Underworld Review

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

I’ve certainly been aware of the Underworld series for a long time. After all, I saw all of the Resident Evil movies and this has always been its biggest rival. The question is if it could possibly defeat that title. The Resident Evil films typically scored around a 2 so it’s not like that should be a tall order except that vampires tend to be just as bad as zombies if not more so. Ultimately Underworld is about what you would expect and I’d say it’s losing to Resident Evil so far but I am early on in the franchise.

The movie starts with introducing us to the situation on the planet. A war between the Wolves and Vampires has been raging on forever. The vampires have effectively won the war as their numbers greatly overshadow that of the Wolves but they still have to take down the stragglers. The first scene is Selene and a few of the vampire warriors attacking one of the Wolves, but this turns out to be a trap and most of the Vampires are defeated. Selene tells the vampire leader Kraven that they need to take this seriously but he doesn’t care. What can a few Wolves do right?

Meanwhile on the Wolf side, the leader Lucian is planning his big assault to take the Vampires down. His side has been relying on hit and run tactics for a while since they can’t win in a full frontal assault but now he may be able to use a more direct approach. His lead scientist has come up with a special kind of bullet that can destroy a vampire in a single bullet. Mix that in with the vampires’ complacency and now he has a fighting chance. Everything will come down to the human known as Michael. Whichever side obtains him first may end up winning the war as his blood is special.

Selene is the main character here but while you may assume that it means the vampires are the heroes here, the film is quick to remind you that is not the case. Both sides are as corrupt as can be so there are no good guys. Whoever wins, it is still not good for humanity. At least Selene has some sense of justice and duty compared to most but ultimately since she is working for the villains that makes it hard to root for her either. After all, at the end of the day any accomplishments she has will go over to the rest of the group.

As a main character Selene is decently good. I would say she easily beats most of the characters in this film in terms of being likable although since I don’t like most of the characters that may not be saying much. There will likely be a lot of comparisons between her and Alice from Resident Evil as they use similar outfits, weapons, and even their abilities seem similar. They’re both analytical fighters and try to keep up a tough front. Right now Alice is certainly winning in the head to head though as she ultimately doesn’t falter the way Selene doesn’t.

Selene has a scene where she faints after talking tough to Michael which really destroyed her credibility there. Additionally, despite being one of the tough assassins among the vampires, she doesn’t tend to win a lot of fights except against unnamed minions. For example, she was losing against Raze and was unable to take him down in the opening fight. She got a hit on Lucian but was unable to take him out before the guy bit Michael and had to hastily retreat. She was completely no match for Viktor in the end and had to rely on some help.

Now, it’s not as if she is amped up past normal vampire abilities so it makes sense that she wouldn’t be stomping everyone but Alice had a tendency to hit above her weight class. Selene will need to do something similar to move on. All that said, I do like her as a character particularly because of her confidence. She is willing to follow her plans through even if it puts her at odds with the other characters.

Kraven doesn’t make for a good villain though. The guy complains a whole lot and isn’t much of a fighter. He’s only good at sneak attacks and his plans aren’t even that good. Lets say his plan had gone without a hitch, does he really think things would end well for him? The wolves would tear into him at any time. Nothing about his plan made any sense so the guy got real lucky. His obsession with Selene doesn’t help matters either.

Then you have Lucian who does his best to be an interesting villain at least but ultimately the attempt fell apart. The guy just didn’t really stick out and the way he goes down was just sad. Did he not see that coming? His right hand man Raze was a lot more impressive and may have been the best wolf. He looked really good in the opening scene and was really taking down a lot of fighters. He can look back at his achievements proudly.

Michael is the main human here but the guy doesn’t have much of a personality at all. He’s just some guy who gets roped into this and doesn’t really have any feelings about it. The guy is constantly overwhelmed. The romance with him and Selene is also pretty bad, the idea of them getting together so suddenly just doesn’t work and it’s especially a bad idea for him to fall for her. Put it this way, vampires do tend to take prey from time to time and there’s no reason for Michael to assume he would be any different. For all he knew he would just get drained dry so the guy comes off as kind of desperate. Definitely wasn’t a fan of his.

Finally there is Viktor who is one of the Vampire Elders. His strength is immense and it’s easy to see why the vampires had been winning the war with him in charge. This guy is lethal and doesn’t spare any of his opponents. He just goes in and gets the job done without any issues. That’s the kind of guy who commands respect in the end. He’s absolutely twisted and a villain through and through but at least he’s one who can fight.

Ultimately Underworld may have an interesting premise of this war going on but it can’t save the film. I like the idea of introducing two factions and then slowly we see them all converge at the end. It’s good but the massive issues here just tend to come with the genre and style this film is going for. First off, the violence is incredibly over the top. There are a ton of violent moments that will have you shaking your head at how gratuitous they are.

In general that’s part of why Vampire and Werewolf media never really did it for me. Drinking blood and such is just disturbing and the Werewolf bites are always rather graphic. That’s why I was actually on board with both sides using bullets instead. It makes for more stylized fights that don’t tend to be nearly as gritty or violent. If the whole film focused purely on guns then the violence probably would be toned down although it probably wouldn’t matter if they would go in to finish each other off afterwards anyway.

At least the soundtrack is pretty hype though. You’ve got a lot of high intensity beats going on the whole time which helps amp up the battles. The visuals are also on point with the world looking like a normal planet and yet it’s a little extra colorful. The scenery when the heroes are in the town during the opening scene probably had some of the most impressive shots in the film. A rainy backdrop in the city can work quite well when used correctly.

Also aside from the gun fights we did get one true fight in the climax of the film. That was cool since it was like something out of a comic book movie with both characters throwing each other around. This one’s a bit older so you can see how the effects have aged in some instances. Characters sort of float through the air when they’re thrown or hit but it still works well in illustrating that these guys are much more powerful than the average fighter. The whole Speed vs Power match also did a good job of showing how the power could win in the end by tiring out the speedster. Personally I would usually take speed over power but it’s not an absolute.

Overall, The Werewolves seem completely doomed at the moment. They have no senior members that can hope to match up to a Vampire elder and their numbers were already small. I have to assume they have some kind of trump card in order to keep the series going. Otherwise the war will be over as early as the next film. That said, even if the story is interesting, the odds of the series actually working to get better is slim to none. Underworld is content to go for shock value and extra violence over taking the time to construct an excellent story. If you want to check out an interesting story of a war between two sides then you’re better off checking out Captain America: Civil War.

Overall 2/10

Fiend without a Face Review


When you have a title like this you know that you’re going to be in for some pretty solid hype. After all, if the fiend doesn’t have a face then how are you going to attack it? Wits alone will not be enough to stop this foe. The movie has a lot of interesting ideas and while it will ultimately go down as just another creature feature, it was pretty fun.

The movie starts off by introducing us to a small town. Things were going well here until the army decided to set up shop with one of their big bases. The locals were not thrilled about this and now that people are vanishing and getting murdered all over the place, the town blames them. The army has Major Jeff take a look into this since they need to find out why people are dying. He meets up with a lady named Barbara and quickly grows to like her but is still getting verbally attacked by the townsfolk.

Now the stakes are higher, if he doesn’t get to the bottom of this then he will never get to be with her. Fortunately there is a suspicious scientist named Walgate who may know more than he is letting on. Jeff will need to keep his guard up though or else he will be buried along with the rest of the town’s secrets.

Jeff is a perfectly reasonable main character. I would say that his romance plot starts a little too suddenly for me to take it all that seriously though. The guy falls for Barbara within a few seconds which will make you shake your head a bit. Keep in mind that he is investigating a lot of murders so he should have too much on his mind for that. He also gets a little sloppy when he enters an abandoned tomb on his own.

Remember, the whole town can’t stand him and one guy even started a fight. So you really shouldn’t be taking crazy chances on your own. Fortunately Barbara and his army partner find him but the guy nearly died. At least he is a good shot though which comes in handy near the end of the film. Then you have Barbara who is a good heroine. She does have a tendency to panic a lot like some of the more retro heroines. It would be nice if she had fought more against the monsters but she tends to lose the battle the instant it starts.

As for Walgate, he’s easily the worst character in the film. I would call him a full on villain even if he tries to play the whole “I didn’t mean it” card. The guy actively tried to murder Jeff and there’s no way to talk his way out of that one. Walgate panics a lot and you wonder what the point of his experiments was anyway. Either way he doesn’t have a whole lot of time to regret things.

As for the creatures themselves, I have to say that their character designs are spot on. Basically they’re brains that are floating around with a spinal cord as a tail of sorts. It’s a very unique design and one that you aren’t likely to forget anytime soon. Now I will say it may not be a very intimidating design but they have a very solid gripping strength. Once they have you around the neck it’s basically game over.

They aren’t quite bullet proof though so once the army is ready for them then things go a bit differently. Their main advantage was being invisible after all. Without that they just didn’t stand a chance. It can be a little violent with how the heroes shoot them though. Between the fact that it already looks like a brain as it is and they are getting shot to death, well it’s a lot for such an old time film. It’s nothing too crazy of course but just enough where you may do a double take for a second there.

The writing is on point as the dialogue between all of the characters is pretty solid. It holds up quite well which is definitely not surprising. The pacing is pretty good and the movie is always moving at a pretty quick pace. I was also glad that Jeff was able to win in the fight against the jealous townsperson as losing that fight would have been iffy. We even get a quick town hall type meeting which was cool.

It’s following a rather classic creature feature format but one that works really well as long as it’s executed the right away. This one did properly follow the steps as the monster is slowly bumping various people off while the heroes get closer and closer to cracking the case. Once they make it, you can’t help but feel a sense of triumph even if that doesn’t mean the film is quite over. Walgate is just annoying enough where you were looking forward to seeing the heroes mess up his plans. His fake politeness fits in with the dialogue but you could tell the characters weren’t buying what he was selling.

Overall, The movie is just short enough where it isn’t able to deal with the alien invasion as thoroughly as you might hope, but it still manages to make for an interesting experience. It’s even part mystery you could say as Jeff tries to figure out why they are here and how the creatures were created. This doesn’t exactly seem like something that happened naturally after all. If you like creature feature films then this is a good one to check out. By the end you will see just how dangerous the brain can be.

Overall 6/10

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

Tenet Review


Tenet is a film that certainly got a lot of hype before it came out. You really would see it just about everywhere and the trailer promised to bring in quite a lot of concepts. Tenet definitely delivers on bringing in an intricate experience. While I would say the film itself may end up getting lost in its own concepts, it makes for a pretty solid film that keeps up with Nolan’s previous adventures.

The movie starts with the main character in a pretty tough mission and unfortunately he isn’t able to get out in time. He’s captured by the villains and his whole team is murdered. He manages not to cave in when they start torturing him though and tries to eat his cyanide pill, only it was a fake. He wakes up back in a hospital where he is recruited into a global secret organization known as Tenet. They use technology from the future to keep the present in safe hands. Right now, a force is threatening to unleash World War III using this technology. The only lead is a man named Sator so our hero is going to have to find out what is going on by learning about him.

There’s a lot going on here right from the start. There are also a lot of plot twists and new developments of course along with time loops so you do want to keep track of things. The main concept here is the introduction of the “Inverted” premise. For example, an inverted bullet is one that not been fired yet, but it still exists anyway so you can fire it. Essentially you are reversing cause and effect.

As a quick aside, I always thought that would be a really useful power. In Fate, Lancer’s Gae Bulg has this ability and yet it has never worked a single time in every Fate media I’ve seen. It’s a shame because there’s a lot of potential there. Back to Tenet though, it rarely seems to work here either so maybe reversing these things isn’t as effective as I thought it would be? It’s interesting to see the bullet holes before the bullet appears and things like that though. An inverted nuke could even destroy the past according to a character in the film.

Mainly all of this works due to time loops. Tenet follows the time travel theory I like where you can always go to the past and change things as opposed to it being stuck by destiny. In a sense all timelines run at the same time so when you change it you probably end up creating another verse but to the characters here there is only one base universe. Due to that, in a way they will keep on reliving the same days for all of eternity with no end but each self only experiences it once.

I like time travel so these things are always pretty interesting. That said, at times it does feel like Tenet is trying to hard to throw in a bunch of new elements that it doesn’t actually consider how they would all work together and gets lost in its own experience. For example, take the Inverted humans. (Yes, humans can go inverted as well) We are shown that they can create body doubles by time leaping more than once and can invert at will. At one point the hero is fighting one agent and every time he comes close to winning the guy would rewind time a bit to try different tactics. No matter what he tried, the hero would keep countering but with unlimited retries the guy would eventually find a good option.

How can a normal human beat them? At the end of the film we have a chaotic battle where there are 4 sets of teams fighting, two inverted and two normals. The normals are holding their own though and that’s hard to buy considering all of the advantages that the inverted ones have. It’s hard for me to see how they would lose. If you take this a step further, you also don’t see how the future team can possibly lose since they started this and have the full glimpse into the past. Keep in mind that the hero is absolutely essential to crushing the villains and he wouldn’t have been around for the first loop.

That gets you into a debate on time loops itself though. For a time travel film that’s why you can typically protect yourself from official plot holes. If something doesn’t make sense, you can say that it’s just because it hasn’t been explained to the protagonist but for another character it would make sense. Time loops aren’t meant to make a lot of sense either because somehow they started without an entrance point and in theory there should be no way to end it or it would have already ended unless you have a specific point of entry. So I wouldn’t say any of these things are plot holes, but more like logical inconsistencies where I would argue the heroes never would have stood a chance. If you ask me, the inverted humans should have just been a little nerfed. Take away their ability to rewind time at will and I think that solves everything.

Back to the film, while the story and time travel is a major part there’s still other things to talk about. For starters, the writing is pretty solid here. You couldn’t even attempt to do such a grand plot without good writing and this film pulls it off pretty well. From the start you’re definitely interested in what is going on. I would actually say the first half beats the second half in that regard. I liked the mysteries going on as the hero tries to find things out. Their “Mission Impossible” on breaking into a building and also breaking into the safe later on were a lot of fun.

The movie has strong dialogue throughout and partnering that up with these stealth missions worked really well. In a way you’re even more invested in these moments since the poor hero is really thrown into a rather strange situation. While the climax has a ton of action, with all of the time looping going on you don’t feel the same amount of tension since you can always redo it if things go wrong. It made for some nice visuals but it’s a bit of an emptier climax than you would expect.

The actual ending of the film is quite excellent though. We get a great final conversation between two great characters and one sub par guy who always follows rules even when they’re awful before cutting to the “present” for one last great scene of closure. It ties back to another scene really well and delivers an excellent final line for the hero. I was definitely quite pleased with the ending that’s for sure.

One plot I didn’t really care for was with Kat and Sator though. Sator’s the main villain here who is also an abusive husband who has his wife Kat trapped in a relationship she can’t get out of. Part of the drama here is that she is hoping the hero can get her out of this but he can’t get rid of Sator directly without causing more trouble. I wouldn’t say Sator ends up being even a remotely decent villain. He certainly knows how to describe the violent ways he ends his enemies but that’s about it. The guy can’t fight for beans and is only in such a powerful position because he lucked onto a great connection with future tech. Kat’s plot is definitely quite tragic so you’re rooting for her to get out of this, but it’s not the kind of tragic element you really needed in this film. The plot comes full circle and does tie in so it’s not extra baggage or anything but I would have just substituted it with something else. Their scenes tend to be the weakest ones in the film.

Tenet is at its best when the main character’s partner Neil is around. I liked this guy from the start. He’s quick on the uptake so no matter how crazy things sound, he wraps his head around it. He’s not constantly being shocked at everything or panicking. He’s just ready to get the job done no matter how dangerous it gets. He was easily my favorite character in the film and the hero should definitely be glad he was around.

The hero is also solid. In case you haven’t noticed by now, he never shares his name in the film which is why I haven’t said it. It’s an interesting approach, almost like a video game since you can make his name out to be anything. He gets the job done and is always ready to make the right call which is also like something out of a game. As a result I could certainly say he’s an ideal lead and someone you can count on as well. Teaming up with Neil, the two of them could clear any mission here.

Overall, Tenet is definitely a solid film. I can see how the plot could make this a trickier watch but films that go for deep/ambitious stories end up being really well done when executed well. Sometimes it doesn’t work out so well like the Godzilla trilogy or the final Iron-Man anime film which went for deep themes but it felt more on the empty side. This one may try at times to get things a little too entangled but I did like the core concepts introduced here. As long as you like a well written mystery/thriller then you’ll like this one. There’s also one theme that plays many times during the film which is quite catchy. It has a nice ominous feel to it. If the film starts to get too crazy, don’t overthink it and focus on the main crisis at play here of stopping WWIII. If we do get a sequel that would definitely be pretty interesting but in a sense I think the loop would need to be broken to get some more tension in here unless you have the sequel take place far enough in the loop where we’re not sure of how it ends.

Overall 7/10

Starcrash Review


Whenever you see a film about aliens, action, and outer space you know that things are about to get real. This is definitely a film that is quite solid as a result. You can expect a lot of good battles and fun dialogue with lightning fast pacing. It’s a good all around movie that has withstood the test of time and it actually does end up beating the majority of Star War titles and even some Star Treks.

The movie starts off by introducing us to the greatest pilot in all the cosmos Stella and her ally Akton. Together they commit a lot of crimes and have fun doing it. They end up getting cornered by the police though so when they escape they end up being captured by the Police. The police end up breaking them out of jail though to stop Count Zarth. They will be accompanied by the police robot named Elle and an alien known as Thor. This all seems rather trust worthy so now they need to find Prince Simon so he can assist the Emperor in stopping the Count. Can they find him? Also, what if he didn’t survive the plane crash?

There is a whole lot going on in this film right from the start. One thing you’ll definitely enjoy if you’re a sci-fi fan is all of the action. The characters are using their blasters to wipe everyone out and they even get a light saber at one point. There are a lot of hand to hand fights where Stella even gets to beat back legions of adversaries. This is a movie that knows how to get a good rumble going.

As for the visuals, they’re on point as well. It’s definitely got that Star Wars/Trek vibe to it with the spaceships all around and a lot of space fights. The pacing is on point and I’d say the writing was pretty good. You’ll always be engaged as the characters exchange tough talk and try to size each other up. Thor openly mocking the heroes was certainly fun after he took over the ship.

Now, one very forced element in the film though is that Stella’s uniform doesn’t seem to be standard procedure. It’s extremely noticeable when the heroes are taken to the villain base that everyone has super weapons grade combat suits at the ready while she’s wearing more of a Red Sonja type costume which she keeps for pretty much the whole film. It’s definitely a “really?” kind of moment.

Still, beyond that she is a fun character. Technically she is the captain of her ship and a top notch hand to hand fighter after all. It would be surprising if she couldn’t deal with this level of opponent. The trouble is that she has no real defenses though. What that means is that if the villains catch her she will be yelling for help almost immediately. Despite being the tough heroine in the film she does get captured quite a bit.

Then you have her partner Akton. He is one of those guys who is so powerful that we never even learn his full abilities. He seems to be able to manipulate vectors, fire energy blasts, see the future, use energy weapons nobody’s ever heard of before, and that’s just for starters. He can do just about anything but still gets knocked around from time to time. Still, if you need someone to have your back he’s probably the best pick you could ask for.

Elle is another standout character here. He’s a very upbeat robot who is always yelling and having a good time. While he does get nervous a lot, he is always ready to jump into the fray to save lives. It’s why he makes for a good cop and why he never gave up when going after Stella. There’s clearly a lot of history there and it makes for some good banter. He added a lot to the dynamic.

Next up is Simon who doesn’t show up until near the end. He seems like a good character though and is definitely a heroic one. Without him the heroes would have been in a sticky situation by the end. He’s definitely not very necessary though as you could certainly have not had him appear and things wouldn’t change much. Thor was a more interesting character with how confident of his skills he was. The guy was even able to take down Akton in their first fight which is no small feat.

As for The Emperor, his time control tech is super impressive to be sure. You have to wonder why he was so helpless before Stella and Akton got rid of all of the obstacles. Surely he could have done more against the Count right? The Count was definitely a fun villain though. He has a cool costume and a very classic villain laugh. This guy had a tendency to get amused quite often after all.

The minion designs are also fun. As the film goes on we meet a giant robot like something out of Ultraman that shows up to step on the heroes. Then you have a pair of robots who wield swords that can even turn into energy blades. All of this helped to really show how dangerous the army of the count was. It’s also fortunate that Elle was around with his blasters. The robot was not taking any prisoners and must have disintegrated dozens of opponents throughout the film. Ultimately the sheer numbers were just too much for him to stop.

Overall, Starcrash is a very good film. It’s definitely a blast to watch and the kind of film you really don’t see anymore. It’s a relic of its time and a reminder of the good ole days of sci-fi films. The only element of the film anywhere near a negative would be that Stella should have had a proper battle suit like everyone else. Beyond that, the film delivered with showing us various planets and introducing a lot of concepts. The contrast of Stella being extremely confident but losing most of her fights while Elle was always scared but kept beating everyone he fought made for a nice dynamic as well. With a few sequels this could have easily become the next big Sci-Fi series. I guess it wasn’t to be this time but any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to watch this.

Overall 7/10

The Crawling Eye Review


This movie’s definitely a little interesting with the promotion. See, the name of “The Trollenberg Terror” sounds a little more hype to be honest and also doesn’t spoil the final boss too quickly. Although if the poster is the same then it doesn’t matter either way I guess. I decided to do a quick check and the Eye doesn’t appear until the final 17 minutes. Of that time I’d guess its screen time is probably more like 12 minutes or less when you factor in all the planning and the ending after him. To think people said Godzilla didn’t appear much in his films…

The movie starts with showing us a mountain climbing “accident” where one of the climbers quite literally lost his head. A lot of people don’t want to come to Trollenberg anymore and why should they right? Climbers are vanishing left and right and there is rarely even a trace of them. Now, that part was interesting since they explicitly say that people always vanish entirely so I guess the alien monster got sloppy on that one?
We then get our main characters Anne, Sarah, and Alan. Alan is a UN worker who has dealt with the occult before and it didn’t exactly go very well for him the last time. It was a very similar circumstance with clouds showing up and then people going missing. He gradually lets us know more about the last incident but conveniently always waits until events happen. For example, last time he also witnessed zombie survivors who tried to murder everyone but doesn’t tell anyone here until someone is nearly murdered.

Still, while he knows that this is real, he is hesitant to actually make a move due to the fact that last time there was no evidence. Then you have Sarah and her telepathic sister Anne. Anne feels some kind of urge to want to stay in Trollenberg. Unfortunately, she is a telepath who is quite susceptible to the alien’s attacks so she keeps trying to climb the mountain where she will be murdered. Fortunately, each of her attempts are always foiled or things would have gotten pretty dicey for her. I’m glad she is trying hard but you wish she could do better. In general that’s the issue with telepaths at times.

Throughout the movie she keeps on saying things like “Watch out!” “Stop!” and things like that. The problem is that her warnings are never very specific and if you listened to them then the heroes would never make a move against the villains. Additionally, she is trying to fight the enemies on her own so of course when she tries to climb the mountain then it makes the others think it can’t be that dangerous right? Even by the end of the film she just gets choked by one of the villains so her powers never end up helping. Sarah does her best to help Anne but doesn’t end up doing much in the film.

From the main characters I would say Alan is the best one. Put it this way, he didn’t want to try and tell people or the government about what was going on but only because when he did the last time he got burned for it. So at least he tried once and in this film he punches out the villains several times so you have to give him some credit there. He is also the one who comes up with the fire bombs plan which ended up being incredibly effective as well so there’s that.

As for the eye monster…well it doesn’t look great. Like I said, he barely even gets to appear and is defeated almost instantly. I have no doubts that he is actually very tough of course but….you just can’t go down that easily. Aside from the people he took out off screen he basically beat like 2-3 people max. That’s not a very impressive number. The monster’s yell is pretty intense though, it really has quite the voice so you’ll hear it for miles.

Part of the plot here is that the monster can mind control people for a limited time after murdering them. Of course…this only works if it doesn’t rip their heads off like the first guy so again I have to admit that the first scene just seems like it’s just there for shock value. The bodies all vanishing makes a lot more sense for what the villain is going for here. The humans look terrible though as two of them lose to a dead guy with an axe. The first guy you could give the excuse of being caught off guard but the second guy? I don’t think so….

The writing is pretty solid as you would expect for a retro film like this. It builds up the suspense pretty well and this could even feel like a Twilight Zone episode. You see the fog coming over to the mountain although probably due to budget reasons don’t expect to get a clear view of it. You may be reminded of The Fog horror films but just remember that this one came first so it actually had the initial idea. That’s what I like to see, it’s most impressive.

Aside from having low screen time though, the creature should have been buffed a little more though. The main characters should not be able to push it back with a single axe. That just looks pretty bad for it and one stick with some fire at the end of it should not be enough to do much of anything. Nah..I can’t buy that. It’s a giant monster, it should be causing massive damage right? If you ask me that makes the most sense so we should have had it completely crushing the mountain and storming the base. Of course the humans would be a little doomed of course.

Overall, The Crawling Eye is a good creature feature movie. Lets face it though, the movie would be even better if the monster had gotten to appear more of course but as it stands, it still made for a pretty interesting villain. What the film should have done was just reduce the amount of time put into the intro. The dialogue is all pretty compelling but we’re here for the monster. Alternately, extend the run time of the film by around 20 minutes which should cover you pretty well on that avenue and then also get you more time for the hype action.

Overall 7/10

Upgrade Review

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

When you think of getting an upgrade you’re probably thinking of going from cheese fries to loaded at Checkers or maybe trading in your PS2 for a PS5. Well, here we take a more violent approach to the upgrade. The film tries a little too hard with making this as edgy as possible so while it’s a pretty good premise, it’s definitely not a film that will have you singing its praises by the end. Not every film can hit the winning home run though.

The movie starts with Grey finishing a car he had been fixing and Asha returning home from work. He wants her to see the eccentric house of the guy whose car he had fixed. It’s definitely an interesting one but on the way home her electronic car malfunctions and both of them crash. Asha ends up being murdered by a group of bandits while they sever Grey’s ability to move his arms or legs. Fortunately, the guy whose car Grey fixed allows Grey to try a piece of experimental new tech. This allows him full control of his arms and legs again except that it is through the program STEM which even talks to him now. Is Grey really in control or is STEM pulling the strings? Grey doesn’t have time to think about it though because while the cops have been unable to find the guys who murdered his wife, STEM has some ideas.

The film clearly takes place in the future with all of the crazy gadgets that are everywhere. You have automatic cars that are incredibly advanced and even the buildings look high-end. Technology is moving pretty fast and Grey resents that a bit because all of the practical hands on kind of tasks have been removed. A.I. control everything now so there is really no escape. However, as Grey notes, criminals still get away with everything so it’s like the extra surveillance doesn’t even matter.

Of course the main plot of the film is about Grey trying to find the murderers and then take them down. Grey isn’t much of a fighter but that’s why STEM is here. STEM is able to temporarily take control of Grey’s body and then allow him to fight at full power. Basically Grey can go on auto pilot mode and let STEM do everything. It’s pretty handy but of course then Grey is actively surrendering his body to something else so is the price too high for this success? That’s the kind of question he has to ask himself.

STEM makes for a pretty interesting A.I. He sounds a whole lot like Hal 9000 so I think from the start everyone is meant to be wary of him. He can certainly fight well though I’ll give him that. He has absolutely no mercy for anyone who is in his way. STEM is the kind of character who figures that straight up murdering the opponents is most efficient so that’s never particularly surprising. These kind of A.I. villains are always interesting so I was on board with this.

As for Grey, he’s not quite as likable a main character. I can see why he wants to avenge his wife so going on the quest to stop these guys is a good start. He does have a habit of throwing up a whole lot though. The film has several scenes of this which is always pretty gross. While STEM does all of the hard work, Grey effectively signs off on most of it by not telling him to stop. Even when he does tell STEM to back off, it’s usually once it’s too late to do much of anything either. So he’s either all in and willing to help STEM murder the opponents or he’s not but the character can be a bit wishy washy about the whole thing.

The character cast is fairly small here as you’ve got the scientist, Grey, STEM, and the murderers. That’s pretty much it. For supporting characters you do have Grey’s mother though and the police agent Cortez. Cortez means well but she is definitely messing with forces that are a little too powerful for her at the moment. Grey is effectively a super soldier with STEM active after all and she would have died instantly upon entering if Grey wasn’t fighting back. Her options are rather limited though since how do you even know if you should take a guy down when he is being controlled?

Where Upgrade falters though is in how unrelentlessly violent the film is. We get a rather long scene of STEM torturing someone to death and all of the fights are pretty brutal as he snaps limbs and destroys everyone he comes across. Get ready for a lot of headshots and other such moments. Even the vomiting all over the place is probably another way to be rather gritty as Grey represents the audience reacting to this level of violence. The fight scene between Grey and another one of the upgraded humans was definitely good though. At least that had a lot of good choreography the whole time and made for a good back and forth battle.

It was like a comic book fight which is good. Whenever you leave that part though and get back to the murders then the film dials it up once again. That aspect definitely should have been toned down. As for the ending, I can see that one being rather mixed. It’s definitely a pretty bold way to end though and could lead the way for some sequels. After the initial shock value is over though, you may have some questions on exactly how this plays out. I think all of the questions can be answered though as you just realize that everything was a lie. With that knowledge in place, then everything does even out. After all, it just comes down to acting.

Overall, Upgrade has a pretty interesting plot. It’s a classic revenge story with Grey being willing to loosen his morals a great deal in order to secure a decisive victory. That being said, the film goes too far into edgy territory. This film could have absolutely been executed well without going so far over the top. In particular I’m never on board with the main character torturing someone to get what he wants. Grey allowing that to happen at all was definitely a shame. The film has its share of funny scenes as well although for the most part it is quite serious. If you want a film with a better blend of the two genres…then go watch Venom. You can see similarities between the two of them but Venom just handled all of this better.

Overall 3/10

Thumper Review


Thumper is one of the last of the big Playstation games that I wrapped up. I have to say that it was one of the more enjoyable ones. It also has a high difficulty level so don’t expect to breeze through it. That being said, with infinite lives and constant checkpoints, you can certainly get through it with enough persistence.

This is really everything that I imagine a future F Zero game would be like. Really this is exactly what they should be thinking about long term. There isn’t much of a plot as the game is very interpretive but it seems like a very powerful alien creature is after you so you have to use your car to bounce back the shockwaves and defeat this monster. Rinse and repeat for each level. This is clearly far in the future so perhaps you are humanity’s last hope.

One thing that you will notice pretty much immediately is how stunning the graphics are. This game is a cut above the average racing game and that’s actually quite impressive. The whole game takes place in space so the levels look like something out of Crazy Gadget. The visuals are always moving and if anything it can be difficult to keep up with your eyes because of how fast the stage moves. The game is part rhythm based so you have to move your car in tune with the music. It’s sort of like a non physical version of DDR at times.

Hitting the right corners at the right times triggers a beat which you can subtly use to keep up the flow of your moves. There are 4 main moves, turning sideways, Jumping, Accelerating, and then a ground pound. Use these as you progress through the levels. The game will teach you how to perform each move as you go through the levels normally. Each chapter has around 20-40 levels in it. No worries, this is where the infinite lives come into play because otherwise it would be really difficult to conquer all of this without a game over.

The first few chapters aren’t so bad but the game does get more difficult after that. It’s the kind of game that feels really challenging even as you’re conquering it so that part is definitely pretty fun. It also just feels like a lot of thought went into the game. The gameplay is smooth and the length is pretty decent considering that the game is free right now. It’s definitely worth picking up before that deal goes away.

As for the soundtrack, it’s not very memorable but it does have that classic sci-fi feeling. It works really well within the levels as you work to get to the next stage. The whole game meshes well with that atmosphere. Beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about with the game since it is a very straight forward racing game. Either you enjoy blasting through the levels and dodging the obstacles or you don’t.

If anything this could even help you practice your timing if you are a musician. After all, timing is crucial to playing any instrument and this game is built entirely around that concept. So it’s a game that can definitely help to improve your skills while you also have a blast. In that way you’re cooking two skills with one bill. Not a bad deal if I do say so myself.

It would be fun to be able to race other cars in the story but taking on these giant bosses is certainly a blast as well. They come at you relentlessly and you’ll likely lose quite a few lives on your first encounters. It also took me a minute to realize that to damage them you have to properly go through each boost point. For a while there I was ignoring them and just accelerating as much as possible. This is one of those times where accelerating isn’t necessarily the right approach to take.

Overall, Thumper is a really fun game. It’s a nice futuristic look at a car game and F-Zero should take some notes. I’m always up for some virtual driving so when you throw in some lore and boss fights I’m definitely all in. It’d be cool if they could make a sequel to this one with a heavier emphasis on the story at some point. I’d definitely be excited to give it a whirl since there is certainly a lot you can do with this one. If you haven’t played it yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10