The Last of Sheila Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Review

Nancy Drew returns for another adventure but this time she ends up having to go to some great lengths to solve the mystery. It’s not her best appearance by a longshot to the point where she almost appears as an antagonist at some points. Definitely not the detective you want on your case. It’s a fun enough story though with a good amount of solid dialogue and good pacing to keep it going.

The movie starts with Nancy getting excited because a mansion is about to be turned into a hospital. This will be great for the community and the only catch is that the two elderly ladies who own the place have to keep living there for a little bit to make it official. A wrinkle occurs though when it becomes clear that someone doesn’t want the hospital to be built and wants to scare these ladies into leaving to the point that he even commits murder to get this across. Nancy realizes that leaving is not in the cards so she forges a suicide note and fixes up the crime scene so that the old ladies will be tricked into staying. She figures it’ll all end well as long as she can find the crooks first. Will she pull this off or has she just doomed these ladies for no good reason?

No matter how you slice it, Nancy definitely went too far here. You just can’t put them into danger like this without giving them a shot. Of course they wouldn’t have stayed in the house if they knew it was a murder but that’s not Nancy’s business. She has to let them make their own decisions, they are grownups after all. Nancy really took things into her own hands here and it was not a good idea. Then she also goes around blackmailing her friend Ted into going with her. She makes it clear that she will get him fired from his current job otherwise.

It’s hard to really root for Nancy as a hero here because she is so unhinged. She proves on multiple occasions that she doesn’t mind just running off and leaving Ted to fend for himself. He certainly didn’t ask for this and it was her idea so shouldn’t she be doing most of the work? Even near the end he has to be the one to stay in the basement and wait for the villain to arrive while she is taken away by her father so he has no back-up.

It’s easy to see why Ted is so fed up all the time. I dare say that Nancy has gotten even more bold in her attempts to get him on the case. At this point there is little that she won’t do in order to get her way and that should absolutely scare Ted. Ted is solid as always though. Ultimately he does help Nancy out and even if he doesn’t want to be here, he gives every task his 100% effort. Even when tings go sideways he never sells her out and he’s just a good guy. It’s just his bad luck that Nancy is always around to put him into some difficult situations.

Sure, Nancy does help out by the end and she has her detective moments so I don’t want it to sound like she’s not doing anything. Nancy does help, it’s just that her “the end justifies the means” approach gets real sketchy real fast. This time around her father Carson gets less of a role but at least we have Officer Tweedy to make up for it. He’s the kind of guy who never has time for the kids so he tends to miss out on a lot of clues and context. Usually you can only count on him to make the wrong calls at the wrong times. Very rarely will he actually get to help the crew out which is very unfortunate.

I like Tweedy’s confidence though even if it’s misplaced. He’s just that kind of character but he’s entertaining all the way through which is the important part. You can’t help but smile when he’s around. The leap in logic to arresting the two elderly women was a bit much though. Like seriously…you’re arresting those two? That has to be a low moment in his career because cmon now, that just doesn’t make sense.

The writing is good as always though and I always like the old school dialogue. The pacing is good and all of the scenes flow together. The movie is fairly short as it is so I suppose it’s not super impressive that the pacing is good but it’s still worth noting. On the whole it’s just a very low key mystery film that is entertaining all the way through. It’s not exactly a thrill a minute but there are still life or death stakes here and the villains absolutely meant business.

Partially because it’s so short and also because the story is basic, but there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one. I don’t think it will end up being very memorable down the stretch either. I would have liked the series to have continued on for a while longer either way though because there’s just all kinds of stories you could do with Nancy and Ted. It could have had well over 10 films like Sherlock Holmes and it could have worked out. These bite sized adventures are perfect for constructing a lot of scenarios around the characters. I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be.

Overall, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is a pretty good movie. I would rank it lower than the others but they’re all rather close either way so it’s not like it’s a big gap or anything. There’s a good amount of replay value here and the movie doesn’t really make any mistakes. It’s a very by the books movie that is content at being a good watch. If you like an old fashioned mystery like this then I’d recommend checking this one out. That said, you may as well check out one of the others instead, there’s no real reason to jump to this one specifically. Maybe if Carson got to do more since I like his more professional take on things. He may have a lot of limits due to how the law works but he never lets it get him down.

Overall 7/10

Nancy Drew… Trouble Shooter Review

Nancy Drew has returned for some more detective shenanigans! Nancy herself doesn’t look very good in this film though and as tends to be the case in these older adventures, her friend Ted seems to be the real detective around here. It’s a fun movie and definitely a short one as well so you will have this finished in a flash. It may not stick out among the Drew adventures but it’s just solid all around.

The movie starts with a guy being accused of murder so he writes to his friend Carson Drew. Carson is ready to see that justice is served so he quickly heads out to help but much to his dismay, Nancy Drew finds out about this as well and now she wants to help. Unfortunately for Ted, she quickly tracks him down as well and decides that he will be helping her this time around. Can the two of them solve the case of who really committed the murder or will they just get in Carson’s way and cause an innocent man to be taken down?

You can see how Carson treats Nancy as a burden here with how he sighs and tries to keep her out of trouble. He’s just used to doing everything so having a kid around slows his roll. While he is confident though, it does feel like he is always foiled in the end though. There’s only so much that his law training can do here without becoming a vigilante like Nancy. Also, he’s a bit distracted here as he starts off a romance with Edna who immediately captivates him as well as Ted. Nancy gets awful spore about this which impacts her detective skills as well.

Now with a man’s life hanging in the balance you figure that the characters would not let any distractions stop them but that never seems to be the case here. All of the romance scenes here are rather painful with Carson and Ted just tripping over themselves in trying to help her. You’d think they would be a little more subtle and would realize that this isn’t the time for such tings. Worry about romance after the case has been solved. It also doesn’t feel like the romance actually impacts the story all that much. It’s just kind of there to be there.

It does hurt Ted a little but beyond that he looks good. He’s the only one to realize that the attendant was stealing the chickens and he ultimately proves to be helpful at the end as he ensures the heroes have a good landing. He is always very reluctant to get involved in these cases and would much rather take it over to the police, but once he is dragged in, Ted makes sure to do the job right. It’s why he’s such a quality character. You can sympathize with how he just wants to have a quiet day but that won’t be an option for very long. I’d say a lot of the film’s best humor also revolves around Ted and his reactions. It goes without saying that he’s the best character here.

Not to take too many shots at Nancy, she is a good lead but she almost comes off more like an antagonist at times with how she gets in the way. Her one sided feud with Edna doesn’t do her any favors either. Edna is trying to be nice the whole time while Nancy is just petty and takes everything personally. She’s also very slow on the uptake like when Carson had to quickly change his story around Edna and Nancy just didn’t get it. She tends to miss some clues that are right in front of her and so ultimately she has a ways to go before she would become the famous detective.

As for the actual case, it’s not bad. Despite a murder being involved I wouldn’t say it’s super captivating. It’s all fairly basic and the character cast is very small so it’s not like there are a whole lot of suspects that it could be. Basically if someone shows up and acts a bit antagonistic then you figure he’s probably the culprit. Sadly there’s no officer Tweedy this time so the heroes have to make do without him.

I’d say the reason why the film shines though is because the writing is just really good. Sure, it’s all very low key but because of that it ends up being a very calming film. It feels like a slice of life all the way through with two kids doing their best to spice up the day. They get their fill of action and adventure or at least Ted does. Nancy’s always ready for another round even if that’s not a good idea.

So even if the film doesn’t become all that unique, you could easily see 10 or more films just riding off of this one’s energy. You can easily just keep it going for a long while yet with slightly different cases and I think it would still be entertaining. I could probably do without the random romance but that strikes me as a one time thing anyway so the other films wouldn’t need to do that. Now we just need a film series about the Hardy Boys.

Overall, This was a pretty good film I’d say. I do have the disclaimer that you could be bored if you walk into this expecting a lot of action, but this isn’t that kind of film nor is it attempting to be. You have to be drawn in by the writing and the cheerful vibe of all the scenes. If that sounds good to you then you will certainly have a good time here. It’s just a very calming film that makes you feel good. The only thing that could have hurt this film would be if it was too long since this kind of plot is best meant for a shorter film but that’s why it’s so fast. It’s a quick adventure that’s over without having any pacing issues.

Overall 7/10

Don’t Let Go Review

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

Time for a movie with a very clear title and message. The whole thing is about never letting go, sometimes you just have to keep on something even when everyone tells you it’s time to move on. When time travel is a concern, moving on is absolutely the last thing you want to do. (Looking at you Flash!) The movie has a fun premise and some good ideas here. It’s very close to being a winning movie but makes one mistake that puts it in the middle of the pack instead of rising above it.

The movie starts with Jack receiving a call from his niece Ashley since her father forgot to pick her up again. He’s always glad to help out though and the two have always had a good relationship. Well, one day she calls him and sounds distressed before the call ends. He runs over and she has been murdered along with her parents. The crime scene indicates that her father murdered her and the mother before destroying himself. Jack knows that he did suffer from being bipolar and also had some drug related incident s in the past but something about this still isn’t sitting right with him. That’s when he gets a call from Ashley and for her it is still a week before the murder. He’s not sure how this happened but he now has a second chance to make things right and keep her safe. Of course there are 3 factors limiting this from being a super easy mission.

1: He can only speak to her over the phone so he can’t physically run to her house to help out. 2. He can’t call her so he has to wait for Ashley to call him. 3. The Jack of the past timeline doesn’t know what’s going on so he needs to keep Ashley from seeing him or she may find the whole situation crazy and not believe him. If he loses her trust at any point then the whole mission is a wash. Will he be able to pull this off and save her life or is the film going to take the awful route that “The past cannot be changed” route?

Well, I can say from the jump that the past can be changed here. After all, there wouldn’t be much of a movie if he couldn’t have any impact right? Definitely a good thing since I never really bought into that approach all that much. If time travel does exist then it stands to reason that you can change anything. That’s a full stop right there, you can’t have one concept without the other and this film embraces it. Without talking about the film too much yet, lets talk about the time travel rules for this movie.

So what happens in the past directly alters the future. So for example if Jack tells Ashley to paint a circle in the back of a house, Jack will suddenly experience a ton of seizures with red lights and then it appears in the present. This one is assuming that time goes linearly which I actually prefer. In some titles you may run into the issue of how the world should have already shifted since the events already happened but this way is much more straight forward and I just prefer it. Gets you away from the loops. The good news about this and having one timeline is that even if Jack dies, if he was able to get her enough info in time then he will be resurrected in the new timeline.

He seems to be the only one actually aware of the time changes through his phone connection to Ashley. We can chalk this up to the power of a wish since he wanted a do-over. Part of why I like the structure here is because it’s all internally consistent and it’s not trying too hard to invent a lot of rules. It’s a simple time travel format that works quite effectively so I’ll give the film credit there. I also thought the writing was pretty solid in general with the mystery angle. There are a lot of twists and evidence to go through but it never feels like the movie is pulling things out of a hat. It’s all planned out and that’s really a good thing.

I don’t think you’ll figure things out too quickly but even if you do, I’d say that’s a credit to your detective abilities rather than a slight to the film. I would personally say it’s all hidden well. Then Jack makes for a solid main character which is important here. He’s certainly desperate to save Ashley and is pulling out all the stops but knows when to be subtle so he isn’t arrested for acting crazy. Now he does have to take desperate measures to get the evidence sometimes like pulling a gun on one of the officers but where other main characters would constantly charge in, Jack at least pretends to play ball like when he told his boss that he would drop it.

Ashley is also a solid character. She gets a handle on things fairly quick for a kid and doesn’t slow things down by asking a lot of questions. She asks a reasonable amount given the crazy circumstances that are going on but again, she handles it well. In general the film was good about making people reasonable. The cast is fairly small though because Ashley’s parents never get much of a role. Jack’s partner is around but you won’t get too many scenes of him throughout the movie. Jack is really in this alone the whole time.

Now the film does make one big mistake which is that the dog ends up getting bumped off. Why include a dog in a film like this when you know how it’s going to play out? The family just shouldn’t have had a dog and then things wouldn’t have been so tragic the whole time. While I won’t go into the twists and all that, either way it’s fair to say that Ashley’s dad did not handle things well at all. He really could have played things out in so many ways that would have led to a better ending for everyone. Even as the film ends, it’s not like it’s a super happy ending or anything. Things worked out but with heavy costs all around.

Overall, Don’t Let Go is a pretty solid film for the most part even if it fumbles the bag with the dog scene. Throw that out and I dare say this would have been going over very well. The biggest slight against it is probably that there won’t be a ton of replay value here. In general that’s something you see a lot with mystery films since once you know all of the twists it naturally can’t be quite as engaging the second time. There are some exceptions to that of course but a lot of the suspense is in not knowing who to trust and what will happen next. If you’re ready for a solid detective movie and can get over the dog scene then you’re all set with this one, otherwise I guess it’s time to let this movie go instead.

Overall 5/10

The Bone Collector Review

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

The Bone Collector is a film where you have a gut feeling that it won’t be very good from the jump. Films about solving mass murders can be interesting when they focus on the detective work of course but usually when it’s about one still in progress it can be shaky since the guy is still out there bumping everyone off in every other scene. This movie stays rather gritty throughout the film and never ultimately gets past that.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Lincoln who is in a rather tough state. He suffers from seizures and can no longer walk or move around. He is permanently trapped to his bed and so he has decided to end it all. Lincoln fears that another stroke could send him to a vegetative state and so he wants to end on his own terms but right before it’s time for that operation, a mass murderer appears and Lincoln may be the only one who can stop this guy. It’s hard to say what his motive is, but he’s going around murdering people in disturbing ways. Lincoln will have to solve this case quick and so he requests that the new agent Amelia be brought onto the case.

Naturally it’s a little irregular to be bringing someone new onto the front lines for a big case like this but Lincoln liked the way that she handled the crime scene. Throughout the movie there is a little tension with the other cops as the main boss in particular resents this. Ultimately Lincoln and Amelia are the two people best equipped to handle this though. Amelia will have to tackle darker parts of the job than she ever intended to though and may need to rethink her career path after this. Either way this will not be easy.

Making Lincoln unable to move is something that from the jump seemed to be added so you could be worried for when the villain finds him. I think that’s the entire point of the plot since it’s inevitable that they would come face to face but of course there would be no way for Lincoln to fight him. We do actually get a struggle at one point but it’s hard to buy into any of it playing out the way that it did. Remember that Lincoln can barely move at all so the villain really has to drop his guard for this to be an even fight.

It ends up being a rather gritty battle for sure and not a climax fight that ends the film on a great note. You definitely do feel bad for Lincoln the whole time though because that’s a really rough situation to be in. Apparently there is no cure for him and also no way to predict when the seizures will occur so in a way he’s always forced to live in fear. It’s hard to imagine going through the day like that and he did well to still stay focused and help out in the mission.

As for Amelia, she’s a solid main heroine. Naturally there are times when this gets to be a bit much for her since she has never had to deal with a big murder case like this before but it’s always understandable. Lincoln asks a whole lot out of her and while it’s because he believes in her potential, you don’t blame her for walking out several times. This is really not what she signed up for in the slightest.

The cast is fairly small though because there aren’t many other big characters here. You have the police chief who shows up to try and get in everybody’s way but there’s not much to him beyond that. You have Lincoln’s nurse Thelma who does a good job of watching over him. She does her best to keep the atmosphere light and prevent Lincoln from making any big mistakes. Then you’ve got the villain but he is hidden for almost the whole film. He’s just your average murderer though and there’s not a whole lot to his character when he does pop up.

Ultimately what holds this film back is that it just goes out of its way to be really dark the whole time. I wouldn’t even call it super violent although it certainly has its moments but the film makes sure that everything happens in the most disturbing ways possible. Nobody actually gets an ordinary death here, there’s always got to be a whole production around it. Sometimes keeping it simple is just the better way to go about it.

There also isn’t time for almost any happy scenes throughout the film either. It’s always very dreary and depressing in part because even when the heroes are not talking about the case they’re thinking about Lincoln and the fate he has chosen. There’s definitely a lot to digest there for the characters and at the same time it’s hard for them to tell him not to go through with the operation because they don’t really know what it’s like to live like that. The film at least has a happy ending though. For a while there you’re really not sure how that’s all going to play out. These films don’t always end on a nice note like that.

Overall, The Bone Collector is a film that you definitely want to stay far away from. There aren’t a lot of good things to say about it and I would struggle to find some serious reasons to actually recommend it to someone. You can definitely find better thrillers and mystery films if you really try. Titles that would absolutely destroy this one and so there’s no reason to check this title out. I could see a film about archaeologists collecting bones to have some potential though. Maybe it could have some Indiana Jones type traps or something.

Overall 3/10

Old Review

Old is a movie that certainly got a lot of promotion. You always figure it should have some kind of a twist since the producer is known for that and the very premise goes hand in hand with having a good twist in there. There are some mysteries and it’s all very interesting but it fumbles the ball quickly. The characters are unlikable and the film explores a lot of the things you’d rather not see in quick aging instead of more interesting ideas. As a result it ultimately starts to drag and just really messed up here.

So the main characters Guy and Prisca have been having a lot of relationship issues lately. Their marriage is pretty much at an end so they’re just going to do this one last vacation and then call it quits. Well, their kids are excited for this at least and it seems like it should be fun. The place has complementary drinks and the whole thing is very high-end. They’re even invited to a private beach with a few other select guests but that’s when things get tricky. It doesn’t seem like there is a way to leave the Beach and they all start to grow older so time is limited here.

Naturally the hook is on seeing how the characters grow old and what they do about it. It’s a solid hook but you absolutely need something more than that if you’re going to make this a very memorable experience. This film opted to do that with character drama as they inevitably start turning on each other and everyone goes crazy. It’s not out of nowhere as the film does set up some legitimate reasons for why this group is so crazy but it doesn’t help take away from the fact that it’s annoying.

In a life or death situation the last thing you want is for everyone to start cracking right out of the gate. Of course a film may need some drama but I dare say that it would be executed better without this angle. Seeing the characters team up and keep on trying new things would absolutely have a much better effect. This way the characters are still likable and you’ve still got some drama as each attempt wouldn’t work which would put them in a tougher position. These are just some ideas off the top of my head that I think would have done a whole lot of good here.

Guy and Prisca start off on a rather rocky note and it doesn’t get much better for them for most of the film. Particularly once we find out why their relationship is in tatters. They put this aside to help the kids which is good but at no point are they all that likable. Then you have the kids Maddox and Trent. Maddox is okay but Trent definitely looks really bad here as he decides this is the best time to mess around. You’d think that he would hold off on doing anything crazy when all of this is going on but I guess not. I’ll throw blame onto Kara as well here as it takes two to tango.

It was a bad moment that also leads to a completely unnecessary scene as the gang have to work on helping Kara give birth on this island. Really now? You can probably guess that with the whole aging thing this doesn’t go over very well. Then you’ve also got a live surgery operation that has to go on and you quickly realize that the film is really trying for max shock value here. There’s a lot of interesting ideas you can do about being trapped on a beach with time moving so quickly like this but surgery and giving birth aren’t two items I would put on the list there.

Then with the characters going crazy it’s not like there’s many opportunities to team up either. So Charles is a surgeon but he was already losing his mind and this just made things worse for all of them. He ends up being the biggest obstacle here and on a small beach like this, having just one person against you can be absolutely deadly. The guy runs around with a knife trying to attack the others almost from the jump. Right when he appears you know something’s off and it just gradually gets worse and worse throughout the film.

His wife Chrystal at least seemed reasonable. Perhaps a bit stuck up but she wasn’t losing her marbles the way the others did. Unfortunately almost nobody is safe by the end so eventually she went looney as well. Agnes and Sedan didn’t really have a chance to crack. Patricia was in a really tough spot from the start so the whole time gimmick was going to get to her. For Jarin I thought his plan to swim wasn’t very well thought out. It’s a shame since he seemed like one of the most reasonable members by far.

In fact, he has the best idea early on and it was disappointing that nobody tried it. So this whole time you may be wondering why the heroes don’t just walk off of the beach right? Well, every time they walk to the exit they get dizzy and then end up fainting. The characters figure this is because of how time moves so quickly here that their bodies need time to adjust almost like when swimming deep underwater. So Jarin figures that maybe this won’t be an issue if they go really slowly.

That makes a lot of sense and I think it would have worked. Now, would it have actually resulted in a happy ending for all of them? Eh, probably not since getting out of the beach isn’t necessarily a win condition here. They’d probably still lose but from their perspective I think it is absolutely worth it and something they should have tried for. It would take a lot of time but still would have easily been the best chance of success.

Without saying what the twist is this time, I can say that it does make sense. It’s a bit more on the low key side so it’s nothing crazy but at least it does work which is the important thing. It’s a reasonable ending all things considered and at least isn’t super dreary or anything. The characters actually played it smart in the climax this time which was nice. If they had made any big mistakes or something then that would have been annoying.

Overall, Old is not a film I would recommend. The concept behind the island and the mystery is definitely interesting but it goes all “Lord of the Flies” way too quickly. Mix that in with just trying to be gritty for no reason and you lose a lot of the atmosphere that this film could have generated naturally. There’s just so much potential and promise that you can do with this kind of film and ultimately it just wasn’t there. This is a movie that you will definitely want to skip out on.

Overall 3/10

The Last Wave Review

The Last Wave is certainly a strange film. It doesn’t mind lingering on a shot of the sky or an empty house for a little while. There’s always a mysterious humming tune playing and so this helps to keep you off balance the whole time as you don’t know exactly how this is going to play out. It’s all just a little too dragged out though which hurts the film’s momentum.

The movie starts with a powerful hail storm striking a school and knocking one of the kids for a loop. We then see a bunch of guys at a bar and things get out of control when one guy gets drunk and then ultimately drowns. The group at the scene of the crime are taken in on the charge of murder. This leads us to our tax expert named David who is picked as their lawyer for some reason. Seems kind of random but David never turns down an assignment. He tries to make a connection with the main guy named Chris but he’s super vague. Chris also brings in his mentor Charlie who is also quite mysterious.

These two are from a tribe with supernatural customs including a bone that you could point at someone to make them die instantly. David’s best chance is if he can prove that they murdered the guy in this supernatural fashion and since that would be considered tribal law, the group could get off as being innocent. Unfortunately proving tribal law will be difficult especially since Chris and the others won’t play ball for some reason. Why are they keeping so many secrets and why is David starting to have a lot of visions? The whole thing feels rather strange so he is going to have to find answers for that.

From there we get a lot of scenes with David thinking or wondering what’s going on. Naturally the people around him either start to think that he’s crazy or making a mistake. His wife isn’t thrilled about this as Charlie even appears outside of the house in the dead of night and really spooks her. She didn’t exactly sign up for this but props to David for confronting Charlie the next day.

Unfortunately he doesn’t really get any answers out of him. Charlie just spams the “Who are you?” card over and over again. David has a partner who also thinks this is insane and that David should stop trying so hard. The case looks open and shut so there might not be anything he can do, especially when his own clients refuse to help out and seem to be on some kind of order of silence. More tribal law perhaps?

Throughout the film weird things are happening with the weather too. You have black rain falling from the sky which people claim to be pollution but it seems weirder than that. For example, it only starts falling in a small area as opposed to falling everywhere. It’s a bit hard to explain that. One thing that also helps David start to believe that are his visions where he starts seeing things that he shouldn’t even know about.

There’s a court scene in the movie which is fun as David tries to present supernatural evidence. The court actually considers it far more than you would typically expect. It definitely makes for a surreal scene as is the rest of the movie. While I’m skeptical that things would play out like this…at all. It still made for a fun moment as I always like to get a court scene thrown in.

While the movie is mainly focused on being super strange and doesn’t jump into the realm of action too much, the climax suddenly gets a little intense. We get a little wrestling as David turns into Indiana Jones and really investigates the cave. The whole thing turns into a bit of a conspiracy you could say as the tunnels go throughout the city. This leads into a pretty solid ending. You can take the ending in a few different ways but I consider it to be “Game Over”. There’s no coming back from this and in a way the futility of David’s whole adventure hits him all at once here. It’s like he never stood a chance.

The most annoying character in the film has to be Chris though. David’s trying to help him and the guy remains cryptic and completely unhelpful for the entirety of the film. You’d think that he would step up at least once, but no he never does. Even by the end he just ditches the main character because it got too dangerous. Then you have Charlie who seems completely insane. That could make for a good villain but he’s not good at using his abilities at all and just appears to be completely ineffective in the climax. Surely with his abilities he could do much better than how he performed here.

The Last Wave does a good job of being strange but where it loses me is in how long it’s got to be. We’ll have a conversation with David and Chris that takes eons as they have to have a dramatic pause at the end of each word and then just stare waiting for the other person to slowly have a response. These artificial delays occur for every conversation in the film involving Chris and the other characters. A random scene like the bathtub overflowing will take several minutes as David slowly walks up the steps and ponders his life as he turns it off.

So that does bring the whole eerie feel of the movie across but it also means that the pacing is simply dreadful. The events take too long to happen which hurts the replay value and even the experience of making it to the end. If you cut out how long some of these scenes were then this would easily jump up a point or two. Maybe if the payoff was even bigger then this would have gotten another point that way as well. There’s a lot to interest you here but it just takes too long to get there.

Overall, The Last Wave is a film that’s right in the middle. It’s far too drawn out to be good but there’s enough interesting angles here where it’s not bad. If you want a film that’s very original and off the normal path then this is the one to check out. It is difficult to make a film this strange without being nonsensical or making big mistakes so the film deserves some credit there. The ending is also very memorable so you aren’t likely to forget it anytime soon.

Overall 5/10

The Mysterious Strangler Review

The Mysterious Strangler is a film that really goes by the books without trying any big twists. As soon as the main character starts to get very obsessive about his work you have a feeling where this is going. If only he could have stayed strong right? Well, that was never going to happen but it feels like the film almost forgot to start including the actual strangling. So we get a speed run near the end but most of the film was rather low key.

The film starts with a man named Styles being murdered for the crime of strangling a lot of people. He says that he didn’t do it even as they hang him. We then jump 20 years into the future where a writer named James wants to prove that the guy was innocent after all. There was no real evidence to support that Styles committed the crime aside from a lot of circumstantial evidence that kept on adding up. Superintendent Burk thinks that this is madness since it’s a 20 year old cast but lets James continue his investigation. Shortly afterwards the murders start up again though. Why would they start up again after 20 years like this? It is quite alarming and now the main characters must find the culprit right away.

With the murders back up you have to assume that either the original murderer is still out there or this is some kind of copycat. Either scenario would work well enough when you think about it but the timing next to James’ investigation is a big thing to note. If James had started doing this to try and help his theory that would have certainly been a crazy twist. Unfortunately the cops are often too late to stop the strangler from taking his victims down so there is a bit of a body count by the end.

The writing is solid enough. I liked the dialogue between the characters and it always has a very mature feel to it. The characters address each other respectively and know what is going on the whole time. They’re all professionals after all and even the corrupt security guard has a lot of bravado to him. James has nobody to blame but himself for expecting this guy to come in handy as a witness later on. Why would the cop ever admit to helping him break into a grave when that crime would put him out of a job? James definitely was lacking a bit of situational awareness there.

Randomly we see that the prison and asylum are both rather crazy. At prison they’re just casually beating everyone to death and in the Asylum they handle James very roughly and even force him to eat some porridge in the most disturbing scene in the film. The climax definitely goes from 0-100 really fast with the twists too so the film wasn’t really holding back to end things. The way one character jumps through a window is even unintentionally funny. There’s no real reason for all the urgency and running at this point but I suppose it just couldn’t be helped.

For the cast here, they are all okay at best. James is a very obsessive main character who absolutely wants to be right and is quick to go into threats You can’t really trust the guy all that much. He’s also so completely convinced that Styles is innocent without having any real evidence on hand so in a way isn’t he just the opposite extreme of everyone saying that Styles was guilty? James is also quick to break the law to further his own ambitions, so you definitely want to keep an eye on him.

As for Burk, he was my favorite character here. The guy may not have bought into the theory at all but when the murders started he did take the whole thing very seriously and jumped right on in. His ego didn’t stop him or anything like that, he was just determined to solve the mystery and put an end to all of this. He even did his best to try and convince James that he wasn’t crazy which was considerate of him. You couldn’t ask for much more from the superintendent.

There’s also a very mild subplot where James’ partner wants to marry James’ daughter. The main character really has no time to think about this but is upset that he was basically the last person to find out about this and wasn’t even told directly. That’s a pretty valid complaint I suppose since you’d think they would have mentioned it a bit sooner. Oh well, better late than never I suppose. I don’t think James would have taken it super well in any event.

There’s quite a few random dancing scenes in the movie as well. This all leads up to the dancers being the main victims of the Strangler and I’ve noticed that they seem to be the targets of the villain quite a bit. At least recently it seems like I’ve seen a few films where the villains head after the dancers. I suppose they figure that these are easy targets but the scenes can last a while where you feel like the plot is frozen. It would be better to skip the performances and we just see the Strangler running around.

While played seriously, there are two murders that almost appear to be part comedy. One is when a fire is started so the guard runs in and quickly gets taken out. You’d think he would have been a little more cautious considering where he was. Then you had one of the girls who was baking some bread and kept on singing so she never heard the Strangler until he approached. The cops had just arrived to check if he was there but she was super dismissive and knew that nobody had appeared.

Also, I should note that the Strangler only has one good arm. You’d think that this would make it a little easier for the victims to take him out but unfortunately they still end up getting crushed by every trick. I thought that was a little crazy, you mean to tell me that nobody thought to trip him up or do something? A one armed villain can’t do nearly as much as someone with two arms, that’s just basic addition right there. I know that this is an old horror film where the victims can’t do much of anything but I’d have liked to see some of them fight back.

Overall, The Mysterious Strangler is a fairly run of the mill film and compared to most titles in the genre it’s quite good. The mystery at least gives it a little more depth than the others even if the culprit is clear from the start. I mean as soon as you hear the summary and recognize the main actor you probably know something’s about to go down. That’s probably the issue with being so well known I suppose. The film stays classier than most Hammer productions though and never gets too violent. The movie’s also short and should keep your interest the whole time so I wouldn’t call it bad. Put simply, this isn’t a great film but it’s good enough to warrant a watch if you need to pass some time by.

Overall 6/10

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note Review

It’s time for the next installment in the Fate franchise. While Zero may not have ended up hitting it out of the park for me, it set up a pretty solid framework with the Grail War and this title takes place after that. While you never really think that El-Melloi will be entering a Grail War since that would really end up being a completely different kind of series, it has enough connections to the main adventures to stay hype. Throw in some fun mysteries and this ended up being a great ride.

The series starts off with an episode 0 which is easily the weakest episode in the series so you may as well start with 1 tbh. It sets up the world to those unfamiliar with Fate. Magic is something that most people live with and manipulate nowadays. Those of the Clock Tower are especially familiar with magic as they tend to train the most skilled mages. The main character here is Waver although he has now taken on the title of El-Melloi II in part because he is being blackmailed by Reines but also in part to prove that he can handle the job as the previous El Melloi died during the Holy Grail War. With his loyal friend Gray at his side, Waver teaches classes of promising students in the ways of magic. Waver also hopes to enter the next Holy Grail War so that he can see Iskandar one more time and get some closure for being one of the only survivors of the whole event.

It’s hard to even call this the full premise of the show because there’s a lot to unpack but what you mainly need to focus on is that this is a case by case series. Waver will always be thrown into some kind of magical mystery and has to solve it fast before the various magical departments start to make a mess of things. There is always a whole lot of infighting among the different magical groups and in a world where any of them can curse you in an instant, you have to tread carefully. I wouldn’t say Waver is always super diplomatic but he tries to at least keep up the appearance of being calm and collected.

So in episode 0 a cat ends up dying and it turns out that this was to lay a lethal curse on Waver. He has to quickly team up with his two students Flat and Svin as well as Gray to track the culprit down before it’s too late. Unfortunately as in Fate/Zero Waver is still very weak and did not have enough ability to save the cat. The cat is able to help to an extent thanks to Gray being able to sense its presence so they track down the culprit but starting your show off with an animal dying like that’s a pretty bad idea. As I said, you should probably just skip episode 0. Fortunately the rest of the series was strong enough to get things back on track.

Right from the start it’s also fair to say that you can feel the high production values here. The animation is really great. There’s a lot of detail in every scene and the colors are always striking. It’s definitely got the same kind of style as the main Fate titles and we also do get some fight scenes which go all out. Now, I wouldn’t quite put them on par with the bigger fights that Fate has to offer but it’s makes for a satisfying watch all the same. The battles have a lot of weight to them even if there aren’t a lot of them.

The soundtrack is also master class here. You have a lot of great tunes which have the same level of drama as Fate/Zero. I also liked the opening here quite a bit. It’s not really an action packed one or anything but works well for the mysteries with how ominous it is. Usually the music will start playing after some kind of dramatic statement and the opening starts so this is styled well. There was no expense spared in this title’s production, that’s for sure.

As for the main cast, they’re solid. Waver is much better than he was in the Fate/Zero days so I was glad to see that. This is the kind of improvement that helps a character go a long way. It would be nice if he could fight more but he has helped to bridge this gap with the knowledge that he has acquired. He knows enough to be a teacher after all and his theories/knowledge allow him to crack the many cases here. He’s like a Sherlock Holmes of the magical world. I imagine that the magical setting here makes it a little easier for the writers since you can keep on adding new concepts though.

Waver rarely shows any fear or anything like that and is perceptive. He’s just a strong all around lead and also knows when to back off and just let Gray do the fighting. It would be nice to see him enter the Grail War but ultimately you can’t fault him if he wants to back out as well since there would be a lot to lose and not a whole lot to gain at this point. For the most part there are rarely casualties in the Grail War outside of the combatants so he should be safe in that case. Even if his title is temporary, Waver has also crafted a whole new life now so why throw it all away?

As for Gray, she’s still a bit of a mystery. We still don’t know the full story behind her. She looks like Saber and is said to always be close to death which came in handy during episode 0. She seems to be a type of Pseudo servant like Mash from Grand Order although she isn’t amped up with technology or anything like that. Instead she carries around a talking cube who seems to be a personality that she created to nerf her abilities. When she has to go all out a Sword Art Online type voice rings out saying that the false personality has been disengaged and then she is able to fight harder.

I don’t know exactly where that’s going but she makes for a very intriguing character. I’m also glad that there is at least one big fighter on the hero side since it inevitably means that we can have some strong villains as well. Her big fights against Faker are some of the highlights of the show after all. Gray’s a very earnest character as well who always feels out of time but takes everything in stride. It’s like seeing a What If for a servant who sticks around after the Grail War to help in everyday life. She could crush almost every character in the cast but doesn’t have to fight like that too often. In a way Waver has a top notch bodyguard at all times though.

Reines makes for a fun heroine and a good troll character throughout the show. As mentioned, she really forced Waver into this. While she claims that she wasn’t going to murder him, it certainly seemed like that at different points in the flashback so I can see why he was getting nervous. Now she mainly teases him while helping out from the background. She’s often a lot more helpful than she lets on. She has the ability to detect magic with her eyes which is handy at first glance but there are so many downsides that I would not want to have it.

One such downside is that she gets intense pain spasms if the magical energy is too high. Considering that this is the case for all strong fighters, it gets to her quite a few times. She always has a cheerful disposition though and has some solid banter with the other elites at the Clock Tower. Reines can hold her own and once she is of age and gets the title formally, I’m sure she will do a great job. The anime has a lot of solid banter between many characters and she is certainly consistent in this.

Flat is one of Waver’s students and while he isn’t bad, he can be a bit boring. He’s a very by the books kind of kid who does well in class and takes everything seriously. As a result he’s seen as more responsible and does well but just doesn’t have much in the way of personality. Meanwhile Svin’s the go getter who is always trying his best. I like how he keeps trying to positively “curse” Waver by calling him things like “The Powerful Waver” or “The All Knowing Waver” since we learn in the first episodes that merely using titles next to someone’s name can actually cause good or bad things to happen to them.

So it was a nice way for Svin to try and help his teacher even if there was no effect. On the other hand, he’s got a big crush on Gray that’s so intense he is usually not able to talk to her much and gives her the impression that he doesn’t like her. There’s also some kind of berserk mode within him that causes him to lash out against Gray for some reason. This isn’t something that is delved into at all so it will remain a mystery. I guess it ties into his abilities and her near death state but it’s hard to say why there’s a connection. Waver is aware of it as he forbids Svin from being near Gray. It speaks badly of Svin’s willpower though.

With the opening episode out of the way, the next adventure is more of a flashback to see how Waver became El Melloi. He ended up getting kidnapped by a mage and met his future best friend Melvin as they had to team up and take the mage down. It was tough since neither one of them really have any powers but they were able to use evil spirits to get the guy by taking advantage of the temple. There was good strategy involved and it was a fun enough episode. Not really a mystery like some of the others but it was a good one shot.

Melvin also makes for a good character. He’s someone who is always on Waver’s side and he’s rich which is always handy. At the same time, it does seem like he will prioritize “fun” over everything else so even if it means that Waver will be in danger, he’ll take the risk. So you can trust Melvin to an extent but you probably don’t want to be around him or you could be in danger. He also seems to have some kind of terminal illness which pops up now and again.

We then get another quick mystery where someone has been murdered and there are a bunch of suspects in the estate. From research partners to family members and the maid, El Melloi has to figure out the true culprit quickly or the government will probably pick someone off at random. This is the first big appearance of Hishiri who will always be a thorn in Waver’s side. See, she’s from the Department of Policies and they just want results at all times. She makes this quite clear to Waver and so “Justice” will be served whether it is just or not. Often times she is basically used as a timer so Waver has to hurry. It was an interesting case and of course it does involve a lot of spellcasting and plotting in order to get the situation just right.

Hishiri is a fun villain. While she may help the heroes at times, I would consider her to be an antagonist because she will do whatever policies says no matter what. At the same time, if Waver will save her some time then she’ll help him out. It’s not like she’s actively malicious but to me she may as well be if she’s that calm about just grabbing innocent people. There’s even one case where she intentionally hides evidence which could have gone badly. It’s very rare where she is actually very helpful.

There’s also an episode about Waver finding out what happened to his favorite tea shop which closed down due to suspicious circumstances. It’s more of a low key episode although it is one of the few times we see his students fighting. Gray also gets an action scene of her own and I’m always up for that. They rarely let her go all out but when she powers up that’s really game over for these guys.

Now we get to the first big case. So there was this mage who created a bunch of lightning but was super sloppy and died. Now the strikes are getting more and more frequent which is putting the whole estate in. Waver is called in to help and find a way to dispel this while the holy grail is dangled in front of him like a carrot. If he helps out here then it will help his chances of being in the next Grail War. This one plays out like a classic mystery with the lightning slowly taking its victims and we have to see who is really responsible. Is someone actually causing these strikes to occur or is it just an accident? Hishiri certainly doesn’t think so and already believes she knows who is causing this but Waver has to be sure.

There are a lot of suspects as always and I think it’s fair to say that nobody really believes this is just random coincidence right from the start. That would have been really hard to buy. We get some action in the second half of this and the ending is definitely an interesting one. A character makes a very dicey decision involving a portal although….I don’t necessarily disagree with it. Honestly in that situation I would say it might even be the right move. There is also a bit of a cliffhanger leading into the Zeppelin arc.

Right before that arc though we get a filler slice of life episode with Gray, Reines, and Luvia hanging out. The three of them have fun at the mall until they are warped inside of a reality marble and have to get out. The thing is, who is targeting them and how do they get out of this? Luvia is a strong fighter but Reines can’t really fight and it’s risky on if Gray should show her true powers here. It’s a fun episode though, certainly a lighthearted one with low stakes but the dialogue is strong as always. The reveal on who the culprit was is also very unexpected and works as a solid twist.

Luvia doesn’t get a huge role in the show but at least she got one big episode here. Her hand to hand skills is refreshing to see as most humans in the series don’t seem to know how to fight all that well. Personally if I lived in a magical world like this I’d want to be able to defend myself but it doesn’t seem to be the highest priority for a lot of the mages.

Finally we have the 6 part Rail Zeppelin arc. Basically the Zeppelin is a train and on it is a big auction for magical eyes. You can buy and sell them at will here. Why does Waver care? Well, his piece of Iskandar’s cloak has been stolen and it will be impossible to summon him in the upcoming grail war if he does not have that. It’s imperative that he grabs this at all costs. Meanwhile someone is naturally murdered on the train so everyone is alert. Was it infighting between Spiritual Evocation and Policies? Was it the member of the Anti-Clock Tower faction who is on the train? One of the many sorcerers here? Waver will have to find out and quickly as the murderer may also be the thief that he is looking for.

We get quite a few new characters here of course although maybe not as many as you would think. It can be a little hard to choose who you think the suspect is at times because not all of the sorcerers really get a big role here. You have Leandra who is effectively the top member of the train. She makes sure things are going smoothly but perhaps wanted to shake things up a bit. She doesn’t do a lot in this but is around the whole time. There’s even a JoJo’s type summon which is part of the train itself and helps with transactions.

There is the ticketmaster Rodin who is always very ominous. As someone who’s always been around the train you can see how it would be easy for him to make a move. I liked his design for sure, you have to take him seriously after seeing the guy. Then you have Yvette who is one of Waver’s students but also likes teasing him to no end. She’s super rich and has many resources at her disposal. Naturally it wouldn’t be hard for her to have stolen his artifact if she really wanted too. I can’t say that she was one of the better characters though. Her teasing is more excessive and not quite as fun as Reines. Additionally there’s also not much more to her character than that.

Then there’s Olga and it’s fun to see her since her role in Grand Order was so small. At the same time because of that it’s hard to say that she’s ever truly a suspect since we know her future state. She isn’t quite as powerful now of course but she has a memorable role and helps out quite a bit. Things don’t go quite as well for her butler/assistant Trisha who doesn’t last very long here. Every train murder mystery needs its victim after all and this was her role.

Finally you have Karabo who is one of the Anti Clock Tower guys. The show doesn’t get into the whole factions part much but it’s probably self explanatory. The Cloc Tower is an elite group of sorcerers and training them for the Grail War. I’m sure many oppose the group on principle. Karabo wants to get rid of his eyes for reasons which are explained later on but the whole time you wonder if it’s worth it. Aside from the fact that losing your eyes is pretty bad, it seems like they won’t even give him normal ones in exchange so he’ll be blind.

It’s a magical world though so I’m sure he can buy new ones somewhere. The downside is he’ll lose his powers. His ability is that with his future eyes he is able to see events from the past by making contact with someone and of course can see his own past. The best part of the ability is that he can bring past attacks to the present. So for example if he throws a punch and misses, he can try to get you back to that spot later and then instantly resummon his old punch at any time. It means that the longer a fight goes on, the more he will be at an advantage.

The downside though is that he can’t control the eyes really well. Imagine having a painful experience or a sad memory and it will suddenly appear in front of you at any time. That’s not very easy to deal with, especially if it happens very often. The bad experiences will keep on piling up. It’s a unique downside to an ability as you don’t often see things like that. Karabo’s a fairly nuanced character as well and I liked him.

Then you have Faker who shows up as one of Iskandar’s allies from the distant past. Having a real servant here is a blast and she immediately leaves a big impact on the series. I can say that she single handily elevated the show up a star because along with her presence meant that we got some big fights between her and Gray. The show may not be a big action most of the time but having big fights for the climax is always a very good idea and the show made the most of it. I also liked Faker as a character quite a bit. She’s serious and knows how to fight but also has an honor code and won’t just be destroying people for no reason. She gives Gray a breather at one point when the heroine is clearly not doing so well and that does a lot for a character.

An honor code is huge for a villain because it separates the ones with no vision or who just won’t work for me from the big all stars. Faker’s also clearly stronger than Gray which makes sense since a servant should always beat a pseudo one. If she went all out from the beginning then the encounter would have been brief. Since she held back we got to have several fights which were all a blast. Then you have her summoner but as the arc is a mystery I won’t say who that is. He looks good though and clearly has a lot of plans at the ready. I see him being a big threat in the adventures to come, whenever we get the big continuation. Since I liked him here I’m definitely cool with that, it’ll be nice to see what he’s got up his sleeve.

Well, that brings us to the end of the adventure. It was definitely a great ride. It’s a title where you feel like they probably skipped some stories and adventures though. It’s hard to describe but it’s the little things like a supporting character appearing in back to back cases but it seems to be a big deal that he or she has returned. Things like that, but if it means getting to the big parts sooner then I can’t turn that down.

A big part of what makes the show fun aside from the big action scenes and top notch animation/soundtrack is that the mysteries are handled well. I do like a solid mystery any day and these cases are all very sound. It’s also unique because they all use many different magical concepts within them. Half of it may be things that are made up just for Fate but the concepts are always explained so you can follow along. It means that you may rarely ever get ahead of Waver since you don’t even know the rules of engagement but the explanations are always satisfying.

A good mystery should keep you engaged throughout and the show pulls that off. The cast is also solid enough to the point where you can enjoy even just the talking scenes or the more low key moments in between cases. There are also a lot of cameos from other Fateverse characters so they’re always fun to point out. Of course I’d love to see Shirou and the gang show up at some point but I suppose they may end up stealing the show as a result if that were to happen.

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking this show out. The name may be a bit of a mouthful but I just think of it as the EL Melloi show and that works just as well. Really the only weak episode here is episode 0 so feel free to duck out of that one and you’re still good. Naturally if you’re a fan of Fate/Zero then you’ll have a lot of fun with this one but it also works well as a stand alone adventure. Of course there will be a lot of flashbacks to events that you didn’t get to see first hand but there’s a bunch of context thrown in as well as little clues you can figure out since Waver keeps having the same dreams and visions. Fate has certainly been able to branch out in many different ways and has done a pretty good job of this. We’ll see what the next adventure has in store for the team!

Overall 8/10