6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Death on the Nile Review


It’s time to look at a mystery film. Both versions of Murder on the Orient Express were quite great. I do tend to enjoy a good mystery after all and a boat is a decent setting. It’s definitely not as good as a train setting but it’s close enough. This is a solid film although it can’t really hold a candle to the Orient Express. It would have been hard for any film to follow that up though and I’d say that this one does give it a good shot. There are a good amount of suspects and the film is fair in letting you decide who the culprit is.

The movie starts off with Linnet finally heading back home after being away for a while. She is quickly introduced as a very rude person who flaunts her wealth with no remorse. Her friend Jackie convinces Linnet to hire Simon as the head of the estate because Jackie and Simon are engaged but both don’t really have any money. This is a pretty iffy request if you think about it and while it’s not personal, that’s why you don’t hire friends. Regardless, Linnet hires Simon, but turns the tables on Jackie by quickly stealing him away. The two of them get married and now Jackie stalks them wherever they go. Linnet and Simon decide to get on a cruise to get away from her but Linnet is quickly murdered. Fortunately, Poirot was on the cruise and now it’s up to him along with Colonel Race to get to the bottom of this. It’ll be tough though since everyone on the cruise has reason to murder Linnet.

One thing about this film is it does take a loooong time for the murder to happen to the point where I’d almost consider that to be a spoiler. Still, it’s technically the main plot so I included it in the summary but if you go in blind it’ll probably be extra fun although you would suspect it early on. I think parts of the opening could have definitely been trimmed to get to the murder and investigation a little earlier though. We need a lot of the scenes to establish motives and all, but parts still could have been trimmed up some. It wouldn’t be necessary depending on the cast but most of the suspects aren’t all that interesting here compared to the first film.

The film successfully shows Linnet to be a rather mean person. I do think that her reactions were a bit extra the whole time though. Just having Jackie show up everywhere shouldn’t freak Linnet out each time. Just take it in stride already. I do have to question how Jackie has enough money to follow them everywhere though. She apparently didn’t have much money earlier and I don’t recall any scenes saying she inherited a ton of money or anything like that. These details are minor in some respects, but in a way the whole case depends on these two details which is a bit iffy. There are a lot of other things Linnet could have done that would have changed everything. I think in part that’s what also makes this a weaker case than the first movie. Everything has to go absolutely perfectly for the murder to work out to the point where it’s less believable than the events of the first film.

Naturally I won’t say who the murderer is, but when the method of the murder is explained it’s rather hard to buy into. It seems as if everyone on the ship was deaf and didn’t have very good eyesight. I can’t say much more than that without it at least hinting as to who the murderer is, but I wasn’t sold. Even considering that though, the film does give you a fair chance at figuring out the murderer. You just have to decide whose motive is best and also how well each of their alibi’s stick. Since every character has an alibi you get to determine which one doesn’t hold true. It’s a pretty fun mental exercise as the film plays out. So even if the ending may be a bit tricky, the case itself is nice and engaging.

Poirot makes for a fun lead. He’s definitely very confident at all times which is really good for a detective. Who wants a detective who doesn’t believe in his skills and gives luck a lot of credit? Poirot also enjoys messing with the others quite a bit and also likes a nice meal. He doesn’t let a bunch of murders get in the way of his appetite. Race makes for a fun sidekick as he follows Poirot around. While he may not be quite as quick to figure things out as the sleuth, Race is definitely helpful here because without him Poirot wouldn’t be able to just run around everyone’s cabins so easily.

Lets take a look at all the suspects now. First up is Jackie who has threatened to murder Linnet quite a bit over the course of the film. She has a gun in her possession and the motive is naturally so that she can be back together with Simon. Simon’s motive is easy, the guy doesn’t have a dollar to his name and so if he murders Linnet then he gets everything. The guy is obviously flighty given how easily he leaves one engagement to the next so maybe he’s found someone else. You’ve got Louise who has worked for Linnet for many years. Unfortunately for her Linnet hasn’t given her any inheritance yet to go and be with a guy who’s already married. Linnet tried to explain why this would be foolhardy but Louise wants her married man and may do anything to get some money.

Then you have Andrew who has been stealing money from Linnet for years. Now that she’s married it will be a lot harder to do so without getting caught despite the husband admitting that he loves to sign things without reading them. If Linnet gets bumped off then nobody can ever prove that he swindled the money from her in the past and he will be home free. Schuyler is an old lady who loves precious gems like the ones Linnet owns. There’s no way Linnet would ever part with them so perhaps knocking her off would be the best way to grab them. That would settle the matter pretty quickly. Then you have Schuyler’s maid whose family was ruined by Linnet’s father. This forced the maid to lose everything and work as a maid to a cruel boss. The maid refuses to even talk to Linnet.

Salome writes a lot of romance books but she is being sued by Linnet for some similar characters. Salome doesn’t have a whole lot of money and wouldn’t survive this lawsuit so one way to end things would be to take Linnet down once and for all. Rosalie is Salome’s daughter and her motive is pretty similar. If she can take Linnet out of the picture then her mother won’t go bankrupt and their lives can resume as normal. Jim is a guy who doesn’t like rich people very much and especially not Linnet. He mentions several times that somebody should bump her off so perhaps he nominated himself for that role. If he were to take her out then the world would be closer to being balanced once more. Finally, we have Ludwig who has been taking a lot of heat by Linnet for various treatments he has given that did not work out. Several of his patients have even died and if this publicity keeps up then he will be destroyed. The only way to stop her from talking would be to silence her.

So those are all of the suspects and motives. As you can see there are a ton of suspects here. Part of why the film is so long is that it tries to develop all of them. Some of the characters look real similar too so it can be easy to mix a few of them up. Still, the more suspects the better because that gives you more options and makes picking the correct culprit a whole lot more difficult. One tough thing though can be that at times some of the accents are a little tough to follow. Race comments on that quite a few times since Poirot loves to troll him by speaking in French. It’s always suspicious when someone isn’t talking in English.

Overall, This is a pretty fun film. The first half is a bit on the slow side but once the murder happens then the film picks up as you would expect it to. The writing here is definitely pretty solid. While I do have some issues with how the death ultimately occurred I still wouldn’t say that it is totally impossible either. It just comes across as very convenient the whole time. I had no other real issues here. If you want to see a solid murder mystery with a lot of moving pieces then I definitely recommend checking this one out. You can’t really go wrong with a quality mystery after all.

Overall 6/10

2 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent horror film. You’ll probably remember hearing the name from a while back even if the film was pretty quiet once it came out. I remember thinking the trailer didn’t look so good and the film follows suit. It does its best to be pretty edgy and give you some stories that are both dark and gross, but the end result is a mess that I can’t recommend. It’s not the worst horror film that I’ve seen, but it’s about average for the genre. Average for a horror film is not very good overall.

The film starts with a group of teens deciding to get revenge on the school bully. For years he has tormented them quite a lot and so this Halloween they are going to load their treat bucket with things other than treats. When Tommy steals it they realize that they didn’t have much of a plan beyond that. They meet up with a guy named Ramon and then the whole crew gets locked by the bully inside a haunted house. There Stella finds a mysterious book that was written by the girl who used to live here before everyone got murdered. Now the book is writing a new story every night and the person whose name is on the page dies a gruesome death. Can Stella break the curse or are all of her friends about to be destroyed?

It’s a pretty standard horror plot. When you awaken an evil being from the past she always tries to murder everyone. The nice ghosts never come out to play, but I suppose it’s because they are always willing to move on. The main characters definitely aren’t the most sympathetic figures around though. Their whole intro is about getting revenge on Tommy and two wrongs never make a right. Additionally the film does its best to make each character as unlikable as possible. Auggie is always insulting his sister and Chuck can’t help but stare at her through the window. Stella is ultra goth and loves talking about all these gruesome murders that used to occur. Naturally the group would awaken a monster by breaking into a house and reading a book they shouldn’t have. The whole thing started because they broke the law and busted in the house after all.

The characters never really improve. Chuck is pretty bad from start to finish. He panics quite a lot and quickly makes all of the wrong moves possible. Ditching the other main characters to run on his own is one of the worst things you can do when someone is bumping people off one at a time. If you’re with someone else then usually you’re at least a little safer. I’d make the case that his death did break the rule of each character being murdered at night though, but why should villains follow the rules right? His murder is probably the most interesting one though and easily had the best visuals. The monster who got him looked like a legitimate video game character and was also one of the toughest dilemmas to get out of. Since this villain controlled space and time there isn’t much you can do. Certainly one of the scariest hugs I’ve seen in a while.

Then we have Auggie who is also pretty bad. He’s shown to be way too desperate the whole time and only slightly more mature than Chuck. His death was pretty awful in part because Auggie was given every opportunity to escape. It’s one of those scenes that exposes the film’s writing and nothing in the scene makes sense. Auggie knows that the story is about eating a toe and the heroes keep telling him not to eat the stew, but he does anyway. He doesn’t even look before taking a bite. The scene was terrible in every way possible and it’s just hard to have more sympathy for him at this point because it’s like he wanted the monster to show up. How do you still eat the stew even when everyone told you not to do so at least a dozen times? He hides under the bed and closes his eyes so afterwards he doesn’t know where the villain is. Great…

Stella at least has an origin story to explain why she is so into murder. Something happened with her Mom a while back which messed her up and with these murders being activated by her she is not taking things so well. Still, she’s just not much of a fun character and is hanging out with a pretty bad crowd. Getting knocked into the parallel dimension didn’t do wonders for her. By virtue of being the main character she does get a lot to do and is better than her two sidekicks but never really made it into the next tier of being a solid lead.

The best character in the film is easily Ramon. He’s actually a quality character who is trying to get out of the town without getting into trouble. He’s in the wrong town for that though and you feel bad for him when the characters jump into his car and get him into trouble. Ramon can take care of himself pretty well but there’s not much you can do against super powered monsters. He still lasts for quite a while on his own though. His backstory is also pretty sympathetic since it’s hard to do something when there’s a good chance you’ll be murdered. At least his decisions actually made a lot of sense from start to finish.

While this movie isn’t an anthology you could say that the murders follow that style. Each murder is pretty different as everyone faces a different kind of threat. The hug one was pretty cool and the Scarecrow was also intense. The guy probably could have handled the situation a little better but it was another reality warping kind of threat so ultimately it would all be futile. You still shouldn’t trip so often though. The guy was drunk which didn’t help matters for him. The monster under the bed was pretty hype as well.

The spiders was definitely the worst one though. That one’s more gross than scary with spiders that defy logic. I’d argue that it was probably the most vicious way to go with the hug being the easiest since it didn’t look particularly painful or anything. The film did seem to like its more gross plots though like the toe and the bag or stuff that the heroes used early on. The scenes are brief but don’t really help its case. The film couldn’t resist and gets quite dark by the end with the backstory of the villain who is murdering everyone. We get a pretty long torture scene which is always a quick way to lose a lot of points. I feel like almost every horror film has a backstory for how the villain became all powerful and it’s always completely unnecessary. Keeping that out of things would have been good. The film should have focused on the old lady and the dog more although of course that’s always risky. The film actually did good in not letting the dog get destroyed in this film. I was pretty worried about that for a while there.

The film tries to have an emotional subplot with Stella’s Dad. He doesn’t get to appear much but he seems like a good guy. He gives her a lot of good advice throughout the film like not going outside after dark but she never listens. It’s a pretty tough situation for him too. He’s not handling it perfectly but he’s trying. It’s a plot that largely gets pushed to the side though as the movie has no real time for it. In theory a sequel would explore this more based on the ending although that doesn’t seem like it’s likely to happen. I also think a sequel wouldn’t be needed if Stella had just written a few more lines. I can’t say much more than that for spoiler reasons but if you watch the film you’ll see what I mean.

Overall, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is basically your average horror film. I’d say that it has above average graphics as some of the monsters were pretty good. It’s still held back by the usual elements though like some overly dark details and terrible writing. The characters really could have played things out a lot better than they did to the point where it was almost like a parody at times. It’s all played deadly serious though so hopefully the writers were self-aware but it’s really hard to say. If you like horror films then you’ll probably enjoy this one, otherwise I’d recommend going back and watching some Scooby Doo features instead.

Overall 2/10

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Night Must Fall Review


It’s time to look at a pretty terrible film from way back in the day. The title isn’t half bad so you may have held out some hope for this movie being good. Well, hope no longer as this film takes that away pretty quick! All of the characters here are crazy and none of them ever make the right moves. The film drags on quite a bit and Danny gets away with quite a lot before they finally take him down. None of this would have flown over in NY as half the characters would have pounded him for all the disrespect he was throwing around.

The film starts off with Danny murdering someone and then running off. He decides that the best way to get past the murder is to begin working at the mansion near it. He and Dora are already together with a kid on the way and while there he begins to rebound with Olivia and even has a weird relationship with Olivia’s aunt Bramson. Everyone wants Danny and he uses this to his advantage as he manipulates all of them. It’s practically a harem setup only it’s not used well (It rarely is to be honest) and with the whole murder plot in the background you’re just hoping that the characters will hurry up and start to put the pieces together already. It all feels like it is just taking way too long the whole time.

Part of what makes the film so terrible is that Danny is an openly terrible guy. He doesn’t even try to pretend that he might be a good person and as such that makes you wonder why the characters don’t just report him. A good example of this is with Olivia. She wants nothing to do with him especially since she is already in a relationship. He doesn’t like that very much so he breaks into her room and intimidates her a lot verbally and physically. She responds to this by breaking down, but then getting together with him in almost the very next scene. It’s unknown why she fell for him and it’s a terrible romance setup either way. Likewise with Mrs. Bramson he starts off by threatening her and heavily implying that he’ll destroy her if she says something that he doesn’t like. She somehow takes this as being charming and quickly thinks of him as her new son.

I don’t know what the writers were thinking but the film just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like they had a basic plot in mind but no real plan on how to get from point A to B. It was a disaster all the way through. None of the film makes any sense and while a good cast can save a bad plot, there was none of that to be had here. I’ve already explained why Danny is a terrible character for the most part, but it’s also worth mentioning that he is totally crazy and continues to lose his grip on sanity as the movie progresses. Early on you can already tell that he’s pretty unbalanced though…he did murder someone after all.

The other characters are just unrealistic. We don’t know how Dora met up with Danny, but she definitely went too far too fast. The kind of guy who moves that quickly is probably not the most trustworthy so it’s no big shock that he chickened out at the end. Olivia falling for Danny at all is terrible and I have to blame her a lot here. She has little self-respect to allow Danny to treat her the way that he does and still hang out with him. It’s a pretty abusive situation the whole time. Then you have Bramson who also seems off her rocker for the same exact reasons as Olivia. She really didn’t think any of this through.

The film also doesn’t even work as a murder mystery since we know who the guilty guy is from the start. The cops go through the motions, but they really don’t do much of anything the whole time. It takes them forever and a day to finally get the right area as it is. With how unsubtle the guy is I feel like someone in town would have known that the dead person was last seen with Danny. That would at least draw some suspicion and ideally they could piece it together from there. Instead they chat it up with Danny for being such a lady’s man at one point.

So what could have saved this film? Well, having one sane character would have been good. Someone to keep Danny in check and to call out all the other characters. Imagine how good it would have been to have had one character just step in and end things. He could have been away on vacation or something and shows up 20 minutes into the film. He’d be shocked at how low everyone has fallen and would have quickly set things in order leading up to a climactic battle with Danny. Danny would probably die from the guy’s axe skills, but it would all be in self-defense. I doubt the film would have been all that good even with this, but it would have at least managed to score a few points.

Overall, Night Must Fall is definitely a film that I have to give a thumbs down. It isn’t interesting and the characters are simply painful to watch. It’s all handled so horribly and the romance here would have to be one of the weakest ones that I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s a film that feels like it goes on forever and the best thing you can do is to avoid watching it entirely. You’ll be glad that you skipped this one and there are many better horror films that you can check out in its stead. Come to think of it, almost all the scenes in this film take place during the day so even the title takes a while to happen. Only night scene I can think of is the coffee one which is terrible.

Overall 0/10

Live Action Movies

Young Man with a Horn


It’s time to look at an old movie based on an old novel which is based on a true story from a while ago. Naturally that means this review won’t have a score, but I will still dig into the movie. It’s one of those stories where it’s very hard to sympathize with the main character, at least with how he was depicted in the movie. They really make him an unbearable jerk the whole time and he makes so many wrong choices in a row that you figure he might as well be the villain. All right, lets jump in!

The movie starts off with Rick as a kid. He manages to get into a bar and watches Art play the Trumpet. Rick quickly realizes that this is the best instrument out there and decides to dedicate his life to it. He has a lot of ups and downs as the years go by since he likes to do his own thing. He’d rather play the wrong notes on purpose and get fired rather than do his job. Rick’s a free spirit who loves sabotaging himself. That’s when he finds the ultimate opportunity to do so. He currently has a great job with nice friends Smoke and Jo, as well as a good nightlife where he hangs out with his old friends. This all changes when Amy shows up and convinces Rick to throw it all away for her. She also forewarns him that she will destroy him much like she has destroyed everyone else who decided to have a fling with her. Rick accepts this challenge with a grin…and his life is quickly destroyed.

Whoops, that’s basically the whole film, but it’s hard to summarize that. See, Rick is one of those guys who has a lot of advantages in life. He’s a musical prodigy and he was in the right place at the right time often enough where he got a bunch of gigs. The problem is that he’s incredibly unlikable. He is quick to betray his friends for a girl that he literally just met. He then decides to marry her almost immediately because he has fallen for her so hard. After that he indirectly murders one of his old friends and it’s at this point that he finally realizes how Amy has changed him…and then gets into alcohol and falls further into despair.

Look, the film is trying to give Rick a big character redemption arc, but it’s way too late. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to turn back after murdering someone because such a redemption can happen, but the circumstances leading up to it and Rick’s actions afterwards just don’t work. He doesn’t show me any real signs that he will change. Even before Rick met Amy he had a lot of issues. There’s no reason why he needed to constantly rebel when on the job just so he could play what he wanted to. That’s simply being spoiled and entitled. If Rick had stuck to his job then none of this would have happened.

He also backstabs Art quite a lot in their final meeting. There’s absolutely no gratitude to the guy who saved his life and career many times. By the end when Rick goes to his funeral and picks up the Trumpet you want someone to slap it out of his hands. Imagine how disrespectful it would be for someone to walk up to a funeral and do that. Sure, nobody knows how he was involved in the accident, but it’s still annoying. That’s enough ranting on Rick, but I don’t have any sympathy for him because the guy knew what he was getting into and did it anyway. If you betray everyone for a stranger who loves twisting people, then that’s a choice you made.

Rick’s friends were good at least. As mentioned, Art was definitely solid. He was always around to help Rick whenever possible and really let him get a good start to his musical career. Smoke was a solid sidekick and someone that you could always count on. He’s definitely a solid guy and stuck by Rick the whole time. Jo was a good heroine as well. She’s not the most upfront person out there, but she meant well. One edge Amy has over Jo is that she’s a lot more direct. While it’s customary for the guy to approach the girl, if you really want someone you better make your feelings known or someone else will. Amy made her call while Jo held her tongue and ultimately it cost her. Still, at least Jo didn’t take it all that personally.

It’s a pretty small cast, but at the end of the day it’s not like you need a whole lot more characters than that. The film is able to tell a pretty complete story with just those guys. The writing is pretty solid with a lot of quick dialogue. It’s not quite as eloquent as some other titles, but it has that same atmosphere which is definitely important. The film’s pacing is also pretty good.

Overall, This is a pretty decent film, but one that is held back by Rick quite a lot. He’s just not a good character. He consistently makes the wrong calls and you almost wish all his friends had befriended someone else. They all would have been positive influences on each other. The ending’s a bit sudden so brace yourself for it, but I suppose the ending could have been a lot worse. If you want to see a film with a lot of Jazz music then this is your best bet. Jazz is always a fun style of music. You don’t hear it a whole lot in movies nowadays, but when it shows up it’s always pretty solid.

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Die Hard 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 far more negative.

It’s time to look at one of those action films that pretty much everyone has heard of at some point or another. Die Hard is a pretty big series at this point with many sequels after all. It’s definitely a pretty fun film and I can definitely see why it is remembered so well. It’ll be interesting to see how the sequels go though. Will they try to feel rehashed or will they try for another dynamic? I’m sure I’ll find out the answer to that at some point.

The film starts with John heading over to his wife’s workplace in time for a big party. Unfortunately Holly wasn’t exactly expecting him and they begin to bicker as per usual. The day suddenly becomes a lot more eventful than John had expected though as a group of terrorists show up and seize control of the tower. John manages to hide on one of the higher levels, but everyone else has been taken hostage. John will have to try and alert the police, but in the meantime he’ll also have to take all of these terrorists out. Fortunately he’s a cop from New York so he has some good experience here, but taking down a dozen+ terrorists with a single gun while trapped in a building isn’t easy no matter what experience you’ve got. He’s going to have to think fast here!

Die Hard definitely won’t disappoint you with the action scenes. There are a bunch of gun fights throughout the movie and some hand to hand brawls as well. There’s always something happening and it makes for a pretty tense environment since he is in enemy territory the whole time. John can never let his guard down or they’ll take the upper hand. It’s a pretty long film, but one that doesn’t feel stretched out. It just gives time for everyone to have a good role at one point or another. For example, the film does a good job with the cops who aren’t useless here. A lot of the time they look pretty iffy in these films, but at least they do try some good plans.

Al is the main cop here and he definitely looks good. At first you may be worried as he starts off by buying a bunch of Twinkies, but eventually he quickly becomes someone that John can count on. He is a little limited in how much he can help since it’s not like he has a high ranking title and getting in the building is tough to start with. At least he actually believes John though. The rest of the cops don’t take the threat as seriously and a bunch of them pay for it. Then the FBI also shows up and they are about as arrogant as you’d expect. I definitely like the confidence even if things don’t end up going too well for them. At least they tried right?

There’s also a decent amount of humor here and it works out pretty well for the most part. There’s definitely a lot of banter going on with the communicators. While they are plot important, I do feel like the writers forget that everyone is on the channel at times. John and Al will be chatting on the line and even mentioning things like the officers coming in, but the villains are presumably listening to this at all times as well. I feel like that should have been addressed a little more. Most likely the cops would have kept dying anyway since they didn’t care though.

John does a good job of not giving away his identity much although you get the feeling that the villains will find out from the start since several of the employees already know his identity. One of them even decides to negotiate with the villains which basically goes as you would expect. He definitely wasn’t the smartest guy in the building as the plan just wasn’t very good to start with. Holly did a much better job of playing it cool and not talking much at all. She did give a bit of info near the beginning, but after that she did good.

So the cast is pretty solid. John’s good and the other characters are likable enough. Then you’ve got his driver who gets a bit of an important role at different points in the film. He definitely earned his tip by the end so hopefully they set him up well after getting out of the car. From the villains the biggest two are definitely Hans and Karl. Karl spends most of the film wanting revenge for one of the other villains, but as a result that definitely clouds his judgment. As for Hans, his plan is definitely an interesting one. It was reasonably well thought out although I think his escape plan felt a little risky. I think a lot of things would have to go right for it to go as smoothly as he seemed to think it would. Still, he was a fun main villain to have. Hans had some decorum and was always polite to the characters even if it was pretty fake.

As you might expect the film can be pretty violent at times though. I wouldn’t say anything too crazy like Alien or anything like that, but enough to be noticeable. The writing is decent and fortunately the TV version helps with that. As I mentioned there definitely aren’t any big weak points for the film. It’s a pretty fun experience through and through. I think the length probably does limit the replay value that this one would have, but the plot is executed well so it is a good watch.

Overall, Die Hard is a film that I’d recommend. It’s a classic takeover plot and while it is always iffy to see the villains take over so quickly the bulk of the plot is always about getting the building back. Even if you stretch your disbelief at the beginning you’ll have ideally forgotten all about that by the time you’re at the end of the film. As such it shouldn’t hurt the film much, if at all unless it’s a really big deal. The film takes itself seriously but also has fun with some of the subplots like making the TV reporting a bit exaggerated. I do think that putting the kids on TV and giving the terrorists extra information is incredibly naive, but the sad part is that I could totally see this happening in real life if this made it on the news while the situation was being reported live. It totally shouldn’t but the channels want the ratings. If you haven’t watched this film yet then you should check it out.

Overall 7/10

2 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf Review


It’s time to look at an old film with a pretty intriguing title. It’s a title that refers to a rather cringy joke in the film and that really sets the tone for what you’re about to experience. This film’s definitely got an interesting premise that could work out in some scenarios, but it takes itself too seriously to work. For this kind of plot the movie has really got to be a comedy of some sort. Making it into a drama takes away its potential entirely and the film ends up getting dragged out.

The film starts off with George and Martha finishing up a party they were at. They make it home and start bickering as usual. At this point their marriage has completely spoiled over, but neither one of them want to end things. This all escalates when Martha lets George know that another couple is coming over to hang out for a while. Their names are Nick and Honey. The two come over but with the older people being tired they decide to escalate their usual name calling. George and Martha begin to openly fight with each other while dragging in the incredibly gullible younger couple. Can these two allow their extremely fragile bond to be broken by complete strangers they’ve only known for a few minutes?

This plot only works if the characters have absolutely no intelligence left within them. Just think of how ludicrous this whole thing is. Why is Nick telling George super private info about his wife when they don’t even know each other? Worse, George is a co-worker so that’ll quickly become gossip. The whole plot is just so forced and contrived that you’ll need a second to catch your breath. Likewise Martha and Honey gossip a bunch. Breaking their bonds was so incredibly easy that it must have not been much of a bond at all.

Naturally all of the characters get pretty drunk as well. Too bad none of them learned how to drink responsibly right? That would have solved most of their issues in an instant. Then the two couples start trying to get each other jealous and it works surprisingly quick. Again, the young couple must not have had any confidence to be manipulated so easily. I thought they were better than that but I guess not.

There are no good characters here though. George is your classic timid guy who gets stepped on by Martha the whole time until he snaps at the end. Then naturally he has the upper hand while Martha suddenly loses all of her fire and gets stepped on the whole time. Each half of the film might as well be a different film with how different the characters act. I wouldn’t call it good writing either as it’s just trying too hard to be somber and dramatic. There’s no reason to like George because he’s just a bully by the end and by the same token there is no reason to like Martha since she is a bully at the beginning.

Then you’ve got Nick who’s pretty mean and standoffish at the beginning, but has absolutely no nerve. Every time George makes some kind of crack about his wife Nick doesn’t do anything except try to protest about it. He should have walked out with Honey early on. He just seems scared of George the whole time and that’s definitely no good. Meanwhile Honey is portrayed as being extremely limited in intelligence and really just gets in the way the whole time. Like I said, there are no good characters here.

The characters are all written to be super annoying as well. They all get drunk and so a lot of their dialogue doesn’t even make sense. They tend to talk in circles and because of that all of the conversations are a whole lot longer than they should be. This contributes to how long and drawn out the film is. Most of the situations should have ended far sooner than they did and the film just becomes annoying after a while. There doesn’t seem to be much of a point to the movie and the plot simply wasn’t large enough to last for such a long period of time.

You have to suspend all disbelief for this film. Why on earth are the younger couple so desperate to talk to someone that they’d stay here? Who thinks it’s a good idea to hang out with this older couple at about 2-3AM? Maybe that was a red flag that these guys were also pretty sketchy. I guess we can also reasonably assume that Nick just wanted to come over to get on Martha’s good graces. He certainly does since by the end it’s heavily implied that he even cheated with her on George. The film really went off the rails. The whole imaginary character didn’t help either. It’s a twist that I figured out early on, but partially because I already had certain expectations of the film. Once it fell apart after the first 5 minutes I would quickly just guess what the worst possible outcome would be for each scene and that’s a pretty accurate way to guess for this kind of film.

Overall, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a very mean spirited film that runs out of logic early on. There’s not a whole lot connecting this story together and as a result it can only try to survive on dialogue. Since the dialogue isn’t particularly strong, actually it’s super weak especially considering how old this film is. Usually dialogue was pretty good in this era so that was disappointing. There’s not much going for the film and it certainly has 0 replay value. The insults get old after the first few minutes and partially because of how half hearted all of the characters are. None of them are really passionate and seem to be going through the motions. Both George and Martha can dish it out, but they can’t take it. They both appear to actually be really sensitive which will make you roll your eyes. I’d definitely recommend sticking away from this film.

Overall 2/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Giant Claw Review


The Giant Claw is a film that I saw quite a while ago so this review’s been living on the backburner. It’s not particularly noteworthy, but at the same time the film does really succeed on all of the fundamentals of making a giant monster film. You’ve got a solid cast, a good monster, and excellent writing throughout. It’s probably one of the better American monster films and yet you just won’t remember it much when you’re done. After all, why watch this one when you can go check out a Godzilla film with Rodan?

The film starts off with Mitch test driving a plane. He’s more of an electrician than a pilot, but he likes being in the air. Unfortunately he sees a giant monster and alerts the government so some pilots scramble to stop it. This leads to one of them vanishing and everyone blames Mitch. They believe he was making things up. They start to sing a different tune once more pilots start getting knocked out of the sky. Now the real question is whether they can even stop this monster!

I liked the monster’s design. He looks like a giant rooster and has quite the appetite. You should hear the way he crunches up the competition! The film does a good job of introducing this bird as a serious threat and he really does terrorize the world. When you think about it, that’s why a flying Kaiju is the scariest creature of them all. You can’t escape a winged menace and you certainly can’t corral it.

Meanwhile Mitch is a pretty good main character. He’s immediately introduced as a bit of a rebel. Since he doesn’t work directly for the army he is able to get away with a lot more like driving crazy and talking back to the government. Mitch does have the bad tendency of getting awful sulky very quick though. Everyone tends to hurt his feelings and he always starts out talking tough but ends up losing the verbal battle by the end. He does do a good job of trolling the heroes at the end when the machine seemingly blows up though. He didn’t mean to troll them of course, but it worked out just right so he played along. Considering the stakes that was definitely impressive.

It’s just his bad luck that everyone is pretty skillful at arguing in this film. It came out in a time when the writing was absolutely dynamite for these movies. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest to see that this was the case here as well. It really lets you get into the film and fully appreciate the drama and story. There isn’t a very large cast as it’s really just Mitch and the heroine. Sally’s a good character as well and does come up with the best plan in the film. Everyone else forgot that there were cameras in the area that could spot the bird. Of course, Sally was in the best position to realize this since it was her project which involved the cameras. It was a good way for her to contribute and in general she does a good job here. She doesn’t faint or anything and is always right in the thick of the action with Mitch. She even uses a gun herself which was definitely nice. She’s a pretty good shot as well.

Now you may be wondering which side I was on, well I was definitely rooting for the giant bird. The humans end up shooting his eggs to prevent the birds from multiplying and in that moment I knew that the bird was the only creature who deserved to win. The baby birds in the eggs didn’t ask for any of this. As for the Giant Bird, it’s definitely pretty emotional when it goes down for the count. It did a pretty good job and took down a lot of opponents, but in the end the army was just too much for it.

There is one really random scene where a bunch of teenagers show up in a car and start mocking Mitch. Naturally they’re all quickly eaten, but the scene just comes out of nowhere. It’s so random that it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. I don’t think the scene is meant to be for laughs of course, but you definitely knew that the teens were gonna be in trouble as soon as they showed up.

Meanwhile, the army definitely looks good even if they are slow on the uptake by the end. Even after Mitch is proven to be correct and there is a giant bird murdering everyone they still try to act tough. When Mitch comes in with a plan the general immediately interrupts him, starts talking about how there’s no time for nonsense, etc. Did he not remember that Mitch is the one who was trying to talk to them from the start? It seemed to be a bit much. On the whole the army did look really good though. I do like how they’re all down to business and have a pretty gruff exterior as they banter with the other characters. They’re definitely not to be trifled with and while the army does get wrecked for a while they did put up a good fight. (After all, the Giant Bird has a full anti matter shield so there’s not much you can do about that. Definitely a cool power btw)

Overall, The Giant Claw is a pretty solid film. As I mentioned, it really succeeds in all of the fundamentals so that guaranteed that it would be solid. It doesn’t really do anything all that special and it’s pretty basic, but that’s why execution is always so important. If the film is weak at anything it just does have a bit of a rushed climax. Once they get the tech to stop the barrier and confront the bird it’s all over as soon as it has begun. I suppose without the shield the bird isn’t all that strong so it makes sense, but I would have liked for it to have fought them off a bird more. All films have to come to an end at some point though so I suppose it makes sense. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then I would recommend changing that. It’s not a well known monster title, but as long as you like the genre you should definitely be able to get behind this one.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

4D Man Review


It’s time for a retro film with one of those names that will give you a lot of preconceived notions before the movie even starts. 4D Man is just a total B film name and you immediately expect a campy type of adventure. You wouldn’t really be wrong either. The film isn’t inherently campy or cheesy, but it does have a pretty crazy plot and the main villain turns evil for pretty much no reason. It’s fairly entertaining all things considered but it never does anything all that extraordinary. It’s certainly worth more of a watch than the average film of this type though.

The film starts with Tony blowing up his lab again. He does mean to do this all the time, but the experiment he is running is highly dangerous and he has yet to perfect it. This leads to a lot of bad results for him. As a result he is let go so he heads over to his brother Scott for some help. Scott offers him a job there, but Tony doesn’t want any handouts. Plus, Tony is irresistible and knows that if he sticks around then Scott’s girlfriend Linda will soon be his. It’s almost presumptuous of him, but he turns out to be correct and decides to stick around to be with Linda. Scott finds out and while he acts like he doesn’t care, he does deep down. He steals Tony’s research and completes it, turning him into the 4D Man. He can now go through things, but it costs him a lot of life points. The only way to replenish them is to murder someone by stealing their life force. Scott decides to do this and now Tony may be the only one who can stop him.

Parts of the plot can be a bit annoying though. Nothing goes right for Scott. First off, he’s being completely taken advantage of by his boss and then his girlfriend starts going with his brother instead. Scott isn’t very good at dealing with people either so he isn’t able to try to talk his way out of it. As a result, becoming a super villain was the only path that he thought he could take. It’s all pretty tragic even if Scott does go off the deep end almost right away though. After he absorbs the energy of 1-2 people by mistake he seems to start enjoying it. If he wasn’t shot at the end he likely would have kept going. Definitely a very sudden character shift if you ask me.

As for Tony, he’s not bad I suppose, but he definitely should have tried harder to stay away from Linda. She tries to go for him almost as soon as they meet which should have been a red flag from the start. Rather than beat around the bush he probably should have told Scott as well why he needed to leave. Instead neither character listens to the other and it all becomes a mess. I have to give half of the blame to Linda as well though. It’s seems to be like she was giving Scott a lot of signals before Tony showed up. Maybe she didn’t and it was all in his head, but from what we saw it seemed like that was the case. Moving on so quickly definitely wasn’t a great move. She did good in the climax though as she actively defended herself. That’s more than what most heroines did back in the day. (Linda did faint in another scene so this was a good way of making a comeback)

The film pretty much plays it by the numbers as it goes on. The writing is solid and the premise was interesting to it manages to coast by. Having one character work on a material that is unbreakable while the other tries to get matter to go through things is interesting. I don’t think we needed to add in the other jealous co-worker though. His plot ultimately doesn’t really have time to go anywhere and feels like a dead end by the time the film ends. Maybe he was just there to give a reason as to why the boss would have Tony’s idea with him which adds to the climax. Still, it would have been easy to have the scene anyway since Scott had a bone to pick with him from the start.

I don’t think the cops handled the climax well though. Sure, they surrounded Scott, but they knew about his powers so why would the guy get so close to him? Scott’s abilities are pretty dangerous, but against a group they aren’t as potent since he needs to become tangible at some point to grab them. Instead the cops get completely outmaneuvered and it costs them dearly. Even at the end everyone runs off so Linda has to deal with the threat on her own. She handles herself well but I’d probably ditch Tony after that.

Overall, 4D Man was a decently fun film. Parts of the story do feel a little forced though like Tony agreeing to cheat with Linda on Scott or Scott turning evil. I dunno, he just didn’t seem quite crazy enough to go full psycho compared to most of the other characters. The film does hint that the actual radiation and such affected his mind a bit though. That or his mind being different from the start which triggered the transformation is to blame. Either way, I think the film could have played him up more as an anti hero than turning full mass murderer by the end. Still, I’d recommend checking this film out if you want to look at a retro thriller film. It’s like watching a villain about Shadowcat but if she was the villain. Intangibility is a simple power, but a very deadly one nonetheless.

Overall 6/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Attack of the Mushroom People Review


It’s time to take a look at a really old school Japanese horror film. I didn’t really know what to expect with this one, but it’s definitely a little different from what I could have ever guessed. It’s definitely a slow burner so fans of the atmosphere approach could enjoy it, but unfortunately a very weak cast filled with terrible characters holds this one all the way back. It ends up being a bad film instead of a decent one. There are some good ideas here, but ultimately they cannot capitalize on them.

The film starts off with a group of sailors trying to sail away from the rest of the world. Each one has a different reason for being on the ship, but ultimately they will be heading to another part of the world where they can really live out their lives. Unfortunately the ship crashes and they all land on a foreign island. They quickly learn that there is more to this island than simple wildlife as the mushrooms are deadly. Left with dwindling resources the characters begin to turn on each other and allow their primal instincts to take over. Can any of the crew survive or at this point have they already lost enough of their humanity for it to not matter anymore?

As I mentioned above, the main problem with the film is the fact that the characters are so bad. I understand that the point of the film is about how all of the characters slowly succumb to the situation, but it’s a very negative outlook. The view that all humans will eventually turn evil is a common one, but certainly not an accurate view nor is it a very entertaining one. The characters start to become corrupt almost immediately and the ones who haven’t turned yet aren’t strong enough to defy them. It makes for a pretty mean spirited film where you know everyone is doomed from the start.

That’s not a bad thing per say as it can be fun to have everyone bumped off. There are quite a few good retro films with a plot like that which works out pretty well. The reason why this one doesn’t work well is because we don’t have the mystery angle to work with and the characters aren’t written nearly well enough to pull this off. The writing isn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t call it good either. The film ends up dragging on quite a bit despite not being very long which is always a very troubling sign.

Then we have the fact that the mushroom people don’t appear much at all. When they finally do show up it’s not as if they are all that impressive in a fight. They aren’t bulletproof or anything like that and are quite slow. The only reason they are even able to put up a basic fight is because the main character, Kenji, isn’t very smart and likes to waste bullets. By the time he is surrounded it is naturally too late as well….or it would be if they weren’t so weak. Kenji manages to overcome 20-1 odds which tells you all you need to know about the mushroom people.

From the rest of the crew we have 3 flat out antagonists. One is a girl named Mami who likes having everyone fight over her so she manipulates the men on the crew. That shows how weak willed they are. Ultimately her plan is mainly to call on everyone’s bluff and she still manages to get the last laugh in the end. Then the other two villains like making threats about how they’ll assault the other crew mates. This is the kind of drama that the film goes for and it’s the low hanging fruit on any situation like this. It doesn’t help the film’s writing at all. If anything it just diminishes the experience greatly like here. When nobody challenges the villains initially after the first threat there is no way to regain respect for the characters either.

Then you’ve also got the villain with a gun who manages to get the heroes at gunpoint 2-3 times. Did they really think they could be safe after locking him inside when everyone else is crazy? Their food supply is stolen several times as everyone else gets really greedy while on the ship. The only one who stays strong is Kenji and even then he seems rather naïve the whole time. Some of the characters get brief backstories but there isn’t much time to explore them.

Aside from the villains who are just plain unlikable, the main heroine may be the worst character here. Akiko is extremely timid and lets everyone walk all over her. She does her best to bring down the mood and atmosphere aboard the ship. Getting seasick is no fun so I won’t blame her for all of that but if she doesn’t get along with everyone then getting on this boat was probably a mistake. Even by the end she ultimately ends up cracking with everyone else. It’s possible that she was forced to eat a mushroom so I won’t be too hard on her, but it doesn’t help her case either. Naturally the heroine who was actually outspoken and ready for action turned out to be evil.

Most of the film is a flashback so you already know that at least one guy will get out safely. That does hurt the tension in the scene where villains surround him since you know that he can’t die there or even be transformed. It’s always an odd tactic to have a flashback be most of the film because you already know the ending. It’s just a huge spoiler. Kenji tries to sound deep and moving by the end, but since he’s already mostly crazy you can’t blame the doctors for keeping a safe distance. They are just looking out for themselves after all.

Overall, I guess I have to say that the film was a little disappointing. The film’s set up just isn’t all that great. I don’t mind the idea of a group of characters being stuck on an island and trying to survive, but then you’ve at least got to have a great group of characters who have solid banter with each other. It should be the group surviving against monsters or dangerous elements. If most of the group is either evil or unlikable then that’s going to take everything away from its potential. You don’t want to watch a civil war between the islanders, especially not with the stakes this high. If you want to watch a classic Toho film then I highly suggest sticking to Dragon Ball Z or Godzilla. This one’s just too much of a slow burner and ultimately doesn’t manage to keep its quality levels up.

Overall 4/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

It Came From Beneath The Sea Review


It Came From Beneath The Sea is an old monster film that you’ve likely heard of even if you may not have seen it yet. The movie deals with a lot of classic monster themes like escaping from towering buildings and finally developing a weapon to stop the threat. It checks off all the right boxes even if there is little imagination in the film to differentiate it.

The film starts off with a giant octopus bringing the pain to a bunch of government agents who were in an underwater sub. In that sense the premise is a little similar to The Meg. The government brings in the two leading authorities on Marine life in the world to get cracking on this mystery. Despite their findings the government refuses to believe until things start to escalate. Is it already too late?

The movie has a pretty small cast and unfortunately not the strongest one. The main character, Pete is a little too into romance to focus on his job. He’s constantly going after the scientist named Joyce and gets jealous very quick. He’s quick to assume that she would want to be with him no matter what and needs more than a few reality checks. By the end he’s been set straight and of works out, but he definitely isn’t the most endearing main character. For the most part the film tries to portray him as you classic leader, charismatic, but a guy who knows how to get the job done. His character just can’t recover from the romance subplot.

Then you’ve got his rival who seems to be all over the place. At times he seems interested in Joyce as well and totally oblivious in other moments. By the end he seems to be trying to play matchmaker to an extent which is very odd considering his position. I guess it’s good that he’s taking this so well, but it’s almost too well. His name is Carter by the way and he is an expert in this monster research as well. As I said, he’s a nice guy, but I do think the writers were a bit confused with how to go about writing his character.

As for the heroine Joyce, she is good in some ways, but doesn’t age well in others. The good part is that she wants to be tough and independent. She rejects most of Pete’s advances and tries to concentrate on her work. That’s all good, but she does tend to fold a bit during the monster attacks which hurts her points. She’s the first one to scream when the monster shows up and is utterly terrified the whole time. After her speeches about how she doesn’t need anyone to protect her it just isn’t a good look. She also waffles back and forth a bit on the romance aspect as well.

So, this may be a classic film, but the writing isn’t quite as good as usual. Typically in a film like this the writing is pretty awesome and on point throughout. While most of the characters still work well, the main 3 aren’t that great which is a bit of an issue. The film just doesn’t really compare to most other monster films of its era. It’s a good film for sure, but one that could probably have been great if it wasn’t holding itself back the whole time.

As for the giant octopus, he has a reasonable design. It’s fun seeing him take down the civilians as he stomps through town. Nobody could stand up to this guy although they shouldn’t be expected to anyway. With a single swing of his tendrils he can lay waste to whole buildings and even sinks a ship. It always makes for some fun scenes. The army is a little slow to acknowledge its existence though. Even after there is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt they continue to be skeptical. Honestly the way the scientists presented the case wasn’t even all that far fetched so I’m a little surprised at all the doubt. Ah well, just goes to show that people don’t want to believe in giant monsters.

It’s fortunate for the monster that the humans didn’t believe in it for a while because this is one of the few ones that probably would have gone down pretty quickly to a full frontal assault. It’s not impervious to the stronger guns aboard the boats and while it can move in quick bursts it doesn’t like running. At one point the characters even comment on how it wants a fight. Once the fight starts it is really all over for the Octopus. I do question why the characters had such a poor plan where ultimately they are forced to go up close to end the battle. They just didn’t think things through and likewise a helicopter gets in way too close as well and gets squashed. You gotta give the monsters a wide berth or they’ll walk all over you.

Overall, It Came From Beneath The Sea is worth checking out. We do get some nice banter and of course you can’t go wrong with a classic creature feature flick right? The Giant Octopus is a fun villain to have around. The ending may be a bit sudden, but the flip side of that is that the Octopus gets to dominate for most of the movie. That’s definitely nice to see for my fellow monster fans reading this. It’s also a pretty short movie and doesn’t drag on at all. The pacing’s pretty tight. The movie doesn’t do anything particularly original, but it also doesn’t make any crucial mistakes so that’s a good balance if you ask me.

Overall 6/10