Power Drome Review

Power Drome is one of those PS2 games that you likely have not heard of before now. If you do know it, then that’s pretty impressive. I got the game because of how the gameplay looked and I definitely am a sucker for futuristic racers. They tend to be a lot of fun and this one is certainly no exception. The single player mode is unrelenting but at least this helps add to the length of the game. The multiplayer is where you will spend the majority of your time though.

There are 3 main modes for you to have fun in. Single Race is just like how it sounds. You pick a track and then test your mettle on it. You have multiplayer mode where you use the racers you have unlocked to have fun on all the tracks. Finally, there is the championship. There’s no real plot unless you count the quick level descriptions. You are trying to rise up the ranks as an up and coming racer so you enter many tournaments and even some 1 on 1 showdowns. Surprisingly the showdowns are the easiest ones and since you unlock racers that way, it definitely works for me. You can earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal based on how well you do.

The difficulty continues to accelerate more and more as you play through the championship. I beat around half of it with the main character before I had to switch to one of my unlocked fighters. Even then the final tournaments proved to be a little too much when it came down to speed. My opponents were just so much faster than me that it was scary. They would leave me in the dust as soon as the race began. The final stages also had a lot of turns so it was difficult to actually gain any ground on the opponents. You can drift in the game, but I found it hard to do reliably and without crashing so I ended up bumping into the walls either way. If I could turn better then defeating these later levels would be considerably easier.

Aside from accelerating and braking, you have two more gameplay additions. You can boost your way through the race by using up some meter. You do get a nice burst of speed, but it’s rather minimal and usually isn’t quite enough to let you get past the opponent. Alternately, you can use your meter to heal your car to prevent yourself from blowing up. This is extremely handy although your speed will take a nosedive temporarily.

The graphics look reasonably sharp. The level designs are good and the cars look high tech as they should be. I wouldn’t say that the graphics are anything to write home about, but they are bright and fairly colorful. You can always tell where you are on the track which is crucial. You do move at really high speeds which can make it tough to start turning on time, but they do have constant signs to let you know where you have to stop so it really comes down to your reaction times.

I’d say that the soundtrack was reasonably solid. Again, you probably won’t write home about it as there’s nothing amazing about it, but the music selection works well as background noise to the races. It’s certainly not slow music so it won’t force you to slam on the brakes.

This game does have some voice acting but it’s mostly just to show off how edgy all of the characters are. Perhaps they aren’t all edgy as I only played as two characters, but as part of their taunts they give the birdy. One guy slams his head on his car repeatedly and the girl shakes her fist at the other racers. I suppose this does seem to take place on more of an underground racing circuit so of course they don’t get along, but it’s almost funny to be doing this during a race. I guess they can drive these incredibly fast machines with one hand. That’s got to take a lot of talent.

There is a good amount of replay value to be found here. Unlocking all of the racers of course, but also clearing Career mode. Both should take a considerable amount of time unless you are a master at this genre. Even then you will still have to get used to this game’s gameplay in particular. Then multiplayer also unlocks a huge amount of replay value. Racing with A.I can be fun but it isn’t quite the same as racing against an actual person.

Playing this game reminds me of why we need more F Zero titles. GX still ranks as one of the greatest racers out there and the futuristic racing genre is just a lot of fun. I’d say that Wipeout does a better job of capturing F Zero’s essence than Power Drome, but as Drome only features a boost and no items, the actual gameplay is a little more similar. You can even boost ram into other cars to try and take them down for the count. Unfortunately it isn’t permanent though. I prefer when you are only given one life in a race. It increases the stakes and really reminds you not to get hit. It’s why F Zero is one of the only racers where I would actively target the other racers as I tried to take them out of commission.

Overall, Power Drome is a fun game. It does have a little more personality than other racing games with the characters being distinct and at least having some kind of career mode. The difficulty is a lot higher than you might expect, but with enough practice I’m sure you will be able to clear the game. At the very least, you will want to do it to unlock the extremely fast racer. If this game got a sequel with more of an actual plot behind it, then I’d be all for it. That would definitely have potential.

Overall 7/10


Push Review

It’s time to look at the action film known as Push. It’s definitely a rather ambitious stand alone film as it introduces a lot of characters and plots. Most of which aren’t wrapped up by the end so the film was really hoping for a sequel. It’s a very interesting movie with all of the overpowered abilities everyone has, but one is that still makes its share of mistakes by the end.

The story is that back in the day Germany experimented on a bunch of people and ended up giving them all super powers. They managed to escape but now in the present the rest of the governments are intent on capturing them. The main character of this story is Nick, a guy with basic telekinetic abilities who seems to be a little out of his league as he can’t even move a few dice. He is visited by the agency and they basically threaten him before leaving. That’s when a little girl named Cassie shows up and tells him that it’s time to go and save her Mom. They’re going to be in for a tough fight so hopefully Nick can improve his abilities.

An important part of the world that I should mention is that there are people with many kinds of abilities. Think the mutants from X-Men. The intro gives special emphasis to 3 types which are focused on in the film. First are movers like Nick. They can create barriers, amp up their physical abilities and essentially push everything with a gesture like in Star Wars. Then there are pushers who can “push” false thoughts into other people. Their ability’s limit is quite high so they are likely the most dangerous of adversaries. Finally there are the Watchers who can see the future. They can even see whole years into the future at a time so that makes them tough to deal with. Of course, just because they can see the future doesn’t mean that they will be able to change it very easily. There are other types like Sniffers which can track you from anything you’ve touched and Shadowers who can prevent you from being tracked. There are likely hundreds of other variations but those are the important ones.

One thing I can applaud the film on is its fast pacing. Quite a lot happens over the course of this movie to the point where other films might have taken double the time. Once the main characters meet up at the apartment, the villains don’t let up in their attack. They keep going after the heroes. The opening fight with all of the fish tanks was a solid opener for showing off the villains’ abilities. It’s also annoying since Nick should be able to crush them since his abilities are much better but that’s why you should always train.

For a while, I thought the Chinese were working for the Agency, but in retrospect it makes sense that they aren’t. As part of the impressively long exposition dump at the beginning we learn that all of the governments are after the mutants. So, China and the Agency (U.S.) are naturally on opposing sides. Which, while the opening exposition was a little humorous in how long it was, it was also rather unnecessarily gritty and a poor way to start the film. I was certainly glad once it ended.

The film does have some issues with unnecessary violence like that though like the fish tank scene. It’s the main thing that holds back the first fight scene as it’s just distracting. The fish didn’t ask for this. The fight should have focused on Nick trying to evade the vocal blasts and by the end of the fight quickly learning how to parry a little which could have been used to show his slight improvement by the end. It would have also been a better way for him to escape.

A big part of the film is how both sides have someone who can see the future. As a result they tend to overthink things in order to outsmart the other. The heroes handle this moderately well, but the villains do not. They defeat and capture Nick multiple times but keep on sparing him because they claim that destroying him would doom them in the future. Cool theory, but at least tie him up. Part of the problem for the villains is that they see a glimpse of the future and immediately act instead of looking farther ahead. It’s likely due to the fact that their pre cog reads intentions which is slightly different from purely looking at the future. It still messes then up though. At the end of the day you have to just learn the limits of your pre cog.

The heroes come up with a good plan of stopping the ore cog by writing down what to do on a notepad and losing their memories but for obvious reasons that is still a pretty risky plan. They had to plan out everything perfectly as well but the directions didn’t seem too far fetched I suppose. Spinning around in a circle was also a good idea although opening your eyes afterwards defeats the entire purpose. It didn’t even buy time tbh so that was a futile attempt.

The climax is definitely the best part as the 3 factions meet up for a big battle. We get to see what the fighters can really do when they band together. By that, I mean that everyone takes turns destroying the poor guys with guns. The Agency’s second in command Victor was certainly the MVP when it comes to raw power. He basically takes down the whole army and defeats Nick multiple times. He’s my personal favorite character in the film. Victor is definitely a man of few words but one whose presence is felt the whole time. His abilities were fun to watch and he did the company proud. If he had just been able to finish off Nick a little sooner, then I think he would have been able to come out on top. Still, he came close.

Nick is a decent main character. His personality is fine, but his lack of actual ability is what holds him back. The scene where he is sucker punched and thrown into the back of a car is just disgraceful. You’ll almost want to start laughing at how absurd the whole thing is. He can’t even break out and has to wait for someone to open the door for him. He’s saved numerous times by everybody and if we ever get a sequel he better improve. You can have all the tough talk and personality in the world, but if you can’t win a fight then it’s all for nothing.

Cassie is a solid heroine. Her foresight abilities certainly come in handy many times. Her abilities aren’t too fine tuned yet as she is still just a kid, but still does pretty well for herself. She’s more eager to fight the villains than Nick and at least does have a good plan. She is certainly right in not trusting Kira considering that the latter is just off at times. Speaking of Kira, she was a little unnecessary to the film. Trying to shoot at the leads was rather random and she is ungrateful the whole time. She gives the film its token romance which is also poorly handled. Despite being another pusher, she still falls for telepathic abilities quite easily. I suppose she just wasn’t strong enough, but that’s hardly a good excuse. I imagine that she would be a better character in the sequel.

Henry is the main villain of the film. He’s certainly a pretty tough fighter thanks to his telepathy. He does get off easily by invoking the whole future card like everyone else in the film. Otherwise, most of the characters could beat him since his ability takes a little time to actually get set up. As Nick points out, there’s no way he can take over his mind before a gun can be fired. Henry’s a good antagonist though and I don’t mind him escaping as he would be good for a sequel as well. I already mentioned how Victor is the best character in the film so I don’t really need to elaborate. He’s just a very great villain.

You’ve also got the Chinese faction who have a few good fighters. The twins both use sonic vibrations to fight. They take their glasses off every time so I’m thinking the power stems from their eyes or they don’t want to shatter the glasses while shouting because that could be quite lethal. They make for good mini bosses. They wouldn’t be much of a threat to the strongest fighters, but can handle the humans just fine. It’s hard to mind control them when you can’t focus through all the yelling. They were actually pretty fun. The Father’s more on the boring side as he has the same power and really didn’t think this through. He surrounded the main villains, but only brought normal soldiers with him? At least tell them to shoot on sight instead of just getting mind controlled. The villain pre cog was a good character. She certainly did seem to be more talented than Cassie. Things definitely didn’t work out well for her and that plot ended with quite a bit of plot hax as the future ability just stopped working, but I suppose it’s how it had to be. Maybe the old guy was just able to mask his intent or something.

There are a bunch of other supporting characters as well. All in all, the cast was quite solid. As I mentioned earlier, most of the plots don’t wrap up. The film basically just stops so there is a whole lot more that can be explored here. The film really did a great job of making the actual universe pretty easy to follow along with while also adding in a bunch of new elements. I’d certainly be interested in reading a comic sequel or something if the franchise ever moves further. The film did make its share of mistakes like being a little gritty, having a poor romance, and having some animal violence, but at least made those mistakes as mildly as possible. The visuals are certainly nice and the action scenes are handled really well when they occur. Well, the fight with Kira vs the henchmen seemed to be a bit of a stretch and that was certainly the worst fight, but maybe she was pushing thoughts into his head during the fight causing him to fight sloppy or something.

Overall, Push is a decently solid action film. It’s one that I would actually recommend. It’s one of those films that fell through the cracks so nobody actually knows about it, but it has the production values of a pretty high budget film. The film flies by very quickly and so you won’t get bored. There’s always a lot to take in which works pretty well for keeping the film interesting while still delivering exposition. The only lazy exposition was in the opening credits and I guess the film just wasn’t sure how else to do it. I guess if you’ve got to do an info dump then it’s best to do it early on rather than breaking the flow of the movie later on.

Overall 7/10


Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Review

The animal based horror films continue as we get to see what the spiders can do this time around. I can confirm that they have the upper hand on the humans as expected. However, the film does rely a lot on your suspense for disbelief once again. Spiders are certainly more intimidating than ants, but still within reason. It’s about what you’d expect which at least means that the film lived up to the premise as best it could. It simply couldn’t rise above and beyond it.

The film starts off with two aspiring entrepreneurs trying to get coffee out of the country. They realized that they could get rich from it, but the problem is that the corrupt government officials want a bribe first. The two guys get the money by smuggling some people out of the country, but what they didn’t count on were a few extra stowaways in the form of spiders. These spiders murder the crew and crash land the plane over by the real main characters. Charles and Cindy were looking forward to having a nice vacation when the crash happens and they quickly go investigate. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that it is related to spiders for quite a long while.

It’s pretty straight forward as the spiders start murdering everybody as they head for the orange farm. See, what makes the situation very tough for the heroes is that the town isn’t very well off. It’s actually quite poor and the only thing that keeps the society okay is the fact that they sell off their oranges at great prices. That’s why the mayor has decided that nobody is going to mess with the crop. He will have the town’s citizens/slaves work on it day and night even though they may get bitten by the spider and then die. The poison in this film is shown to be so lethal that you are dead in under a minute so at least it’s very quick. The Mayor is corporate to the core and does a good job of keeping everyone out of his way. Even when the crash first happens he refuses to use any of his water so the fire chief has to handle it. You can’t say that this guy isn’t consistent. As much as the other characters don’t like him, they still have to admit that he has some points. If the crop spoils then the whole town is doomed just as much as if the spiders got to them. They just can’t be too extreme either so it’s a tough balance.

The film would have largely been avoided if not for one very forced scene near the beginning. So, the plane has crashed and it’s leaking gasoline. The fire chief and his men have the situation under control but then a biker dude shows up and decides to play a game of chicken with the plan. He loses of course and crashes the bike into the gas which blows everything up and gives the spiders a chance to escape. You’re just wondering quite a bit what that guy was thinking and why he would lose control so easily. I guess it’s the only way that the spiders could escape but you have to question how smart this town is. Even Charles and Cindy don’t seem like responsible characters since they were going to go on vacation during work hours so any pilot in the area would have been doomed. Not very professional if you ask me.

The film also got a little darker than I thought it would be with the deaths as a kid actually doesn’t make it through this experience. Based on how long he lived after the bite I expected it to be a false alarm, but the film actually went all the way. The kid was a really bad character but it’s still not a fate you would hope for. He knew that the spiders were poisonous so he shouldn’t have tried to grab one with his bare hands. What was he thinking? That’s just not a very good idea on his part and he ended up paying the price for his mistake.

The climax of the film has a forced moment much like the beginning. So, there’s this minor subplot that comes out of nowhere and has no bearing on the film where a girl is cheating on the main police officer with another guy and then she dies. Well, the rebound guy decides to avenge her by blowing up the orange plant and all of the spiders inside of it. The only problem is that he trips multiple times until he finally lands in the middle of the factory and shuts off the power to the whole place so now everyone is stuck with the spiders. That whole sequence just made no real sense. I can buy into the factory being completely electronic so if the power goes off then you’re toast, but it is still a minor stretch since you would usually expect to have some kind of manual override system in place. I guess Mr. Corporate just didn’t figure he would need one and decided to cut down on costs.

I do think the humans should have more confidence once inside though. They have the high ground and are armed with gloves. They can just start punching and kicking rapidly. The important thing is to move quickly and to avoid having any of them over you. Follow those steps and you should really be quite fine. The very ending of the film will also make you shake your head since the main characters basically ditch everyone. Based on the numerous spiders in the facility, I doubt they made it by 8:00 clock so the place likely fell into bankruptcy. It’s rough, but trying to cheat the health regulations just doesn’t pay off.

The film doesn’t really go for too much shock value or violence which is nice. It’s not quite as plot convenient as Ants either where they had hundreds of chances to escape. It’s still not really a good film though. We get some spider violence like where someone crushes one and a kid keeps poking one. The only real highlight of the film is that the cast of characters is a little better than I expected they would be. At the very least I liked the Fire Chief, Charles, and the Mayor. Some characters were essentially filler and didn’t need to be around like Mr. Rich. The scientist was also fairly reasonable as he at least figured out that they died of poison pretty quickly. Based on how swelled up the first bite we saw was though, I don’t know how nobody else noticed this.

Overall, Tarantulas plays it by the books. The Spiders take over the town with frightening speed and you’re left to wonder how 3 spiders became around 300 so quickly. I guess they breed and insects/small creatures do tend to breed very quickly, but isn’t this stretching it? I suppose that I don’t really know one way or the other. If you like the ideas of animals vs people then this is the film for you. There are a lot of films about the food chain trying to change and all, but I’d say this is probably one of the better examples of it. I’m not really a fan of the genre by nature, but considering that then this one wasn’t too bad. If you want a giant animal though, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

Overall 4/10


Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review

After all these years it is time for the hype to be realized. Godzilla is an anime film that seemed to be announced 100 years before it came out. It took so long that you would be forgiven for forgetting it completely. Still, it is here at last so it’s time to compare it to the rest. Was Godzilla’s first anime adventure a success? Well, yes in the sense that it is a good film but not really a success for Godzilla as it doesn’t rank too highly in the franchise. There are some issues here which hold it back.

The film starts off with a rebel trying to stop the army from sending a rocket filled with a bunch of old people that are being purged. The airship everyone lives in simply can’t support this many people so some of them need to die. Unfortunately the rebel hesitated because he realized better than anyone that living on a spaceship can be even worse than death. He lets the old people destroy themselves and is arrested. We get a flashback where we see Godzilla and a lot of the classic Kaiju opponents as they decimate the Earth and humanity was forced to retreat off world along with some aliens who were going to conquer Earth but also couldn’t stop Godzilla. Humanity has been looking for an inhabitable planet for around 20 years but nothing would show up so now they are forced to give Earth one more try. Thanks to the ship being slower than molasses they will have to use a teleportation route which will cause 20000 years to pass on Earth.

By the way, 20000 isn’t the number they use at first. It’s actually a plot twist as first it’s 1000 years, then 10000, then 20000. I’m honestly not sure why this even qualifies as a twist and why the film didn’t just say 20000 right off the bat but we’ll roll with it. Unfortunately for the humans, it appears that Godzilla still lives and while he destroyed all of the other Kaiju, there are Winged Godzilla spinoffs flying around. Can humanity retake their planet or are they doomed to be destroyed for their arrogance in thinking they could beat Godzilla?

There are some aspects of a film that you always want to be on point to complement the writing of the movie. Those two aspects are the animation and the soundtrack. Both are absolutely crucial. For the music, this film is actually pretty good. It’s probably in my top 3 Godzilla soundtracks as I can only think of it losing out to Final Wars and maybe Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla. It has some nice, fast anime music thrown in there during one of the flying scenes which was pretty cool. That’s basically the stand out music but a lot of it just works pretty well. The true Godzilla theme is also reasonably solid although probably his weakest theme.

No, what really hurts the film is the terrible animation. I’m not going to mince words here, the animation is embarrassing. Anime that came out 30 years ago look better. TV shows and online productions with no budget look better than this. This is something that you would expect from an indie film that tries to look really bad on purpose just to defy the mainstream. It’s like watching a Fire Emblem cutscene and stretching it to a whole movie. In a video game you don’t expect the cutscenes to look amazing because you want the bulk of the development time to be spent on the gameplay. If you can do both that’s fine, but the game is the priority. For a movie I am certainly expecting you to put the animation as the priority. Writing doesn’t cost anything so I’m not counting that and while good voice actors are important, they need to be able to work with something. You can almost feel the pain of the animators whenever Godzilla tries to move. You hear his skin cracking as if he is a very fragile Godzilla statue who would break with a single punch. The character model is barely even animated at times and just sits there. The animation can’t even convey Godzilla moving so he just sits there and randomly speeds up off screen so he can get where he is supposed to be. I don’t know where the budget went but it clearly wasn’t with the animation. Godzilla’s energy attacks looked good and in general the energy effects were on point, that’s the only good thing I can say about the animation.

The film is very heavy on dialogue but that does seem to be the norm for many Godzilla films. It’s like the writers think that the people who came to see the film about a giant monster don’t actually want to be watching a film about a giant monster. So the main focus is once again on the humans. It’s definitely not the most interesting cast of characters so prepare to roll your eyes at these guys.
The main character is good at least. He wants to bring back human pride since he feels like Godzilla took it away when he blew up Earth and we ran away. He’s not really wrong on that, but of course pride isn’t everything. Sakaki is productive with his time and comes up with a plan so it’s not as if he’s recklessly going into action without one. I think the plan is terrible but I’ll get into that later. Sakaki acts like a captain and overall he does an admirable job of leading the assault. The voice actor does a good job and Sakaki basically spits out every line. He ends every sentence with a violent intensity.

The Religious Alien, Metphies definitely seems like an intriguing character. He talks a good game and always tries to be one step ahead of the heroes but he isn’t quite as cool as he tries to be. If the whole film was just part of the plan for him then that’s pretty cool. I guess even if it isn’t nefarious and Metphies is just being misleadingly cryptic he still does a good job with the council. He has more personality than the other guy who wanted to build a Mecha Godzilla but the plans fell through midway. I’m sure he will do more in the next film but his character was basically just his personality of being a tough guy. He didn’t do anything beyond that.

Now let’s talk Godzilla. This is easily his worst design but that’s probably the animation’s fault. Maybe it looks better in the concept art. This Godzilla also isn’t very smart since the whole plan that the heroes have is getting Godzilla to walk through the path they’ve set up so they can bury him with rocks long enough to blast him. This Godzilla doesn’t have Omni directional lasers to nullify this tactic and he is also too weak to escape the rocks. Am I really supposed to believe that Godzilla was pinned by mere rocks? I can’t buy into that and Godzilla should have been up right away. Then the humans grabbing onto him should have been knocked away when he rose up. Godzilla having a weak point is pretty random and also takes away quite a lot from Godzilla since apparently without the force field his durability is actually pretty bad. I’m glad they kept in then Atomic Breath and having a force field is cool, but even without all of that this is the King of the Monsters right? (hmmm) There are some twists so I can’t be too specific but we can forgive some of the issues here. Not entirely since the monster should have destroyed the humans and shut down the plan, but it isn’t as bad as it could have been. That’s really my main point here. At the end of the film we get a brief glimpse at what should have been happening the whole time. This is why I think the next film has a good chance at being a lot better. If I just saw this film, I can’t say I would be too impressed with Godzilla to be honest.

Even less so with the Rodan ripoffs. They aren’t bullet proof? Really? I just don’t know about that to be honest, seems like a mistake if you ask me. It takes away from them being a threat and it also means that if they give Godzilla any kind of a fight then it weakens the King of the Kaiju as well. It’s a lose-lose situation here. Hopefully the other Kaiju we meet up with are a lot stronger. In theory there should be a bunch of beasts wandering the planet since Earth is pretty huge. I’m guessing their scanners haven’t quite picked up on everything just yet.

The film goes by pretty quick but the length isn’t very long to start with. One thing I have to note is that this movie probably wouldn’t be great for rewatching. Sure, the planning is fun and all the first time, but the second time you’ll just want the film to get on with it. It’s something that’s fairly unavoidable depending how you set up a film. Slow burners will rarely be as good as the initial time you watch it while action blockbusters can be timeless if there is always something happening. So, this film would probably lose a star the next time you watch it and probably settle at that score, if not one lower. I personally can’t picture myself rewatching this one anytime soon. For that I could take a look at one of the older Godzilla films and give it a retro review.

While not a flattering way to secure a high score, Godzilla manages not to make any real mistakes. We don’t have to deal with animal violence, excessive language, random violence, or any slew of negatives that can pop up in a film. My complaints that I listed above are ones that are worth noting but don’t really affect the score much. Combined those issues may just take it down 1 star. It does depend on how you look at it, but basically a film that doesn’t make any real mistakes can get a 7. A 7 means that you’re a fun/good movie. To get higher than that, you have to actually do something really great. To get lower than a 7, you have to make a mistake. A 7 is essentially the starting point for all films. As the credits are rolling it starts out at a 7 and then moves up or down based on what it does. This film doesn’t really do anything and so it manages to stay there. That’s not really a bad thing, it’s just how it is. I can at least watch the full Godzilla film without rolling my eyes or cringing at a poorly made scene. Well, some scenes are poorly made, but at least not in bad taste. I was reasonably interested the whole time. Perhaps not excited, but I was following the story.

Overall, If you’re watching this Godzilla film for Godzilla then you will probably be disappointed. If you are watching it as more of a survival film then you’ll like it a lot more. I hesitate to call it a thriller since a good chunk of the film is just everyone talking but once they land on the planet I would say it qualifies. The film would probably be more impressive if it wasn’t called Godzilla which is a little unfortunate since having a brand should usually just make everything better. I do think that Part 2 should pick up quite a bit since most of the characters are already on Earth. Ideally it will focus on them and not too much on the people who are still in space. At least the wait until the next film shouldn’t be too long. This was my long roundabout way of saying that I’d recommend checking this film out.

Overall 7/10


Dark Tower Review

Time for a very traditional action film. By that, I mean that this film basically checks off all of the boxes that you would expect for an action movie but it doesn’t really do anything original. It’s a reasonably good film, but one that does have some issues. You can see how it likely cuts out a bunch from the book as they don’t explain much. I’m fine with no explanations as it’s fun just filling in the blanks on your own and finding out fun facts on Reddit. The main character is annoying though and Elba’s character probably should have been the lead without a sidekick. Lets take a step back and look at the plot real quick.

A kid named Jake has been able to see into another world lately. He can sort of see the future, past, and alternate realities. Unfortunately he’s not wise enough to keep this to himself and gets so obsessive about it that everyone starts to believe he is crazy. So when the aliens actually do come in to take Jake down for the count, nobody believes him. He manages to escape to the other world where he meets a traveling hunter named Roland who wants to destroy this guy named Walter who murdered all of his friends. Roland doesn’t want to make any friends, but Jake was never going to give him an option anyway so it is what it is.

The other world is basically just a large desert planet so there isn’t much to look at. The film is visually uninteresting so the best scenes are when they head back to Earth. Any scene with the kid and his parents is annoying, but the characters wandering around and eating hot dogs is a little more passable. The film doesn’t have a whole lot of humor as you may expect but when it does you just want Jake to stop talking and overreacting.

As you can probably tell I didn’t like Jake right from the start. It’s pretty common for the young protagonist to let everyone know that he has hallucinations and as a result nobody trusts him. It just seems like Jake should have taken a hint early on that nobody else was seeing these things or noticing that the world was going to end. It’s not like Jake even knew this either. All he knew was that he was having strange dreams and should have thought of a plan himself. Keep acting normal and play the game until he gets a better hand. Then Jake is just a liability throughout the adventure even after meeting up with Roland. He tries to guilt trip Roland and just doesn’t seem like the kind of companion you want on your team. My review may be a little rough on the poor kid, but I think he just wasn’t ready for this level of combat. It’s like I always say, the kids should stay at home while the grownups handle the fight.

Roland is a decent main character but he does come off as rather generic. I can roll with him deciding to take down Walter as a last act of revenge considering that saving the world is pretty out of the question at this point. The problem is, you can take him about as seriously as Drax The Destroyer since it would be an extremely simple matter for Walter to defeat him. Walter has advanced telekinesis at his disposal. While his mind games don’t work on Roland, he still has many ways to destroy him. Roland is fighting a hopeless battle in which he is greatly outnumbered. Naturally you want to put the hero in a bad spot for most situations, but once it gets too absurd you can only try to predict what form of plot hax will help him out.

Walter is the big villain and the only other character of real importance here. He’s a pretty charismatic guy and probably the most interesting character here. He has a pretty solid plan and came close to destroying everything. While he needs to learn how to play the match ups a little better and camp more against someone with a gun, he seems reasonably intelligent. You always want to have a good villain to make a film more exciting so having him here was definitely a smart move. There are other supporting villains, but they are really just here to reinforce Walter’s image. We do get a giant monster, but considering it wasn’t bulletproof you knew who the victor was ultimately going to be.

The film can be rather dark as the villains have already captured most of the kids and use them to destroy the tower. Fortunately the film doesn’t overdo it in focusing on this angle. You get the feeling that this movie exists in a universe that is surrounded by a lot of dark elements but keep those in the books. We get the atmosphere which is the important part. It’s not a fun movie by any stretch and it’s serious throughout, but at least we don’t get much forced comedy or subplots. As I mentioned, the supporting characters never get to do much so the screen time is always with the leads. The pacing is fairly quick and the film never drags on. While the ending is rather sad, the characters don’t dwell on it and are actually really happy all things considered. It’s likely their way of coping which makes sense.

If you do like the supporting characters then you should prepare yourself. The film is rather mean spirited towards anyone who hangs around the main characters. That’s actually a bit of a trope you’ll notice after a while. If you help the main character then you’ve likely just triggered a bunch of death flags. They can’t be bothered to come back and save you so it’s definitely Game Over at that point. They at least helped out in the long run so that’s good.

Overall, There’s not much reason to watch The Dark Tower. There’s no one area that you can point to and explain why it did this well. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, but I suppose it doesn’t do anything particularly bad either. It’s just an average action film and one that will hold your attention well enough after you finish it. It didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, but I wouldn’t mind a sequel I suppose. Just give the heroes some power ups so they’re not just random people with guns. It’ll make the fight scenes against super powered villains a little more believable. If you’ve run out of fantasy films and want to see another one then this is a reasonable film to pick up. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy this new world.

Overall 6/10


Dr. Cyclops Review

Doctor Cyclops is definitely a film that I had never heard of before watching it. Any film with the term doctor at the beginning is a cause for concern though, particularly if it is a horror film. While the overall premise isn’t bad, the execution certainly is and the film doesn’t do anything particularly impressive or amazing. It’s just around and you’ll find that it never got popular for good reason.

The film starts off with two scientists arguing and you can tell which one is the evil one instantly as he rambles on about how he is the master and the experiments must go on. The other scientist likely never actually got accredited as he doesn’t seem very smart and threatens the man to his face. He is quickly murdered but Doctor Cyclops injured his eyes in the process. He decides to enlist the aid of famous scientists from out of state to see if they can help him fix his formula since the animals he has been shrinking don’t tend to last very long. The scientists arrive and Cyclops is able to get his answers without letting them know why he needs the info. They aren’t pleased about this and then find out that the camp has been built on a rich deposit of ore so they can all become millionaires. After figuring out that they can’t trick each other they decide to team up against Cyclops but are quickly suckered and put in their place. By that I mean that they have been shrunk to size. So…now what are they going to do?

One big issue I have with the film out of the gate is that the writers don’t seem to know what effects being turned into a tiny person would have on the individual. At first it seems as if their minds regressed thanks to the transformation. They effectively became cave people and communicate with gestures. They also have short term memory as they start cooking and having a picnic in the backyard even though the villain will have woken up from his nap pretty soon. They are evidently shocked to see him. I’m fine with their minds being reverted but then the film does a 180 as the scientist in the hero’s side confronts Cyclops and begins to speak. The film makes it clear that he had not lost any intelligence at all. Then the others begin speaking and keeping their personalities by the end as well. One theory could be that they were just temporarily dazed and obtained their memories again after a little time had passed unfortunately this doesn’t really work either since the scenes I listed above are not in order: In the movie it is all random and that’s why this element is rather confusing. I just don’t think it was thought over very carefully which is a bit of an issue since it’s the entire plot of the film.

Naturally I also have to get after the film on the animal violence side as well. While it is off screen, the film makes sure to inform us that a lot of animals were experimented on and died. Certainly a morbid thought and this is repeated a few times which does nothing to help matters. It’s why I am always wary of films with evil scientists since the animals are always used as guinea pigs. It is certainly most unfortunate and at least it gives you more reason to root against Cyclops. He is about as generic as a villain can get. He’s evil and wants to hog the experiments to himself. The thrill and feeling of power is really all that he cares about since he could get rich simply by selling the ore that is around. He also isn’t very smart either as he falls asleep quite a few times and constantly lets the heroes get away. I don’t know about you guys but if I up against a small group of mini humans who were this tiny it should be really easy to capture them all and build a little cage to keep them captive. It’s not rocket science but this doctor just continues to get humiliated throughout this movie. He makes the whole thing appear to be far more difficult than it really is.

As for the “heroes” there are 4 main characters. First we have the really laid back guy who thinks getting upset or emotional about anything is a waste of time. He prides himself on doing whatever he likes and working smarter, not harder. He is fairly confident as you’d expect and I would say he is the most interesting character in the film. Certainly the most generic but at least he isn’t bad. You may not be actively rooting for him but at least this guy doesn’t take things too seriously. The old scientist is certainly the opposite as he is very serious and likes taking credit for things like new discoveries even if it has likely already been discovered. He isn’t a bad character though as the writing in the film is pretty solid so he isn’t as two dimensional as he could have been.

We also have the main heroine who has a science background as well. She wants this trip to go well since she’s responsible for the team but they don’t make it very easy on her. She’s a good character and it’s always nice to see a heroine from this era who is useful and able to stand on her own as opposed to being a damsel in distress. Finally we have the guy who owns the horses. His whole gimmick is that he isn’t very smart compared to the other characters but he is street smart, except for when he isn’t. He is a nice contrast to the other characters and definitely a pretty fun one.

As you can probably tell, the only thing really keeping this film standing is the writing and the cast. That’s honestly not half bad if you think about it since those two areas are very important. Still, the animal aspects hold this film back and Doctor Cyclops is an underwhelming villain. The main characters also really aren’t smart which makes it a little hard to root for them. They fall for one of the most obvious traps that I have ever seen. Also it’s not as if they are very heroic. As I mentioned earlier they were prepared to betray each other over the money so there goes their values.

Overall, Doctor Cyclops certainly isn’t one of the worst films that I’ve seen but it just could have been so much better. The writers did out some effort into this film, the problem was that if was selective effort so while the dialogue is strong, the situations around the lines are rather weak. I would advise sitting this one out. There’s no real reason to watch the movie as there are many other films which handle the concept better. Watch a classic like Honey I Shrunk The Kids instead. That film is a lot better if I recall correctly.

Overall 4/10


Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Review

It’s time for the next installment in the Star Wars series. It’s still the most popular Sci-Fi franchise out there and it’s pretty surreal that the series finally got to keep going after the long gap since episode III. This one’s been getting fairly mixed reception and it’s easy to see why. I have a lot of mixed thoughts on it as well. There’s a fairly large laundry list of pros and cons that I have with the film that all get thrown together which is why this review will be fairly long. Long story short, it’s a good movie, but one that feels like it’s considerably longer than it should be with not much actually happening for most of it.

The film starts with the Republic getting wrecked on all sides by the First Order as per usual. They’re outgunned and outnumbered but they have spirit. Against orders Poe decides to take down one of the enemy flagships and single handily saves a good chunk of the fleet. For his bravery he is demoted. Unfortunately the First Order is still gaining on the heroes and their only chance is that Rey will return with Luke Skywalker to save the day. In case she fails at this task, Finn is charged with a backup plan to find someone who can help them disable the tracker that is preventing them from escaping. With two plans in the works surely one of them will succeed right? Or is all hope lost already?

It’s great to see the opening credits roll and the classic Star Wars previously segment play. It’s always been a nice staple in the franchise and it works well. It also allows the film to go forward without having to show everything by giving us a little info from the start. As a result, the actual movie starts out with the big fight in space and that’s exactly how you should start a Star Wars fight. While the Lightsabers may be the most popular aspect of the series, the title would suggest big galactic battles like this one. It’s handled really well and you feel bad for the Republic since their ships are always so outnumbered. I’m a little skeptical on Poe’s ship massacring the big Star Destroyer but I always did say that I’ll take speed over power any day so I guess this proves my point. He did a lot of damage there. It’s a very strong start to the film and it hits all of the beats that it should. Unfortunately things start to slow down here. Lets stick to one chunk of the film at a time though. There are 3 main plots so in those plots I’ll discuss the relevant characters as well as positives and negatives.

The first plot is the Poe plot. The heroes are on the run and they need a plan. Leia gets knocked out because she made the mistake of being in the command room with all of the other generals. However, it is the only unguarded part of the ship and this is such a big design flaw that the people who built the Death Star can now breathe a little easier. This leads to a rather random scene. I won’t go into detail, but I didn’t care for the scene simply because it leads into absolutely nothing. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like Leia. She’s become such a bad character ever since she went into power. It’s like all good characters are corrupted by their bureaucratic status. Just look at how Naruto fell once he turned into Boruto’s father. Now, I can’t blast this scene too much though since obviously the plans had to change when the actress passed away. This plot point could have very well led on to something if she had stayed alive or perhaps she was supposed to die but to let the actress go out on a happier note they spared her.

Leia’s replacement is even worse though. While Leia makes consistent bad choices and shows no leadership qualities, at least she tries. Her replacement refuses to share her plans with anyone and is constantly aggressive for no reason. She seems to be very self conscious about what a bad leader she is so she takes it on everyone else. I don’t remember her name and I don’t even care enough to look it up. She has purple hair and you’ll know her when you see her. She has some of the worst plans that I’ve ever seen a “competent” general come up with. By “competent” I mean that the film wants you to think she is a brilliant strategist and that she knows what she is doing. It’s one thing for a comic relief character to come up with a bad plan or for someone that the film is trying to make look bad to come up with a bad plan. This is something altogether different because it is portrayed as a good plan. Without going into specifics, the new commander wants to sacrifice 100% of the fleet and get everyone to escape in small escape pods that have no barriers or weapons. Except for massive plot armor this is a complete suicide strategy with no hope of success. How would the villains not notice these pods on their scanners? This is the future right? In the present you are able to see small objects on a scanner, I refuse to believe that they simply wouldn’t notice them. Even once the plan starts tanking nothing is done for a very long time and then the lady remembers that she has one last option. By then almost everyone is dead, but still she is supposed to be remembered as a hero. Forget that!

The true MVP of this plot was definitely Poe. So much so that I can safely say that he is easily the best character in the whole film. He is always the one making the right decisions. It may have been risky to take down the Destroyer, but he saved a lot of lives in the process as it would have meant trouble for the other planets. It’s the other pilots who should have done a better job of steering and not dying so easily. Poe’s plan is much sturdier than the commander’s as it is at least a plan that has a chance of saving everyone else. Just giving up is the worst possible call to make in any situation. I’m also glad that Poe has a lot of loyal allies by his side since it shows that the crew can think for themselves. Getting sucker blasted by Leia was annoying, but not something I would blame on Poe. It’s just another reason not to like Leia. Hopefully Poe gets another big role in the next film since his character is really going strong now.

This plot was probably in the middle of the 3 for me. It wasn’t as slow paced as the other two, but at the same time it did stall the most. When you think about it, that whole plot is basically just the main ship running and the enemies blasting at it. It’s stuck for so long that it almost feels like they’re using stock footage at times. There’s one moment in particular where the camera keeps cycling between the 3 plots and it lands on this one twice where I saw 2 ships getting blown up each time. They were probably different ships, but it really looked like the same scene.

Next up is the weakest plot in the film. It belongs to Finn and his new partner, a fan of the pros. You can tell that she’s going to be annoying from her first scene as she gives Finn a sob story and is way too in awe of him. I’ve never liked the hero worship trope in fiction or the fact that it’s a real thing in life. (Shoutout to the Smash community) While her backstory is tragic and all, you have to wonder why she is in the film. Her romance with Finn is awful at best and while she makes the right call in stopping him during a critical moment, it’s also just super annoying. I was annoyed with her the entire time and that probably hurt the plot as a whole. Finn wasn’t much better though. He was seriously going to just run away. I was waiting for the twist or for him to explain that he wasn’t actually doing that…but he was seriously going to just up and run away. You can immediately see the contrast between him and Poe. Both agreed that the commander couldn’t lead her way out of a barn, but Poe decided to stay and do something about it while Finn decided to run away. Case Closed.

Finn’s just not a fun guy. Even when they go to the casino and hundreds of lives are hanging in the balance..he stops to enjoy the atmosphere and the games? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s hard to even root for him against Captain Phasma since she always gets the shaft in these films. Why is she not able to beat Finn in a one on one fight? She’s also not experienced enough to know that turning your back to the enemy and having slower reflexes than a turtle is a bad combination. I can’t say I’m really a fan of Phasma either, but I’m convinced that the writers just don’t like her. She is intentionally treated as a joke. Finn is unintentionally treated as a joke and there’s a big difference between those two. The former can be good writing while the latter is tragic. Finn is maybe slightly better here than in the first film…maybe. In some ways you can say that he has regressed as a character.

If it’s not obvious why this plot is the weakest, it’s because there are no good character here. They break out a quirky locksmith guy, but as he’s drunk the whole time it’s not like he’s going to be much of an improvement to the cast right? He doesn’t appear for very long anyway and I have to question just how weak the imperial defenses are if some guy in jail can pick them. Shouldn’t they keep upgrading their tech at this point? The plot is easily the least relevant to the film as well and probably could have been cut with nothing actually changing. As it’s the backup plan it could have easily been wrapped up a lot sooner or just been left to the way side and the Rey plot could have changed a bit to accomodate it.

Of course, that’s the big plot. We’re finally up to Rey and her adventures with one of the worst developed characters in history the biggest traitor since Benedict Arnold the mass murderer through negligence Luke Skywalker. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can’t stand this character. It’s hard to hear the guy talk since Luke is so obnoxious. Luke is not only a traitor and mass murderer, but in general a very egotistical, arrogant guy who can’t back up any of his tough talk. He went from being a standard main character for 3 films to someone who has turned his back on the heroes and doesn’t mind if they’re all slaughtered. I’m still puzzled as to who on Earth thought it would be a good idea for him to be such a heel here. The trailer set off all of my warning bells back in the day and the film solidified them. They may as well have turned him into a Sith Lord considering what happened here. When he first rebukes Rey and tells her that what she said was wrong you want to slap him since it was a valid answer. Luke’s answer is the one that’s hogwash as he tries to tell her that the Force is just energy everywhere and all that. It’s his catchphrase as well so you’ll hear him say it again, but he’s annoying (and wrong I’d say) both times. Rey didn’t say anything that really contradicted him and lifting things is basically the Force’s greatest strength. The Force wouldn’t be nearly as good without telekinesis since you could be shot from behind without it or lose in a fight. Controlling weak minds is okay and all but it only works on the weak. You need to keep your barriers up at all times or you’re through.

What they did to Luke is just plain insulting to the original trilogy. His character has been completely warped and I can see why fans would want to pretend that this film just never happened. I still say it’s depressing that after Episode VI where we finally beat the Dark Order and the Republic got to be in control, that everything was thrown back into the status quo off screen. It’s just hard to picture and also makes the first three films entirely pointless. Take them away and now nothing has changed. I went into that a lot with Episode VII so no need to tread old ground.

Rey is still a solid main character. I liked her a lot in the last episode as she was a pretty selfless hero who wrecked Kylo Ren and used the Force pretty well. She’s a slightly weaker character here as she lets Luke and Kylo take control quite a lot. I’d like to see her ordering them around or at least holding her own a little more. Perhaps in the next film though as she is steadily growing stronger. She is still a great character regardless and I’d put her as the second best named character. She may believe in Kylo Ren’s chance at turning over a new leaf too much but that’s not something I can fault her for.

I still can’t take Kylo Ren seriously. When your first scene is getting mocked by the main villain and throwing a temper tantrum in an elevator, you’re just not the kind of villain who is ever going to command respect. His conversations with Rey also don’t help the mystique angle as he just seems like someone who is being led around by forces he cannot comprehend. Kylo Ren can fight of course, but I’d still say that Rey should be able to beat him and so he shouldn’t be much of a threat to any of the higher fighters. The Red Agents should have obliterated him.

I’ve always liked the Red Guards. Those guys have awesome designs and have been a big part of the Star Wars background for a long time. How they didn’t defeat Rey and Kylo I’ll never know. I can understand Rey beating them, but Kylo? He should have gotten wrecked the instant the fight started and yet they acted as if he may be a little stronger than Rey now. I dunno about that, but I was really satisfied wit the fight scene. It’s easily the highlight of the movie. I’ve been waiting for a modern day Lightsaber fight for so long. It’s not quite as solid as the fights from the prequels yet, but we’re getting there. I imagine it’ll take time to get the choreography quite up to that level, but by the next film they should have it down. While Star Wars may not revolve around the Lightsabers, I think it should. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of the franchise and that’s why I like the prequel era so much. The Jedi vs Sith wars were a blast and nowadays you only really get to see that in the video games. If this is any indication of what will happen in Episode IX, then I’m all set for that.

Emperor Snook is pretty disappointing though. He doesn’t get to fight and is heavily nerfed so Kylo won’t look too bad. The character had a lot of potential so it was rather disappointing to see him go out this way. He has to lose at some point so I wouldn’t mind a Rey and Kylo team up against him, but at least some kind of fight. He’s a Sith Lord! The guy should be crazy strong. At least he has some hype though. The only other villain left is Hux and he’s effectively comic relief. The film did a good job of making him look part monkey to an extent though, bravo!

This plot was the best thanks to the fight scene. The Luke and Rey scenes were fairly dull though and the characters didn’t really do anything for a while. She’d ask him some questions, he’d ignore her. Rinse and repeat for roughly an hour. Rey did go into a cave, but nothing actually happened there so it was basically filler. Luke spent the whole subplot embarrassing himself as well so the longer it went on the worse it got for him. Even the flashback with Kylo makes him look terrible. He looks painfully weak and I’ll never be able to take him seriously again since this was allegedly Luke at his prime. Luke should blame himself for what happened since it really was his fault, at least when you look at the scene that’s the impression I got. He should have done a much better job of leading. Luke gets so bad that even the Sith complement him on making their job easier. I almost thought his final scenes had some plot hax, but the film handled it well so I have no complaints there.

The plots all merge by the end so for Episode IX we should finally have the full cast assembled. It’ll be nice to see the characters think up a battle plan as a team for a change. That being said, the war seems like it’s pretty much over. There basically aren’t enough people still alive to form a resistance since everyone was murdered so they’re going to need to just rely on Rey. She can take on an army on her own so the others should just sit tight and try to learn how to be Jedi in the meantime. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how they will really be able to contribute, but with the timeskip maybe the rest of the planets will send more cannon fodder to the heroes to beef up their ranks. You can’t help but feel bad for those guys, but they knew what they were signing up for.

So where does this rank in the Star Wars films? Well, I’d consider Episode IV, VII, III, and Rogue One to be the 4 strongest by far and in that order. Next up I’d place this one followed up Episode V, VI, and I. Episode II is all the way below and I doubt/hope a Star Wars film never reaches that low again. So at 5th place out of 9 that’s not bad at all. I fully expect the next Star Wars film to beat this one, but I guess we’ll see what effect bringing back the old writer will have. I do wonder just how much the writers like to mess with the script and what the last writer did to their benefit. After all, only the writers and executives are likely going to know how the film was “supposed” to go so we can only speculate. Whatever happens, I just want a lot of action so deliver that without falling into any landmines and I should be good. Pull another Luke Skywalker twist and that will just be sad.

I think it’s safe to say that big Star Wars fans will appreciate this title a lot more than a typical action fan. There are likely a ton of cameos and references thrown for these guys. I picked up on some, but for others I have no idea. As the plot doesn’t move too much, you’re supposed to get hyped over each character and what they’re doing. Since I didn’t like half of the characters I was supposed to like it didn’t work as well on me as it was supposed to. That shouldn’t be a big problem if you’re super into the franchise. After all, it’s not like I gave most of the films positive scores. That being said, if you’re especially a big fan of the original trilogy then there’s the chance that the opposite will be true and you’ll see this one as insulting its legacy. The only way to find out is to watch the film.

While the camera work is good for scenes like the Red Room where it’s very atmospheric, I’m not sure about the directing for the characters. It may not be the director, but I’m not sure who’s in charge of this. All of the characters seem to be out of breath all the time. It’s borderline distracting and this was an issue in Episode VII as well. Just think back to the first trailer for that one where the cliffhanger every time was Finn really out of breath trying to get up. (Always thought that was a weak scene btw) That happens here to basically everyone. It’s like the director tells them to all go for a job right before filming each scene. I just don’t get it and it’s a problem that I only really notice for Star Wars. The film also really overdoes the close ups on each character. We don’t need to see their faces in such intense detail to understand that the scene is intense. A standard far shot will suffice.

The movie uses a lot of the classic themes from the old films. They still sound as good as they ever did, but the movie still seems to be relying on nostalgia here as opposed to coming up with new tracks. I can’t recall any new tracks that were memorable or epic during the scenes. I only remember the iconic themes that play during the movie. Still, they’re enough for me to consider the film to have a pretty solid soundtrack. The visuals are pretty nice as well. The space fights are epic and the lightsabers are solid as well. Now all we need is a city like New York and we’ll really be all set!

The writing is quite solid. Ignoring the talking animals and robots who use grunts to say nothing while sounding deep, the humans all seem pretty good. There’s not a lot of random language at all and in general I don’t remember characters swearing. It probably happens, but certainly not all that frequently if so and it makes the film a lot more peaceful to watch. It definitely helps the characters as well. There’s no real animal violence here either although Chewy was a pretty bad character in this film for actually cooking an animal off screen. Considering what planet he is on, it came off as really insensitive. He’s not as bad as Groot, but he definitely had no real role in this story. Yoda’s cameo is a lot more satisfying with his fans and I’d say he looked good. Anyone who zaps something Luke’s a fan of is okay in my book and it was just a really great thing of him to do in general. If Yoda can look like this in the future, he may become more tolerable.

One pattern you’ll quickly notice in this film is that the rebellious characters are the best ones. Poe defies orders to quickly take command and it’s a great scene. Rey impulsively decides to head for the main villain’s base against Luke’s command (ha!) and while the plan doesn’t go well at first, I can agree with the notion. She’s confident in her abilities and certainly wasted no time in arriving there. It’s amazing how quickly she got there honestly and I was glad to see someone was taking charge. It’s similar to when Luke defied Yoda to go save his friends. It’s always the right option and always a blast to see even if it rarely goes too well for the hero.

I think the real issue that hurts this film a lot is the fact that it has virtually no replay value. It’s the kind of film that you really wouldn’t want to see twice because there isn’t really a reason to. There are a couple of big scenes where a character almost dies but doesn’t. I suppose it’s dramatic if you think they are going to die but since you would know better the 2nd time around it loses the impact. You could say the same for many films, but this one in particular really builds up the scene to the death as it drags on for a while to get maximum effect. Since you know these scenes are red herrings the next time, you’ll just want them to get on with it. It’s a really long film that feels like a long film. In the same way that some mysteries are hurt by watching them twice while others keep the replay value, this is just one of those action films that works best as a 1 time experience. It’s a natural consequence of upping the drama but maybe you can make an argument that the enhancement to the film the first time around is worth it. Not sure I’d argue that, but it’s there.

Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good film. It’s hampered by its long run time and fairly weak cast, but still has enough strengths to carry it over the hill. Poe and Rey are two solid heroes and that’s enough to help keep the film going. The fight scene we get with Rey vs the Red Guards is pretty fun and hopefully we’ll get more action in the next film. Now that certain characters shouldn’t be appearing anymore, the cast should get a lot stronger for the next film. Since it is also the end of the trilogy I’m expecting a lot more action. We got 1 Lightsaber fight and maybe 2 space fights. I’d like to see us double that number in the sequel, especially the lightsaber fight. I want an extended Force battle where Rey has to use her full arsenal. Anyway, I’d recommend the film to any action fan but if you’re a Star Wars fan then it goes without saying that you need to watch this one.

Overall 6/10


The Incredible Shrinking Man Review

It’s time for a classic film that I’m sure everyone has heard of at some point or another. It’s a concept that is always fun to play around with as shrinking makes the world look even bigger. Honestly it’s not a super power that I would ever want to have because it just wouldn’t be as fun as the others. Being able to make snow would be far superior if you ask me and that’s something that I could get behind. Still, it’s not as if the lead asks for this ability in the film but he takes it so poorly that you have to wonder if this character was ever good to begin with. The film plays it off as if this ability slowly makes him grow worse and worse as a person, but really it just brought his true self out into the light.

So, the plot starts with Scott and his wife Louise on a boat. They are on vacation, but Scott is as annoying as always and just wants to get drunk on as many beers as he can handle. Vacation ruined, they prepare to head back home when a UFO whizzes past them and blasts Scott with a bunch of radioactive material. He shrugs it off, but gradually notices that he is getting shorter. At first everyone denies it and cites crazy theories that you just shrink by a noticeable amount during the day so it’s all legit. After this is impossible to deny, the doctors work around the clock to create a cure while Scott decides to take out his frustration out on Louise. Will she trap him in a jar so that he can’t hurt anyone anymore or will the scientists have to give him a fake antidote to buy some time? A lot of tough decisions are on the table.

The premise has potential even if it’s not a whole lot of potential. It could be a reasonably fun comedy like Honey I Shrunk The Kids or something. Instead, this film decides to play it straight and is so serious that it is borderline grim at times. Scott becomes such a villain in the film that he yells at his wife, stabs the cat, and even destroys a spider. If I said he was beyond redemption at this point it would be an understatement. I couldn’t stand his character by the end and he already showed signs of being bad from the start with how he ordered Louise to get him a beer. When she denied this he played it off as a joke but this guy is definitely a bad apple. Did I mention how he also starts getting ready to cheat on Louise with someone from the circus but his plans are dashed when he shrinks again? That’s just the kind of guy he is and it’s unfortunate since Louise is such a good, loyal person. She definitely deserved better than what she got in this film.

Naturally none of these scenes are any fun to watch. Scott is basically acting like a bully only there isn’t anyone around to notice and call him out on it. Louise decides to just take it because she hopes he will be better soon. Although in my head canon I like to think that she purposefully let the cat inside and then shut the door to teach Scott a lesson. I was rooting for the cat by the way. Fortunately the cat doesn’t die or get seriously injured but the film was definitely stressful for those scenes. Still, Scott later murders the spider in graphic detail which sent the film that had already jumped over the shark all the way over the cliff. It was game over. Game Set and Match. There was just no hope left for it. Mixing in animal violence is always a way to sour any recipe and this film is no exception.

There just isn’t anything good about this film. Scott and Louise are basically the only two characters in the film. It feels rather low budget which would explain the small cast. Scott’s brother (in law? I forgot if they mentioned this or not) shows up once or twice to point out that Scott is acting petty and he should try getting some money for this. Scott denies because he just wants to see the world burn and in exchange the brother almost steps on him a few times by the end. The human interactions in these old films are usually the good parts, but it’s just hard to enjoy them. This is what a bad main character can do. He can wreck the rest of the movie just on account of how insufferable he is.

The only positive thing I can say about the film is the ending. Granted, it’s because the ending has Scott get destroyed by his own ego as he shrinks away into nothingness, but I’ll accept that. Scott couldn’t be left alive by the end of the film. A life taken is a life lost after all so since he took down the spider I’m glad that the universe placed the scales back in order. We can’t let reckless villains like Scott do whatever they want. I have higher hopes for another installment in the franchise since Scott would no longer be around.

What another film should play up more is the media angle. I want to see how the rest of the world handles this. There’s a lot of potential there as there always is when something supernatural happens in an otherwise ordinary world. I’d also like to see the main character get adjusted to his new situation and make the best of it. Moping for a little can be all right, but there has to come a time where you just make the best of it. Make a film like that and it could actually end up being quality confirmed. This goes without saying, but no animal violence either of course.

Overall, in case you didn’t guess, I didn’t like Scott. He’s absolutely terrible and the same can be said for this film. He just makes every scene around him worse and I already said that so lets keep it moving. The animal violence didn’t help matters and you’ll just struggle to get through this movie. I highly recommend staying far away from this film. The only thing it’s good at is winning Razzi awards and as much as I would like to vote for this one, I probably couldn’t depending on what the competition is. Either way, if you want a film about someone who shrinks, check out Ant Man. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that movie either, but it’s still considerably better than this one.

Overall 2/10


Accel World Review

Accel World has always been a series with a good premise. A fighting game with total VR is always something that I like to see and the combat designs are on point. However, The main character often holds the series back with how bad he is and that is likely always going to happen no matter the medium. Well, the manga decides to play out like an abridged version of the manga. It adapts a book, skips a book, adapts, etc. I can understand why they would skip an arc that was already animated and all but as a result the manga ends with an arc that doesn’t really have any fights. Ah well, it’s still a decent adaptation.

The series follows a kid named Haruyuki. He is down on his luck as everyone bullies him. He has two friends, Taku and Chiyu. The dynamic between the three of them has grown awkward as the other two got together. Fortunately for Haru it appears that Taku is evil so Haru will now be able to beat him up. Haruyuki also befriends the school club president Kuroyukihime who introduces him to the real vr game known as Brain Burst. Essentially you fight other players to get points and level up. With these points you can stop time in the real world and use it in all sorts of ways to get through life. The downside is that the pain you feel in the game is very real and you may be targeted in the real world by other players. Will Haruyuki be able to get through all of this or is it over for him?

Accel World does a good job of not feeling like a cash in when it comes to the art at least. It looks pretty sharp and the character designs are on point. The fight scenes look good as well so there was definitely some real effort put into it. It’s not even a case of the series starting out rocky and then hitting its stride as the first fights in volume 1 already look good. At most, the humans can look a little chibi at first, but the designs look more like the anime by the end. It naturally can’t look quite as impressive as the anime which really takes advantage of Silver Crow’s flight speed and all of the energy effects going on but the manga does a really good job regardless.

Another thing in the manga’s favor is that it adapted the short story from one of the Accel World novels where Haruyuki gets to meet up with Kirito. Kirito is definitely the fighter that I would put my money on, but Haru does a good job of keeping the fight close. Seeing as how both series are still ongoing I would definitely be up for a full crossover arc that continues across both series. Even if it’s just one novel from each that would make for a pretty epic story. The crossover chapters were certainly very intense and did a good job of giving Kirito his due respect. I think we both know who would win this fight.

One of the negatives for the series is Haruyuki. He’s still as unlikable as ever to the point where you feel it’s intentional. Most main characters just stumble into awkward situations while Haruyuki actually tries for them. He really can’t handle talking to most of the supporting characters and gets intimidated by everyone. He let’s dark power consume him with ease. There aren’t really any redeemable qualities about him and it’s just tough to have a main character like that.

At least the supporting cast is better. While Taku starts off as a very iffy character and it’s hard to go back from that, at least he ends up being an interesting character. A shame that he is stuck in a very slow avatar that basically never gets to win an important fight. Chiyu is another of the main supporting characters and she is good although Chiyu can be iffy at times. She practically states that she only went with Taku so as not to break up the band and once they split she seems to be flirting with Haru at times. It may just be her chipper attitude mixed with Haru always acting in the worst way possible for each exchange but you can’t help but feel that she was never interested in Taku. I didn’t agree with most of her decisions in the arc that was skipped, but since it was skipped it doesn’t even matter all that much.

On that note, it makes sense that the manga would have to skip parts because the pacing can be rather slow. Not in a dragged out way, but the manga really wants to be as detailed as the anime so each chapter won’t adapt a whole lot. This is one of those series that works best when you marathon it in volume format. I can barely believe that it was 8 whole volumes as it just feels a lot shorter, but it has been a very long time since I started the series so I suppose it makes sense. By skipping around, the manga could still adapt later parts while giving the early ones a lot of screen time as well.
Back to the characters. Kuroyukihime is a solid character and I’d say that she is still the best character in the series. She also happens to be one of the very strongest as she is at Level 9 and just needs one more level up to clear the game. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Her Black Lotus avatar is definitely a really cool one and at the moment she has yet to lose a serious fight although we’ve seen a few opponents who could give her a run for her money. She definitely helps the series out quite a bit.

Scarlet Rain also has a decently large role in the series. She’s a good fighter but when pretending to be Haru’s sister you have to wonder if she could have come up with a better plan. That one is extremely risky and if it was any other character who was a bit smarter it simply would have worked. The strategy probably would have worked just as well if she just cornered him after school and forced him into a battle. She was really just testing his combat abilities after all.

The Chrome Disaster armor/entity is as cool as ever. You definitely have to appreciate the design and since he works like a symbiotic it leaves a lot of potential for future arcs. I’d like to see him use the power more and try to master it since it would be really handy against the stronger villains in the series. It lets you use Override techniques a lot easier and can even heal so it doesn’t get much better than that.

The series does have a few hiccups as it falls into the trap of fan service. It’s not too excessive but present enough to be noted. What the series prefers to focus on is throwing Haruyuki in awkward positions that may not exactly be fan service moments but with his terrible reactions and everyone constantly flirting with him, it can be just as forced and unnecessary. Considering that Haruyuki seems to want to be with Kuroyukihime, you’d think that he could control his thoughts better with the others, but he just isn’t quite that good.

As the manga ends early you can’t help but think that we never really got to get to the “good” part. Not necessarily stuff from the novels but imagining that this manga wasn’t based on anything you would have to assume that these early volumes were building up to the 5 Kings actually appearing and Haruyuki eventually getting to fight them. A high level battle of that caliber would definitely be a blast to watch. There’s just so much left to do when the series ends but at least it’s not as if the title is only 3-4 volumes. 8’s not a bad number to end on and the series certainly still got to do a lot. I’m sure to an extent it’s not like the author had much of a choice on where to end it.

Overall, Accel World is a good action manga. The fights are good and the art also holds up well. It suffers from some fan service issues and an iffy main character which holds it back from being a considerably better title. It’s not a very long series so you’ll be through it pretty quick but it’ll be a fun read nonetheless. The ending may not feel too epic or climactic but that’s basically because the series had to come to an abrupt end. The author still did a good job of picking a decent place to end for those who don’t like cliffhangers. I would have liked it to end in the middle of a fight with the tag line “Read the book to find out what happens” myself but it is what it is. So I’d lightly recommend the title. I’d certainly be interested in seeing what someone who has not read the novels or seen the anime would think about it. It may feel pretty random but it’s still an action title so as long as you get engaged into the story then you’ll be fine. Who knows, maybe it’ll end up getting another manga series if we ever get another season or the light novels really take off in America.

Overall 7/10


Blade Runner Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. A review of the unedited version would be even more negative. All thoughts below should be addressed as such
It’s time for a sci-fi film that had potential but chose to go for oscar bait moments instead of quality. What should have been an action thriller with lots of epic fight scenes turns into a very melodramatic film with the pacing of a snail. Good luck trying to keep up with the film as you’ll just start to lose interest once the main character doesn’t appear for about 30 minutes. Even when he does appear it’s not as if he’s a good character anyway so then you just want him to go away.

The film starts with Rick humble bragging as he tries to eat some ramen. The cops catch him though and bring him back to the Blade Runner program. He is ordered to murder 3 remnants (androids) who have managed to make it to Earth. He tries to talk a good game about not doing it, but they threaten him so he quickly folds. He retired from this business because it was starting to be too much for him, but he doesn’t have a choice now. He finds one of the remnants pretty easily through his lie detector test and gradually goes looking for the others. The problem is that these remnants have plans of their own and they’re all a lot stronger than Rick. Can he handle them?

Honestly, the long paragraphs of plot details in the intro sounded like they would have made for a better film. I’d love to have actually seen an army of androids revolt and attack the humans. Many good films have been made about that kind of plot. Why do we need to see the aftermath where humans seem to have already won the war. Furthermore, why is our tech so bad when this is the future? It feels like we should be able to damage the androids a lot easier by this point to be honest. Part of the fault lies with Rick though since he has no reaction times and walks into every trap imaginable. If not for the villains taking pity on him or other characters saving him, he’d be dead by now.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problems with the film is how slowly the film moves. We get extremely long sequences with the villains where they just threaten people and you wonder what the main character is doing. Instead he has a very sketchy romance with Rachael that was pretty disgraceful. It definitely wouldn’t fly nowadays and it was definitely not going to make him a likable character. His only good trait is the internal monologue he is always having. That part was enjoyable at least since most films don’t do that anymore.

The writing is also pretty bad to be honest. The characters talk about random things that have no point. Rick uses very odd questions for the lie detector test which probably serve some kind of point in his mind, but the film should have made the questions better. Even the opening scene just makes you wonder how the humans have lived for so long as a remnant is interrogated in a small room where they let him keep his gun and the interrogator has no weapon. I mean, I could have told those guys that was probably a bad idea. They may not have known for sure that the guy was a remnant yet, but since the point of the interview is that they suspect him, they should have had some defenses ready.

The effects don’t look so good since the film is trying to look bad on purpose. It’s a film set in the future that wants to look like it’s in the past which is a pretty bad mix. Ghost in the Shell did a much better job with the overall design of the city while Terminator did a better job with the actual android designs. As a result, there’s nothing really going well for this film. Even the soundtrack is basically nonexistent.

Watch out as this film can be rather violent as well. It wasn’t too crazy although I did see the edited version, but enough to be worth noting. If you’re not a main character you better watch out as well since the villains effectively have free reign on the whole city. Rick isn’t protecting anything aside from himself so everyone else is on their own. It can be a little frustrating, but since I didn’t like any of the characters it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It would be worse if his lack of skills caused good characters to die.

Roy is the main villain but his name is the only cool thing about him. He’s just another random villain who tries to have some justifications and moral dilemmas to show that he’s not all bad, but he’s just another villain at the end of the day. He can’t even fully commit to this as he saved Rick towards the end which didn’t make much sense if you ask me. He has his reasons, but it was only a good way for destroying whatever hype Rick might have had left. It was virtually at 0 already though. There’s not much to say about Rachael except that she has no will power and just lets everyone walk over her. So much for a tough personality.

Overall, The biggest problem this film has is that it feels pointless. The plot takes forever to progress. You could watch the opening 20 minutes as they explain Rick’s mission and then skip to the end. You’d basically have a coherent plot, minus one Remnant who was taken down near the middle. The bulk of the film has nothing to do with his mission as the film just lost sight of what was happening. It’s hardly the only problem of course as Rick was definitely terrible and the Rachael was bad as well for letting him have his way. I feel like the sequel should definitely be better, but I can’t say that I have a lot of hope in its chances. This is probably just one series that is beyond saving without some kind of remake.

Overall 1/10