Swamp Thing Review

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It’s time to look at an old school DC film. This movie doesn’t really feel like your average comic book film and could easily be mistaken for just being another horror film. That would probably be the best outcome for all parties involved since I doubt anyone wants to take credit for this movie. It just isn’t good and does so many things wrong that you’ll end up wondering what the film was thinking. The characters aren’t very smart and so it’s hard to root for anyone.

The film starts off with the main character, Alice heading over to the Swamp. She is here to fix some sensors, but the broken sensors were sabotaged by terrorists so she isn’t allowed to go near them. Since she has nothing else to do she hangs around the pair of scientists who are trying to make some breakthroughs and insults them the whole time. The main guy is married, but seems to forget this all the time so all scenes with him are cringe worthy. That’s when the villains come in and murder the two scientists in the hopes of getting their research. Alice managed to snatch one book though so their collection won’t be complete. The villains don’t like that and decide to give chase, but they have one more obstacle to try and get past, The Swamp Thing!

The film doesn’t exactly hide the Swamp Thing’s identity, but I won’t allude to it in case you need that reveal. Needless to say, The Swamp Thing is here to help. “This is My Swamp!” should have been his opening line but he’s a creature of action as opposed to words. As the film goes on he does start to get a little more chatty though so I guess that’s a good thing? Unfortunately, he isn’t quite as intimidating as the average creature. In most of these horror films you see the monsters just destroying everybody until they die in the end. Since the Swamp Thing is a heroic creature, he doesn’t get the same treatment. He gets captured and beaten by the crooks. He doesn’t do a good job of taking the villains out of the equation so they always pop right back up to give him some more grief. He isn’t opposed to murder as we see him do it several times, he is always in just too much of a hurry to get away. He’s just not a very likable character. His abilities also don’t seem all that impressive in this film. He was nerfed all the way into the ground.

Alice isn’t a bad main character although she can also be a little iffy at times. For the positives, she is a fighter. Alice does put up a struggle whenever she appears and even lands in some good hits. On the other hand, she is rather slow on the uptake. Even when seeing the Swamp Thing mowing down her opponents she keeps telling him to back off. She’s certainly safer with him than without. She also has an unfortunate tendency to trip over just about everything. She probably hit the ground at least ten times. Cmon Alice, you can do better than that!

Then I have to quickly rewind to the beginning of the film to explain why the normal joe characters always fall below expectations. So you have a guy running through the swamp when a few guys with guns walk up to him. He quickly lets them disarm him and then runs. What’s the point? They’ll just shoot him down. He’s dead either way so he may as well have held on to his gun and taken one of them down with him. This is preferable for many reasons. One of which is that by firing right away you at least have the slimmest of chances to survive. Second, at least they’ll be forced to gun you down right there which is a far less painful death than the alternative. Third, you get to die with some dignity. Trying to run away in a swamp when you’re outnumbered like that won’t work. Even if it was just one guy he could shoot you once your back was turned. These hostage situations always drive me batty.

This film is a little on the violent side with people getting snapped and crunched. The main villain’s transformation scene was also shown to be as grotesque and violent as possible which is a little on the rare side for transformations. Usually you expect those to at least be a little pleasant right? The violence isn’t extremely over the top but certainly is high enough that it’s noticeable. There isn’t really animal violence if you look at the film casually, but it’s there when you drill into the specifics. The unlikable main characters were running experiments on the animals which is a no go. These animals don’t care about the science so why should they have to be used like this? The animal certainly didn’t look like it was having fun being all wet like that.

Swamp Thing also goes out of its way to make the villains unlikable. A good villain should command respect but also be fun to root for/against. None of that is here with these villains. At the most the main villain isn’t bad. He’s one of those random rich guys who wants to see the world burn. The main villain is really one of his subordinates though who chases Alice around quite a lot. Naturally he is shown to be rather depraved and of course he couldn’t just be a professional trying to earn a paycheck. I get that guys like him will typically end up being the villains since it makes sense, but it doesn’t make any of his scenes work any better.

The best character in the film is definitely the kid who owned the gas station. He was on point and could sniff out danger a mile away. It’s a shame that his gun was defective but there’s no way he could have known that. Even though he was just a kid he did a lot of work and helped get Alice to a safe place. He brought the film a level of charm and wonder that it didn’t have previously. Not enough to save the film or anything like that, but it was still neat.

Overall, Swamp Thing is definitely not a film that I would recommend. The characters aren’t all that smart and Swamp Thing himself looks quite weak. I’m glad he kept in his healing powers, but being able to fight a little more would have been great too. The film drags on a bit and the only good character got a really small amount of screen time. This is definitely one of those movies that you should skip and I’d advise you to check out some of the classic Godzilla films instead if you want to see how a creature should be portrayed. I can guarantee you that at the very least he wouldn’t go down easy like the Swamp Thing.

Overall 3/10

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Two on a Guillotine Review

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It’s time to look at another old film from back in the day. This one is probably one of the oldest haunted house type films that I’ve seen not counting some comedies like the Abbot and Costello films. (If those were older) It’s not a particularly good one though as the film makes a few mistakes and I can’t say that Val makes for a very good main hero. He trolls Cassie quite a lot to the point where you sympathize with her a whole lot more than you do him. Val may have turned out to be a good guy, but from her point of view there’s no reason to trust him. Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself a little so lets talk about the plot.

A magician known as John used to be quite popular until one of his tricks went wrong and his wife ended up dying. John went crazy with grief and died as well. After everyone attended his burial and saw his body close up, his will was read and Cassie got his riches. The only condition was she had to stay in his manor for 7 days in a row without leaving. In his will he promised that his ghost would show up to meet her. Reporter Val decides to get the inside scoop and pretends to be a random guy looking to be friendly so Cassie will let him in. The two hit it off and now Val just needs to figure out what John’s trick is. After all, he doesn’t believe in ghosts!

The house does have a lot of tricks and such that keep on scaring Cassie out of her mind. Honestly she is way too jumpy all things considered. If she was by herself then I could understand that, but with Val she shouldn’t be so exaggerated the whole time. When you’re with someone you’re never quite as scared as when you’re by yourself. Val isn’t the most understanding guy either so he keeps trying to scare her as well. You’d think that since he wants to stay as her guest he would be a bit more tactful but that isn’t the case at all. Honestly during the entire film he just doesn’t act the way you would expect him to. I guess that’s because in part during this experience he started to grow attached to her and stopped being a reporter which caused his brain to melt. Only possible explanation I guess.

In case you haven’t guessed this I was not a big fan of Val at all. He was just really annoying the whole time. As I mentioned he kept on trolling Cassie for no real reason. Even at the end once he comes in to try and help her fight off the magician he fails quite epicly. Not only should he absolutely be winning this fight, but he should be well aware of where the switch for triggering the axe is. He literally triggers it himself which by all accounts should have destroyed Cassie. Fortunately she lived, but he came too close to destroying her himself and as far as I’m concerned she should tell him to pack his bags at that point.

Cassie isn’t all that good either though. As I mentioned she gets scared way too easily. Furthermore, I think she is way too easy on Val. Even after she finds out he has been lying to her she quickly takes him back since Cassie gets scared again. I suppose using him for that purpose is fine, but afterwards she should quickly distance herself again. Val just doesn’t seem like a great guy. Cassie also doesn’t put up any kind of struggle at the end of the film and just faints again so that didn’t help her either. The house maid had more grit and she was only around for 2-3 minutes. Dolly is one of the red herrings in the film who Val is suspicious of, but ultimately doesn’t do much in the film. She does try to hold Val back when the villain shows up so at least she is good for aiding the villain. Of course the characters don’t acknowledge that since they aren’t brave enough and Val should have just shoved her aside if he was really trying to protect Cassie.

All right, it’s spoiler time folks. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know the ending. It involves the main villain. It’s a big plot hole that I can’t overlook since the film couldn’t be bothered to address it. As I mentioned earlier, the magician had a very public funeral where everyone saw the body. In that case, how can he have avoided his fate? At the end of the film we learn that he was alive the whole time and merely faked his death. He was living upstairs the whole time and must have brought a lot of snacks with him. I’m cool with him being able to hide for a few days because the mansion is big and he just locked the door he was in. The problem is that someone had to have noticed that the body was fake. This isn’t a CIA film where the villains have access to a bunch of duplicate bodies and this magician is hardly a criminal mastermind. I just don’t believe that he had another body at the ready to fool everyone. At best he murdered someone else, but then why didn’t the town know that someone was missing? The whole thing was just rather unbelievable and the writers clearly just wanted the twist without thinking about it too much.

Overall, I can’t say that this film was all that good. It’s not a terrible film or anything, but at the same time there isn’t much to keep you engaged either. As I mentioned it is very by the books without anything particularly strong to make it stand out. It’s just another film that will fade in your memory eventually. It probably would have gone a little better had the cast been better. At least I can say that the writing wasn’t bad. I mean, the twist was bad and that is a part of the writing, but the script was solid. I also liked the reporter’s friend who quickly showed up just to spoil his cover. The guy was so oblivious that he stole the movie in one scene.

Overall 4/10

Noragami Stray Stories Review

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It’s time to look at the Noragami short stories volume that came out recently. It may get a follow up at some point but seeing as it has been several years I think it’s unlikely so I may as well write the review right? It’s not that good unfortunately as it’s an anthology series which is already difficult and it forgets most of what makes the main series good. It could have been better if it didn’t rely on fanservice for quite a few of the jokes as well.

Let’s start with the stories! One adventure starts off with a guy who is down on his luck so he has decided to jump off of the largest skyscraper in the world. He ends up calling the main character accidentally so Yato jumps off with him to listen to the story. This guy has been using up all of his money to please the whims of a girl he just met since she is broke. The problem is that he gave all of his money to this cause including rent and such. Now he has nothing. Yato helps set him straight and we find out that it was one of the gods messing with the poor chap. It was a bit of an unexpected twist but it makes the girl look pretty mean. Perhaps she didn’t realize I guess. It’s a decent story even if you can’t feel sympathetic to the guy who was wasting his money since he made his choice.

Another story has the main cast chilling at a cabin in the middle of nowhere but someone appears to be trying to assassinate Yato. Someone knocks him on the head with a blunt instrument, poisons him, etc. Of course the main character is a god so he can’t die through mortal means but this killer must be stopped! I think the villain gets off rather easy here as it was an aspiring writer who just wanted to see what murder was like. That’s an interesting justification but the guy should still be locked up if you ask me. Instead he is taken to an institute though so at least he’s not running around scot free. It’s definitely the most fun story here. While Yato is never in any danger or anything like that, it’s still pretty fun to see him try to figure out what’s happening.

Following up on that we have a story where Yato wants to join the main group of gods so he can get rich and famous. The problem is that none of the other gods like him. They have all either dealt with him before or just don’t see what he has to bring to the table. That’s when he decides to possess the main heroine to make it instead. This gets dangerously close to succeeding. It’s a fun story for the first half but you always end up feeling bad for the heroine when she is thrown into these scenes. Yato always crosses a line when he unexpectedly takes control of her like that. He needs to respect the boundaries.

In another story Yato is tricked by a clever fortune teller. The guy tricks Yato into giving away his secrets and then the guy “predicts” them in exchange for money. Yato decides to get revenge by turning the tables on him. It’s a fun enough story and maybe the best one in the batch. It was a little sad to see Yato get played like that but he evened the scoreboard before very long which was good. The guy doesn’t just crumble before a loss, he embraces it! Yato is certainly petty, but that’s part of what makes him such a fun character at times.

One of the shortest stories is when Yato’s sword finds out that he can actually apply to get a real job instead of just hanging around Yato all day. The lead tries to stop him at every turn, but at the end of the day it’s his sidekick’s decision to make. The kid decides to stay with Yato which is the smart thing to do since none of the other gods can be trusted of course, but at least he pretends to be tempted for a while to mess with Yato. Considering how much Yato messes with everyone all the time that is definitely a reasonable thing to do.

Finally we also have the story where someone appears to be stalking Yato. Naturally this is a little distressing to him for 2 reasons. 1 is that mere mortals can hardly even see him and then tend to forget about him entirely a few minutes later. The second is that tracking him should be nearly impossible since Yato is always teleporting around quite frequently. As a result he is quite terrified, but it turns out that the stalker is fairly harmless. Having an internet god makes sense with how big it is and it’s almost too bad that she’s not in the main series. Cyber powers can always be interesting.

The art is pretty solid as always which is good. All of the character models are on point and the art is clear so it’s easy to read. Noragami in general is pretty consistent in that regard. The only time the art tends to get tricky is when there’s a large scale action scene but naturally you won’t be seeing something like that here. It’s just consistent from start to finish.

At the end of the day your enjoyment of this series will largely depend on if you’ve read the main series. Without it you’ll have no reason to care about these characters and most of the gags are based on character traits that we know about the characters through their adventures. At the same time, as this is a pure comedy you won’t care for it either way if you mainly enjoy Noragami for the action scenes. The cast can lend itself well to comedy so a spinoff like this would have potential but the series has definitely got to curb the fanservice if it really wants to get ahead of the crowd.

Overall, The stories here are fairly entertaining but they are brought down by the fanservice that tends to show up. If the series had played it straight then it would have been a solid comedy one shot that I could recommend. As it stands I’d say that you should just read the main series instead. It has its share of issues as well but it has big fight scenes to distract from them. It’s still surprising in general that this series got a spinoff but the more the merrier right?

Overall 4/10

Shaman King: The Super Star

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Now I’ve gotten to start the other Shaman King manga. This one’s definitely more of a direct sequel with Yoh and Hao getting involved a bit. I’m glad that it’s cutting to the chase quicker than Flowers. Should be a fun series and the art is pretty solid. I’ll have a review up when the series concludes.

Overall 7/10

Shaman King: Red Crimson

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Shaman King is finally back with a bunch of new content for the fans. This spinoff starts out pretty strongly as we get a lot of action and a pretty large chapter. Seeing as how a tournament is being hinted at as well, I predict that this series has a promising future ahead of it.

Overall 7/10

A Wrinkle in Time Review

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It’s time to look at a recent book adaption. Unfortunately the book wasn’t good so an adaption was ultimately doomed to not be very good either. It’s a real shame since there are better books that we still need proper adaptions of like Daniel X. The film’s plot is just really weak, the characters aren’t likable or enjoyable, and the climax has a lot of plot hax. Yes, you have made it to the final Wrinkle in Time movie!

The plot starts off with a little girl named Meg getting in another fight. Her Mom is worried since this has been happening a lot lately. Meg’s father vanished a while back and he probably isn’t coming back so now at school everyone messes with Meg about it. That’s when an alien breaks into the house and tells Meg that they can find her father. Meg’s brother Charles is cool with this and her friend Calvin is game as well. The alien transports them to another world and now they have to use the powers of friendship and hope to break reality and free her father. Can they do this?

Keep in mind that the plot isn’t really the focus of the film. You can argue that it’s all just an abstract roundabout way of trying to get Meg to come to terms with her feelings. A big chunk of the film is about getting Meg to accept the unexplainable and to believe in the impossible like her father coming back. It’s an interesting moral since usually it’s more about letting go. Honestly this should have focused on the mother more as she knew about the dad’s experiments about teleportation and never did a thing to try and find him. Shouldn’t she have suspected the most what had really happened as opposed to just buying into his disappearance?

Meanwhile the 3 aliens are extremely annoying and don’t contribute anything interesting to the film. For starters, they don’t know how to interact with humans which gets really grating right from the start. They constantly insult Meg (Okay, just the main one throws the insults, but the others express their doubts a lot) just like the bullies in the real world. Are these really the cosmic beings that we are supposed to root for? They don’t get any good scenes and throw Meg into this world with no context so of course she is having some trouble. They should be more concerned with how Charles is taking everything in stride.

Charles was the worst character in the book and that hasn’t changed here. The film did a good job of reducing his scenes quite a bit which was great but at the end of the day nothing can really save his unfortunate ending. He’s very weak willed so the darkness can control him quite easily. It makes for a visually interesting climax where he gains telekinesis and super abilities but that makes him too strong. Meg is just a kid so keep that in mind and he has super powers. She literally has no chance of victory but even after getting thrown around the room multiple times to the point where she should have died, Charles is convinced to turn good again through the power of friendship. I think the climax should have been handled way differently. As it is Charles was less shady than in the book but either way the betrayal was a bit much.

Then we have Calvin who is just annoying the whole time. He’s pretty much here just to try and add in a bit of romance. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work very well. He adds absolutely nothing to the film and just seems unrealistic. He helps her self esteem a lot and seems like a nice kid, but of course he needs to have a sob story as well. Why can’t he just be a nice guy who isn’t trying to compensate for something? The romance doesn’t get much of a focus fortunately but you do have to question why it was around in the first place.

The cast is rather small as the film is focusing on the visuals and not developing everyone. Unfortunately that means that every bad character really hurts the film and that is the case here. Lets make sure we have the record straight. We have Calvin who is a filler character. He’s not terrible, but he isn’t good. Then we have Charles who is a terrible character. The 3 Aliens are also super annoying. Meg isn’t very likable either as she is simply too mopey and constantly doubting herself. By the end of the film she finally gains confidence but it’s too late. We have the school personnel who are bad at their job like expected and then the bullies are added in as fluff. The Father is a poor character as well if you ask me. Maybe he shouldn’t be blamed for being powerless to escape his prison, but the guy just came across as really unprepared and had a tendency to give up easily.

As you can see this film just really didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, its biggest offense for the most part is simply that it was very boring. It’s not as if it made huge mistakes that would make me give it a terrible score like a 2. It won’t be positive either though since I just can’t recommend a boring film either. The film just has no life in it or any real imagination either. It just feels soul less and never gets you engaged. It’s like a fantasy film without any good lore behind it.

Overall, A Wrinkle In Time gets a hard pass from me. If you want to watch something that makes you feel like you’re watching a real film then check out something like Narnia instead. You will leave that film feeling a lot more fulfilled and it’ll probably age better as well. Perhaps a sequel to this film would work better now that the introductions are out of the way but it would still need a plot that is actually interesting to back it up so that may be a little too much for this series to handle as well. Still, with a sequel there is always hope I suppose.

Overall 4/10

Teen Wolf Review

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It’s time for a teen party film by the name of Teen Wolf. These guys seem to party more than they actually attend class so it makes sense why they are all bad influences on each other. It’s definitely a pretty interesting take on the whole Werewolf genre and I’d actually say that it is handled better than most. It is a lot different than I was expecting it to be at any rate based on the fact that the TV probably chose the worst poster for it. It suffers from quite a few issues, but not any of the Werewolf ones. Instead, it suffers from the issues a teenage party film usually runs into. I guess if it’s not one thing then it’s the other right?

So, the film starts off by showing us how Scott is a lot like Peter Parker. He isn’t very good at sports. In fact, his team never wins a single game. He’s definitely not very popular and Scott just feels like things never go his way. The popular girl in school won’t even talk to him, but in this case it’s Scott who is being obnoxious since he knows she is taken, but acts like that doesn’t even matter. Well, things all change one day when he begins turning into a Werewolf. Now he can finally become the popular guy he always wanted to be, but it may end up coming at the cost of his old friends. Is it worth the popularity?

The film even seems to recognize the similarities to Spider-Man as they reference the “With great power comes great responsibility” line and it’s Scott’s father who tells him this. His mother also may have been murdered by the school bully as he mentions in passing that he’s dealt with Scott’s kind before and how he got the Mom with a shotgun. This could just be classic bully posturing and he got a normal wolf, but the Mom never actually appears so it’s up in the air. I wouldn’t even say it’s all that implied though so it’s a bit of a stretch. You could also say that the film’s moral dilemma is similar to the huge Bayonetta controversy going on right now. You could pay 5.99 to start winning thousands of dollars through tournies and get popular, but you may alienate your old friends as they struggle to keep up with the freemium characters. As your ego grows larger and the friendships grow smaller, it gets tricky.

I have to give the film huge kudos for having a big plot twist that I actually didn’t expect. Naturally Scott is going through a tough time and his Dad wants to help him. At this point, Scott is in full wolf man mode so if he opens the door then his secret is out. However, if he doesn’t then his Dad’s gonna bust the door open. So, Scott opens the door and you expect him to have transformed back to normal in typical cliche fashion. Instead, he is still a werewolf and what’s more..his Dad is a werewolf too. He takes it very commonly and that was probably the best scene in the film. From here on out his Dad probably should have taught him more about being a werewolf whether Scott was ready to hear it or not, but it was still a cool twist even if the film doesn’t do a whole lot with it.

I also like how the Basketball team completely accepts him instead of everyone suddenly turning on Scott. He’s the same guy after all so why should they start fearing him? They shouldn’t suddenly call the cops and start attacking him or anything. Realistically, he’s just another one of the guys, but with super strength and speed now. It made the Basketball scenes even more hype even if he became a ball hog. I don’t buy into Scott not actually realizing why everyone was getting upset at him to be honest since he made it obvious that his friends weren’t needed, but it was still cool. The basketball scenes actually had a lot more screen time and focus than I had originally thought they would. The final game is super cheesy since the team is up against the champs and all, but it’s still a fun ending. I got some Air Bud flashbacks during this. If the film had stuck to the Basketball plot along with the Werewolf part then this film would have actually been quite solid.

Unfortunately, it does get hurt quite a bit by the romance plot as well as the various party scenes. The first party is incredibly long and definitely doesn’t do the film any favors. It’s basically just everyone acting super obnoxious and playing Spin The Bottle sort of games. Scott’s friend Boof is always trying for him, but he’s trying for someone else leading to one of those annoying triangles. Boof is able to corner Scott in the closet and as with most film leads he doesn’t mind relenting at this point, but he’ll still go after the other girl next. It’s just a very sad case of rebounding since Scott ditches Boof like last year’s pizzeria and immediately goes for the other girl even after she had been mean to him the whole time. After the girl uses Scott and then dumps him, he comes crying back to Boof. This isn’t a good romance since Boof was Scott’s backup pick and she should have been the one to reject him this time.

Scott isn’t even a good character so it’s not like you can root for him. The romance scenes make this painfully apparent. Then he lets his ego control him for all of his Werewolf scenes and can’t control his urges much either. I think that just about anyone would have done a better job of using his powers. He also is willing to buy some beer even though he is underage. At least he said no to the gun, but it still wasn’t a good move. His friend Stiles is the perfect example of a bad influence as he loves to break the rules in every possible way. He isn’t lacking in confidence which makes him charismatic, but also dangerous. His only redeemable quality is that he’s loyal to Scott at least. He cheered along with everyone else when Scott finally scored and it was a pretty hype moment. They didn’t care about standing out, just supporting Scott.

The Principal is an interesting antagonist although his role isn’t all that big. He just has a big grudge against Scott since he had issues with Scott’s father. That would probably make for a decently interesting prequel but since we already know the ending, maybe it’s best to let that lie. The principal, well I guess he was technically the vice principal, (but then where was the principal?) may have lost but he put on a good show. Even if Boof probably made the wrong call in sticking with Scott despite the main character not being loyal, she’s still a good character at least. While I doubt she’s much better than the other teenagers as she was still at the party, at least she isn’t completely off the rails.

Surprisingly, the few scenes we see of school aren’t that bad. I did enjoy the montage of Scott getting knocked out during class since they kept referencing Wolves many times. He handled it pretty well for the most part and even when he ran to the rest room he showed great speed and only slipped a few times on the way. The visual humor of how long the hallway was worked pretty well and this scene also showed how perceptive the vice principal was as he almost caught Scott. It also showed us how one of the friends from the early part of the film really was fake since he got scared off so easily.

Finally, I should give a quick shoutout to the basketball coach. He was definitely great as he hit Scott with the hard truth. He always kept it real and said what was on his mind. Even when the other students turned their backs on Scott, the teacher stayed firm. As long as he had his snacks and got 12 hours of sleep he was close content. At the end of the day that was all he needed and really was a great coach. He is easily the best character in the film and any scene with him in it tends to be pretty hype.

Overall, Teen Wolf is better than I thought it’d be. The humor isn’t bad and the Basketball scenes are really good. It’s just the dreadful party scenes that don’t help matters and Scott is a very poor lead. You can’t feel bad for him because as the Dad mentioned, he dug these holes on his own. Going out with the girl who was only using him was probably the worst part of that. It’s not really a film that I’d recommend, but I can see why it’s well liked. The two best aspects of the film, Basketball team accepting Scott and the father being a Werewolfs were extremely well handled and were really unexpected. It’s not everyday that a film can pull off something that is unexpected while also being good. That alone is enough to keep this film afloat even if it can’t get any higher than that. I think that what we have learned here is that if you want to be a good Werewolf film then you also need to try and be a good sports film. That’s the ticket to victory.

Overall 6/10

Freaky Friday Review

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Freaky Friday has always had a very solid premise. What if you could literally live a day in someone else’s shoes? You can use such a plot to show that things often appear to be easier than they really are. In real life this can most certainly be the case. Some who look like they’re having a great time may actually be struggling with something and others may actually just be having as much fun as they appear to be. There are quite a few variations of this. Gender Swap, self explanatory, Age Swap, switch with someone older or younger, Time Swap, switch with someone from the future or the past, and the only bad one, Animal Swap, self explanatory. Nobody wants to see a human act like an animal.

The film starts by showing us the strained relationship between Annabel and Ellen. Ellen is going through that rebellious phase where she is being tough to deal with for no particular reason at all. She is excelling at sports but her grades are slipping fast and her eating habits are terrible. Meanwhile Annabel is doing her best to run the place despite that but it’s been a long day and she has numerous chores not to mention that her husband Bill is always getting into trouble and she has to bail him out. Annabel and Ellen wish they could swap places and so begins the craziest day of their lives.

I definitely think this genre always has a bunch of potential. Honestly I’d say the Your Name version has more potential since their lives are very different so they have to try and adapt. Not to mention that they are unaware of who the other person is so it’s not like they can rely on memory. With the mother and daughter combination, their lives aren’t very far apart. In theory they have probably seen each other’s lifestyles many times. There’s still a lot you can do here, but that’s why the gender swap typically has more potential than the age swap, but you could argue that the main variable is having the characters not know who they are swapping with. The film gets around some of that by having the main character be rebellious. In theory she makes sure not to tell Ellen anything so at the very least her school life will be a surprise.

So who has the edge here? Well, I’d say that the Mom should be able to assimilate a lot better into the lifestyle. The school problems should be a breeze. Naturally I can see how the sports and water skiing would be a problem but for the most part she will do just fine. On the other hand, Annabel is doomed right from the start because she’s likely never cleaned in her life and by shutting herself off from everyone she doesn’t even have any basic intel on what a normal day is like. Basically, Annabel put herself in this bad predicament.

At first I was a little confused with the Dad. He comes off as a big of a condescending jerk in the beginning but these moments come as flashes. I thought the film was trying to make him a nice guy and the execution was off or the film didn’t age well. However it turns out the film was playing him up as an antagonist from the start so I’ll give the film some props here. It was handled very subtly to the point where the film could have find either way. Taking him down the villain path definitely makes sense because he is pretty extreme by the end. He forces his daughter to go water skiing for the big party by tricking her into it. He has a secretary who also gets a little tricky but Ellen put a stop to that. If anything the Dad gets off rather light by the end. Nothing actually happens to him and there is no real indication that he has changed as a person. At least both heroines are aware of his personality a little more now so maybe they will change him.

One of the most intense scenes in the film was definitely the soccer game. These kids apparently play really dirty and actually throw elbows to the face and blatantly trip Ellen. I could have sworn there was a punch to the face as well but I cannot confirm that. Needless to say this was Ellen’s worst scene. She just stands around and lets them beat her up for a while. When she finally gets up and decides to play, she scores for the wrong team. That’s something I’ve never quite gotten since you’d think that you would notice everyone telling you to stop. Why would you still go through with it? That’s one of the few scenes where you can’t really sympathize with Ellen. She blew her whole team’s chance at winning the championship and even though it’s played for laughs I’d say that this is the saddest scene in the movie.

The climax is a very long car chase which was certainly interesting. It does overstay its welcome after a while though and I have to question just how well Annabel was driving. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought driving was a whole lot easier than people always make it out to be but she made a big deal about not being able to drive beforehand. Then she is able to out drive the cops with ease in the next scene. The cops were good with snap judgement though like when their car split in two they made sure not to be close to the center and quickly got out to make sure their respective partner was okay. That’s what I expect from the trained professionals.

One subplot that certainly isn’t very good is the next door neighbor. Annabel likes him so she decides to put in a good word for herself after transforming but things get a little iffy here. Romance is one thing you need to completely avoid in age swapping films for obvious reasons. Ellen’s reputation has been absolutely tarnished here. The neighbor also didn’t have a real reason to be in the film. It’s not like he added anything so taking him away wouldn’t affect the story. If you’re going to add a character just for the fun of it, they have to be good. The house maid is a nice example of this as she shows up just to mock Ellen a lot and never steps outside of her comfort zone. The maid knows what she is being paid to do and won’t do anything extra. She just wants to go get a drink with the money she earns.
Freaky Friday is a decent comedy film but Sue holds it back quite a bit. She’s not even remotely likable and it’s always sad to see someone’s life being sabotaged when they can’t even do anything about it. Talk about tragic right? Even Annabel’s friends seem rather mean with how they pranked her after getting the correct answers. Sure, Ellen lost all of her common sense in the scene and for most of the first half as well but maybe transforming just does that to you. It could be a side effect.

Overall, Freaky Friday is fun and it doesn’t drag on. The pacing is solid and the concept is sound. It may drop the ball at times by going for too many plots and not having the two characters meet while in different bodies though. It’s not a perfect example of the genre and is lacking in replay value as there’s not much reason to watch it again. That being said, I’d likely recommend it if you like the genre. Just be prepared to be annoyed by Annabel, who doesn’t have any good moments in the entire film. There’s never a chance to feel bad for her.

Overall 5/10

Dark Tower Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Review

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It’s time for another Dracula film. This series has never been particularly good and this one is no exception. Dracula’s a joke and everyone knows it. Even the poster knows this. Look at his facial expression above and tell me that this is a serious villain. He died from falling in a pool of water in the last film! This guy is played for laughs at times and if he is meant to be completely serious then that’s almost sad. Anyway, this film does nothing unique and instead just goes through the motions without doing anything cool or interesting. It’s definitely a very forgettable film and one that will soon blend in with the rest. There’s just nothing to really like here but it is always surreal to see some of the choices that the main characters make. Needless to say they were not prepared for a fight like this.

The film starts off with Dracula murdering someone and we then cut to the present where Ernest walks into that town. Everyone is still afraid of Dracula because while he may be dead at the moment, his aura is still enough to corrupt everything that it reaches. It apparently even gets into the Church so everyone just hangs around the bar now. Ernest laughs at them and runs over to Dracula’s castle which he seals with the Cross. Unfortunately, the drunk pastor who had been following him trips and breaks Dracula out of his tomb of ice. Dracula then decides to team up with this guy so they can get revenge on Ernest by getting his nephew, Maria. Will their nefarious plan succeed?

Dracula has just never been a good concept for a film. I still stand by that today. The writing is often terrible for these films and they just heavily rely on shock value the entire time. The heroes also never manage to stop him before he bites the main heroine so they’re simply too late. The fact that his victims all crumble into quivering children when faced with his power is also annoying. They’ll just start fainting and running away while in his presence which is not really the kind of thing you want to see from characters who are supposed to have strong wills. The pastor guy was drunk and apparently spineless from the start though so I suppose I shouldn’t use him as a base to judge anything.

Still, the characters are really annoying. First off we’ve got our lead Paul. He wants to leave a good impression with Maria’s folks since he is supposedly serious about her, but that doesn’t stop him from passing through the bar and deciding to drink a little. Naturally this doesn’t end well and he messes up the Uncle’s big return by ruining the mood. He decides to sulk by getting even more drunk and allowing himself to be ensnared by the waitress named Zena. He hardly resists her actions and just shrugs it off. Then when Maria actually needs his help he gets one shotted by Dracula several times. He missed with the fire shovel and then runs right into Dracula’s arms. Paul’s a terrible main character and I certainly couldn’t support him during the movie. He makes all of the wrong decisions and doesn’t come off as genuine. How do you lose so many battles in one film?

Unfortunately, Maria is just as bad. She gets mind controlled by Dracula and gets thrown into a dungeon by the waitress. The heroes get to her in time before anything drastic occurs and ask her what happened. Her response is to faint multiple times and to explain in the most cryptic and misleading ways possible. She doesn’t mention any of the people who were there, which puts the heroes at a disadvantage. Thanks to her weak mind, Dracula can also enter the house as she opens the windows for him. While not everyone can agree with me that mind control only works on the weak that quickly, we can all agree that she should have at least told everyone what happened the first time.

Meanwhile, we’ve got Ernest. He’s probably the only quality character in the film and even then he makes some of the same mistakes as the others. He is betrayed and knocked out to the point of death by the drunk. Later, we see the drunk arrive at his house with Paul (Paul invited him because he’s helpful like that) and instead of warning everyone that the guy is evil, Ernest faints from fright. It’s almost amusing since you Never see the old, experienced tough guy faint in a film like this one. It’s unheard of and also incredibly hard to wrap your head around this. It doesn’t make any sense and it feels like a lazy way for the writers to get Maria kidnapped. Otherwise there’s no way Dracula could have broken in.

Zena is the waitress and she’s certainly not a good character. She only exists to flirt with everyone and to get Paul on the wrong path. You know that she is doomed immediately since that always happens to these characters in horror films. Staying in the friend zone is typically the only way you’re safe. Zena didn’t and ultimately ended up paying the price. As for Dracula himself, he’s not really a cool villain at all. He blames all of his failings on Zena and doesn’t even look very good in combat. He shrinks away in fear whenever someone holds some fire or the cross. He trips over his own feet in the climax as he lands in his doom. He even sleeps in a coffin that’s in the basement of a busy bread shop so it’s easy for someone to murder him during the day. It’s almost hard to see why everyone fears him so much when the guy just isn’t very smart.

This film is also pretty violent as you would expect from a Hammer production. It really does its best to show blood whenever possible and lots of it. Everyone gushes blood as if we’re back in Bleach whenever they’re stabbed and you can tell that they’re just doing it because they can. The Vampire bites are still as iffy as ever and since the characters take so long so stop Dracula it can barely be counted as a win. The actual body count actually isn’t all that big in this film but the movie makes sure that each one gets enough screen time for two.

Overall, Dracula Returns is a pretty terrible film. The writing is lousy and the cast of characters are completely uninspired. There is nobody to root for and that is always a problem if you ask me. You won’t be able to stay invested in the film and the best way to get through it is to take a shot of water every time a character makes the worst move possible. Anything stronger than water and you’ll likely faint so try and stay safe. Still, I’d recommend watching many other films before I’d ever even consider this one. If you have to pick a Dracula film, at least pick the modern one from the new cinematic universe that Universal has been putting together. At least that one tries to stay classy.

Overall 1/10