The Bat Review

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It’s time for a retro film from the late 50s. The Bat definitely played out very differently from what I had pictured based on the title but I would actually say that this is a good thing. It’s an old mystery with a lot of misdirection as we get three different suspects and only one of them can be the Bat. I am happy to say that I figured it out pretty early on, but the film is quite discreet so don’t expect it to be a cakewalk.

The film revolves around a mystery novelist known as Cornelia. She has moved into a house that is supposedly haunted as bad things always happen there. In fact, its owner had said nobody was ever to rent the place, but Cornelia got it through his nephew. See, it turns out that the Uncle had wanted to use the mansion as a place to stash the 1 million dollars that he stole from the bank. The plan doesn’t go over very well as he tries to murder Dr. Wells to keep his silence except the tables are turned on him. At Cornelia’s neighborhood, The Bat has resurfaced. He is a mass murderer who attacks a bunch of people and likes causing mayhem. He keeps appearing in Cornelia’s house so she hires some guards. Gradually as most of the characters get bumped off, we learn that The Bat can only be one of three different people.

The first suspect is Dr. Wells. After all, he was rather quick to murder the original thief and claimed that he would take the money for himself. He runs a lot of bat experiments and always seems to be around right after The Bat leaves. He offers a lot of cryptic advice and silent threats throughout the film but maybe they’re all in good fun. The other suspect is Lieutenant Anderson. Anderson is the chief of police and has sworn to protect Cornelia. However, while he is tasked with protecting the house, he vanished right before The Bat appears and only returns after he is gone. He claims he was chasing someone in the forest which, true or not, seems rather negligent. Finally, there is Warner. He’s always very curt and rude to the cast not to mention that his arms are rather stiff as if he were carrying a bunch of claws a lot of the time. He has a criminal record in his past and also tends to disappear quite a lot. Cornelia needs to figure out who it is fast or she’s doomed.

The writing is particularly strong in this film. Retro films like this one tend to always have consistent dialogue, but this movie sets a high standard even for those. The banter between Wells and Anderson is great throughout the whole movie. They each have great lines and I love the veiled threats mixed in there. The film was also good at really twisting the situation like how Wells turned the tables in the opening act. I wasn’t expecting the guy to beat Wells, but the whole scenario played out a lot sooner than I had expected. The movie definitely knew how to handle its tense moments. It also did a good job of seamlessly switching genres as it starts out as a slice of life adventure that seems like it’ll be pretty happy before turning into a thrilling horror film and finally into a mystery.

Wells is easily my favorite character by the way. He’s certainly no hero but you can’t deny that he is a very capable guy. Nobody is going to walk all over him. Wells always has an ace up his sleeve. Honestly, I think the film had a missed opportunity here as his final confrontation should have played out a little differently. Perhaps the film didn’t want Wells to look downright invincible, but it would have been pretty awesome to say the least. Warner was pretty unlikable the whole time. He was just a little too curt and showed a lot of blatant disregard for the authorities. I don’t even know how he was promoted since he’s never all that polite or nice. I suppose he is just that good at his job. Anderson is good for the threats and he does a pretty good job as the policeman in charge.

Cornelia is a pretty good main heroine. She certainly knows how to keep her cool under pressure. While the rest of the characters are panicking she is usually thinking of a plan on how to stay alive or how to counter attack. The rest of the house guests were pretty annoying or helpless throughout the film so Cornelia really had to do everything herself. She has a gun with her and knows how to throw a crowbar as well. It would have been nice if she could have gotten the final blow in at the end of the movie, but I’m still pretty satisfied with what happened overall.

The only thing that slightly hurts the film is naturally Wells Bat experiments. One scene looked as if a bat was trying to eat the other one which was pretty odd and out of nowhere, but the whole scene was pretty blurred so it was hard to tell what was happening. I got nervous as soon as the animals appeared at all, but nothing really ended up happening so that was good. The film was so solid that it would have been an absolute shame for something like that to have wrecked it all.

This definitely feels like an old school horror film at some points as each character is bumped off one by one. It’s always been a great concept so it’s too bad that most modern films can’t do it justice. This film takes them out without having to be super dark or violent which really sells it. For example, we have a backup cop in the movie. I won’t go into details, but his tragic ending is both serious and quite funny at the time time. It works well despite sounding like a contradiction. It doesn’t help that the guy was extremely unintelligent so you were rooting for him to leave as soon as possible. Someone’s life is in danger and he’s still asking for more details before going in to help. This is not the guy you want to be your defender in a time of crisis.

Overall, This is a mystery thriller that you should definitely add to your list of films to watch. The 3 suspect dynamic is handled extremely well here and I dare say that it is probably one of the best film examples out there where all 3 are given a sufficient motive and hints so none of the options are too obvious. It’s a fair mystery as well and you can potentially solve it before the film ends. Dr. Wells makes for a pretty great character especially since you never know whose side he is really on. The cast is pretty solid overall even if you know that some characters are going to bite the big one before it gets close to ending. Some characters were simply made for that role. They don’t really get to mourn the dead characters much either since they are always on the run or preparing for an attack. The film doesn’t overdo it with the drama which is a good thing. Several of the deaths could have been prevented if the heroes played things out a little better, but they were simply too curious for their own good. The Bat may not be a giant monster, but he is still a pretty intense villain.

Overall 7/10

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The Invisible Ray Review

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It’s time for a film about a mad scientist’s quest for power. This film is quite old so you are ready for a classic thriller right from the start. Unfortunately, the film slips up with some animal violence thrown in which I had to shake my head at. The film was so promising at first and it really looked like it could have been a winner. Alas, it fell one fist short, but I’ll give it some props for effort. At least it made a fair attempt right?

The film starts off with a rambling mad man by the name of Janos inviting a bunch of scientists to see his latest invention. After a lot of insults are hurled around from all of the cast, the scientists are amazed as Janos shows them something that has happened millions of years ago using a new material. Dr. Benet declares that they should team up. Janos’ Mom tells him this is a bad idea since they are always insulting him and have discredited Janos’ theories for years. The main character decides to go anyway though and joins the team in Africa. They are here to find pieces of the rock that crash landed. Janos decides to take point so he goes ahead of the others. His wife Diana isn’t thrilled about this, but complies for the moment. Weeks pass by and everyone starts to get worried.

It turns out that Janos has been poisoned by the material and is essentially a Radiation Man. A single touch with any living thing causes them to perish. Benet makes him a cure, but he’ll have to use it every day for the rest of his life or he’ll destroy everyone along with himself. Janos doesn’t let this distract him and builds a weapon of mass destruction. Whatever he points the cannon at disintegrates into a million pieces. It can also be used as a healing ray to give someone back their sight and other such senses. Unfortunately, his wife has gone for a rebound and the other scientists have left with his idea so Janos decides to murder them all.

That was a rather long plot summary but it was necessary because I feel as though Janos trying to murder everyone is the main plot of the movie even if it took a while to get there. No worries, the film made Janos as obvious of a bad guy as possible right from the start. He was shady even when inviting people into his house and then he basically had slaves work for him under threat of death if they tried leaving. There was never a moment where I thought “This guy is heroic.” Throw in the fact that he is very quick to start murdering everyone and he is really doomed to the villain role. I can’t say that he is particularly likable either. He holds himself in check better than most villains, but that isn’t quite good enough. His powers are pretty useful though. Imagine being able to destroy your opponents in a single blow. That is really handy if you ask me.

Benet is the other main scientist in this film. He’s pretty charismatic and the best person in the film. He’s reasonable and while he doesn’t like Janos, he puts that to the side in order to help science move along. Unfortunately, he can be a little slow on the uptake at times like when he walked to the door even though he knew Janos would show up soon. He put himself in the worst possible situation at the time and that’s just not where you want to be. He probably shouldn’t have been so quick to cure Janos, but it was the hero move so I can’t fault him for that.

I can’t say that Diana and Ronald were good characters though. Diana was married to Janos so rebounding to Ronald wasn’t a very good idea. Sure, they didn’t get along too well, but she should have at least officially separated from Janos first. She acts as if she never loved him either and only did it because she promised her father. That’s such a terrible reason to marry someone and I just see her as having a lot of fault in this as well as the main character. Ronald went after her even though he knew she was married so he is probably the most guilty character of them all. I just never liked th guy and he didn’t even get a particularly large role in the film. After a while he just stayed in the background for good.

This film’s writing is pretty strong as it is so old. Despite being such a retro classic, the characters are all pretty mean to each other the whole time. They do it in fairly polite ways, but there just aren’t any nice people here. They all have an axe to grind with someone. Even if Diana wasn’t going for the rebound she would be pretty sketchy as she is generally pretty rude to the Africans they’re working with. Most of the characters have that in common.

Unfortunately, the animal violence is pretty bad as mentioned before. There was a fun dog throughout the film who would follow the main characters. It would have been better if he wasn’t even in the film then to be destroyed by the main character. We also got to see the aftermath of a hunt as the main characters take a animal to be eaten. We don’t need any of this, especially in a film that would otherwise be pretty peaceful and happy.

Getting past that, the atmosphere and pacing for the movie were pretty solid. Quite a lot happened in a relatively short amount of time as you can see from the plot summary. The film just kept going on as the plot would adapt and follow. There also was another good character in the form of Janos’ Mom. She kept giving him good advice even if he did end up ignoring it and she made the tough calls at the end of the film. You don’t just break one of the big Science rules and hope to get away from it. That’s just not how things roll here.

I do have to question how smart these scientists are. They believe the whole picture of a meteorite hitting the Earth millions of years ago so easily. Did they not suspect it was some kind of illusion or trick. My first reaction certainly wouldn’t be to stand there and just accept that the man has broken new ground in scientific history. It’s a little hard to swallow and the motion picture wasn’t all that impressive either. They should have called him out on it.

Overall, The Invisible Ray had potential. It has a reasonable cast, at least as far as the banter is concerned and a good amount of action. The characters have to lay traps for one another and rely on mind games for the rest. It’s a pretty interesting film and it’ll definitely keep your attention. The dog scene just stops it from being a good film and the romance was also pretty terrible the whole time. It’s just hard to get past two big negatives like those so I’d recommend avoiding this film. You can certainly find better ones if you look around for a few minutes. That’s all the time you’ll need.

Overall 4/10

Breaking Point Review

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It’s time for a story of corruption and moral choices. I saw another version of this film a while back, but could the remake prove to be as good? I’d say that the original was a little better but this was still a good film. The main character was just less sympathetic and never got to the point where he was
likable, but he still gives us some nice banter.

The film revolves around a struggling fisherman named Harry. He uses his boat for a living to catch fish and let other people aboard for travel. That being said, it just hasn’t been enough to pay the rent so he decides to go into the underworld to help illegally transport people across the border. The cops start to get wise to this and it turns out that the gangsters aren’t too pleased with Harry as well. He’ll have to destroy them all or try to skip town. Otherwise it’s curtains.

From the general premise you can already tell that everything here is Harry’s fault. He should not have stepped into the dark side because there is simply no return from those dark doors. He should have been content with his fishing business and everything would have turned out okay. He also had the option of going to the farm as Lucy suggested where they would have had a good amount of food. The problem is that Harry didn’t want to be a farmer and his pride stood in the way of making the right decision. All of this is bad enough, but then he even decides to cheat on his wife with a passenger known as Leona. That was Game Set and Match. It’s hard to really like a main character like that at all.

Leona is the passenger who pulls the moves on Harry. She’s not a good character either as she intentionally goes after him to prove that she can break everyone. It’s a rather sad moral but the film proved it to be correct here. She gets by since she has a lot of talents and everyone wants to hire her and as a result she has enough money to follow Harry around everywhere. He just can’t escape from her. Lucy is Harry’s actual wife. She’s a much better character than the first two, but she still isn’t great. I suppose she made the right choice in finally leaving Harry after the whole situation went down but falling for the peer pressure and dying her hair was pretty drastic.

Finally there is Wesley. He’s a nice guy although he can be very slow on the uptake at times. Harry is constantly trying to get him out of the way so the villains don’t murder him, but he can’t take a hint. He follows Harry around everywhere and it ultimately ends up costing him dearly. A good friend should always try to bring the others back from the dark side, but after a while you have to cut your ties. Wesley knew that Harry kept on breaking the law and then lying about it so maybe he shouldn’t have been to quick to keep working for him. Even if it was the only job available, he should have at least figured that something was strange with the situation when Harry kept acting rushed.

It makes for a pretty tragic end to Wesley’s son though. He was looking forward to just having a normal day. Little did he know that he would never see his father again. Nobody even stopped to break the news gently to the kid so it almost comes off as a little mean spirited. I can’t say I was thrilled about the ending and I’m not sure about Harry living either. At the very least shouldn’t he have died? Not that I’m advocating for him to die or anything but it just seems like that would have made sense with his whole character arc. He also had two daughters who were main supporting characters but they were fairly annoying. There were a number of villains in this film. The lying Chinese leader was pretty fun to have around. Stopping him was one of Harry’s better moments. I rather liked the quick talking minion who would always introduce Harry to the villainous circles but the guy wasn’t so bright. He got in a little too deep and it ended up costing him big time.

The writing was pretty strong as you’d expect. The banter was on point as always with these retro films. The dialogue was engaging and all of the characters came off as pretty professional individuals. Even the villains conducted themselves a little more subtly than they would in the modern films. Harry could also act hardcore at times by standing his ground with the villains as opposed to “acting” hardcore by throwing in a lot of swear words and panicking the whole time.

The film moves at a pretty good pace and something is always happening. It’s a fun movie even if the end is definitely somber. I’m not usually a big fan of boats and the ocean in movies as I prefer the city backdrop but you can easily forget that they’re even on water as the boar is quite big. The gun fight at the end is also pretty solid even if Harry didn’t play the situation very well at all. He just felt out of his depth when he was looking around instead of firing off his shots.

Overall, Breaking Point is a solid film that is really only brought down by its bad-underwhelming cast. Harry is just not a character that you can sympathize with at all and the story would have worked a lot better with a hero who was more noble and a family man through and through. Someone who could have easily resisted the worldly temptations of the passengers and made the right choices. I’d also let Wesley’s kid have a happier ending like he won some money or at least got a pat on the back, but that’s more minor. Fix the main character and then there really isn’t anything wrong with this film. Either way I’d recommend checking out this film although you should start with the original.

Overall 6/10

Phoenix Forgotten Review

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Uh oh, it’s time for a found footage film. Honestly this is one of the worst genres out there. I already don’t like horror films, but found footage films tend to be even lower on the totem pole. The two genres do like to blend together as well although I think this would be considered more of a thriller than a horror. The film moves incredibly slow and by the end all you’ll be thinking is…”If I’m buying 4 slices and a drink from Little Caesars for 5, maybe I’m better off going to Little Italy and getting 2 slices but the infinite refills with it”

The story follows a reporter who is going around trying to find intel on 3 teenagers who went missing. Their names as Josh, Mark, and Ashley. The reporter has an interest in the case since Josh was her big brother. The problem is that the government keeps stiffing her and since this disappearance happened years ago, all of the trails have gone cold. Fortunately, Sophie is told that the school found a camcorder at a secluded facility in the middle of nowhere that actually still works. Sophie pops it in and finally learns the truth behind the mystery. She is stunned at the results!

So, that’s effectively the subplot as it takes place in the present, but most of the film is in the past. Since Sophie is making a documentary, naturally all of her scenes are filmed as if they’re found footage as well. We jump to the past where Josh decides that he wants to find some aliens. After all, he saw some strange lights a while back that seemed like UFOs. Mark and Ashley join him and the three decide to run through a bunch of mountains. They do this for a while and then get lost once it’s late. They do what any other mainstream teenager would do, they break open the beers and start panicking. Before long the aliens show up and take them down.

There are so many problems with this film that it’s quite tragic. For starters, we have the token animal violence. Why is there animal violence in this film? Well, apparently the aliens are still working on their tractor beams as they tend to burn the targets up instead of sending them into space. It’s also awfully fast since they burn parts of the animals but then leave them on the ground. The scenes are utterly pointless much like the film itself and you’ll wonder just how low this film will stoop before it finally ends.

The writing is terrible as you’d expect. All of the characters are really annoying and since the camera work is terrible on purpose, you’ll find yourself cringing the whole time. I don’t use the word lightly, but this is another reason why I don’t like the found footage genre. The zoom ins on all of the characters are much too close and the ametuer style in which they’re filmed is just not entertaining to look at. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of the old family videos everyone made back when it was trendy but at least I was starring in those so it made them a little more fun. I don’t want to watch a video of strangers just hanging out and drinking beer. It’s just not cool.

The aliens don’t actually do anything for the first 60 minutes so that time is just the heroes chatting about nothing really and trying to be as unlikable as possible. The film never even tried to make them good characters if you ask me, but there were none in the whole film. Even the government turned out to be evil and corrupt as always. It’s sad that the government is almost always either incompetent or evil. It’s rare to find movies where they are portrayed as capable heroes but I’m always glad when I see that happen.

The film’s plot is also just barely held together. See, the writers needed the whole story to be filmed on camera, but this wasn’t even possible without plot holes. Towards the end of the film we see Josh taken up by the aliens as he drops his camera and it gets thrown around in the twister. Then….Josh somehow fights his way through the alien ship in a matter of seconds, escapes through the hatch, makes his way back and grabs the camera, runs to a bathroom…and is then kidnapped again. Then the camera is sucked up again, survives a vicious crash, and then someone mails it to the school. The whole thing was super convenient and also unbelievable. I don’t see how Josh could have gotten out of the tractor beam when nobody else could have. I don’t see how nobody would notice the aliens this time when they’re so bright and loud. People would definitely notice that kind of thing. I just couldn’t get past this ending.

The aliens also don’t really show up. We see a claw or a foot for a split second and that’s it. Clearly this film didn’t have much of a special effects budget so this turned into an alien film without the aliens. That’s just peachy. Back to the humans not being likable, the film maybe tries to hint that the aliens mess with your mind. I’m not too sure about that and prefer to just think that the humans are terrible. Mark constantly panics and drinks. He refuses to talk with the others even though it would make the whole process quicker and is the main reason everyone was talking in circles for a while. They could have stayed in the car where it was semi safe, but he wanted to run the 15 miles to the nearest gas station. Even then he got distracted within seconds. Ashley also panics at everything and keeps forcing the group to stop so she can tie her shoes or panic about her hair falling out. The only guy I almost felt sorry for was Josh because he would have escaped the aliens if he didn’t have to stop for the other two every 5 seconds. Clearly he should have gone on by himself. He wasn’t a cool character either though so I was cool with the aliens claiming the win here. They just need to take on the rest of the town n ext.

The film is super dramatic and tries to be emotional constantly. We have a divorce subplot and they really try to forcefeed you the “You have to be sad now” memo as we see the parents cry about the teens being gone and everyone assuming the worst. The home cam videos are supposed to really reinforce this. All it does is stretch the film out even more and completely destroy whatever pacing the film could have had. This film could have been shortened to 30 minutes and you wouldn’t have missed a thing.

Also, why was Sophie’s camera man never really shown until the end? I thought the film was gearing up for some kind of big twist like he was Josh or something and that’s why everyone kept looking at Sophie like she was crazy. The twist would have been terrible but at least it would have been something. Otherwise, the camera man is just another empty character whose existence is only to hold the camera so Sophie can get a good shot.

Overall, As you can guess I really didn’t like the film. It’s basically just 90 minutes of nothing happening. The alien “jump scare” scenes are pitifully bad and wouldn’t scare a kid. The repetition is annoying and since the aliens keep taunting the main characters instead of doing something to them, I have to assume that they’re just petty. They don’t seem to have any actual goals so I’ll assume that they are mindless as well. There’s really only negative things to say about the film so as you can tell I really didn’t like it. I’d say that Cloverfield was a better found footage film and even Paranormal Activity which by all accounts should be worse as it’s a full horror plus this genre, but was actually far superior. Next time you secretly want to make a film about teens just running around and just acting like terrible people with no extra plot…don’t. Instead of this film I recommend watching something a little more intense like the first Jumanji.

Overall 1/10

Ghost in the Shell Review

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All right, it’s time for another Sci-Fi film. Fortunately this one embraced that side of things a lot more than Power Rangers. From the start you can tell that everything is a little more on point from the attire to the backgrounds. The whole movie takes place in a very futuristic NYC (Basically) which was instantly a good sign of things to come. The second half starts to lose focus a bit and I would have liked for Major to be a little tougher, but overall it was a pretty solid film.

Major is the first human to have had a full transplant into a machine body. Essentially, only her brain is still the real deal. Everyone else has dabbled with cybernetic implants though and normal humans are basically extinct. It’s all about Big Business and corporate money now as everyone tries to get richer and richer. Society has essentially fallen to the slums despite the enormous wealth to the top 1%. Major is an assassin who takes down all of the targets that she’s ordered to eliminate. The government has a lot of targets of course, but a hacker has surfaced who threatens the status quo. Even the Major isn’t immune to the hacking, but she decides to look into this anyway. She is being haunted by visions in the meantime though and is there something that the scientists aren’t telling her?

So as I mentioned, the costumes here are pretty good. I’m iffy on the Major’s since the costume has no real design. It also felt like it was basically just there for fanservice. I liked her black cloak that she wears for part of the film though as it’ll remind you of Mirror’s Edge or Sword Art Online. The trench coat that her sidekick wears is also really good and will remind you of Final Fantasy. Everyone just looks really cool and this is what a futuristic sci-fi is all about. FF XIII did it better than most and you can see a lot of similarities between the two. The city also looks great and the advertising also makes sense. The place has truly sunk even more as the ads are not for kids, but I can easily see this kind of thing happening.

The film doesn’t really have time to talk about all of the scientific advancements, but I’m fine with that since such an explanation would take an incredibly long amount of time. The effects are also pretty good like Major’s camouflage mode and the fight with the giant robot. Major’s suit has a nice energy feature to it where you’ll see it glow more as she exerts herself. Every part of the film felt like it had a good budget.

I was also pretty satisfied with the writing. It was pretty good and the characters stayed serious while not all sounding like high school delinquents or being over the top. They followed orders and just completed the missions efficiently. The movie even made the old boss pretty hardcore as he can apparently fight despite being at least 70-80 years old. The scene of him getting out of the car and shooting everyone was really quite good. Even the shooting scenes are better than the average film as they aren’t violent or anything. You can feel the impact without the film showing you everything.

I also thought Major was a good character. She makes for a very good assassin and her character arc is good. My one gripe with her is that she tends to get sucker punched a lot and it felt like she lost most of her fights by the end. She’s great in a fair fight, but villains rarely play fair. Giving her a little extra strength and speed would have been nice, but I suppose she’s technically supposed to be a normal robot. It’s her hand to hand skills and sharp intellect that separate her from the rest so that’s why she would be susceptible to a sneak attack.

Batou is a pretty good supporting character and the best one in the film if you ask me. He likes dogs and feeds the strays in the alleys between missions. He may not be as talented as Major, but he’s probably the next best agent on the force and can handle himself in any environment. He’s always ready to stick up for Major even if it’ll put him in a sticky situation and is just a really good guy. I was glad that he got a pretty large role in the film. The agency had one or two other agents, but they didn’t do much. I suppose they couldn’t fit everyone in, but the film did its best.

Cutter is one of the main villains and he’s a part of the shady government. He’s okay with murdering 100 people if it means he can get himself a new weapon. He’s completely evil the whole time, but does a decent job of hiding that for a while. He’s a good villain who takes himself seriously and has some good plans. He’s not over the top and he doesn’t try and take on the robots by himself. Cutter just thought everything through and he also didn’t go out quietly. Honestly I wouldn’t have minded having him as the main villain for the whole film. He was much better than the hacker.

Kuze was the official main villain. He had a cool design and looked like Starkiller II, but once he took off the mask the character died. He suddenly got emotional the whole time and while it was related to his tragic backstory, it destroyed the mystery of the character. I think the film should have just played it straight with this guy trying to destroy the world or something. That would have been neat.

The film starts off with a lot of cool action scenes and just cool moments in general. Seeing Major lead the interrogation was nice as it shows how you do that without becoming a villain in the process. She got her intel and didn’t have to act drastically. The team respected her authority and she earned it. The second half started to taper off as we didn’t get a lot of action and Major trying to find her identity wasn’t quite as interesting. The whole plot was a little anticlimactic and so we didn’t get a big Terminator esque final fight.

I also didn’t like the doctor at all by the end as she become another Professor Hamilton and just betrayed the heroes. So I can’t say I sympathized much when she was approached at gun point. If I have any real negative with the film beyond the lack of action and muddled plot in the second half, it’s that some of the imagery can just be odd and meant to look creepy without having any real depth. Everyone connected to tower, people thrown in test tubed, experimentation everywhere, etc. Fortunately this film was classy enough not to delve into those things as others probably would. It’s a glimpse at how dark the world is, but the film takes care not to go too far. It’s not violent, but the film has a dark tone throughout. It’s finally another example I can use for how you do a good dark tone.

We also get a pointless filler scene where Major has to poke at someone’s face for a while. I didn’t get the purpose of that at all. How I see it, maybe that was because she was wondering whether she was really different from a robot or not, but I don’t get how feeling it would help. Maybe she wanted to feel like a human, but certainly there are better ways. Either way, the scene just felt like it was there to be there, but it had no real purpose in the film.

I don’t know much about the original Ghost in the Shell anime, but I know it’s supposed to be a pretty deep series that tackles themes like humans vs machines and what a soul really is. This movie didn’t really tackle those topics so I can see fans being upset about that, but since there wasn’t a lot of time anyway, I was pretty okay with it. Especially since at this point we likely all have our views on that. You have a soul? Then you’re a person. Game Set, Match. Robots can’t develop souls, but it’s always a nice hypothetical if they could I suppose. It’s just not something I actually believe can happen. Nothing like that happens here either way, but if it did I could still roll with it since it is a Sci-Fi.

It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack is pretty good here. It’s the classic sci-fi themes that you’d expect. Coupled with the visuals, it really helps you get into the film more than you could have otherwise. The long intro felt like something out of Resident Evil, which despite its many flaws, certainly knew how to be epic. It was also able to do this without showing the title off twice during the opening, but I assume Ghost in the Shell did that in case you missed it the first time.

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is pretty fun and it’s a well done movie. I always like the premise of the elite assassin who goes around knocking people off and eventually wonders if it’s the right job. It’s sort of like Jason Bourne, but in this case Major actually has comrades who care about her and help her along the quest. If I had written the film, I would have added in more fight scenes with killer androids and it would have been a total action blockbuster. After all, the fights that we got here were really good, we just needed more of them. I’d certainly be up for a sequel since there’s still a lot of things you can do with this series. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then this movie is worth watching.

Overall 6/10

Power Rangers Review

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All right, it’s time for the recent Power Rangers film! I’ve always been a big fan of the franchise from the concept to the video games to the costumes. It’s just a series that is brimming with so much potential and there is something for everyone. The trailers for the film came out and while they had some potential, the film started to bring up some concerns. Would the heroes get enough screen time as the Rangers and would the Dinobots get too much screen time? I prepared myself going into the film, but unfortunately it just didn’t understand what the series is all about. It’s really not a Power Rangers film at all and merely borrows the name.

The film starts out by introducing us to a group of teenagers and trying to get us to dislike them as much as possible. First is Jason, a “misunderstod” delinquent who steals Cows and tries to evade the police. He’s caught since the authorities aren’t messing around this time and not only sabotages his entire town’s chances of winning the Football championship in the year but also doesn’t seem to regret his actions at all. This lands him in detention. Next is Kimberly. She decided to humiliate one of her former friends by sending a risky picture of her all around the school. This got that person in trouble and also destroyed Kimberly’s social life. Kimberly blames everyone else for this and winds up in detention. I forgot why Billy is in detention, but he’s good at annoying everyone so it probably wasn’t too hard and he does go around breaking the rules and blowing things up for no good reason. Trini is a kid who likes to be alone and goes to the mountains to meditate, but she is being spied on by Zack. Zack has a sick Mom so he worries her further by getting home late and hanging out in restricted areas. This group was clearly made for each other.

The heroes are busted by the cops yet again, but this time they manage to evade capture. They secured some mystical amulets from the rocks nearby and were all granted super strength and speed. The characters try to point out that they all got different powers at the beginning, but the film forgets this so they all end up with the same powers. They then fall inside a spaceship where the formerly heroic Red Ranger has now turned sinister and wants them to transform so he can come back to life and destroy Rita. Rita is an evil ranger who wants to destroy the world to grab a shard and then she’ll use that shard for her own purposes. The heroes get ready to rumble, but realize that they may be in over their heads. Can they do this!?

All right, there’s a lot of problems with this film, but also some good things. I’ll just mention them all scatter shot style so there’s no real rhyme or reason to this review. For starters, I have to say that these kids are impressively slow on the uptake half the time. After they obtained their powers and saw an actual spaceship, Trini still believes it’s all a big joke and only stops talking when the door slams. At this point, I can’t picture anyone actually saying that. It’s a common trope for the characters to constantly doubt everything, but it just comes across as rather annoying. Can’t we have a more quiet character who just takes all of this in stride and nods along? The art of bluffing is truly lost on these guys.

The heroes also do make sure to make quips every other second and they’re all pretty annoying. The writing is quite bad in this film to say the least so don’t expect any good lines. Aside from the language and everyone getting worse and worse as the film goes on, this also makes the film a little too dramatic. This may come as a surprise, but the film takes itself way too seriously at times. One such scene is when one of the Rangers seemingly dies. It’s not a spoiler because there’s no way they’d actually kill off one of the main members. It would have been a PR nightmare to do that since it would be like killing off Superman or Green Lantern right away. Film 3 could be a different story, but the first one? I don’t think so. The death scene is still around 15 minutes though as everyone carries him back and the music picks up. There are many similar scenes like the campfire where everyone starts sharing their secrets. The film tries to be incredibly somber and I just wasn’t sold.

The proper way to handle dramatic scenes is to be quick and not dwell on them. If it was a powerful enough moment, the audience will get it. Grabbing a 30 second scene and stretching it to 5 minutes doesn’t make the scene any more powerful. Usually this is where I’d bash the romance for being just as dramatic, but fortunately the film actually stayed away from that landmine. I admit that this was rather impressive.

The film also completely ruined Rita’s character. She spends most of the film as an undead zombie who loves to caress all of her opponents before finishing them off. It’s an old trope that I wish had died in the 60’s with all of the old Vampires. It doesn’t make her any more intimidating and is just hard to watch. Her design could have been cool, but they decided to make her a troll by giving her a ton of wrinkles and scars the whole time. She never even got to actually use her cool Power Ranger suit. Get this…she doesn’t even get a big fight. There is one action scene where she beats up the heroes before they turn into Power Rangers, but that’s it.

See, this is where the film forgot its origin. Power Rangers is all about the high speed hand to hand battles where they duke it out with the villains and you get amazed at the choreography. If you ask someone about Power Rangers, the first thing they’ll think of are the hand to hand fights. It’s like having a Dragon Ball Z film without the characters powering up and shooting energy blasts. The action in the film is very limited throughout as we only get a small handful of actual fights. Again, the 5 teens against Rita is the only real fight scene. The rest are against small rock golems that don’t put up any more of a fight than the NPCs in Dynasty Warriors. I think we deserved more action.

I think it’s partially because the film decided to add in the Zords. Their fight scenes aren’t particularly good either because….they’re up against a giant stone golem that is extremely slow. That’s the last thing I was hoping for from the climax, but it happened all the same. They just keep blasting it and jumping on the thing and it shakes them off. Rinse and repeat for quite a while. The only good part of that fight was when they merged into a giant mecha robot and then fought it. I could at least get behind that fight a little even if it was even slower paced. At least it felt more like a fight. I just don’t see the appeal of having giant machines fighting an even bigger opponent who can’t move. For some reason that is mainstream and people like it so it’s here to stay, but then at least give me my classic hand to hand fights.

That’s where the potential was. For example, we see that Jason has a cool energy sword as the Red Ranger. He just never gets to actually use it in a fight. What was even the point of showing it off? On that note, the effects were pretty good though. Ignoring Rita, everything looked very crisp and flashy. It felt like a good sci-fi film and you can see that they used most of the budget on it. Maybe they ran out and couldn’t use it much, but that’s still a big mistake.

I also can’t forget to mention that the soundtrack is pretty bad. Most of the songs are just really sad rap songs with no heart or the lyrics just make you wish the scene was silent. We do have some good themes like the electronic battle theme or the Power Rangers theme song. They were just outnumbered by the bad tunes. The film also heavily overused the slow mo effect which goes back to the being too dramatic thing. Once or twice is okay and more than that can be good if the film is poking fun at itself. Otherwise it’s just wasting time.

On a positive note, it was nice to see Jason just shut the bullies down right away instead of thinking about it for a while or waffling on whether it was the right thing to do or not. He just walked into detention and took names. He also made the right call in deciding to go after Rita right away even if everyone else was too scared to do anything. She would come after Trini again otherwise so not doing anything would have put her in danger. He also doesn’t care about everyone’s dark secrets and just wants them to move on. He’s the best member of the team even if it pretty much is by default. He’s like a badly written Captain Kirk from the recent movies. Similar backstory but less heroic and less sympathetic. I think he’s past most of the negatives though so he should be more likable in the next film.

Billy wasn’t too bad, but he’s more annoying than anything else. He’s the classic “Are we really heroes? I should keep on asking that so that’s exactly what I’m gonna do” character. He keeps repeating things to let the audience know that this is important. When you think about it, this film is really just filled with cliches. So, it takes Billy a long while to actually understand what’s happening, but at least he was the first one to learn how to transform. He’s the smart member of the group so he helps them find the Krispy Kreme’s. I still wonder why he was going around blowing stuff up at the beginning though. Isn’t that one of the worst things you can do when you’re at a restricted area you’re not supposed to be in? He went from being a nice guy who was getting bullied to suddenly coming out as a delinquent himself. He was quick to help trick the authorities with Jason’s home arrest button after all.

I know the whole point of a sob story is to show us that a character made a mistake and all, but Kimberly’s was pretty drastic. I don’t think we ever really got a proper reason for why she sent the picture. The bullying was also extremely tame which I was cool with, but why would she even think that she could maybe get back on the cheering squad? Once we learn why everyone isolated her, then that should have been a given. It all just seemed out of character, but the Kimberly that we do see is reasonably good.

Trini is the tough character who tries to be a loner. Honestly, if she had escaped the other Rangers and stayed a loner that could have made for a good plot point. She is probably the second best ranger though. Her origin story is the least sympathetic since she runs around with a bad attitude the whole time, but at least she doesn’t get buddy buddy with the others too quickly. It would have been nice if she could have put up a better fight against Rita though.

Finally, Zack is the worst ranger and supremely annoying. He spends the whole movie basically flirting which never works and is the main comic relief character. Well, everyone is comic relief at one point or another, but he tries to crack a bunch of jokes even if none of them ever actually work. He breaks the rules just because he can like when he almost squashed everyone with his robot, but no worries, he’s not apologetic about it either. That’s something that the characters always have in common.

This review has come off as rather negative and deservedly so as I would give the film under a 5, but it’s not a 2 or anything so keep in mind that the film does have its positives. As I mentioned, the effects are good and the little action that we do get isn’t bad either. Aside from the fact that the characters are unlikable, the scenes of everyone insulting each other and getting into fights aren’t bad. It makes for reasonably entertaining moments. The pacing is also good so the film never gets boring at all. It actually moves from scene to scene with ease. Jason’s Dad may not have been on the same page as him, but I thought they did a good job of not overdoing it with making him very antagonistic. He was upset with Jason’s decisions, but he should be considering what a big mistake that was. He still drove out into the battle zone to save him if necessary. I wouldn’t mind him being the down to Earth adviser for the team in the next film as he eventually gets accustomed to the whole Power Rangers thing.

On a side note, anyone else find the Rita eating teeth scene incredibly random and out of nowhere? It seemed like it was just trying to be creepy and disturbing for no reason. Honestly, it was just one of those things that makes you shake your head. The whole gold issue is one thing since she needed it for her staff, but eating it to get younger was really out of nowhere. The scene of her just eating it all and various other things while hanging out at the scrapyard just cemented the fact that she wouldn’t be a good character. At least the film is taking some cues from Teen Titans Go assuming the episode came out first.

Is it just me or were the main teens pretty bloodthirsty the whole time as well? Their first instinct when entering the alien ship is to try and murder the little robot. They mention this 2-3 times and when they are told by a giant floating head that they must destroy a girl named Rita they don’t hesitate at all. They basically just yell “No prob” without question. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised though.

As a positive note, the film’s atmosphere is pretty enjoyable though. It’s light hearted so at least you will leave the film on a high note. That’s why getting through the film is easy since you won’t constantly get turned off from it. There’s no animal violence which is always important. Not that any film wants to be compared to Pixels, but that’s a good example. That was a bad film, but it’s one I could easily watch again. It’s not quality entertainment, but it is entertainment.

I did like the fact that the film included Krispy Kreme’s. That doughnut shop doesn’t get enough screen time anymore and hopefully the film paid them for the endorsement and not the other way around. I’m always up for a good doughnut scene after all and maybe that will become their base. By the way, the film does have an after credits scene. It’s pretty underwhelming and the film clearly phoned it in, but at least we see more destruction of school property. He’s going to fit right in with the rest of the gang. I won’t say who it is, but prepare yourself!

Overall, The film may not have a lot of heart, but Power Rangers can be decently fun. The effects are nice to look at and the banter can be enjoyable. The writing holds it back considerably and the lack of action is disappointing, but you can’t have it all. I think a sequel would likely be able to fix a lot of the film and would hopefully regain its identity. It needs to put the Power back into the Power Rangers. I wouldn’t really recommend this film as it just isn’t good, but at least it’s an entertaining bad film. That’s the optimal kind of bad flick to watch as it does have a reasonable amount of replay value. The issue is that most films can say “I’m you, but better” to this movie with a straight face. There isn’t much original about this one and honestly it would have been a better film if it had simply not called itself Power Rangers.

Overall 4/10

Curse of the Undead Review

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If the last film was YES! tier then this one is I want my Money Back tier. This film is just so bad and since it is a vampire film I expected a bad result from the start. It was still a little worse than I had anticipated. The Wild West angle is actually far more interesting than the Vampire one and you know how I’m not really a fan of the former either. It’s all pretty tragic to be honest, but at least the ending will go down as a classic.

There is a town where a mean man named Buffer is messing with everyone. All he wants is to be able to have a nice beer every day and bully an old man. That’s his only wish and so the town allows him to do whatever he wants. Things take a turn for the worse when the old man is murdered and then Buffer is forced to murder his son in self defense. Dolores decides to place a wanted ad to avenge them and a wandering gun for hire named Drago shows up. Dan advises Dolores against this since hiring someone to destroy someone else is pretty similar to doing the job yourself. You will have effectively committed murder. Dolores doesn’t care and even claims she’ll pray to the Devil if necessary. Dan realizes this is a lost cause and goes to the Sheriff to try and work something out. Little does he know that Drago is a vampire!

I think the main reason why I didn’t mind the Wild West setting this time was because it didn’t feel like one. You don’t see a lot of sand or anything since they stay in town the whole time. It was a nice fusion of genres and the film handled it well. The locale is one of the only positive things I can say about the film. Beyond that, I also liked the Sheriff. He still deserves some blame for not actually trying to stop Buffer sooner. He took quite a while to get involved and it was too late by then. At least he was very tough though. He didn’t back up for anyone and stood his ground at gun point. The way he handled the band of bandits was pretty admirable so it’s a shame that he went out on such a sour note. He was just a really good character.

Prepare for the onslaught of negatives now though as they are quite extensive. First off, Dolores is a very annoying main heroine. She faints quite a few times and always makes the wrong choices. I’m not against her hiring someone to take Buffer down since the authorities weren’t doing anything about it, but letting him into her house was mistake number 1. The next one was going right to sleep and not noticing him messing with her. She also didn’t notice that she had bite marks on her neck even though I feel it would be pretty obvious. I’m confident I’d notice something like that on my neck and clearly it means she hasn’t washed it in a while. She then proceeds to faint several more times so Drago has his fun and she even sides with him instead of Dan. She made no good choices and was just a struggle to watch.

Drago is even worse as he’s a vampire who doesn’t know what he is doing. I don’t even think he had a master plan so much as he just wanted to suck everyone’s blood while also having fun doing it. He acted as if he was on her side to gain her trust but why? He would leave her alive so he could keep using her I guess, but it was a pretty random move. Furthermore, if he can hypnotize people, he should do it to everyone so he’ll have a life long supply or blood for all of his needs. He came off as rather distasteful and there was no way to like him. It’s a shame since he could have been a decent character in theory. The idea of a lone gunman coming into a town and liberating it is nothing new. Of course, when the two sides are the bully and an evil vampire, you know that the battle is lost before it even begins.

Dan is an okay character I guess, but he seems content to stay as an observer until something happens that he doesn’t like. He didn’t really help to solve the Buffer problem until the gunner showed up and then he made his move. By then, it was a little late for words. He did a good job in the final battle though so I have to give him credit there. He’s certainly better than pretty much all of the other characters by default. The Sheriff was really good as well as he didn’t let any of the others mess with him. Buffer wasn’t a likable character of course. You couldn’t feel sympathetic to him either since he was a villain the whole time. Perhaps he wasn’t as bad as the vampire, but that’s a pretty low bar to set.

The dialogue and writing for the film wasn’t bad, but it never became an engaging watch. We also got an incredibly random, but dark origin story for Drago during the film. Apparently he murdered his brother and then murdered himself so his punishment was to obtain super strength, high speed regeneration, and immortality so he can murder other people. Pretty interesting punishment. Another thing that hurt the film was just the amount of times Drago had his way with the heroine when she asleep. Those scenes are very dubious and hard to watch. Add in the fact that he’s brainwashing her and it sinks the film to new lows. At this point she basically doesn’t have a choice in the matter. The film was already past saving, but these scenes really ended up hurting the score more than the rest put together.

Overall, This was a pretty bad vampire film. I expected nothing less though. It has some pretty decent scenes and as I mentioned the human moments weren’t bad. The posturing at the saloon wasn’t bad and the various bar moments, but the vampire just brought the whole thing down. The film also just liked being dark like when the kid died or the origin story. It was pretty unnecessary the whole time. If you want a good vampire film…I recommend just looking for something else. The odds of finding a good one are extremely low. It’s almost a contradiction.

Overall 1/10

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review

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All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.

The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?

This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.

The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.

You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.
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Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.

Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.

All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.

It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.

I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.

It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.

A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.

Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.

Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.

Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.

As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.
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The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.

You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.

Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.

On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.
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Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.

Overall 3/10

The Running 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 likely be more negative.
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I wasn’t too familiar with The Running Man, but the plot definitely sounded like a lot of fun. A corrupt dystopian world has come up with a reality show where assassins chase convicts around. Seems messed up enough for this future. Then throwing in Arnold Schwarzenegger into the picture just makes the whole thing that much more epic. I can safely say that the film was pretty fun and is one that you won’t want to miss.

Ben used to work for the government, but when he defied their orders to murder a bunch of innocents, he was sent to prison. He helps some other convicts escape and decides that instead of trying to beat the system, he’ll simply find a way to survive it. He breaks into his friend’s home, but it is now owned by a lady named Amber. She doesn’t take kindly to being threatened so she gets the cops to lock Ben up. He is now going to be forced to be in The Running Man, where he will have to outrun several hunters who are each armed with deadly weapons. His two expendable “friends” (They aren’t, but the show thinks that they are so why not let them believe that right?) have also been thrown in though along with Amber. Can Ben take these guys down and figure out a way to shut the show down or is it simply too late for any last second heroics?

One thing you’ll notice about the film right away is that the soundtrack is on point. There are quite a lot of fun themes that play during the film and it certainly amplifies the experience. A good film gets that much better with a dynamic soundtrack and they really make the action scenes come alive. The visuals also look pretty good. Considering how old the film is, the effects have aged pretty well and I like how they envisioned 2017 to be. The city looks realistic enough even if it’s not quite so run down. I imagine that this film must have gotten a pretty decent budget back in the day.

The characters are also solid. Ben makes for a great lead. He’s heroic and dependable. Sure, he’s not quite willing to risk his life to join the rebellion at the beginning, but he doesn’t turn his back on others once he is forced into the game. He also doesn’t murder the villains once they are unarmed. If it’s the fastest way then he won’t hesitate to do so, but he won’t go out of his way just for revenge….for the most part. Ben’s a strong fighter and the heroes would have been doomed without his military expertise. I have to say that he pulled off the role quite perfectly as few actors can be as convincing.

The main villain, Killian is also pretty good. He knows how to work the crowd and does a good job of building up the suspense. He doesn’t even let Ben get to him as he knows that this will bring the ratings up. He talks a good game to everyone and while he is a ruthless boss, you’ll be okay as long as you stay on his good side. Mop the floors at your own peril since it can certainly get you into heaps of trouble. The sub villains were all right as well. The only bad one is Dynamo as he fulfills every overweight villain cliche in the book. He’s awful petty and also isn’t much of a fighter. Once you get past the suit, he’s the kind of villain who begs for mercy. The others at least had more dignity than that. Chainsaw put up a good fight before going down and I also liked Sub Zero. It was an interesting take on the guy compared to the Mortal Kombat version. Not as deadly, but fun all the same. The Fire villain was also pretty good since he got quite a bit of foreshadowing and hype. He probably should have moved a bit quicker though. Captain Freedom probably had the most personality from the minions and I like how he simply refused to get into the ring. Nobody was about to talk back to him.

Amber isn’t the best of heroines. She spends most of the film running and panicking. You have to give her some credit for getting away from Ben though. If you put yourself in her shoes, she totally did the right thing. Kidnappers always tell you stuff like “Don’t try to escape” and make a bunch of threats to keep you in line. She took a big risk by making a break for it and yelling and it paid off. While it didn’t work out well for Ben, at least she made a move. Too bad she couldn’t keep up that confidence for the rest of the film right.

If I had a minor nitpick for the film, it’s that the costume in the poster doesn’t really match the one in the film. At the very least I don’t recall the spikes being quite so big. It’s not really a negative just something that I noticed. The film’s camera work is pretty good. Sometimes it can be a little tough to see what’s going on in the background with the low lighting, but I feel like that was made to capture that CSI Miami kind of atmosphere as everything is a little grittier and more life like. Fortunately it was just in the camera work as the actual film isn’t really gritty at all. Some characters get stabbed and such, but at least in the version that I saw it wasn’t explicit or anything.

There is some unfortunate fanservice as we get a really long dance sequence. I suppose it’s a parody to the fact that if society did go downhill we’d be seeing that in every show. It’s fortunately not a huge deal though. The ending to the film is also pretty funny. I was personally expecting it to go down a slightly different path as the guy in the tube lands safely but then sees Captain Freedom and has to try and escape from him. How it was handled worked well enough as well though.

The writing is pretty solid with classic lines like “I’ll be back” and more than a few one liners from Ben. I love puns and one liners as you may know from my comic reviews and the film pulls it off well. It’s just another drop in the bucket to help this film reach “great” status. The climax is also pretty great even aside from the ending. The banter between Ben and Killian was really good and I liked seeing the heroes finally infiltrate the TV station. They were pretty well organized and it added some extra action and excitement to the ending. Even Amber got to win a fight on her own. The film carefully balanced the epic and funny moments with the serious atmosphere.

Overall, The Running Man is just a fun film. It really breezes by to be honest and the pacing was on point. It never dragged on and still managed to bring in a lot of content. We got to see Ben before the game, during it, and even become a resistance fighter afterwards. None of the pieces felt rushed either and it shows that you can still pull off quite a lot in under 2 hours. I certainly recommend watching this film. It’s not quite as well known as it could have been. It has all of the elements that you could want in a big action film.

Overall 8/10

The Brides of Dracula Review

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The Dracula movies have a pretty negative reputation and it is admittedly one that it has earned. They typically just aren’t all that fun and forget to be engaging. This one doesn’t even have Dracula in it. Now that could be a good sign, but it barely even matters since a new Dracula has surfaced in the town. It’s essentially the same story as always, but with a different cast for Van Helsing to deal with. He barely escaped from his last confrontation so does he even have a chance here?

It starts off with Marianne deciding to take a carriage through a forbidden part of town. She is going to become a school teacher and doesn’t want to be late so this is the quickest route. Unfortunately her driver leaves right away so she is forced to spend the night at a bar. The owners don’t want to take her in though and they seem pretty scared so she accepts a shady old lady’s offer to stay at her mansion. There she sees a guy being tied to his room so she frees him and then faints in the road. Van Helsing finds her and takes her to the school, but the vampires aren’t done with her yet. She has released the most powerful one yet and he aims to convert all of the people in the town. Can Helsing put an end to this?

The film’s very convenient a lot of the time and especially in the opening. It seems like the old couple knew something about the vampires or at least that the family couldn’t be trusted. I can understand that, but why were they so vague about it the whole time? Why did it take hours to rent a cot? If they know that the old lady has been kidnapping previous tenants then shouldn’t they tell the cops? The family owns the whole town so that’s a little iffy, but based on how isolated they are the whole time, I like to think that they don’t have complete dominion over the whole place. Ah well, this leads Marianne to go to the castle. Naturally, everyone keeps on lying to her so she decides to just pick one of them to trust and she picks the captive. Turns out that he couldn’t be trusted, but the old lady would have likely murdered Marianne anyway since she had been feeding sacrifices to the vampire anyway.

This is where Van Helsing should come in, but honestly it takes him a real long time to show up. When he finally does pop in he isn’t as impressive as you’d expect. He tends to go into battle unarmed except for a small cross which the vampires always overpower. After that he just looks shocked and dazed as they toss him around. Van Helsing really can’t hold his own against any of the villains and he certainly looks out of his league. Fortunately for him, the vampires basically end up destroying themselves by lighting the castle on fire and being too slow to escape it. One of them basically just falls down and dies. Van Helsing got lucky and this should increase his reputation, but his luck is bound to run out sooner or later.

He can be an annoying hero because it almost feels like he is helping the vampires at some points. For example, after one of the victims has been terminated by the vampires, he knows that she will rise at night. The plan is for him to be there in wait so he can stab her as soon as she wakes up. Unfortunately it seems like he forgot to set the alarm or something so he arrives there 20 minutes to late which gives her time to escape. The same thing happens again later on as another victim appears and Van Helsing decides to make a few stops first. By the time he gets there the situation had already been resolved in the vampire’s favor. You had to wonder what he was doing the whole time? Certainly this should have been his top priority right? He was probably posturing and stroking his ego though so I guess we’ll just have to let it slide.

Marianne isn’t likable because she’s rather gullible and oblivious to everything. That makes it really hard to root for her since she is practically begging to be bitten the whole time. The vampire isn’t any good either as he just seems like a guy who can’t control his own bloodlust. He just wants to drink and he would be your average “It’s Miller Time” Budlight character if he wasn’t a vampire. I did like how he was kidnapped early on though. I guess an old lady can put up more of a fight than Van Helsing sometimes.

The film gives a lot of time to various subplots and characters that are ultimately pointless as well. One really random scene introduces a doctor who likes to smell mystical water and use a lot of pills to keep himself from getting sick. He’s a comic relief character who likes money, but vanishes as soon as he appears. What was the point of the scene? I dunno and I guess you just have to leave that part to your imagination.

Beyond that, the film commits to all of the typical tropes of a Vampire film. They drink people’s blood and keep on building an army. Everyone is too stunned to do anything about it and the vampires take a lot of victims before they finally go down. Blood sucking has always been pretty wince worthy and certainly doesn’t get any better here. None of the villains are likable in the slightest and I didn’t like any of the heroes either. When you have a bad cast there is not much that can ultimately help the film. You need a likable cast.

Overall, This film is just like any other Dracula film. You could watch another version and swear that it was the same film. There is nothing even remotely original here and everyone seems to have a higher opinion of themselves than the reality. To keep things in perspective…Van Helsing lost to an old lady. She rushed him and stole the cross so that the vampires could take him down. That was just plain embarrassing and she was definitely an odd character. I’ll assume that she was mind controlled for most of the film and then got turned into a vampire because most of her behavior just doesn’t make sense otherwise. Unless she was just plain crazy I expect. I advise you to stay far away from this film. You’re better off watching a classic title like Scooby Doo or something. Even Batman vs Dracula is a big step up if you really need to see something with a vampire. This film will just leave you trying to fill in all of the holes in the writing to make the movie more interesting, but all you’ll be left with is pieces of ineligible paper.

Overall 2/10