Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Review


It’s been quite a while since I saw the first Goosebumps film, but now it was time to see how the sequel turned out. Slappy returns here with his biggest adventure yet. The kids will have to work hard in order to stop him and may even need Stine’s help for this round. It’s a fun Halloween title to check out and balances the action and comedy well.

The movie picks up with Sarah having trouble with her essay. She is usually good at writing but for some reason she just can’t seem to get into this assignment. Meanwhile her brother Sonny is working on a school project to demonstrate electricity but is having no luck with that either. His friend Sam suggests he takes a break on that to work on his new side job. Sam started a garbage picking up business in their name to earn some cash on the side although he has to work on his negotiating skills since he accepts the first job for free. They find a book and accidentally awaken the dummy known as Slappy. Slappy wants to just be a part of the family but does he have a hidden agenda her?

With a character like Slappy you’re always wondering if perhaps he could be on the side of the heroes if they let him into the family. Of course they have to be careful with this. The first red flag is that he wants the boys to keep him a secret from the others but also makes a lot of noises so people will notice Slappy. It’s a bit of an odd mismatch there and the main characters should have called him out on this.

Slappy quickly takes things to the extreme though as he humiliates some bullies and also beats up Sarah’s ex. The characters realize that Slappy is too dangerous for his own good and that’s really where the conflict starts. I will say Slappy definitely works as a solid villain. He really keeps the kids at bay and has a memorable laugh. It’s a catchy chuckle that you won’t forget by the time the movie is done. He may not have the same level of durability as someone like Chucky but this guy’s telepathic abilities are not to be underestimated.

Slappy summons up some minions to help him out as well but there’s never any doubt as to who is in charge. Most of the other villains don’t have much of a character. You have the store clerk who turns into a Hyde kind of monster. He’s the only other one with a role but I wasn’t a big fan of that guy. His romance with Kathy didn’t really work and felt a bit out of place in the film. As a monster he also didn’t seem quite as smart as he once was.

Stine’s role here is very small but it’s an effective one. I think the movie was having a bit of fun trolling the audience with how he is used. At the very least you won’t be forgetting his role by the time that it’s done which does show how memorable it was. The supporting character who really stole the show here was Mr. Chu. Chu takes all of the holidays extremely serious including Halloween. The guy has a whole army’s worth of costumes in his house and you feel a bit bad in how nobody really gives him any attention.

It’s clear that he would like someone to check out what he’s done with the place but the characters don’t give him the time of day until their lives are literally at stake. I thought they were a bit rude to be honest but Chu doesn’t take it personally and still helps them out the whole time. Definitely the kind of neighbor that you would want to have around when the city is in crisis mode.

As for the main characters, it’s a reasonable cast although I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of any of them. You have Sarah with her writing block issues and she isn’t the most responsible babysitter until she is betrayed by someone at school and then learns to put family above the others. She lands a good hit on Slappy and is more ready for physical confrontations than the other characters so she gets some points there.

Kathy is a bit oblivious to what is going on the whole time but granted, it is hard to jump to the conclusion that there are a bunch of monsters out there trying to take over the town. It is more sensible to think that they are all just wearing costumes as normal. After she is captured though I would have liked to have seen a little more urgency from her. Ultimately Kathy really goes down without a fight.

Then you have Sonny who is completely scared of Slappy right off the bat. I know a talking dummy is rather spooky but your best bet is absolutely rushing him and landing some quick combos before he can activate his tk abilities. Whether this is DBZ, One Punch Man, or Mob Psycho, overwhelming a mental specialist with physical blows is always the best way to stop this kind of fighter. Sonny just stays on the defensive the whole time which costs him. He also isn’t as pro active as Sam is in regard to earning money or even doing anything really.

When the bullies show up, Sonny is quick to surrender immediately while at least Sam is ready to fight back. So Sam gets a higher score here without a doubt. Sure he may not win the fight with the bullies but standing up to them is a very important first step. Now with the character critiques you do have to factor in that the movie is part comedy so of course the characters don’t tend to make the right moves a lot. Whether it’s a comedy or a thriller though, I’m still taking these decisions into account.

Slappy has the absolute edge in terms of ability an character over all of the heroes combined. They are really lucky that he didn’t pull out the win here because that very easily could and dare I say should have happened. There just isn’t any counter to him so as long as he keeps his guard up there isn’t anything they can do.

The film flies by very quickly and the pacing is on point. I was cool with the writing and while it isn’t earth shattering or anything, it was solid. I liked the various monster designs we got. The standout there had to be the gummy bear creatures. I liked the teamwork they used and their abilities are also versatile enough where you can see how they would be one of the more terrifying enemies to go up against. The first film has the edge in how sinister the designs were (The Werewolf was played more seriously in that film than any monster in this one) but this one went a little more all out with how crazy these creatures could be. It isn’t taken as seriously but there’s a lot of variety over here.

Overall, Goosebumps 2 is a pretty solid film. It makes for a pleasant watch and there are really no negatives here. The main cast may not be great but this is the kind of film where you are here for the villains anyway to see how they can scare the heroes at any point. The movie also has a true twist ending like a horror film and it sets up the third movie nicely. It’s really the perfect way to end the film and even if we don’t get a third film you can certainly imagine how things will go from here. I think it’s clear that it will be difficult or almost impossible to stop this threat.

Overall 7/10

Scream 4 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

Scream 4 brings the gang back for another survival adventure. Usually I’d wonder why the main character hasn’t moved out of town already but she actually did so I have to give her credit there. It’s just bad luck that she has to go back to the town once more and of course things don’t go very well. It’s nostalgic seeing the characters return once more and the series is definitely as meta as ever.

The movie starts with two different fakeouts as characters get bumped off left and right only for us to find out that they were movies within movies. It’s pretty interesting how this plays out and one reason I’m glad the first one was a movie is because otherwise opening the door made no sense. You’ve got a crazy guy calling you on the phone and then there’s a knock on the door. The girl asks who it is and there’s no response. Why would you possibly open the door at that point? It just doesn’t seem like a good idea in the slightest and I think that’s the point of the scene. If that was real then you’d be shaking your head the whole time.

Back to the real plot, it’s the 15th anniversary of all the deaths from the original Scream. A bunch of students decide to celebrate this for some reason and it’s basically become an entire holiday over there. Unfortunately a new Ghostface has appeared and has slowly started to bump everyone off. Unfortunately for Sidney this is happening right after she has returned for a minute. Now that she is here there is no way to leave since she is also a suspect in these killings.

Dewey is now the sheriff so at least she has a familiar face here. He orders Sidney to stay in the same house as Jill and a few of the other teens who could be the next victim. Some are happy to have Sidney on board while others are not since death tends to follow her around. Meanwhile Gale is being blocked out of the police investigation so she decides to try and find some clue on her own. Will she be able to solve this case in time?

One of Scream’s strongest elements has always been the character cast. The fact that the characters keep on returning is impressive because they keep their character development and as a result you have some characters that are actually likable which is extremely rare in the slasher genre. It might take out a bit of the tension since at this point you don’t see any of the big 3 dying, but it’s nice to have some core characters that you can follow around.

Sidney was at her best in the third film with how tired of this she was. It was nice seeing her be on the offensive with the Ghostface the whole time and this one picks up where she left off. She’s older but still ready to throw down with the villain and actually has a good win in their first confrontation. A bit of super speed is all that saved Ghostface from being taken down early on. Sidney isn’t telepathic and can’t be around constantly to save everyone, but she does really well and appears as the bravest character in the film.

Gale also looked really good as she quickly tried to wrap this case up. She goes undercover, finds the clues, and generally does a good job. She may not have Sidney’s fighting experience but she’s still always ready to help. Really the only member of the original 3 who doesn’t look very good here is Dewey. It’s hard to cut him as much slack this time. Being overpowered and outsmarted the whole time?

That’s fine, the issue is with Dewey suddenly trying to box Gale out of the case. Keep in mind that they’re married. Sure, she isn’t a police officer but there’s a mass murderer on the loose so you could really use everyone that you can get right? Not to mention that Gale isn’t some random expendable, she’s been through this before and would be really helpful.

Then you’ve got that new officer Judy who is flirting with him the whole time and he’s pretty much oblivious to the whole thing. Without being rude I think he could have taken a much tougher stance with her particularly when she’s trying to mess with Gale. Dewey shouldn’t be letting that slide. He looks awful in the climax but that’s more the Dewey you’ve come to expect so that part’s fine. He always was the weakest out of the 3 even if he means well.

For the new characters, well there’s Judy as I mentioned. She gives a few good jump scares and has a previous history with Sidney so that throws her onto the suspect list. As always with the Scream films you’ve got quite a few suspects to get through which is part of the fun. Can you guess who the killer is among these members? Judy certainly has the motive and resources to pull this off.

Jill gets a big role as the main teenager from the new generation. The whole Ghostface craze annoys her to the extreme and that makes this town a rather tough place to be. Her ex Trevor is also hounding her around but Jill is on bad terms with him since he cheated her. Don’t blame her for keeping him out since cheating destroys any trust in the relationship for good. Fortunately her friends are supportive. Of course, what better way to end the craze then to start it up again so the modern gen takes it seriously?

Then there’s Olivia who seems nice enough. While her role isn’t quite as large as the others, she lives right next door which is convenient and seems to be one of the most popular girls at school so she has a lot of contact. This location would allow her to get past the cops (Which don’t look very impressive to say the least) so it’s a good staging ground for Ghostface.

Kirby is the tough member of the crew who doesn’t let herself get intimidated by the murders. She still goes to murders as normal and basically does things at her own pace. On one hand that bravery is impressive even if it might be reckless but maybe she has good reason to be brave right? She seems to have the most fun out of all the characters, that’s for sure.

Trevor is the guy who is shown to be so ultra suspicious in every scene that it makes you wonder if the film is trying to be extra slick by actually having him be Ghostface. He jumps through the window of Jill’s house even when the place is supposed to be totally secured by the police and he is always finding the front doors “unlocked” so he just walks in whenever he wants. Not a likable guy to be sure and this makes him rather intimidating.

Finally you have Charlie and Robbie. They head up the school’s film club and are naturally very into the current situation. They watch the Stab series quite a lot and are the ones hosting the party so naturally it seems like they are blowing off the current situation. They’re both quite unlikable though with Charlie always hoping that Kirby will like him but in a really desperate way while Robbie is just focused on getting his life on film. They both seem a bit unhinged in different ways.

I would actually say this film felt a little less violent than the prior installments. It’s a bit relative as this is a slasher of course but most of the deaths are relatively straight forward. You don’t have people painlessly dying slowly or being ripped to shreds. Virtually every death here is just from being stabbed. I dunno, it felt more tame than usual as the focus was more on the investigation which is a nice change of pace. It might not change much in the long run but it continues to give Scream points for being a more thoughtful slasher series than the rest.

Scream 4’s writing is also unique. The characters are constantly discussing what it is like to be in a horror film and as a result they won’t fall for the usual tricks that get a lot of people. I like this part because if you are in the middle of a mass murder scenario in the real world you’ll be giving this a lot of thought. Even if you don’t watch films, you’ll know enough about them to avoid doing obvious things like entering the park late at night or keeping the front door unlocked. Parts of the meta vibe from the film may feel over the top but I do feel like a lot of the dialogue here really could work which is good. In the end the strongest part of the film is just that the characters are rather decent. They still have their iffy moments like when a character gets drunk and starts off a random affair but for the most part they keep their cool. As much as the characters talk about being horror pros though, they still end up being caught rather easily at times though.

Overall, Scream 4 works well as a sequel. Try to see if you can guess the correct murderer in time before the film ends. This movie certainly holds up with the original trilogy, even surpassing the original if you ask me. The original characters really got their respect here and the meta aspect of the series was handled well. Having two fake outs to start the movie is a really bold choice that I can respect. It’s hard to picture very many films pulling that off. The actual villain is also a step up from some of the other Ghostfaces that we’ve seen in the past. Not a great villain but the motivation was a lot more interesting than previous ones.

Overall 4/10

Alien: Covenant 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

It’s time to take a look at the final Alien film on the block. It’s the film to end the franchise so this should be pretty intense right? Well, it definitely brings back the Xenomorphs which is cool and it continues on with a lot of the story elements from Prometheus. That said, some questionable decisions near the end shoot the momentum that the film had going for it.

The movie starts with a quick flashback scene where David effectively threatens his creator by talking about his eternal life and all that. The creator looks shook but still manages to keep his cool. In the present, the android Walter is overseeing a new ship known as the Covenant which is on a mission to land on a planet where humans can colonize again. Unfortunately a solar flare knocks the ship for a loop so Walter is forces to wake up members of the crew.

Naturally they aren’t too happy about this and take shots at Walter…of course. The captain burned up in his pod so now we have to have a replacement leader known as Christopher who is determined to get off on the wrong foot with everyone. Not only does he forbid a funeral for the very well liked captain but he is on a major power trip right off the bat. Yeah this is definitely not the kind of guy that you want in your corner. A human signal is received from a nearby planet that hints there may be life there. Christopher decides to land here instead of the safe planet that was previously scouted out and while there is some opposition, he makes a command decision.

A scouting party lands on this planet but shortly afterwards their craft is destroyed so they’re stranded here. The main ship won’t be able to dock for a few days due to the storm so now the heroes have to try and survive on this planet for a while. It’s filled with alien creatures though and the mysterious David has returned from the first film. Is he friend or foe? Can they really trust him? The heroes will have to think about this carefully because otherwise they’re going to be in a tough spot if they guess wrong.

This is definitely one sequel that’s doing its best to be bigger than the last one. Sequels have a rep of trying to outdo the last ones after all and this lives up to it. That does mean that the violence is at an all time high though. I would consider this to be the most violent Alien film although it’s probably close. As always the characters are completely slaughtered here once the aliens show up. They just don’t stand a chance and the thing is, you know this. There’s no way out for the humans to fight back especially without proper gear.

The chestbursters are back of course, definitely still the most vicious of the creatures. One character in particular acts like a bit of a sucker with how he approaches one though. Why put your face so close? I don’t care what the other characters say I wouldn’t be going near that thing. So if you want to avoid the ultra violence you’d want to skip this one right off the bar.

Then there is also David who was my favorite character in Prometheus but my least favorite one here. The film’s going for a very philosophical angle with his character but one that doesn’t work. He was a crafty villain in the first film to be sure but in this one he discusses the difference between androids and humans and tries to be all high concept. What it boils down to though is him trying to be as immoral as possible as that’s what it takes to be one of the creators. The scene with him and Walter, then him and Katherine are both pretty awful. This guy suddenly turns into a Sword Art Online villain and while the guy may lack emotions on the surface, I would say he’s developed them by this point with how he gets upset.

They just changed him from being a cool villain who enacts his plans in secret to one that is a lot bolder but more in a demented way. I wasn’t a fan of how that played out. He still is in the best scene of the film though when Walter shows up for round 2 and they have a fight. I didn’t expect there would be a fight between androids in an Alien film but that worked out quite nicely. It was a good battle that really went back and forth.

David does also add a lot of suspense into the film. As the only survivor on the planet you’ll be wondering what happened to Elizabeth and also how he has survived for so long. You’ll likely start figuring out the answers to that pretty quickly. There is an interesting flashback with the Engineers as well which was intense. In a way the humans from Prometheus may have been right about them creating humanity although to this day I still find their assumptions to have been rather large ones. They could have just been a random species that visited Earth a bunch of times right? Either way their planetary defenses need a lot of work.

The humans aren’t always great at being prepared for things either though. In Prometheus at least they waited to take off their suits and masks until they did a readout of the air. In this film they take off the suits almost immediately and surprise…one of them gets contaminated by a nearby plant that gets into his system. I mean that should be basic protocol for visiting a new planet right? Who knows what kinds of flus, bugs, and such this place would have. It felt a little lazy on their part. You’d expect better from the last hope of humanity.

As mentioned earlier, Walter makes for a fun character. This time we have an android who doesn’t have as much emotions and such so he is a bit more trustworthy. Like in the first film I feel like the characters are a bit antagonistic to him for no reason but it’s not quite as drastic. Walter shrugs off the blows and keeps going though. He does well against the alien in one skirmish although I feel like he should have taken more of an active role in the battles and that would have helped the team out a lot.

Meanwhile you have the new lead Katherine who is a solid character. She thinks this is a bad idea from the start and it’s hard to blame her since this planet has a huge storm going on and seems ultra suspicious. Once they’re on the island it’s not like there is a whole lot that she can do so she gets credit for doing her best.

Then you have Christopher who is just impossible to like here. He does a really poor job of giving out orders as the captain. He puts people in unnecessary danger and splitting up the crew so soon wasn’t a good idea. I was a much bigger fan of Tennessee who always put doing the right thing ahead of the rules. He would have made for a much better captain. Even once he loses his primary reason for dashing to the planet, he doesn’t hesitate to hurry as much as he can. This was a guy who was in control of his emotions.

A lot of the other characters were really below average though. First you have the two characters who figure it’s the best time to quickly have a shower affair even though they’re on an alien planet. Seems like just a really quick way to throw in some fanservice and both characters had huge red flags the whole time. Then you have the member of staff who locks in one of the girls with the creature. By the time she opens the door it’s naturally too late. Not only did this character choke under pressure but she made sure that someone else died as well which makes this mistake even worse.

I was just not a big fan of the characters here. That may be intentional to a point so you don’t feel bad when the aliens wreck them all but even in a horror film I think you should try to have a good main cast. The main positive here would be that it’s nostalgic to see the Xenomorphs. They look as fierce as ever and maybe even a bit stronger than they used to be. The sheer strength one of them had even as a baby was really impressive.

Then the film does have a really effective ending. You feel bad for any survivors because things are probably not going to go very well for them. In these films it’s often best to die quickly and painlessly early on because the more you survive the worse things get. Horror films should always have some kind of twist and this one was handled really well.

Overall, Alien: Covenant is probably the most intense installment in the series which is really saying something at this point. It makes for an interesting survival mission at times but the first half really destroys the second. Initially landing on the planet and trying to survive is always compelling. The second half devolves more into everyone just getting ripped apart or being played for fools. If you can get past the violence and are a big Alien fan then you’ll enjoy this one but otherwise it’s time to abandon ship!

Overall 1/10

Saint Seiya: Hades: Chapter 2: Inferno Review


It’s time to return to the world of Saint Seiya. The first OVA was a solid start to the Hades saga. I really liked the creative use of CGI which helped to mask the lack of animation at times. It also gave the OVA a very grand feel. Well, that is gone from this special but the animation is much better so it feels like we’re back to the original show in a good way. I would say this OVA improves on the first one even considering that the amazing clash of Athena Exclamations has already passed.

The OVA starts off with with the saints making it into the heart of the Underworld. Their mission is clear, they need to take Hades down and bring Athena back to the world of the living. It won’t be easy though as the Underworld has many castles and specters at the ready to foil their every move. Seiya and Shun are the characters in one plot while Shiryu and Andromeda work with Gemini Kanon in the other. Will the divide and conquer tactic work (Not like it’s really their choice though) or will they now be picked off. Also, where is the man known as Phoenix Ikki?

Maybe part of why this OVA feels like we’re going back to the roots of the show is because we’re going through the whole “Take down each Specter at each castle” routine that each arc of the show always went through. It’s nice and nostalgic to see the characters going through the motions. The big difference here is that we actually have a Gold Saint who can hold his own this time. Kanon really does well in each of the fights and reminds me why he is one of the best Saints in the show. The guy seems more reasonable than most and gets several fights in this OVA.

Before going further, I have to say that it’s still such a cool move when the heroes start taking their opponents down while keeping their eyes closed. It’s probably more of a stylistic approach then their literally closing their eyes at key moments but the animations have always kept this detail and I appreciate it. What’s more hype than letting a villain know that you don’t even have to keep your eyes open to win a fight right?

All right, so back to the plot. Most of the episodes are focused on the Seiya and Shun plot. They make quite a lot of progress through the temples. There is a time limit though so they have to beat these specters quickly. It’s just good nostalgic fun to see them going from place to place. They also make for a good duo with Shun as a support type while Seiya is all about offense. Meanwhile Shun and Shiryu are also on the case but are having trouble defeating any of the specters. It’s a rough stretch for them but up til now they’ve never seemed to be so out of their depth so it’s kind of interesting to see them like this. Then you have Athena and Shaka moving forward with their own plan to defeat Hades which takes a while for any pay off but it’s always fun to have their cameos.

As always Seiya is a great character here. He’s always the last one to give up and keeps on fighting until he gets the edge. It takes a lot of resolve to always be getting up with the ways that the opponents disrespect his Meteor Punch all the time. It never works the first time and yet Seiya keeps at it. You also see a lot more of his personality here as he trolls the judge specter who wanted everyone to keep it down. I haven’t seen Seiya like that since the pre arc.

He has a mischievous side to him after all but rarely gets to show this given that he is in nonstop fights all of the time. This arc actually have him a little time to slow down and have fun with this which was cool. Then there is Shun who still manages to lose all of the time but at least he gives Seiya a lot of moral support. His chains also do save him on more than one occasion so this is far from Shun’s worst appearance. I wish he could get some more clear cut wins but this OVA does throw him a bone so you can expect him to contribute.

Probably for the first time Shun actually does a lot more than Shiryu and Hyoga. I almost don’t need to mention them because these two get one shotted by one of the 3 Judges and then don’t do anything for the rest of the ova. Kanon hard carries them through this arc and they would have been dead many times otherwise. At this point it feels like the gap between them and Seiya is massive. Not so much in pure cosmos but in terms of drive as Seiya gets up while these two stay down. They will have to prove themselves in the next ova.

Ikki takes a while to appear but when he does show up it is certainly worth the wait. He comes in as if he is one of the most powerful Gold Saints. That’s the kind of ability he has and Ikki can really shake the whole battlefield to its core. He even has an expanded origin story that includes Pandora. It feels a bit out of the blue but makes for one of the more suspenseful flashbacks in the series. Ikki was really tough even as a kid.

Part of why Ikki is my favorite character in the series is due to his grand entrances and this one doesn’t disappoint either. He just seems to be a few steps ahead of the other Bronze Saints at all times and knew just when to show up. The villains get lucky that he is summoned away later on or the Specters would have kept taking some heavy hits. Additionally while Ikki is the tough member of the crew and makes the tough calls, he will always put Shun above everything else. Ultimately he makes the right decisions here and it’s a great moment.

The only Saint who deals out as much damage would be Kanon who steals the show as I mentioned earlier. He talks tough to all of the Specters including the 3 powerful Judges. He overpowers their techniques and is even able to fight without his armor. As someone who was not one of the original 12 Gold Saints, Kanon has to deal with not being given the same level of respect as the others and handled it well. It never feels like he will turn to the dark side again and has instead become one of Athena’s most reliable fighters. He has really come a long way here and while he may not do much more for the rest of the series, you can be really satisfied with his role. The guy beat up a whole army of Specters like it was nothing and the judges even have to tell them to leave Kanon alone.

Dohko is still around but he really doesn’t do as much as you would expect in this special. He provides some weapons which are useful during the climax which will have to do. All of the Gold Saints get one last hurrah here before leaving things to the bronze saints. Virgo Shaka’s is the most memorable though as the guy actually did well against Hades. I liked that he didn’t entertain the idea of stabbing Athena for an instant and just went straight for Hades. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like breaking the rules so it’s a powerful moment.

Honestly this is why I still really don’t like Athena’s plan. It just seems like an awful way to waste most of her own men. Shaka would have done a lot better if Athena wasn’t getting in his way. Her plan to effectively beg for mercy is awful. What’s to stop Hades from claiming he will save the world before murdering her? By the time Athena realizes the flaw in this plan it’s too late because she’s already stabbed. From the start I had major reservations about this plan and this ova did not help matters at all. If anything it just makes every traitor gold saint and Athena look even worse. I’ll probably go more into this after the final ova since we’ll see her complete plan but it’s not looking promising.

Now as for the villains, first up we have Charon who may just be the guy that drives the boat but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he is weak because that is far from the case. He can fight really well and even gives Seiya some trouble. If not for some cheap shots I think the fight would have been over quicker but I give Charon some credit for being a little honorable. That’s more than you can say for most Specters and I thought he was really entertaining.

Then you have Rene who is mostly memorable for all the scenes with Seiya trolling him. It really was one of the funniest episodes in the franchise. The guy’s abilities are good too with how he can toss you around dimensions and use that whip of his. It ties into one of Kanon’s better scenes but without the illusion he may have even beaten Seiya and Shun. Never underestimate the powers of a good illusion.

Pandora is a memorable villain with how much hype she gets. She really does have the specters on a short leash but it seems more like a respect thing than actual power. Unlike Lost Canvass where she can really fight, here she seems to be the ultimate glass cannon. If she can hit you with the harp then she has the edge but otherwise even a normal attack from a Bronze saint can take her down. She spends a good chunk of this special looking shocked or trying to land a sneak attack.

Pandora is a nice change of pace within the villains and I like her well enough but I do think the series could have done more with her as the counterpart to Athena. She is ruthless though and has a lot more agency so that’s still an improvement. In any continuity Pandora is always better than Athena. I doubt Athena would have stabbed the suspicious package the way Pandora did. The tactic may not have worked but it was worth a shot.

A fairly minor villain was Sphinx who did have a good ability to rend the opponents unconscious. If not for Lyra being around he would have been difficult to defeat. You may not remember him for long but Sphinx was reasonable. I had more issues with Lyra in the end. The guy has a tragic backstory but you mean to tell me that he never suspected that the whole thing may not have been an accident? Basically he and his girlfriend had to leave the underworld without looking back but sure enough she did by mistake and turned into stone. This was due to a random bright light.

Naturally it was one of the villains but really Lyra? No suspicions on that? I feel like he should have realized and made a move a lot sooner. His plan was actually not that bad but ultimately it just didn’t work the way he wanted it to. As a silver saint the guy is really impressive, I dare say that he would beat some of the Gold Saints in a battle.

The final one of the normal specters is Valentine who gave Seiya a really good fight. Now granted that Seiya was super weakened and in enemy territory but I think it’s still worth mentioning. You have to have great physical stats to even do that much and you can see why Valentine is such a trusted fighter in the army.

That takes us to the big 3 Judges. Of the 3, Minos hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot yet but his puppet techniques are really lethal. Even Gold Saints are unable to break through his strings. Aiacos has his burning techniques like the Garuda wing and then Rhadamanthys really feels like the strongest member of the 3. He’s also the best one as the guy gets real development and even a true rivalry with Kanon. I like the idea of having a big 3 among the Specters because it really builds up the hype well.

Aiacos has his own rivalry with Ikki and it was a solid fight with a lot of back and forth. Unlike most Specters these guys won’t go down to a single counter attack. As for Rhadamanthys, I liked that he just wanted a good fight and he takes great offense to Kanon saying that the Gold Saints would have wrecked him if their powers weren’t limited. It’s the whole reason he wants to fight Kanon and that’s always a great motivation for me. I was absolutely on board with this.

Finally we have Hades who is the big bad of this saga. He finally shows himself in the second half of the special. I would say it’s worth the wait but he’s not particularly memorable just yet. The guy speaks in a very grand fashion and has a divine aura that forces opponents to back off but we haven’t seen him fight yet. As a god in the series he doesn’t really need to I suppose but he better keep his guard up. I just wish Athena would look tough like this since theoretically she should be about as powerful as he is.

Hades has a great fake out involving a dream which was cool. Ultimately he may get lucky on more than one occasion but you don’t get to be King without having some good luck at times right? I look forward to seeing more of him in the next special. He may not match the 3 Judges but it’s always good to finally meet the big bad and see what his plan is. An eclipse is a fairly original way to cause death and destruction.

There are some meanwhile scenes back on Earth but I haven’t mentioned them much because they don’t really add anything. It’s nice to see that they’re still alive and all but trust me, they won’t be impacting the story in any real way. They’re mainly just here to remind you that they’re around. The best scene on Earth is really the flashbacks with Ikki and Pandora. Those scenes are almost like something out of a horror with how dark the city was that night and how creepy Pandora can be. Ikki having to deal with such painful attacks as a kid is still something else, that kid had grit!

As mentioned earlier, the animation is much better here than last time. We finally have a lot of really good hand to hand battles like the old days and good movement with the energy blasts. It feels like the TV show has come back for real and that definitely feels good. The attacks look solid and the characters’ desperation is really illustrated well. Saint Seiya is a series that really relies on characters giving each other a lot of motivation and pep talks and so you can expect them here as well. They’re handled very effectively.

As for the soundtrack, it’s mostly a lot of classic tunes so they should sound familiar. The opening though really stands out. It’s incredibly high energy and works really well. In general this ova has a lot of energy and helps excel the series. When I say that this ova is near perfect it’s because it shines in all aspects. The Hades are really was quite excellent. Part of what makes it so great is again because it isn’t purely about the Bronze Saints this time. You’ve got the Gold Saints making moves, Athena, Hades, even the Specters get their own development and character moments. It makes this feel like a really complete adventure.

Overall, This will definitely leave you hyped for the third ova to conclude the Saint Seiya saga. I’m ready to see how exciting that one will be. You should probably watch the first ova to really get what is happening here. It won’t make Athena’s decisions look any better but at least you’ll have the context. The ending to this ova is quite striking, Athena’s last scene in particular may take you by surprise. Things aren’t looking great for the heroes but as long as they keep trying there’s always a chance. This ova is just a blast.

Overall 9/10

Predators 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

Next up in the Predator series is more of a classic survival film. The main characters are in unfamiliar territory fighting a powerful foe and so they just have to survive. In a lot of ways this film is like the original one and does a good job of hitting the same beats. It’s a considerable improvement from the second film, that’s for sure.

The movie starts with Royce awakening in free fall and he just barely manages to use his parachute to get down safely. Fortunately he has his gun at the ready and comes across a few more humans. The only common element is that they are all trained killers in different fields. Soldiers, Hunters, Hitmen, Yakuza, etc. The forest does not appear to be familiar to any of the people here and worse yet, they are being hunted by strange creatures. Can Royce and the team manage to fend these guys off or are they doomed?

This is the kind of intro that throws in a little mystery and suspense along with the thriller elements. It almost feels like a video game premise and it’s always a good one. It’s one of the reasons why Lost was so popular. When you’re in a strange environment with a lot of potential obstacles then it really raises the fear factor. The fact that everyone here is a trained fighter helps since they can defend themselves but on the other hand it also means they can’t trust each other either.

As the main character Royce is quite solid. I like how much of a loner the guy is. He doesn’t really fall in for the whole team spirit thing. He just does whatever he wants and the rest of the gang are welcome to follow him if they want or just hang back. Either way he isn’t going to switch his plans on account of them. As the film goes on he has a good character arc and even by the end of it his guard is as sharp as ever. He has a good speed moment at the end of the film and really stands out as the best character by far.

Then you have Isabelle who is quite skilled as well but a lot more merciful than Royce is. She is a soldier but doesn’t take as much joy in taking her opponents down as Royce does. She will stop to help someone who has fallen down while Royce would probably just steal any valuables. So Isabelle’s a nice character but in an environment like this that can also be a really risky thing. It gets her into trouble a few times.

Nikolai’s role isn’t as big as the others but he’s another solid character. He has a strong sense of honor and will go back to rescue someone if they have a bond. Then you have Hanzo who has sword skills as a Yakuza member. His showdown with the Predator will definitely remind you of the one on one sword fight from the first film. Definitely a lot of homages here and this was another one that was well executed.

Stans is more of a normal murderer so you definitely don’t want to loosen your guard around him. He’s one of the least likable members of the group. He’s just not a good guy at all and his dialogue is pretty cringe worthy. The less screen time he gets the better and you know that his tough talk will evaporate as soon as the Predators show up.

Mombasa had a bit of a rivalry with Stans and while he ultimately takes the high road each time, you feel like Stans gets off a bit easy at some points. Mombasa deserves credit for keeping his priorities straight though. Finally you have Edwin who is the worst character in the film. He’s the kind of guy who will beg for his life and ask someone to save him only to dash out afterwards when the situation is reversed.

Danger shows a person’s true colors and that is certainly true of Edwin. He just gets worse and worse throughout the film to the point where there is really no return for him. He’s more of a distraction from the Predators throughout the film and certainly doesn’t contribute in fighting them.

Aside from the main humans there is also another one on the island who has long since gone crazy while being in this forest. It’s impressive that the guy has survived for so long though even if he is absolutely batty. His plan was a bad one also because even if the rest of the characters were bumped off, creating a fire seems like a way to attract unwanted attention. Even without Royce and the gang making it more obvious, I feel like the Predators would have found out something was up.

Surprisingly the film doesn’t really have a twist like you would expect from most horror titles. It just ends after the big climax but the action scenes were solid so it works out well enough. As it is, the twist in itself happens early on as we meet the original Predator and see that he was defeated. Now this was the best moment of the film. I can only imagine the impact if you assumed this film would be all about the Predators only to see that it was taken down. I think the twist would have been even more effective if the replacements didn’t look so similar though. Imagine if the creatures hunting the humans looked nothing like Predators? It would be a bit of a bait and switch on the audience but one that would have been effective.

The scenes of the Predators hunting the humans are done well here. Now you do have to turn your mind off a bit though in the sense that the Predators could and should have won numerous times throughout the film. They have camouflage, the element of surprise, and homefield advantage. Now if they want this to be a fair hunt so they let the humans go a lot of the time that’s fine but then losing in the end still doesn’t make a lot of sense. It felt like the Predators just wouldn’t adapt no matter what.

From the 3 Predator films this one felt like the humans had the most plot armor. Even accounting for the fact that these humans know how to fight I just wasn’t really buying it. It’s not the kind of thing that hurts the score but it’s just hard to ignore. Score-wise, well the film has the usual amounts of extreme violence you would expect. The Predators make sure that the humans really feel it when they’re taken out.

With their super strength and bladed weapons, the Predators easily make short work out of the main characters or at least the ones that don’t survive. This time we even have little alien creatures that are getting blown up as well. It’s a jungle horror film after all so creatures are to be expected. Parts of the script can be a bit weak as well but nothing too crazy. Ultimately it’s just one of those films where if you scale back the violence a ton then this could jump way up since the premise is still intriguing enough on its own. I’m always up for a good survival title after all.

Overall, Predators brought the series back to where you would expect to see it. We got some super Predators which is a cool concept but I just wish they didn’t look so similar to the normal Predators. Take away the armor and they basically are the same since it’s such a slight evolution. It really would have been cool to have seen a whole new type of creature suddenly show up out of nowhere. If you’re a horror fan or like the Predators then this is a good film to check out. It’s like the Hunger Games except it’s humans vs aliens.

Overall 3/10

Predator 2 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

All right, it’s time to re-enter the world of the Predator. Much like Halloween III, this one feels a lot different from the other Predator films. Well, as the second one there hadn’t been more than one at the time but knowing about the newer films, this one just doesn’t have that survival vibe that the others had. If anything the gangs take up a decent chunk of this film’s run time.

So there have been a lot of gang fights lately which isn’t really abnormal for the neighborhood. Harrigan is trying to keep the peace as always and breaks up fights when need be. Lately the murders have been a lot more violent though and Harrigan suspects that a new player is in town. The murder methods are very creative though so whoever is doing this should be feared. The problem is that a high ranking government official known as Peter shows up and seems to be trying to make sure that Harrigan doesn’t get any more info on the case. What is he hiding?

Whenever the government is hiding something in these films you can bet that it’s important. The most annoying thing for Harrigan is likely the knowledge that if his team had known about the true threat from the start then things could have gone differently. I’m sure the Predator would have still murdered a bunch of people but it’d be nice to know that you are fighting an alien right away than going after street thugs right?

I also feel like Peter just didn’t handle the situation well. He becomes useful by the end of the film but keeping secrets just really didn’t benefit the heroes in the long run. His squad was woefully unprepared for the Predator as it is. At least Harrigan knows how to fight and chase the villains down. Now granted, when we get the inevitable fight between the Predator and Harrigan it is a little hard to see how the human was doing so well. Granted, the Predator got injured and they aren’t as strong as Xenomorphs but I felt like Harrigan should have lost the fight.

As it is, in the first film the main character was mostly losing in the physical confrontations and that guy seemed way more powerful physically than this lead. Predators should be stronger than humans anyway, they have super armor and are just built different. They have camouflaged tech and can plan things out as well. In theory there is no way the Predator should lose even when vastly outnumbered.

This does give us an exciting climax though so that part’s good. It’s nice to see the Predator ship and we even a foreboding ending with Harrigan setting us up for film 3. Of course, with a planet as big as Earth, the Predators will probably pick a new location to hit up next time since they never seem to go to the same place twice.

The humans aren’t super memorable. Peter and Harrigan are really the main guys here. I still say Peter’s secrets weren’t very helpful in keeping people alive but Harrigan did well in staying on the case until he got his answers. Jerry was a solid newcomer to the group. He’s a hot shot and initially you figure the guy is all talk but he actually proves himself in every instance of the film. He tails the villain without their realizing it, he is quick on his feet and the scene where he takes on the reporter was really solid. I like how smoothly he took that guy down.

Where the film falters is really with the gang elements. Nobody really cares about all this in fighting with the gangs just murdering each other. We want to see the Predator and of course he does murder all of those guys with ease but you could really take out the whole gang plot and that would be even better. Have Predator be the only villain and his mere presence is scaring everyone. That level of terror would really establish the Predator as one of the big bads to watch out for. instead he’s sharing time and while the gangs are no threat to him, why even have them around?

The film is naturally rather violent as the characters tend to get ripped apart by the Predator. It’s not quite at the level of Halloween or something like that but it doesn’t make for a pretty sight. The only death that was more stylistic than violent was when the Predator takes out King Willy. Now that scene was effective because it showed that even the city’s greatest swordsman couldn’t take him down. I’m not sure exactly how skilled the guy was but he knew about the supernatural elements and at least faced off against the Predator. Even if he didn’t end up putting any kind of fight, at least he was ready for action which is more than you can say for a lot of the characters.

The idea of having the Predator attack a city isn’t a bad one but this movie just didn’t utilize the idea very well. This should be exciting and nerve wrecking as the cops have to step in and fight the Predator. Instead you can easily forget that this is a big down at times. It’s all quite dusty and you can almost feel the heat wave that is taking place in the film. Everything feels dusty and isolated. The town is also so far gone with all of the crime everywhere that it isn’t really the big city experience you would hope for. The writing isn’t impressive nor is the cast. A film can’t really win under those circumstances.

Overall, Predator 2 is definitely a step down from the first film. I also don’t really get the point of the Predator here. It makes sense that one would test his limits in the forest, but a random city? I suppose the idea is that by beating all of the mobsters the Predator will prove that he is the strongest in the land but the actions almost feel aimless at times. He’s also moving rather slowly with the kills so you wonder what he is doing to kill time every day. If the cast was more likable and the violence was toned down then maybe you would have something here. Instead this ends up being more of a forgettable horror title. We don’t even get a true twist ending here. It ends on a note where you know sequels are on the way but nothing that really pops out at you. If you want to check out a Predator adventure, just watch the first one instead.

Overall 2/10

Happy Death Day 2U Review


The sequel is now upon us. The first film had a cool concept but I didn’t think it lived up to the potential it had. This one does a much better job of handling the adventure. It may have mostly thrown away the horror elements from the first film but you’ve still got the various murders, there’s just much more things happening in this film. Maybe too many since one plot just vanishes.

The movie picks up right where the first film left off. Tree has escaped the loop and is finally together with Carter. Ryan isn’t thrilled about this since that means his room is still off limits but he heads to his lab to finish working on the time travel machine. Unfortunately the teacher doesn’t like this and shuts the project down. Ryan is promptly murdered by a guy in a baby mask and ends up going back to the start of the day. Looks like he is trapped in a time loop now and the only one who can possible help him here would be Tree since she has a lot of experience with this.

I would say that the decision to make Ryan the main character is an awful one since he was such a terrible character in the first movie but this title actually has a good fake out about this. So don’t worry Tree is still the main character here. Plus she still keeps the character development from the first film so she’s a much better character through and through. This time around she actually acts like a lead and does a good job of taking down the enemies.

The story goes in a few different directions from the plot I outlined above so get ready for some twists. In a way the movie has to try and make the scenario a bit harder on Tree because otherwise she would solo this experience on her second playthrough. She takes down one of the villains within minutes and with her gun she takes another one down rather quickly. It’s nice to see her just jumping into action here.

At the same time, I also feel like the movie doesn’t take that far enough. At one point the characters need to use a bunch of time loops to try different theories and suggest that Tree just destroys herself a bunch of times at the end of the day since it’ll be less painful than getting murdered. I was against this plan from the start. It’s used as a comedic montage where she keeps dying over and over again but half of those deaths seem just as painful if not more so than actually getting murdered. (Jumping into a tree shredder is such a gruesome way to die)

Jumping out of a plane is probably the easiest death but why do that when you can still just take down the murderer? So we need the machine to work in order to stop the time loop but at the same time, why not take the chance to try and take the murderer down a few more times? Alternately, shoot yourself with the gun since it would be instant but I think just using each attempt to take the murderer down would be more satisfying. Presumably Tree still has to die to reset the loop but if she’s wrong then this will help the timeline more.

Now there is a bit of a subplot where there’s a doppelganger of another character from a different dimension who is trying to murder Ryan. It feels the most random because nothing comes of it and that whole plot just vanishes early on in the movie. I think the movie probably should have just skipped this plot entirely and it would have not changed anything. The idea of multiple universes is explored in detail later on anyway and there are a lot of ways you could set up the machine being broken like the principal throwing something at it.

There is a scene after the credits though which sets up things for the next film. If the 3rd film actually follows this plot then things are about to go in a really different direction. I got some Dreamscape vibes from it with how large scale this may end up being. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes. in that case this would probably be a complete sci-fi thriller as opposed to any remnants of horror sticking around but we’ll see how that goes.

This time I thought the writing was greatly improved from the first film. Maybe it’s because the film is leaning more into being a full comedy this time but I’d also say that it’s really because the characters are more likable. I already spoke about Tree but it’s true for the rest as well. This time Ryan isn’t completely one note the way that he was in the first film. He actually gets some development this time around which is good. I’m still not a big fan but this is a world of difference.

His two assistants are okay, there’s not much to them but they have some okay banter. Carter still seems way too easy with how he has a girlfriend but is ready to have affairs with other people. So while Tree has gone away from her cheating habits, they seem to still be strong with Carter. Even Danielle ends up appearing as a much more reasonable character this time around. She ends up helping the team when it counts and is also more understanding of Tree with regards to missing meetings and such. She’s nice enough where you will feel bad for her by the end.

Lori also gets a brief appearance which may not make her look all that great morally but it’s still some extra development. The heroes and villains all get more to do this time around and that’s one of the benefits of being a sequel since you can go over events quicker with no intro to slow things down. Someone like Tombs is still just a crazy killer with no character but he’s more of a plot device than a character anyway. Even Gregory’s wife gets to do some things this time around, her character certainly went in a different direction than I had expected that’s for sure.

So with the writing being my main issue from the first film, this was an immediate jump. I also just like Tree taking a more active approach here and really taking it to the villains. Speed running through the loop scene from the first film was also nice. It’s almost nostalgic seeing some scenes from the old film before everything appears distorted. There aren’t really any memorable tracks here but you can’t win them all.

Overall, Happy Death Day 2U is a very different film from the first film and in all of the best ways. If you came for the horror then you’re out of luck because that is really gone. You only get horror vibes for maybe the first 15 minutes of the film when it’s giving you the fake plot. This is done really well though with the proper amount of scares and tension. I haven’t seen the trailers, but I think it would be a missed opportunity if they showed much footage beyond that. The idea of having Ryan as the main character is a scary one but it would make the whole story changing that much more effective. I feel confident in saying that the real movie here beats the fake out version from the intro. As more of a sci-fi fan I was cool with the changes here. We even have a lot of big emotional moments as well which can always be a bit hard to take seriously when you’re already filled to the brim with comedic, thriller, and sci-fi moments but the movie has a little of everything and makes for a good watch.

Overall 6/10

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review


All right, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of checking out a new comic book movie. You can expect a whole lot of excitement, action, and teasing for future films. This one even has a scene after the credits start so make sure you stay in your seats. It’s definitely one that you won’t want to miss and I’m glad that we’re starting to get such important post credit scenes again.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Kasady and Frances as they are locked up in a jail for being psychotic monsters. They bonded there though and quickly became each other’s only friend. Unfortunately for Kasady, Frances is taken away to Ravencroft. We then jump 20+ years to the present where he asks Eddie to see him one last time before Kasady is put to death. Eddie doesn’t know why he’s picked but Kasady basically wants him to print out a message. Eddie agrees but he really has bigger issues at the moment.

While Venom & Eddie mostly know how to get along with each other now but things still aren’t going great for the main character. Eddie’s ex girlfriend has gotten engaged to the rebound guy from the first film, Venom’s been getting more impatient and nearly messing up their secret identity over and over, the cops don’t like Eddie, etc. The last thing he needs is the attention of a serial killer, but he’s in too deep to escape now. Can he survive amidst all the carnage?

So right off the bat I like the banter with Venom and Eddie a lot. A positive of being a sequel is that they are already merged from the start of the film so the movie is able to lean into that dynamic right away. It’s always fun to have Venom throwing his little remarks in throughout the conversation. He gets a lot of good burns in on the opponents and certainly isn’t shy about using his abilities. Surprisingly he even gets some scenes where he looks really intelligent like when he does Eddie’s job for him by inspecting Kasady’s room.

Venom can move quickly, use the computer well, cook, etc. Granted, he is a symbiote that has existed for thousands of years but even so it’s always impressive to see him be able to do all of this. He comes across as a very fun guy and is the standout character in the movie. He likes to think of himself as a lethal protector and it’s a very apt title. He’s certainly no hero as he doesn’t mind murdering just about anyone but he does seem to have good intentions and does obey Eddie’s no murder rules.

Venom acts like a kid half the time but he is always up for a good conversation. When the going gets tough you can definitely expect him to step up even though there is one scene where he really gets scared by Carnage immediately. That’s probably the only moment in the film where it seems like he has 0 resolve. It’s a scene mainly played for laughs but I would argue he was a bit out of character there.

As for Eddie, well he’s a lot of fun as well even if he’s not as good as Venom. Eddie’s humor really comes from him being a punching bag. In any scene he is in, Eddie looks out of his depth, incredibly nervous, unsure of what to do, etc. It’s hard to even see how this guy’s a reporter as he doesn’t seem to have any skill for it. Any detective work he does has to be pointed out by Venom first or he has to have been given the clues already. Venom seems to think he should get most of the credit for Eddie’s current position and I don’t doubt it.

This is a little hard to believe but Eddie may seem even more incompetent at just about everything than in the first film. He gets sad easily and gets wrecked in every possible fight. I do like when he tries to fight Venom mano a mano though. The whole fight is crazy because how can you beat someone who is fused to yourself and can do anything? The short answer is that you can’t but Eddie puts up a good try anyway.

So, I like Eddie because of how bad he looks. I’d say the best way to think about it is that he’s the ultimate underdog and it’s easy to root for someone like that. It’s clear that Eddie isn’t a bad person, he’s just not great at making decisions or anything like that. Both Eddie and Venom ultimately are trying to do their best here and are basically two average joes just trying to survive. (Well, Venom’s not normal but you get my drift)

The rest of the characters are mainly solid. Anne’s role as the main heroine isn’t very big but she makes the most of her moments. She comes in handy with helping Eddie at a crucial moment in the story. I’m not really sure if the whole dinner idea was a good one because it almost feels like the worst possible way to break the news of taking another step in her relationship but the intent was positive. Anne also talks very tough to the villains so she isn’t really afraid of anything. I’d definitely be up her getting a symbiote at some point so she can fight more.

Meanwhile Dan is still there as the rebound guy and he seems nice enough. He even manages to help out a bit. He doesn’t like Eddie all that much but you can’t blame him since Eddie seems really unhinged whenever the guy is around. From Dan’s point of view Eddie really does not seem like a good influence to anyone. The film doesn’t have much romance in it but I will say that at this point any chance of Anne and Eddie being together should be over. You can’t rebound twice and Dan’s a nice guy even if he’s a total pushover. Seriously you have Anne openly flirting in front of him even if it’s for a plan and the guy half heartedly protests.

I’ll give Dan props for being a good person but everyone’s always dunking on him. Anne even having a lot of fun near the end and remembering the good ole days. I just think the film would be going too far in putting him down if they were to break up so hopefully they stay together. Anne and Eddie can just be good friends who have a solid dynamic. It seems like a foreign concept in most Hollywood films but they can and absolutely should be friends without having to go past that.

Then you’ve got the cop Mulligan who can’t stand Eddie either. He seems to feel like Eddie is responsible for everything but he has no proof of anything so all he can do is antagonize Eddie as much as possible. Thing is, I feel like Mulligan could have played things so much better and then he could have been working well with Eddie. Instead he decides to become his enemy which really doesn’t work very well at all. Makes for a good obstacle I suppose, but more from Eddie’s point of view since I like how he just ticks everyone off.

Then we have the villains. First up is Frances who has the sonic powers. It’s cool to see some traditional super powers here, really makes it feel like a comic book movie. I was glad that when she meets up with Kasady she took the powers in stride. It’s always annoying to see a character suddenly turn on the hero because the powers look scary. Kasady’s no hero but from her point of view he suddenly returned to save her so I was glad that she actually seemed happy and grateful. It feels like the natural reaction here and the two trust each other a lot.

I did find it odd how she seems so ready to use her sonic powers even once she realizes that it actually hurts Kasady’s symbiote though. Maybe it’s just a habit so she doesn’t think about it much? Then you have Kasady who is about as insane as you would expect. He’s one of those guys who was seemingly always twisted. He tries to give a half hearted origin story later on but Venom isn’t really buying his excuses and I can’t say that I am either. Once you become a mass murderer that’s pretty much it.

Carnage is definitely the more interesting villain though. We don’t see quite as much of his personality in the film but whenever he shows himself you know that things are about to get wild. His sheer power is quite up there and all of his stats across the board are impressive. Carnage is also very confident and a symbiote of his word. These are all traits that make him a very solid villain.

Outside of the characters I also liked how the whole intro scene pre title card was handled. First off, the soundtrack really stands out. The logo is colorful and this all feels like something that could have been the intro to an animated film. It quickly sets up the motivation for the main villain as well as gives us some foreshadowing for what is to come. I’m not always on board with starting the film with a non action scene but this one works out well enough.

Even outside the intro scene I would say the film’s soundtrack is very good. There’s even a brief rock theme that plays while Kasady is in the car. The action scenes are also really good. I was even on board with Carnage tearing through the asylum and taking everyone down. Massacre scenes can often go with grit over style which ends up wrecking them or get drawn out too much to where it can get boring since the humans have no chance. This one handles the scenes really well. With the exception of the tongue scene which is more grotesque than stylized, I would give the scene a solid win.

Then of course you have the big Venom vs Carnage battles and those are just as good as you would expect. They really show off the power both fighters have and also how versatile their movesets are. I admit that I would like to see Venom use his tendrils more creatively in combat the way that Carnage does but even in the comics that has always been Carnage’s specialty. Perhaps if Venom finally gets to fight a non symbiote then we’ll see some more of that. Either way, the fights are considerably improved from the first film and I liked those, but these are just better.

Venom’s power is so impressive I’d even say he could beat most of the Avengers right now. If we consider the current Avengers roster to just be Spider-Man, Captain America (Wilson), Ant Man (Scott), Winter Soldier, and Hulk then Venom could actually give them a fairly good fight. Basically Venom could potentially solo but it all depends on how Spider-Man and the Hulk do. Spider-Man’s spider sense should theoretically make him very tough to beat but it depends on if he uses it well which is always tough. For the Hulk he would win if it’s close quarters combat but if Venom could stay at mid range and try stabbing then it’s tough. I feel like I have to give it to the Avengers if it’s the whole team but it’s closer than you might think.

The film’s short length also works out well enough as everything goes by quickly. I always say that a good film can always be longer and a bad film should be shorter so in this case I’d rather it was a full two hours. It’s a very entertaining film so I’d have been on board with a longer time frame. More scenes means more banter and more fun. This part of the universe is just fleshed out so well like even with the shop keeper sort of being like a pal to Eddie. I’m really glad that the end scene to the first Venom film is acknowledged here.

So there’s a lot to like here but of course the film isn’t perfect so it stands to reason that there are some negatives too right? Well, first up, we do have some animal violence. Yeah it’s basically off screen but it’s still unnecessary when we find out that Eddie has Venom eat chickens. See, Venom feeds off of a certain chemical that is only found in sentient brains and chocolate. It makes sense why he always wants to eat people but finding out that he is eating chickens in the meantime is just sad. They should have just had a scene where Venom refuses so Eddie has to buy him more chocolate. A film is always going to lose some brownie points from me for having a scene like this.

Otherwise it’s close to an 8 but I have a few more issues. In terms of plot holes/logic issues I really only have 2 that stood out to me. Everything else seemed fine including the power levels and such. The first thing that didn’t make any sense to me was actually from the opening scene. So the shady group is here to take Frances away because her powers are way too dangerous. So they take her into a car…and don’t do anything to restrain her mouth when she has sonic abilities?

This either means that this group was not told of her sonic powers from the bosses who ordered them to find her or they just thought it would work out. If it’s the first option than how did they expect the group to take Frances down? There are so many ways she could have escaped if not for a lucky gunshot. If it’s the second option than that’s just as bad. If she’s so dangerous that she has to be brought to the worst prison in the world then she’s dangerous enough to overpower a few guards. So the first scene felt like a stretch and it was only there so we could get the bullet wound scene.

The second is more of a spoiler scene so I can’t go into detail but someone gets powers at one point and it doesn’t make sense how it actually happened. The way the scene played out just doesn’t leave any room for this to be possible. I think there has to be a scene that was cut out from the film at some point but how this made it past the editing room is beyond me. This would raise way too many questions if this were possible because I would argue it could and should have happened to more people.

While the film is short and I wouldn’t say it really dragged on much, I didn’t find the solo Venom adventure to be too entertaining. If anything it’s rather grim how he seemingly murders people semi accidentally while on his adventure. Certainly losing more and more hero status right? See, the film’s at its best when Eddie and Venom are together to banter so splitting them up isn’t the right move. In real movie time I’m guessing it wasn’t a very long time but if it had been any longer it may have hurt. I don’t think that’ll happen again since they had their big fight now though so we’re good on that front.

Eddie also lost some points for me when he is constantly suggesting to Venom to eat the chickens that they adopted. Not a very nice move. In terms of violence the film is rather tame as I mentioned. Only the tongue scene is a bit grotesque and the scene with Mulligan’s eye being pushed in seems super painful but it’s a quick moment. Beyond that especially since the symbiotes can keep on regenerating, it’s super stylized as I mentioned earlier. Both characters can really take a lot of punishment and keep on ticking.

Now this is an action/comedy hybrid so both aspects have to be good and this one really was. As a final note, the humor in this film is better than in the first film. I thought that it grabbed what the first film did and then improved upon it quite a bit. The first act alone has a whole lot of humorous moments because the script is really on point. There’s one obligatory scene where Venom has to say the edgy word once because it’s expected at this point but otherwise it’s witty from start to finish.

Also, I really like how Eddie just seems crazy to people on the outside. Seemingly he has to talk out loud for Venom to hear him even though Venom can speak telepathically. So Eddie’s just bantering with him out loud but everyone can only hear his voice so everyone’s always giving him weird looks. This starts almost immediately with Venom arguing with him in the rest room and on the prison grounds and just never stops. Actually, forget that, Venom can probably hear Eddie telepathically since he finishes the guy’s sentences sometimes but probably pretends that he can’t just to make Eddie look foolish. That’s definitely the kind of trick Venom would play on him.

This might be a hot take but you could cut out all of Kasady’s scenes and the film might be even better. Now granted, I would still want the Carnage fights but if he just showed up out of nowhere at the end that’d be fine with me. The Eddie scenes are really where all the fun is at while Kasady’s just insane the whole time. It’s not that the Kasady and Frances scenes are bad or anything either, but the Eddie and Venom scenes are just that much better.

I will say this, it was smart of the film to show Kasady’s backstory in a children’s drawing kind of way because fully showing it probably would have hurt quite a bit considering what is implied with the dog at the end. If this was on screen I’d be a lot harsher since everything he does in that montage is intense but as a children’s drawing it doesn’t hit in the same way.

All right, final thoughts before closing this review out. The final scene after the credits is really solid. It opens up a lot of possibilities and you can interpret how future events will go in a lot of ways. No matter what happens, I do think we absolutely need a Venom 3 though. This series should be a trilogy at the minimum because there is so much more that can be done here. Venom has a lot of iconic villains that you can grab. I wouldn’t mind if they stick to symbiotes but you can also grab other kinds of villains as well.

Overall, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is definitely very good. It really embraces being a comic book movie from the cool 90s type logos to the solid soundtrack and how casual everything is. Venom creating a giant arm just to flick Eddie off in the middle of the street? Nobody notices or cares and that’s the kind of small detail that’s just fun. I’m not going to say the movie’s great as I still had my share of issues with it but the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. The overall atmosphere of the film is just really good, particularly when it’s the Venom scenes. I like how several characters know about his secret identity but it all feels rather grounded. You feel like Eddie’s a big fish in a small pond and right now he can do just about anything but he always limits himself. Of course crossovers are the best and inevitably when he gets to fight some big names that’ll be fun too but in the meantime if you were to recommend a modern Superhero saga to someone who just wants an origin story with no real connections to anything then this would probably be the top film to recommend. The film also has an incredible amount of replay value. I could watch it a second time shortly and still have fun. That’s probably due in part to the short length but you also have to give the film credit for just being a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d definitely say you should change that.

Overall 7/10

Clear and Present Danger Review


Jack Ryan returns with this big sequel. Clear and Present Danger throws a pretty good story in with some fun fight scenes and a whole lot of characters moving around. It’s a very interesting film and one that should keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I would definitely recommend checking it out.

The movie starts with some of the usual embezzlement going on. The drug cartels are growing a lot bolder now and this time they even murdered a friend of the president. That was a mistake though as he decides to take a harder look at the situation. He orders one of the higher ups in the army to take drastic measures and wipe these guys out. Cutter gets the message and sends John and his team on a mission. They have to wipe out Escobedo and his drug dealers fast.

Meanwhile Jack’s direct boss gets sick with cancer so Jack has been promoted. Cutter and Ritter don’t like this because Jack’s more of a by the books kind of guy. He’s not going to participate in these shady dealings but as their equal now it will be very difficult to hide things from him. So they have to play it cool while Jack does some sleuthing on his own. Technically all of them want to take Escobedo down. The issue is that Cutter’s group are illegally sending troops into the country while Jack is trying to find hard proof and use surveillance footage.

I like all of the political intrigue going on here. Everyone’s got their own agendas after all while Jack is really the only one just trying to do his job. You also can’t blame Jack for anything here. A lot of times I might say a character was slow on the uptake or missed obvious clues but I can’t say that in this case. I don’t think Jack really made any mistakes. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know so there’s no way for him to act on this information. In a big government agency like this it’s also hard to see how he would possibly be able to find that out so it’s good that he knew the computer guy.

Once Jack does know what is going on he is quick to get in on the action and help John’s team. So that was good and overall he’s a great main character. He really did his best at all times and at the end of the series he steps up and does the right thing even though it’ll likely end up with a big punishment for him as well. You can’t ask for more out of the lead.

John’s character was also engaging with his adventures over in enemy territory. He leads the troops well and ultimately he fought hard. Considering how well versed he was in combat and planning he maybe should have expected the government to cut him loose the way they did, but it’s hard to prepare for every eventuality.

As for the government guys, well one of the big ones is certainly Ritter. He helps out with a lot of the deals behind the stage and is the main one hiding information from Jack. Ritter’s been in the game a long while and knows exactly what to prepare in order to stay ahead of the curve. He did quite well in that position as he even got a note from his boss in writing so nothing could really stop him. He’s certainly an antagonist, but a resourceful one.

Then you have his boss Cutter who is just as corrupt. The guy gets his orders from the President and carries them out. The guy even makes a deal with a terrorist which is going to very large extremes without a doubt. A lot of his decisions were definitely pretty bad like abandoning the troops behind enemy lines. As Ritter’s superior, the buck ultimately ended with Cutter so he should take the blame for that.

The President isn’t off for free either. He knew exactly what was going on with all of the messages that he gave to Cutter. The guy was definitely ruling with his emotions throughout and did not do justice to his station. As the President he really needed to keep on ruling with a fair hand and not let personal politics come into play. If he had just done that and attacked the drug dealers in a different way, while going through official channels then things could have gone over better. Sure, he got the results he was hoping for but at a much higher price and the ends don’t justify the means here.

For the drug dealers there were two main ones. First is Cortez who is the smart guy in the room who always tries to manipulate both sides. I liked his confidence and he has really been around a lot as we learn that he was also the informant for other guys in the past. He has a lot of power and came really close to ruling everything. The other guy is Escobedo who isn’t as smart but he does do some due diligence. Ultimately he’s smarter than your average mob boss but was getting outmaneuvered for most of the film. If anything he just got lucky in one scene as he was nearly taken out of the picture.

We get some in-fighting among the villains which always makes for a fun scene. Ultimately the film really goes by in a flash. The writing is on point and we have a whole lot of likable characters throughout. Even the antagonists are at least interesting. You’re not rooting for them or anything but there is a lot of good banter as well as back and forth dialogue among the two factions.

There isn’t a whole lot of action for a while but in the climax we do get some gun fights. Jack actually gets to go front and center against some of these villains as well and proves his stuff. You feel bad for the soldiers who didn’t make it out though as it was a pretty rough situation to be in. Particularly the ones who are captured since if anything you’d rather just go out in an instant during the fire fight. This probably helped Jack’s resolve quite a bit.

Overall, This was a solid follow up to the previous Jack Ryan film I saw. I would even say that this one defeats the first. The political fighting between the characters made for a good sub plot and it was also nice to see the old school hacking when Jack got to the computer. He may not have gotten a whole lot out of that before being caught but it was a good attempt. This is a very well rounded thriller film that will keep you engaged both with the explosions but also just with the good dialogue throughout. The main morale here is when you’re in the CIA, FBI, or any of those orgs you have to definitely watch your back at all times.

Overall 7/10