Shenmue Review


Shenmue is a show based on a game series that I have not played, however you don’t really need to know them to enjoy the show since it re-adapts the sagas. I was impressed with the show right off the bat because it’s got a very retro vibe to it. I’d compare it to Batman Beyond and the classic superhero shows of the DCAU. Even the main character himself has that punk vibe like Terry. It’s a very short show so it hasn’t made it all the way to greatness yet but the way it adapted the events was definitely a lot of fun so hopefully we get a season 2 soon.

The show starts with Ryo being rather confident in his strength to the point where he doesn’t really take his father’s teachings very seriously. He ends up regretting that immediately as he heads home one day to witness a villain known as Lan Di murdering his father. Ryo tries to help but is instantly defeated and his confidence is shattered. He now wants to find out why his father was murdered and his only clue is a mysterious mirror. Ryo will have to ask around and get involved with a bunch of gangs as he tries to get closer to solving this mystery. With his heart clouded by vengeance can Ryo really get strong enough to stop Lan Di?

Shenmue is really a investigation show but what sets it apart from the rest is that Ryo’s not a pro. He’s not a hot shot detective who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s just going around and almost literally knocking on doors and asking questions. Each episode will have him walk over and ask an old lady for help, she’ll tell him to go to the coffee shop, the coffee guy will say to flip some cups, he’ll then get mugged, then rinse and repeat. Ryo is really going around doing the same things a whole lot but it just works.

There is a level of convenience to this of course as he always ends up meeting the right people, but the fact that it’s so tedious on his end helps to at least make it not feel too easy. The guy definitely does still have to walk everywhere and he gets mugged a whole lot so it’s not like he’s taking 0 risks either. Ryo is a really good fighter but he’s in a world where expert fighters seem to be around every corner and so he gets crushed many times. Even by the end of the series you can tell that he’s nowhere close to the top yet.

I’d say my best complement for the series is just that it’s a lot of fun. It really captures that retro action show vibe. There’s no end of the world stakes, no fancy combos, or really anything out of the ordinary. This is purely a street level show with Ryo beating up on goons and getting closer to his father’s murderer. The show never tries to be anything more than that and it’s probably one of the most relaxing shows that I’ve watched in a while. The pacing was always on point with each episode.

I also enjoyed the animation quite a bit. It’s not going to touch the big titles like Bleach but the fight scenes were always solid. They used the sonic boom effect for each hit which I always liked. It’s something you don’t always see nowadays but it’s a good way to make each strike feel like it has a lot of impact. The fight scenes are always solid here and the show also goes all in on the eye effects to show when someone is focused. Apparently a lot of the attacks are even taken straight from the games which is a cool attention to detail. Smooth might be the best word for the animation. It’s not as bright and colorful as some of the others out there but the fights exceled as you could really follow each exchange and feel the power behind the hits. Sadly while the animation in the episodes is real good, the opening is one of the lazier ones. I’ll never get why you would decide to cheap out on the intro since that will appear for every episode.

There’s very little actual animation in the intro at all and it’s just rather boring which is never a good thing for an opening. A proper opening should fill you with energy and have you jumping up and down. This won’t do that for you at all. As for the soundtrack, I wasn’t particularly impressed there either. I didn’t really care for the intro song. There were some decent instrumental themes in the show itself but none that I can remember off the top of my head. I feel like they worked well enough in the scenes as you’re watching but it’s quite telling that I can’t remember them at all.

As for Ryo himself, I definitely liked him as the main character. He’s focused on avenging his father’s death but never lets it consume him. He takes a ton of losses throughout the series but is always striving to do better. One of the standout scenes to me was when he and and Lishao disagree on how he should go further. He doesn’t storm out of there or cause a scene. He just respectfully says that it appears they will not be able to see eye to eye on this and leaves.

He just walks out of there peacefully and still in good standing with the master. It’s so rare to see that and Ryo just comes across as a very mature main character. Perhaps not the smartest one with how often he lets his guard down but a very solid one all the same. He slowly gets stronger throughout the series and his final fight with Lan Di was satisfying even if I thought he would have done way better. He’s clearly still got a ways to go and hopefully we get a season 2 soon so we can see how things play out. I haven’t played the games yet but who knows, I may end up experiencing the saga that way first.

As for Lan Di as the main villain, he doesn’t appear a whole lot. Really it’s just the beginning and the ending where we see him but you can still get a solid glimpse into his character that way. The guy seems very honorable but someone who will also see his revenge through to the end. He was clearly not going to spare Ryo’s father no matter what and the guy has an entire criminal empire. The fact that he can fight so well was always going to be a good sign for his character because I love it when characters can fight like that and don’t have to hide behind their minions. Lan Di is the strongest we’ve seen in the series so far so it’s fitting that he be the final boss.

Nozomi was the main heroine for a while but she pretty much gets written out once Ryo leaves home. She was as helpful as she could be in the meantime though. Nozomi may not be a fighter but she looks out for Ryo as best she can and is a nice person in general. Then you have Joy who is the main heroine in Hong Kong. Joy has a lot more energy to her and also isn’t afraid to take some risks. I thought she was a fun character to have around and Ryo would have had a really tough time settling in without her helping to show him the ropes.

There’s a third heroine Shenhua for the latest land but she hasn’t really gotten to do anything yet so there’s not much to say about her. Right now she would be the weakest of the 3 heroines and we’ll need to see some more personality out of her to get higher. Something beyond just the vague prophecies but I expect her role in season 2 would be rather large so she’ll have plenty of time for that.

Guizhang was a really solid character and definitely one of Ryo’s best allies. It was a shame that he couldn’t follow Ryo into Hong Kong because I think he would have really done well there. The guy was pretty much on par with Ryo in terms of overall fighting ability and had a good head on his shoulders. The way he was written out wasn’t terribly satisfying but maybe he’ll be back someday.

Ren was his replacement of sorts in Hong Kong. This guy is more of an opportunist who loves money and wants to get rich but as the show goes on he starts to become more of a legitimate ally. He does come in handy a lot so while he starts off as the kind of guy who will backstab you at every turn, you grow to like him. He never passed Guizhang for me but it’s always good that Ryo doesn’t have to go through the adventure alone.

Then there’s Lishao who is the master of her Dojo and has the skills to back this up. She’s a very fun character and someone that all of the villains and heroes have to respect. When she’s around you have to take that into account because of her incredible power. She’s certainly one of the standout characters here and pretty much forces Ryo to improve his own skills. Without her there’s no way he would be prepared to stand a chance here.

Wong is a kid in Hong Kong who helps out a bit here and there but I wouldn’t say he was particularly all that great. He has a good character arc where he learns to stop being a thief but that’s about all that I would say for him. You’ve got two more villains in Yuan and Dou but I wasn’t a fan of either of them. Yuan can barely even fight which really huts his case. Dou was surprisingly powerful with how he was beating Ryo on multiple occasions though. He seemed like the slow type who could never hold his own in a fight so I suppose he got the last laugh on me there. It was still pretty embarrassing for Ryo to lose there though.

Technically there are a bunch of other supporting characters running around but this pretty much sums up the main cast. As Ryo has to try and learn all of the Wude (It’s pronounced Wuda but seems to be spelled Wude online for some reason) he meets a lot of characters who help him out. I think these practices can be a little overhyped and some cross the line into just being common sense. It’s a surprisingly long plot point that takes up a good chunk of the show but fortunately the show usually throws you some fight scenes so you have something to do in the meantime.

There was one villain that felt wasted though. He shows up at the very end of the show with a cool looking mask but is taken down in seconds. Why give the guy such a good design if you’re going to throw him out right? I suppose it was subversive but I would have much preferred to see this guy get a real fight. There was a whole lot of potential there without a doubt. Lan Di’s a great villain but he’s really the only good villain at the moment so I’d like to see a few other good ones get introduced soon to keep things fresh. That slippery minion from arc 1 would definitely beat the minions in Hong Kong.

The power levels in the show are also handled pretty well which is a nice benefit of everything being fairly low tier. Ryo starts out as someone who’s low even within the verse despite having a whole lot of confidence. It’s to the point where he has to be protected by Guixhang the whole time. By Hong Kong Ryo is strong enough to hold his own but definitely can’t beat the general and still gets mugged a lot. Once Ryo has learned all of the Wude he is now able to fight and defeat any non-master but would likely still lose to Lishao and definitely Lan Di. By season 2 I expect he should make even greater strides.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of travelling in season 1. We mostly stuck to two different locations but as the show ends Ryo makes it to a third one as well. Then he’s always going to a bunch of different shops for clues and everything. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues into the next season. I assume it will since Ryo still doesn’t have an easy way of finding things out aside from asking everybody and following each lead. So how strong the region will be will depend on how good the supporting cast is.

Without the Wude to worry about we can also go back to more basic Shenmue investigation like Ryo heading back to the coffee houses and things like that. It’s just nice to see how nonchalant the whole thing is and I can’t stress that enough because it feels so unique in a show. I can’t think of any other time I’ve seen a main character have to check out so many places to follow through on his leads. Of course it could go in a different direction so we’ll see but as long as the show keeps its calm vibe I expect it’ll continue to be a blast. Naturally you also have to keep up the fun martial arts for the battles and I feel like Ryo needs a new super move. He has two now between the elbow hit and the axe kick but I think some kind of punch would suit him the best.

Overall, Shenmue is a very fun action show. It’s extremely low key and is more of a calm title despite the action genre but it works well. If you want to watch something that just feels nostalgic even though it’s a story you haven’t seen before then this is definitely the one to check out. For season 2 I suppose what I would like to see are some longer boss fights and for Ryo to keep his training. I can understand him forgetting the Wude when fighting Lan Di because of his grudge but you can’t use the same excuse next time. So I want a proper fight where Ryo has to give it his all. That would make for a very climactic battle and the pieces should all be in place to make that possible.

Overall 7/10

Blood of Dracula Review


Time for a very obscure vampire film. Part of why I chose this poster in particular is to show you how the vampire actually looks in the film. The effects aren’t great here but the film seemed to be proud of it since we get a recycled transformation sequence a few times. Now I doubt there are very many who have heard of the Blood of Dracula, I certainly hadn’t before now. With a title like that you may be expecting Dracula so I may as well let you down easy now and tell you that this isn’t the case. Dracula is going to be missing this adventure. There really isn’t any connection to him so that was just to sell tickets. This one’s more of a personal story as we find out the dangers of messing around with science.

Nancy is being taken to a private boarding school since her father just remarried and the step mom isn’t a big fan of Nancy. It’s one of those annoying elements where you realize the dad is just as guilty for not noticing this and remarrying so quickly. Apparently it hasn’t even been 2 months since Nancy’s mother died so this feels really quick. It’s all just to get the parents out of the way. The school seems normal at first even if all of the other girls are bullies but the real issue here is that Miss Branding, one of the teachers here is running some dangerous experiments to turn people into vampires. She has always wanted someone tough to experiment on and Nancy is that person. Can she get out of this school safely?

The plot may work well with a thriller context as the vampire starts bumping everyone off but the film’s actually a lot more low key than that. In a way it even makes for several climaxes as I thought the film was gearing up for the end a few times and then suddenly it would go back to some slice of life times until the next event. It’s an interesting attempt but in the end the film just ends up being a little more on the dull side. It doesn’t help that the case is rather weak.

Every girl in the school is against Nancy for basically no reason. It seems like they formed a clique right away and the newest member has to go through initiation. If she doesn’t submit then they will do their best to break her. Nancy is trying to act like the tough girl in some respects but then in other ways she isn’t so it makes her a frustrating lead and doesn’t do anything to make the other girls better characters. They all even take turns dating Eddie since he’s the only guy on campus which makes them look really desperate. I’m sure he loves the arrangement but they are cool with this?

None of them get a whole lot of development except to raise a death flag before they die. Myra is really the only one that really gets a decent sized role here as she knows about Branding’s experiments but looks the other way. As a student it makes sense she wouldn’t want to get in the teacher’s way but she really does nothing to help or alert Nancy. Ah that’s right, it’s because she is one of the bullies as well. So the school really had no likable characters to protect themselves.
As the “tough” character in the film, what Nancy could have done to have been more of a solid character is to have actually fought back. Where she effectively failed the test is when the girls jump her and rob her of all her belongings. That was absolutely the time to fight back and just show them what was up. By not doing that she set the stage for the bullying to proceed more and more. You have to take at least one of them down from the start to lay down the groundwork for their leaving you alone. Perhaps you can’t beat all of them but throw a few punches during the attack and the outcome’s a lot different.

Additionally Nancy just takes the blame for the noise and everything which didn’t make sense. Her worst scene is in the climax though. So presumably as a vampire you have a level of super strength and speed or durability right? During the various action scenes this seems to be the case although with how everyone falls down and looks shocked, this isn’t a guarantee. It was hard to believe when Branding is actually able to overpower Nancy’s vampire form though. That just shouldn’t happen in any context.

The ending is really a letdown on the film’s part. It really didn’t live up to the potential that the movie had although I wouldn’t say it was a ton of potential either way. This was never going to be a great title because vampire films just aren’t built that way but it could have been better is what I’m getting at. The climax is trying to be intense and give the final fight that we’ve been waiting for but it just doesn’t work.

By the end you’re also wondering on the point of these experiments. We may have needed some villain exposition for a change so we can understand the purpose. She says repeatedly that these experiments will help humanity but in what way? It’s very unclear as to how turning into a vampire will help humanity in any way. Is it only some chosen people whose dna is able to activate with her talisman or can anyone be picked? There are a lot of unknowns and at the end of the day we don’t even know if she has more talismans to hypnotize people with.

Also, as in all hypnotism films you just wish Nancy would look the other way or fight back against the control a bit. In all of these films the character is mind controlled so very easily. It’s like they have no self control or will power to defend themselves with. It also doesn’t make for the most riveting scenes as the characters just stare absentmindedly into the abyss. That said, mind control isn’t an excuse on why Nancy was so cold with her boyfriend though. She couldn’t give him a single straight answer and it just made their relationship strained for no real reason. Just tell him you need some space but will rejoin after the school term has ended if you want him away from the danger or ask to drive off with him if you want to get away from the evil school. Either option would have worked better than just being completely vague the whole time.

That guy gets credit for driving so far to check on her and make sure she was okay since he hadn’t received any word from her. He’s braver than Eddie who was scared to even be in the graveyard with one of the girls when everyone is used to hanging out there. That guy was doomed the instant we found out there was a vampire on campus. As a vampire film you have the usual amount of victims as their blood gets sucked away and you even have the police step in at one point but it isn’t as exciting as you might expect. The one police officer who believes in vampires is quickly laughed off in their first scene. You would think that after the first murder or two they would just shut the school down but that takes a while to even be considered. Even then it’s mostly in the background as the principal discusses the possibility of the parents making a move. (I like the level of dread that is felt whenever the “parents” are mentioned. The best conversation is between him and the lead teacher as they talk about the school’s reputation.

The film is a lot more tame than most vampire films so there isn’t a lot of blood sucking or anything like that. That’s a good thing at least but ultimately it can only help out a bit since the rest of the film is more on the mediocre side. It just doesn’t hit with the kind of power you need in any aspect. Throw in a likable character or give the police investigation more screen time and you could have something interesting here. As it is, there’s really no hook to the film.

Overall, Blood of Dracula is a film that really goes through all of the motions without a whole lot of emotion or feeling. There is no mystery here as you know Nancy is the vampire right away and the main drama is trying to figure out how she can break the hypnosis. The issue is that she just isn’t really able to even try since she doesn’t remember. Each time she has a feeling that something’s off but just goes back into the teacher’s office like nothing is wrong until the very end of the film. It felt like this movie wasn’t sure if it was a slice of life or a thriller at times and as a result just meekly walks through the adventure. The worst thing you can say about this one is that it would have been better off just being a normal slice of life flick. You’ll want to give this one a skip.

Overall 4/10

Magical Drop 2 Review


I was impressed by this game. Magical Drop 2 really ups the stakes both in quality and in general gameplay enjoyment compared to the first. I do want to say the first game was solid too of course but this one feels like it has more of a story. The graphics have noticeably improved as well and the character roster is impressive. You really can’t go wrong here.

I ended up choosing what appears to be one of the main villains as my character. In fairness I started with a different character but was losing a lot so it was time for a change of pace. As the game goes on you fight every other playable character in the series. After taking them down you go up against the true villain of the game and then get a character ending specific to the character you just beat the game with. Not a bad deal right? After all, this means that each character will have an ending now.

The game’s difficulty level is as high as ever though. Good luck even trying to beat the game on normal difficulty. I made it past a few levels to around 4-5 but then the opponent starts matching the gems quicker than you can even blink. Even using the rewind feature and trying tons of different paths is not enough to overwhelm the opponent. Trust me, you’ll be spinning your wheels in circles at that point.

The only possible way to get around the opponents is to lower the difficulty back a bit. It’s more accessible than the first game with the difficulty level which is nice. Even with this the final levels are crazy but you should be able to pull through if you try it enough times. There is naturally a ton of replay value here since you can try to beat the game with each character.

Additionally the gameplay is just fun. No matter how crazy strong the opponents are, it’s always satisfying to be building the blocks on your end. It’s essentially reverse Tetris as you grab blocks and fling them upwards as opposed to trying to get them to the ground. There are some interesting combos you can pull off like grabbing multiple blocks to pull off larger combos. It comes with a certain level of risk of course but a risk that seems to be worth it in this case. At least it always seemed to turn out for the best.

The graphics are pretty good. In fact, I would say they are considerably ahead of their time. The illustrations are on point and the stages are very vivid. The game does allow for a bit of fanservice though with one character jumping up and down the entire time you’re fighting her but fortunately that’s the only match that’s a bit suspect. The soundtrack is good too and you feel a sense of danger throughout. You know that any second now could be your last.

Overall, Magical Drop 2 is a good way to handle a sequel. Effectively it improved on all of the first game’s strong points while improving any weaknesses. I thought the gameplay was much more effective now and the fact that it has a real story is cool as well. There’s a whole lot you can do with this series so I’d like to see it return some day. The sky’s the limit for this and I would certainly like to be along for the ride. If you have the Switch Online service then definitely give this a download. The difficulty level is crazy but at the same time it just makes you want to keep on going for rematches.

Overall 7/10

Panzer Paladin Review


Limited Run has returned with their next big game. Panzer Paladin is a run adventure that feels a lot like the recent Blaster Master. It has a similar style of letting you control the machine and the human but the actual gameplay I’d say is more similar to Megaman Zero. It’s very smooth and you can really go at the enemies. There are a few other mechanics which also help this game to stand out.

The main character of the game is Flame. She is a robot who wasn’t built for war but is forced to quickly prepare for it as evil forces are running rampant on the world. The villains are all monsters and mythical figures from around the world such as Medusa, an evil Snowman, Baba Yaga, Lilith, and many more. Flame decides to suit up and stop them along with her Paladin machine. Faced with no other alternatives, the government agrees to this and sends her off. The characters all warn her that evil is quickly approaching so she must not be tempted but the heroine realizes there is little chance of that as she has a world to save.

The story here is pretty fun. The visuals are all rather intense and the sprite style is used really well. You have a very apocalyptic vibe to the whole thing and it feels like even if you do win, it will come at a great cost. These machines have ravaged most of the planet at this point. Then you have a mysterious Protoman type figure and he even gets a catchy tune similar to how a tune would play whenever Protoman would show up in the original Mega Man games. This definitely had to be a homage of some kind.

As for the gameplay, it introduces a few new twists as I mentioned. Lets start with the basics which is that this is a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and swing your weapon as you go through the levels. The goal is to get to the end of the level where you will take out the boss. You can also jump out of your mech and into your pilot form. There is a few seconds where you are invincible when doing this so it’s certainly a good way to dodge some enemy attacks. There’s at least one boss where I think this is what you are supposed to do in order to block their attacks.

Then for your blades you can hold 4 of them at once. You can switch depending on what you need for the situations. Some collectibles are hidden behind a specific blade for example while others are under a different one. Then there is also the fact that each blade holds a special ability. For example, one may have “Attack up” as its ability. If you intentionally break your weapon, it will give you a status boost for a while. Additionally if you don’t want to break a sword, be careful how often you use it.

Each weapon has its own health bar which goes down whenever you land a hit on an enemy or destroy a block. When it goes all the way down the weapon will break but you won’t get the special ability that way. So if you want to use the ability then you need to make sure you break the weapon yourself or you’re going to be in some trouble.

A lot of times you will want to strategically switch your weapons out. For example, if you are already holding 4 swords and then pick up a 5th one it will be automatically taken to your inventory. So you want to hold 4 swords as long as possible. The reason is you can fuse swords in your inventory so that they power your mech up to the next level. Additionally once you have it maxed out, you can just store them for their special abilities.

One sword I was saving for the final boss because it would heal all of my health. It was the only sword like that I saw in the whole game. In the end I didn’t need it for the boss but it definitely felt good having it with me. It’s the kind of thing that just brings you a good amount of comfort.

The graphics are pretty solid. The sprite art style works really well as mentioned before. A good amount of effort was put into the game on this front. Meanwhile the soundtrack is definitely on point with a lot of fast paced Megaman type tunes. They’re catchy enough where you’ll want to look them up after completing the game.

I should mention the game seems to have more than one ending based on what decision you take. I wasn’t totally sure there was a decision at the time so I kept going as normal but in the end I still think the move makes sense. As long as you have a strong will, then taking this would only be an asset. I won’t spoil what the decision is though so you can have fun choosing your ending. That also should give some replay value in case you want to see what the other ending is like.

Overall, Panzer Paladin is definitely a fun game. It’s a platformer that holds up really well and has an engaging story. It’s a bit of a short title that you should complete in under 4 hours. There are a decent amount of levels after completing all of the story ones though. The various extra modes will help in terms of replay value. Gathering all of the awards definitely won’t be easy and will keep you going back to the levels. If you want a fun platformer to play through then this is the one to pick.

Overall 7/10

The Great Race Review


It’s been a while since I saw a film that was nearly 3 hours. Out of all the films I wouldn’t have guessed that a comedy like this would be one that would have such a long run time. It just would have struck me as a bit unlikely. Still, it does accomplish a lot in the time that it has. It probably could have trimmed some of the scenes a bit to be honest but at the very least it won’t be a film that you forget anytime soon. The Great Race really did feel like a huge ordeal that went past a whole country.

The film starts with introducing us to the contrast between Leslie and Professor Fate. Leslie is one of those guys who is a complete star and succeeds in everything he does. Everyone throws themselves at the guy and he is able to escape from a balloon in mid-air while tied up. He’s an ace driver and is talented at all he does. Then you have Fate who is incompetent at everything he attempts and everything turns out badly for him. No matter what he tries, Leslie is always one step ahead of him. It’s at the point where even if he isn’t outright mocking Fate, the villain takes it personally. When he finds out that Leslie has decided to have a race from New York to Paris, Fate knows he has to join. If he is able to defeat Leslie here in front of the whole world then he will have finally gotten his revenge. Can he really pull this off though?

Yes, the race does actually last for the duration of the movie. This is due in large part to the fact that nobody can possibly go this whole distance without breaks though. They stop at many different towns along the way ranging from Kingdom revolt to a small town where they want to show off their hospitality. Leslie is always ready to waste some time since he’s sure that Fate is no threat and Fate always ends up stopping as well. After all, he can’t win due to Leslie lowering his guard. He wants to defeat the guy fair and square.

There is one other big player in the film and that is Maggie. She is very vocal about being the first female reporter ever. She forces the head of the paper to let her into the race and to cover it that way. You have to give her this, she is definitely very confident in her abilities. She is willing to challenge anyone on anything to prove that she can hold her own. Of course, challenging Leslie isn’t the best bet since this guy is already more advanced than most characters. She was a fencing champion for example but so was he so that didn’t go well. He’s just too skilled.

We get a lot of good back and forth between the characters though. Maggie tends to lose out on these exchanges but she does put up a good effort each time which is the important thing. Then finally we have Fate who gets wrecked by everyone throughout the movie. He’s usually the punch line for each joke so as you can imagine things don’t go particularly well for him. He is a genius to an extent as he can build just about anything but always finds a way to mess it up. His character arc can be rather tragic but then you remember he’s a villain so you can go back to chuckling at him. He does help give the film a lot of energy though because he is a big part of what makes the film fun.

Of course, it all depends on how much you enjoy this humor style. It’s a very retro style with the heavy emphasis on slapstick and physical gags as characters get blown up and beaten left and right. We even get a wild west type bar fight where the characters are knocking each other around. This part definitely felt like a parody of the usual kind of fight with how over the top it was. The characters were literally tearing the place down as they fell through windows or into the stairs. It’s an extended fight that definitely worked really well. There’s also a big pie fight that happened later on but nothing can beat the fisticuffs.

There is even a sword fight later on or I guess it may be more effective to say a fencing battle. Part of the fun in having such a long run time is that you can take time to do all sorts of things. Now, if one plot had to be shortened though, I would have reduced the length of screen time for the King in the plot where he switched places with Fate. I have to be honest, the King wasn’t that amusing. His whole gimmick is using his crazy laugh over and over again but he doesn’t have much personality beyond that. You’ll feel like rolling your eyes at the guy by the end.

The movie is at its best when it’s straight up acting like a parody. Fate infiltrating Leslie’s board of directors meeting was pretty hype since his disguise almost held up. Using a race to finally end the various car rivalries was nice as well. Fate’s plans all blowing up in his face was always amusing as well. Perhaps it could have been repetitive if the same gag as used over and over but it was always a different thing that stopped him. This is one area where the Beach films could learn a thing or two as the motor gangs there could be very repetitive. It shows what a good difference in writing ability can achieve.

In a film that is as over the top as this one it makes sense that not all of the jokes would land though. On the whole I would say this one got more right than it got wrong. It’s just a pleasant film that is fun to follow along with. The movie sets up the dynamic with Leslie and Fate very quickly which is effective since it stays in place for the rest of the film. We also have a subplot with the newspaper agency trying to survive as the Woman’s Rights movement takes over the building. At one point the leader is even taken down and forced to plead insanity as he vanished. Now, none of this is outright stated on how it happens but one moment the leader is there taking names and the next he is at Happy Farms and his wife now owns the company. I was not expecting that so it was a good gag.

With a movie going for as humorous a tone as this you can expect that it would have some fun with the ending. It’s a bold one to be sure but in universe I think everyone would be absolutely livid with the main character. The race is quite important after all so messing with it is definitely not a good idea. We get one last big explosion for the film as well which was pretty neat. The writing was on point and at the end of the day that is crucial for any film.

Overall, The Great Race is a very fun film. We get a lot of great banter between the characters like Maggie and Leslie. I could have done without their romance there as it definitely felt rather rushed though and it also felt like Leslie would try and dodge the debates by pulling the moves on her. I’d have preferred they stayed insulting each other the whole movie as that would have made for even more great dialogue. It’s also ironic that she is the one plan of Fate’s that actually worked rather well but in this case that was not a good thing for him. There are a lot of other events that happen throughout the film as the race has numerous pitstops but you’ll have a good time checking them out as they arrive. This film is very much a relic of its time but one that works in every era.

Overall 7/10

The Atomic Brain Review


Time for a really old sci-fi film that’s also incredibly short. The film is barely over an hour so the whole thing really vanishes in a flash. It has some interesting ideas but don’t expect the characters to make any smart moves. They fall into every trap possible which makes sense because otherwise you’ll wonder how such an old lady can possibly hope to keep them on the defensive. The only way this works is if the heroines don’t know what they are doing.

The film starts by explaining the premise to us. Hettie is a lady who is quite old at this point and she is not ready to die yet. Her idea is that she will take over the body of a much younger girl so that she can live again. The issue is that nobody has succeeded in doing a brain transplant like this yet. Well, she has found one doctor just crazy enough to do it. Otto is his name and victory is his game. He hasn’t quite succeeded yet, but she is sure he will crack the case. She sends her assistant Victor over to pick up the three girls who responded to the interview letter in the paper. Bea, Anita, and Nina are looking forward to a pleasant job here but it looks like they may have gotten more than they bargained for with this one.

From the start you feel like the experiments are suspect at best. Hettie was taking a huge risk allowing the experiment to be performed on her since she could die or any number of things could happen to her. Additionally, this also assumes that Otto isn’t very smart. Everyone knows Hettie will betray him as soon as she has her new body. All he cares about is having funding to continue his experiments on forever and that won’t work. With her sedated for the experiment he has all of the power. So not a good plan and Otto doesn’t make for a particularly smart villain either.

Then you have Victor who is constantly used and manipulated throughout the film. It gets worse when you consider that he has been manipulated for many, many years without even suspecting that something is up. By the time he does, well lets just say that he doesn’t look very good at all. The guy definitely knows how to let his guard down even when in enemy territory. You’d think he would have at least been a little ready for an attack.

As for the three main characters, Anita gets the smallest role from the main 3. She doesn’t know a lot of English but quickly can tell that this place is shady. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot she can do though so she ends up being taken out pretty quick. Nina and Bea are really the two main characters here. I’d say Bea is the best character as she comes up with plans and is a lot braver than the other characters. I thought the way she went out was a bit unnecessary though. The film’s basically over at this point so why not let her have more of a happy ending right? Feels like Bea really couldn’t catch a break here.

Finally you have Nina who may not stand out as much as the other characters but she did well enough on her own I guess. Ultimately she needed a lot of help but how you get out is the important thing. Again though, you feel like the ladies should have just overpowered Hettie at any point because she is so old. Especially near the end where she makes it plain as day that she will be murdering everyone. Why not take a chance and attack her since things aren’t going well anyway?

The same thing would apply to Victor and Otto as well. At least Otto had a plan though but it seemed like Victory was just going to take everything lying down when he could be doing just about anything instead. He has a lot of reasons to attack Hettie and secure the win that way. Doing so would absolutely have made more sense than just standing there and getting drunk as he feels sorry for himself.

This film actually has a narrator which is not something you see very often anymore. It’s one from the villain’s point of view for the most part as he constantly defends them and explains why things are the way that they are. The voice doesn’t have a whole lot of energy to it though so you can tell he’s just trying to get the lines over with. On one hand, I’d say the film’s dialogue has aged rather well and has that fun retro feel to it. I always tend to like back and forth from the old days like this.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t say the film is quite as fun as some of the other old classics because we don’t really have an active main character here to take everyone down. None of the heroines ever get to fight or anything like that and the subplot of the cat who got a human’s body isn’t exactly a positive for the film. I’ve never been big on the whole humans acting like animals thing. Most recently it gives me flashbacks to that film known as “Cats” which was….certainly an experience. Regardless, you’d think the cat would be a little more cautious or be able to run quicker when you’ve got random monster men out in the field. The film liked to have fun with its hybrid monsters though and everyone gets injured at some point. Bea getting sliced and then squashed was one combo for example.

The heroes just didn’t keep their guard up as much as they should and ended up losing quite a bit more than you’d expect. I think the film could have focused a little more on how crazy this whole thing was and maybe switched everyone’s bodies instead of going down this road. It’s a film with some promise like the nuclear reaction but at the end of the day the character cast is really weak. I dare say you could point to almost any other film from this era that I’ve seen and the cast holds up better.

Overall, What this film really needed was a main character to take some action and get to the bottom of this. Maybe have the police show up at some point to put a little pressure on everyone. Those kinds of details would have helped take the movie to the next level for sure. As it stands, the brain transplant doesn’t work quite as well as it could have with the cat brain since it’s not like the animal can do much here and you feel like there is no point to the animal hybrids since they don’t actually do anything.

Overall 4/10

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father Review


Time for a rom-com film from a while back. So right away I had some concerns here because a kid was going to have a big role in the film. As you may know, kids tend to distract from the film going on with a lot of their crazy antics and holding things back. Unfortunately Eddie is no exception and easily the worst character in the film. Fortunately the rest of the movie is still pretty decent and it’s a film I could recommend. I just think it could have been even better if Eddie himself just wasn’t in the mix the whole time.

The movie starts by introducing us to Tom. He’s a man whose wife recently died so he’s doing his best to go on with life as normal. Unfortunately Eddie isn’t happy about this and wants to have a Mom again. Tom assures him that the two of them will be okay but Eddie throws fits and begins crying all the time. So Tom begins on his journey to find someone and ends up meeting a lady named Rita. Unfortunately Eddie doesn’t like her because he wants Tom to marry their next door neighbor Elizabeth. There are a ton of reasons why this shouldn’t happen, particularly that Elizabeth was Tom’s wife’s best friend. You’re not really going to marry her best friend right? Right?….well we’ll see if Tom can stay strong.

So I’ve already wrote about Eddie but lets wrap up his character now so we can move on to the others. He’s just really not coping well at all and tries to deflect this all the time by saying that Tom isn’t happy. You can see how visibly confused Tom was because they had just finished watching a movie that he enjoyed quite a bit but Eddie quickly threw cold water over the whole thing. Throughout the film Eddie is constantly projecting like this and Tom ends up being under a lot of pressure to find someone and fast. Then you’ve also got the scene where Eddie is rude to the girl at camp. This is already bad but even worse is the fact that everyone in class was always teasing her so Eddie had been the girl’s only friend. This sudden betrayal would be hard for the girl to deal with and this is never brought up again. Eddie’s just really mean throughout the entire film and every scene with him will have you cringing.

As for Tom, he’s okay but I wouldn’t actually call him a good character either. First off, as much as Eddie whines about the whole thing, that shouldn’t be enough to just make him find a new wife so quickly. Then you’ve got the fact that you can’t really take him seriously in these new relationships. He is seemingly interested in 3 women during the course of the film, Dollye, Rita, and Elizabeth. Dollye is taken off the table early on but with Rita and Elizabeth the guy can’t make up his mind. He actively goes on dates with both of them and doesn’t see any problem with this. Inevitably one of them won’t have a happy ending here.

Like Eddie Tom tends to lose his cool pretty quickly though so that also hurts him as a character even aside from not being able to make up his mind. He’s constantly insulting Elizabeth so it’s no wonder that they didn’t hit it off. Additionally when he tries to turn her logic against her when she rightfully points out that he’s always scared and pouting…it doesn’t work. He tries to say that she is also afraid of being in a relationship except that she is still going out on dates and has a solid gig as a nurse so…his argument was terrible from the start. She’s also the one making the effort to go to his place and see Eddie so this is a one way street.

Elizabeth is a decent heroine but I also feel like she was moving in rather quickly with romantic intentions. So, this goes back to the ole rebound that I always speak against in these films. If your wife just died or you split apart, you can’t move on to someone so quickly. How serious were your feelings if you are already prepared to move on? Both parties are suspect there. Even though Tom is meant to be wrong in his speech about how Elizabeth was just there to get married…this did start to go in that direction rather quickly so was he really wrong? Elizabeth said she went there platonically but it sure didn’t stay that way for long. Additionally Tom was the one starting to seem desperate as he kept inviting her for drinks. Yeah, I can’t give that guy a thumbs up.

Rita was a pretty reasonable character as well. She was also interested in Tom from the start and did her best to claim him. Unfortunately Eddie was always trying to ruin things there. She handled things quite rationally and in the end it was Tom who just tossed her aside once he decided to be with Elizabeth. I appreciate the fact that the film didn’t immediately try to make her some kind of villain or anything like that. Rita stayed as a solid character throughout so I appreciate the film’s restraint.

The other two supporting characters were Dollye and Norman. I was fine with both of them being written out rather early though as they got their own subplot because they weren’t quite as interesting. Dollye definitely had a very odd first appearance. Fortunately it went well but if I were Tom I definitely would have had doubts on the request. Her overall quest is good though as she works to get more outgoing. It’s a very noble goal and one worth pursuing. Meeting up with Norman was quite fortunate for her because that guy is quite good at being bold and letting this be known far and wide. Whatever the guy wants he gets. Definitely not the most trustworthy sort but you hope things will work out for them.

The writing is pretty fun though. We do get some nice scenes of humor particularly with the maid who is trying to learn Spanish. She has clearly put in a lot of work to her craft and is just a likable person. She does try to look out for Tom a bit in her own way. In general while I may not be big fans of the main characters or the romance in general which I found to be a bit weak, the film itself is nice and interesting. I wouldn’t really say there is a whole lot against it beyond that. The film is reasonably long and a lot happens. It may drag on a tad at points but not enough to say it’s a bad film. Put it this way, you should have a good time giving it a watch but it probably wouldn’t rank for giving it a re watch after that.

Overall, If you can get past the fact that the characters are going for a rebound romance then this is a decent film. It’s a film that would have benefited from not having Eddie participate at all though. Seriously, the kid really didn’t need to be here. Without him the story would be a lot tighter and you could probably even develop the romance more since it wouldn’t all just be from pressure that the kid provided. If you ask me that’s a winning combination. I somehow don’t think Eddie will be going back to camp after all of this though, he certainly burned all of the bridges he could have there and the little girl isn’t likely to forget his final scene either. Maybe he could be more likable in a sequel if we get a big time jump or something.

Overall 6/10

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