Evil Under The Sun Review


Murder mysteries tend to make for pretty exciting films. There’s a whole lot of suspects and you have to try and decide how to play things out. If you want to really make things exciting then you should try to pick out the suspect once they have all said their alibis and established motive. The film’s pretty fair with letting you make that choice. In fact I’m happy to say I was right on the money with this one. There’s just so many reasons why it made sense even if I wasn’t able to guess the full explanation. I was actually a little off on the motive as well.

The movie starts with Poirot not being able to solve a case. Or rather, he determines that no foul play was afoot aside from a normal murder. He then heads off to go on a quick vacation for some R&R. He meets up with a guy who lets Poirot know that he got swindled and he intends to destroy the lady who did this to him. Her name is Arlena. Poirot decides to go to this exclusive hotel as well because it’s supposed to be relaxing. Unfortunately it is anything but. Every family there has a lot of baggage and are not having any fun. Poirot does his best to ignore them all but then Arlena ends up getting murdered while she was on the beach. Who could have done it??

One thing that I always appreciate as that these films have a ton of details. So what happens is the film will throw you a lot of genuine clues and such to keep your eye on as well as a ton of red herrings. The film’s approach is to completely overload you with information. I appreciate this tactic because it’s counting on you overlooking something as opposed to straight up hiding it. It’s like that psych experiment they try where they show you a video filled with nonsense except for one little detail that’s legit. So it’s a really good structure.

As always the writing is pretty sound here as well. The characters all have distinct personalities as well as solid motives for wanting to bump Arlena off. At the same time you have to assume that it’s not a case of everyone destroying her this time because that kind of twist you should only end up doing once. Arlena is also shown to be as unlikable as possible. She’s incredibly mean to everyone and doesn’t even hide the fact that she is unfaithful to her husband. You certainly don’t miss her from the dynamic. So lets talk about all of the suspects.

First we have Arlena’s daughter Linda. Her alibi is that she was at the beach on the other side of the island around the time of the murder and this is corroborated by two other characters. Her motive would be that Arlena is cheating on Linda’s father and Arlena also tends to bullet Linda a lot. Having her out of the way would be pretty convenient for her. I wouldn’t say Linda is a particularly good character though. She lies about her story a few times which could get the wrong person hanged and I think she could have managed to have more fun on the trip even if she can’t quite stay at the grown up table.

Next is Kenneth. He’s Arlena’s husband so his motive is obvious. She’s been cheating on him for a while now. His alibi is that he was typing at the time and this story is corroborated by his letter which had to be a response to another one that was sent the same day. Unfortunately Kenneth isn’t a likable character either way. The fact that he just overlooks how mean Arlena is to Linda is pretty nasty. You wish the guy would just have more backbone about this. Instead he just keeps on going with the flow.

After Kenneth is Rex. His alibi is that he was on a boat during that time and his actions are corroborated by one person. His motive is that he wants to write a book about Arlena but keeps getting shut down at every turn since she doesn’t want people knowing about her book. So of course if she wasn’t around then this wouldn’t be a problem. He’s not a particularly likable guy either. He tends to be a little too informal with everyone which is why nobody seems to like the guy. As a result he has to hang out by himself a lot of the time.

Next is Patrick who is the guy Arlena is cheating with. He has no qualms about people seeing him either including his wife. His motive here would be to take her down so that he can finally get over her or at least so people wouldn’t be able to keep accusing him of this. His alibi here is that he’s the one who found the body which was corroborated by one character. It goes without saying that he’s not likable here. Cheating behavior like that will always make you shake your head at a character. He certainly gets real defensive about this as well considering that he makes no effort to hide what he’s doing.

Christine is Patrick’s wife so her motive is clear as well. If she bumps Arlena off then she won’t have to worry about any kind of affair going on. Her alibi is that she was sketching at the time. This was corroborated by one person. I’m not a fan of Christine…so you can kind of see that I don’t like any of these guys. That’s part of the point though as everyone is meant to look rather bad so they all appear more suspicious as well. Christine’s problem is she spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself. She gets dizzy from vertigo, can’t go outside, cries a lot, etc. She tends to blow all of her problems up which makes them a lot bigger than they otherwise would be.

Then we have Myra. Her motive would be that Arlena is suddenly backing out of a play which is going to cost her a lot of money. If Arlena is bumped off then Myra would have a decent excuse to cancel the show. Myra’s alibi is that she was with Patrick when he found the body and her story was corroborated by one person. Myra’s at least more fun than a bunch of the other characters. She’s got a lot of pep in her step as she walks around and criticizes everyone. She can be very two faced at times but in this movie that’s fairly par for the course with most of these characters. Especially the murderer of course.

Then you have Odell. His motive would be the same as Myra’s since they have the same play. His alibi is that he was outside in the garden reading a book. He has a great deal of fun pointing out to Poirot that he doesn’t have an alibi but that this is normal. His speech was actually the best part of the entire movie because of how awesome it was. The guy was absolutely not holding back in the slightest with his intense comments towards Poirot. You’d think someone who’s at risk of being hanged would act a bit differently. For this reason I would say he was definitely the best member of the suspects. His performance there was just brilliant.

Finally we have Daphne. She’s the owner of the hotel. Her motive would be that she doesn’t like the way Arlena treats her family and they have been rivals for a long time. Her alibi is that she was in a meeting with all of her staff which is corroborated by no one except presumably the staff if they were asked some questions. Daphne can be pretty fun. She’s a solid rival and does her best to undermine Arlena with witty comments and last second zingers.

Naturally Poirot is a fun lead as well. He is always having a lot of fun when the missions pop up so you feel bad for the guy. He does make sure to still enjoy himself while solving this though. He has a lot of fun dialogue and does piece together the puzzles rather well. Nothing is ever able to shake his absolute confidence. Poirot has a smug air to him but it’s well deserved given his track record. At this point his name is known far and wide to everyone so even in the movies people recognize him immediately.

Really the only thing holding this film from getting a high score is there’s a very random moment of animal violence in the film. We see a dead rabbit or some kind of animal like that out of nowhere. It serves no purpose in the film whatsoever. Why was this added? Perhaps the film wanted to have some kind of illustration of death or the time passing but there are far, far better ways of doing it. All you get from this scene was that the film was clearly losing its marbles. It’s too bad because the rest of the film was rather solid but this certainly had to shave a star off. The film is fortunate we don’t see how the animal got destroyed or it would have been far worse.

Overall, Evil Under The Sun is a pretty solid mystery. It gives us a good amount of suspects and then the case to solve. The film is fairly long which gives each character a solid amount of detail. Additionally I like how the culprit acts towards the end of the film. The culprit continues to laugh off the theory and accusations the whole time yelling for proof and such. I always like when the victim is adamant about being in the clear the whole time. You don’t want to see anyone throw in the towel before then because it would be too easy. I’d recommend checking this film out if you’re looking for a good murder mystery.

Overall 6/10

Night Tide Review


Night Tide is pretty much bonkers. As the film is going on you are wondering what the point is. On Wikipedia I see this is sometimes labeled as a horror film but don’t buy into that. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is as much a horror film as the Maze Runner. There are some ideas here that are decent at best but then you have to contend with a slow moving plot and a climax that just isn’t nearly as dynamic as it could have been. I wouldn’t call it a bad film but it’s really right in the middle.

Johnny has finally gotten a break from being in the navy for a bit so he heads to a bar to try and find a girl. His useful pretense here is that he came for the music. Well, he quickly meets a lady named Mora and desperately begs her to go out with him. She eventually concedes and the two get close but Johnny finds out there are ominous rumors about her. She had two other boyfriends recently and both ended up being drowned. There’s no evidence that she did it…but it’s a bit suspicious all the same. So, what can ole Johnny do now? He is still desperate to be with Mora so he decides to just roll with it but this could be his last decision.

I think we can all assume from the start that something fishy is going on here. The thing is, Johnny just isn’t a likable character in the slightest. Aside from being desperate for romance he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. He knows that at the very least he needs to be careful when there’s a full moon out. Don’t go near water but Mora asks him to go with her to the deepest part of the ocean so naturally he says yes. Johnny only has his main character plot armor to protect him because his decisions certainly don’t put him in a great spot. Then you’ve also got the fact that his feelings are very weak. Let’s just say that he’s very quick on the rebound so he doesn’t seem to even care which girl he is with.

Not the kind of lead you want to see. I wasn’t a big fan of the heroine Mora either. Of course I can’t say if she is truly a heroine or an antagonist as the film wants you to figure that out, but either way she really gets tricked pretty easily. Surely she should have known something was up in previous incidents. I think it’s fair to say she was probably a bit loopy but she seemed sane enough to be able to connect the dots if you ask me. Instead she just kept on sinking. Even when you have a mysterious lady hurling some kind of threat at her, Mora is quick to leave instead of seeing what this is all about.

The only other big character here is Murdock and he’s definitely one of those guys who likes to spread rumors. He talks a lot about the ocean and such but also slips in some more suspicious things about Mora. There’s nothing much to say about this guy but in his final scene he helps to make Johnny more unlikable as well by convincing the lead to see his point of view. There really wasn’t anything to see here though which is why it doesn’t quite work out so well.

I wouldn’t say the writing is that bad, but it feels like there was no ending in mind. Throughout the movie there’s a bit of a suspenseful feeling in the air. The color scheme is rather dark for the film and the beach can look pretty ominous at that point. In the climax it’s raining and pitch black out so when Johnny enters the tent you know that something’s going to happen. The film excels with these moments as you should be pretty interested in what’s going to happen next. With a more satisfying ending I dare say that this would have worked out well.

The issue is that the ending just feels pointless. Nothing was really accomplished and then the film decided to take the easy way out by leaving all kinds of possibilities open. So you can effectively choose your own ending here and that’s never the route you want to go. A film should be confident in its choice from start to finish. An ambiguous ending on its own isn’t bad but the execution here was poor. The final scene will probably make you roll your eyes when you consider that not a lot of time has passed since a recent tragedy but the characters don’t seem to care much. That may be indictive of the film itself though. In general the film’s biggest weakness was just not having enough strengths. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not a good one either. It just coasts by with a lot of soulless scenes that can be decent at times but never end up connecting into something better. The movie has some dream scenes that show you what the film could have been like though. Those tend to be pretty intense and more like the posters the film was advertised with. If the film had gone down that route I’m sure it would have at least been more exciting.

Overall, Night Tide is a unique film. It’s suspenseful and keeps you engaged just long enough where the film will just fly by. On the other hand, the ending makes sure you don’t enjoy the journey as much as you could have and holds the whole thing back. A better main character would have gone a long way as Johnny evidently just wasn’t ready for the big stage like this. The movie does squeeze in a quick action scene at the very end though so that was pretty neat. I was beginning to think we probably weren’t going to have any so that was good at least.

Overall 5/10

Astra Lost in Space Review


I remember reading the manga for Astra a while back and it was a lot of fun. It’s not every day that you get a space exploration manga like this. It’s sort of like an anime version of Star Trek only all the exploration is for one singular purpose of getting back home. Part of what really makes the series succeed is the quality character roster. I like almost all of the characters and even the weakest ones still bring something to the table. The story here is very character focused so if the writing wasn’t on point or if the characters were forgettable then this could have easily been rather lackluster. Instead, it’s a great anime that I could easily recommend.

The series starts off with a group of kids getting ready for a field trip to space. Aries is excited for this since she can make some new friends. The trip almost comes to a screeching halt when a pickpocket steals her bag but Kanata shows up to foil this theft and introduces himself as the captain. The other kids don’t agree with this proclamation but quickly allow him to take the title. The heroes do some exploring on the first planet but before they can head home a black hole sucks them up. Fortunately a spaceship was nearby and the heroes manage to get inside. They are now many light years away from home. Their only chance to get back it to go from planet to planet grabbing supplies and doing what they can to survive. There’s only one problem…this was no accident. One member of the crew is attempting to murder everyone on board.

Including the bit about a murderer on board really helps to take the series to the next level. It’s just a great plot line because it also gives you extra reason to really look at each character. Every character gets at least an episode to themselves and they all have distinctive personalities. None of them appear to have a motive but of course they’ve only just met each other so technically they don’t even know a whole lot. Each character could easily have a motive here. This extra layer of danger is always present on the journey which changes this from potentially being more of a slice of life to a high stakes adventure. You’re always assuming that the murderer will help out while the heroes are stranded in space but of course at any time this could change. With that said, lets talk about all of the characters.

First we have the fearless leader Kanata. He’s a world class athlete who doesn’t believe in giving up. A friend of his died a long time ago when he fell off a cliff and Kanata wasn’t strong enough to hold on. He blames himself for this even now and it’s his motivation for becoming strong. He has a lot of survival tips and sayings that he utters throughout the series. They’re all rather basic so the other characters make fun of him but at the same time they are quite true. Kanata’s easily the best character in the series and that’s always the ideal situation for a show. When your main character is great then the show’s already off to a brilliant start. Is all this bravado and heroism just an act to bump everyone off?

Then you have Aries who is the main heroine. She can be a bit of a space case at times and her main quirk if that she sometimes can’t hear what someone says and instead thinks they said something that rhymes with it. Like if a character tells her “Go get some help” she might think they said “Go and fry some kelp” which leads to some tricky situations. It doesn’t happen very often though. She has a photographic memory and wants to be friends with everyone so she is always very nice to all of the characters. Aries is a fun character and is quite useful on the team. Having a photographic memory is no small potatoes after all. Of course that ability would also make it easy to systematically take down every character.

Next up is Luca. He’s got a quick wit and likes having fun with the rest of the characters. He’s the only person who can easily approach Ulgar. He quickly figures everyone out and as a result is able to connect with everyone. Luca’s got a pretty sunny disposition but of course that could just be his way of coping with guilt for blowing everyone up. Luca’s definitely a solid character, you really want to have someone like that on your team to keep people from feeling too tense or anything like that.

Following Luca is Charce. He’s really into science and all of the foreign wildlife in these planets is fascinating to him. Charce is a good cook and just a man of many talents. He can also be a bit of a flirt at times. From the main characters I would say he is one of the weaker ones. The science angle isn’t quite as interesting as some of the other character quirks. Of course by cooking a lot of the meals he could potentially poison everyone so that’s something the gang will have to take into account.

After Charce is Zack. Zack is the genius member of the group. He remains rather emotionless at all times and is ready to repair whatever gets broken. He tends to find out a lot of the clues for the mystery going on and always reports to Kanata. Of course discovering the clues should not make him any less of a suspect as it could be a way to deflect suspicion. Zack makes for a very solid right hand man to Kanata and may be the most important member of the crew. He’s definitely a very high quality character and the show wouldn’t be the same without him. It’s nice to have a genius character who isn’t a jerk or anything the whole time and is actually quite reliable when it counts.

Quitterie is the next heroine on the ship. She’s definitely more aggressive than Aries and being friends with everyone isn’t her goal in the slightest. She has a colder disposition to the rest of the crew initially including her younger sister. Quitterie just isn’t good with people so she always has a wall around her emotions and is quick to dish out insults. You can probably guess how her character arc will go and she is a very necessary member of the crew. You always need a character like her to balance out all the super friendly ones. She just tells it like it is and serves as the ship’s doctor. Of course that means it would be easy to give people the wrong treatment intentionally.

Then there’s her younger sister Funicia. While she may seem too young to be a suspect, that could be what she wants you to think. She also has a toy bear she talks through which always acts a little meaner. Based on the show’s explanation it seems like the Bear acts out her thoughts which explains the different personality but at times you get the feeling Funicia is just messing with everyone. She’s a charming little kid and doesn’t get in the way you might expect one too. That’s the main reason why she is pretty fun here. She does her best to contribute. She may get in trouble at times, but who doesn’t on this ship right?

Ulgar changes things up and makes Quitterie look nice in comparison. This guy gets set off by anything and doesn’t even want to talk to the other characters. He makes it clear that he’ll only help out when it’s life or death. Of course there are 100 reasons to suspect him but one big thing against that would be that it may feel too obvious. Ulgar is a solid character and I enjoyed him on the show. He talks a good game but I wouldn’t say he’s ever overly mean or anything. The closest is when he piles on Yun-Hua with everyone else and you wish she would speak up a bit. Ulgar helps keep the crew on edge.

Speaking of Yun-Hua, she would have to be the weakest character in the series. Her main gimmick is that she’s super timid and is afraid to ever speak up. She feels like she has no particular talents and this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as her hesitant nature causes her to mess up at times. Perhaps she wants to bump everyone off so that she will have accomplished something. By the end of the series I don’t feel like she ever really left a big impact though. Even her big moment basically involved singing while everyone else did the work. I wouldn’t go as far as to call her a bad character but I admit that I just didn’t like her. Substituting her with another person for the final member would have worked out well.

There’s one other important character in Paulina, but she doesn’t appear until near the end of the series. She’s a nice enough character. I wouldn’t say she does enough to really leave much of an impact though and is mainly here for some more plot twists. Paulina may panic a little too much with her fainting spells though. You can cut her some slack for just being really surprised I guess. Eh, she’s basically just around so she doesn’t change much of anything in the dynamic.

Naturally we do get some meanwhile scenes on Earth. You have the classic round table meeting type scenes with a bunch of the hype characters. These discussions were always very interesting and naturally they are quite crucial to the plot. You definitely need them around and this is one time where I didn’t mind when we would cut away from the main plot. For a mystery like this you want to see other points of view so this worked out quite well. The parents of the kids naturally have to appear as well and this was a good way to do it. Naturally Kanata’s father was the most interesting member of the group to me. The guy just has a very cool disposition.

The show also did a good job with its pacing here. Pretty much every episode ends with some kind of plot twist. As a result there is a final scene (Like a movie’s after credits scene) quite often where the twist is unveiled. You may feel bad for Kanata in each case as it almost always happens when he’s getting ready for bed. I haven’t seen a show consistently dish out so many hype twists like this in each episode before so it was quite nice. This show was just built really well for the 12 episode format. It pretty much lines up perfectly with each episode.

As for the animation, it’s pretty good. There aren’t a lot of chances for the animation to really shine for a show like this since it isn’t very action packed of course, but the character designs are on point and the level backdrops work well too. There’s definitely nothing to really say against it. The soundtrack is relatively low key. You won’t be finding any standout tunes here but nothing holding it back here. It’s basically just a sci-fi 101 kind of ost.

I already talked about the writing and naturally it is great. The question is, was it enough to make you sympathize with the traitor once that person was outed? Well, I would say no. To me the traitor still loses a lot of points in the end. I can more or less get over the original attempt from episode 1 because the character didn’t really know the others yet and the backstory covers this really well. I can’t overlook the issues from the last episodes though. By that point the traitor has absolutely no reason to go through with this particularly because of everything they know at this point. The character would have been redeemed in my eyes if they had just admitted to the whole thing or even not made any more attempts. Let the whole thing be a secret to the end. So acting on this and trying to murder everyone again is why this character was no good.

With as many plot twists running around as Astra had, naturally you may not be able to buy into all of them. For me there was just one that I find to be super sketchy. Lets just say it involves historical revisions. The sheer scale of this one just makes it impractical to me to the point of being impossible. If it was hundreds of years or something then I can buy into it as things can easily be suppressed in a long enough period of time. It was all too recent for it to be this complete though. I think the only way it would work out is if we were introduced to the world as some kind of closed off dictatorship where information is heavily funneled. That would then work out quite nicely because even in modern days we see that countries or areas where information is regulated leads to a lot of misinformation. It wouldn’t be beyond the pale for this to happen here. The issue is that Astra’s land functions as a very well run place with a lot of safety and access to information. They can bump people off when they find out the truth but they would have to have done it a lot more often. So, I don’t really buy into this twist but I wouldn’t say that it hurts the show either.

Each planet was fairly different which helped the adventure angle. So you could look forward to the heroes hanging out at the ship but also all the unique dangers that each planet would bring. Whether it would be not having enough food to survive or giant plant monsters trying to eat everyone. The show always had a good contrast going which was nice to see. The episodes just really fly by because they’re all just very interesting. It makes for being a very complete show and one that could have easily been stretched into 26 episodes and I’m sure it would have worked out quite nicely.

Overall, Astra Lost In Space is definitely a great anime. Fitting in a classic adventure story with a good deal of mystery is always a good idea. The genres support each other really well and you’ve got an engaging watch here which is really what you were hoping to find. It’s a self contained anime that you can really watch at any time so I’d recommend it to fans of all genres. Of course I’d be down for a sequel even though there aren’t any real loose plot threads left. Just seeing the characters again would be fun and with space exploration there is naturally a whole lot that you could do with it if you really wanted too. We can see how Kanata would handle future situations.

Overall 8/10

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte Review


Whenever you have a film where the main antagonist turns out to get bullied by another one, you have to handle things delicately or the whole project is liable to fail. Can you really take such a turn of events seriously? Now you can handle this quite well in an action setting but in more of a dramatic fashion like this one? Well, it definitely raises a few eyebrows. This film is fairly good all things considered but I do find parts of it to be rather unbelievable. I have to question the writing at times as well.

The movie starts with a flashback where we have a lot of drama going on. Charlotte’s father finds out that she intends to run off with this whiny guy named John. John is already married and both characters know this but he intends to cheat on his wife anyway. Charlotte is cool with this so keep in mind that from the start we know that she’s not exactly a heroic character. Well, the father forces John to turn Charlotte down but he quickly gets hacked to bits for his trouble. We fast forward a few decades and Charlotte is now an old lady that nobody wants to hang out with. Everyone believes she murdered John and people give her a wide berth. The town has tried to be patient as well but her house is supposed to have been torn down but she refuses to leave it. She even goes as far as to shoot at the workers.

Fortunately her cousin Miriam has returned to help smooth things over. Charlotte wants her to convince the town to let her stay in the house but Miriam says this is impossible. Miriam intends to convince Charlotte to leave. The issue is, if Charlotte is still a vicious murderer, is Miriam really safe? Perhaps she should leave quickly. The town is in a tough spot either way since Charlotte has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it. From here on out we get quite a number of twists and turns as the plot goes underway.

And that’s no understatement…there are a ton of twists here. Some which make more sense than others. I’ll go through this while sidestepping any big spoilers and reveals. For starters though, this is the kind of movie that only works with a lead character like Charlotte who is consistently giving everyone a hard time and isn’t very smart. She rarely knows what is going on and panics about everything. There are several times in the film where there is a twist later on that should not have tricked Charlotte the first time but only did so because she handled the whole situation horribly. She badly needed some more will power for certain things.

I also thought she really sunk in terms of personality and toughness by the end. She goes from openly threatening to murder everyone at first and being the toughest character in the room to suddenly being pushed around by everyone. It was hard to watch Charlotte by the end because she was falling for everything. She really needed more of a backbone and it’s just hard to believe because of how tough she was at the start. I admit that the whole thing just didn’t feel particularly earned.

The film’s pretty tame aside from the opening scene. The guy getting axed to bits can be surprisingly intense since the rest of the film is much more of a low key thriller. That said, many of the characters also make similar decisions where they look terrible. You’d think the guy getting hacked to bits would have run off somewhere right? At least reacting a bit more would have made sense. Then you’ve also got Velma who is pretty nosey and tends to find out quite a lot but is very obvious about it. If you’re digging up some dirt about the villains, why would you walk up to them and explain how you’re going to go to the police? It’s just not a smart play by any stretch of the imagination. It’s awfully convenient for the villains though.

Then near the end of the film you have two characters loudly talking about their entire plan in detail for the world to hear. They’re laughing, drinking, and basically having a party. One of them even throws a glass cup away where we hear it loudly shatter and they continue on with their speech. This isn’t in a secret room or anything. No, it’s right in the front yard so that doesn’t make things any better either. It’s a scene that doesn’t make much sense at all, but it is what it is I suppose

So the writing’s not amazing in moments like that. On the whole the film has good enough writing where the plot is interesting. It’s just that when you really zoom in on it, things don’t really seem to add up the way that they should. That or the characters just act very unnaturally in order to get the plot moving. I would argue it starts up right from near the beginning of the film. Still, the movie did have a core focus and a real story unlike other similar titles like “Whatever happened to Baby Jane” which were just awful from start to finish.

I already spoke at length about Charlotte and why she’s a pretty bad character. Miriam no better here. She has her own set of issues and loves doing a lot of different manipulation tactics. Then you have Doctor Drew who seems rather desperate throughout the film. He’s not really someone you can trust all that much to get the job done. Finally there is Velma who is at least more of an interesting character than a lot of the others. Too bad she isn’t very smart though or she could have been a standout character.

The movie’s ending is pretty conclusive though and does end the film on the right note. It’s pretty much an ideal ending in a lot of respects as everything is wrapped up nicely. The film manages to hold onto some points thanks to that. I do think the movie started out better than it ended though. The movie could have gone in a much different direction and I think it would have worked out better that way. Charlotte’s personality shift is still something I can’t really come to terms with.

Overall, This film was really skirting between a 5 and a 6 the whole time. It’s certainly not a bad movie but just how good was it? It was interesting upon first watch although I wouldn’t say there is any replay value to be had here. The writing was rather weak during the film but at least the script was okay. It’s hard to believe almost anything going on in the film so you do need to suspend your disbelief for a bit. As long as you do that then you’re fine. So I’d say that the film ultimately clocks out in the middle. It was close to breaking out but has too many flaws. If you’d like to check out more of an intense mystery you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Overall 5/10

Searching (2018) Review


This is a film where the title is a very fair way to know the premise immediately. The whole film is a pretty big search after all and it uses some pretty interesting tactics such as how all of the scenes are filmed. It’s the kind of thriller that won’t offer as much replay value since it’s a movie where you are most engaged the first time around since you have no clue what is about to happen. If you’re up for a tense flick then this should be up your ally.

The movie starts by introducing us to David and his daughter Margot. David’s wife died early on in the film so it’s just been these two. They’ve got a pretty good bond going although Margot has started to drift apart a bit more and keep some secrets. One day she calls him three times but he ended up being asleep at the time. After repeated attempts to contact her he realizes that this is actually pretty serious and gets the police involved. They call in a detective. Now the two of them must try to track Margot down fast before it’s too late.

Searching uses more of an experimental style here as the characters never actually appear through normal camera view. Every scene is from an electronic view such as a web cam, TV, or something like that. Definitely a unique look and I will say right now I already prefer it to a traditional found footage/hand cam kind of approach. There’s no shaking or anything here which is good. I’d never want this to be the new norm but it does work rather well I would say.

As the movie is a mystery part of the fun will be in trying to connect the dots on your own. See if you can figure out exactly what happened or who the culprit is. For the latter the film gives you a fair chance of finding this out. At the very least I imagine you’ll be able to pull out the smoking gun a while before even the main character gets a chance to think about it. That being said, figuring out the rest would be very difficult and the film executes the plot rather well. A film like this always has to be careful because it has to keep the thriller elements ramped up but a poor ending would destroy everything. If the film were to get too gritty then the whole movie would be a waste of space but of course it needs to keep in some danger. It’s all balanced in rather well.

David’s a solid main character. He’s portrayed as a very reasonable guy and does a great job of narrowing down the mystery and finding as many clues as possible. He’s certainly a man on a mission and you would expect absolutely nothing less from him. He tries every available resource. It was fun to see Youtube, Twitter, and Reddit making an appearance. I would say that Reddit is typically the number 1 resource for virtually anything. I would consider it to be even more useful than Google if you want to find information. No matter what kind of content you’re looking for, whether it be real life history/science, video game information, or even food recipes, Reddit has you covered.

Naturally he also has to see a lot of pretty startling information as everyone is eager to chime in on the situation with their own information. It’s not the kind of stuff he would want to see but he can’t let any lead go cold. He goes as far as contacting many people in person to get to the end of this. He had one pretty intense moment in the theater as a result and you definitely see why he attacked the guy. Things had been going too far in that guy’s social media postings.

Along the way one of the big themes of course is learning about Margot. She kept quite a few secrets the whole time, some of which were pretty massive. She clearly didn’t have the happiest time and isolated herself quite a lot. Then there’s the fact that there are a lot of bad influences at school or even at the home which got to her. As a character she certainly isn’t as strong willed as David. I expect this experience will bring the two of them closer though and she’ll certainly be on the right track.

The cast is pretty small but the other two main characters are Rosemary and Peter. Peter looks pretty awful the whole time I have to say. His first scene shows that he’s on Weed and from there things just keep getting worse and worse. Even by the end you can’t like the guy. Then you have Rosemary who has a lot of accolades for being a pretty great officer. She has a lot of contacts and is supposed to be the best the force has got. The city has a ton of unresolved cases but no matter how good you are that’s to be expected. I can’t say I was a fan of hers ether though.

Overall, Searching is a well made thriller where things add up pretty well. Even once you’ve gone through all of the twists I would say that most of it all adds up. I would make the case that when searching through the zones that’s the one area where I can’t really buy into nobody double checking them. Seems like a really bold move not too. If you really dig deep maybe you’d expect people to know more things by the end but with a case like this where the answers seem apparent, I can see how there may not be a lot of extra digging. Searching is a movie built inherently to draw you in on the first viewing but there wouldn’t be much replay value in watching it again. That would be the film’s only main drawback here as is the case for most slow burners. The movie takes a long time to develop what happens next and showing off the characters so the pacing doesn’t speed up much. It hits you with quick bursts and then goes back to staying at an icy pace. I’d still recommend checking out the movie on your initial watch. It’s a plot that can be a little more down to Earth than a lot of thrillers though so if the concept of a kid going missing suddenly in a town like this is a little too much then you may want to check something else out.

Overall 6/10

The Beast with Five Fingers Review


When you get a film with a name like this you’re definitely going in expecting a certain kind of cinematic experience. A giant monster running around or a guy who played with science a little too much and ended up transforming into something truly fantastic. It’s a tried and true formula that always results in a fun experience. Unfortunately this film decided to go away from that format quite a bit. I think the other angle could have been more interesting but this mystery does keep your attention very well so I would still call it a pretty good movie.

The movie starts by showing us Bruce scam a few tourists as he makes a few bucks. He then heads back to the mansion of Francis who used to be excellent at playing the piano but hasn’t had a lot of inspiration to do so after his accident which left him crippled. He is close to death and has all of his closest allies witness him signing the Will. He then falls down a flight of stairs and dies. His only two relatives immediately show up since they expect to be named in the will but instead Francis has given all of the money and his estate to Julie. The relatives decide they have to find a way to void the will but Hillary is thrilled because this means he can continue to study the stars. Unfortunately, a mysterious hand appears and murders the local attorney. It would appear that Francis may not be completely dead quite yet.

This is a classic murder mystery as a mysterious hand goes around murdering people and the characters have to find a way to stop it. The issue is that Hillary can’t seem to convince anyone that the hand is real which presents an issue. The local cop does a fingerprint test and the only print showing up on the murders belongs to Francis..but he died a long time ago. What could this mean!!!? One thing’s for sure, the characters are going to have to keep up their guard at all times. Still, what can a hand do right? Usually that would be your reaction but Francis was shown to be quite strong. In one of the scenes that played before he died, Francis started to choke Hillary even while on his wheelchair and would have slain the guy if Julie hadn’t shown up. Francis was definitely strong for his age and that was a pretty powerful scene that you would not soon forget.

Hillary makes for a very interesting character. He certainly pops out at you the instant he appears. The guy is quite possessive of his books and also likes causing trouble with everyone so he’s definitely not here to make friends. Still, he does add a level of chaos to everything which is always appreciated as shaking things up can be nice. He starts to go off the deep end to an extent by the end though and you’ll be shaking your head at his scenes. The guy has a flair for the dramatic to be sure.

Julie’s a solid heroine. She may have started to get intimidated in the second half but she did stay strong for the most part and I’m glad that she didn’t hand the building off to the relatives initially. That’s a ton of money to keep and it’s not like they were going to give her any part of it if the situation had been reversed. She also does her best to help her friends out but takes some huge risks in the end that weren’t very smart. Then there’s Bruce who is effectively the main character although his role gets smaller in the second half. He’s pretty good at scamming people all the time to earn money so he’s not exactly a hero. I thought he would take a more pro active role in trying to find the hand but he was more amused than anything during the course of the film. The whole thing felt like a game to him.

We can’t forget the Commissario who had a nice role here. He was pretty quick to try and help solve this case. He may not have been able to do much against the hand but it’s always reassuring having a cop in the building here. At the very least it’ll slow down the body count. The body count here was actually quite small so the Hand didn’t make for the most impressive horror villain out there. I suppose a small body count is better than no body count though right? It’s a start at least.

I do think that the film ended a little weakly though. For starters I didn’t like Julie’s final decision as the relatives get too sweet a deal here. They definitely didn’t earn this in the slightest and I would have preferred some kind of big sale instead. That would have made a lot more sense. Additionally, the film ends off with a few different jump scares in a row with a bunch of fake outs. I don’t think that was the most effective way to go about things. The character even started to break the fourth wall which really came out of nowhere. The ending just didn’t mesh well with the rest of the film at all so it comes off as being a little forced with nothing to do with anything. Maybe the film figured it needed some levity because things were getting too serious?

Overall, I would have taken this film in a different direction but it’s a quality title nonetheless. The writing is on point which is always important as all the characters sound very distinguished even when debating each other. They’re all looking to get the upper hand here so you definitely can’t trust anyone and in a way you could say that is how this should be. Every character is always looking to manipulate someone else so why would you trust them in the first place? At the very least you shouldn’t try to talk to any of the characters alone at night when there are no witnesses. I’d still recommend this movie though as it’s a very complete film which is strong in all areas. If it ever got a sequel I’m sure there would be some potential there.

Overall 7/10

Marnie Review


Marnie is the kind of film that sneaks up on you. By all accounts it should be a pretty decent film as it was made a long time ago and has the classic writing/witty dialogue that you would expect to see here. Unfortunately it makes a number of key mistakes which ultimately doom it to not just being a bad film, but a horrible one all around. There’s certainly no reason to check this out so I would recommend giving it a hard skip.

The movie starts with Marnie swindling another business out of a lot of money. She enjoys going around and stealing money whenever she can which she then gives to her mother Bernice who suffered a major accident a while back and needs the support. Marnie’s next target is another big company led by Mark. What she doesn’t know is that he is one of the people who saw her at the last job so it isn’t hard for him to catch her. His terms are that he won’t report her to the police if she marries him so they get married but she is determined to make this difficult on him.

Everything goes straight down from there quite drastically. For starters we get a pretty random plot with her horse where it shows up but missed the jump and gets injured. Marnie has to put him down which shot a hole through the film’s chances of survival. The horse seems like he was added in just to be blown up which was a bad move. There was just no reason to do this. The film already had enough issues but at the end of the day this does tie into the film’s core problem which is trying to add too much information and backstory. We really don’t need to know any of this stuff for a solid mystery but the film insists on giving everyone an origin story or an extra detail.

Take Lil who is the main villain here. She’s trying to win Mark away from Marnie and it would be the usual love triangle except for one fact which changes everything. She’s Mark’s sister in law. So that basically throws the whole plot out because it’s just an awful storyline to even include in the film. Why did we need to add this extra information to her character? If she was the childhood friend or something it’s be cliché but at least would work a lot better than this variation. It’s too bad because she is easily the most entertaining character of the bunch and I dare say the smartest as well.

Then you have Beatrice and her whole backstory. Naturally it’s tragic to fit in with the rest of the film as she was in a dicey business and getting out took a lot of effort and turned into a whole conspiracy. Where the whole thing ends poorly is that suddenly she is unable to love her daughter anymore and I have a hard time buying into that. Does she sub consciously blame her for what happened or she’s just been completely traumatized from physical touch after the incident? Either way I don’t see how this would totally be blocking her from at least showing some more kindness towards Marnie.

Of course we can’t end there. Then you’ve got Marnie’s phobia of the color red as well as physical contact. This also transfers over to storms as well so she has a phobia of quite a lot of things by the time the film is through with her. We have a rather painful scene where she absolutely refuses to be touched but Mark had enough of this subplot by then and forced the issue. I don’t see why this part of the phobia had to be added and it couldn’t just stick to the color red. Having the phobia evolve with the film’s loose explanation of she was faking it all during the first act was definitely very weak.

Marnie gives Mark a tough time throughout the movie though as she struggles at every turn and never makes any effort to change. While the scenes can have good banter at times, the film never changes things up so a lot of the dialogue remains the same with slight variations. Then you have Mark who isn’t exactly a hero either as his main goal was to marry Marnie from the start so he effectively allowed her plans to progress until he could make use of them. He does what he can to rehabilitate her for most of the film but ultimately wasn’t able to stick the landing such as the boat scene.

This film does have some of the typical thriller aspects like having one person from Marnie’s past show up to start stirring up some trouble. I was glad for at least some quick stakes here because the film needed something. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t focus on this plot a little more and just throw the other ones out. That would have gone a long way towards improving the movie without a doubt. The main issue is really just the writing as it relies on a whole lot of shock value to keep the film going. That’s always a sign of poor writing because it means they were not confident enough in the script to get people watching towards the end without such big scenes.

Overall, Marnie is a film I would highly recommend staying away from. All of the plots are pretty bad here so the film never really gives you a chance to just sit down and enjoy the scenes at hand. It’s always throwing more shock value at you which definitely destroys any chance of the movie actually turning into a quality experience. It’s a shame because at the very least the premise of a thief going around robbing a bunch of people with the boss knowing about it could be fun. This just won’t be the title that actually puts that kind of storyline on the map.

Overall 0/10

Warning from Space Review


It’s time to look at a retro sci-fi film complete with aliens. I’m always up for a good sci-fi epic and aliens approaching usually means some kind of invasion is here right? Wellllllll…not quite this time. I was really surprised because for the first time since 2001: A Space Odyssey this was a sci-fi film that was a little…boring. Nothing really happens for a large portion of the film which was disappointed and even the climax is fairly underwhelming. Should have gone the invasion route.

The movie starts with a group of starfish aliens discussing what to do about Earth. They need to contact the scientists of the planet. There’s a few ways they can go about this of course. One would be to send some kind of radio transmission from space while allowing their spaceship to be seen to prove that they are who they say they are. Perhaps they could beam a few people down and start talking to the humans real quick. Preferably in a bullet proof suit since the humans love to blast things right away. Send some cool signals, send a UFO, maybe kidnap a few of the humans real quick. Well…instead they try slowly walking out of the ocean and breaking into homes but don’t really talk so people naturally think they’re monsters.

You may be questioning the alien’s intelligence at this point but then they decide they’ll just copy the appearance of a human and send someone in undercover. Perfect…except what’s the next move? She spends some time playing tennis with the group and acting human except for when she jumps 10 feet and walks through doors that are still closed for kicks. She’s not great at staying undercover. She burns some notes and only after the main characters make some deductions does she finally reveal her intentions of why she is here and how to save the planet. I just don’t understand what the aliens were thinking, there were so many better ways of getting around this.

It’s hard to say how much of the plot to explain here because I suppose the reason they are here at all would be a spoiler to an extent. Still, the main characters do get on board with this plan rather quickly. While that may be a little too trusting on their part, it does end up working out so I suppose it was for the best. Without going into specifics, the whole thing once again makes the aliens look kind of suspect. They are very quick to destroy the formula to a super weapon since it’s too dangerous and yet they didn’t think that this weapon would be useful against the upcoming crisis? Hmmmmm.

Lets talk about the main characters now. First up is Dr. Matsuda who is a genius and has discovered a weapon even more powerful than atomic energy. He stays strong throughout the film even when put into great danger and at least he does take some things in stride like when Ginko (the main alien) confronts him. The guy does well to memorize his formula as well so that came in handy. Then you’ve got Toru and his father Mr. Itsobe who get major roles. Mr. Itsobe is effectively the leader of the heroes because of how he’s quite intelligent but also very resourceful. Without him the characters would be in trouble although he is a little quick to dismiss the possibility of aliens. He also refuses to even speculate on things until he has a lot of evidence so you don’t even need to bother asking him for an opinion initially. Toru may not be a brilliant professor yet but he helps out quite a bit and is one of the first people to find evidence of Ginko not being your average mortal.

One thing that doesn’t help the film’s case either is that some animals don’t quite make it by the end. This even includes a dog and you may be wondering what the point of the scene was. There wasn’t one really. I thought perhaps the film would save itself in the end as we see some animals running around but it’s heavily implied that these are completely different animals and that the originals are all dead. If we had seen one of the old ones then maybe we could say they lived but otherwise I feel as though that would be a jump on our end. So the film loses points there as well.

As to what the film did right, I did like the design of the star creatures. It was pretty fun seeing them walk around even if it could be a little hard to understand them at times. That’s probably more due to the quality of the film since it’s so old at this point compared to the costumes themselves. The graphics definitely looked quite old as I guess the film has probably deteriorated at this point. The sets were on point though.

I wouldn’t call the writing particularly impressive but I didn’t think it was bad either. There’s just not a lot going on for most of the film and the characters don’t engage in any real witty banter or memorable one liners which limits the film’s ability to keep you engaged. It’s not a super long movie but it is one where you feel the length. The average James Bond film which is around 2 hours will typically feel shorter than this one due to how things are always happening. At the end of the day I feel as though the film just went with the wrong tact. It should have gone with the classic alien invasion storyline.

If you are going to go with more of an undercover story as the aliens try to contact the humans, I think the plot needs to be nailed down a little more on why they did things so out of the way. Why couldn’t they just contact the humans in another way or explain the plot as soon as the transformation occurred? It felt like Ginko just didn’t know exactly what her plan was initially. There are ways to make this plot work but it is a little more difficult than actually having a real villain to go up against. That’s probably why some random gangsters were added in the end but lets face it, their roles are extremely small.

Overall, Warning from Space is a very accurate title but this just isn’t a particularly engaging film. There isn’t a true sense of danger for almost all of it and the dialogue isn’t very engaging. The characters don’t really progress much in what they’re saying so it feels like they are talking in circles a lot of the time. This movie really needed to add some more excitement and also definitely leave the animals out of it since they had no business being here. A sequel to this film could be quite good though if they up the action and make it so another race of aliens is here to end the planet or something like that. Now that could work out quite nicely.

Overall 4/10

The Vampire Bat Review


It’s time to look at a really old film about Vampires. This one definitely goes pretty bold with the premise of this vampire attacking while the main detective doesn’t believe in it. It’s always fun to see a lead who is super skeptical like this because it makes for a nice contrast to the rest of the townsfolk who have completely jumped head over heels for this superstition. They basically become hysterical in the very first scene. The movie may be short but I feel like it still captured a lot and was a pretty fun experience. It’s a good example of why you always gotta keep your guard up.

So as I mentioned the movie starts with the town telling Karl about the vampires running around. The reason why they believe that the vampire is running around bumping people off is because each of the victims have the classic 2 fangs mark on their neck. The villagers point out that only a vampire leaves this kind of mark, not to mention that all of the victims have been completely drained of their blood. Karl dismisses this theory and runs off. Unfortunately the bodies continue to pile up. There is currently only one suspect, a suspicious guy named Glieb who is completely obsessed with bats. Is this too obvious? The town is ready to condemn him but Karl doesn’t want to be too hasty. After all, a man’s life is at stake here.

A good chunk of the film is really about balancing the mystery angle of the movie along with watching people get bumped off one by one. There’s a decent body count here. As always it can be sad to see some of the heroes go down because they were handling things as best they could. Unfortunately it’s just hard for everyone to be able to walk away here. The villain is pretty tough after all. I won’t say if the villain actually turned out to be a vampire or not but I will say that the ending at least hints that something slightly supernatural was going on. That or someone had a very big change of heart which could be possible but I like to think that this was not something quite so explainable. The climax itself could be a little suspect at times though with how someone turned the tables.

Karl is definitely a solid lead. He really does a good job of not panicking like the others. Karl likes to look at things step by step until he gets to the right answer. It’s a slow but methodical approach that really helps him in not making any real mistakes. He may not have a ton of character but Karl has enough charisma to hold the film. He has a very solid scene at the end which really helped him as well. The heroine Ruth isn’t bad. She’s certainly a lot braver than Gussie who kept on fainting as the film went on. Ruth made sure to hold her own with the characters even if she didn’t really go to the front lines much. There’s just not a whole lot to say about her as a result.

Then you’ve got Dr. Otto who is here to try and make sure that justice is serves. He isn’t quite as dismissive of the supernatural element as Karl but still thinks it’s something practical as well. It’s always good to have a Doctor on board since things can get out of hand with how many people keep dying here. I do think his idea to keep the windows open doesn’t make a lot of sense when there is a murderer running around though. Seems like it’s better to just endure the stuffy air in that circumstance. Better than being bit right?

Then we have Glieb who is the big suspect. The guy doesn’t make things easy on himself. He always looks really suspicious and knows about the vampire rumors but still makes sure to run around playing with bats. He doesn’t have a whole lot of awareness here and going to each of the murder scenes wasn’t really a good look. The guy’s also not that subtle with how he was trying to steal the fruits away from the table. The worst part is that Gussie would have given him some so why try to steal them the whole time? I definitely wasn’t a fan of this guy but I suppose you always need the “obvious” suspect to keep us guessing.

The movie really flies by so all of the plot elements occur pretty seamlessly. There isn’t a whole lot of action as the final scene is the only real battle moment. Still, the mystery keeps you engaged. It’s a very simple story but one that is executed well so it all works out. The writing is on point and it doesn’t go for any real shock value type moments. It’s all just about the atmosphere and watching Karl try to piece things together while being ridiculed and distracted by Gussie. She certainly wasn’t making things easy on him.

Overall, The Vampire Bat is a pretty solid film. I suppose it’s probably one of the first big vampire type films since 1933 was so long ago. It definitely beats most vampire movies that I’ve seen. Of course it’s going for a pretty different feel than something like Dracula but I dare say that it nails this approach quite well so maybe more films should be like this. Mystery is a good genre that works well with most so it comes as no surprise that it would pair well with vampires as well. Right from the start you have to decide if you’re on Karl’s team or not and that will affect how you view the rest of the film. The important takeaway from the film is naturally that you should always lock the doors and definitely do not under any circumstances leave the windows open while a mass murderer is at large. Do those things correctly and you reduce the chance of being murdered. That or get a guard dog, the dog did very well in this movie. It only appeared for a scene but definitely took charge.

Overall 7/10