Inside Man 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.

The Inside Man is a classic bank heist kind of film but with it taking place around Wall Street that’s a pretty fun twist. You’ve got everyone trying to make a move so there are a lot of plans and counter plans going on. Effectively this is exactly my kind of film because I like to see how the debates play out as each side tries to take the lead. Most of the film keeps you wrapped up in the suspense so you won’t get to see the answers until near the end.

The movie starts with everything being rather normal at a bank until a few people show up and take the whole place hostage. They do it rather quickly, so quickly in fact that nobody even dies. Clearly these guys are professionals so Detective Keith is called in since the usual guy is on vacation. Keith tries to discuss terms with this guy but Dalton, the leader of the criminals, isn’t talking. He is sticking to his demands and does not want to change his terms. He wants a jet, and a lot of assurances before he does anything. Keith can only do so much on his end but time is not on his side. After all, the hostages currently hang in the balance. Which side will give in first?

And that’s really the tone the movie is going for here. Both players are effectively facing off against each other in a game of poker. They each have an ace or two up their sleeve and a whole lot of bluffs to work with but at the end of the day one of them is going to have to make a move sooner or later. There are also a few other players in the arena though since you can’t have the film go so linearly.

First up, we have the owner of the bank Arthur. He is hiding something important in the bank and is worried that the robbers may end up leaving with it. He is forced to call in the mysterious Madeleine. She is willing to help him out since that’s basically what she does. She doesn’t concern herself with the moral implications of what is going on so long as she is paid. There are some good back and forth conversations with these two characters though as she does also make it clear that if he is hiding anything relevant to her mission then the deal is off. She does need to know a certain amount in order to claim victory here after all. It’s not as if this will be an easy or safe job for her either since she has to deal directly with the bank robbers.

For Keith this is also pretty stressful since it is effectively his first big case. There’s a whole lot riding on this one and he is given a tempting offer from Madeleine involving how this plays out. Can you in good conscience take a bribe like that? The film opens up with an exchange where Keith basically says that if you’re doing your job most of the time and take a bribe at some point, you still did a net good for society so it works out. Foreshadowing or something to subvert? It’s just something extra to think about.

The film always gives you a whole lot to think about in each scene which is part of why the film is so good. There are many different plots and storylines going on here at once and all of the characters are quite solid. It makes for a very engaging film from start to finish and one that does not have any weaknesses. The climax does not disappoint and the actual journey is also a lot of fun. There’s a lot of replay value to be had here just because the writing is so good. It’s properly engaging and all of the characters are pretty reasonable. Even the random hostages all have a good amount of personality between them so you aren’t likely to mix them up at all.

Throughout the movie, we get flash forwards where we see Keith and his partner talking to the hostages and trying to figure out if any of them were in on it. It’s a dangerous tactic because for one thing, it means that we know some details about the case. Clearly the hostages survived and the thieves were not stopped or at least the heroes suspect they weren’t. In some cases it could wreck the suspense like a certain George Clooney film I saw a while back but in this case the execution was good enough where this worked out.

The standout character here would probably be Madeleine. Her confidence is just a lot of fun and I like wild card characters like her who come out of nowhere to shake things up. The villains were also pretty solid. Dalton’s definitely a thinker and has some pretty good plans throughout the movie. He was clearly one step ahead of the other characters the whole time. There are a lot of twists involved of course so I can’t really go into the motivations of the robbers but lets say that Arthur’s secret is indeed a big one.

The film certainly paints him as a pretty bad guy relating to what’s in the box. It’s not the kind of mistake you can really just walk away from. Keeping the proof of this was also a horrible mistake on this part. Even if a part of him wanted to keep this in order to atone for it…it definitely didn’t pay off this time. It’s also hard to really feel if the guy is sincere or not. Personally I assume he probably is not. Even the shady mayor in this film seems to be a lot more trust worthy. Just about everyone is hiding a few skeletons in their closet in this film though so they all fit in rather well together.

Overall, Inside Man is a great film. It really tells a complete story with a lot of compelling elements and characters along the way. The writing is fantastic with all of the various exchanges between the heroes and villains being quite compelling. The movie even throws in a decent amount of humor here and there that works well within the scene like the debate about the trains. As I mentioned, the film has no weaknesses which is a big deal for a mystery like this. It means you can just watch straight through and really have a blast here. Even something like the hold up itself which can usually be rather vanilla was handled really well as we saw exactly how much the robbers had already planned like the scene where they split everyone up. It’s like something out of Liar Game, only the heroes don’t have a genius of their own to counter these guys. The ending to the movie is satisfying so if you like mysteries or heist films I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 8/10

Upgrade 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

When you think of getting an upgrade you’re probably thinking of going from cheese fries to loaded at Checkers or maybe trading in your PS2 for a PS5. Well, here we take a more violent approach to the upgrade. The film tries a little too hard with making this as edgy as possible so while it’s a pretty good premise, it’s definitely not a film that will have you singing its praises by the end. Not every film can hit the winning home run though.

The movie starts with Grey finishing a car he had been fixing and Asha returning home from work. He wants her to see the eccentric house of the guy whose car he had fixed. It’s definitely an interesting one but on the way home her electronic car malfunctions and both of them crash. Asha ends up being murdered by a group of bandits while they sever Grey’s ability to move his arms or legs. Fortunately, the guy whose car Grey fixed allows Grey to try a piece of experimental new tech. This allows him full control of his arms and legs again except that it is through the program STEM which even talks to him now. Is Grey really in control or is STEM pulling the strings? Grey doesn’t have time to think about it though because while the cops have been unable to find the guys who murdered his wife, STEM has some ideas.

The film clearly takes place in the future with all of the crazy gadgets that are everywhere. You have automatic cars that are incredibly advanced and even the buildings look high-end. Technology is moving pretty fast and Grey resents that a bit because all of the practical hands on kind of tasks have been removed. A.I. control everything now so there is really no escape. However, as Grey notes, criminals still get away with everything so it’s like the extra surveillance doesn’t even matter.

Of course the main plot of the film is about Grey trying to find the murderers and then take them down. Grey isn’t much of a fighter but that’s why STEM is here. STEM is able to temporarily take control of Grey’s body and then allow him to fight at full power. Basically Grey can go on auto pilot mode and let STEM do everything. It’s pretty handy but of course then Grey is actively surrendering his body to something else so is the price too high for this success? That’s the kind of question he has to ask himself.

STEM makes for a pretty interesting A.I. He sounds a whole lot like Hal 9000 so I think from the start everyone is meant to be wary of him. He can certainly fight well though I’ll give him that. He has absolutely no mercy for anyone who is in his way. STEM is the kind of character who figures that straight up murdering the opponents is most efficient so that’s never particularly surprising. These kind of A.I. villains are always interesting so I was on board with this.

As for Grey, he’s not quite as likable a main character. I can see why he wants to avenge his wife so going on the quest to stop these guys is a good start. He does have a habit of throwing up a whole lot though. The film has several scenes of this which is always pretty gross. While STEM does all of the hard work, Grey effectively signs off on most of it by not telling him to stop. Even when he does tell STEM to back off, it’s usually once it’s too late to do much of anything either. So he’s either all in and willing to help STEM murder the opponents or he’s not but the character can be a bit wishy washy about the whole thing.

The character cast is fairly small here as you’ve got the scientist, Grey, STEM, and the murderers. That’s pretty much it. For supporting characters you do have Grey’s mother though and the police agent Cortez. Cortez means well but she is definitely messing with forces that are a little too powerful for her at the moment. Grey is effectively a super soldier with STEM active after all and she would have died instantly upon entering if Grey wasn’t fighting back. Her options are rather limited though since how do you even know if you should take a guy down when he is being controlled?

Where Upgrade falters though is in how unrelentlessly violent the film is. We get a rather long scene of STEM torturing someone to death and all of the fights are pretty brutal as he snaps limbs and destroys everyone he comes across. Get ready for a lot of headshots and other such moments. Even the vomiting all over the place is probably another way to be rather gritty as Grey represents the audience reacting to this level of violence. The fight scene between Grey and another one of the upgraded humans was definitely good though. At least that had a lot of good choreography the whole time and made for a good back and forth battle.

It was like a comic book fight which is good. Whenever you leave that part though and get back to the murders then the film dials it up once again. That aspect definitely should have been toned down. As for the ending, I can see that one being rather mixed. It’s definitely a pretty bold way to end though and could lead the way for some sequels. After the initial shock value is over though, you may have some questions on exactly how this plays out. I think all of the questions can be answered though as you just realize that everything was a lie. With that knowledge in place, then everything does even out. After all, it just comes down to acting.

Overall, Upgrade has a pretty interesting plot. It’s a classic revenge story with Grey being willing to loosen his morals a great deal in order to secure a decisive victory. That being said, the film goes too far into edgy territory. This film could have absolutely been executed well without going so far over the top. In particular I’m never on board with the main character torturing someone to get what he wants. Grey allowing that to happen at all was definitely a shame. The film has its share of funny scenes as well although for the most part it is quite serious. If you want a film with a better blend of the two genres…then go watch Venom. You can see similarities between the two of them but Venom just handled all of this better.

Overall 3/10

Child’s Play Review

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

It’s time to look at a film that’s definitely quite iconic in the horror genre. After all, if you’re big on the whole evil doll thing then you have to have seen Chucky at some point right? Well, it definitely plays it straight with the doll running around and beating everyone up. It’s pretty hard to take seriously most of the time as you would expect it to be but he definitely doesn’t waste time. I feel like he threw the first person out the window within the first 10 minutes of his appearance.

The movie starts with Mike finally chasing down one of the big criminals. He manages to take that guy down but the whole shop ends up getting blown up thanks to a bolt of lightning. Before dying, the criminal quickly threw his essence into the doll and became Chucky. Unfortunately for him, a nearby black market dealer found him and threw the guy in a box. He sells the doll for some decent cash over to Karen who quickly gets him as a belated Birthday gift to Andy. Andy is thrilled but little does he know that he has just gotten one of the most dangerous dolls out there. Will he be okay?

Child’s Play starts out as more of a wholesome family movie. Andy does his best to make a nice breakfast for Karen which definitely didn’t work out well but at least he tried. It’s good she didn’t eat that though or she might have a heart attack from all the sugar and butter. The characters are introduced well although Karen took a big risk leaving her post for the doll. It’s also lucky she had Maggie there to hassle the price down or Karen may have actually paid $100 for the doll. That would have gotten dicey pretty quickly.

Once Chucky appears things change of course. He makes for an intense villain I suppose. Honestly, the doll looks rather sinister from the start so I’m surprised that in the movie it is a best seller. Would people really be lining up outside the door to grab that one. I have some serious doubts on that to be honest…very serious doubts. From the film it seems like he kept most of his strength from being human although he still doesn’t weigh much. I wouldn’t say full strength either since Karen is hold her own against him physically when they fight each other. I can buy into him being able to get Maggie out the window although it’s still a bit of a stretch for me. Some of the scenes with him terrorizing the main characters are more on the embarrassing side though. Just knock the guy around and stop being so scared of him.

The first encounter with Karen and Chucky is one where you feel like she could have absolutely taken him down if she had pressed the advantage. He had no weapon at the time and she had adrenaline on her side. The more time you waste yelling, the more time he is able to recover. Unfortunately the whole cast always seems afraid of him so they keep on backing up until it’s just too late. For the other characters, Maggie was fun. Her screen time was limited but she seemed like a good friend who had Karen’s back.

As far as kids go Andy could be a lot worse. He meant well at least but still had a tendency to falter when the going got tough. I’ll give him credit for the punch combo he landed on Chucky though and also for being able to run in and start the flames. If he could have pinned the whole thing on Chucky from the start that would have been nice like matching the shoe prints but it occurred to him a little too late.

Karen’s a solid heroine. Again, she could have been a little more brave when handling all of this though. She did go into a dark alley to try and find out the truth but without proper self defense that nearly ended up quite badly as well. It’s a good thing Mike was around to try and find out the truth. The gun he brought along was quite handy. I don’t blame him for not believing her about the doll but once the doll was around it’s too bad he couldn’t put up a better fight.

The writing for the film seems reasonable. There’s some good dialogue here and the soundtrack helps to build up the suspenseful scenes. The random supernatural guy who created Chucky was really underwhelming though. The guy simply wasn’t too smart either since he let Chucky get the upper hand so easily. If he had kept his guard up then maybe things would have worked out better for him. Why even create a voodoo doll of yourself? In what scenario would that ever be anything but a crippling weakness? Just something to consider…..

Chucky definitely takes names here although for the most part the film isn’t all that violent. Most of the case you figure is pretty safe from the start although of course when a side character shows up you really know that they’re doomed. Chucky doesn’t go on big murder sprees the way some characters do, but he makes his presence known. So I would say it’s better than the average horror film although I still wouldn’t call it a good movie. There are also a lot of moments where the characters are practically asking to get murdered and get super lucky like Karen putting her head right next to the door where Chucky keeps sending out his knife or Mike staying glued to his seat when Chucky is stabbing at him. Not the smartest folks there.

Overall, Child’s Play is probably a bit better than I thought. I expected it to be a little more excessive with everyone dying left and right as they get stabbed to death kind of like the Leprechaun film. This movie shows a lot more restraint which is always good. I still wouldn’t say it’s the kind of film you’d ever re watch though. While the characters aren’t bad, I wouldn’t say any of them are great either. Next year maybe Andy will be satisfied with a video game instead.

Overall 4/10

The Undead Review


This film has a fairly ambitious plot to be honest. It involves some time travel, multiple paths and even how your life will affect your future incarnations. The characters have to deal with all of this and put a lot of different lives on the scale. Ultimately I would have liked a different path on the climax but the actual twist ending itself is definitely solid. The film was better than I had thought it would be.

The movie starts with Quintus running an experiment to test his theory on being able to send someone to relive a past life with his hypnosis. He tries this on Diana while another professor is around and the trick works. She is now in the past living as a witch by the name of Helene who is attempting to escape persecution. There is a drawback though, there doesn’t seem to be a way for Diana to return until Helene dies. Furthermore, if Helene survives longer than she is supposed to, then Diana may never be borne. Helene is said to die this night when the witches are executed but she has several allies in the past. Pendragon wants her to live as well as an elderly witch who protects her from the attacks of Livia. Still, Livia is quite powerful and even has her own imp. Helene will have to be careful here.

The plot in the present with Diana doesn’t return until the end so really the whole film is set in the past. Initially that’s part of what I was worried about since films that take place in this time period usually aren’t great. It just doesn’t make for a great backdrop next to the current day setting. The days of witches and castles always tends to be rather gritty and with Roger Corman here I had absolutely 0 confidence in his ability to churn out a good film. Surprisingly this one plays it fairly straight though.

Helene is a decent character but it would be nice if she could actually use some magic to fight. She does well in trying to escape her fate for a lot of the film but I do think she overthinks things by the end though. At the end of the day her life is the one she needs to worry about now as I wouldn’t buy what the others were saying. There’s no guarantee that the other characters would not still exist later on. So, just survive as long as you can and the rest will come into place.

The film is at its best with all of the action scenes though. You have quite a few confrontations that lead to blows. All of the characters are really good at surprise attacks as well and use that to quickly take their opponent down. Pendragon has a fairly extended fight against the executioner at one point which was intense. Both of them landed a ton of powerful blows to each other before one of them went down.

As for Pendragon himself, I wasn’t a fan. He’s better than the executioner guy who was desperate for Helene and just seemed really petty the whole time. The problem with Pendragon though is that he is pretty gullible and just not that smart. He is quick to tell Livia everything and also cheats with her on two occasions before finally dredging up enough willpower to break away. This guy should have been a lot more steadfast in sticking with Helene if he really liked her. From the way he talked, if she did die then he would have gone with Livia next during the early scenes which doesn’t make him look too loyal.

As for Livia, she is an impressive villain. Her magical abilities are good but almost too good. You get the feeling that she should have been able to take Helene down at any point. We see that just cutting through a clay doll would have been enough to take Helene down so she should have more spells like that once the older witch was gone. Perhaps the senior one has some kind of counter spell active though. While I don’t recall her name, the older one deserves a lot of credit. Without her Helene absolutely would not be alive.

The film even threw Satan himself into the mix. That’s certainly one way to escalate the stakes. He laughs a whole lot in this film as he finds everything amusing and clearly does not make deals. He has some back and forth exchanges with Pendragon, which he always won. Same as when he talks with Quintus. This guy’s quite experienced after all and as the ultimate evil, even Livia doesn’t mess with him.

As for Quintus, he’s easily one of the most overconfident characters you’ll run into in this film. There are quite a few confident ones after all but he probably takes the cake. Everything seems to be going his way after all and he believes that there is no risk to him since he is on a psychic trail. His experiments were dubious from the start but by the end he is acting as a total villain. He isn’t shy about hiding it either since he figures nobody in the past will ever see him again anyway so there won’t really be a risk. It’s part of what makes the end of his character arc pretty fun.

Overall, The Undead does a lot within its allotted screen time. There are other characters as well like a guy who manages the graveyard who always speaks in riddles and right hand man of the old witch who is fairly loyal. Unfortunately things don’t go very well for him. Despite being a Corman film, this one also isn’t very violent. Several heads do roll quite literally, but it’s always off screen so things don’t get too crazy. The romance was a little hard to buy and the ending isn’t ideal aside from the final scene which is magnificent. As a whole though this film was still good though and one I could safely recommend, even if just for the fight scenes which were solid. The witch abilities were also presented pretty well considering how long ago this film was made.

Overall 6/10

The Terror Beneath the Sea Review


When you think of creature features you’re probably thinking of something along the lines of The Creature from the Black Lagoon or something like that. Well, this one definitely holds its own with those and even beats a lot of the classics. The monsters are actually pretty impressive here and the main character can really fight well in hand to hand combat. Mix those things together and you’ve certainly got a winner on your hands.

The movie starts with the Navy demonstrating their new torpedo’s to a bunch of reporters and government workers. It’s a torpedo that hones in on a target and has amazing power. It’s 99% accurate which sounds pretty impressive. During the demonstration they see what looks to be like an alien life form. Of course the government doesn’t want to confirm this so reporters Ken and Jenny decide to check things out for themselves. Unfortunately they’ve stumbled upon something that may be bigger than they could have dreamed.

In a way the film is blending your usual creature feature type film with more of a martial arts adventure. To an extent this feels more like a classic Godzilla film than the creature that couldn’t die or any number of films like that. The writing is excellent here with a lot of solid lines and characters. You may not remember a lot of the specific character names (I had to look them up for the leads) but they are solid characters. Just seeing Ken go out and start fighting these creatures instead of just falling over was a nice improvement from the usual lead in these films.

Ken’s a very solid main character. As I mentioned, he isn’t afraid to go out and fight these guys head on. He’s brave throughout and was also quick to go to Jenny’s defense when the admiral was taking shots at her. He’s a standup guy and someone who isn’t afraid to risk his life for a good story.

Jenny is also pretty solid here. Dropping the camera was pretty unfortunate but she was always willing to go with Ken on the dangerous diving tasks to find the cave. Even when the admiral was basically insulting her to her face like asking if she had seen a psychiatrist or saying that she was hysterical. Jenny took this in stride and continues to back up that she had seen something down there. The government also basically knows that she is right but can’t admit it in case of bad PR. I’m not even sure what the government’s plan was long term since the truth was going to come out at some point anyway.

Now it’s a rather small thing but there’s a scene near the middle/end of the film that drags on a lot. It’s when the movie is showing us the process of creating these creatures. It’s a bit of a grotesque transformation as they turn from humans into these aquatic beings. It’s certainly a rather unfortunate fate for these poor guys. Sometimes earning powers feels like it’s worth it but not in this case especially since it’s not like you can change your appearance back to what it used to be.

The actual design for the creatures is great once you get past the transformation though. They look sort of like the Gill Man. They have a design that allows them to fight rather well and the film takes advantage of it with some real fight scenes. Both hand to hand action scenes as well as gun fights. It’s a solid mix so you’ll be engaged from start to finish. Even the final climax gets more intense than you’d expect with a last run for safety and a big battle against high odds.

There’s one plot in the film that feels rather pointless though to be honest. So after the subs locate the monsters from the opening scenes…they don’t do anything. The navy basically tells the captain that they are not allowed to make a move. So throughout the film the captain says he’s going to go down anyway and the guy reminds him that he is not allowed to make a move. This scene is effectively repeated 3-4 different times with variations of the same conversation. By the end the guy still hasn’t done anything so I just wonder what the point was. If it was meant to be a humor plot…I don’t think it really worked.

This movie’s just a little over an hour so it’s a very short one. It makes for an easy watch and that’s why it’s impressive that it stood out so much. I dare say that you will remember this film a whole lot more than your average creature feature. The main villain is also pretty memorable and leaves an impression. He’s one of those guys who always wears sunglasses, even when indoors and in a bright room. He does let his guard down rather easily at the end of the film which is pretty much fatal though. Just a few more minutes and he would have made it to the end.

Overall, The Terror Beneath the Sea is a film that certainly surpasses expectations. I’d say you can look forward to a very fun experience here when you check out the film. It’s got a good story, a solid cast, and great writing. Throw in the good battle scenes and this movie has everything you can possibly want. The line delivery is always on point and it’s a film with high replay value thanks to the length and battles. This is the kind of film I’d like to see more of nowadays. The title is also a keeper because it’s just so direct so right away you get the right idea about what is going to happen here. If we could have actually had some progression on the whole captain plot in the sub that would have been ideal though. I still find it hard to believe that the plot didn’t go anywhere and wonder if there were some extra scenes that didn’t make the final cut.

Overall 7/10

Woman on the Run Review


Woman on the Run is a very old school noir title that makes for a good thriller. The film definitely feels like it ends rather quickly but the movie has fast pacing so something is always happening. You’ll also have to decide who you’re rooting for since in this case each character has a reason for why they’re either running or in pursuit.

The movie starts with Frank walking his dog when he witnesses someone trying to arrange a solid deal for himself. It clearly wasn’t the right move as the guy gets shot and Frank almost meets the same fate. The cops quickly show up and explain that this is relating to a mob investigation and the guy who died was going to be the big witness. They now want Frank to be the witness. When he askes if he will have any real protection they basically say no so he dashes out of there. Inspector Ferris is forced to ask Frank’s wife Eleanor for help but unfortunately the two are having a bit of a rocky time in their marriage and she is very uncooperative.

Despite her front with the cops, Eleanor is a little concerned particularly when she finds out that Frank has a relatively serious health condition and needs some pills as soon as possible. She heads out to find him only to be caught by a reporter named Danny. He decides to tag along with her since he really wants a scoop. Will they be able to find Frank before the cops do or are his days of running over?

First off, while I understand this is an important case for the police, I absolutely get why Frank would bolt. The fact of the matter is that he wouldn’t have much protection. If the case falls through or the guy doesn’t get convicted, they will hunt him down right away. Even if he is convicted, depending on the size of the mob they will certainly retaliate to send a message. In both scenarios Frank is taking an awfully big risk whereas if he escapes, as long as he stays out of touch until the trial is over then he’s set.

Escaping for so long would probably be tough nowadays but back then without cameras and such it wasn’t such a tough plan for him. What helps is that Frank has a lot of friends all over the city. It’s a case of Frank’s good deeds ultimately catching up to him here which worked out well. We don’t see him for most of the film but the guy’s a likable character. He’s got a quick wit as well and just does a good job of staying one step ahead of everyone.

Eleanor is really the main character here and she does a great job. She gets a lot of the best lines in the first half of the film as she constantly has something sarcastic to say about about Frank. It’s clear that she isn’t even trying to help solve the case either. She is very much a person who likes to do everything on her own and this is what leads to her own personal investigation. It also helps her understand Frank more and leads to a solid character arc there.

As for Inspector Ferris, he’s a good guy. He may have the rather unpleasant task of having to search for Frank right now but he seems like a good guy. Ferris is also thorough in his searching and does pick up on a lot of clues. The ones he doesn’t quite win are clues he couldn’t possible understand since they are based on experiences only Frank and Eleanor would know. Ferris also has good aim with his weapons and doesn’t freeze up under pressure. He’s someone that you will want to have in your corner.

Then there’s the reporter Danny. Well, he’s fairly clever in his own right but I can’t say I was a big fan of the guy. He was openly flirting with Eleanor quite early on despite the fact that she is married and has a hard time recovering from that. He does come in handy with helping get her through the plan to find Frank but that’s about it. He’s a crucial part to the story and it was nice having someone who was trying to compete with Eleanor intellectually but he doesn’t quite stack up against the other characters.

Where the film really shines here is with the writing. It’s a classic race against time with everyone trying to find Frank. The film isn’t doing anything wildly different or being super ambitious but the execution of the plot is quite strong so it really works out. The movie has no real weaknesses. Everything adds up and turns this into a great film. Each character comes out of this stronger. Frank was a little over the top with trying to be a perfectionist even if it meant bringing no money in so by the end you feel like he’ll be better with this. Eleanor didn’t always take the right message from things but wouldn’t actually talk about it and now I think she would be ready to have more of an open dialogue. I don’t think Ferris would really change but he doesn’t need to anyway since he already did well.

Overall, Woman on the Run is a great film. Sometimes it’s a simple film like this that can really shine because then everything is all on the writing and this film delivers. If you like a solid thriller then I’d recommend this film. Don’t expect a ton of big action scenes or things like that though as this is more of a low key adventure. We do have a real climax though but you shouldn’t be here for the fights in this case. It’s more about finding Frank and getting some answers out of him.

Overall 8/10

The Beast Must Die Review


It’s time to look at an old school murder mystery type film. It’s a pretty interesting setup with the host inviting a bunch of people over but one of them has an insidious secret. Things were going fairly well until a dog showed up. The instant he made an appearance I knew things were about to get ugly. Ah well, you win some and you lose some right? Better luck next time and all that.

The film starts with Tom on the run from some guys with guns. They manage to track him a few times but keep letting him go. Eventually he finishes the trial and we find out that the whole point of this exercise was to show how powerful the system’s defenses are. Nobody should be able to escape or run around without at least being detected. Confident that this is true, Tom invites a group of people over to his house. To everyone’s surprise this is not a social gathering though. See, he believes that one of them is actually a Werewolf! Who can it be? Tom doesn’t really care but he intends to destroy whoever it is.

Lets look at the suspects here. First up is Caroline, Tom’s wife. After all, we can’t rule anyone out this early in the game right? He didn’t invite her per say, but she is around. Caroline also makes it clear that she is not very happy with this experiment. She had been hoping for a nice little gathering but this is definitely not going that route and she knows it. Caroline makes for a solid character though. She may not buy into all of this but who would?

We have Professor Lund who is really into werewolves to the point where he may have actually tried being a cannibal. He seems to know everything about them. Then there is Arthur who did some rather shady things in order to attain his position. Paul who just got out of prison for similar crimes, Davina who may have murdered someone to get a house, and Jan who got connections through murderous ways. Now that’s not the greatest summary or these guys as the film goes through all of their shady pasts rather quickly in the opening scene but basically it’s one of those classic cases where all of them have committed some kind of crime in the past. Over half of them seem to have murdered someone while the others have tried out human flesh in the past.

You’re not really going to be rooting for any of these guys but that makes it more difficult determining who the wolf is. As the film goes on you’ll see more and more people getting bumped off so you want to make your choice before the options are too limited. As the film has a temporary intermission to let you pick who you think the culprit is, I would say that’s the time to make your pick. That said if you want to go on hard mode then do so a little earlier while the field is still full of every possible suspect.

I like the idea of trying to figure out who the culprit is. The whole “Who Done It” set up is always a lot of fun. When you have every character already being a villain then that makes everything even more intense. It’s a twist Detective Conan has done a few times as well and it ups the stakes. After all, whoever the Werewolf is also has to watch out in case he or she gets bumped off by one of the others. You can’t exactly trust anyone here although they all still talk very politely and all that.

The writing here is very solid. I liked the script as everyone has a lot of good back and forth dialogue with each other. Nobody wants to drop any hints so they are being very careful how they phrase everything. The film does a good job of really capturing that old school kind of feel. That said, the film does ultimately begin to show some weak points as the movie goes on. In particular there are two things that don’t work here.

The first is that the film introduces a dog. Of course they would right? Unfortunately this was a big mistake. The instant he appeared I had a bad feeling about this and sure enough the film engaged in some animal violence here. Why introduce an animal to die like this? It’s a bad look and an easy way to completely destroy the film’s score. We’re talking close to a 3-4 point swing in a single moment. That was definitely regrettable.

Also, I have a hard time believing that the werewolf did so good against Tom. Either Tom is just awful at being a hunter or the werewolf has more speed than the average beast. Personally it seems like the film picked the first option by accident. There are scenes where the Werewolf is literally right in front of Tom or jumps at him and the guy misses shots from point blank range. In total he misses dozens of shots at the Werewolf which is really pretty sub-par. The guy claims to be a top rate hunter and that’s the best he could do?

He had so many opportunities to take down the Wolf that he can’t blame anyone but himself. He should have absolutely won the match pretty early on into the film. While the Werewolf does go around slicing people, I wouldn’t say the film is overly violent for the most part. Perhaps a few scenes here and there when you see the bodies but for the most part this film is more dialogue heavy so the Werewolf doesn’t get a ton of scenes.

Tom had a sidekick in the control tower during the film to help steer him where to go. Keep in mind that the sensors tell him the weight and size of the creature. Despite this, when the Werewolf escapes Tom and heads over to the guy he isn’t worried. You’d think he would have taken the threat at least a little seriously since he can see from his equipment that it was making a beeline for him. It’s like the guy did not believe that the Werewolf was intelligent despite what his machines were telling him. He definitely wasn’t the smartest guy as he also missed shots at point blank range that made it easier for the Werewolf to get through. That’s how these things go I suppose.

Overall, The Beast Must Die is a film with a lot of potential but it was ultimately squandered. I’ll give the film credit for a pretty intense ending and the great opening setup but that’s about it. Your setup can be perfect but if you fail on the execution that’s probably all that people will remember anyway. The Professor was probably the best character here but it is a little relative since everyone here was as suspicious as possible. It’s a solid angle for the film even if it means you may not like the humans much. If you like a classic murder mystery with a supernatural angle then this film could be up your alley if you can get past the whole dog bit. Otherwise you will want to just take a raincheck on this one.

Overall 4/10

Godzilla vs Kong Review


Crossovers are always quite hype. It’s always an excellent way to increase the hype for the movie plus it gives you a chance to pick a side. Are you Team Godzilla or Team King Kong? The staff also confirmed early on in the production cycle that this film would have a true winner since the biggest cop out is when you have a crossover with no actual winner. Longtime fans will remember I’ve been on Team Godzilla since day 1 tweeting out funny memes about how Godzilla would win and why he would. Atomic Breath is a deal breaker before you consider his physical advantages. Of course nothing’s a certainty leading up to a big fight like this so I would just have to wait and see. The monster verse has been going strong and this would have to be the strongest film in the series. We get a solid amount of action and the writing was on point.

The movie starts with showing how the government has managed to build a dome around Kong’s island to watch over him and prevent Godzilla from taking notice of him. Both of these titans have defeated every Kaiju who would dare stand in their way. Godzilla is determined to prove that he is the best so he will approach if he ever senses Kong while Kong will not submit to any other being. This delicate balance has been held for 5 years but the dome continues to take damage from Kong’s attacks so the humans have decided to change tactics. They will have Kong lead them to the Hollow Earth but can they do that before Godzilla attacks?

Meanwhile you have the more light hearted plot where a conspiracy guy named Bernie who is trying to uncover the secrets behind Apex. He believes that this company is why Godzilla has been getting more aggressive lately so he is on the case. He meets up with Madison and her friend Josh as they try to help out. Now, I’d say it’s clear from the start that the Kaiju are going to have all of the exciting scenes while the humans are here for the jokes. So you just want to make sure that they are funny and fortunately the movie does succeed here.

Bernie carries all of these scenes and is easily the best human I’ve seen in the monsterverse. Single handily you could say that due to him most of the human scenes are actually quite solid. He gets a lot of great lines like with the whole tap water test, tricking the guy with the apple, and trying the old janitor trick. He’s a very quick thinker and also grills Josh quite a lot. Without him the human scenes would have been a little dull or at the very least just felt like filler. Thanks to him I can actually say that this subplot doesn’t hold the film back from the action segments.

Josh is a very weak character though. He’s really just in the film to get roasted by the others. So in a sense it’s good that he’s here since some of the better lines are at his expense but as a character he’s the weakest one in the film. Madison is decent and at least she is able to hold her own with Bernie. I wouldn’t say she stands out much more beyond that. The other human plot is the one that’s going for more of a serious vibe.

You have Nathan who is trying to get past a tough situation since his brother died a while back. You may wonder why that is even relevant since it never really gets brought up after that or affects his character, but the film does want to make you emotional there I guess. Ilene is also a scientist who gets a big role along with Nathan since her daughter Jia is a central figure here. Again, she doesn’t have much personality like Nathan though and doesn’t get to do much in the film despite all the screen time.

Jia is a solid character though. Her bond with Kong is handled well and the idea of them being friends is fun. It’s similar to Gamera’s bond with the psychic from the Heisei trilogy. The other characters are always trying to get her to manipulate Kong but I’m glad that she never put him in any bad spots. Then you have the main villain who is your classic villain for this kind of film. He’s dealing with forces that can’t be controlled and all but at least he’s always ready with a speech and absolute confidence. You definitely need that when you live in a world where Kaiju are running around.

Now with the humans out of the way lets talk about the Kaiju. For every crossover the build up is important so you see both characters before the fight. Before the film even starts you already had some hype as every monster sent to Skull Island was vanquished during King of the Monsters (A scene that they should have put more emphasis on if you ask me since that was a really solid feat) and the whole lore about their races being at war in the past. As you could probably tell from all of the promos and such the film was playing Kong out to be the main character and that’s true here as well. He’s effectively the underdog in the fight so usually as a result you want to give him more of a focus. He gets more sympathetic scenes and is just shown to be a nice guy thanks to his relationship with Jia. Compared to Godzilla who is going around trying to prove he is the strongest, Kong is content to be on his island if the humans would just stop bothering him. He’s certainly got a great portrayal here so I’m sure his fans will be satisfied.

Meanwhile Godzilla definitely looks solid as well. He gets a lot of hype destruction scenes and he is actively seeking out all of the other Titans to conquer them. He’s clearly looking for battles which is nice because he is supremely confident in his abilities. The film shows what a monster he is too as he takes a ton of punishing shots and always gets back up. Most of the time it seems like he isn’t even injured and given that he survived a fall from orbit in the last film, it makes sense that not much would actually keep him down.

Naturally I can’t talk about the fight itself much without going into spoilers but it definitely delivers. The film was true to its word with a clear winner in both fights. Both combatants got to show off their strengths with Kong utilizing his dexterity and agility to really land a lot of punishing shots while dodging Godzilla’s atomic breath. Meanwhile Godzilla showed off his massive power and durability as he eventually just overpowers his opponents. This was the fight everyone had been waiting for so the back and forth action is quite intense.

Of course I can’t say who wins but you will be glad to hear that there is a significant amount of action here. Sometimes of course you can get worried that the Kaiju wont appear enough or for a while like Godzilla (2014) where you had to wait until the climax for the big fight but here we get multiple action scenes. You’ve got the really big fights of course but then smaller ones with other Kaiju as well. Low key there’s a bat type Kaiju that looked really good with the strangle hold it has. It was a nice showing of how even an unassuming Kaiju can be deadly if you let your guard down.

The special effects are also really on point. We’ve come a long way with the designs. Godzilla’s design is the most streamlined yet. I also like how Kong’s design reflects how he is a lot older than in his last film since many decades have passed since Skull Island. You can feel the passage of time. The energy blasts are excellent and the neon backgrounds of Hong Kong made for a really excellent battle. The film clearly had a high budget and was ready to use it. The soundtrack is also really solid. Kong gets quite a few songs to himself and of course we have a remixed Godzilla theme. If I have a slight nitpick it’s that I would have liked a more energized theme for when the two were actually fighting. Despite a really solid soundtrack throughout, the film seemed to get really quiet when the two were fighting each other and a nice rock song there would have been ideal.

While the film is great I think you could cut out a few scenes here and there like Kong eating the innards of another monster and a fish eating scene that were a bit more on the gross side. Fortunately we don’t get any real animal violence though. Trust me, I was sweating bullets whenever we went to Skull Island or any of the warmer climates since having a random wolf pop up or something would have been the last thing I needed. Luckily none of that really happens here. The eating scenes can be a bit much but not enough to really take a dunk on the film’s overall score though.

That’s really the only small weakness I can say the film had. It’s just a great all around film. It sets a high bar for the next films to top. Since this is a spoiler free review there’s also quite a lot that I can’t really touch on here. With the extra details this review would be quite a bit longer easy but there’s a lot of fun things to experience going in blind. It’s not so much about twists and such but just seeing exactly how the battles play out and how each of the plots end is something you’ll be interested in following along. Each act of the film is really on point. Definitely a lot of big cheering type scenes where I’m sure the audience would go crazy in the theaters.

Overall, Godzilla vs Kong is definitely a success. Both stars really got a lot of great moments that you will remember long after the film is over. The climax is fantastic with Apex’s plot-line closing out in a nice way and getting exactly the respect it earned there so the film ends on a great note. Even the humans are better than expected mainly thanks Bernie who was just a great character through and through. Sadly there is no post credits scene but I’m hoping the Monsterverse continues. Bringing in Orga is the natural next step to escalate the stakes and get a new feeling of danger in but there are a lot of great Kaiju options at the ready that you can use too. Either way I’m confident that the next installments will keep up this high level of quality so I look forward to seeing that play out. I’m hoping all of the films going forward can keep the vs format as well even if they’re not crossovers but as a nice way to hype up each opponent.

Overall 8/10

Fallen 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

This next film is definitely a different take on your usual murder mystery. After all, we’ve got some supernatural elements here. The film throws this part in rather early on so I would say it is part of the actual plot. It’s certainly one of those films where you feel the hero has no chance from the start so you’re wondering what he will do to try and extend his time.

The movie starts with John visiting the mass murderer that he caught. The guy is about to be executed but wanted some last words with John. He starts speaking a lot of gibberish, singing songs, and trying to grab John. John lets the guy have his fun but then leaves so he can get his seat for the execution. The guy is promptly smoked to death and that should have been the end of it, but the murders start up again in the same exact way. The issue is that the murderer keeps changing. Here’s the thing, there was never just a man murdering everyone. John has to figure out what all these cryptic warnings mean before it’s too late. Then again…..it may already be too late.

You see this kind of predicament in a lot of horror films where the average joe angers some kind of lost spirit and has to figure out a way to win. Sometimes the main character did something wrong that comes back to bite him and sometimes it’s just a demon that wants to mess with people. This one is more the latter and the demon has taken a special interest in John. Azazel is his name by the way. Now the tricky thing with this is when you write a character that can’t possibly be stopped.

The Grudge and the Ring are examples of this where it’s a supernatural monster that has the powers to do just about anything so how are you going to stop it? Sometimes these creatures even allow you to find out their weakness like Freddy Krueger but then at the end of the film you find out they were trolling all along. That’s basically how it is with this guy. He’s portrayed as so invincible that you don’t see how the humans will ever have a chance.

Azazel has the ability to possess people. A fairly basic ability on its own I suppose but if you murder him then he can just body hop to someone else. He can possess anyone just by making physical contact with them. For those who have abnormally strong supernatural defenses, he can bypass them by dying and accessing his astro form. His only limitation is that he can only fly 1/6th of a mile when he is in his astro form so in theory the way to beat him is to try and murder his poor host somewhere where there isn’t anybody around. The film is fair about explaining why this weakness isn’t a big deal early on but it’s a small scene so I won’t spoil the twist there.

Now you know that sometimes the hero can activate a plot shield or something to try and get out of this mess but otherwise you can’t see how John will come out on top. It’s why you usually want to either not make the horror villain too out of the realm where nobody can do anything or give the main character some way of fighting back. That said, I suppose it’s not quite as crazy as some other monsters in that this one can’t alter reality or anything like that.

John’s a good main character. He’s really always done his best to do the right thing and help people out when he can. He doesn’t want to compromise on his ideals and makes that clear in the opening scene. He’s been pretty good at his job throughout his career and he handles this case as well as he can. If there’s anything he could have done differently, I’d say it would be to have just have talked to Gretta more. Maybe have her train him in the art of psychic defenses or something. I liked the scenes where he would have an internal monologue though. It felt like something out of a Noir title and was always interesting to listen to.

That said, when it came time for a battle she got wrecked anyway so that may not have really helped him at all either way. She talked a tougher game than she could back up when it was all said and done. Gretta was a decent character even if maybe she was a bit too reluctant to give him details, but who wants to get involved in a demonic fight anyway right? She probably figured that staying away was her best bet.

John’s colleagues were also fun. His best friend was quite loyal and in general it was a pretty good work atmosphere. Fallen is not a very happy movie though so usually John doesn’t really have time to just pal around with the gang or anything like that. Some kind of tragedy is always occurring. Azazel puts John into a lot of unwinnable situations. Where the film has most of its tragic elements is in how nobody can possibly understand what Azazel is doing so John just looks crazy any way you slice it. It’s just not possible for him to get people to help him against a supernatural threat.

Overall, Fallen is really about putting the lead in a completely hopeless situation. It’s rough because there is really absolutely nothing he can do about all of this. He was just unlucky enough to have angered a demon who wants vengeance on him. Azazel taunts John throughout the film by singing, quoting the Bible, and destroying John’s reputation as well. By the end of the film there isn’t much that can be salvaged. The film has a true horror type ending which was definitely pretty intense. Fallen’s a little tamer than I had expected but I wouldn’t call it a good film. My main problem with films that have a completely hopeless outlook for the main character is that you wonder what the point of it all is. If there is nothing John can do against the demon, then the journey of him trying to resist it just won’t be all that fun.

Overall 4/10

Gone Girl 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

Time to look at a pretty ambitious murder mystery film that certainly takes you through quite the roller coaster. At around 2 and a half hours you can imagine that a lot is going to happen here. It’s the kind of film where there will be a lot of debate on what part of the story would be considered a spoiler. Where should you stop the summary if you want people to get the full experience? Typically for convenience I’d just say anything in any of the main trailers is not a spoiler and anything beyond that is. That said, I haven’t seen the trailers for this film so lets see how this goes.

My spoiler free summary would be: Nick heads home on his 5th anniversary to celebrate with his wife Amy. Unfortunately she isn’t there and there are several signs of a struggle in the house. He calls in the cops who do an investigation but they quickly begin to suspect that Nick is the one who bumped off his wife. The setup just doesn’t look right and he keeps on missing details or giving them incorrect information about his wife. Either he didn’t know her very well or he is hiding something. Can Nick prove his innocence and find out who really attacked his wife? He will have to hurry before his life is effectively over.

It’s definitely a pretty intense premise partially because you don’t know if you can trust Nick or not. The very first scene is him thinking about murdering Amy after all so the film is immediately giving you reason not to trust him. He keeps on saying that Amy had no friends and basically no life outside of being at home all the time so that sounds a bit shady on its face as well. There are just a lot of angles to tackle this at so you’re left to your devices as the film keeps things rolling.

Gradually we learn more and more to the point where the film’s plot completely changes from how it started. This wouldn’t be a proper mystery film if you could easily guess the ending right? The main cast is fairly small so each player is able to do a lot. Nick doesn’t make for a likable main character though and in general you may find it hard to find anyone to root for. The two best characters in the film were easily the main cop Rhonda and Nick’s lawyer Tanner. Both of them were always ready for whatever the next step was and how to get ready for it.

There’s more to say on this but I think it’s time to jump into the spoiler part of the review so if you haven’t seen the film yet you can skip the next _ paragraphs as we dive into the nitty gritty details here. So you have enough time to escape as you speed read this I am putting this empty sentence of nothingness/filler that I am typing up as I type this, but then it’s time to dash because we’re going right into this. Are you ready?

So what I wrote so far is what I would consider the spoiler free version of the story. You should really not have any idea that this is something beyond a classic murder mystery film when you’re going into the film and see if you can figure it out for yourself or if not, be surprised with the characters. It turns out that Amy faked her death so that Nick would take the blame and ultimately be put in jail. She’ll then destroy herself which will lead to Nick being destroyed. It’s her ultimate end game plan. The reason she did this is because Nick was cheating on her with one of his students so she figured this would make things even.

Naturally it’s quite the diabolical plan but as we learn about her past, it’s not exactly out of character. She framed another guy for rape, sabotaged various careers, and was extremely unstable throughout her life. Amy is very quick to try and ruin lives whenever she can. So even if Nick hadn’t cheated I don’t doubt that she would have come for him at some point although it’s still important to note that he is the one who made the first move. He began acting distant and messing around with someone on the side before Amy went this far. She also tried to talk with him a few times but he declined each time so she took her drastic measures.

Amy’s an intense antagonist to watch since she has everything so carefully planned. She’s certainly not a likable character in the slightest though and it’s easy to see why people didn’t get along with her. She has a huge superiority complex where she is always insulting someone and has the grossest scene in the film when she spits into someone’s drink. That’s always just super nasty to even think about, much less see. The film makes it clear that she is not exactly going to get redeemed anytime soon and will keep up her antics to the end.

The scene where she flat out murders someone is quite intense. Gone Girl isn’t afraid to really go all out with being rather explicit about her plans and how she accomplishes things. To pull off her claims she does let the guys actually have their way for a bit like Desi who got used from start to finish. You know from the jump that she is going to murder him, the only question is how. That scene certainly got violent fast.

The writing is good with the characters explaining each step of their logic and how it went down. Again, it can be a bit too detailed/explicit if you ask me on explaining how you fool people with these tricks and such. I don’t need all the gritty details and you can put the dots together yourself. One of the themes in the film is pretty much that both Nick and Amy are such corrupt characters that you may wonder who you should be rooting for. Nick’s is clearly the lesser of two evils though so if we’re being honest I would say Amy is clearly the antagonist.

Ultimately it’s the extra details in the writing and the grittiness of the film that holds this one back from being a winner. There are quite a few bits of fanservice here along with one night stands that show more detail than you would expect in the average film. While this is intentional, most of the characters are not likable either so you aren’t exactly left with anyone to root for. These various elements quickly add up to strike points away from the film. It’s got a very interesting plot but it should have focused more on that with the TV commercials and getting the characters debating back and forth and less on making sure each character was thoroughly corrupted. I could also due with two of the more gross scenes in particular.

Meanwhile Nick’s more like an annoyance who talks a lot to say the right things but he clearly doesn’t mean any of it. To finish up with Amy before I move on though, she does occasionally overestimate herself though. Her plans are really well thought out but she doesn’t think as well under duress as seen when she was mugged by her neighbors. It was a pretty bad mistake that she dropped the money the way that she did. They probably would have attacked her eventually but it certainly sped things up.

Now for Nick, so he was cheating on Amy so right off the bat he’s a pretty terrible main character. It gets worse when you see the depths he went through to hide this and that he was going to confess on their anniversary. It’s just a bad way to do things. Then you have to consider that he didn’t know Amy was so psychotic initially so it just seems like he is being mean to her for no real reason. He just fell out of love for her out of the blue. He also hides clues from the cops which just puts him in even more trouble. It may not have gone super well for him but getting in their way wasn’t helping either.

Rhonda is very good at her job and she really thinks about each piece of evidence. She isn’t as quick to condemn Nick the way everyone else is but eventually the evidence is a bit much to ignore. Especially when you consider how unstable Nick is the whole time. Her partner was a lot of fun though, I liked how he was constantly taking shots at Nick the whole time. Clearly he wasn’t having any of this.

Nick’s sister Margo is pretty supportive of him the whole time although she gets rightfully upset when she finds out about the cheating. He wasn’t exactly careful doing all of that while she was right there in the house. The odds of her finding him were pretty high. Finally we have Tanner and his role may not have been large but he was definitely a lot of fun. The guy was good at his job and even though Nick kept sabotaging himself, Tanner did a good job of keeping him in the race.

The movie ends on a rather ambitious note. It’s not quite the ending I would have expected that’s for sure. With this ending there are any number of ways that this could play out. In most cases I would say Amy probably takes the final win but I suppose Nick would have a shot. I think a sequel could take this in some interesting ways by introducing new villains but it still makes sense as a stand alone ending as well. I was pretty satisfied with the ending overall.

Overall, Gone Girl is a pretty intense murder mystery. It’s the kind of film that has its story change so dynamically that it’s hard to really look at in depth without mentioning some spoilers. That said, the less you know about it, the more effectively you will be able to watch it. With all that said, it can get a little too graphic and gritty with setting the stage here. As you do learn more and more about what is happening in the film, you see that the manipulations can go quite far and at high cost to get someone to do what they want. I think you could cut some things out and easily raise the score here but as it stands I would advise checking out Sherlock Holmes or some of those classic mystery films instead which also have a lot of solid twists.

Overall 3/10