Laura Review

It’s time to look at a very retro mystery film. The cast is actually smaller than I thought it was as Wikipedia only lists 6 people in the film. Naturally, some of them may just not have been big enough to have their own section, but it goes to show that if the story is quick enough you won’t even notice this. It’s a solid movie that really does a good job of throwing in a lot of twists and turns without getting redundant. The cast is solid and this film really flies by. This review does have some big spoilers depending on what you count. It’s a big plot point that happens around halfway through the film so it’s pretty debatable.

The basic premise of the film is that a lady by the name of Laura has been murdered. She went up against a shotgun and didn’t exactly win the encounter. A private eye known as Mark shows up to get to the bottom of this. Waldo wants justice because Laura was a close business associate of his and he had been helping her rise up the business ranks until this happened. Mark continues his investigation which leads him to Shelby, a rather suspicious man who has many affairs and always seems to be after people with money. This mystery will be a piece of cake for this baseball master, but unfortunately Mark starts to realize that this case is quite personal. Can he put his feelings aside or has he always been on a path to destruction?

Ironically, the weakest character here may be Mark. Shelby is certainly more unlikable as he’s just a bad guy, but it’s incredibly difficult to sympathize with Mark’s plight. How can you possibly start to fall for a picture? If someone’s dead, they’re not exactly going to make for a very attractive prospect. What the film should have done was just doubled down on his tough demeanor to show that this guy was one detective who wouldn’t get pushed around by anyone. He would solve this case no matter how tough it got. By making him distracted it took away from his whole character. I did like his Baseball gimmick though. Right when he started taking out the game I knew that it would be the best part of his character.

At least the detective doesn’t look downright bad for the most part. His only unfortunate moment was at the very end of the film where he assures Laura that she will be safe and then runs out of the building so fast that you’ll think he’s a blur. This gives the culprit plenty of time to waltz in and finish the job. Laura is just lucky that the villain is such a poor shot or else this could have been the end.

Wait, why is Laura even being mentioned? Well, that’s one of the big plot points of the film. Laura isn’t actually dead and merely went to the forest for a while. Since these were the days before radio and internet nobody actually knew where she was and when they went to the house she had stepped out for a moment. Definitely some interesting logic there, but I can buy it to an extent as there wasn’t much else to do back in the day aside from walking so she may have just been adventuring all day. Laura isn’t a very likable character as she does lead everyone on and doesn’t even mind playing second fiddle after a while. It gets rather complicated, but she knows from the start that Shelby can’t be trusted and also allows Waldo to treat her to many meals. They may be platonic friends, but then she should pay the bill, otherwise things get dicey. She just seems rather easy and Mark should be careful what he’s getting himself into. Her web of deceit will continue to stretch farther and farther.

As for Waldo, he’s certainly the most amusing character in the film. He’s always got a snappy comeback at the ready and certainly doesn’t get intimidated by anyone. To think that he started out as a rather snobbish businessman before he got involved with Laura and changed quite a bit. You can’t deny that the guy does his homework though. He didn’t even need to make up lies about the people Laura hung out with, he just dug up the dirt that they left around the house. They made his job easy, but he always went the extra mile. Naturally a person this obsessive tends to be fairly dangerous in films like these but if the detective is going to make a move he better be careful about it.

Finally there is Shelby. It’s certainly different to see Vincent Price in a young role for a change. The character is fairly quick witted, but can never quite keep up with Waldo. He does make for a good rival though. He’s not exactly a man of principles, but isn’t ashamed to admit as much. Everyone knows what kind of a guy he is, but they don’t care because of his charisma. It’s definitely a credit to his character that he is able to deceive people so easily and he makes for a solid antagonist.

The only weak aspect of this film is naturally the romance. It’s just not handled very well at all. Laura basically plays everyone and they all fall for the game quite easily. It would have been nice if the same had been true for them and at the end they all admitted to just manipulating the others for personal gain. That’s practically what the situation was for most of them anyway. A film like this one should have everyone stay purely platonic as that would certainly add to the suspense and make the characters look a little tougher and more savvy on how things usually play out here.

Still, the writing was certainly great beyond that. The film did a good job of making everyone seem suspicious at times and having all of the characters stay on guard. The banter between all of the characters was on point as you would expect it to be. Dialogue is crucial for a noir film like this one and I’m happy to say that it did indeed deliver. It’s why its so hard to do a film like this one nowadays. The writing just isn’t up to par with the good ole days and it’s very rare that a film proves me wrong. There were just higher standards in the past and that’s why there were so many well written films like this one hiding in the cracks of time.

Overall, Laura is a really fun film. It’s a murder mystery that still has quite a bit of humor and solid pacing to go along with it. The romance is rather weak, but what else is new right? The twist of Laura being alive could have been rather disastrous if handled wrong, but since it rarely tends to happen the twist worked really well. I can definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes a little suspense and danger. There’s never a dull moment in this film so you’ll end up being on guard from start to finish. In a film like this one, you really can’t trust anyone.

Overall 8/10


Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women Review

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The Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women is one of those films where you have a pretty good idea of the quality of the title before watching it. This definitely isn’t a good film and manages to stay consistently weak in all areas. It doesn’t do much to try and make this a memorable adventure so at the end of the day you are just wondering what the end goal of the film was. We may never know.

The film starts with a bus full of people heading to a plane and realizing that taking to the air may not be such a good idea. This thought is confirmed as we cut to the present where a group of people are flying around the globe to try and cure someone’s eyes or he may die from the pain. Unfortunately they get lost thanks to the pilot not being very smart and they didn’t stock up on fuel either. They land on a mysterious island where the women and the men are out to destroy them. Can the heroes take their guns out in time or is it all over for them.

Right from the start you’ll see that the title is a little misleading. At the very least, you weren’t expecting a bunch of men to be running around right? Well, you’d be wrong. There’s a tribe of men that have been defeating the women left and right, destroying their shroud of Mystery in the process. The girls can’t actually fight that well as they just seem to panic whenever a guy appears who isn’t trying to surrender. It’s easy to see why they’ve been losing the war and so I have to blame this on their commander Lisbeth. (Spelled more like Lisabeth, but they never pronounce the a so I may as well not write it in..) She got drunk with power and is more concerned about destroying her own people than coming up with some good plans. Not a great leader to have on your side if you ask me.

The main characters aren’t much better though. The pilot is a drunk who has seen better days. He drinks up the whole supply so nobody else can use it as a pain reliever and then decides to take a nap in enemy territory. Safe to say that this was his final mistake. He just never became a good character. The body guard was reasonable I suppose since at least he could fight and is crucial in the getaway plan. He isn’t the most interesting of characters but he is good enough.

The guy with the injured eyes doesn’t get to do much more than yell from all of the pain. It certainly isn’t his most impressive showing either. The most interesting character is the really over expressive one. He is constantly yelling hypothetical questions in condescending tones throughout the film. He can never just say something, it is always a yell. I feel like his whole personality with that is rather unintentional but maybe he is supposed to be like that. At the very least, he was certainly trying hard to escape or make a deal. The constant panicking gives the film some form of tension even if it’s not enough to save the atmosphere.

Unfortunately we do get some painful romance with the main characters. It’s certainly sketchy since they point out multiple times that the women on this island stopped growing mentally a long time ago. It seems iffy to start a romance under those circumstances as their only other experience with it up to this point has not been pleasant. The romance never really feels balanced and the film definitely should have avoided this land mine. The film also delves into gritty territory with the whole plot of having the men involved. We really didn’t need the movie to go there and the film should have just been about the women as the hunters, not the hunted. Any mystique of toughness they may have had is eliminated once we learn that the men are on top of the food chain once again. Destroys the whole premise of the film as well.

Finally the film also throws in the animal violence for good measure. This movie definitely was not very subtle right? It basically tries squeezing in every possible negative it could. The shooting definitely comes out of nowhere. Then there is also the painful writing to think about. The dialogue is just terrible. None of the characters are particularly likable as a result. Why did Lisbeth teach everyone such broken English when she was old enough to speak well? Was it another power move? Her English also deteriorated but I suppose it was part of the act. The Nun also didn’t handle the situation well since she never suspected a thing. It’s a little sketchy how everyone would trust Lisbeth so completely as to not even check of the Nun was still around.

There are no redeemable qualities in this film aside from the fact that is is rather short. At least you won’t be watching it for very long. The sad part is that there’s an easy fix, just eliminate the tribe of men from another island. Have the main plot be the main characters being hunted by the Amazon warriors. It would be a much better film and while it may still get gritty, the premise is a whole lot better. It’s not like you’d want to root for the main characters anyway so you wouldn’t mind them getting bumped off.

Overall, this film is definitely a mess. It has so many issues that you’ll wonder how this film was ever created. Clearly the writers didn’t even care for the premise which is why it plays out nothing like what the title suggests. The only thing to do for a film like this one is to simply forget about it. Out of sight and out of mind right? If you want to watch a good film about a mysterious island, check out Scooby Doo, Zombie Island.

Overall 0/10


The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane Review

Time to take a look at the film with the little girl down the lane. From the title you may think of a light hearted comedy type film but this one’s actually a horror title. Time to let the warning bells commence. This one falls into the pitfalls you would expect from a horror title and then throws in one that most wouldn’t add. It’s a gritty film that is really no good.

The film starts off with an old house that the Rynn is living in. Some neighbors come over at various times, but her father is never around to greet them. Rynn claims that he is sleeping or working but this excuse can only work for so long. One of the neighbors is unfortunately a villain who wants her and while the rest of the town knows about it, they can’t lay a hand on him since his mother is the most powerful person in the town. Fortunately for Rynn, another guy drops by and serves as her guardian and partner. Can she still survive in this tough world without parents to back her up.

Right off the bat, the opening scene threw this film out the window. It’s a terrible scene and one that is dragged out for way too long. Any duration for this plot wouldn’t be good though as a villain going after kids for reasons you can probably guess is not a theme you ever want to have in a film. When a film goes down that route, a 0 is all but guaranteed. It barely even matters how the plot ends as far as the score is concerned but fortunately he does get destroyed by the end of the film and there are large gaps where he does not appear.

Then we’ve also got the animal violence. The main villain destroys Rynn’s pet hamster and the instant you saw the animal show up you knew this would happen. It’s an unfortunately predictable trope that horror films use all the time. They already don’t tend to have any class so it makes sense why they wouldn’t care after a while. The main romance plot is also rather bad and unnecessary. Naturally the guy who goes over to help Rynn ends up romantically involved. This is totally unnecessary and destroys whatever character he had. Why couldn’t he just be protecting her as a friend? Losing to the flu so easily is also pretty bad considering he knew what would probably happen if he didn’t head back to Rynn.

This film also went down a different route than I had expected going in. I figured it would be about Rynn murdering everybody which would also be bad and dark in its own way but preferable to this plot. What other impression could you get from the poster seen above? It’s a total bait and switch as Rynn is rarely an intentional murderer. If it had gone that route, it would be sad for the nice people who enter her house, but the plot still wouldn’t be as shady as this film. During the whole opening scene I was waiting for Rynn to destroy the guy or do something, but when she didn’t and he walked out without a scratch, that was when I knew that the film wasn’t going with that angle. Instead she never seems all that ready for the danger in front of her. She only had one trick up her sleeve and if that didn’t work then she was basically toast. She talks tough, but doesn’t even carry any weapons on her person. Her friend has to do all of the work when the villain breaks in because she doesn’t life a finger to help. Realistically, she is a little kid so there’s not much she can do, but if she is really ready for the world like her father taught her to be, she should certainly have a knife.

Alternately, the main character just shouldn’t have been a kid. That would have helped the film immensely. I suppose I can use this film as another example for why having a kid as the main character is never a good idea at least. There aren’t really any positives to the film that I can think of either. The landscapes are bland and since the whole town is corrupt it’s not as if there is anyone to root for. If the “good guys” are content to do nothing, then it makes sense why evil took over the town. There’s even a whole saying about it.

Overall, This film was absolutely horrible and another one for the trash bin. This movie starts out dark and continues with that theme for quite a while. The film even makes it clear that this isn’t the first time the villain has gone after kids just to really hammer it home that the villains always win in this town. There’s never a really happy scene here. The romance ones are just hard to watch, especially in this context and so you’ll just be glancing at your watch every 5 seconds. I highly recommend avoiding this one and going to Dunkin Donuts for a bagel instead of something. It will save you a lot of time and only for the cost of a dollar. It’s just a bargain when you think about it.

Overall 0/10


To Catch A Thief Review

It’s time for a retro romance thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. It’s not exactly one of his typical murder mysteries since there isn’t really any murder involved in the case. Someone does get murdered, but it isn’t a main focus. It’s more about outsmarting the culprit and claiming innocence. It’s a solidly written film with an interesting plot, but the romance does slow the pacing down and at times makes the story appear to be a little less structured and focused than it could be.

The film starts with a cat burgler stealing from a bunch of rich people. The good news is that is does it at night and so nobody actually gets hurt. The bad news is that he still is robbing them so it’s basically a consolation prise. Meanwhile everyone keeps shooting dirty looks at John. This is because he is an ex thief who used to steal from people until he was thrown in the slammer to do some hard time. He’s reformed, but naturally everyone suspects him and this includes his comrades from the resistance. John figures that the only way to capture this imposter is to don the Cat suit once more and out thief the thief. He’ll catch the guy red handed and take him to the cops. Nobody is going to stop this vigilante.

Here’s the problem with the set up. While this plot is established quite early on, John doesn’t actually lay any kind of trap for the thief until near the end of the movie. Until then he is mainly playing catch up as he gets a little too interested in his research and starts hanging out with Danielle. She isn’t very inconspicuous and so it gets tough for him to be in a position to prevent any thefts. The romance slows the film down quite a bit and also doesn’t make sense for the main character. He seriously has no time for all of this and should be looking for a way to get outside so he can follow The Cat. The thief keeps taunting him with written messages so that should give him more incentive. One of John’s friends even tries to murder him at one point so he really can’t trust anyone.

John is just a character that can be a little hard to root for. He is a decently interesting main character, but comes off as rather generic at times. Switch him out for any other main character of the old days and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Playing up his ex-thief skills a little more would have probably helped his case if you ask me. The fact that he was having a lot of trouble with the new Cat didn’t help his case. The intro was his best scene as he tricks the cops and uses a rather elaborate plan to escape his fate of being arrested. Those are the kinds of skills that you would expect to see from a man who was revered as being really skilled back in his hay day.

Frances is another ex criminal and she admires John’s skills. She believes that he should become the Cat again and steal enough so that he can be rich. Then they can retire to an island. John’s gone past his life of crime and never wants to look back though. The film does seem to tip its hand a little with some of the mystery surrounding Frances, but maybe the directness of the plot is supposed to make you second guess yourself. It can be a rather effective technique can used correctly. Danielle is the actual main heroine though and she definitely deserves some props for being rather intelligent. She sees through John’s stories with ease and even pokes holes in them. You usually see characters figure out a story, but sometimes you don’t get the explanation. This film makes it clear how she was able to figure out the truth and with her connections it makes sense that it would be easy. She is not the most trusting of characters though and her partnership with John gets rocky for quite a while. I definitely think she over dramatizes the situation at times.

Danielle’s best scene is certainly the car chase that happens while she reveals that she knows John’s secret identity. Not only does it show that she does have enough skills to hold her own against him but she is able to drive at a speed where he even gets nervous. This time John is the one who panics as they zoom from turn to turn. A single misstep would have meant their demise so it’s easy to see why he’s nervous. It was decently a long car chase that would make the Fast and the Furious folks proud. It’s easily one of the best parts of the film.

On the other hand, her mother is always as cool as a cucumber. She got her riches thanks to her husband being a crook so she’s not phased by any of this. She’s a really fun character to have around even if her screen time is rather short. Her scenes still end up being rather critical. In general I’d say that the supporting cast was pretty solid and at times they were more impressive than the main characters. The writing did a good job of developing the characters and since you didn’t know who you could trust the whole time, it added to the tense atmosphere.

The cops look rather inept the whole time, but what else is new? At least they do talk a good game and their outright aggression towards John is nice as they aren’t even pretending to like the guy. If they are able to catch him in the act they will bring him in, dead or alive. John isn’t unnerved about this, but the cops are certainly serious. Of course, things do have to be spelled out for them by the end before they actually get it.

Overall, To Catch A Thief is a fun film with a good premise. It just gets bogged down by the shallow romance and some pacing issues. While I wouldn’t say the film was too long, I do think it mixed up its priorities. Seeing a few more of the thefts in motion would have helped to establish this new Cat as a pro and having John watch from afar would have also legitimized him as an actual expert in the matter. We just don’t get to really see him in action enough to actually buy into the hype. Some jewels were stolen from the target while John was in the building after all. He even knew that the people there would be targets so that’s an example of him not living up to his reputation. This film isn’t as good as Hitchcock’s classic murder mysteries, but it’s not bad. It’s always good for a film maker to experiment with different genres after all and so long as they don’t turn out bad I’d say that it was worth it. I’d recommend checking out this film.

Overall 7/10


Lego Scooby-Doo! Blowout Beach Bash Review

It’s time for another Scooby Doo film. LEGO titles are very popular nowadays and it seems like every franchise wants a piece of the pie. It’s still not my favorite format but it tends to work pretty well with Scooby Doo. The characters can really act crazy here and are just as self aware as ever. We don’t get to see Shaggy and Scooby eat since eating is still very hard to do with Legos, but that’s the only real drawback. It’s a very fun Scooby Doo movie that goes by quickly and I would actually consider it to be one of the better movies in the series.

The Mystery Gang has just finished another case and they are excited for another one, but then Daphne and Shaggy drop a bombshell. Fred and Velma just aren’t fun and they act as partypoopers every time the gang tries to have fun. They take this personally so Velma and Fred decide to prove that they are actually a lot of fun. They will do this by being awarded the King and Queen positions at the big Summer Bash going on in the next town over. Unfortunately, a pair of ghosts have been popping up lately and so the bash might be cancelled. Fred and Velma decide not to help since they are too busy dancing so this time Daphne and Shaggy are going to have to try and solve the case. Can they do it or will they have to ask Fred and Velma for some help one last time.

Right off the bat I can definitely confirm that I liked this plot. Velma and Fred always put the mission first so it’s easy to see how they might not seem fun, but it just means that they aren’t slackers. Let’s be honest here, Daphne rarely takes the mission seriously as it is. She often gets distracted or simply doesn’t care. Shaggy is pretty obviously not into the mission in any of the films. As a result, it’s pretty ironic every time they talk about taking things seriously. As Velma points out in the film, Fred and her do the heavy lifting in every single case. Surely the other members can pull their weight for one case right? Unfortunately not so in the end Velma and Fred are called back into action.

In the meantime, they do prove that they know how to have fun. They come up with a cool new dance and even get the old Captains of the Bash to leave since their attitudes aren’t very good. It does seem like they were always like that though so winning the Bash in the first place was a little suspect but with enough money trading hands I suppose it is possible. As per usual I would say that Fred was the best character here. He took everything in stride and even convinced Velma to turn her tumble into a dance. Then he still had enough energy to help save the day.

The only part of the film that wasn’t very satisfying was the ending. Long story short, Fred and Velma decide to relinquish their titles to Shaggy and Daphne out of pity since those two were unable to solve the case and they also weren’t able to become Captains of the Bash legitimately. I feel like Fred and Velma should have kept the crown since they really did put a lot of effort into obtaining it. It just feels very undeserved for the other two members to get the crown after all of that. Still, the other members can’t call Fred a square after this film.

As you can imagine the writing is pretty solid here. The humor is pretty solid and the characters are on point. The character histories are a big reason as to why this film works in the first place is because of the character histories. I’m still not really a fan of the LEGO animation so I wouldn’t list that as a positive or anything but it works well enough I suppose. I’ll give the film credit for using the animation to its advantage by having their heads fly off and make that an actual part of the dance. Now that is how you work with the animation you were given. With hand drawn animation, of course the film would excel even more but no need to look at the hypothetical any more than that.

Now let’s look at the suspects. Naturally we have the previous Captains of the Bash. They seem determined to keep their crowns so cancelling the Bash would be one way of doing that. There are also 2 ghosts so that would make sense. There are also their parents. While they seem to be a nice pair of senior citizens, they do seem to have given up on the Bash rather quickly and are getting ready to sell to corporate. Perhaps they just want the insurance money?

There is also Mr. Corporate himself. Certainly one of the best characters in the film I might add. He has quite a lot of confidence throughout all of his appearances and isn’t afraid to use his money and position against anyone in his path. There are many reasons why he could be guilty if you really think about it. Corporate doesn’t look out for the little guys. Then there is his secretary. She is very timid and shy. She obeys corporate to the letter but always feels bad about it. Perhaps she has some pent up aggression that has led her to a life of crime eh? The secretary does have one scene where she blows up at corporate, but I can’t say I was a fan of that scene. The random blow out never really works and I’d say it just makes the character look bad for putting everyone on the spot. If you’re going to quit, do it in private later on. At least Corporate didn’t take it personally.

Finally we also have the Sheriff and his deputy. They definitely seem to want the Mystery Gang off the island as soon as possible and they are fans of the ghosts. They are hoping that the ghosts scare everyone away so the town will be nice and quiet again. These guys are rather direct which you may think is too obvious but maybe that’s what the film wants you to think.

We definitely have quite a few suspects here so it’s up to you to try and narrow the list down a bit. The newer Scooby Doo films usually have a lot of fun with the unveiling of the crooks and this one is no different. We get a bunch of twists and it’ll remind you to always suspect everyone until proven otherwise. After all, even the tour guide had something to hide. He may not have been the crook but judging from how fast he ran, the guy may have a previous crime on his record.

Overall, This was definitely a fun Scooby Doo film. Even though it’s the LEGO format I would consider this to be one of the better Scooby Doo films. It definitely captures the core of the franchise and it was probably the first time we had the plot revolve around Fred and Velma. We even got a few songs which were handled well. This is probably one of the first Beach films that I could recommend as well. With the proper blend of humor, action, and plot, this is a film I would definitely recommend checking out.

Overall 7/10


Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold Review

Batman and Scooby Doo have always made for a very intense pairing. The crossover just writes itself as Batman tends to be a detective series that is very serious while the Mystery Gang prefers to have a lot of fun as they save the day. The groups have very different detective styles and solve crimes in two very different neighborhoods. Still, at the end of the day they are detectives and in this film we shall see them match wits.

The film starts off with Fred and the gang attempting to solve a mystery. Unfortunately this ghost is a formidable opponent and seems to have the upper hand. That’s when Batman himself shows up and he suggests that the Mystery Gang is too young to handle villains in Gotham. This leads Fred to trap Batman while the gang takes down the ghost. They go into their usual explanation about how they knew who it was all the time in a way that is fairly self aware with how exaggerated it is. Batman then shows up and declares that the group passed his initiation and he would like them to join the official Mystery Solvers group which also features Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, Question, Plasticman, and Detective Chimp. The group exists to fight the mysteries that no single detective could. Batman only has one unsolved case in his section so the team decides to focus on that one first. A mysterious voice has been scaring Batman lately and now the Mystery Gang are being framed. It’s all connected but how? The heroes will have to find the answer to this question along with some proof, all while trying to elude the Police, Fellow Heroes, and Supervillains!

This film takes place in the Batman Brave and The Bold continuity. It’s a very good selection for the crossover and I’m glad to see the series be brought back. The two animation styles mix together very well and that’s probably why it was chosen. It’d be hard to mix Beware The Batman with Scooby Doo without switching the animation after all. Scooby Doo’s animation has always been consistent for a very long time now and this one is no exception. The animation is very clear and easy to watch. The backgrounds are detailed and the action is easy to follow. It’s definitely some of the best American Animation currently.

Since most of the film is rather solid I may as well change things up and start with the negatives first. For starters, Fred looks pretty bad here. Why is he obsessing over Black Canary when he should just be psyched to be helping out a team of Elite Detectives? This is Fred Jones, the Leader of Mystery Incorporated. I wanted to see him match wits with the others but he is a little too distracted. Meanwhile Black Canary basically mocks him whenever she appears, but given the circumstances I can’t blame her one bit. The insult almost sounded like too much for this film but then you remember that she’s just making fun of his signature tie style which can easily sound like something else if you are not prepared.

My other negative is how bad all of the heroes who aren’t Batman or Aquaman look. When the Mystery Gang is framed and Batman helps them out he is seen as guilty as well. Sure, Batman keeps running off and doing his own thing, but isn’t that par for the course with the Dark Knight? All of the heroes turn against him so quickly that we finally see them for who they are. They weren’t good friends, their bonds are about as strong as the average Naruto character. They made the hero’s job a whole lot harder.

I always think that when a villain framed a hero it shouldn’t be so easy to convince the friends. Especially when in this case Batman has had a solid track record for so many years. The only one with a decent motive is Detective Chimp since he was humiliated by Velma and likely wants payback. Is that how a hero should act? No, but that’s how I can imagine Detective Chimp acting. He really got roasted here, but I’ve never liked the character so I was personally okay with that.

Martian Manhunter’s cookie gimmick is a nice call back to Justice League International. He is portrayed as an unlikable jerk, but I can’t say I have a problem with that. He is fairly memorable in the movie thanks to this and it also helps you root for Shaggy and Scooby a little more since they are effectively being bullied and can’t do anything about it. By the end of the film Manhunter hasn’t really learned anything, but he’ll likely think twice before crossing the Mystery Inc since they’re heroes now.

Aquaman actually looks pretty good now. He is very determined and keeps on pressing Batman until he is finally let into the secret club. He’s also the only hero who didn’t actually doubt Batman which gets him big points in my book. He was really on point with his entire portrayal so I definitely had no qualms with him. Batman also looks pretty good for the most part. The opening scene may get you worried for a bit, but after the twist it’s okay. Now, he may be a little too nervous with the ghost the whole time, but this way the heroes get to console him that there are no such things as ghosts. Aside from when he’s getting mentally wrecked by the ghost, Batman’s still in character and gets some good burns in. He’s always got a plan after all and is still a solo act at the end of the day.

Aside from Fred, the gang looks about as good as you can expect. Shaggy and Scooby don’t look good, but they never do. At least Shaggy finally gets revenge for all the times Scooby steals his snacks. That was actually pretty satisfying since the Shaggy and Scooby rivalry really should be even. The film has a pretty good amount of action for a Scooby Doo film since the heroes and villains can actually fight here. The fights themselves are rather short so as not to take away from the mystery but it’s pretty cool. The special feels more like a Brave and The Bold episode than a Scooby Doo movie, but it manages to have a good balance.

The climax may start to stretch on a little too long by the end, but I’d say that it’s still executed fairly well. The last time the villain runs back into the warehouse for round 5 may have just been one round too long. A slight missed opportunity is that it would have been awesome to have seen the Mystery Gang fight once they got into costume. That would have really sold me on the final act. At least we did see that happen once in the Brave and The Bold show a while back so I guess that’s why they wanted to go a different route here.

As expected the writing is pretty solid. The film also flows by very quickly and the pacing is on point. It’s definitely pretty surreal to have the characters meet up again and hopefully we’ll get a sequel at some point or have the gang meet up with another version of Batman. Either way, I’m always game for crossovers and since Scooby Doo gets so many films, it’s always a good idea to shake up the formula a bit.

Overall, This film was pretty solid. There really isn’t as much of a mystery compared to the average film since they sort of just stumble into fights as opposed to giving us a bunch of suspects and choosing one, but when Batman’s in town you do have to switch gears a bit. The soundtrack and animation are solid and it’s a very good all around movie. I’d definitely recommend checking it out. The movie was pretty close to getting a solid 8, but I don’t think I can quite justify it. Still, it’s a high 7 and one that has quite a bit of replay value. There’s just a lot to like here.

Overall 7/10


Lovely, Still Review

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It’s time for a very unique romance film. This one definitely isn’t like most as it’s actually about two senior citizens. You typically expect that people would be satisfied with their current living situation by that age, but I guess not this lead. I’m not a big romance fan and while there are some exceptions, I can’t say that this was one of them. Still, it does have some pretty interesting visuals at times which keeps you guessing.

The film starts off with what is a usual day for Robert. He gets up early to go to work, goes home after work, then he goes to sleep. It’s pretty empty since he has no hobbies, but it is what it is. Then one day he is approached by his new neighbor and she wants them to immediately start dating. She seems awfully desperate, but so is Robert so they quickly get together. Mary’s daughter tries to warn her against this, but she’ll hear nothing of it and Robert asks advice from everyone he knows. Can this romance really work?

Well, as I mentioned, Mary seems really desperate the whole time. That should ring up some serious warning bells for Robert if you ask me. It just never feels like the romance was natural and that Mary was targeting him from the start. Sure, it’s nice to see some initiative from her I guess, but I just don’t know about this. Now, there is a massive plot twist by the end which does help this aspect of the movie. By the end Mary is a much better character than she appears to be. That’s one positive aspect of the twist and it really changes the whole dynamic of the film.

Throughout the film we also get some very random moments where Robert is dreaming and we see a lot of bright lights. It gets very trippy and meta with horror music that you would expect from anime. It’s fun to look at though and while it is pretty pointless, that’s one way to pad out the time right? It makes you wonder what the film is going for so you start having a lot of theories like, what if Robert is actually crazy? It’ll at least pop up in your mind, especially since Robert wrapped himself up a gun for Christmas. He’s definitely pretty unstable.

As for Robert, I’m afraid that I didn’t like him. With or without the plot twist, he’s just not a character that I can get behind. The film makes him appear to be incredibly naive, but he’s an old man right? It’s not like he just skipped his teenage and adult life. This guy should be pretty familiar with life as a whole by this point. Even if we incorporate the plot twist and assume that these parts of his past are foggy, it should also make him aware that something’s not right. So, I’d say that it just doesn’t really add up. He also jumps to conclusions and seems to be rather possessive. In short, there wasn’t really any reason for me to like him. He’s just not a lead that I can get behind and he’s not too grateful to Mike considering how helpful he was.

Mike is Robert’s boss and a pretty upstanding guy overall. He helps Robert pick up presents and even gives him a ride. He shares his intel and life experience with Robert in order to help the date go well. He is nothing but supportive and even then Robert just doesn’t show up to work one day and doesn’t even call out. Mike only found out because he happened to drop by the house. Mike was the best character by a long shot to be honest and easily the most enjoyable character. At first you’re not sure if he will be a nice guy or a really tough guy, but in the end we find out that it was the former all along. He is the comic relief character of the film, but not in the way you’d suspect. He’s not unintelligent or constantly making mistakes. Mike is actually very smart and even has plans on how to get rich. His comedic moments are from his quick dialogue and tips that may not go over so well. He delivers these lines with a straight face though and helps keep this film from being a total romance with no interesting plots to keep you hooked.

While the romance isn’t as bad as a typical modern film where it escalates from 0-10 within a night, I still didn’t like it. Again, romance at this stage is just too late. Even if it wasn’t, it’s just way too corny. Most of the scenes are just hard to watch. The whole time you’ll be asking yourself why these two people couldn’t just be friends instead of dating. If they’re both just lonely and want a companion then being friends makes sense. It doesn’t always have to suddenly get romantic. As a result, I just couldn’t get behind this. As far as the plot twist is concerned, it’s definitely interesting. It definitely adds some tragic elements to the film as well but they aren’t overplayed. It gives the film more depth and as I explained earlier it also makes the romance a little more passable. It’s not enough to save the film or anything, but it was a good twist.

Overall, This is a romance film that really feels like a romance film. Aside from the plot twist the film doesn’t do anything to make itself stand out. I suppose they felt like the gimmick of having the main characters be really old was good enough. While it’s not as if the film is poorly made, this is just a genre that has to be executed extremely well or it simply won’t work. There are millions of romance films and only a small% of them are actually good. It’s also really hard to build up a romance in a single film since there isn’t much time for development. If you watch this film, definitely watch it for Mike’s antics. He’s actually a fun character and his scenes are a blast. Still, you can’t expect one character to hold an entire film on his own do you? He does his best, but it’s not enough. If you want to watch a better romance film….I’m not sure what to tell you. If you want a good emotional film, then I’d recommend watching Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. You’ll definitely get emotional when the Earth is targeted!

Overall 4/10


Mickey X: The Contest Review

Before reading this comic I had certainly never heard of Mickey X. I’d say that I’m a pretty knowledgeable Disney fan but I suppose I still don’t know all of the spinoffs. The premise for the series seems pretty interesting as Mickey runs errands in a supernatural world filled with dangerous characters. It’s a very different take on the classic characters but one that works pretty well so far and does have a lot of potential. That’s saying something since I feel like the majority of Elseworld tales aren’t very good. At the very least it’s a fun little comic.

There are two stories in this comic. The first one is the main adventure as a bunch of mystery authors are invited to a mysterious mansion. The owner may in fact have ill intent as monsters show up and begin attacking the guests. Can Mickey and his struggling author friend save the day or will monsters conquer all? One thing is for sure, someone is going to have to step up and get the job done.

I’m always up for an ensemble of mystery authors. Even Detective Conan did something similar in one arc. Goofy (Basically it’s him) can’t write so he has to bluff his way through the meeting. I’d say he does a decent job of it since he has lasted so long without anyone finding him out. Here’s my question though. Since apparently his friend was writing all of the stories for him in the first place, why would Goofy need to go to the bar to get inspiration? It’s not like it would help at all if he simply can’t write. Maybe he was hoping that he could finally write his first book which is a nice thought but I guess it just didn’t happen. Also in case you are ever caught in such a position I’d advise you to at least write something down as opposed to leaving a blank page and conceding defeat. Even if you don’t think the story is great, half a story is better than none.

While Mickey is really the supporting character here, he does a good job of keeping up with everyone. You get the feeling that he’s not in too much danger from the monsters due to his speed and reflexes. He comes across as an adventurer in training so I’m sure he’ll get more to do in other volumes. Minnie makes for an interesting ruler since she seems to have abilities here. At the very least, she has a lot of influence and can call the shots whenever she likes.

If I had a book that turned my writing into reality, I’d quickly write that my pizza made it on time and was free. I’d probably build some kind of calorie nullifier as well so that I could finally eat all the cheese that I wanted. The monsters that the authors came up with were fairly good though so I’ll give them some kudos on that. They had good imaginations and proved that they were the real deal when it came to author skill.

The 2nd story is a whole lot shorter but it’s still pretty good. Mickey finds a camera lying around but whenever he takes a picture there is a door in the background which is slowly opening more and more. He decides not to take any more pictures just in case but it may be out of his hands now. This camera could very well lead to the end of the world! That will weigh heavily on Mickey’s conscience.

I figure that behind the door is a specter who haunts the wielder of the camera for all eternity. It makes sense and adds in a lot of tension. However, theories are all that you can make as the monster doesn’t get to appear thanks to the anticlimactic ending. I was expecting a troll moment where a happy character comes out of the door or something, not for nobody to come out. Still, it was a pretty interesting story before that ending occurred. The ending didn’t ruin it or anything, but it was just a missed opportunity. It was short but who doesn’t like an evil camera plot?

The art looks pretty good throughout. All of the character designs are sleek and the pages are easy to read with the sharp colors all around. It’s light in detail which helps the overall comic be so comprehensive but naturally more details are always a good thing if handled well. The art is basic but in a good way so I’m definitely satisfied. No real action scenes to test its mettle of course but it’s not like you would expect one here. That’s why it is important that the overall comic looks good. I say the same thing about anime. If it’s not an action series then I feel like it should be very easy to have good animation since the character designs are one of the only things you are focusing on. If you still can’t have good animation then I’m not sure what to say. So Mickey X did a good job with what it was given.

Overall, Mickey X was pretty fun. It’s a very short read but one were both stories had a good premise. The first one works quite well while the second’s ending was anticlimactic but they were both solid stories. It’s always good to see more of Mickey Mouse, particularly in his modern design/personality. Hopefully the series got many more comics because I’d be interested in reading those. I’m curious as to where Donald Duck is and what his occupation/personality even is in this version. I’m sure that no matter what he’s doing, he is still the loud and confident character that we are all used to. I’d recommend giving this comic a read and enjoying the best Goofy portrayal that I’ve seen.

Overall 7/10


Professor Layton and the Last Specter Review

It’s time to take a look at the start of the Professor Layton prequel trilogy! It’s always fun to see the characters first meeting up so I was ready for the big Layton/Luke team up. There’s no chance for them to fight as in most classic prequels, but Luke did manage to be rather mysterious for a little while. Aside from a dreadfully terrible ending that makes you want to delete the game, this is another solid title in the consistent series. It always reminds me of how puzzles are actually a lot of fun if they’re handled correctly.

Layton may be a mild mannered professor during the day, but he is also a master sleuth and archaeologist. He receives a letter from an old friend of his requesting some help. As he is about to head off, a girl named Emmy shows up and claims she is now his assistant. Layton tries to get out of this situation, but she won’t take no for an answer. The two of them head to the town where a giant monster shows up and knocks over a lot of buildings. Clearly this is an enemy that Layton is not going to want to underestimate, but is there really a monster or is it just a fake? A kid named Luke seems to be able to predict whenever it will appear which is rather suspect. Between the suspicious mayor, the underground gangs, and the corrupt police, Layton will have his work cut out for him.

Emmy’s a great addition to the cast in this game. I like her more than her current timeline counterpart and the fact that she can fight is really great. We get several cutscenes of her taking down gangs and defending Layton. A gentleman resorts to violence as a last resort of course and as such Layton doesn’t have a whole lot of combat training. I’m definitely going to be interested in seeing why she decides to leave Layton by the end of the trilogy. Maybe she’ll end up appearing in the new 3DS game that is coming out soon.

Layton is a solid main character as always. He stays firm even as he gets threatened by various characters. He’s always tipping his cap when greeting others which is nice of him and has many plans at the ready. Villains rarely catch him off guard. There’s not much more to say about him that I haven’t already said in the older games. Luke is also pretty similar to the other games even though he is quite a bit younger. He’s not really ready to solve too many puzzles this time around, but always manages to try his best regardless. Luke’s father didn’t look very good the whole time. He just seems awfully shady without and never seems like a nice guy. Everything is a mystery though so keep an open mind.

The graphics are pretty good of course. As always we get a number of fully animated cutscenes at the ready which was great. The fact that we had multiple action scenes during them was also pretty neat. The scene of the monster destroying the town of Emmy comboing the gang were both quite exciting. I’d also say that the soundtrack is pretty good, but I’d like some new themes. I felt like they were all recycled from previous games. I can get the nostalgia appeal of course, but new themes help to keep the games fresh and relying on old ones can be a bit lazy.

I enjoyed the array of puzzles. A lot of them follow the same style as older ones, but there are some new ones as well. It’s not as if there are a whole lot of different ways to make a puzzle after all so you’ll inevitably have some recycled ones. Still, they’re always enjoyable to get through and the game does its best to make them all different in some way or another. The game will last you around 12 hours and there is a lot of replay value as you work to solve the rest of the puzzles and complete the minigames. It’ll probably take you around 20-30 hours to do all of that so it’s really worth the price. Even without the replay value, the main game has a lot of value.

Unfortunately there is one thing that holds the game back…the ending. Spoilers will commence so skip this paragraph if you want to avoid that. I always figured that the mysterious monster wasn’t actually a monster so that was no big deal. If anything, I was surprised we got a monster at all, but it turns out that there was one hanging around. He was fighting the robot at night and immense plot hax made this look like a giant monster to the audience. Honestly, the game didn’t try too hard with this moment as there’s just no way it could have happened. Beyond that, the big issue is that at the end the monster dies from overexerting itself. It keeps hitting the walls of the town until it finally shatters them and the little girl is saved from her disease. It’s an emotional tale, but why did the monster have to die? He should have lived and then the ending would have been perfect. As it is, the story took a rather gritty turn there and instantly made this the worst of the Layton adventures. It really is a shame since the rest of the game is so solid, but I couldn’t overlook this. The game crossed a line that it should not have crossed.

The game is definitely leading up to something big in the next one as the villain gets an after credits scene. He’s not bad so far and should make for a good antagonist. I prefer him to the guy from the first two games, but Future Luke is still the best villain in the series. I aim to get the next game fairly soon so prepare for that, it shall be Epic! There’s not much more to say about the game. The gameplay is all as streamlined as it can be at this point and you can tell that the company is very experienced with the Layton game. It’s easy to pick up and play at any time and while the story is fairly long it never gets dull. Something is always happening.

Overall, This game is a lot more low key than the last one as this is only the start of the trilogy. It still gets off to a more exciting start than the first ever Layton though. Unfortunately the gritty ending does shave off 2 whole stars from the game. An ending is supposed to make you feel glad that you played the whole game, not make you shake your head in disbelief. I’m confident that the next two games will go back to the quality that I’ve come to expect though as the rest of the game is quite sound. I’d still recommend this game to all gamers, just watch out for the ending. See how many puzzles you can solve before you have to resort to the hint coins. I’d be immensely impressed if anyone could solve all of the main puzzles without hint coins since that honestly seems almost impossible. Before the next Layton game, it’s going to be time to play something a little less intellectually stimulating.

Overall 6/10


The Bat Review

It’s time for a retro film from the late 50s. The Bat definitely played out very differently from what I had pictured based on the title but I would actually say that this is a good thing. It’s an old mystery with a lot of misdirection as we get three different suspects and only one of them can be the Bat. I am happy to say that I figured it out pretty early on, but the film is quite discreet so don’t expect it to be a cakewalk.

The film revolves around a mystery novelist known as Cornelia. She has moved into a house that is supposedly haunted as bad things always happen there. In fact, its owner had said nobody was ever to rent the place, but Cornelia got it through his nephew. See, it turns out that the Uncle had wanted to use the mansion as a place to stash the 1 million dollars that he stole from the bank. The plan doesn’t go over very well as he tries to murder Dr. Wells to keep his silence except the tables are turned on him. At Cornelia’s neighborhood, The Bat has resurfaced. He is a mass murderer who attacks a bunch of people and likes causing mayhem. He keeps appearing in Cornelia’s house so she hires some guards. Gradually as most of the characters get bumped off, we learn that The Bat can only be one of three different people.

The first suspect is Dr. Wells. After all, he was rather quick to murder the original thief and claimed that he would take the money for himself. He runs a lot of bat experiments and always seems to be around right after The Bat leaves. He offers a lot of cryptic advice and silent threats throughout the film but maybe they’re all in good fun. The other suspect is Lieutenant Anderson. Anderson is the chief of police and has sworn to protect Cornelia. However, while he is tasked with protecting the house, he vanished right before The Bat appears and only returns after he is gone. He claims he was chasing someone in the forest which, true or not, seems rather negligent. Finally, there is Warner. He’s always very curt and rude to the cast not to mention that his arms are rather stiff as if he were carrying a bunch of claws a lot of the time. He has a criminal record in his past and also tends to disappear quite a lot. Cornelia needs to figure out who it is fast or she’s doomed.

The writing is particularly strong in this film. Retro films like this one tend to always have consistent dialogue, but this movie sets a high standard even for those. The banter between Wells and Anderson is great throughout the whole movie. They each have great lines and I love the veiled threats mixed in there. The film was also good at really twisting the situation like how Wells turned the tables in the opening act. I wasn’t expecting the guy to beat Wells, but the whole scenario played out a lot sooner than I had expected. The movie definitely knew how to handle its tense moments. It also did a good job of seamlessly switching genres as it starts out as a slice of life adventure that seems like it’ll be pretty happy before turning into a thrilling horror film and finally into a mystery.

Wells is easily my favorite character by the way. He’s certainly no hero but you can’t deny that he is a very capable guy. Nobody is going to walk all over him. Wells always has an ace up his sleeve. Honestly, I think the film had a missed opportunity here as his final confrontation should have played out a little differently. Perhaps the film didn’t want Wells to look downright invincible, but it would have been pretty awesome to say the least. Warner was pretty unlikable the whole time. He was just a little too curt and showed a lot of blatant disregard for the authorities. I don’t even know how he was promoted since he’s never all that polite or nice. I suppose he is just that good at his job. Anderson is good for the threats and he does a pretty good job as the policeman in charge.

Cornelia is a pretty good main heroine. She certainly knows how to keep her cool under pressure. While the rest of the characters are panicking she is usually thinking of a plan on how to stay alive or how to counter attack. The rest of the house guests were pretty annoying or helpless throughout the film so Cornelia really had to do everything herself. She has a gun with her and knows how to throw a crowbar as well. It would have been nice if she could have gotten the final blow in at the end of the movie, but I’m still pretty satisfied with what happened overall.

The only thing that slightly hurts the film is naturally Wells Bat experiments. One scene looked as if a bat was trying to eat the other one which was pretty odd and out of nowhere, but the whole scene was pretty blurred so it was hard to tell what was happening. I got nervous as soon as the animals appeared at all, but nothing really ended up happening so that was good. The film was so solid that it would have been an absolute shame for something like that to have wrecked it all.

This definitely feels like an old school horror film at some points as each character is bumped off one by one. It’s always been a great concept so it’s too bad that most modern films can’t do it justice. This film takes them out without having to be super dark or violent which really sells it. For example, we have a backup cop in the movie. I won’t go into details, but his tragic ending is both serious and quite funny at the time time. It works well despite sounding like a contradiction. It doesn’t help that the guy was extremely unintelligent so you were rooting for him to leave as soon as possible. Someone’s life is in danger and he’s still asking for more details before going in to help. This is not the guy you want to be your defender in a time of crisis.

Overall, This is a mystery thriller that you should definitely add to your list of films to watch. The 3 suspect dynamic is handled extremely well here and I dare say that it is probably one of the best film examples out there where all 3 are given a sufficient motive and hints so none of the options are too obvious. It’s a fair mystery as well and you can potentially solve it before the film ends. Dr. Wells makes for a pretty great character especially since you never know whose side he is really on. The cast is pretty solid overall even if you know that some characters are going to bite the big one before it gets close to ending. Some characters were simply made for that role. They don’t really get to mourn the dead characters much either since they are always on the run or preparing for an attack. The film doesn’t overdo it with the drama which is a good thing. Several of the deaths could have been prevented if the heroes played things out a little better, but they were simply too curious for their own good. The Bat may not be a giant monster, but he is still a pretty intense villain.

Overall 7/10