The Italian Job Review

The Italian Job is one of those movies that you are unlikely to have heard of despite being familiar with the heist genre. It even has some big actors but I still don’t remember it making any headlines. I guess it probably just came out at a tough year. Still, it’s a pretty solid film that may not be amazing but manages to avoid making any really serious mistakes which is important.

The film starts with a group of burgers pulling off a pretty big heist where they had to race the cops in a boat and got to walk away with millions. Unfortunately just as one of the characters was finally going to retire, the group was betrayed by Steve who decided to keep the money for himself. He shots the best crook, drowns the others, and then runs off. Years have passed and now the burglars want their revenge and also hope to secure the money in the process. They managed to survive with their wit and have stayed under the radar for a long time. It has all been for this one moment but to make sure that this mission is a success they will need to bring in a secret weapon, the daughter of the dead burglar.

You will have to turn your suspension of disbelief on full blast right away here as the plans are so detailed and convoluted that you probably won’t be able to accept what is happening with a straight face otherwise. In the climax of the film the villain gets a helicopter and even a private militia as he drives through town but the main character, Charlie is able to hold his own on a quick motorcycle. His team of quirky hackers seem more than capable of taking any villain down after this film.

Where the film really did a good job was with the fast moving plot. A lot of things were always happening. The talking scenes are pretty engaging and I do tend to enjoy the planning. The execution is also on point and it’s just a solid film from start to finish. The ending was also really good. One thing that tends to happen in a film like this is that the heroes will win it, but the villains end up destroying all of the informants along the way thereby preventing anyone else from ever replicating the feat. I was worried for “Tiny” or “Slim” (I forgot which one was his name) when the villains showed up at his door. Fortunately it turned out all right for the guy and in the end everything worked out. It’s also rare for a villain to not get away with murdering random Jim #34 but in this case it’s one of the main things that comes back to bite him. Turns out that this guy was friends with the mafia and you don’t mess with those guys.

The cast of characters was also surprisingly good which is always important. Charlie is a great tactician which is shown from the start. He may not be infallible but is able to adjust his plan at a second’s notice to fix any oversights. Even by the end he was one step ahead of Steve and never found himself at the back. Steve is also pretty solid as he always talks with a lot of confidence and has a smug air about him. Definitely not a guy who gives up easy and even if he isn’t as smart as the main character he isn’t half bad at making plans. Against someone else he may have stood a chance. Of course, he definitely should have sold the gold by the time the heroes found him though and shooting the merchant just delayed this even further. Not the smartest villain around even if he is fun.

Stella is solid as well. Initially I forgot about her first appearance and for a second thought that the film was bringing in a new character. The opening does certainly make more sense in light of this. Unfortunately, her character is used for fanservice quite a bit as we have the unfortunate trope of someone walking into her room while she is still getting changed. Likewise, Stella’s entire first scene seems to be focused on her attire more than the actual dialogue. Once we get past these moments this fortunately stops happening. Stella is a solid locksmith even if she is not quite at the same level as her father yet. She can also drive with the best of them. I think her character could have been handled better but overall she was a good character.

Another one of the thieves was the Napster. This guy spends most of his time complaining about how Steve stole his inventions. He takes this the least seriously compared to the rest of the team and nearly blows there cover several times by pulling pranks on the cops and the government. So much for being discreet right? I suppose he has his own priorities so you can’t really argue with that. He’s definitely a pretty bad character though. There is also Gilligan who does his best to mess up everyone’s chances as well. When it comes time to broker a deal with someone who has the supplies they need, he can’t help but stare at the guy constantly even when he is told not too. Actually, as far as the great character cast maybe I should be more specific. Steve, Charlie, Stella, and the father from the very beginning are solid characters. Everyone else definitely has a lot of room for improvement if you ask me. Still, since the characters with the most screen time are at the top that’s what counts.

We also get a long car chase scene that I referenced earlier and works well as the climax. Who doesn’t like a good car chase right? After a while they may all start to seem like the same race if you watch enough films, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they work quite well as a satisfying way to end the film. It’s not as if we could have had a real hand to hand fight at the end as you would have then had to ask where they learned how to fight. A battle of two self taught fighters could be fun, but I don’t believe Steve ever would have bothered learning how to fight while Charlie showed earlier that he could throw a good punch.

Overall, The Italian Job is a pretty fun heist film. The pacing is always on point and the characters make for some pretty enjoyable banter. Some of the plans may seem like a stretch at times but that goes hand in hand with the genre. If you like watching a game of mental chess going on with plans and counter plans then I’d recommend checking this film out. It’ll keep you entertained the whole way through and never really make any mistake big enough to get you out of the action. It’s satisfied with just being an entertaining film and that’s a pretty solid approach if you ask me.

Overall 7/10


Laura Review

It’s time to look at a very retro mystery film. The cast is actually smaller than I thought it was as Wikipedia only lists 6 people in the film. Naturally, some of them may just not have been big enough to have their own section, but it goes to show that if the story is quick enough you won’t even notice this. It’s a solid movie that really does a good job of throwing in a lot of twists and turns without getting redundant. The cast is solid and this film really flies by. This review does have some big spoilers depending on what you count. It’s a big plot point that happens around halfway through the film so it’s pretty debatable.

The basic premise of the film is that a lady by the name of Laura has been murdered. She went up against a shotgun and didn’t exactly win the encounter. A private eye known as Mark shows up to get to the bottom of this. Waldo wants justice because Laura was a close business associate of his and he had been helping her rise up the business ranks until this happened. Mark continues his investigation which leads him to Shelby, a rather suspicious man who has many affairs and always seems to be after people with money. This mystery will be a piece of cake for this baseball master, but unfortunately Mark starts to realize that this case is quite personal. Can he put his feelings aside or has he always been on a path to destruction?

Ironically, the weakest character here may be Mark. Shelby is certainly more unlikable as he’s just a bad guy, but it’s incredibly difficult to sympathize with Mark’s plight. How can you possibly start to fall for a picture? If someone’s dead, they’re not exactly going to make for a very attractive prospect. What the film should have done was just doubled down on his tough demeanor to show that this guy was one detective who wouldn’t get pushed around by anyone. He would solve this case no matter how tough it got. By making him distracted it took away from his whole character. I did like his Baseball gimmick though. Right when he started taking out the game I knew that it would be the best part of his character.

At least the detective doesn’t look downright bad for the most part. His only unfortunate moment was at the very end of the film where he assures Laura that she will be safe and then runs out of the building so fast that you’ll think he’s a blur. This gives the culprit plenty of time to waltz in and finish the job. Laura is just lucky that the villain is such a poor shot or else this could have been the end.

Wait, why is Laura even being mentioned? Well, that’s one of the big plot points of the film. Laura isn’t actually dead and merely went to the forest for a while. Since these were the days before radio and internet nobody actually knew where she was and when they went to the house she had stepped out for a moment. Definitely some interesting logic there, but I can buy it to an extent as there wasn’t much else to do back in the day aside from walking so she may have just been adventuring all day. Laura isn’t a very likable character as she does lead everyone on and doesn’t even mind playing second fiddle after a while. It gets rather complicated, but she knows from the start that Shelby can’t be trusted and also allows Waldo to treat her to many meals. They may be platonic friends, but then she should pay the bill, otherwise things get dicey. She just seems rather easy and Mark should be careful what he’s getting himself into. Her web of deceit will continue to stretch farther and farther.

As for Waldo, he’s certainly the most amusing character in the film. He’s always got a snappy comeback at the ready and certainly doesn’t get intimidated by anyone. To think that he started out as a rather snobbish businessman before he got involved with Laura and changed quite a bit. You can’t deny that the guy does his homework though. He didn’t even need to make up lies about the people Laura hung out with, he just dug up the dirt that they left around the house. They made his job easy, but he always went the extra mile. Naturally a person this obsessive tends to be fairly dangerous in films like these but if the detective is going to make a move he better be careful about it.

Finally there is Shelby. It’s certainly different to see Vincent Price in a young role for a change. The character is fairly quick witted, but can never quite keep up with Waldo. He does make for a good rival though. He’s not exactly a man of principles, but isn’t ashamed to admit as much. Everyone knows what kind of a guy he is, but they don’t care because of his charisma. It’s definitely a credit to his character that he is able to deceive people so easily and he makes for a solid antagonist.

The only weak aspect of this film is naturally the romance. It’s just not handled very well at all. Laura basically plays everyone and they all fall for the game quite easily. It would have been nice if the same had been true for them and at the end they all admitted to just manipulating the others for personal gain. That’s practically what the situation was for most of them anyway. A film like this one should have everyone stay purely platonic as that would certainly add to the suspense and make the characters look a little tougher and more savvy on how things usually play out here.

Still, the writing was certainly great beyond that. The film did a good job of making everyone seem suspicious at times and having all of the characters stay on guard. The banter between all of the characters was on point as you would expect it to be. Dialogue is crucial for a noir film like this one and I’m happy to say that it did indeed deliver. It’s why its so hard to do a film like this one nowadays. The writing just isn’t up to par with the good ole days and it’s very rare that a film proves me wrong. There were just higher standards in the past and that’s why there were so many well written films like this one hiding in the cracks of time.

Overall, Laura is a really fun film. It’s a murder mystery that still has quite a bit of humor and solid pacing to go along with it. The romance is rather weak, but what else is new right? The twist of Laura being alive could have been rather disastrous if handled wrong, but since it rarely tends to happen the twist worked really well. I can definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes a little suspense and danger. There’s never a dull moment in this film so you’ll end up being on guard from start to finish. In a film like this one, you really can’t trust anyone.

Overall 8/10

Push Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Elevator To The Gallows Review

It’s time to take a look at a French murder thriller. It’s pretty rare that I see a film which isn’t American or Japanese so it’s always interesting to see how everyone else handles this. It’s a fairly old film as it’s still in the black and white period so as you’d expect the writing is on point. It is partially a romance film which can be rather dramatic, but the film’s at its best when an old guy shows up to mock the teenagers and their subplot. Time to learn more about this guy.

So the film starts off with Julien and Florence recommitting their resolve to murdering her husband so Julien can be the rebound guy. He breaks in and murders the husband pretty easily, but then forgets his rope at the window ledge. He runs back after hours to get it, but as soon as he gets on the elevator the power goes out. He is now stuck with no way to get out and his only hope is that Florence will learn where he is. Meanwhile his car is stolen by Louis and Veronique as they decide to cruise around town. Unfortunately, they decide to commit murder under his name which will further complicate matters. Julien has to trick the cops into not pinning the first murder on him while also avoiding the fake charge of the second. It’s going to be a long day.

From the start the movie makes it clear that the leads are the villains so you are rooting against them. As such, it’s actually pretty satisfying when the elevator crashes and things don’t go right for Julien. He dug his own grave and now he’ll have to get used to it. There’s not much that he can do from this point so you can’t really blame him for a lack of trying. He was the most experienced and talented member of the villains so taking him out of the equation worked well for the cops. He also held up well under interrogation, but eventually he cracked from lack of sleep. The cops always get their man.

You don’t really see this form of interrogation too often, but it is quite effective as getting the suspect to concede their guilt. Physically nothing actually happens to the suspect, but he/she is kept from sleeping until the cops get the story they want. After even 1 day of this it can be tough to function so even the great Julien fell to the technique. You have to be careful about getting a false conviction like this though, but I guess the cops decided it was worth the risk. It did work out well here after all.

Florence isn’t the greatest sidekick you could ask for. She further incriminates Julien by asking around for him everywhere. She was also fooled quite easily by Louis as she thought it was Julien who sped by her. I guess the jacket trick worked, but would Julien really betray her so easily? It may be poetic since she ditched her husband and now has some paranoia that Julien would do the same thing to her. She did a reasonable job of tracking down Louis and making threats, but then she didn’t do a thorough enough job of preventing them from leaving. That’s game over.

Louis is unfortunately the worst character in the film. He is over the top with his many lies which is the only reason he and Veronique were caught. If he had played it cool or even somewhat calmly then he could have escaped. Instead he gets humiliated by a drunk, rich guy and then tries to steal his car. Not a very smart move and then shooting the couple just made an even bigger mess. He even messed up on trying to destroy himself with pills since he didn’t swallow enough of them. So much for that. You’ll be cringing whenever he is on screen. Veronique is a big improvement as she is also insane, but hides it well. She pretends not to want to go along with Louis’ plans, but always relents in the end. She just wants to keep up the appearance of being a good person even if it may not be all that accurate.

My favorite character here was actually the rich guy who kept making fun of Louis. Making fun of the teen was reason enough to like him, but we also can’t forget that this guy saw through the ruse immediately. It’s too bad he underestimated how dangerous the villains were though. The scene of him and his friend getting shot was fairly tragic and probably the saddest scene in the film. I was hoping they were going to live through this since they were a lot of fun. Maybe not too smart in how they handled this, but fun all the same.

It’s good to see the cops looking pretty good here though. They connect the dots between the crimes pretty quickly and then set their plans into motion. Once they nab the suspects it is all over for them. At first you may wonder what is taking them so long, but it’s all just because they are setting their pieces in motion. Getting all of the pieces into play so to speak. It would have been fun to have seen the Jury sentencing, but I suppose the ending gives you a clear enough idea of how it’s going to go down anyway.

The pacing is pretty good. The only plot which probably drags on more than a little bit is Florence’s section. She goes through a great number of shops looking for Julien and after a while it is really just more of the same. You get the point of her search and we know that she stayed up all night so I think a few places could have been cut. The random drunk guy and his friend didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but maybe they were just there are red herrings or as world building. Either way, putting more screen time in the elevator plot could have been nice although I’m sure the film didn’t want to make that one feel stale. It’s a tough balancing act.

Overall, This is an interesting film. The ending is very satisfying and probably the best part. The atmosphere is pretty good, but you can’t help but feel bad for the last two victims. It’s hard to be too sympathetic to the first guy since it’s at the very beginning and he was fairly shady anyway, but the other two characters were too hype to be bumped off the way that they were. The romance is pretty bad, but that’s how it is for all rebounds and it goes without saying why Louis’plot was iffy. I’d recommend checking this film out as a retro classic. There are quite a few plot lines going through the movie and it’s nice to see how they all connect.

Overall 5/10

Black Panther Review

It’s time to take a look at the next Marvel Cinematic film! Even though we get 2-3 of these a year, it always feels like such a long wait until the next one. This one has been a long time in the making as Black Panther got a lot of fans after his appearance in Civil War. He was definitely a highlight in that film and remains a great lead in this film. The movie does a good job of not letting the jungle limit it and we do get quite a few nice city scenes as well. All told, it’s a solid addition to the MCU and I’d be up for a sequel although I don’t think there is too much more they can do here in Wakanda so a sequel would probably need to take place at one of the other bases.

The film starts with a quick recap of Wakanda history. We then see the previous Black Panther murder a traitor which sets up the main plot. Right after Black Panther is crowned King of Wakanda, another member of royal blood has shown up to take it back. King T’Challa must now learn what it means to be King and if he even wants to rule such unloyal followers. Either way, he has a duty to stop this villain from launching an attack on the rest of the world or Wakanda will face severe retaliation of the Avenging kind.

I had one big fear when walking into this film and that was that the movie would resort to animal violence since part of Wakanda is essentially a jungle. Then just when I thought I was safe, 3 large Rhinos showed up. Fortunately the film went out of its way to ensure that none of them were hurt. Panther trapped one, a second just ran off, and the third one turned good. Once this scene had been played out, I knew that the film was going to be safe. We also mitigate the jungle aspect as most of Wakanda is actually very high tech and sci-fi esque. I definitely enjoy seeing technology and cities the most so this was good for me. I’m still not a fan of any landscape that isn’t a city of some kind or the inside of a high tech facility. Those just make for the best scenes if you ask me.

The best scenes of the film all take place in the city for the most part. The opening fight scene with Klaw and his gang was handled really well. Panther’s new suit made for some good action effects like when he totaled the car. The old suit was bullet proof which is great, but this one does all of that and more. While the suit is shown to have limitations, this should help him keep up with heavy weights like Spider-Man now. In theory, Captain America would probably lose at this point since their fight was already very close and now landing any damage on Black Panther will be very difficult. It’s a really useful power up and with all of the new tech Panther’s sister is coming up with, he is only going to get stronger.

Pretty much all of the hand to hand fights here are really good. The scene where both Panthers are decimating the opposing armies was a nice contrast as they are both way stronger than the rest of the fighters. Of course, that’s why Black Panther needed to hurry and take the other one out since casualties would run high. Even with this, the film does a good job of making the warriors look reasonably strong. I’d personally say that they looked more impressive than the Amazons in Wonder Woman as these seem to know how to fight and wouldn’t get caught off guard by bullets from people right in front of them. The film also corrects one more thing from the WW film. In that title we learn that the Amazons are also hiding in plain sight by having their island just appear as more water. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons. People just fly through there anyway and then the illusion fades. They would get found out in no time. In Black Panther, the illusion is backed up by being an actual country with borders. They have soldiers and weapons deter anyone from approaching. The deception is simply in appearing to be poorer than they actually are. Maybe this will still be a bit of a stretch for some, but it’s much more believable if you ask me.

Black Panther is a very solid character as I mentioned earlier. While his best appearance will likely always be in Civil War as his character was perfect there, he doesn’t really do anything wrong here. Maybe he should have been quicker to throw the villain out or done more to prevent Klaw from escaping, but you can’t expect him to think of every possible contingency. Thanks to the ritual fights forcing Panther to be in human mode, we do see a more vulnerable version of him. His hand to hand skills actually may be under Bucky, Black Widow, and some of the other hand to hand characters in the series as he has trouble with various fighters, but granted, he should always have the Panther serum for future films so it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s still more than proficient as only high level fighters can hope to defeat him. He may be King, but Panther isn’t stuck up or arrogant yet which is good. Part of why he can be annoying in the comics is that he ends up being like Black Bolt at times where he seems completely corrupt with power. I don’t think the films will be going that route.

Ross is a surprisingly great character and was actually my favorite in the film. He’s a very confident CIA agent who doesn’t back down from anyone. His illegal dealings with Klaw may be suspect, but I get the feeling that he was going to double cross the villain. He’s quick on his feet and an ace pilot as well. He’ll certainly be fun to have around for future films and I’m glad that the CIA has at least one really good member. It seems like they’ve been playing second fiddle to SHIELD for a while so it’s time to finally surpass them. Ross doesn’t really have any bad scenes. Another really good character is Panther’s sister Shuri. She recently got to appear in an animated Avengers episode and based on her portrayal there the film’s depiction was also very accurate. She’s a genius with tech and has come up with many great inventions in a short span of time considering that this takes place only around a week after Civil War. Considering that a big threat like Thanos and his army won’t go down to brute force so easily, her tech will come in handy. She’s not afraid to get on the front lines as well and is just a very charismatic character the whole time.

Killmonger is the main villain of the film and he’s pretty cool. Even before becoming the Panther Killmonger was a very talented fighter as he racked up kills in many different countries. It was interesting to see how he was an undercover agent for the CIA who managed to use the heroes and villains until he finally got into Wakanda. To an extent I do have to question how he knew so much about Wakanda though. He knew about the traditions and seemed just very well aware of the culture in general. We can assume he found the location from the book and since his father was okay with him finding it, maybe that’s when he learned everything. Maybe the book was also just very detailed. Getting Klaw was easy enough since it was relatively common knowledge that he was the one who broke into Wakanda the first time. Killmonger does continue the Marvel tradition of having a villain who has the same abilities as the main hero as he and T’Challa are essentially copies of each other, but that doesn’t really matter to me all that much as long as the fights are good and they were here.

I didn’t care for Klaw though. He’s just not my kind of villain and seems to just get lucky all the time. He’s just a normal guy with a sonic cannon and he isn’t even all that fit. I don’t know how he escaped for this long, but it definitely seems like a stretch. He’s wanted by basically every powerful person on the planet so where can he possibly hide? Well, his plot seems to have finally wrapped up here and I won’t miss him. Okoye was a good member of the Wakanda special forces and is certainly one of their best fighters. Her best combat appearance is probably in the club where she beats up quite a few special agents, but she also puts up a reasonable fight against Killmonger. At that point, tech just beats talent, but otherwise I don’t see any Wakandan fighter beating her in a fair battle.

W’Kabi is a pretty terrible character. I can’t say much about him, but you’ll probably know where his character is heading right from the start. It’s similar to a character beat we saw from Doctor Strange only this one is probably more petty. There’s definitely no saving this character. Nakia is a decent character. She doesn’t get much to do and is overshadowed by the others, but isn’t bad. I do wish we could have avoided the token romance which doesn’t add anything to the film and just seems to be filler, but I guess it wasn’t given much of a focus so it could have been a whole lot worse. Nakia’s Tron Discs were cool though. Between that and the Energy Cannons, we had quite a lot of good weapons that have a lot of potential for future films. She just need a hoverboard or air boots to help her maneuver quicker. Baku’s a fun character s well. He definitely has a strong sense of honor and will repay his debts. When he accepted his defeat gracefully without trying any cheap tricks I had a feeling that he would be a good character. He also has a point that Killmonger beat Black Panther in a fair fight so calling it murder was a little drastic. Blame the outdated ritual system, not the player. Baku made the right decision in the end though and really came through for the heroes.

It can be hard to feel bad for Wakanda when they have such poor traditions though. Why should Black Panther have to fight to be king anyway? I guess it’s to give the other tribes a way to be King, but since it will just cause tensions and potentially get them to split again it doesn’t really seem to be practical. I’m pretty sure T’Challa learned his lesson with that though and probably abolished that rule very quickly. Also, the fact that it’s possible to suffocate underneath the dirt they throw on your for the ceremony is another part where you have to shake your head. What’s with all of these unnecessary risks? Killmonger may not have done it for the right reasons, but at least thanks to him these traditions are probably gone as well. On a side note, I was wondering where Bucky and Captain America were hiding the whole time, but I guess getting involved in this fight would have just made things more complicated. Panther could have certainly used some backup, but it all worked out.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack here. I didn’t care much for the Lion King themes or the tribe tradition music, but a lot of the tunes were surprisingly techno/electronic. It seems like this theme would pop up whenever the villain showed up and basically for any action scene. Good music makes the whole presentation that much better and it definitely worked really well here. I’d say that as far as MCU soundtracks go this would definitely be in the top half. The visuals are also really good. I do like the purple energy that the suit gets from taking a hit and the metallic invention room that the sister uses looks cool. It’s a pretty nice set up for sure. The writing is also solid as you’d expect. The one liners between the characters are usually pretty solid. Killmonger adding a more modern/slang spin to Wakanda was also rather nice. He acts as a bridge between the new and old ways to an extent.

The film does have some of the weakest after credit scenes though. The first one just feels like it should have been the actual ending. It’s not really teasing a lot considering you knew this was where Panther was going with the idea. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s not really much of a stinger either. The second scene is far worse as it is showing us something that we’ve already known. It isn’t even a good character that we see and is just rather boring. You could feel the theater letting out a sigh as we waited for something else to show up and then the clip ended. These scenes are just bonus so they can’t hurt a film at all, but I was still hoping for something a little more hype.

So where do all of the Avengers stack up power-wise now? I’d list the rankings as 1. Thor 2. Hulk 3. Dr. Strange 4. Spider-Man 5. Iron Man 6. Vision 7. Black Panther 8. Captain America 9. Scarlet Witch 10. Black Widow 11. Ant Man 12. Hawkeye. For now I’m not counting the Guardians or the helpers like War Machine and Valkyrie, but I’ll do a more complete list for Infinity War. The suit was definitely enough for Panther to finally pass Cap. Strange could potentially pass Hulk depending on how powerful his magic is in Infinity War and by the same token Vision could drop behind Panther and Cap if he looks really bad without his Gem. Some of these matchups are pretty close so a power up can make all the difference.

Overall, Black Panther is a fun and engaging film. It’s pretty fast paced for the most part so it comes across as very exciting the first time around. I do think it will lack in replay value to an extent because some of the dialogue will likely drag on the second time around along with the flashbacks. When the action is happening the film is at its best but we do get some reasonably long breaks in between the action like getting Panther back into fighting shape and having the council of Wakanda chat about things. The writing is strong though and the cast is good though so it’s certainly a movie that I’d recommend to everyone. It’s good to see another Marvel hero get a stand alone film and we are one step closer to Avengers Infinity War now. I have high hopes for that film and am fully expecting it to be one of the best MCU films yet. There are just so many good ways that the film can play this out that I have to assume they will choose one of them. It’ll be cool to see Panther lend his might to the team as well. Only a few short months left.

Overall 7/10

Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 4/10

Contagion Review

It’s time to look at a flu horror film. I don’t think I’ve seen too many of those. The last one would be Resident Evil I suppose. I guess Maggie would probably count as well. Of course, this film is going for a more realistic angle than those as we get corporate business trying to keep the cure for themselves and a lot of other conspiracies. Contagion is a bad film, but at least there are parts of it that are enjoyable so that’s still better than some of the competition. To put it one way, it’s a better film than Resident Evil, but the latter is more enjoyable.

So, the film starts off with a bunch of people getting sick everywhere. They decide to infect the healthy people by coughing and sneezing everywhere. They’re successful and quickly the Earth starts to be overrun by the flu. The government doesn’t know what to do about it either so they decide to stay quiet. The problem is that an online blogger has figured out the issue and even the cure to it. People quickly turn into mobs to grab it all so now the world is in peril. Can this outbreak be contained or has it already spiraled out of control? Only time will tell.

There are several plots in the film. Most of them are relatively separate, but they interconnect once in a while. The best plot is probably Mitch’s as he tries to keep his daughter safe from the outbreak. His son and wife were hit by it, but the daughter is safe so he aims to keep it that way. Unfortunately they are living next to the worst character in the film, a guy who likes the daughter. He keeps trying to infect her, but fortunately Mitch has his shotgun. He’s the only sensible character in the household so it looks like he is on his own. The daughter isn’t very smart of grateful either and she keeps trying to meet up with the neighbor, but fortunately Mitch is always ready. I don’t think this plot needed the extra tragic bit of his wife cheating on him though. I guess it’s to make the plot a little less sad in a way since now he knows why she died and how she made a fatal mistake, but it’s not like it really changed anything about the story.

Another big plot is with an online blogger who claims to have found the cure. His name is Alan and he doesn’t particularly trust the government or any of the big pharmaceutical companies. He claims that they’re all working together against the everyday man and he’s not wrong. The problem is that when you make enemies out of powerful entities like this you’re always going to be in a world of hurt. He’s kidnapped and taken to their base where they threaten him quite a bit. He’s probably the best character in the film. You have to love the bravery he has and the guy definitely doesn’t back down so easily. He’s someone that you want in your corner.

The final main plot is with the researchers who are trying to make the world a better place. They work on quarantining the place and stopping the virus. One of them ends up getting sick during the film, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise since she contacts everyone without a mask of gloves on. Considering how she explained that touching anything could make you sick, she really wasn’t smart about how she handled the situation. I can’t say that very many of the characters were all that smart though. One guy calls his wife to tell her to get out of the city, but rather than use his cell, he uses the company phone. Naturally this call is monitored and someone even overhears him. The Cell could have probably been tapped as well, but his odds would have most certainly been a lot better.

What really hurts this film though is the senseless animal violence that occurs at various points of the film. We randomly see meat markets with a lot of animal violence and other moments throughout. These scenes come out of nowhere and don’t contribute anything. It’s just hear for the edgy factor and tears the film down. We also see someone get operated on which is fairly violent. Again, this scene comes out of nowhere. There’s quite a few scenes here that are just for shock value. Cut out these scenes and this would be a relatively tame film. I guess, they just didn’t want to go for that angle though. Bad move if you ask me. it’s an unfortunate truth that animals are always the first test subjects, but the film doesn’t need to go out of its way to remind us of that.

One thing that is in the film’s favor is the soundtrack though. There are actually quite a lot of solid musical themes that play throughout the film. They really stand out and are quite memorable. Other thriller/horror films could certainly learn quite a bit from this one in that regard. Having good music always helps make a scene more engaging/interesting since you at least have something nice to listen too throughout.

Now, the film does throw out a statistic that is sure to make you roll your eyes. The stat is that people touch their face thousands of times a day, 3-5 times a minute. We all know that this is hogwash and the test group used for the study must have caught Chickenpox or something beforehand. If you just think about it logically then it makes sense. When you’re watching a movie you aren’t touching your face like that. Likewise when eating or playing video games. Just take a look around outside and you can debunk this. When you’re trying to add drama to a film with a fake statistic you need to make sure it at least sounds realistic.

Overall, Contagion definitely isn’t my kind of film. I don’t usually even care much for the cliche “main character gets sick” episode in most shows. It’s just not really a great plot and while a worldwide virus is certainly something to try’s just not terribly interesting. The most enjoyable aspects of a film like that one are just seeing the government talk about it around a table. This film had some scenes like that and those were always a blast. Going to ground zero and actually seeing everyone get sick though? Yeah, that’s not really something that’s very exciting. I’d recommend skipping this film and just walking outside to see how everyone is always getting sick. Just be sure to keep a mask on or to walk briskly so that you don’t get sick as well. That certainly wouldn’t be worth it.

Overall 2/10

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 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 likely be far more negative.
It’s time for a retro train heist film. It’s definitely not a plot that you see every day, that’s for sure. Taking over a train seems futile and pointless but I suppose it’s good if your overall goal is just to cause mayhem and destruction. In this film, the villains have a plan on how they can actually pull off a heist and get away with it though. Time to see if their plan was entertaining.

The film starts off with a conductor learning how to be a conductor. He gets the hang of it pretty quick so his boss leaves. Unfortunately, that is when a group of robbers walk in and take the train at gun point. Their demands are simple. They want 1 Million U.S. dollars and a free ticket out of the tunnels. The transit police will have to think carefully about how they proceed. There are 17 hostages at play here which is the main problem. If the cops keep obeying the demands, then the crooks will get away and the hostages may be shot anyway. If they don’t obey, the hostages will be shot right away. Time to make some tough calls.

I’ll end the suspense right now, this was a great movie! There is no shortage of good characters to be found here. The writing is excellent and the pacing is sound. As with many thriller films like this, I did prefer the first half to the second. It’s just always hard for the payoff to actually beat the setup. Still, it gives it a good effort all the way through and the ending is still solid. At times this film feels like a parody, but you could also just make the case that it accurately depicts how tough New Yorkers are. They are certainly the last people to get intimidated by a guy with a gun. This bravado doesn’t always work in their favor though as one guy runs into his death as he tries to insult the gunman.

Garber is the main character here and he takes the situation in stride. Like the other New Yorkers, he basically just laughs at the villains for a while. He doesn’t take them too seriously but eventually he is forced to re-evaluate this position. He never loses his nerve throughout the film though and you can see why he is the captain here. The rest of his men don’t take the threat all that seriously either, but don’t really know when to get serious so it’s probably good that they stayed in the background. If you want a character who was really tough, look no further than the Deputy Mayor. The scenes with him and the actual mayor are certainly the best ones in the entire film.

The mayor only cares about his voters and living life to the max. He would rather keep his money than save everyone, but the deputy pressures him into making the right calls. Even then the mayor is able to stall for time by calling in various heads for different departments. While this is hopefully not too realistic for New York if such a thing were to happen now, it’s easy to picture this happening. There’s always a bunch of red tape everywhere after all. The mayor never really steps up and that’s part of what makes the plot fun. The deputy certainly has a lot of work on his hands if this scene is any indication.

To an extent this film can feel like a parody at times. It certainly has quite a lot of comedy moments throughout but they aren’t exaggerated or obnoxious. It’s the sort of outlandish humor that works because nobody reacts to it. All of the characters appear to be acting sensibly in the eyes of the others. Whether it be asking the gunmen questions with obvious answers or asking what’s going on when the scene is taking place in front of you. The characters say their lines with a straight face and really test the villains’ patience.

That’s why the second half can’t really hope to win against the first. The second half is actually played a little more seriously as the villains make their big move. We get some gun fights and the undercover cop finally gets to do something. The film hypes him up for a very long time so it was nice to finally see him do something more than just hiding. He does all right for himself and I guess there wasn’t much he could have done earlier, but honestly you could cut him out of the film and not much would change. Likewise with the villain that the others didn’t trust. They’re not bad plots though so I’ll take it.

There aren’t really any negatives to speak of with this film. It certainly doesn’t drag on as the pacing is good and the writing is solid as well. The writing isn’t amazing as the TV version did have to edit the dialogue quite a bit, but it worked well enough. It could have easily tried to make all of the characters edgy in a bad way instead of everyone just being arrogant and rebellious here. There are two remakes of this film and I doubt either one of them will be able to come close to this one. It’s a very delicate balance when you’re trying to make a comedy thriller since one element can usually overwhelm the other. I think this movie did a really fine job with it.

As for the tough question of listening to the terrorists’ demands, it’s definitely a tough call. After all, as shown in this film there is really no end. They can just keep making more and more demands until they get away since it’s not like the hostages are going well. Even after they bump off a few people nobody can do anything because of them. Of course they will eventually run out of room to make demands since they still need an escape route, but the cops really have a tough job in these films. The officers do a good job of delivering the package to the villains since they had to come in unarmed and even give their back to the villains. One cop did choke though so hopefully he resigned after the situation ended.

A nice touch for the villains is that they didn’t cram in some random sob story or anything like that. They just wanted to get rich and decided that holding up a train would be better than taking out a bank. They’re not ex soldiers trying to make a point, leaders of charities who are being robbed, or concerned citizens trying to stop a corrupt government. They’re just ordinary crooks with a big dream. Once they’re caught, they’re taken to jail. It feels like a while since the villains didn’t have any extra baggage and sometimes it works better that way. Not every villain needs to be three dimensional or super sympathetic. The final villain just jumping into his money is the perfect embodiment of what these villains were after. At the end of the day, they just wanted to be rich.

Overall, This train heist film was quite solid. It’s a pretty cool backdrop for a film and since it takes place in NYC that made the whole thing even cooler. The characters are solid and the comedy is on point. I’d definitely recommend checking it out ASAP. Whenever the mayor appears, prepare yourself for hype. I do wish he had gotten to appear one last time, but I suppose the film didn’t want to risk overdoing it with his plot and that makes sense. This film’s ending is also quite satisfying. The main characters gets to put on his detective hat and one of the little running gags from earlier led to a payoff. It’s not quite Airplane, but I would consider this to be one of the better comedies.

Overall 8/10

Before I Wake Review

Before I Wake is a horror film where the title just makes sense. If you just hear the title you can probably guess the general synopsis of the film. The quick response you will always think of though is just “Wake the Kid up” Well, one character tries at any rate. Probably should have tried harder though. It’s a decent film if we go by horror film standards, but it still couldn’t cut the mustard overall. It just mainly lacks a good ending but more on that later.

The film starts off with an edgy opening as a Dad tries to murder his son but isn’t able to do it and the cops arrest him. It turns out that this kid’s dreams become reality as long as he is asleep. When he wakes they all vanish. Unfortunately, the more Cody uses this ability, the more the monster that is inside of him shows up. His monster has already destroyed the last few families he was with so now we are introduced to the latest foster parents, Mark and Jessie. Unfortunately they may not be ready for this kid as they are dealing with their own issues. Can they defeat the monster?

I admit that if I had Cody’s powers I would barely even notice. I rarely dream which is kind of unfortunate but it’s because I found the trick to it. If you start thinking about 2 stocking people and winning Super Smash tournaments, you eventually black out and then it’s the next day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve won EVO. All right, back on topic. I have to say that the kid dreams extremely fast since the visions seem to occur the moment his head hits the pillow. The dreams are awful convenient but as the kid is fairly young I Guess it makes sense that he would dream about his latest thoughts. The kid isn’t a bad character. Cody is pretty cryptic but at least he has good reason to be since people try to destroy him and even monsters are on the hunt. He does have his iffy moments though as he will intentionally ask the parents personal questions about how their son died in order to take attention away from him. It does show that he’s not a very nice kid at times and is mainly looking out for himself.

Mark is definitely a solid character. He does his best to get along with the kid and gives him a lot of fun days. It’s not enough to totally get rid of the sleeping problem but the Dad does his best. He also charges at the monster which is more than I can say for 90% of horror protagonists. He got a decent grab in but since the monster assimilates anyone it touches, this didn’t work out too well.

Jessie was not a good character though and realllly takes a long time to get over her past. The film does give a nice misdirect here we initially you may think the Dad is the one who isn’t coping well. He stopped coming to the grief club to wallow in sorrow and Jessie claims that he has been distant. The film quickly shows us that it is the opposite way around. She just can’t get over her last kid, Sean, and as soon as she learns that this one can make dreams real she exploits the ability to make Cody dream of her son. Even though the son is fake it’s good enough for her but of course this means she is neglecting her current son. She even goes as far as to drug Cody to keep him asleep. While she sees the light by the end, it certainly took a while and I can’t say that I’m a fan of hers.

The ending also isn’t great. Basically, they can’t bring any of the victims back since they were completely eaten but the heroes take solace in the fact that they can all be together in the afterlife or whenever the kid dreams about them. That’s a small consolation at best and it probably would have been better if at least the Dad had survived. The people from child support lived, but I guess it’s because they were assimilated into walls instead of the monster. Also, the film quickly teased a fight between the monster and the mother as they ran towards each other but it ended up being a hug instead. I was really hoping for the fight as she would try to avenge her husband.

The tragic backstory for the main characters was also needlessly tragic. Instead of having their kid drowned and then they couldn’t have more kids, the film could have skipped the former and started with the latter. Maybe even just have the kid get sick or something. Drowning is a bit much for a child. I also have to then question the handle bars that the family added for when they have more kids. They looked to be a little too high up if the kid was the same height so what was the point again? I think the bars would have to be lowered a little more to serve their intended purpose.

I’ll give the main characters some props for figuring out how the kids powers worked very quickly. Usually most of the film is spent just trying to get the supporting characters to re learn what common sense is. Here that wasn’t really a problem. Finally, I should also talk about the monster’s design. It’s pretty good and sort of looks like Slenderman. The monster has a few nifty abilities like assimilation and super strength. He isn’t very fast, but doesn’t trip so he will eventually catch you. Assuming that this monster will help the heroes in a sequel, we’re going to need a new monster.

Overall, Before I Wake definitely has an interesting premise. It also is classier than most horror films but still gets needlessly grim at times. The beginning and ending are weak. While the middle is decent, the repetition of the drowning scene doesn’t help it either. I don’t expect many horror fans will find this all that scary so you’ll have to enjoy it for the plot. I’d sooner recommend a film like Poltergeist 3. That one had everything you could ask for from a horror film.

Overall 4/10

Ants Review

It’s time to look at another animal based horror film. Fortunately it’s not about birds or dogs as that would give off even more warning bells right out of the gate. As it stands, the film actually manages to avoid any real violence against the ants which is pretty cool. Of course, we do get a montage which doesn’t help the film’s case but one thing at a time.

The film starts off with a wealthy member of corporate heading over to a family hotel to buy it out. The current owner doesn’t like this idea but she is getting very old and won’t be able to stand up to the power for very long. It doesn’t help that her daughter will not continue the legacy either. As the old lady gets ready to relent, the hotel gets overrun by bugs. Ants to be precise! They are biting everyone and plan to eventually take over the building. It is only a matter of time before they finally claim victory. How long can Mike The Construction Worker protect the hotel crew?

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film relies an incredible amount on your suspense for disbelief. The Ants aren’t exactly subtle as they swarm everyplace they can find, but nobody ever notices them. Clearly they all need glasses as you can usually tell if around 6-10 Ants are cluttered, much less hundreds. Whether it be the kid in the dumpster or the cook in the kitchen, you can’t possibly expect us to believe that they didn’t notice hundreds of ants. That’s just not possible and the film probably knows it. It’s just that there is not really any other way to get the ants into place except by having them walk there. The film should have had them crawl in at night or something like that since the darkness would give a better reason as to why they couldn’t be spotted.

We also can’t forget the plot convenience of the ants deciding not to attack the guy who was trying to shut the place down. They mentioned that the ants won’t hurt you if you don’t move but this guy was lightly aggravating then by moving his hand around and yet they didn’t bite. I suppose they were just smart enough to realize that attacking someone like this just wasn’t worth it? I dunno, it’s a bit of a stretch but if you see this as a very sentient takeover by the Ants, then I guess it helps a bit.

As mentioned earlier, there is a montage where the ants destroy a bunch of other animals which definitely wasn’t a good idea. I don’t want to see them challenging a bunch of innocent animals. Keep their victims human, but don’t throw in the animals. It’s just not right, not right at all. I suppose it’s a good time to talk about the characters. Certainly an intriguing cast, but not a good one I’m afraid.

First off we have one of the supporting construction guys. He was tending to the front yard when a girl shows up and basically asks if he’s free. You can take that two different ways, if he’s not busy right now or if he’ll fool around with anyone. He basically says yes to both and their terrible/out of nowhere romance begins. Not only do these characters not add anything to the film but they aren’t even fun. I don’t see the point of including them here and that was probably a mistake on the film’s part. Another pair of big characters were the corporate takeover guy and the girl he was with. They certainly don’t get along very well as the guy constantly insults her intelligence. She always gets him to half apologize but this happens at least 3 times so talk about de ja vu. His corporate side was fun as he always seemed to have the edge when it came time for the talks. He was good at lying to a person’s face with no remorse. You can certainly tell that corporate taught him well. You know how his character arc is going to end right from the start but at least it’s a fun ride. He’ll stand up to anybody!

The old lady who wanted to keep the house was decent. At least she knew that if she sold the house it would probably be the end of the building. Still, it’s not like you can keep it forever anyway, eventually she would be forced to let it go. While she may have made the climax a little more difficult for the heroes, it wasn’t exactly her fault so she can’t be blamed for that. Her daughter is the main person running the show while the lady rests and she’s not a bad character. Her romance with Mike is pretty bad though. The trope of someone winning an argument by pulling the romance card just isn’t good. Mike had a good reason for barging into the hotel and should have just explained it better. Mike has a big role in the film and could probably be called the lead. He does figure out the true culprit of the attacks before anyone else so I’ll give him some kudos there. Beyond that, he doesn’t really have much character and I can’t say that I liked him. He does ultimately back off from the environmental protection guys and Mike could have handled the situation better.

The climax is another part of the film where you will have to shake your head. Ants have begun to surround the house so the main characters are trapped inside. It’s unfortunate for them, but they knew the risks. The problem is that they should be able to just run out of the house. The only decent case you can make here is that it would be tough for the old lady, but Mike could have carried her. The Ants are numerous but as long as you’re careful you should be okay. One character does run out of the house, but he puts his hand on the rail which is a big no no and then trips. Since the other characters know to respect the Ants, they’d run down the stairs without grabbing anything. It’s not like the Anta can fly and while they could jump off the walls, they didn’t do that in any of the other scenes so why start now? Don’t even get me started on how slowly they were getting into the helicopter. It’s a matter of life and death, you’d think that they would show more initiative. Then sitting still and hoping the Ants wouldn’t bite ends up being the right answer.

These Ants are mad because of the environment so I figure they would throw in some bites anyway. They don’t care about how normal Ants would act, these are Eco-Warriors and they will die fighting. The whole climax revolves around you believing that these are just normal ants again. It’s also a big gamble that the ants don’t bite when they are blasted by the sleeping gas. I certainly wouldn’t have gone along with the plan and I can safely say that I prefer not to have Ants crawling all over me.

Overall, Ants isn’t a very good film. In fact, it’s a bad one. It’s filled with so many leaps in logic that you will be wondering why the film made the decisions it did. If it really wanted to trap he heroes in the house, it should have had more Ants on the ground to show that with every step they would get bitten. Maybe the budget had something to say about it as well though. Seeing Ants crawling around on everyone definitely isn’t all that enjoyable and I think a film about any kind of insect like this would be rather difficult to get behind. Better luck next time I suppose. You’re better off watching THEM.

Overall 3/10