. All of the characters are after Yukine because she holds within her the information on the missing Blade Children. There are a few who actually managed to keep their names out of the official database which is a huge concern for the government since just 2-3 would be enough to take down a whole country from the inside. (Yeah, I feel like this is hyperbole, but maybe they become that dangerous?) Kiyotaka is determined to get the list and this begins his long game of cat and mouse with Yukine. Yukine will have to stay sharp throughout though because Kiyotaka has yet to ever be defeated in a game of wits.

By this point you may be wondering who to root for. Well, it’s a tough call because none of the sides are objectively all that good. I suppose Shirou is probably the least shady and Imari is shady, but in a comical way to you can root for her. It’s hard to particularly root for Yukine or Kiyotaka. Lets get into some of the tough issues the manga presents and where I stand. Hint, I don’t side with Kiyotaka on anything.

One of the big situations that happened in the past is a Blade Child took Shirou hostage. She murdered a bunch of other people as well, but seemed sad about it. Shirou tried to help her and things were looking all right, but then Kiyotaka granted her permission to destroy herself so the girl did and Shirou held a grudge about it ever since. He wants to find his own answer so that he can tell Kiyotaka what other option there was that day. Unfortunately, the manga ends with Shirou seemingly believing that Kiyotaka may have made the right choice after all. Kiyotaka’s reasoning was that the girl was going to be destroyed as soon as she left the building anyway or would have done the same act at a later point so he simply let her go out peacefully.

Definitely a lot of justifying going on there, but I definitely couldn’t roll with it. Encouraging the girl to destroy herself there is never the right answer. The lives of the Blade Children may be tragic since they have a short life span and lose control of themselves, but as long as they live there is always a chance for a cure. Dying prematurely like that just destroys any possible hope that was left. As you can guess, Kiyotaka could never bounce back from this.
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Either way he was never going to though as the guy just isn’t likable. He knows everything and is always a step ahead of the rest, but always likes to act as if he isn’t very smart anyway. He jokes around a lot and likes to dress up as various animals. It’s heavily implied that he just does all of this because he is supremely bored from being right all the time so he may as well amuse himself. The series does go all out in trying to show that this guy is barely even human with how effectively he plays everyone. He starts his plans years in advance and they still turn out all right. The guy’s annoying and definitely not the kind of genius that you want on your side. Even the cops get fed up with him since the guy always does as he pleases.

You’ll feel bad for the other characters as well since they all try to out think him. Almost all of the Blade Children also possess above average intellect and so they make thorough plans of their own, but it always seems as if Kiyotaka is still in their heads somehow. From the Blade Children, the worst character is probably Kousuke. That’s not to say that he is a bad character, but he’s just a little more bland than the others. He is sent in as Kiyotaka’s right hand man (Totally not why I’m not a fan of the character of course) and he is dealing with his self esteem as the guy is always getting played. He also wants to get along with Ryoko but can’t stop himself from insulting her every time. I can’t say that I have too much sympathy for that kind of character so I was rooting for the inevitable friend zone. Kousuke can fight to a reasonable extent but even then the final fight is rather cheesy.

As for Ryoko, she is definitely a lot more reasonable than Kousuke. She has led a normal life so far despite being a blade child which is admirable since it appears like she was the only one able to do so. Her role wasn’t all that large, but she was a reasonable character. She did her best to foil Kiyotaka’s plans and seemed more heroic than the others. At the very least she wasn’t as interested in fighting as the others. Kanone was her polar opposite as he thoroughly enjoys taking down the human oppressors. He takes on a whole base on his own. His role here is strictly limited to a handful of cameos, but as he gets a big role in the main series that makes sense.

Now it’s time to look at the actual main character of the series. Imari almost feels out of place here with how energetic she is. Imari doesn’t care about thinking things through of all this Blade Children stuff. She just wants to defame Yukine so she can have Shirou all to herself. She goes to rather extreme measures for this like challenging Yukine to a death match and constantly trying to get Shirou to two time Yukine. While this could have been a little dicey if it was played more seriously, Imari’s comedic subplot ends up working really well. When she shows up at the end of the series it’s a pretty intense moment since she had been gone for a while. It would have been nice if she could have put up a better fight but technically she is only human so I guess this was accurate. Definitely a unique main character.

Shirou is also one of the main characters although his quest seems to get less screen time than the others. He wants to save Yukine and has the brains to achieve this plan but isn’t very strong. There are a few similarities to the main character of the other Spiral series here. Shirou is typically a little annoying though since he relies on others quite a lot considering that he makes a bunch of speeches about being a total loner. He is willing to lose himself in his journey and acknowledges that dying is a real threat, but takes no steps to protect himself. Even when some guys break in and hold him hostage the guy doesn’t really react. He’s rather bland in general so I’m definitely fine with him getting the shaft for the most part. I will give him some credit for staying loyal to Yukine though.

We can’t forget about her of course since the whole series really revolves around her and her quest. Yukine has begun murdering everyone yet leaving a lot of clues so she is playing the game both ways. Some of her actions are rather hard to rationalize, but the in universe reason seems to be that she was hoping someone would stop her which makes a little more sense than usual since the blade persona within her also has some control. Her backstory is certainly tragic and explains her quest for revenge pretty well. Naturally I was rooting for her in this case. Arresting the villain is the best move of course, but since all of the “heroes” were trying to protect the guy then I have to go with the vigilante. That’s another reason why the heroes are pretty annoying half the time since they aren’t actually interested in stopping the villains. Too much politics between the 3 groups so they all have diplomatic immunity, but just putting them all behind bars would be effective if you ask me.

Regardless of her reasons, Yukine is still firmly an antagonist of course. 2 wrongs don’t make a right and even if you root for the character trying for revenge of course they aren’t actually in the right. Yukine is definitely a compelling character though and I do like how she intentionally trolls Imari the whole time. She just makes life hard on the lead for no particular reason and admits that it is just for amusement. It’s nice to have the villain get a sense of humor.

Madoka is another one of the Blade Children and she gets along with Kiyotaka more than the others. They are actually friends and maybe that is because she seems to be the smartest of the group. She is seen as one of the best fighters as well and is a good all around character. Madoka tends to have a bit of a rivalry with Imari so their banter is fun. I’d say that Imari always has the edge though. Then we have Imari’s friend Moeki. (Possibly spelled as Moiki but the scanlation made the letter hard to see) Imari technically has another friend but that person never actually did anything so there’s no need to talk about her. Moeki didn’t do much either, but was always fun in her brief screen time. She was definitely the smart member of the trio and did a good job of keeping Imari in line. If any of the normal characters could keep up with the blade ones it would be her. Still, her role is very minor so don’t expect the character to do much. She’s just a low key hype character.

Finally we have Professor Sheffield who talks a good game, but seems out of his depth the entire time. Kiyotaka is always one step ahead of him and I believe you could even say the same for Yukine. His plan in the past backfired just as horribly as in the present. He does a lot of panicking and I can’t say that he was ever a likable character. He may not be threatening, but he does give the series a real villain to oppose so I guess that’s good.

The art is really good as you would expect from this series. A lot of thought and detail clearly went into it. The fight scenes are great as well when they show up. Naturally this is a series that is more about the dialogue and story than the fights, but we still do get a few of them. The art does a good job of keeping the exposition interesting and it’s never hard to follow. The writing is also quite solid so there is really nothing to hold this series back. There are no real negatives to be had here. Even the tragic backstory isn’t really gritty or anything as it’s mostly off screen and just handled as business per usual kind of thing. At most I do have an issue with nobody destroying arresting Kiyotaka or at least pointing out that his reasoning was wrong. In the end everyone basically agrees with him and it’s heavily implied that he got the last laugh. A shame, but of course the big villain couldn’t lose in the prequel.
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Overall, Spiral Alive is definitely a fun series. It’s certainly got a very intense plot that will keep you guessing all the way through. It does a good job of mixing together the light Imari plot with the more serious Yukine one. Everything here is high quality from the art to the writing and you’ll breeze through the volumes. It’s definitely best to read the main series first since this one spoils some things, but if you read this one first you’ll still understand what is happening. One day I’ll be sure to review the main series as it’s been a very long time since I’ve read that one.

Overall 8/10

Murder on the Orient Express Review

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Murder on the Orient Express is definitely a classic book turned into movie format that was a lot of fun in its original version and keeps the same level of quality in the remake. It’s a pretty faithful adaption as while it does take liberties it doesn’t do anything that drastically changes the outcome or the way that the story unfolds. If anything the first change helps legitimize Poirot as a great detective who can predict the actions of the villains pretty well. We didn’t actually see much of that in the original version and had to take their words for it. I mean, he did solve the main case so we know that he is good, but seeing him solve a real case at the beginning was a really good move.

The plot of the film is about the world renown detective known as Poirot who is finally on vacation after having solved a bunch of tough cases. He is interrupted though when a case pops up overseas so he quickly snags a ride on the Orient Express. Once aboard however it turns out that a new case is on the horizon and this may be the most difficult one yet. A bunch of suspicious characters are aboard this train and they all have secret agendas. They all insist on lying to Poirot directly as well which doesn’t make his job any easier. He needs to solve this case fast since the train will be up and running again within 2 hours which isn’t really all that helpful to him.

Poirot is definitely a fun main character. He definitely is very smart and I’m glad that he isn’t afraid to admit it as he even states for the record that he is the greatest detective in the entire world. That’s quite the claim and I like how bold he is. Poirot also shows that he has kept in shape despite being quite old at this point as he chases someone across the train tracks outdoors and actually manages some pretty good jumps and agility. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I guess if he uses his tactics to know where to jump and how to corner the opponent it is a little more believable. I’m guessing he found out about the money stealing himself in the original or it was just admitted instead of actually chasing the man down, but either way works pretty well.

One thing I always have to give credit to the film with is that they don’t go into the actual murder case much. It’s a pretty dark case for sure so we just need to know of its existence, not any actual details. That would certainly be a jumping the shark moment for the film so I have no qualms with this part. It also gives everyone a pretty good motive here so that makes them all good suspects. Even if the ending might be well known I won’t spoil it here in case you don’t know about it.

Now, I guess the question is how you feel about the ending? I definitely agree with Poirot’s initial response which is that there is good and evil and ultimately the guilty party made a choice. There is nothing left to do but to take this to the cops. Taking revenge is a pleasure in itself so of course it makes sense that this would come with some kind of repercussions. They may have felt justified about this in the end but it doesn’t change anything about how the action was wrong. 2 wrongs don’t make a right after all and that’s one of those facts that cannot be changed. So, my view on the ending is that the guilty party should be arrested and that’s the end of that. On that note the ending isn’t all that satisfactory, but it wouldn’t hurt the score all that much. Now, if the villains had actually destroyed a few more people or something then that would have been an issue. I also think Poirot should be holding a little more of a grudge considering that the doctor was very close to murdering him in the end. It’s fortunate that Poirot’s friend was here.

Poirot’s friend certainly was the best character in the film. He came through when it counted and really felt dependable. He got Poirot a seat on the train last minute like he said that he would and was just a great backup the whole time. It would have been extremely difficult if Poirot had been on his own so even having just one person around to help him out was absolutely crucial.

The location looks pretty good as the scenery of the mountains is quite realistic and I do like the scenery. After seeing a bunch of films take place in hot environments the cold is a great contrast. I’ve always been a bigger fan of the cold as well so naturally that appeals to me more in films as well. The actual train looks quite refined as well and while I am not a fan of taking a train overnight like this I wouldn’t mind on this one as long as the Wifi is good. The food should really be complimentary if you ask me instead of purchasing everything once aboard. Of course, I’m sure that this is how the railroad makes the bulk of their money.

Usually I would talk a bit about the suspects, but they don’t really stand out all that much. There are so many of them that each suspect only gets one scene to themselves for the most part. Of course with a train this big it makes sense that there would be a bunch of suspects. If anything I have to question how there aren’t more suspects running around. They did say that the train was filled to capacity after all and I feel like a lot more people would have fit on the train based on how large it was. Perhaps that is just how it was back in those days though as adding more people would potentially sour the experience.

Overall, Murder on the Orient Express is a solid remake. Fans of the mystery genre will certainly enjoy it even if everyone probably already knows the ending at this point. It’s fun seeing everyone try to give Poirot the run around. There is even a teaser for the sequel at the end of the movie which should be interesting since I am not familiar with any of the other Poirot books. It’ll be tough for the Nile to top this film, but maybe it can pull it off. The thing is, this film didn’t really make any actual mistakes which makes it tough for a sequel to possibly top it since not making a mistake is incredibly difficult. Of course I would still recommend you watch the original version first, but both are very close overall.

Overall 8/10