Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

An Experiment in Terror Review


It’s time for a noir murder mystery. This one even brings in the FBI and it’s interesting to see how they’re portrayed here. Nowadays it feels like the FBI is more secretive and if you call in you likely aren’t going to go all that high up. Granted, it’s not like I’ve ever tried. In this film you can casually fall them and someone will get on your case ASAP. In a way they feel more like a branch of the police. The film has its moments and some good detective work, but some parts really hold it back.

The film starts with Kelly getting into her apartment, but she is then put in a choke hold by a mysterious man behind her. He has a breathing issue and the camera is always zooming in on his mouth to up the creep factor. He tells her that he wants her to rob a bank for him so he can get rich or he’ll destroy her and her kid sister. After he leaves Kelly does try to call the cops, but she is taken down again since the guy apparently didn’t leave. Kelly will have to be careful about how she plays this because one wrong move could be her last. Fortunately FBI Agent John is on the case. Even though the first call was broken up he was able to be re-connected and will now aid her in identifying the man while keeping her safe.

As a noir thriller this film definitely still works. There’s always a sense of danger in the movie and the pacing is pretty solid. The film is careful to not really give you any clues as to who the assailant is. It’s not really a traditional mystery though as you’re not supposed to solve it. The FBI get clues and move in but it’s not like you have 5 suspects running around. The guy never bothers to show up in person at all. He’s already got a reputation in other places so there is no reason for him to do so.

The FBI also look pretty good here. John is quick on the uptake and doesn’t put Kelly in any more danger than necessary. All of his plans are as careful as can be and he does try to get the upper hand. I would argue that he can be a little short sighted at times though. His priority is saving Kelly and while he does a great job of that, he doesn’t really try to protect the others much. Her sister, the informant, and the other caller are all left defenseless while he pursues his main goal. The guy can’t be everywhere though so maybe the bureau should have just assigned more men to the case. I imagine they were spread pretty thin as it is though.

Unfortunately the film does go out of its way to make the villain pretty sketchy though. One such scene is when he has the sister strip. This is partially to mess with Kelly mentally as well but such a scene could have been handled a whole lot better. Given the guy’s past criminal history which is briefly brought up you can definitely tell that he’s a bad seed. This is just the latest in his crime spree and it’s good that the FBI were finally put on the case. I would have liked to have had a better villain though. Take away the breathing issue, work on the camera angles a bit, and make the villain have a better motivation. That would go a long way in helping the thriller get to the next level.

Meanwhile, the informant also does good by the end. He had a good run although his final scene is just a little off. The whole method of spying on the phone doesn’t seem too practical. I don’t see how he wasn’t caught during the many times he would use it. He made the tough calls by the end though. Then you’ve got one of the villain’s allies who has a son in the hospital. The villain has always been kind to her so she refuses to sell him out. There can be a lot of reasons as to why he never tried anything here and ultimately it doesn’t matter. As John points out, just because the guy is nice to her it doesn’t override the fact that he has murdered a bunch of people. She’s an accessory at this point either way.

One character you’ll feel bad for is the first lady who comes to the FBI because you know she is doomed from the start. At the same time, she handled the whole situation horribly and should have still been alive. There is no reason why she could not tell John at the station. I suppose she had crimes of her own but wouldn’t it be better to take the villain down and serve a little time? She could also say she had been under duress at the time and that probably would have been true to a large extent. Instead she heads back home to her secluded place where the villain has presumably already broken in several times. I can’t understand her rationale no matter how much I try to think about it.

Meanwhile Kelly does a much better job with her situation. She keeps the FBI in the loop and also tries to advise her little sister on how to act. It’s a pretty scary situation for her but she never cracks and does her best to stay on top of things. She probably tried calling the police a little too quickly the first time even if she had thought he left, but at least that also shows she wasn’t going to listen to the villain for a second. If someone tells you not to call the cops that’s usually the perfect time to do so. The threats get stronger the longer you isolate yourself from those who can help.

The film also does give us an explosive climax with a baseball stadium and a lot of shooting. The villain definitely made it surprisingly far at that point, but fortunately the heroes were ready in the end. I think with a chase scene like this there will always be times where you think they could have caught the villain sooner and you’re probably right. At least he didn’t get away, now that would have been really dicey.

Overall, An Experiment in Terror is definitely a thriller fans of the genre will want to check out. It’s definitely intense and is a fairly realistic look at a hostage type situation. If anything it’s probably slightly easier than in real life since you probably wouldn’t have any FBI backup. The villain is really the only aspect that drags the film down as it goes a bit overboard in trying to make him as repulsive as possible. All of his scenes are pretty iffy and tend to drag on. I suppose for thrillers I prefer them from the point of view of an action hero or someone trying to escape danger, but there’s a lot of different paths in the genre. I expect you’ll know if it’s your kind of film from the plot summary right away.

Overall 5/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

3:10 to Yuma Review


It’s time to look at an old wild west film. This is one of those films where the villain and main character exchange a lot of witty banter while casually trying to off one another. It’s not really personal between them. One just wants his money and the other wants to keep his life. It’s a fairly entertaining film although some parts are pretty unrealistic like the ending. You’ll just have to try and brush that bit aside.

The film starts with Ben and his gang holding up a group of travelers and stealing a bunch of dough. One guy started moving a little too much so one of Ben’s men shot him. The gang then rides off into down. Dan and his kids witnessed the event and his wife subtly pressures Dan into going into town for revenge. She feels like he should have done something while on the hill although realistically the only thing he could do at that point was get shot. Well, Dan heads into town and actually managed to get Ben at gun point. The rest of the gang are in other towns at the moment so the plan is for Dan to get Ben onto a stage coach in another town and then he’ll be in prison before the rest of the crew arrives. Dan not going to all of this trouble for petty revenge. He’s doing this because Butterfield has promised him a nice reward and Dan needs the money for his farm. Right now he is in a dicey financial situation.

As always the film reminds you that all of the town inhabitants are cowards who are afraid to fight even when they have the numbers advantage. You should see how quickly they run when Ben’s men are rumored to be showing up. Even though it would have been something like 18 vs 12 heroes to villains they quickly run off so before long it is 2 vs 12. It’s annoying for Dan because from the start Ben tells him that they’re all going to run away and it turns out that he was right. Even Butterfield loses his nerve by the end. A good deal of the film is then about Ben trying to convince Dan to let him go by playing on his weaknesses.

Dan stays strong which is good because he’d have to be a grade A sucker to fall for such a ploy. There is no way to guarantee that Ben would get him the money or even that Ben wouldn’t murder him. There is nothing to force Ben to do anything once he leaves so trying to do something would be futile. At that point it’s better to just get shot and get that part over with. Still, Dan still has to deal with a bunch of outlaws on his own now.

There isn’t a huge supporting cast, but it’s a decent one. I liked Butterfield even if he wasn’t the bravest guy out there. He still did last for quite a while. Then you’ve got Alex who stayed strong the whole time. He suffers a pretty painful death so you wish Dan would have been there to help. Instead he’s basically hiding in the room with Ben where he makes a bunch of mistakes that are almost fatal. At least he doesn’t crack like that one guy who ran into the room to murder Ben and just made the situation worse.

Dan’s a reasonable main character. I’d say that his decision to stand down when seeing the other guys start robbing the carriage was the right call. Perhaps if he was by himself he could have done something but with 2 kids right there it wouldn’t be right to put their lives in danger. After that he does pretty good with taking out all the villains and completing his mission. It may not have been all that realistic but Dan did his best.

As for Ben, I wasn’t sold on the guy. The movie does its best to try and make him sympathetic by the end but I’m not buying it. The guy’s basically a criminal/murderer who just so happens to like the bar tender Emmy so naturally he is nice around her. Even the worst of people have someone they like so that doesn’t suddenly make them a better person. Ben is still a criminal with crimes that have been accumulating for years. I also fully expect he would have taken Dan down if he had grabbed the gun early on. So his big change of heart at the end of the film doesn’t make much sense. It’s even worse when you realize that he is going to be executed once he gets to the next town so he probably shouldn’t be so chipper. Maybe he thinks he can get out alive, but that’s a long shot.

It goes without saying that his romance plot with Emmy is not handled very well. It all happens so suddenly and never feels like it was all that realistic. They just hit it off immediately which is a nice sentiment of course, but it just makes you assume that Emmy is fairly easy and that Ben’s probably pulling the moves in every town he goes into. That’s really the only implication you can make after such a subplot and it also made Ben not look very smart since he should have known that staying in a town where he just robbed the civilians would not end well. The guy was definitely pretty overconfident.

The final fight is fun, but the hero is way too outnumbered. We’re supposed to believe that Dan is taking out an entire squadron all by himself while dragging Ben around. The villains keep missing their shots, but they really should not be. People start missing shots at point blank range and then you realize that things are really getting dicey.

Overall, 3:10 to Yuma is a good film. It’s got its flaws and I don’t really think there is a lot of replay value here, but it’s a good first time watch. You’ll definitely be wondering how things are going to play out even if you won’t be surprised at how the townspeople falter when it really matters. As it stands you think they would at least recognize when someone doesn’t belong. There is one scene where it turns out that one of the villains was sleeping nearby and nobody recognized him. It’s also interesting that the sheriff would take all of the cops and leave while there’s a whole crew of murder suspects staying in town. Sure, he waited til they started to leave…but that’s pretty bold. The heroes make questionable decisions for sure, but I suppose that is why this is the Wild West.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Rage Review


It’s time to look at another Wild West type film. This one isn’t about lassoing criminals or escaping justice though. Instead it’s a film that takes place in the old days but has an unrelated plot. It’s a decent idea, but unfortunately the execution just wasn’t there and so this film ended up as a flop.

The film starts off with a truck of performers heading over to a nearby village. They have to get past a dangerous bridge and endure a villainous driver but ultimately make it. They get their money after a few day’s hard work but one of the girls stays. Perla’s decided that she has a future with Doctor Reuben but currently he has not gotten over his dead wife. She aims to change that but it won’t be easy. Complicating matters further is the fact that something seems to be wrong with the animals around town. If the doctor doesn’t solve this right away then they could all be in trouble.

There are a few things holding this film back and I think a big one is definitely the subplot with the entertainers at the beginning. For starters this is really an excuse to have a lot of fan service thrown in for most of their scenes. As expected none of the guys have any morals or dignity here either and look quite terrible. The driver being a villain was also completely unnecessary and that scene should have simply been cut. The scenes add up quite a bit. Even once the performers are gone it doesn’t end since Perla stayed and keeps trying to bring joy to the village through dicey means.

There is also the animal violence in this film to finish off the 1-2 punch. Since the animals are being infected things don’t quite end well for them. Shots are fired and you can feel the film’s score shrinking with each bullet. By this point the film was already well on its way to the dark side but deep down you always hope that it can make a comeback. Unfortunately this was not in the cards for Rage.

Then you’ve got the main character Reuben who isn’t close to being likable. For starters he is a drunk who is constantly throwing his bottles around. He is a doctor so you will be worried for his patients. Reuben is mourning his wife but it’s no excuse for not putting down the bottle. Then you’ve got the critical scene which destroyed his character. Reuben finds out that his days are numbered but he had already promised to go help out his friend Pancho since the guy’s wife was having a baby. It was already known that it would be a difficult carriage and there is nobody else who can help. She will die if no one shows up. Knowing this, the lead puts his life ahead of hers and nearly deserts them. He wastes a few hours on this betrayal and by the time he comes back there’s already been a lot of extra pain on the wife’s part. The Doctor was completely out of luck by this point and having a main character like that is not easy.

The best character is definitely the friend Pancho. He is supportive throughout and even helps the lead after all his betrayal attempts. He does whatever he can to help his wife first and then makes time to save the day at the end. You couldn’t ask for a better friend. Pancho is just genuinely heroic and has his priorities straight. He is ready to make the hard calls and also has more practical knowledge than Reuben. Then you’ve got the heroine Perla who is okay, but since her goal is to get the guy to rebound from his wife you can’t really root for her. On the contrary, you have to hope she doesn’t succeed. There is always a case for when it is time to move on, but it’s not a case that would really save Perla for me.

Now there is one scene where a guy gets rabies and so the town is forced to tie him up. They ultimately let him die naturally but some of the characters bring valid concerns to Reuben asking him to just end it. While I understand him not wanting to push the trigger because that is quite drastic (Also it’s something that anyone could do so it’s a little iffy to put the blame on him) but not even giving him some extra shots to knock him out temporarily or block the senses a bit? In such a state it probably wouldn’t be too effective, but surely doing something is better than nothing. It’s definitely a very rough way to go for the guy infected so I can see why nobody wants to get sick like that.

The cast is fairly small, but that’s probably for the best. Pretty much every character who does show up here is pretty annoying or downright unlikable. The kids on the bus definitely aren’t very compassionate or understanding and one of Reuben’s allies seems sketchy from the start. The bus driver is probably one of the only decent side characters and at least

Overall, This one won’t rank too highly on the Wild West rankings. It brings together the worst aspects of the genre without giving us any gunfights in exchange. That’s a bad deal if I’ve ever heard of one. There really isn’t anything here to grab your attention or keep you engaged. If you’re thinking of watching this film then I would advise you to keep walking and to watch something like Trigun instead. You’ll be glad you made the decision.

Overall 3/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Resident Evil: Retribution Review

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

It’s been quite a while, but it’s time to finally rejoin the Resident Evil series and continue with Alice’s adventure. The movie series has always been a very interesting one. It’s got a dynamite soundtrack and the special effects are on point. It’s also got a very interesting plot and handles the whole zombie angle way better than most other titles. It ends up faltering due to the excessive violence and fanservice running around, but at least you have a decent time while watching it. This film is no exception so you’ll have a lot of fun as the film goes on even if it can’t escape some of the usual issues.

The movie starts off by giving us a brief recap of the last few films. If you managed to forget parts then this will help a bit, but honestly I don’t see how you could forget since the films are too exciting for that. To this day I have to admit that Resident Evil consistently has the best cliffhangers out of any live action movie. They always end with a bang and that keeps you going until the next movie. The credits play before that through a slow motion scene that goes backwards before then playing it again at normal speed. It’s an interesting way to start the film, but I think the scene does go on for a little too long. It’s always interesting to see how the scenes look before they’re at normal speed though.

So last time Jill and the other members of Umbrella stormed the boat and attacked the heroes. Alice was captured during this offensive and is being held at Umbrella’s most dangerous prison. The Red Queen has decided that now is the time to break Alice. Fortunately she is given an escape option thanks to Wesker. He hacked the system and sent in his top agent Ada to help Alice get out. She doesn’t trust him, but she’ll surely die if she stays so she goes along with this plan. The prison is huge with different areas spanning multiple city blocks and each area is infested with zombies that she has met in previous films as well as normal ones. Alice will really have to work hard to get out of here. Meanwhile a squad has also been sent in to rescue Alice from the outside. They’ll have to get halfway through the compound to rescue her, but breaking in is just as difficult as breaking out. Neither side is going to have an easy time here.

Well, lets tackle the film’s weak points first. For starters this is still a film that is focused on using a ton of gratuitous violence as the heroes mow down the zombies. Someone gets drilled with a spinning disc until they’re murdered, others are sliced and diced, and everyone else is eaten alive or shot down. There’s constant violence here to be sure. I feel like it’s less violent than the last one or two, but it’s been a while so it may just feel that way. As always the film does make sure to include one fanservice scene at the very beginning as the villains try to break Alice, but it’s not quite as forced as in the last films. It’s still one of the weakest scenes in the film though and I guess the Red Queen is getting emotional at this point because there really doesn’t seem to be much of a point in kidnapping Alice in the first place. At the very least they aren’t running tests or doing any of the usual maneuvers that you would expect.

The supporting characters are also pretty forgettable. Anyone who isn’t one of the main 4 characters is quickly shoved to the side. It’s hard to care about any of the group members who came to save Alice despite at least one of them possibly being a character from an older film. The main guy is Leon and he doesn’t leave much of an impact. They all just start to blend together and feel like cannon fodder. Ultimately they don’t seem all that important. At least the main cast is solid though.

As always Alice is a great character. She’s certainly kept her fighting skills over the years and is always ready for the next fight. Her character is exactly how I would like Samus to be portrayed if we ever get a Metroid film. To say that Alice is one of the best film heroines of all time would not be an understatement. At the moment I cannot think of anyone who would be above her. She’s just that good and has been consistently solid throughout all of the films in the series. This may still be her best portrayal yet as she is both a solid soldier as well as a compassionate mother figure in this movie. I’m expecting great things from her in the next film as well.

Wesker gets to appear a little here. His role is large but his screen time isn’t although that should change in the next film. There’s a lot of ways the film can finish up his character arc so I look forward to seeing what they choose. He is incredibly overpowered to the point where it seems like he could end the zombie apocalypse on his own. I suppose it isn’t that easy, but it does feel that way. Alice will have to watch out in the next film although thanks to a twist in the ending she may be ready for him.

Jill spends most of the film under mind control but makes for a terrific main villain. Her fighting skills are the real deal and when you mix in her hand to hand expertise she really becomes a serious threat. Her costume is very accurate to the games and she is a scene stealer. Then you have Ada who also gets a lot of hype for her fighting abilities, but isn’t quite as impressive as Jill. I don’t think there is ever a question of who would win if these two were to fight each other. There’s also a kid who tags along for a good chunk of the film. Her plot is fairly sad, but Alice does what she can to help. The kid can actually listen to orders so she is considerably better than most others. Her Mom also did good as she didn’t panic too much when the zombies came and actually fought quite a bit.

Continuing with the film’s excellent execution, it really pulls off the zombie invasion in this small town. It’s an intense set of scenes with a lot of good attention to detail as you see people trying to fight off the zombies in the background. I definitely don’t think heading back into a house is a good idea in the zombie apocalypse, but in the spur of the moment I suppose there isn’t much else you can do. The whole thing is pretty thrilling and it’s like seeing an AU of what it could have been.

As always the soundtrack is dynamite as well. It really feels like something out of a video game and I think that’s part of why these films shine so much. The structure and feel is like a video game and the films aren’t afraid to embrace that aspect. The costumes are on point as well and the pacing is also solid. It’s still a little hard to describe what really makes these films pop, but I think at the end of the day it’s that sci-fi works really well for any medium. It’s why Astral Chain looked so great and why these films are so engaging. Sci-Fi is just excellent.

I also need to point out that the fight scenes here are excellent. Jill vs Alice is certainly the highlight. It’s the kind of fight where it’s one sided, but close enough for both fighters to still be throwing attacks around if that makes sense. It’s just a lot of solid back and forth. Then you have the other fight of Rain taking on the side characters and that plays out as you would expect. She’s simply too powerful and Alice has a tough time there. Throwing in these super soldiers really takes Resident Evil to the next level. If there’s any complaint with this climax it is that the resolution to Jill vs Alice doesn’t make any sense. Stopping the tech should not be so easy because if it was then the fight should not have lasted so long. There would be many opportunities to do what Alice did at the end a little earlier in the fight. It’s also poor design on the villains part.

I didn’t talk much about Rain earlier, but she’s a solid villain. Her good self was also fun and you’ll feel bad for her. She did try her best to help out but is the definition of a red shirt. She was never going to last very long in this brutal world. Rain never faltered and that’s the important thing. Evil Rain is just as solid and really gave the heroes a hard time.

As I mentioned these films are known for their awesome endings and this film does its best to top them all. I’m not sure if I’ll give it the top spot over the original, but it definitely comes close with the heroes preparing for their final battle. It really feels like we have finally made it to the end of the road. It’s hard to see how the heroes will be able to overcome such crazy odds but with Alice and Wesker they have a chance. The tough part will be trying to keep the two from destroying each other in the meantime. The ending also gives a lot of hope for more awesome fights in the next film only this time we may finally be back to the more super hero-esque adventures.

Overall, Resident Evil: Retribution brings the nonstop action that you are hoping to see. It’s a very solid film on all the fundamentals and is definitely the best title in the series. It improves on all the previous ones and does its best to get over some of the negatives. It’s still dug its grave with the amount of over the top violence here, but the upwards slope this film brings the series to is definitely a good thing. If you like horror films or just want a good sci-fi thriller then you definitely need to check this out. So long as you are cool with the violence you can expect to have a home run hit on your side. Hopefully the next and last film in the series can give us a proper ending.

Overall 3/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Village of the Damned Review


It’s time to look at an old film with a rather intense name. Apologies to my younger readers, but given the context it’s not really used as a swear word. Regardless I won’t be mentioning the title for the rest of the review so you only need to see it once! Whenever you’ve got the word “Village” in the title you have to be a little weary because those movies do not have a great track record. While this one is certainly a step up from that infamous film, I can’t say that it really succeeds either. When it comes to horror films, it’s hard to say what the best formula is. It’s either throwing in aliens, monsters, or ghosts. I can tell you now that possession and normal humans are some of the worst horror moves. What’s one other kind that competes with those? Evil kids.

The film starts off with everyone in a random village being knocked unconscious and nobody is able to enter the area. Eventually this odd occurrence ends and everyone wakes up. All seems normal for a while, but two months later a bunch of people get pregnant and the demon kids are born into the world. They look like normal kids, but have slight differences in appearance like their hair and claws. They also have the ability to take control of someone’s mind and can even affect multiple people at once. The government thinks they must be destroyed but Gordon believes that they can be used for good. One of these kids was born to him and Anthea which gives him extra motivation to convert them. Alas, they seem to be getting worse and worse instead of better.

Gordon’s plan may not have gone well, but I would still argue that he had the right idea in part at least. These kids are still just kids so even if they have super powers you can’t just destroy them right away. Locking up or quarantining them made sense though so the government agent had some good points. It’s not as if you can stop them with power or hope to protect everyone, but leaving them in the middle of a village with a ton of innocent kids and civilians is really not the best way to go about this. Gordon was too hopeful. It’s not bad to be optimistic, but you can’t be putting everyone else in danger like that. The only life you should risk is your own when it comes to ideas like this.

Anthea is probably the most tragic character here because she’s trying to just make things as normal as possible and David isn’t making that possible. The kids don’t even try to fit in. From the start they act antagonistically. I suppose they want to rule the world and all, but shouldn’t they not be putting so much attention on themselves? David later admits that they caused too much of a commotion but they could have easily gone under the radar. I suspect they are not quite as intelligent as they would have you believe. After all, they have lost to the humans in every major battle so far. With their abilities the kids should never lose.

Here’s why kids don’t work as main villains anymore than they would work as main characters. For starters, you can’t have a proper fight with them. It’s not like you can punch a kid after all. So all of the scenes with them just involve the kids staring the adults into submission until they destroy themselves. Causing the characters to commit suicide is the main trick that the kids use and it’s not exciting to watch in the slightest. I also always have a hard time buying into the whole hypnosis thing so I’m just over here shaking my head while this is all going on. These guys need to work on their will power so they don’t get wrecked so easily.

I suppose by the end of the film it’s safe to say that these are really just aliens who are taking the form of kids. It’s definitely a unique plot even if the payoff isn’t amazing. I actually prefer the first half as the characters struggle to get into the town and have to figure out a way around the dead zone. I expected that most of the film would revolve around this effect turning off and on with the humans getting closer each time. Instead we are introduced to the kid plot which throws in some tension as some of the parents reject these alien beings, but I’d prefer we have focused on the aliens.

The writing here is pretty solid. It’s got that classic feel to it with every character feigning politeness even when they are being aggressive. The pacing of the film is good as well and it doesn’t drag on. At most the second half might be a little grating just because by that point you realize that Gordon is completely in denial and everyone is dying as a result. You know that the townsfolk will fail even though there was a whole group of them. It may have actually been more interesting to have had the government take the win here rather than letting Gordon get all the credit.

At first I thought Alan was going to be the main character while Gordon would be the second in command. The film did a good job of pulling a bait and switch here as Alan quickly goes from being the lead to one of the less intelligent side characters. He doesn’t even realize Gordon’s final plan despite the character trying to be as clear as possible without tipping anyone off. I guess the guy’s army training just wasn’t quite enough for him to be ready for such mindgames. Gordon’s plan was quite solid though. Keeping your mind busy on something else to avoid the telepathic probes is exactly the kind of trick you should be using here.

Overall, this film does a good job of being an atmospheric horror title. There are no jump scares nor does the film resort to violence to try and get a quick scream. The animals don’t even end up dying because fortunately they were only put to sleep. Even the dog managed to live which is amazing because I feared the worst as soon as he showed up. Still, I can’t give the film a higher score because the kids just aren’t very interesting and their scenes can’t hold their own. It’s really up to the grownups to make the film and they do a good job. If you like the idea of alien kids among us then you should definitely check this out. Otherwise, why are you watching this one?

Overall 5/10

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Next Review


It’s time to take a look at a thriller from the not too distant past. This is one of those films that I figured I would have heard about, but I don’t recall ever seeing anything about it before watching the movie recently. It’s got a pretty cool premise and I liked the story but some parts definitely didn’t mesh as well as they could have. The ending for example was nearly perfect if it had just cut out a few minutes earlier.

The FBI has grown desperate since the Russians are preparing to nuke the U.S. They stole some nukes a while back and the FBI wasn’t told about it for around 2 weeks. Now they know that the timer is close to 0 but they have dug up no leads. Special agent Ferris has some ideas though. She’s been tracking a psychic named Cris who has the ability to see into the future. She plans to have him uncover the Russian plot. Meanwhile Cris has been doing his best to lead a normal life. He’s learned some magic tricks and makes a steady income. Unfortunately since he can see 15 minutes into the future he’s always getting into a lot of trouble as he stops people from shooting everyone up, but has no proof.

Why hasn’t Cris just skipped town? Well, he’s been having dreams about meeting someone named Liz at a certain cafe. The reason why this is important is because as I mentioned he can typically only see 15 minutes into the future and it has to directly be relevant to him. Why is he able to see weeks in advance when it comes to her? Cris isn’t sure, but he feels like it is destiny and decides to wait for her. This increases the stakes though and can he possibly convince her of their destiny before she calls the FBI in on him?

Being able to see 15 minutes in advance is just as overpowered as you would expect it to be. It’s hard for anyone to stop Cris because he’s already played this out in his head. To me it seems like the ability is always on and he just keeps auto jumping back whenever he dies or gets into a corner. It makes for a lot of fun visuals where you’ll be enjoying the movie and suddenly an old scene pops in with no transition. You just know that he’s gone back 15 minutes. Technically it isn’t time travel as it was just a vision but since it’s basically always activated it sure feels that way sometimes. A cool scene is when he uses this to evade bullets and actually close in on a gunman. There’s just no way you can lose when you see this far in advance.

That being said, I wouldn’t call Cris a great character. His romance with Liz is handled pretty poorly. Naturally the do-over attempts are pretty manipulative here as he just keeps re-rolling his answers like in a gatcha game until he gets the ones that he wants. He claims with Liz that he doesn’t use his abilities with her, but we know for a fact that he does, both in the cafe scene at the beginning and a scene near the end of the film. Since the ability seems to be automatically activated I don’t think he could totally turn it off even if he wants to. The film is a little unclear on that but that’s how my interpretation of it works at any rate. He knows Liz for as few hours and is sold. Sure, he’s been seeing her every night for ages but from her point of view this is some random stranger who says a lot of odd things and is always staring at her. How would she turn this into a proper romance? She definitely gets super comfortable around him pretty quick and considering that she just dumped someone, a period of time without rebounding would make sense.

So the romance here is just weak. Liz is a decent character otherwise as at least she doesn’t get suckered too easily. Going into a car with someone who claims to be an officer is never a good idea though. I don’t care if they show you the badge, you don’t get into the car the way that she did. That’s always a big mistake. Meanwhile the main FBI agent is Farris and she is definitely convinced that Cris can help. I don’t think that she thought her plan over very well though. She figures out that he can only see 15 minutes into the future so how is that going to help? Her plan is to have him watch the news until the bomb is mentioned so they know where to go, but 15 minutes isn’t a whole lot of time. Depending on where in the city the bomb is there is no way they’d make it in time. His power just doesn’t matter in any meaningful way. So her boss was actually right in not hedging their bets on Cris even if his methods didn’t work either. 15 minutes isn’t enough time to find and deactivate a bomb. It’s just not happening, especially not when the villains have a lot of other bombs and guns at the ready.

The best part of the film is definitely the various action scenes. The climax is particularly solid and we get to see Cris really go all in with his pre-cog abilities. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen and having infinite live to do it with is just cool. I also like how they introduced his abilities at the beginning with how he evaded everyone at the casino. You will feel bad for the informant though as things never go well for him. Next has a really solid soundtrack as well to go along with the cool visuals. The film’s just a lot of fun and the quick moving plot works well here. There’s always something happening.

It may not be a film that will win any awards, but there’s a lot to like here. Really if you just take out the romance and fix the ending then I dare say that you might even have a great ending here. I won’t go into detail on the ending because there really isn’t any way to say it without spoilers so I’ll just say that cutting out a few minutes earlier would have been amazing. When you watch the film you’ll know exactly what I mean. It definitely would have been unexpected, but still pretty satisfying in its own way. It also works within the limits of the ability without stretching things to the max. The ending that we do get just isn’t as satisfying. Meanwhile the villains really don’t get to do much at all. You’ll forget that they exist at times because of how little presence they have here. They’re not bad, but they almost feel superfluous.

Overall, Next is definitely a very unique film. On the surface it’s your average thriller, but the time ability definitely throws a nice wrinkle in there. Since Cris should be invincible there are still some moments where you might have to suspend some disbelief, but at the same time maybe he just wanted to go down this route because the other futures he visited were worse. The ending also is a potential plot hole if you ask me. You can reasonably make sense of it, but I just feel like it’s a little beyond the scope of ability shown til now. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then you should go ahead and give it a watch. It’s pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Allegiant Review


All right, it’s time to finish off this trilogy. Divergent has had a good start, but all good YA movie titles must end at some point and now this one is over. The true finale was cancelled though so it ended a little sooner than expected, but that’s all right. Unfortunately it does end on a bit of a whimper compared to the first two. There are a lot of good moments here so it’s still not a bad movie, but it really does feel like this arc is a bit of a re-tread in a lot of ways. You’ll start to see how futile the main characters’ rebellion is.

Tris and Four have finally stopped Jeanine and brought the world to a more peaceful place. That was the plan at least, but the new leader Evelyn already seems to be as corrupt as Jeanine. She has shut down the borders so everyone is locked in the tower once more and has decided to execute all of the people who were under Jeanine’s regime. Tris decides that she has had enough waiting and along with Four, Caleb, Peter, and Christina they break through the border to the outside world. This world promises to be a utopia, but is it really so perfect?

This is the kind of plot that can be quite frustrating most of the time. For starters, Tris and Four have already been through quite a lot. Whether or not you think the romance has been handled well, you’d expect them to have complete confidence in each other by now. Unfortunately the villains are able to create a bit of a rift between them and sucker Tris throughout the movie. Usually in these situations I would say that both characters deserve 50$ of the blame, but in this case I have to say that it is all Tris. Tris has been shown to be a very smart character in the past two films and doesn’t just believe what she hears.

Instead she falls for every trick in this book. She comes across as very naïve and nearly costs Four his life by walking away with the villain. She doesn’t even seem to consider that he is actually right and we do the whole “No time to talk” part where if she just stopped to listen then the whole thing would be over. This is definitely Tris’ weakest film. Now, even if she had listened to Four there is no guarantee that she could have done a whole lot to stop the villains of course, but at least she would have been in a position to do something. By ignoring all of the issues it just gets worse for everyone else.

Meanwhile, this is Four’s best film yet though. Throughout the series he has been portrayed as one of the best fighters in the series and this one doubles down on that. He takes out a whole plane full of armed guards and tends to beat up everyone who gets in his way. He just leaves a wave of destruction in his wake and it’s pretty satisfying. He figures out the truth about the place very quickly. In part it’s because he didn’t trust them from the beginning, but that is the right outset. Look, you’ve grown up in a dystopian future where everyone’s been lying to you from the start. Why would you go somewhere else and assume that it would be better? I’m sure Four was hoping the place would be great, but he didn’t just suddenly take them all at their word. That was the right call here.

Meanwhile, this is Caleb’s film to try and make a big comeback. He looked really bad in the last film to the point of being borderline irredeemable. In this one he knows that he owes Tris his life several times over and is doing his best to atone. It’s clear right now that he does regret his actions so he looks a lot better here, but I’m still not a fan of the character. Even now he gets a little too absorbed in the data part of what’s going on and loses sight of what’s important. He does come through when it counts though so you do have to give him some credit.

Then you’ve got Peter. He’s been super manipulative throughout the films and has been a fun villain. I don’t think it’s likely that you will like the character, but I do enjoy him as an obstacle for the heroes. He’s consistent with how overconfident and arrogant he is. No matter which side he is helping you can bet that Peter will be doing his best to tick everyone off and play them against each other. You can’t even say that his role here is all that unexpected since he has made it clear in the past that you can’t trust him. It’s a shame that we aren’t getting the next film because they’re definitely setting up for a really big fight between him and Four. As it stands Four would crush him if it’s a fair fight so Peter will have to come up with a plan. Peter’s a jerk, but that’s a trait that works really well for a villain.

Then you’ve got David who is the main villain here. The film kind of toys with the idea of him being an old man who just doesn’t know what is going on, but never really goes for that because almost immediately they make him look shady. The problem is that you can’t really take him all that seriously as a villain because he’s just an old guy who can’t really fight. He has the country in his pocket so he is tough to stop, but that’s about it. As a result his final scene is more humorous than threatening. I dare you not to crack a grin as the film ends because it is definitely going for a very ominous moment that will keep you up at night getting ready for the sequel, but it’s hard to take seriously.

That being said, the heroes really should have no chance in a 4th film if you ask me. What can they possibly do? The heroes are outnumbered by an insane amount and are also outgunned. They have basic guns, but the villains have high tech robots that can do just about anything and even come complete with barriers. Still, having a cliffhanger is better than not having one so even if I couldn’t take David seriously, I do like that the film made the attempt.

Then we have Evelyn and her civil war plot. She may protest quite a lot, but at the end of the day she basically is Jeanine 2.0. She may have different views, but she goes about them in the exact same way so you can’t really say that there are a bunch of differences between them. I do think she is a more interesting villain than Jeanine though and she is pretty serious about her goals. Evelyn does get manipulated a little easier than Jeanine though so if I were comparing the villains in terms of who is better at the role, Jeanine is definitely more successful.

Evelyn somehow manages to blow her lead against the Allegiant so badly that they outnumber her at the end and are about to claim victory. That’s pretty crazy since she should have easily been able to win even without using the gas at her disposal. I feel like it was just an excuse to quickly throw in why the gas was necessary, but it didn’t add up. Maybe something was cut out from the book here.

Going back to why this film was weaker than the others, I really think it’s all about how Tris was handled. She’s one of the highlights of the series and I felt like her character took a few steps back. Right when David started not allowing Four to accompany her she should have known that something was up. She also should have protested and just not met up with David in that case. There are many way she could have handled this better. I’m also not sure about her just sitting back and not even speaking out against the trials near the beginning. Inaction is never a good thing.

Also, as I mentioned it’s like we’re back to square one. The heroes beat one dictator, but now they’re up against another and are outnumbered again. They’re going to be the rebellion yet again only with double the trouble this time. They can handle this plot reasonably I’m sure, but not much would probably happen until the next film. The pacing here is good, but it all just feels futile because you never feel like they’re going to come out on top here. There’s not much they can do as just a city against the rest of the world. Even the random jello scene (Completely unnecessary) at the beginning shows how they could have easily choked all of the heroes right there and it’d be game over. Their tech just doesn’t play fair.

As always the fight scenes are definitely top notch though. Pretty much any scene with Four in it is a great moment. The airplane fight where he uses all of the enemy weapons against themselves is particularly brilliant. Those guys definitely didn’t have a chance. Surprisingly I’d say that the little drones didn’t really make for more enjoyable fight scenes likely due to the fact that the barriers are extremely overpowered against ordinary guys with guns.

Overall, Allegiant continues to build the world and does introduce a lot of new elements into the mix. Unfortunately, they don’t always feel necessary and this is a story that really feels like it wrapped up pretty nicely in the last film. I’m not really sure we needed another civil war to bring the factions back. Of course it is realistic because people never want to ditch the old ways. It probably should have picked one plot (Outside world or civil war) and stuck to that though, have the other plot pick up afterwards. It may not have been the big finale we may have hoped for, but at the same time this trilogy was considerably better than I was expecting so that was good.

Overall 6/10

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Insurgent Review


Time to jump into the sequel to Divergent! As you likely read in my last review, the series is off to a good start so the question is really whether or not the sequel could manage to keep up the momentum. Well, I can safely say that it did. It continues to harness the same level of energy and makes for a pretty fast paced sequel. I do feel like the third film is going to be the one that has a hard time keeping up since this film basically ends the main plot. The third film would be starting a whole new arc and since it’s the last film there isn’t a whole lot of time to finish it.

The second film picks up pretty much right after the first one ended. Jeanine isn’t happy about how things have turned out so she has just made it plain and clear that she is taking over the world. She does so under the guise of justice though so people are pretty cool with it. The only faction that didn’t like her has been wiped out anyway so they don’t care much. Four and Tris are still on the run and decide that they need to meet up with the rest of Dauntless to regroup. Along the way they’ll have to deal with faction-less gangs as well as get past other factions and a peace group to reach their goal. Once they make it they’ll have to then decide how to handle this situation. Do they start a civil war and take Jeanine down or just flee the country and risk seeing what is hidden beyond the borders? I don’t think I mentioned it in my last review, but in Divergent the world is surrounded by a lot of large walls. Supposedly there is nothing beyond those walls except for deserts, but most of the characters don’t believe this.

The film starts up with the characters hiding among a group of peaceful people who don’t want to take a side in the current situation. That’s rarely a choice in these things though so they are just prolonging the inevitable. The heroes can’t stay long though since Peter picks a fight and Tris nearly murders him. It does help them see Peter’s true colors though and the heroes fight their way out and onto a train. This leads to another action scene where they are forced to take on the whole crew. Both of them do a good job of holding their own here. Tris and Four take down a significant amount of enemies, but ultimately are not on the winning side here since they are simply too outnumbered. They would have been in a better spot if Tris’ brother Caleb had actually been helping more, but he was too scared to act. It’s a solid action scene though and definitely gets the film off on the right note. That’s already quite a few fight scenes and the film had only barely started.

Caleb never quite recovers though. I didn’t like him in the first film and he is significantly worse here. Being afraid of the villains isn’t a bad thing, but when you’re so afraid that you’re willing to let them murder your family that’s when things have gone too far. He should definitely be pretty ashamed after that and then he makes all of the wrong calls as the film goes on. By the end of it you just can’t like this character. He quickly sinks to being one of the worst characters in the movie.

Meanwhile Peter gets a bigger role here and he continues trying to be as unlikable as possible too. He antagonizes Tris quite a bit, but since she is such a quality character she shuts that down real quick. Not only does she completely overwhelm him in combat, but she scares him enough where you know he won’t try picking another fair fight with her again. An extra second and he would have been down for the count. Peter comes across as fairly petty though since most of his latter scenes seem to be direct retaliation against her. He never seemed like a trust worthy ally though so it’s not like this is surprising.

If you think about it there are probably more antagonists than heroes in this film. You’ve also got Eric who returns again and is still the villain who appears the most. While he isn’t the best fighter compared to the others, he usually has some kind of advantage to help him. The mind control serums and knock out gas still work as well as ever and he’s always got a gun. His fight with Four goes as you would expect though and was handled really well. It definitely made Four look good. Jeanine is still a solid villain, but she does appear to have lost a lot of her intelligence here. She’s very obvious about how she doesn’t care for her lackeys and that’s not a good idea when you put one of them in charge of your entire security system. At least pretend to be looking out for that guy or just destroy him otherwise. That felt like the beginning of the end for her.

Four and Tris are pretty consistent with their first appearance. Four still makes it clear that he’s here to protect Tris first and save the world second. I’m glad that he doesn’t hesitate in heading over to save Tris and just leaves the compound. He has the right priorities there. While I’m definitely still not with the romance now that it’s already a thing it’s naturally less forced than in the first film. It’s more or less just how things are so it’s not really a matter of questioning its inclusion now. Tris goes for the classic action star haircut here which seems to happen to most protagonists at some point or other. I’ll definitely miss the more Metroid esque look, but it’s not like it changes her personality. She’s still just as tough as always. Just as she was ruthless in combat during the first film she definitely doesn’t hesitate here and continues to be one of the better heroines. She definitely goes through a lot here since her allies keep dying left and right. That’s why it’s tough being the toughest person in the room since its inevitable that you’ll see some allies get taken down along the way.

Christina gets less of a role here than in the first film. She spends a lot of it being fairly upset, but ultimately handles it well. It’s hard to blame her since being directly lied to is never any fun, but at the end of the day she still helped out when necessary and didn’t try to get revenge on Tris or anything like that. I don’t think you could ask for a better reaction to her situation. Four’s parents show up and his Dad is still pretty bad. He’s the kind of character who absolutely can’t be redeemed at this point and I think the film knows it. He half heartedly attempts to bridge the gap to no success. The Mom in comparison doesn’t seem nearly as guilty. Of course leaving Four wasn’t the right call and she should have found a way to take him, but at least she wasn’t actively being a villain. The film is definitely hinting that she is a dangerous character though so it’ll be interesting to see what she does in the third movie.

All of the strengths from the first film carry over to this one. The writing is pretty solid and the core characters are good. We get a lot of nice action scenes which definitely hold up and the pacing is solid. The film doesn’t drag on and it avoids making any big mistakes. It does have more emotional moments than the first film which do slow the film down to an extent, but I don’t think it’s overplayed. You do feel bad for the random dude who shows up to talk to Tris when she’s down though since you know that he’s dead right away. This is the kind of film where you just know that the no names are doomed as soon as they start to talk. Any divergent who isn’t Four or Tris is also typically doomed since none of them are all that smart. If you notice that everyone is acting evil and mind controlled you should probably pretend to be under the spell too instead of wandering around looking confused. One of the kids also doesn’t look good since she disobeys orders, but as she’s a kid you can’t be quite as harsh I suppose.

The dream sequences for the trials are still pretty fun. We get quite a few of them and Tris gets to show her determination each time. Even when there’s one simulation that is obviously not the real world the film handles it pretty well so people who are new to the genre could potentially fall for it. Tris also gets random nightmares throughout the film. These aren’t quite as interesting visually or even in context, but it does show up the events are messing Tris up. In such a hopeless world I imagine that most of the characters are pretty messed up by now. The best of the training sequences is definitely Tris trying to save her mother from a burning building. It depicts her determination pretty well and I still remember seeing that part in a trailer which is what made the series look interesting in the first place.

Of course the best sequence in the movie is also in the dream world. You can call it the final test/sequence, but basically Tris has to fight herself in the simulation. The effects here are awesome and it’s like a fight out of Man of Steel. You can feel the intensity behind every hit and by the end of the match you are definitely fully on board with that being the definitive scene. I’d like to have more fights like that, but realistically it isn’t likely. I’m just glad they were able to put in such a cool fight.

Overall, Insurgent continues to keep the series on track. Again, I do think the third film may have a tough time since I feel like the upcoming plot wouldn’t be as interesting, but there are countless ways the movie can go from here so I suppose I can’t really say that with any confidence. I’ll go into the next movie with an open mind ready to see what they’ve got in store. While you could probably watch this film and understand everything without the first it’s definitely the kind of trilogy where you are meant to watch it in order. More so than most of the other trilogies these 2 films at least feel like one big story that you’ll want to watch almost back to back for the maximum experience.

Overall 7/10

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Divergent Review


I remember seeing the trailer to the second film in this series many years ago. It was a pretty solid one and definitely gave the series a more interesting vibe to me than the competitors like Hunger Games. Still, now that I’ve finally seen it, does the movie live up to the hype? I do think it’s a pretty fun movie, but nothing particularly special. There’s enough here to keep you marching towards the sequel.

The film introduces us to a world where people are divided into sub categories based on a test result and then their own choice via blood oath. There are a handful of titles in the world, but the one that looks the most enjoyable to the main character Tris is the battle faction Dauntless. She undergoes the test, but the result gets glitched out and she is told to keep this a secret. Tris doesn’t like the way this is going, but it does mean that she can effectively choose whatever faction she wants. She naturally chooses Dauntless and after a harsh initiation barely manages to get in. She finds out that she is what they call a “Divergent” who is smarter and more emotional than the average human. Unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to like divergents so she will have to keep this under wraps. It’s a lot of pressure but she’ll just have to keep this in mind as she also struggles to stay in Dauntless as the commander decides to keep on weeding out the lowest ranking members.

It’s a pretty interesting future setup. Naturally you’ll have a lot of questions about how humanity arrived at this point, but the past doesn’t have to be explained all that much as you can just take this at face value. Of course you can probably anticipate some of the upcoming twists relating to the world structure as a result. In general I like the world that’s built here. It’s a lot more interesting than both Maze Runner and the Hunger Games since we actually have some future tech here and you can tell that we’re still in the future. I think it defeats the purpose of a future setting to have everything look really old so Divergent doesn’t fall into this trap.

It’s also got a reasonable cast. I like Tris wayyyyyyyy more than Katniss or that guy from Maze Runner. A point in her favor is that she is quick to adapt to what’s going on rather than panicking. In her first moments as Dauntless she is told to jump off a building, jump off a train, climb a tower, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She just gets it all done without complaint. Now this doesn’t mean that Tris is completely fearless, she admits as much during the film, but she always puts on a brave face which is important. You have to act the part if you want to eventually live it out. Tris calls several characters’ bluffs and steps up to protect her friends when they’re about to get diced. She’s just a great lead and does a good job of carrying the film.

As for the main guy, Four is fairly good. He’s a solid fighter and doesn’t approve of Eric’s harsh methods of teaching the recruits. However, he doesn’t do anything to stop Eric so I can’t give him all that much credit yet. He likes Tris so he coaches her and helps the lead out, but he doesn’t do that for anyone else. Towards the end of the film he gets better at doing his own thing though. One thing that may be a bit overdone is how many times he grabs Tris to turn her around when she’s trying to leave. It’s borderline becoming a running gag by the end of the film and it even carries into the next installment. I guess he really needs eye contact when talking to her. Four’s definitely fairly gruff and mean to everyone who isn’t Tris but he’s still solid overall.

The other characters start to get a little dicey. You’ve got Eric who’s the commander of the Dauntless. He’s obviously corrupt from the start and is happy to murder his fellow comrades. In this grim world where everyone’s mean and thinks about themselves you’d think that someone would have rebelled by now. The guy has quite a lot of control and seems to be pretty much untouchable. Then you’ve got Al who’s pretty nervous the whole film and cracks by the end. He’s definitely a terrible character. Tris’ brother is pretty annoying as well as he is quick to ditch Tris and everyone else for his new job. The guy has a very inflated ego and is brainwashed with ease.

Christina is a good ally at least. She goes out of her way to help make Tris feel welcome in the beginning. She does make some dicey decisions to antagonize Eric and Four without a plan though. It’s played off like she doesn’t know better, but by that point I feel like she should. Then you’ve got the antagonistic Peter. It’s actually pretty hard to get a bead on the guy since sometimes he’ll seem like a friend who just goes a little too far with his jokes while in other scenes he seems downright villainous. He does add some personality to the cast though and is a good addition. Finally you’ve got leader of the government, Jeanine. She makes sure that everyone stays in their lane and definitely has big plans. She’s fairly generic, but handled pretty well. It’s nothing that you haven’t seen well, but the writers did handle her character with care so it’s not like she’s just going through the motions.

I definitely have to give the film a thumbs up for the writing. I’m not going to say that it was exceptional, but it did take shots at something that a lot of films let slide. Lets go back and imagine this scenario. You’ve just been selected to join the meanest, most corrupt squad in the land. You’ve just seen as Four and Eric have yelled, bullied, and beat up anyone who dares challenge them. Are you going to continue to antagonize them? Well, a lot of the characters would say yes to that. In their defense, you usually get away with making sarcastic remarks in most other films. Even the mean characters will just shoot you a glare for doing that. Not so in this film. One character remarks later on in the film that the guns look pretty weak so naturally Eric shoots her to prove that it wasn’t. Another one asks Eric if she can give up even after he told them numerous times not to give up or bad things would happen. He ends up throwing her over a cliff. Another guy says he won’t go pick up his dagger so Eric uses him as live dagger throwing practice.

It feels like these characters just never learn. They come across as extremely slow on the uptake. It’s handled pretty realistically with the consequences for this though as naturally the villains won’t let it slide. A lot of the film is fairly dark and mean spirited like this as being in Dauntless is definitely portrayed as being a life threatening situation. Still, the film never goes too far with it so it doesn’t actually hurt the film.

One weakness the movie does have is the inevitable romance between Tris and Four though. It really is just there to fill in all the usual tropes, but it all happens very fast and there’s no real reason for it. Four basically did save Tris’ life multiple times so it’s not unreasonable that she would fall for him, but at the same time with the stakes so high it’s not really the right time or place for it. It also eats up valuable time that could be used for other aspects of the movie. Most of the movie is well paced, but it gets a little rushed by the ending. I actually thought the film was going to end before the raid on the enemy base, but the movie actually managed to squeeze it in.

So we’re introduced to a whole new group of characters who are part of a resistance and they want to break into the villain stronghold. You would expect that this would be a very long sequence of planning and such, but the heroes basically just walk right in. To put this in perspective, they even get the main villain at gun point. If they shoot her then the whole trilogy is basically over in an instant. For reasons that elude me they decide to spare her. Sure, it’s the hero move, but that isn’t really one of their top priorities most of the time and they’re trying to win a war right? Well, that catches up to them in the sequel. It’s a fun climax that actually is pretty hype, but it all just happens so fast.

While we don’t see them much, Tris’ parents were decent. The dad didn’t get to do a whole lot, but the Mom had some pivotal moments and definitely made a difference. She also reminded Tris to stay strong and the heroine did good when confronted with one of her old allies. You can’t just knock out mind control so easily so she made the right call in ending the fight in a single shot. Naturally going for a non fatal wound would be ideal, but it is definitely tough to aim like that in close quarters. The fight scenes throughout the movie are really solid. The hand to hand is on point and even the blaster battles look good and aren’t dragged out.

Overall, Divergent is a pretty fun film. It’s actually surprising how solid it is, I wasn’t expecting it to be all that good. You may have to suspend some disbelief for how dangerously the Dauntless like to live though. They let Tris ride down a roller coaster where there are at least half a dozen spots where you can die if you don’t move at just the right moment. I feel like a lot of trainees would have died in those spots and there’s really no reason to do such things. There shouldn’t be many people left alive in that faction if they continue like this. Still, it’s a solid way to start the series and it’s just a lot more exciting than you would expect at first. It actually lives up to the thriller genre and at this point it’s looking like the series to beat as far as the YA movies based on books go. I’ll have a review up for the sequel soon.

Overall 7/10

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Split Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the next film in the trilogy involving Unbreakable. This film always looked terrible from the first trailer though and as I didn’t even like the first film I knew this was gonna get dicey. Unfortunately the film is even worse than I had imagined and is ultimately a complete waste of your time. If you want to watch a super edgy/gritty story where the villains manage to keep on racking up wins then this is the one to check out. Otherwise you’re better off heading to your local Duane Reade to buy some cookies.

The film definitely doesn’t waste time as it starts with Kevin showing up and kidnapping 3 teenagers who had just finished having a party. He takes them to his lair where he preps them for being eaten by the beast. See, Kevin’s a psychotic who believes he contains 23 different souls inside of him and 3 of them are evil. Naturally the 3 evil ones are stronger than the 20 good ones put together so he’s gone back to his murdering ways. The 3 girls have to find a way to escape. Claire believes they should try to overpower him, Casey thinks they should just wait and see, while Marcia will follow whatever tactic they decide on. Can they escape?

So the film is distastefully bad almost from the start. Naturally Kevin isn’t a classy villain who just wants to destroy the world or anything like that. No, he is only interested in attacking girls and his mind shatters so often that even he doesn’t know who is in control at times. He has a history of such incidents, but isn’t in prison because he keeps pleading insanity. The whole thing is pretty warped and you don’t really buy into his split personalities gimmick. He’s just a guy with an enhancement ability that gives him super strength but at the end of the day that’s it. It’s all too convenient otherwise how all of his souls tend to lose to the evil ones. There’s nothing interesting about his character.

Then you’ve got Casey’s gritty backstory which is also pretty awful and shouldn’t have been included in the film. Not only does it just serve to give her extra trauma, but then in the end we find out that the uncle is still around. So, he murdered (implied) her father and has been taking advantage of her for over 10 years? This is the amount of grit that you only see in terrible films. If you really stretch it then maybe she will tell the cops at the end, but the silence was deafening. Hopefully that plot isn’t brought back for the third film.

Casey’s a good character overall though as she tries to make the best of a tough situation. She hasn’t let her circumstances break her which is good. The other teens were good as well. Claire definitely showed the most spirit out of the 3, but was definitely doomed from the start. Still, without her actually attempting to escape the others would probably have just sat around and waited til the end. Marcia also had a rough time from the start so her confidence was shaken almost right away. While Casey was quick to play along with Kevin’s insanity it’s understandable that the other two weren’t able to adapt so quickly. Casey was used to dealing with crazies.

Karen is Kevin’s psychiatrist, but ultimately she doesn’t serve much of a purpose in the film. She’s slow as molasses in understanding what is happening. Her plot doesn’t make much sense because the whole time she is the only one who actually believed Kevin from the start. Since she actually thought that his personalities were real you’d think that she would have taken the emails a little more seriously. She knew that he was in danger or different versions of him were in trouble so why did she wait so long to act? She also knew that the evil personality was in control so why did she make so many mistakes over and over again? What was the point of going to his lair?

Maybe she was going to call the cops or something, but surely she knew that she wasn’t going to make it out of there. Also, she wasn’t particularly subtle when going into the closet. She should have at least used the secret word to stun Kevin at that point since there shouldn’t be any hesitation. Instead she panicked and then forgot how to say the word by the end. She’s definitely a waste of a character and her plot line ultimately didn’t contribute to the story.

No worries, Split also managed to squeeze in some animal violence to complete the film’s descent into madness. It’s really got every undesirable trait you could ask for in a film. It’s super edgy, it’s got animal violence, it’s got child violence, and a whole lot of things that happen off screen. There’s also quite a bit of fanservice since the villain uses every excuse possible to put the heroines in worse and worse spots. There’s nothing redeemable about the film and allowing the teenagers to be decent characters is just to make the film even darker. You know from the start that this is the kind of film that won’t really have a happy ending. It’s even worse when you consider that all of the villains get away with no ramifications to continue their chaos.
The film drags on and on as the 2 hours go by. There’s no solid writing to back it up either so hopefully you have a lot of snacks.

Overall, Split is definitely a horrible film that I’d recommend staying far away from. It’s the kind that you should just toss aside and never watch. It’s a poor thriller with sub-par writing and plots that are no fun. The film never even tries to be engaging and it’s far too dark to make for an enjoyable watch. Even the final scene has a defeated sense to it as the guest star just takes another drink because he doesn’t want to get back into this mess. Of course, he’ll end up stepping in for the third film which should still be better than this one at least. Split simply couldn’t stitch the scenes together into a complete feature.

Overall 0/10