A Monster Calls Review

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It’s time for one of those films that makes you take a step back. From the beginning you can tell that it’s going to be bad, but it just keeps on getting worse and worse as it goes on until it hits the dreaded 0 stars. In a sense, it does take talent to mess up on such a grand scale though so we have to give the film some props. Still, you’ll need to break out the Pepsi and Minute Maid for this film as it’ll drag on and on!

The film is about a jerk kid named Conor who’s not a nice guy. He only cares about himself and isn’t interested in the issues that everyone else is facing. His Mom is terminally ill which he uses as his excuse to vandalize his house and beat people up. He begins to have delusions about a monster visiting him and telling him twisted stories where everyone is evil and must be destroyed in the end. Conor agrees with this so he goes to an abandoned house and smashes it apart. Nobody tells him to stop because they all know about his Mother’s situation and don’t want to stress her out. Others just feel like it’s okay for Conor to vent and do whatever he wants in the meantime. It’s a toxic cycle, but who will end it?

This film is just so terrible that you need a breath of fresh air every few minutes or you’ll faint. So, lets start with Conor. There’s no way to feel sympathetic to this guy because he is just so extreme. Towards the end of the film, we learn that he actually wanted his Mom to die just so he wouldn’t have to deal with the tense situation anymore. That’s his big revelation in the film and naturally the Mom loses her will to live at around that point and passes away. Conor’s wish was not only selfish, but just plain despicable. If the film hadn’t already fallen to trash tier by then, this would have sealed the deal. He also gave his Aunt (Or was it the grandmother?) a tough time throughout the movie for no good reason. She was perfectly polite and a decent person, but Conor still destroyed all of her possessions and did his best to be a perfect nuisance the whole time around.

The Dad visited as well a few different times, but Conor decided to vent on him as well. We also get some plot hax at the end as Conor takes down the bully (Who decides not to fight back because…..reasons) and the guy’s henchmen just watch. It’s hard to believe that they’re nervous since it’s 3 on 1 and the fact that Conor is super weak. It’s just another painfully bad scene. The first bullying scene was just as bad though since it was made to be a little more violent and dark than it should have been. Bullying is always a pretty terrible plot to have in a film but the film still tried to go as far as it could there.

The “Monster” is obviously fake from the start and I felt like the film didn’t even try to make him seem real. It was such a clear indie “metaphorical” monster that I face palmed when he first showed up. His design isn’t any good as I just think about Groot when he shows up and he’s not all that powerful either. He’s clearly not a nice guy as he just does whatever he wants and his plot never really goes anywhere either. When all of the characters in a film are either unlikable or super minor, there’s just not much hope for the film at that point.

This film just has no fun scenes at all. There’s not a single happy scene in the whole film which is actually incredible. It’s just incredible in the worst way possible. The special effects were nothing special, nor the backgrounds that the film used. It all just contributes to the gray, hazy background that plagues every scene and destroys the tone of the film. Just as there are Indie games that remind me how they can still be good, Indie films like this one keep reminding me why I’m typically not a fan. You can make the case that this wasn’t an Indie film, but it sure felt and looked like one the whole time.

Part of the story revolves around the 3 imaginary tales that the “monster” tells Conor. Of course in actuality, it’s just Conor looking through his old notebook and telling himself the twisted stories that he created. None of the stories are any good as you’d expect. One of them has two kids die an unfortunate death so to spite the guy who let them die, someone else murders someone and the murders just keep coming. In the first story, everyone basically dies as well with enough plot twists to make you yawn. The stories are also dreadfully low budget as they look like really crude drawings.

If it’s any consolation, the film did avoid the animal violence issue. I was glad about that at the very least. Still, earning a 0 without that or gritty plots ala Sucker Punch shows just how bad this film is. I don’t even know how I’d go about making it a better film. You’d have to completely get rid of the main character and then it’s a different movie. It’s like Ryoma always says “You’ve got a ways to go”

Overall, A Monster Calls is a terrible film, but you could probably guess that from the plot summary. There just wasn’t any hope for the film as it started to show its true colors in the opening minutes. I doubt any of us could have suspected that it would continue to deteriorate as the film went on, but some films are just like that. They get gradually worse as they go on instead of getting better. Fortunately, that means this film would likely never get a sequel. There’d be no reason for one and it would just be rather cringe inducing. I’d recommend staying as far away from this film as possible. Go watch the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood marathon on Twitch if it’s still going or check out Yugioh Arc V instead. These options are huge improvements and also have a lot of content to sift through so they’ll keep you busy for a while.

Overall 0/10

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Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

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Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time for the sequel to the original Guardians to see if it can live up to the reputation of the first one. Unfortunately, it definitely could not. The film’s own premise hurts it quite a lot as the main characters succeed at all being very unlikable jerks for the most part. That seems to be the point so to the film…You’re welcome! Unfortunately, this just isn’t an angle that they should have pursued. Still, thanks to a key scene and some nice action scenes along the way, the film was able to avoid an unfortunate fate.

Peter and the Guardians start the film out by getting into trouble as per usual. They decide to steal from their employers and are quickly found out. Fortunately, they have the help of Star Lord’s Dad who destroys most of the attacking ships and helps the heroes escape. He wants Peter to come to his planet to hang out so Gamora and Drax go along with him. Rocket and Groot stay behind to watch Nebula, the villain that the heroes picked up so they could get the bounty on her head. Unfortunately, they have a run in with Yondu. Meanwhile, Peter’s Dad may not be what he seems!

This is a pretty big movie so there’s certainly a lot to talk about. Lets start with the worst character in the film, Groot. I don’t know how this guy got to be such a fan favorite character. He was bad in the first film and he’s extraordinarily terrible in this film. He’s nothing but a big bully and he gives the film an extremely rocky start from which I don’t think it ever truly recovered. It can’t really be totally blamed on the opening since the film never really tried to get away from this, but it was a sign of things to come. Groot picks on a pair of creatures for no reason and then tries to eat a poor butterfly. It’s supposed to be a funny scene which shows just how twisted the humor is nowadays.

Now, Groot’s appeal is supposed to be that he’s cute because of how dumb and mean he is. Groot only cares about himself and never moves an inch to help his friends. Any scene with him is incredibly hard to sit through. One scene in particular which drags on a lot has him try to find something during a prison escape scene. He keeps on bringing the wrong things including a severed toe which was just gross and completely unnecessary. We get it, Groot is brainless. We knew that during the first film…why did the film have to shove it in our face the whole time? Groot was just terrible and I agree with critics that he was a scene stealer…just in the absolute worst possible way.

Next is Drax…who somehow found a way to be even worse and more unlikable than in the first film. One running gag as per usual is that he takes everything literally. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also grown even more grotesque and barbaric with his mannerisms. He talks about how his people are proud of talking about rather vile stuff and calls Mantis ugly multiple times. It’s fortunate that she is extremely naive so the insults went over her head. He’s just a very mean person which is why he fits in with the gang quite well. It’s just a shame that he’s such a terrible character. When you have Drax and Groot on the same team…you know that something’s wrong.

Next up is Rocket. Finally, we’ve got a step up from the other two. He’s the same Rocket that you’ll remember from the first film only he’s a lot meaner. Gee…what a surprise Rocket gets the gang into a lot of trouble but the team wouldn’t last long without his gadgets anyway so I suppose it’s a fair tradeoff. He’s surprisingly not very smart at times as Rocket can’t pick up on sarcasm or recognize insults when he hears them. I feel like he’s less intelligent than he was in the first film. Still, that’s fine since he still has his personality fully in tact. Rocket knows how to use his guns and does a good job of annoying Peter. We fortunately don’t dive too far into his origin story either as I got worried for a minute when Yondu started talking. Crisis averted. The winking subplot probably has Rocket’s best moments.

Gamora is my favorite character in this film. She’s still the only member who really knows what she’s doing. Gamora is actually trying to make the world a better place and she also knows all of the members well enough to know when something is wrong. She gives Peter a pep talk, helps Groot most of the time even when he doesn’t deserve it and she comes close to figuring out the sinister planet’s secret. She also does a good job of handling the situation with Nebula. It was a little hard to take Nebula seriously the whole time as a villain since she wasn’t very powerful but the film helps to fix that as well.

Finally, there’s Peter. After watching the TV show for so long, it took a little bit to get used to this version of the character again. At least he is trying to get away from his old flirting tendencies. If he can keep this up, this will really help him as a character. Peter is certainly a much better character than he used to be now that he is just focusing on one person. He does get a little unsympathetic though when he is tricked so easily. Thinking that Gamora is just jealous was pretty silly and I don’t think he was being mentally influenced at the time so it was all him. His reaction after learning a certain plot twist was also on point as well. Instantly blasting away and hitting all of the vitals was the optimal response. No questions like “But why!”, stuttering, going into shock, or any of the other terrible responses. Peter should never have been sucked in so easily prior to this, but at least he rectified the mistake.

There were also a few supporting characters. Yondu gets a fairly large role along with a lot of character development. I’m still not a fan of the character, but I do like his arrow. It’s certainly a potent weapon. Similar to Quicksilver getting a larger version of his scene in Apocalypse compared to Days of Future Past, Yondu gets a larger scale scene to use his arrow in this time. It’s a very good trick and if he was going all out he could likely do well against the cinematic Avengers. I highly doubt it would have an effect on the Hulk and Thor/Vision would be able to endure it as well. The others would be in a pickle and I’d include Iron-Man in that since his suit hasn’t been the most durable as of late. Now, why wasn’t Yondu the character convincing for me? Well, he did just kind of sit there when all of his men were being executed. He was also taken in pretty easily considering he had the really cool arrow and should have done something the instant a mutiny was starting. Take no chances when you’re the Captain! The transporting kids part didn’t do him any wonders either.

The Sovereign people weren’t bad either. I liked their video games and the idea of a virtual army is like something out of World Trigger. You actually feel bad for them to an extent since they held up their end of the bargain while the Guardians broke theirs. Still, we’re supposed to side with the Guardians since they’re the protagonists. I just couldn’t blame the Sovereign for wanting revenge. They just gotta work on their 3D Galaga skills and they’ll be all right for the re match. Their new secret weapon should help as well.

Nebula has probably improved the most since the first film. Her transition into being more of a rival went pretty smoothly. I think there was a little forced emotion when she was reminding the audience of her backstory since I don’t think Nebula cries easy. The whole film was maybe trying a little too hard in that end, but I guess as long as we get the “almost” death of the main character each time than it’s a good tradeoff. They always come so close, but don’t end up kicking the bucket because someone else is there to save them.

Mantis is an alien being who doesn’t know much about anything. She was raised by Ego in exchange for her assistance in getting him to rest every day. Unfortunately, the Guardians are the ones who help her expand her horizons so the lessons that she learns aren’t the greatest ones. She’s a decent character. Mantis’ character tropes aren’t really my style but I guess you can say that she did all that she could with them.

Finally, we have Ego. There’s nothing really likable about him and I can definitely say that the character fell flat. He didn’t do anything for me even if he did have cool abilities. The problem is that he’s way too overpowered. You know ahead of time that the heroes will need some plot hax if they want to come out on top. It delivers as it always comes through in the clutch, but they should have made him a little weaker. At least what wasn’t plot hax was the brief Man of Steel homage fight scene. That was pretty neat as you can instantly see where it took notes on the Zod vs Superman battle. If strength correlated with likability than Ego would be at the top, but it’s just not the case. He works well enough as a villain, but don’t expect to root for him.

As far as the soundtrack goes, the tunes are pretty good again. Most of them aren’t all that memorable, but it’s always nice to hear songs from the 80s. They’re just very catchy and it will remind you of the good ole days. The themes stand out and the best part is that you know the film had a soundtrack. There are a bunch of films that you’ll finish and wonder if they actually had any music to begin with. This film just didn’t have that problem.

The visuals are also pretty sharp for this film. Marvel is still a few years behind DC when it comes to the effects, but they’re getting closer. The brief fight with Peter and Ego was a lot of fun and I liked the Mass Effect Ego design. Peter’s element gun looked a little weaker this time as the blasts were quite small, but as long as it’s a blast I’ll take it anyway. You’ll go into the film expecting the graphics to be good since this is a space film and all so it’s good that you will not be disappointed.

One thing that the film definitely did right was its references. It was fun to be reminded of what we all loved about the 80’s. There’s a certain reference/guest star appearance in particular that worked really well. This iconic figure reminded me that I definitely couldn’t give the film a negative score. It had its issues, but the film reminded me that it could be classy. Moreover, you’ll probably gain some respect for the character who uses this guest star. It was a really exciting moment and the only thing that could have made it even better would have been an extended fight scene where Ego fights the Sm4sh version of this icon.

That was an example of humor done right. Unfortunately, as a whole the film did have an issue with the humor. The problem is that Guardians just isn’t a very funny film. Airplane probably had more laughs in 10 minutes than this film had in its whole generation. I blame it partially on the terrible writing, but it’s also because the film really televises all of its jokes ahead of time. For example, when a guy with a scarred face calls the gold villains. You instantly know what the joke will be and how it will be handled. That’s a bit of a problem because it’s not going to be as funny if you see it coming right? That’s how the film handled most of its jokes. It could have learned a thing or two from the Plane film.

One thing that made that film so funny was how sudden the jokes would occur. When the main character was asked if he wants a smoking or no smoking ticket you didn’t expect a good joke, but then they pull out a ticket that has smoke coming out of it. That was an excellently handled joke. Granted, the film had some bad jokes as well, but the ratio was in its favor and the good jokes wee really good. The best joke in Guardians would have trouble breaking even in Airplane. In this case, I don’t even think we can blame it on the characters all that much since they should still be good at humor.

Also, I’m not saying that the humor is terrible or anything like that. The film still did have a few moments here and there and you can definitely tell that it tried. It’s probably just a writing limitation. Unfortunately, the writing is fairly weak. There’s a lot of language throughout and edgy lines that serve no purpose being here. Some of the dialogues between the characters will make you wince or try to tune them out. Rocket threatening to place something vile on Peter’s bed was just sad and Ego talking about how he built his body was unnecessary. It’s little scenes like that coupled with everything else that begin to add up through the long haul.

Despite all of this, you should be satisfied with the action and explosions here. The film gives you everything you could want in a summer blockbuster. There’s a lot of banter and excitement around most corners. There are points in the film where not much happens, but I still wouldn’t really call these parts boring as the setting and characters are interesting enough. There are two kinds of films. Those that are fun to watch regardless of their quality and those that are not. I can safely say that this one is still enjoyable enough where you can try to overlook the negatives until the film ends. Your opinion of it will then start to deteriorate, but that’s an after effect. I’d also see this any day of the week over many other films.

One thing I’ll hope for in the third film is a longer fight. We had a brief fight with Peter and Quill, but that was the only real fight in the movie. The rest of the action scenes were just general action scenes against giant monsters or massacre fight scenes with the heroes wrecking a lot of flunkies. I’m hoping for more actual fights since the first film had quite a few of those. The Nebula vs Gamora fights here would be a highlight in that regard although again…they were pretty short. I always place fights above action scenes, but naturally having both of them is always a good thing.

There are quite a few post credit scenes 80’s style. They’re filmed like bloopers in a sense, but take place after the film. Some are important and others aren’t. One of them teases a new character who may show up in the 3rd film. Honestly, I wish he had shown up here since a fight with Ego probably would have been a lot of fun. Also, this guy is a personal favorite of mine so I have no doubt that he would have elevated the film. Another scene showed a group of classic characters. I can’t say that I’m super hyped for the group, but I did think that the rocky actor stole the show so it’d be pretty fun to see him return. A certain teenager who appears in one of the scenes is someone that I hope to never see show up. Luckily this wish will likely be granted. It was fun to see various cameos during the film as well. Referencing the rest of the Marvel cosmic mythos is always a good idea. Sadly Thanos didn’t show up this time, but Infinity War is finally getting closer so that’s good.

Overall, Volume 2 had quite a lot of problems. It started out really rough, had a bumpy ride during the middle, and then had a reasonably good climax. It’s still a fairly engaging film, but it tries way too hard to be funny. It’s an unsuccessful attempt. The characters are unlikable which takes you out of the film at times especially in Groot’s case. This is one of those films that I wouldn’t want to watch again at least not for a very, very long while, but for a one time viewing it wasn’t bad. At the very least you can’t say that the film isn’t engaging. There’s a good amount of action and excitement all around with witty dialogue in between all of the “witty” dialogue. I’d make a parallel to films like Suicide Squad, Lucy, Batman vs Robin, and other such films. They’re pretty entertaining while you watch them, but afterwards you still can’t give them a positive It’ll be fun to see the team show up in Infinity War, but beyond that, the Guardians don’t need another film. That or we just need a fresh new take on the Guardians. Get some new writers and we’ll see what they can do. In the meantime, I’m cautiously optimistic about Thor: Ragnarok (Gladiator scenarios don’t have the greatest track record and I can totally imagine some animal violence there, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt) and Spider-Man. (Worst Peter Parker…ever!) With the summer just starting, we’ll see how the rest of the films stack up. King Kong and Guardians may not have led it off to the strongest of starts, but the year is young.

Overall 5/10

Westworld Review

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Peter and his pal John decide to visit the world’s most popular amusement park, Westworld. It is a futuristic life simulator where you get to live your life as a farmer, king, freelancer, etc. It acts as a very expensive vacation which is ultra realistic as androids play the parts of the rest of the town. It is billed as a place where you can do anything without worrying about your conscience or morals. It’s also extremely pricey though and honestly you wouldn’t catch me checking it out even if it was real. You can still have more fun at an arcade with a roll of quarters. Back to the park though. In Westworld, you are able to play as the hero or the villain and by the end of your experience you may even learn a thing or two about yourself. There is only one rule, have fun! Unfortunately, the robots pick up on this message as well. Why let the humans get everything? Why indeed…..

If Westworld is supposed to make you dislike the humans and really root for the robots, then it succeeded quite easily. It goes out of its way to show that all of the humans are fundamentally bad people who will use any excuse to shed their boring 9-5 jobs and become full fledged villains. One guy uses his vacation to cheat on his wife, others use it to murder people and have one night stands with robots, etc. There is nobody to root for except for the robots, but I was probably going to be rooting for them anyway.

Peter is the main character and he’s pretty terrible. He’s portrayed as the average joe, someone you can sit down and have a beer with. He’s in awe of this big amusement park and can’t wait to try it. Once inside, his bad influence of a friend named John shows him how to have fun in all of the wrong ways. Peter quickly picks up on this and becomes just as corrupt. It’s a shame, but the guy had no will power. Also, it was hard to believe that these two were friends since John was basically ignoring Peter the whole time until they actually landed on the island. As bad as Peter was, John could match him step for step. He’s just a terrible collection of the worst tropes for a movie lead and I was anticipating his big duel with the android quite eagerly.

It’s a fairly small cast in this film as those two characters basically get all of the screen time. There’s also a third traveler who is the most corrupt of them all. The robots make sure to deal with him right away though via a stab straight to oblivion. The guy was a terrible fighter though as the android gave him a fighting chance for quite a while. Finally it got tired of the whole thing and just took him down for the count. The main villain was a pretty good robot. He definitely had Peter on the run for quite a while and he’s like an old fashioned terminator. He’s a pretty good shot as well which is useful when you’re in the Wild West setting. None of the other androids got particularly large roles but they were around to help finish the job when necessary.

Unfortunately, the film really stresses the pleasure part of this vacation which drags the film down quite a bit. After all, I think we get the implications of the “You can do whatever you want” message that Westworld gives out. We don’t have to constantly be reminded of it via the two main characters that this means you can have as many fake romances as you want. That’s the element that gets them the most excited along with drinking beer all day and shooting people. It’s certainly not a family friendly destination. It would have been nice if the film could have focused on the fact that you’re essentially living another life for these few days and the thrills of having safe gunfights and old styled competitions.

Also, the concept definitely doesn’t hold up if you actually think about it. The characters are using live ammunition and getting into real fights during their vacation. The guns are set to not work if you target another human, but you can still get hurt during the ballroom brawls. There’s one such fight in this film that lasts for a very long time. The heroes get lucky as they dodge most of the glass cup attacks and don’t get seriously injured, but they could have easily had some broken bones if they missed a step. I guess you may sign a waver or something before entering, but based on John’s reaction to getting bit, it seems that Westworld guarantees you will not be injured. That’s quite the stretch if you ask me.

Also, we see that in real time, a few operators juggle everything around for the various plots to ensure that every guest gets his/her desire. I guess they’ve never had conflicting goals from players since they have a 100% satisfaction rate. Hmmmm, well no need to dwell on that. Lets just say that I wasn’t buying it. The film isn’t super violent or anything. I did assume that Westworld was R to be honest and was surprised that it wasn’t, but I don’t remember any scene in particular being all that gruesome. It was fairly standard action stuff if I remember right. If anything, it’s more the shock of the situation that may get you if you weren’t expecting some big characters to die.

The ending of the film is pretty fitting though. I definitely thought that it was handled well since the humans were already in enemy territory when the androids made their move. The whole thing is pretty realistic even if the engineer who designed the room to only open from the inside should be fired instantly. Poor designs are timeless and we still get them nowadays. I always think doors should open outwards instead of inwards because it’s safer (Infamous factory fires) and more convenient yet people still make it the other way around. It is what it is I suppose.

Overall, I didn’t really care for Westworld. Good (Even if unbelievable) concept, but poor execution. The main problems all can be traced back to Peter and John. They’re just absolutely terrible main characters and the third guy didn’t help their case at all. There’s just too much of a focus on the wrong aspects of Westworld. The special effects were good though and it did have a lot of fun visuals. While I don’t see this ever happening in the real world, we are getting to the point where it could be possible through Virtual Reality. I think it’ll be easy to do such a thing someday, but there will be a ton of risks involved so I certainly wouldn’t be a beta tester. If you want a film where someone gets trapped in a cyber game, check out the new Sword Art Online film. In this case, the game comes to the real world, but it has some similar themes and it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable.

Overall 3/10

The Trouble with Harry Review

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“The trouble with Harry is that he’s always grabbing the beer. I try to tell him to let go, but he just ends up pouring himself another glass. What about the rest of us? Why don’t we get any beer? Ah well, there’s only one way to end this. Hand me that Axe Suzy, our little Harry problem is about to end. ….come here Harry” This film is also part mystery as you don’t really know who killed off Harry. The film gradually introduces more and more suspects with that question looming in the background. Nobody has an alibi and every character in the film wanted to murder Harry. Still, they couldn’t have all been in on it….could they?

The film starts off with an old man by the name of Captain Wiles. He was shooting anyone who couldn’t fight back to prove that humanity is the race with the biggest inferiority complex when he accidentally shoots a man. This man is named Harry and Wiles realizes that this could stain his reputation. He decides to hide the body so he can bury it, but that’s when an odd chap by the name of Sam shows up. Sam likes to draw just about anything and a murdered man will do just fine. It doesn’t take much convincing for Sam to join in on the operation and bury Harry. Things get complicated when Wiles tells Sam that a lady from down the road recognized Harry’s corpse and was glad about it. Her name is Jennifer and it turns out that Harry was her husband. Meanwhile, Wiles decides to forget about all of this so he runs off to a neighbor’s house. The resident goes by the name of GRAVEly. GRAVEly isn’t particularly surprised to learn of Harry’s demise and she takes the whole thing in stride and even asks Wiles to head to her cabin in the middle of nowhere later that day. Alone of course. Wiles has been in a war before so he figures that nobody can actually be a bad person here in the homeland right? He leaves his shovel and gun at home and heads to the carriage.

So, those are the key players. With the exception of Miss GRAVEly there are no obvious hints on the suspects so you want to keep an eye on all of them. While the plot sounds like an intense thriller murder mystery, it’s actually more of a comedy. You may have guessed that though when you realized that the plot was completely subverting the usual tropes. Everyone wanted to destroy Harry so they’re all pretty happy to hear that he’s dead. Since none of them have any alibis that also makes it a little harder for the cops to figure out what is going on. Yes, the cops do play a role in this and one of them in particular is eager to get to the bottom of this rabbit hole.

One thing that the film does really well is achieve the old school effect of a classic film. The atmosphere is quiet and happy as a little town ought to be. The characters are pretty nice and reasonable with the exception of Sam. The opening scene is also a lot of fun as we see Wiles continually have to abort his mission of hiding the body when random people walk up the hill. Nobody cares about the dead corpse though as some just continue reading while another one steals from the corpse. It’s a cruel world out there, that’s for sure.

To counterbalance the happy scenes, we also have some jump scares here as well. There is a haunted closet in the living room of Jennifer’s apartment and it has a tendency to open on its own. It’s almost as if someone is watching the cast, but that couldn’t be…right? Wiles is the only one who seems to notice this throughout the film, but he is too nervous to actually open the closet. It added a nice element of danger to the film and also helped with the humor in a sense. This style of humor definitely worked pretty well throughout.

My only real negative with the film would be Sam. He just comes off as a real sketchy fellow who uses terrible pick up lines for flirting. He doesn’t even seem to care that Jennifer has an impressionable little kid who is listening to what Sam is saying. The whole romance felt off from the start and I definitely couldn’t buy into it. Especially since he only gave her about an hour to think over his extremely sudden proposal. As I mentioned earlier, the rest of the characters were decent even if they were all a little corrupt at times. Wiles first inclination was to hide the body instead of telling the police. That was a bit iffy. The next door neighbor was also happy to run with this and likewise for Jennifer. They all became accomplices to the act whether they committed it or not by not telling the Police. You’ve always gotta tell the proper authorities instead of listening to your impulses to hide and bluff for the rest of your life. Wiles starts to learn this the hard way as his guilt begins to catch up with him. He brings in a lot of the comedy moments as well due to his age.

Miss GRAVEly wasn’t as interesting as some of the other characters, but she was so suspicious that she helped fill in the tension. After all, if you need someone to start digging up graves, who better than Miss GRAVEly? Jennifer’s kid was a little annoying but at least he didn’t appear much. I certainly don’t care much for his taste in toys. It was pretty sad to watch and it’s why we need video games to entertain kids instead of dead animals. We don’t want them to turn into hooligans as they grow up.

Overall, This was a well written film and it was definitely an engaging adventure. I don’t want to give away who the culprit was. That’ll be for you to figure out when you watch the film. I will say that you’ll be shaking your head at Sam a lot though. He certainly incriminates the whole cast quite a few times by leaving pictures of Harry around and just giving the cops a hard time in general. He’s certainly not the smartest guy on the block, nor is he the nicest. He makes a living off of art but constantly shoos his customers away. It’s no wonder why nobody wants to buy his art. The ending will also rub you the wrong way as he takes advantage of a rich old guy. The rich guy is just as guilty for not walking away, but it was complete highway robbery. As long as you can get past Sam, the rest is solid though. Just watch out for the jump scares!

Overall 7/10

Lucy Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be a lot more negative.
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It’s time for one of those films that you know is going to be bad from the get go. That being said, you always end up being curious on just how bad it could be. Lucy lives up to the expectations and then some as it gets real gritty right from the get go. It also gets pretty abstract and meta by the end as well so you can make your own theories at the end. It’s essentially a poor man’s Salt, but with added sci-fi powers.

The film starts off with Lucy being tricked by her beer buddy. He handcuffs her to a suspicious package that he was carrying since he knows that he’ll be murdered if he actually makes it to the destination. He figures that maybe they’ll go easy on Lucy and in a sense he’s right. The Yakuza syndicate decides to spare Lucy as they surgically implant her with drugs to take across the country. The beer buddy is shot to death anyway so he couldn’t find a way out in the end. Along the way, the drugs end up breaking out of their bag so Lucy gains super human abilities. She can now manipulate time, has super strength, telepathy, telekinesis, and a bunch of other stuff. She is effectively all powerful now and decides that she will use these abilities to beat people up and find the truth to the universe. Can she do all of this without instantly abusing her powers? Afraid not

The film can’t seem to decide if Lucy is downright evil at times or if she is only evil because she believes that she is above everyone. Regardless, you see her mowing everyone down in some moments and then in others she’ll suddenly become more of a pacifist. She shoots one guy who was having an operation since she claimed that he was going to die someday anyway…but she still murdered that innocent civilian. Then…she decides to spare the main villain. She just stabs him a few times before leaving and this allows him to make a comeback and murder a bunch of cops and hospital workers before the heroes bring him down. Of all the people to let live…she chose the main villain. It does make you wonder.

Also, the problem with the film is that Lucy is too powerful. She can do anything, but still makes the humans run to the front lines. When the mobsters are after her, she sends a few agents to stop them. A lot of these men die in the line of duty while she is busy talking to scientists and making her own computer. She could have just taken them all down with a wave of her hand and then gone back to the computer. Apparently it just wasn’t worth the effort since she is so far above being human now. In case you couldn’t tell, I didn’t like the character. Lucy’s not even sure what her personality is so it switches constantly during the movie. She also lost most of her personality anyway by the end of the film since apparently having all of the powers in the universe gives you a jaded view of the rest of the world. I suppose that’s fair, but it’d be nice if she wasn’t so boring about it.

Aside from that, lets talk about why the film isn’t good. It really all boils down to the fact that the film is super violent. It goes to extreme lengths the whole time which is why the film was quite far away from getting the PG-13 rating. You’ve got a lot of people shot pointblank in the film, surgeries being performed, and naturally some pretty shifty villains who only have pleasure on their minds. It makes for a pretty hard to watch combo as the film never really lets up on this. There are no happy scenes in the entire film. Sure, Hollywood crams in one of the most sudden and irrelevant kisses in all of cinema just so the film could have that element in there, but it’s just a dreary film the whole time. Lucy treats all of the characters like her pawns and she spends most of her screen time dancing around the real questions or waiting to be asked a decent one. The “experts” are pretty annoying since they don’t ask anything meaningful either. It felt like they were extremely slow on the uptake considering that they’re supposed to be the brightest bulbs out there.

The only good scene in the film was probably the montage where we got to see the cops catch all of the kidnapped people at the airport. One of them wisely tried to evade the police, but it was all for naught. That being said, the film didn’t want us to think that it lost its edge so immediately afterwards, the cops decided to leave these people by themselves. Effectively they did that anyway as they left one or two cops, but they were easily taken down by the Yakuza. I don’t know what the plan was there, but it was pretty bad and naturally they were murdered once again in a gruesome fashion.

Lucy’s climax decides to get even more messed up as we find out that she sacrificed all of those lives for a flash drive. I’m not sure if that’s a good deal and I was half expecting the scientists to chuck it in the trash. They’d have some kind of excuse like “Humanity’s not ready for it yet” and then the film would end with the revelation that nothing was accomplished in the film’s duration. Kind of a sobering thought isn’t it? The visuals were pretty nice as Lucy gained dark matter abilities and started to run wild, but it still didn’t really amount to much in the end. It’s a problem that a lot of horror films have as well. If the villain is all powerful and the humans are ordinary mortals…then it’s not going to be very interesting. The sides are so unbalanced that there can be no fights, only massacres. You always want to have a well matched battle or at least one where the opposing side can realistically fight back.

Lucy is all style and no substance. You’ll be hard pressed to find a film more devoid of entertainment than this one. Just keep in mind the fact that there are no happy scenes in the entire film. The whole thing…it’s all extremely serious business as everyone speaks in an emotionless, monotone voice. The cast is super small as well which is probably for the best since more characters wouldn’t necessarily help matters at all. The film would just need a complete re-write to be even semi decent. I’d also say to switch out the main actress since she always seems to play the exact same character and that’s not what Lucy needs. Lucy should have focused on the fact that she got cool powers and came to terms with them to fight an alien invasion. Not getting all powerful in an instant and then getting bored with it all. It’s too much in too short of a time span. The final twist of Lucy actually being an ape was also just a face palm moment.

Overall, Lucy’s not a good film. You’ll know this within the first 10 minutes of the film and it never goes up from there. The visuals can be fun when they aren’t being used for gratuitous violence but that’s hardly enough to keep your interest. Lucy uses her powers in the most inefficient ways possible and she has no empathy for anyone. She may know a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean the data is worth everyone dying for. I’d recommend watching something that has cool action scenes while not getting too dark. Check out Man of Steel. It’s also pretty serious with almost no comedy moments, but it still keeps the atmosphere light enough for you to have some fun with it. It also benefits from having a better cast. After all, Lucy is basically the only real character here. The cop and the scientist do much aside from being around for the facial expressions and “epic” camera zoom-ins.

Overall 1/10

The Exorcist 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 even more negative…literally.
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It’s time to tackle one of the most well known horror films of all time. I’ve never liked horror films and watching the classics hasn’t worked out so well thus far. I had pretty low expectations heading into this film, but The Exorcist managed to surprise me. It delivered a product that was so below expectations that I was slightly taken aback, but quickly realized how I had to respond. This film is one that you’ll want to avoid at all costs and will remind you that shock value isn’t as good as jump scares.

Chris is a popular actress and everything is going right for her at the moment. Life can’t get much better than it already is at the moment. Unfortunately, that changes when her daughter Regan is possessed by a vengeful spirit. It claims to be Lucifer himself and she has been unable to break free. Chris goes to many experts, but they are all unsuccessful in their attempts. Finally, she is forced to call in a pastor/psychologist to try and perform an exorcism, but he has yet to break his drinking/smoking habits. The Church realizes that this guy is out of his league so they bring in another priest who is experienced, but already very exhausted from another exorcism that he performed. Can the two save the day or will the body count continue to rise?

Some films like this one are a little overwhelming as it’s hard to know where to start. I suppose there are so many negatives that I should start with the positives first. The soundtrack isn’t bad. The iconic theme is definitely fun even if it only shows up for a few seconds. It actually felt like a remix since I’m used to a more battle ready version of the song. Still, it’s definitely withstood the test of time. The visuals are pretty advanced for their time as well although they typically go for grotesque imagery as opposed to cool sci-fi elements. Poltergeist III has definitely got it beat in this area. The film puts out a lot of effort….yeah now lets go to the negatives.

The film paints a pretty bleak picture on our struggle against demons. First of all, I’d like to give it props for giving the Church some credibility and having them go up against the demon. However…it acts as if the demons are far more powerful than any of our counters. Our Exorcism (This film’s old, but just in case I’ll give out a warning. Spoilers ahead, spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril!) fails miserably as the demon just overpowers the two pastors. The two pastors/priests give it their all as they use a lot of verses from the Bible, Holy Water, A Cross, and more. None of it is effective as the demon breaks one of the guys anyway and then possesses the other as it knocks him off. The spirit is then free to go and possess someone else.

There is no happy ending here at all. The demon won and murdered quite a few people in the process. It also vandalized the Church in the process with no repercussions. It’s a pretty sad message from the film in the end. Evil’s not supposed to conquer all. Now, demons are certainly real and they are powerful. That’s certainly true, but they still cannot ultimately resist when called out in the name of Jesus and God. The counter argument could be that the priests simply weren’t skilled or didn’t have enough faith, but at least one of them was supposed to be the best of the best. It’s hard to say whether or not Regan was a Christian or not in the film. She was still pretty young, but maybe she had put the Cross under her pillow since nobody could figure out how it got there. I don’t believe a Christian can be possessed. One could get tempted or put through trials and tribulations like Job, but I believe that we are given an immunity. Playing with the Ouja board wasn’t a smart idea, but it’s not as if playing with a thing like that can suddenly make you free domain. Especially since Regan clearly didn’t really know the ramifications of that thing.

She definitely got the short end of the stick here as the rest of the film’s pretty painful for her. It’s a really violent horror film and while you could clearly tell where the film cut away in the TV version, there was enough where you can tell that this was an intense experience. Regan got a lot of injuries and had to go through many operations during this period. Quite a few people were murdered as well. The film also goes for gross moments like having characters vomit and have to use the bathroom in public. Those moments certainly didn’t help the film at all either. In case you couldn’t tell, this film’s getting a pretty easy 0.

The only reasonable characters here are the Expert Priest and Chris. Chris can be annoying though like when she went to the various doctors and put Regan through a bunch of experiments. She should have known that it’d do no good since it clearly wasn’t a mental issue. The Expert Priest was good, it’s a shame that he couldn’t win. The main priest, Damien was pretty weak willed. He fell for the mind games rather easily and his subplot didn’t add anything to the film. It added more dark themes and grit of course, but the film was so full of that already that you wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. There was a police chief who liked to subtly imply that various people were murderers and did his best to solve the case. It was naturally futile though since it wasn’t a human opponent who he was up against. I suppose he did his best, but bribery definitely isn’t a very legitimate tactic. There weren’t a whole lot of other characters in the film as it was a pretty small cast. We have the demon of course, but it’s only character is that it is a demon. It’s pretty clever as it makes the ordeal or proving that it’s a demon very tricky for the heroes.

Overall, This isn’t exactly a “Feel good” film. You’re not going to be laughing and taking shots of Pepsi and Doritos during this film as you discuss the current state of the movie industry and Twinkie flavors. It’s very somber from start to finish and you’ll be ready for it to end after 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s a very long film so that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the whole film had just been about Chris and her acting career, I have a feeling that it would certainly be a lot more enjoyable. Even just removing all of the cuts and slashes on Regan would help the film at least be watchable. You’re averting your gaze for most of the film otherwise since it’s pretty distasteful to have a kid be so violently injured for such a long time after all. Better to just look at the ceiling in the film and wonder when it was last painted. If you want a quality horror film, check out Poltergeist III as it’s one of the only good horror films out there. I can see why this one earned its reputation as it is pretty gritty, but that’s all the more reason why you should stay away from it. It’s just not worth it!

Overall 0/10

Kong: Skull Island Review

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It’s time to take a look at the new King Kong film. I’m not a King Kong fan nor will I ever be at this rate, but this film got a lot of hype since it’s in the same continuity as Godzilla. Maybe the latter’s quality would rub off on King Kong and elevate the series to new heights. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It’s still the same old King Kong with a fresh layer of paint. It makes the same mistakes although at least it doesn’t force any random romance plots into the film. Still, you can’t help but wish that the film had chosen a very different path.

The film is about two scientists convincing the government that they should head to Kaiju island to see what’s there. They are escorted by Preston and his team of commandos along with James, a skilled mercenary. They decide to bomb the island to scare everyone into submission, but this wakes up the mighty King Kong. The majority of the “heroes” are destroyed in the initial confrontation and the survivors have to find a way off the island. That’ll be tough since there are many monsters aside from King Kong. Preston also wants revenge on the big gorilla and he has some guns at the ready. Can he win this round?

One thing about King Kong is that a lot of people don’t find him to be all that scary. Why would they when falling off of a building is enough to destroy him? This version is a little bigger than most of the old film versions so that helps his case a little, but he is still injured by bullets here. A well placed fire blast does a lot of damage as well so I’m going to feel bad for him if he ever has to fight Godzilla. If ordinary fire can do that, imagine what ATOMIC breath will do to him. The poor guy would be incinerated in an instant. The only sad part is that King Kong is the heavy under dog in the fight so I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins as a result. Anyone remember Batman V Superman? The Godzilla angle is the main reason why you guys are watching this film so you should start to consider this angle. I am hyped for the big crossover even if it isn’t happening for quite a while. It’ll certainly be worth the wait. There is an after credits scene in this film so stick around.

Now, why am I disliking this film so much? There are a few reasons, but lets start with the obvious one. The animal violence is a problem here. We get a whole scene where we see Preston blow up a bird’s head. He’s the villain here so it’s to show us how mean he is, but it’s not helping the film’s case at all. There is a very thin line between monsters and animals and this film opted to have them be closer to animals than monsters. Bad move because the violence is a lot worse this way. It’s also sad when you consider that the humans are picking this fight. The monsters were just fine on their own until their island started to get blown up. They were simply defending themselves even if the film tries to get you to root for the humans. Not me, I was on the creatures side from day 1. It doesn’t help that all of the humans are just annoying the whole time. They weren’t all bad though, just not likable enough to be excused.

Preston was certainly not likable at all. The film gave him a ton of hype though so that was amusing. He is so out classed here so I couldn’t take that angle seriously. James is another hype character, but he never gets to do all that much. He has his big scene at the beginning, but he seems to panic just as much as the others and didn’t seem as tough and gritty as you’d expect. His “confrontation” with Mason on the bottom of the ship wasn’t as hype as the film thought it would be. They both talk tough and call each other’s bluff, but neither one actually gets anywhere. They were essentially fueling each other’s ego. James essentially never got any real character and the scene where he grabs a sword was just incredibly random. It also wasn’t a good scene since he was slashing a bunch of bats. Mason wasn’t a bad character either, but she really had no character either. At least she tried to help one of the monsters which was nice. She beats her counterpart from the earlier films. The rest of the cast were basically comic relief and didn’t do anything. A common trend here is that most of the characters weren’t bad, they just weren’t that interesting or likable either.

King Kong’s fight against the Skullcrawler was pretty good. The mini ones were pretty outmatched so they went down quickly, but I’ll definitely take that over the usual T Rex fight. These guys certainly had a better design after all and then the big one made for a nice villain as well. I was actually expecting a plot twist about these guys being the original Godzillas and the final one would return after the credits in his new Godzilla form. Maybe it’s for the best that it didn’t happen, but that would have been interesting. The King Kong vs human scenes are what you’d expect as they just get stomped the whole time. Preston puts up a fight of course, but once the gimmicks are gone, he doesn’t last all that long.

The film had some nice cuts like the spider claw stabbing a poor guy and King Kong rising up above the Sun. Those were probably the highlight as far as the visuals are concerned. I would still take Godzilla 2014 over this though with the awesome energy blasts and the fight against Muto was a lot more fun. What King Kong needs is his own energy blast or an opponent who has one. Of course, then King Kong would probably lose if it’s the latter so maybe he can get his own special attack in the sequel. This film probably took its special effects a little to seriously in some scenes as you’d see the characters load their guns rapid style. A Scooby Doo film used the same trick a while back and I actually don’t care for it. The sounds are distracting if anything and the visuals weren’t cool to look at. Maybe do it for something with a little more pop like a cool lightning blast or something. King Kong doesn’t have much options for that though so the technique is just wasted here.

None of the themes really stood out to me. It’s your standard action film stuff, but without the one stand out theme that is usually around. The end credits really pressed the point as they were eerily silent the whole time. The tune they picked for it really did not work. I’ll give the film some props for having the characters on the island the whole time. The film did start rather quickly and the action never stopped once they were on board. This was a double edged sword with all of the animal violence of course, but in theory it was a good move. I doubt the film would have been much better without the island anyway, maybe it could have scored a 6, but it would have been rather uneventful. You’d be taking the Skull Island out of Kong: Skull Island. New York City is a far superior backdrop, but I guess we can’t have every film take place there. Hopefully the crossover does though as that will really help with the visuals and intensity of the film.

The writing for this film wasn’t terrible. There isn’t constant panic with expletives this time around although they do artificially force the worst word in once just to get the crowd going. With the review just about done, lets briefly talk about what could be cool to see in a sequel. To make the sequel better, we need to have King Kong come to NYC. That’s step 1. Next would be to give King Kong a cool robot suit or a transformation where he grows wings and does battle with a true Kaiju. Next, ensure that the main humans are all red shirts so they can all die in the crossfire without any humans getting too much hype. We don’t want another fire damages King Kong scene after all. Throw in a cool techno theme and we’ll have the makings of a great movie.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island didn’t do it for me, but the odds of me liking the film were never great. You can’t take place on a retro island like this one that’s filled with animals and expect to be good. The odds of animal violence are simply too high and King Kong doesn’t have a great track record either. Also, it’s not like the film was subtle with the animal violence…a bird’s head was blown up…I’m not getting over that one. I don’t care much for apes and monkeys either so it would be very hard for me to really like Kong as a character. He did a good job of protecting his turf of course so I can respect that, but he’s still not all that “cool.” I’m excited for seeing where the cinematic universe goes from here though. We should be getting a lot of hype battles in the near future. Still, you don’t need to see this film to understand that though so I’d recommend checking out Pacific Rim or Godzilla (2014) instead. Both of those films do a better job of tackling the giant monster concept and have far better scenery and backdrops to grab your attention when the monsters aren’t around.

Overall 4/10

Speed 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.
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It’s time for a classic thriller film. With a title like Speed, you’re definitely expecting a lot of action and intensity throughout and the film delivers. While there may be a moment or two that will stretch your disbelief, the film did a good job of covering its tracks for the most part. One thing that these films typically have a problem with is making the villain too powerful. He is somehow everywhere, has plans for everything, and ends up performing feats that make you question the logic. That’s not an issue here as Howard’s (The main villain) twist covers all of the bases.

Jack is one of the best swat officers in the business. He likes to go on gut instincts and always makes the villains pay for their criminal deeds. It’s just another day at the office when he stops a crazed bomber from destroying an elevator full of people. Unfortunately, the criminal has been nursing a grudge about this and shows up one day to even the score. He has planted a bomb on a bus so if it ever dips below 60 (I believe it was 60) mils an hour, it’ll blow up. If someone tries to leave the bus, it’ll blow up. If anyone other than Jack tries to get onto the bus, it’ll blow up. Etc etc. Howard seems to be able to see into the bus at all times so the heroes have to be careful. The fuel won’t last forever so Jack is going to have to rely on his instincts one more time.

Howard definitely has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He has planted cameras in multiple areas and can tap into the police communicators. This all makes sense given what we know later on. He’s definitely psychotic and the film never tries to make him sympathetic. (That’s good since I wouldn’t have bought into that) He does a pretty good job although the heroes should have been able to defeat him a little sooner. There are two main points where he should have been taken down. One was immediately after the elevator incident as Jack could have shot him. The other was when he first implemented his plan. A security officer walked over and instead of calling for backup, he proceeded to get one shotted. It wasn’t his best moment. So, Howard’s plan was definitely risky throughout and I’m also wondering how he got out of his bomb suit in time. He definitely did raise the body count by the end of the film though so he did some damage before going down for the count.

I was a little surprised that a certain death towards the middle/end of the film wasn’t played up more. It was essentially skimmed over, but given the circumstances, I suppose they didn’t have much time to dwell on it. Jack’s a solid main character as you’d expect. He’s really good at his job and while he’s seen as a hot shot, he does take the time to think things through. He’s just a very reasonable character and it’s good to see the main lead have as much confidence as he does. Annie made for a good main heroine. She always had the witty comebacks at the ready and wasn’t intimidated by all of the chaos around her. She also did a good job of getting away from the troublemakers on the bus very early on. Those guys certainly didn’t help matters at all with all of their bickering. One lady was particularly bad as she just cracked and decided to ignore the obvious bomb as she tried to escape. The cops were almost as bad there though as they were trying to help her. Not a good move.

As always, I do have to say that the romance in the film was a little rushed and cliche though. Jack and Annie quickly bond because of this emotional experience. Annie even points out that romances this sudden and nonsensical rarely last which will probably be the case. Even ICarly had an episode about this where the main lead’s life was saved by the guy so she mistakenly thought that she liked him for a little while. You always have to be careful not to mix up feelings of gratitude with love. It’s not like it took much time out of the film though since it was only a quick moment at the end, but Hollywood has to squeeze in its romance somewhere.

I did mention that I had to stretch my disbelief a little before. I’m referring to one scene in particular as a large part of the road is gone so Jack decides that they have to drive over it. He figures that if they drive fast enough, the momentum will allow them to make it. This definitely should have not worked in the slightest. The gap was way too big and the camera angles had to quickly switch all over the place to make it seem even slightly realistic. So, that part was a little iffy, but the rest of it was all on point. The cops all picking obvious hiding points may have been a little sketchy, but I don’t blame them for not noticing the hole under the trash because that was pretty clever. They should have had the tracker on from the start…but that’s how it goers I suppose.

The soundtrack was pretty solid. The themes definitely worked really well for the film and kept up the energetic atmosphere. The writing was reasonably good. The edited version cut out most of the iffyness. It’s nothing to write home about, but at least the characters weren’t constantly running around swearing. While they were annoying, the people on the bus were also pretty realistic because I can picture everyone being super petty like them even in such a dangerous situation. It’s just how people are on a bus…even the guy with a gun. Shooting the driver was pretty iffy though and I felt bad for the guy, he didn’t ask for this! It’s also not every day that you get a bus thriller instead of the usual car one. I like car chases as much as the next guy, but adding a bus certainly changes the dynamic quite a bit.

Overall, Speed is a pretty good film. Jack was a good lead and the film played out like a fun action blockbuster. It may not be something that you’ll remember as an all time great but it didn’t really have any big negatives. The villain was tough and it made for some good mind battles between the two, but the film never went out of its way to make him extremely psychotic or intimidating with super violent scenes. The film was actually fairly tame in that regard and it’s been a while since we had a villain who was just in it for the money. It’s probably still the most iconic goal for an antagonist. I recommend checking this out if you like a fast paced action and the film is pretty long so a lot happens along the way.

Overall 7/10

Sengoku Basara Review

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It’s time for an anime that is nostalgic in a sense. I played the original Devil Kings game a while back which is what this arc is based off of. Admittedly, I can see how the game would sell better with that title over Sengoku Basara as it just seems a little more intense. The anime did a great job of adapting it and was just about perfect. It was a really well done anime all around and I look forward to seeing how good the sequels are. This will be a tough season to follow though so I can’t say that I’m expecting it to be surpassed. I look forward to seeing it try to prove me wrong though.

The series takes place back in the really old days of warring nations of Samurai. There are many factions along the land and they feud over territory all the time. Despite this, many of them have fairly friendly relations with each other. They don’t hold grudges over destroying each other because it is simply their way of life. Whoever wins, there are no salty losers. That being said, it all changes when the Oda army descends onto the battlefield. They are led by the infamous Devil King who has no such compassion or morals on the battle field. His army doesn’t play by any set of rules and believes in winning at all costs. The heroes of each warring faction must either team up or face annihilation.

This is one of those series that has multiple protagonists through the different factions. Some of them are clearly evil while others are more heroic. You ultimately have to decide which group to root for. There are 3 main heroic factions to choose from with Yukimura’s getting the largest focus. That was where my allegiance was since he is easily the best character in the series. I did like Masamune a lot as a runner up though and the show did a good job of giving everyone a good amount of screen time.

Before talking about the show any further, lets delve into the characters. Yukimura is the headstrong protagonist whose fire abilities really enhance his fighting style. He has absolute confidence and never backs down from a fight. In fact, the moment that solidified him as the best character for me was when he didn’t even back down from the Devil King even when Masamune was frozen in fear. It was the deciding moment between the two and Yukimura passed the test. He may not have done too well against Mitsuhide, but you can’t win em all I suppose and the power levels were wonky by the end. More on that in a bit though. Having Ichigo’s English voice actor also helped a bit as well. Yukimura is one of the best main characters that I’ve seen in a while. He’s honorable, a great warrior, and he has fire abilities. Fire is the best element so that’s always a good sign.

Shingen is Yukimura’s boss and he’s a reasonable leader. He definitely gives Yukimura quite the beating over the series, but the main character is very tough so he can take it. I can’t say that I ever found him to be all that strong compared to Yukimura and Masamune since he is really lacking in speed, but he is still one powerful dude. It would have been nice if we could have seen him get a full fight as Shingen never really got the opportunity. Sasuke is the ninja in the fire squad and he gets a lot of subtle hype. He’s very quick and knows how to get out of a dangerous situation. He never gets into any danger or even ends up nearing a loss. Sasuke is essentially untouched during the whole season so I’d like to see him help out more next time.

Masamune is the big rival in the series and the second best character. His design is really good and his intense personality is fitting for Yukimura’s rival. He also enjoys combat quite a lot and it’s impressive that he’s the leader of his clan at a relatively young age. He gets a very large role during the course of the show. While Masamune may have overreacted at his first defeat and had to be snapped out of his stupor, he made a full recovery. I dare say that the show even hints that he may be slightly stronger than Yukimura. At the very least, he did look a little better against Mitsuhide, but Yukimura wasn’t in the right mindset for that one. Masamune’s 6 sword style was definitely unique even if it’s hard for me to imagine someone using it effectively. That’s a lot of swords after all, but it shows just how good he is.
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Kojuro is Masamune’s general and the two are pretty close. Kojuro will defy Masamune occasionally if he thinks that the leader is going down the right path. The leader may not like it at the time, but that’s exactly the kind of person that he wants as his second in command. Kojuro is also a pretty strong fighter in his own right. I don’t think he should really be a match for someone like Mitsuhide, but he’s probably the strongest secondary fighter in the series. His strategic knowledge is just as useful during this war even if Masamune does ignore it for a more direct plan.

Kenshin was another one of the leaders, but he was a little disappointing. He only got to very briefly fight for about a minute or so before being taken out of the equation and all he did was talk. His rivalry with Shingen even felt out of character with the rest of his personality. Honestly, the guy was just a little more on the annoying side and while he may not be a bad character per say, it did feel like he was stringing Kasuga on for a while. Kasuga is his 2nd in command and the head ninja. While she could have had potential as a strong mercenary like Nina Williams of Samus Aran (Bounty Hunter anyway) the show mainly just uses her for fanservice. She is out shined by Sasuke whenever the two characters meet and she also just ends up failing in all of her fights. As she is a professional ninja, you’d think that she could defeat the Devil King’s wife. Kasuga even got her in a choke hold, but then she allowed Nohime to get free and shoot Kenshin. Honestly, that was probably one of the most embarrassing moments in her career. The only moment that may have been worse was when she got one shotted by Nohime again while trying to avenge her master. Kasuga fans definitely won’t be pleased with her portrayal and rightly so. She’s usually a pretty strong character, but she wasn’t given any respect in this season.

Nobunaga or maybe I should say the Devil King, makes for a great villain in the series. He doesn’t appear right away, but still manages to make his presence known the instant that he appears. His theme is absolutely amazing and he is really a perfect villain. He’s absolutely ruthless as well as a brilliant tactician. He didn’t get to where he is by being naive and manages to double cross his lieutenant before he was back stabbed. It was a great moment because being outsmarted would have really hurt his character. I also like the fact that he actually has super powers of his own and that allows him to fight with his gun, cape, and a sword of course. A gun wouldn’t be very useful against most opponents, but since the Devil King is naturally powerful already, he can make it work. He’s one step ahead of the heroes for the bulk of the series and it was even a little surreal to finally see him take to the front lines at the end. Nohime is his wife and probably the only person that he can count on. She’s pretty skilled as she infiltrated one of the hero groups and took out the leader. She also managed to defeat Kasuga pretty easily and just did a really good job of backing up the Devil King overall. She only went down due to plot hax. Unfortunately, that meant that we could never see her get a full fight as her other battles were mere skirmishes.

Mitsuhide Ranmaru really got the shaft from the villains. He’s a kid who is working with the villains, but his backstory isn’t developed here. He can shoot arrows, but that’s about it so he is incredibly out of his depth here. I can’t say that I liked the kid at all so I was glad that the writers threw his character to the curb. Oichi is Nobunaga’s sister and he used her to entangle the clan leader Nagamasa into their ranks. As her husband, Nagamasa decides that he has to help the villains even if his whole shtick is that he fights for justice. It’s a shame since he is always talking about justice, but his honor gets in the way. That was pretty terrible to be honest and then when he finally decides to betray the Devil King, Oichi is used as a hostage. She puts up no resistance though and constantly makes things tough on him. I actually liked Nagamasa so his whole plot was pretty tragic.

Oichi’s a pretty terrible character though. She spends the majority of her screen time on the floor telling everyone to forgive her and asking the Devil King to turn into a good guy. Naturally that was not going to happen and he makes it clear several times that she is expendable. She almost dies a number of times as well. Oichi does have some Devil King abilities within her as well like when she destroys one of the main villains, but it quickly vanishes in time for her to be shot. Her character arc was very poorly developed and never went anywhere. Her powers were also odd as they just randomly appeared for a single scene and then never showed up again. It was as if the writers needed a way to take down one of the main villains and they decided to just make this up. If the powers had transformed Oichi into a good character then I’d be okay with it. As it stands, she basically got her husband murdered and then she went down shortly afterwards.
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Tokugawa is the worst clan leader. He can’t fight for beans and he continues to work for the Devil King even when he knows that the guy is evil. Naturally Tokugawa gets back stabbed and he would have lost the battle anyway if there wasn’t any interference. While Tokugawa may try to act as if he’s not a villain, he’s just as guilty as the others if you ask me since he’s working with the villains. He may use honor as a justification, but it’s just an excuse. His main general is Tadakatsu, a giant cyborg. This guy is physically very strong and Shingen even claims that Yukimura would not be able to defeat him. I don’t buy into that and I didn’t really believe the fight either, but the general seemed like a decent character.

There’s also the wandering warrior Keiji. He’s apparently extremely strong, but prefers to goof off and enjoy life while he can. This guy is critical to uniting the various factions to oppose the Devil King as they probably would not have worked together otherwise. He’s not really my kind of character, but the show portrayed him decently well. A lot of times this character trope ends up being a lot worse. There were some other minor characters in the show like a few clan leaders who showed up out of nowhere, but they’re really not all that important. They got a little bonus OVA episode that explains their involvement a little more, but it just shows that one of them is a villain and the other is another battle hungry leader. I actually liked that guy at least. It makes sense that there are more clans across the sea, but the show really didn’t need to add these guys.

While I have some issues with the show that are coming up, they don’t really hurt the show all that much. They’re just things that the writing could have worked on and some viewers may not even notice. The only one that was a little aggravating was the fanservice that would pop up once in a while. It was pretty mild and not too frequent at least, but Kasuga was basically used purely for fanservice. Her outfit is pretty outrageous and I can’t picture a ninja actually using it. I know Marvel’s reasoning for costumes like this for assassins is that they can distract the target which makes the job easier, but that seems more like an excuse than anything else. Whenever Kasuga talks to her boss she makes exaggerated poses as she exclaims her delight. It’s a pretty sad running gag and it’s the only part of the series that has fanservice in it. Take this away and that angle would have been perfect. So, that was definitely a little unfortunate, but I realize that it certainly could have been a lot worse. At the very least, the show never puts any real emphasis on her costume aside from these moments, which could have certainly been a disaster.

One thing that the show is comically bad at is the power levels. You get glimpses of this early on, but it gets worse and worse. All right, we know that Yukimura and Masamune are about equal since all of their skirmishes are completely deadlocked and have to be interrupted. They are seen as the absolute strongest warriors even if the leaders would beg to differ. Then we get Nagamasa who is also able to match up to Masamune. Then we get Mitsuhide who has the upper hand against Masamune (He was weakened though) and later on starts to beat Yukimura. The two of them team up and Mitsuhide is still holding his own. That’s when Kojuro shows up and says that he’ll take care of it. He beats Mitsuhide pretty easily, but that shouldn’t be possible since he’s weaker right? Keiji was also shown to be at around the same level and he also took down one of the big hyped leaders.

The problem here is that the show wanted to give everyone a bunch of hype which resulted in all of them being at the same level. It just didn’t make sense and as a result some characters would suddenly look weak for no reason. Yukimura losing to the cyborg for a while in the fight didn’t work for me and Shingen looked really bad against Mitsuhide. It reminded me of LBX, but that show’s probably The most extreme when it comes to power levels so we’re not quite there yet. You’ll also just be able to tell since the visuals are so exaggerated for the two main heroes. They’re making twisters with every hit to launch hundreds of soldiers away one second, but then they can’t dodge a bullet the next. The heroes are cornered by conventional weapons at some points and it makes you wonder how this is possible. Well, that’s because the visuals are more just for entertainment. They’re not actually jumping and staying in the air for whole minutes or cleaving mountains in two, it just feels like they are. At the same time, that’d be kinda sad and some scenes don’t support this as other characters see the battle and feel the tremors. The other explanation is that they can only awaken their powers at some points like in a video game and their normal mode is just really weak. My own theory is just that the power levels are inconsistent and the writers could have handled it better.

The show made some odd decisions towards the end. The story was really good and this isn’t necessarily a negative, but the ending had a lot of cop outs. At the beginning, characters were dying left and right, which kept amping up the stakes and it felt like a show where 90% of the cast would die off and there wouldn’t be any room for a second season. I’m inclined to think that the writers just wanted more money and season 2 would give them a chance of that. As such, a ton of characters just randomly survived at the end even when it felt like they should not have. Yukimura’s boss, the ice boss, Masamune’s henchmen, they all felt rather artificial when these characters survived. Allowing them to die would have made the ending a lot more impactful. So, I think this decision did hurt the tone of season 1 a bit, but it could help season 2 a lot since not having all of these characters could have been a little tough. Even Masamune may have died if there was no season 2. Fans of these characters should also be happy since they may get a chance to fight more thanks to this.

Finally, I have to point out that the characters in this show have a very distorted version of honor. It’s an old school kind of honor where if you make a deal, you have to stick to it even if nobody else is. An example is how several heroes made a pact with the Devil King and then had to stick to it even while he was murdering their allies and stabbing people in the back. At that point, I’d say that the honorful thing to do is to stop him yourself instead of standing back and aiding him. A lot of characters were confused about that, but at least Shingen and Masamune knew better. Honor like that just isn’t worth it, but you’ll be surprised at how many characters in this series are paralyzed by it.

Sengoku Basara definitely doesn’t disappoint with the epic soundtrack. The tunes are all very high octane and full of action which makes all of the scenes that much better. Nobunaga’s theme is absolutely the best one as you’d expect. It’s very atmospheric and perfect for all of his moments. That being said, the hero themes are also really good and the battle themes are exceptional. There are also some lyrical themes which occur during big fights. Basara’s animation was also the real deal. At times it could maybe be a little too stretched out with the attacks though. It’s like watching a 90’s Marvel comic in anime format at times as it’s all very Topsy Turvy. It may seem odd at times, but overall I’d say that it worked really well. The colors are very sharp and it felt like the anime got a pretty high budget overall. At the very least, you could tell that this was as video game adaption right from the start and I do think it should embrace that fact.
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Overall, Sengoku Basara is a pretty great anime. It has a lot of action nonstop and the pacing is really good. I’ve said this many times, but that’s one of the things that I love about 12-13 episode shows. They don’t have to bother with a lot of fillers (typically) or drawn out scenes to buy time. This show just goes all in and never gives you a break to relax. The only real negative here is the fanservice which is fairly limited and the fact that the heroes have horses that they ride into battle. I didn’t really get into it, but there is one scene in particular where a horse dies and that was unfortunate. If it had happened more often, that would have definitely been enough to have really hurt the score. It’s why I heavily advocate against heroes having animals in any capacity as it usually ends up being targeted. Kind of a downer to end the review on that note, but essentially just brace yourself for that scene and the Kasuga shenanigans. Beyond that, the show really hit all of the right notes and I look forward to the next season.

Overall 8/10

Deadline – U.S.A. Review

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It’s time for an old school mafia/gangster film. I haven’t seen too many of these yet so it’s nice to add another one to the list. It’s handled pretty well and makes for an interesting movie from start to finish. I think the main character could have been a little better to make it easier to root for him, but I suppose it was trying to show that he was just an ordinary joe who wanted to stick up for the paper. Bogart plays the role extremely well as always and it’s a film that has certainly aged well.

Hutcheson is a proud newspaper man. He’s never gone for sensational clickbait over the actual news. He goes for the facts and just that. Unfortunately this means that his paper is losing sales and a competitor wants to buy him out to crush it for good. There’s not much Hutcheson can do about it since the board of directors are okay with the sale. He has enough time for one last scoop though and decides to attack the vicious gangster Rienzi after one of his reporters is attacked for following the story. Nobody gets to take down one of his staff, not while Hutcheson is still on the case.

With all of the fake stories being spread around and alternative facts used instead of actual ones, this film is a good reminder that you have to be careful what you believe. All of the papers in this film were either paid off by Rienzi or were too scared to attack him. This meant that Hutcheson and his crew had to dig up all of the dirt on their own. Luckily, these guys are some of the best in the biz and were ready for such a challenge. Hutcheson is also a pretty confident and bold person himself so the villain’s threats never get to him. He defies the villains right up til the end and even if he is taken out of the picture, the facts have now been released for everyone.

The film has a very sudden ending, but one that works well. You can reasonably draw your own conclusions from it and they are positive ones. While we may not have gotten an epilogue, you can see how things will go from here. It may have all come together a little too well in some cases though. For example, Hutcheson’s one flaw is that he’s typically drunk and a little crazy. He forgot that he was divorced to his wife for a while because he had one too many beers and once he remembered, he wanted to call it off. It was a little late for that as she already found the rebound guy. It turns out that the guy didn’t have any dirt on him even though Hutcheson tried to find it. By the end, the ex-wife realizes that she doesn’t want a new man and comes back. It’s nice for the lead of course, but that part was maybe a little over the top. It was the one subplot where I couldn’t sympathize with Hutcheson at all. He’s a great newspaper man, but that was part of the problem for his social life. He had very clear priorities and his ex-wife was apparently not one of them.

As you’d expect from a newspaper film, the plot is very intricate and there are twists upon twists. More elements continue dug up by the reporters and then you get the full story at the end. It’s definitely a sad story all around, but one that will keep you guessing. It always seems like a fair mystery with my only issue being that some characters look really similar. For example, the rebound guy looked just like one of the gangsters so I was waiting for that twist. Rienzi is a decent main villain although he doesn’t get to appear all that much. He’s clearly a lot smarter than his minions, but it wasn’t enough as he gets outsmarted by the newspaper the whole time.

The court scenes were pretty fun. There wasn’t much that the heroes could do there since the paper’s owners had already given their consent, but it was still nice to see. The court rooms definitely haven’t changed much at all as it looks like an exact replica to the one I sat in a while back. The Judge made the right call since an appeal to emotion isn’t the right way to win a case. One of the executives did stand up in the end though so the paper got to have a happy ending thanks to that. Hopefully sales pick up so she can gain back her money.

Again, old films like this one are so good because of the dynamic writing and plot. The script is leagues ahead of anything you’ll see in the modern day. The characters all feel very real and professional. While this may not always help Hutcheson, it does work well with the film. The plot was good and handled well as we got to see how a lone newspaper can deal with a gangster threat. They may have fallen for the fake cops gambit, but they controlled the game otherwise. All of the reporters were very good at their jobs and everyone brought something to the table. The only plot that the film should have cut out was the drama with the ex-wife. It didn’t eat up too much screen time though so at least it wasn’t a huge issue, just a minor thing that would have made the whole experience even better.

Overall, Deadline USA is a good film. It’s certainly one that I hadn’t heard of before so it was a nice hidden gem to find. The film’s not very long so the pacing never slows down. As one of Bogart’s final films, I can safely say that it was a good decision to be a part of it. The film certainly would have lost some charm and charisma without his inclusion. It’d still be a film, but some leads were just made for the roll and he did a good job here. For once he didn’t even get knocked out despite getting in a car with the villains. You definitely have to love that confidence. I highly recommend checking this film out.

Overall 7/10