Armageddon Review

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It’s time for another Michael Bay film. This one is a disaster film so you can bet that there are a lot of opportunities for explosions. Like most action blockbusters that are over 2 hours, the film starts to fade by the end despite a reasonable start. Still, that’s not the area to blame in this case. It’s the characters and the writing that really keep the film down. It’s not like you’d expect too much ever since the Transformers series went public and people found out about the writing quality but you still always hope for the best when starting the film. Ah well, at least the explosions will keep you guessing.

The film starts off in NYC as a guy is trying to walk his dog while insulting everybody. The Dog attacks a guy’s Godzilla collection and starts to rough the Kaiju up. This leads to a confrontation between the man and the owner of the dog, but the man is blown up by a meteor. Not gonna lie, that scene was pretty hype since it’s just not something you’d expect in a film that isn’t about aliens and super powers. We learn that these shards are hitting various places on the planet because a big meteor is coming that will destroy the world. The government is forced to call in a team of drillers so they can teach them how to be astronauts and send them to the meteor where they will drill inside of it, drop the nuclear bombs, and get out of there. This can’t go wrong!

I remember reading way back in the day about how one of the main actors asked Michael Bay if it would be simpler to just teach the Astronauts how to drill than the other way around. The response he got was a very direct No. Still, I have to agree with the sentiment since it doesn’t seem like the drilling is all that hard. I mean…it’s just drilling right? Not to trivialize it or anything, but they had 2 weeks to prep anyway. Instead the drillers use that 2 weeks to mess around and go to clubs. Not the most productive way to go about things and I can see why the army lost their patience with them. The fate of the world is at stake and they still can’t get serious.

We actually get a Suicide Squad esque montage where we meet all of the characters. Naturally the very first member we see is trying to evade the cops and does a pretty good job of it. They have 2 copters after him and a dozen cars, but he’s still escaping. Another one is on his horse…riding away from th cops. Another one’s in a shady bar and you get the idea. These are the best of the best, but they’re all criminals so can they really be trusted with matters of National Security? They’re not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts either as they want to stop paying taxes and be able to visit the White House as part of their terms. I’m assuming they won’t get these rewards or at least hopefully not. Honestly, I’d at least want a big chunk of money as payment for saving the world though. That seems pretty fair if you ask me.

The first bit of the movie is actually really solid. We get to see inside of the government base as they all talk a good game and posture quite a bit. The dialogue is witty but not over the top and exaggerated. The characters are tough and rough without being annoying. These guys are professionals and act the part. We also get some nice destruction scenes in New York as we see people falling to their doom when buildings break and it may have even looked more impressive here than in Batman V Superman which is saying something. The film really only breaks down the instant we meet the main characters. That’s when you know that trouble is on the horizon.

We go to a drilling boat where Harry, the lead driller is playing golf. His team has been polluting the ocean for years under the cover of corporate business and he is casually hitting protesters on the head with his golf balls. Then he realizes that his subordinate AJ isn’t around and unfortunately he has been fooling around with Harry’s daughter. This is a very sad way to introduce these two characters, but it’s unfortunately not unexpected. AJ quickly runs out of there while Harry grabs his shotgun and tries to shoot him. It’s a very surreal scene as Harry runs around the ship shooting holes everywhere and sabotaging millions of dollars in the process. All that and he only gets a grazing shot on AJ’s leg. Naturally there are quite a bit of tensions between them now but they’ll have to team up if they want to save the world. AJ is clearly not going to stop going after Harry’s daughter so now Harry will have to either accept it or cut AJ’s air supply once they hit space. He’ll have some pondering to do.

Michael Bay films always suffer from 3 major problems. A nonsensical plot filled with many holes and characters making bad choices, terrible writing where every character has a potty mouth, and going for a lot of fanservice scenes that do nothing to add to the plot and are just there to doom the movie. While we mostly avoid the second option the others are still around for the duration of the movie. We didn’t need to have another scene that takes place in a shady strip bar where the characters prove that they are using their money in the worst way possible. One guy borrows millions of dollars just so that he can stay there for a full day before likely going off to die and that way he won’t have to repay the money. He also goes crazy in space and tries to murder everyone, but the characters wave that to the side and don’t mention it to the people on Earth. Now this crazy attempted murdered will be on the loose until he cracks again. That’s not cool.

The plot between Harry and his daughter Grace also isn’t handled well at all. You can definitely see why he’s upset since she’s been hiding her relationship with AJ for 5 months. I don’t know how though since they have so many public displays of affection that Harry must be really dense. Even when it’s mission time and AJ has to go we have to waste 5 minutes as he goes through an entire song in slow motion with large breaks between the lyrics. If you want a good example of a bad romance, this is it. It’s absolutely terrible and considering that the whole team has no sense of morality I’d want Grace off the ship if I was Harry as well. Every time one of the team comments about Grace’s looks you want Harry to grab the shotgun again.

Naturally this doesn’t make me like AJ any better as well. He’s willing to sacrifice the mission just to show off and never gets me to change my opinion of him. At least Harry was usually a good character and he’s the only member of the team that was actually decent. He makes the tough calls when necessary and is also the only one who seems to want to save the world. He has no demands upon doing it, he’ll just save the world to save his family. It’s a shame that the whole crew couldn’t be like Harry.

As for the plot getting a little iffy, why on Earth would the government try to blow up the bombs early when the characters still had time? They know that blowing up the bombs at that point would do nothing to stop the meteor from heading their way so it’s a waste of time. It would also blow up the only people who even gave them a chance at saving the world. It was only added into the movie to be used as pure drama and that’s why you should never do something purely for the rule of cool. You have to keep the plot in mind at all times. The film also seemed to want to stretch itself out for no reason like when the heroes stop at a convenient Russian rest station in space. Okay…then the place starts to blow up so they head back to the ship. This entire scene was completely filler and adds nothing to the movie. It’s just there for more explosions I guess, but it’s a rather long detour from the main plot.

The scenes in space also just aren’t as fun as the ones on Earth. Everyone starts to blend together since they’re wearing the costumes and all of the scenes start to look the same. It’s just more and more space with nothing really happening. They finally get the drill going and leave, but the final act is a little on the slow side. The first act wasn’t good since the main characters were so bad, but at least it was fun. You can’t really say that about the end. The humor is pretty hit and miss as you’d expect. Some jokes are really good and others are quite forced. Attempts were made though so I’ll at least give it credit there.

Overall, Armageddon is one of those films with a great concept and a poor execution. The film shows glimpses of greatness such as all of the scenes without the main character. The film is solid up until the first scene where AJ appears, gets good again from the point where Harry leaves for the base and gets debriefed. It sinks again when we get the montage of the other characters and just doesn’t rise up from there. It’s a fun film and the pacing is good for half of it, but there are simply too many negatives to recommend this film. I’ll give it some kudos for keeping the dog alive in the first scene though. I was ready to hit the panic button but the film kept its class there. If you want a lot of explosions and really annoying characters then this is the perfect film fr you. If you want a hype action film with better characters then I would recommend Batman V Superman instead. That one will be right up your alley.

Overall 5/10

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The Rock Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. Keep this in mind when reading the review as one for the unedited version would be far more negative.
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It’s time for a retro action film from the 90s. Sure, it may not be that old and calling the 90s retro is a little risky, but at this point I’d say that it’s old enough to be a valid point. You won’t really see this kind of film come out nowadays because the cinematography is just very different and new styles have surfaced. These 1-2 men against an army films can always be a lot of fun though and this one is handled well. I do admit that the first half does beat the second as the film begins to putter out but both halves are still pretty good. It’s more the fact that the film is so long and climax fatigue starts to set in while the first half is more laid back, but still has the explosions you’re waiting for. This is a Michael Bay film so there are quite a lot of explosions.

The film starts off with a bunch of terrorists breaking into Alcatraz and kidnapping 81 civilians. They demand 100 million from the government or they’ll use the chemical missiles that they stole from another base (Where they murdered everybody) to destroy 80000 people in San Francisco. The government is forced to call in the local chemical expert, Goodspeed. Goodspeed is used to being in a lab and doesn’t really like violence but he isn’t really given an option. He won’t be enough though so Mr. Mason is taken out of jail to help out. Mason is the only person to ever escape Alcatraz and he used to be a legendary agent for the British Intelligence. If anyone can stop these guys, he can. Will these two vastly different characters be able to put aside their differences and save the world or are they doomed to take a loss here?

Right away one thing you’ll notice about the film is that the soundtrack is actually really great. The themes are nice and fast which make the action scenes more fun. It amplifies the visuals and just makes the whole adventure feel a lot more complete. The visuals are also pretty good for the various locales and the combo works pretty well. Since a lot of films don’t really bother having a soundtrack I always feel the need to give a shoutout to the ones that actually pull it off. It’s an important thing to have.

Goodspeed is a decently good main character. He panics quite a lot but he’s never really been a field agent so it’s all pretty new to him. He still wants to do his best to stop the villains and save lives. He never really waffles on this and stays true to the goal. He fights when necessary as well and doesn’t bck down. He also tends to be a nice guy as he doesn’t put Mason on the spot in front of his daughter. He’s a quality lead. Fortunately, our other lead is also good. Mason’s the expert of the film. He’s one of the best hand to hand fighters the army has got and he’s also really good with a gun. This combo definitely makes him very lethal to everyone else. Anything can be turned into a weapon with this guy. He’s certainly not heroic the way Goodspeed is though. After the government locked him up for 30 years the guy appears to have gotten jaded with life in general. He just wants to make sure he gets out of this in one piece. The guy certainly has good reason to be upset at everyone though as he did get a pretty bad deal. No trial and everyone keeps on lying to him. Still, he has to man up in the end to save his daughter so he presses on. The ending may not be extremely happy for him, but it’s happy enough I suppose.

The villains try to go for the sympathetic angle, at least the main one. He wants the families of the fallen Marines to get recompensated since the government ignored them and figures this is the best way to do it. The thing is, he hired a bunch of guys he has never worked with before and they’re a little more villainous than the others. They just want to murder a bunch of guys and don’t care for anything but the money. Teaming up with villains never pays off in the end. It’s just a good way to speed up your ultimate demise.

I can’t really say that the romance was all that good, but to be fair it was barely a factor in the movie. It was relegated to the backseat for the entirety of the film. It was just there to give the main character more incentive to save the city. It’s not like he needed much more at this point since the city was nearly toast, but it’s not as if it’s a bad thing. The main heroine seemed like a reasonable character.

The first half of the film with the car chase was handled pretty well. The cops look a little bad as they really made it very easy for Mason to escape. Still, it was a good blend of action and humor. Goodspeed certainly gives us a lot of great facial expressions the entire time. The film really speeds by until everyone dies and it’s just the main two. That’s where the pacing finally starts to slow a bit as the characters keep rethinking what they should do next. It’s also one of the only points without a lot of constant explosions. Still, it’s not as if this lasts for long and then the action starts up again.

As far as the writing is concerned, I’d say that it’s okay. Naturally the TV version fixed up some of the language so that significantly improved the script. That gives the writing a little help even if it is still there. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s not bad either. It’s at a good enough level where it doesn’t distract from what’s on screen so then you can focus on the fights. This whole review really just boils down to one point, this is a solid and explosive action film. What you see is what you get here. There’s no animal violence, the violence in the fights isn’t excessive, things just move very quickly. You move from fight to fight and they’re all handled well.

The government is extremely shady as always, but to the point where it is comical. I always love seeing the government act shady while I also love seeing them look good in films. I’m fine with it either way. The film even has a bit of a stinger involving a certain assasination that everyone loves to use in conspiracy stories. It was a nice enough subplot and I wouldn’t mind a sequel where the government ends up going to court and then things get crazy.

Overall, The Rock is definitely a really solid action movie. The fight scenes are on point and there is an explosion around every corner. The film may have slightly dragged by the end but it’s hard to point to any specific scenes that could have been cut. There may be a few here and there, but it’s just that the overall length of the film is rather long. It’s still handled well at the end of the day. The main message of this film is that you have to be a good shot because if you miss the first few times, you may not get a second shot. I’d recommend giving this film a watch if you see it on TV. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall 7/10

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

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Time to check out a recent Sci-Fi film by the name of Valerian. I remember seeing the trailer a few times but being skeptical as to whether it’d be good or not. It looked like the kind of movie that would rely on weird environments and good visuals over the story or good characters. I wasn’t really wrong on some of that and the characters are pretty bad, but the film is reasonable. At the very least the film is pretty fast paced.

The film starts off with our two main characters, Valerian and Loreline. They are tasked with collecting a money hedgehog and do so after beating up everyone involved with the transaction. During a universal peace conference they are attacked by a group of blue beings who were thought to be long extinct. The heroes head off to stop them but they may be in for a political war that is above their pay grade.

Valerian is unfortunately a pretty bad main character. He’s a serious flirt who even has a playlist of everyone he has “conquered.” That’s as bad as it sounds. His next target is Loreline and he is slowly breaking through her defenses. Even aside from his morally disappointing personality, he isn’t even that strong. He is portrayed as an elite agent who never fails and that’s why he is supremely confident. Yet, in his first mission in the film he has to be rescued by Loreline because he made a bunch of rookie mistakes and got wrecked. It’s something that happens a little too often in live action productions where the hype characters simply can’t live up to their reputation. He just never becomes a good character which is unfortunate.

Loreline is the main heroine and I can’t say that she is any better. She is also supposed to be a hype character as well as the “tough” one in the group. This is quickly negated as she loses to Valerian in wrestling during the opening minute. She gets her ”burns” in as she mocks him and his playlist but knowing about it just makes her inevitable pairing with Valerian even worse. She also spends the entire film glaring which is certainly trying a little too hard to be tough.

It’s the side characters who are a little better as is sometimes the case. The main villain is a political General from the army who covered up a bunch of murders. He keeps his confident persona even when being attacked and threatened. He makes a good speech at the end and is always many steps ahead of the other characters. He was playing chess while they were playing checkers. One weird moment was when he was kidnapped though. The whole time I figured it was part of his plan, but it seems unlikely by the end. I guess he just wasn’t ready for the aliens to make their move.

Naturally the film has to force in a very long strip show scene which introduces a shape shifting character. Not only is this the worst way to introduce a character but this is a sci-fi trope that needs to die. It seems like a bunch of alien based films love to show off the costumes or cgi by including a scene like this or set pieces where everyone forgets to dress out well. It’s something that should never happen as if you feel a need to show off your animation then it probably wasn’t very good to begin with. The character is all right I guess but her role is rather small and needlessly tragic. I didn’t really see a point to her dying. It doesn’t work for shock value since we didn’t know her and from a narrative perspective it had no impact on any of the characters.

This film apparently had a really big budget and I think it was misplaced. Through my followings with RWBY, I’ve gotten to see a lot about how a budget is spent in terms of animation and how it is often not worth it. You can spend a significant chunk on a cgi landscape with a lot of NPCs in the background. Those guys don’t matter so why spend budget on them? I’d say that a budget should be spent primarily on fight scenes, backgrounds are secondary. This film had some nice backgrounds, but a good chunk of it was in a very ancient desert planet and then on a beach with no technology. So I’m assuming that the bulk of the budget was spent on Valerian running through various worlds in the quick 5 minute scene. Using up a huge budget on a minor scene is just not worth it and using practical effects would possibly have cut the budget in half then. The sci-do guns look good and the fight scene where Valerian takes on a bunch of ogres was good. Use the budget for that instead and have a super speed battle where he is zipping around then at lightning speed and dodging energy blasts. Now that would be hype!
I have to question how useful the cannon tech from the first scene was as well. Sure, the villains were pretty scared of Valerian and he was invisible so they had a hard time hitting him but he was still there and would have been destroyed if he couldn’t jack out. An impressive piece of tech to be sure and virtual reality has certainly peaked in this universe but the heroes may want to start thinking of better security options.

The robots made for pretty good minions for the main villain. They would have been perfect if they had also been bulletproof. As it stands, Valerian was able to dish out the pain against these guys but they got a lot of the aliens in the process. The aliens really shouldn’t have just walked outside while defenseless in front of the enemy. They were practically asking to be shot and I get how they’re pacifists and all, but at least do the peace thing behind the magical barrier. Alls well that ends well for the survivors though so at least the race isn’t extinct.

As mentioned earlier, Valerian’s best strength is in the film’s quick pacing. It’s over 2 hours, but the movie never drags on and you’ll stay entertained the whole time. It may make its share of mistakes and so I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but at least it’s a fun one the way that Resident Evil is enjoyable. The two are still in completely different leagues when it comes to quality as well. I think there could be some potential for a sequel here since there’s a lot you can do in space, but I want them to head to a high tech world that can take advantage of the future setting. Also, give the main actor/actress some more sleep before filming next time. They look dead tired in every scene of the film to the point where I’m sure they must have gone through many takes for each scene.

Overall, Valerian is one of those movies that just tries to throw a lot of things at the screen and hopes they will stick. Unfortunately it is very 50/50 in this regard. The film needed more action scenes and choosing a desert planet and then a beach planet when the film is supposed to be futuristic was a mistake. Get some better characters and then we can really begin thinking of a sequel. Until then, this film will need to stay under the radar as we open the way for other sci-fi films. If you just want a film where you get a future setting then I suppose this is a film worth checking out. There weren’t too many films that take place in the future this year. If you want a better film about the future, check out the DBZ Trunks movie.

Overall 5/10

Maggie Review

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It’s time for a zombie film that manages to make an already weak genre even weaker. This one takes everything you don’t like about zombie films and doesn’t even bring in any of the positives. At the very least, Resident Evil had some nice action scenes once in a while and a good soundtrack to boot. It was an interesting film even if it was a bad one and kept your attention from start to finish. Maggie never gets interesting and is so focused on being emotional that it forgets to actually do anything. There’s no subtlety to this film and while it’s hitting you over the head with how sad the film is, you’re waiting for the zombie apocalypse to start.

So the film is about a man named Wade and his daughter Maggie. She has been bitten by a zombie and is doomed to become one of them. The process is randomized so nobody knows when she will turn, but Wade is encouraged to destroy her or take her to a facility where she will be canabalized. See what I mean about the lack of subtlety? The film could at least give him a decent option as opposed to dark and gritty for everything. So what will Wade choose?

This film is just a cluster of nonsense from start to finish with forced drama at every turn. Let’s look at the obvious here. Once you are a zombie you are taken to a place to get eaten alive by zombies. Why? What purpose does such a place realistically serve? I get that this is a dystopia but why not just a quick death if they’re going to bump these guys anyway? Are there no more poison pills in the future? Why bother with a tonic that will torture you for hours before you finally die when you can swallow a little poison. If that doesn’t work then I’d like the film to address this.

The film also adds in animal violence for no real reason. It just comes out of nowhere and tries to be as violent as can be. The film was already garbage before this scene but it certainly didn’t help matters. I don’t use the term lightly but for a 0 Star film like this one it’s only fitting. It’s basically the tv version of The Walking Dead and the atmosphere and writing are like Attack on Titan, only worse somehow. While the movie is beating you over the head with a stick as it tells you to feel bad for the characters, it also keeps reminding you that they’re not even thinking about the consequences. For example, Wade doesn’t have any safe guards for when Maggie turns. He says he does, but he clearly doesn’t since he leaves her unsupervised for ages. I’m cool with him wanting to save Maggie because yes that is the right call. Still, you need to at least build some kind of large cage around the premise or something to make sure she can’t escape and destroy everyone. Instead he makes everyone feel uncomfortable about the situation. Although in a world where all of the kids hang out without suits and keep on infecting each other, it’s certainly a matter of time before humanity is wiped out.

Wade is a reasonable character since he at least didn’t destroy Maggie. That would have been another big facepalm moment had that happened. He stayed strong and confronted everyone who tried to put her down. You do question why he would still risk leaving home for hours at a time to work in the tractor since he could walk home to an empty house but I guess he figured Maggie could stay strong and fight the virus. He was wrong.

Maggie does last for a while, but from the start you know that she is doomed. This is just that kind of movie, one where there is no hope from the start and a sad ending is guaranteed. It could have been even more grim I admit so I’ll give the film some kudos there. Not much though since it’s not like the film could have gotten a worse score at this point right? She gets a really random subplot with some annoying teenagers which was fairly forced and didn’t add to anything. We learn more about how evil society is and how the kids have no options so I guess the film just wanted to remind us of how grim the world is. We are reminded so often that it makes you wonder what the purpose of the film is again. Is it an emotional story about letting go or a director’s true vision on how the world is?

Ultimately the teenagers are only introduced so we can see one of them dragged off in tears to the boot camp where he will suffer a lot before dying. The edge levels are still high so I’m sure the film makers were particularly pleased with this moment. I can imagine them singing the Infinite song from Sonic Forces while making this film as it would fit the tone pretty well. Although I’ll take the song over this movie any day.

Aside from all this negativity let’s look at the world in general. The cops and authorities certainly aren’t doing a very good job of preventing the outbreaks. They don’t know what’s causing them and can’t cure it. They don’t even have a way of knowing where these zombies are so now we live in a world where they can be around any corner. Based on how everyone acts in this film they should all be turned already since it is supposedly contagious. The world seems semi ruined already in some parts while quite civilized in others so maybe the virus is just spreading really slowly? At any rate my money’s on the zombies to win in the long run.

Overall, This is definitely a very dark and gritty film. It’s quite mean spirited and does all it can to show you there is no way out of the situation. There is no big climax or moment where the heroes think they have a chance. It’s a film that starts at the bottom and is content to stay there for the duration. The colors are very dreary and dark so there isn’t anything good to even look at. I like to think this film was simply made in a dare to see if anyone would actually watch this movie. The only thing it did right was to further convince me that zombie films are going to almost always simply be a waste of time.

Overall 0/10

Dark Tower Review

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Time for a very traditional action film. By that, I mean that this film basically checks off all of the boxes that you would expect for an action movie but it doesn’t really do anything original. It’s a reasonably good film, but one that does have some issues. You can see how it likely cuts out a bunch from the book as they don’t explain much. I’m fine with no explanations as it’s fun just filling in the blanks on your own and finding out fun facts on Reddit. The main character is annoying though and Elba’s character probably should have been the lead without a sidekick. Lets take a step back and look at the plot real quick.

A kid named Jake has been able to see into another world lately. He can sort of see the future, past, and alternate realities. Unfortunately he’s not wise enough to keep this to himself and gets so obsessive about it that everyone starts to believe he is crazy. So when the aliens actually do come in to take Jake down for the count, nobody believes him. He manages to escape to the other world where he meets a traveling hunter named Roland who wants to destroy this guy named Walter who murdered all of his friends. Roland doesn’t want to make any friends, but Jake was never going to give him an option anyway so it is what it is.

The other world is basically just a large desert planet so there isn’t much to look at. The film is visually uninteresting so the best scenes are when they head back to Earth. Any scene with the kid and his parents is annoying, but the characters wandering around and eating hot dogs is a little more passable. The film doesn’t have a whole lot of humor as you may expect but when it does you just want Jake to stop talking and overreacting.

As you can probably tell I didn’t like Jake right from the start. It’s pretty common for the young protagonist to let everyone know that he has hallucinations and as a result nobody trusts him. It just seems like Jake should have taken a hint early on that nobody else was seeing these things or noticing that the world was going to end. It’s not like Jake even knew this either. All he knew was that he was having strange dreams and should have thought of a plan himself. Keep acting normal and play the game until he gets a better hand. Then Jake is just a liability throughout the adventure even after meeting up with Roland. He tries to guilt trip Roland and just doesn’t seem like the kind of companion you want on your team. My review may be a little rough on the poor kid, but I think he just wasn’t ready for this level of combat. It’s like I always say, the kids should stay at home while the grownups handle the fight.

Roland is a decent main character but he does come off as rather generic. I can roll with him deciding to take down Walter as a last act of revenge considering that saving the world is pretty out of the question at this point. The problem is, you can take him about as seriously as Drax The Destroyer since it would be an extremely simple matter for Walter to defeat him. Walter has advanced telekinesis at his disposal. While his mind games don’t work on Roland, he still has many ways to destroy him. Roland is fighting a hopeless battle in which he is greatly outnumbered. Naturally you want to put the hero in a bad spot for most situations, but once it gets too absurd you can only try to predict what form of plot hax will help him out.

Walter is the big villain and the only other character of real importance here. He’s a pretty charismatic guy and probably the most interesting character here. He has a pretty solid plan and came close to destroying everything. While he needs to learn how to play the match ups a little better and camp more against someone with a gun, he seems reasonably intelligent. You always want to have a good villain to make a film more exciting so having him here was definitely a smart move. There are other supporting villains, but they are really just here to reinforce Walter’s image. We do get a giant monster, but considering it wasn’t bulletproof you knew who the victor was ultimately going to be.

The film can be rather dark as the villains have already captured most of the kids and use them to destroy the tower. Fortunately the film doesn’t overdo it in focusing on this angle. You get the feeling that this movie exists in a universe that is surrounded by a lot of dark elements but keep those in the books. We get the atmosphere which is the important part. It’s not a fun movie by any stretch and it’s serious throughout, but at least we don’t get much forced comedy or subplots. As I mentioned, the supporting characters never get to do much so the screen time is always with the leads. The pacing is fairly quick and the film never drags on. While the ending is rather sad, the characters don’t dwell on it and are actually really happy all things considered. It’s likely their way of coping which makes sense.

If you do like the supporting characters then you should prepare yourself. The film is rather mean spirited towards anyone who hangs around the main characters. That’s actually a bit of a trope you’ll notice after a while. If you help the main character then you’ve likely just triggered a bunch of death flags. They can’t be bothered to come back and save you so it’s definitely Game Over at that point. They at least helped out in the long run so that’s good.

Overall, There’s not much reason to watch The Dark Tower. There’s no one area that you can point to and explain why it did this well. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, but I suppose it doesn’t do anything particularly bad either. It’s just an average action film and one that will hold your attention well enough after you finish it. It didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, but I wouldn’t mind a sequel I suppose. Just give the heroes some power ups so they’re not just random people with guns. It’ll make the fight scenes against super powered villains a little more believable. If you’ve run out of fantasy films and want to see another one then this is a reasonable film to pick up. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy this new world.

Overall 6/10

Dr. Cyclops Review

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Doctor Cyclops is definitely a film that I had never heard of before watching it. Any film with the term doctor at the beginning is a cause for concern though, particularly if it is a horror film. While the overall premise isn’t bad, the execution certainly is and the film doesn’t do anything particularly impressive or amazing. It’s just around and you’ll find that it never got popular for good reason.

The film starts off with two scientists arguing and you can tell which one is the evil one instantly as he rambles on about how he is the master and the experiments must go on. The other scientist likely never actually got accredited as he doesn’t seem very smart and threatens the man to his face. He is quickly murdered but Doctor Cyclops injured his eyes in the process. He decides to enlist the aid of famous scientists from out of state to see if they can help him fix his formula since the animals he has been shrinking don’t tend to last very long. The scientists arrive and Cyclops is able to get his answers without letting them know why he needs the info. They aren’t pleased about this and then find out that the camp has been built on a rich deposit of ore so they can all become millionaires. After figuring out that they can’t trick each other they decide to team up against Cyclops but are quickly suckered and put in their place. By that I mean that they have been shrunk to size. So…now what are they going to do?

One big issue I have with the film out of the gate is that the writers don’t seem to know what effects being turned into a tiny person would have on the individual. At first it seems as if their minds regressed thanks to the transformation. They effectively became cave people and communicate with gestures. They also have short term memory as they start cooking and having a picnic in the backyard even though the villain will have woken up from his nap pretty soon. They are evidently shocked to see him. I’m fine with their minds being reverted but then the film does a 180 as the scientist in the hero’s side confronts Cyclops and begins to speak. The film makes it clear that he had not lost any intelligence at all. Then the others begin speaking and keeping their personalities by the end as well. One theory could be that they were just temporarily dazed and obtained their memories again after a little time had passed unfortunately this doesn’t really work either since the scenes I listed above are not in order: In the movie it is all random and that’s why this element is rather confusing. I just don’t think it was thought over very carefully which is a bit of an issue since it’s the entire plot of the film.

Naturally I also have to get after the film on the animal violence side as well. While it is off screen, the film makes sure to inform us that a lot of animals were experimented on and died. Certainly a morbid thought and this is repeated a few times which does nothing to help matters. It’s why I am always wary of films with evil scientists since the animals are always used as guinea pigs. It is certainly most unfortunate and at least it gives you more reason to root against Cyclops. He is about as generic as a villain can get. He’s evil and wants to hog the experiments to himself. The thrill and feeling of power is really all that he cares about since he could get rich simply by selling the ore that is around. He also isn’t very smart either as he falls asleep quite a few times and constantly lets the heroes get away. I don’t know about you guys but if I up against a small group of mini humans who were this tiny it should be really easy to capture them all and build a little cage to keep them captive. It’s not rocket science but this doctor just continues to get humiliated throughout this movie. He makes the whole thing appear to be far more difficult than it really is.

As for the “heroes” there are 4 main characters. First we have the really laid back guy who thinks getting upset or emotional about anything is a waste of time. He prides himself on doing whatever he likes and working smarter, not harder. He is fairly confident as you’d expect and I would say he is the most interesting character in the film. Certainly the most generic but at least he isn’t bad. You may not be actively rooting for him but at least this guy doesn’t take things too seriously. The old scientist is certainly the opposite as he is very serious and likes taking credit for things like new discoveries even if it has likely already been discovered. He isn’t a bad character though as the writing in the film is pretty solid so he isn’t as two dimensional as he could have been.

We also have the main heroine who has a science background as well. She wants this trip to go well since she’s responsible for the team but they don’t make it very easy on her. She’s a good character and it’s always nice to see a heroine from this era who is useful and able to stand on her own as opposed to being a damsel in distress. Finally we have the guy who owns the horses. His whole gimmick is that he isn’t very smart compared to the other characters but he is street smart, except for when he isn’t. He is a nice contrast to the other characters and definitely a pretty fun one.

As you can probably tell, the only thing really keeping this film standing is the writing and the cast. That’s honestly not half bad if you think about it since those two areas are very important. Still, the animal aspects hold this film back and Doctor Cyclops is an underwhelming villain. The main characters also really aren’t smart which makes it a little hard to root for them. They fall for one of the most obvious traps that I have ever seen. Also it’s not as if they are very heroic. As I mentioned earlier they were prepared to betray each other over the money so there goes their values.

Overall, Doctor Cyclops certainly isn’t one of the worst films that I’ve seen but it just could have been so much better. The writers did out some effort into this film, the problem was that if was selective effort so while the dialogue is strong, the situations around the lines are rather weak. I would advise sitting this one out. There’s no real reason to watch the movie as there are many other films which handle the concept better. Watch a classic like Honey I Shrunk The Kids instead. That film is a lot better if I recall correctly.

Overall 4/10

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Review

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It’s time for another Dracula film. This series has never been particularly good and this one is no exception. Dracula’s a joke and everyone knows it. Even the poster knows this. Look at his facial expression above and tell me that this is a serious villain. He died from falling in a pool of water in the last film! This guy is played for laughs at times and if he is meant to be completely serious then that’s almost sad. Anyway, this film does nothing unique and instead just goes through the motions without doing anything cool or interesting. It’s definitely a very forgettable film and one that will soon blend in with the rest. There’s just nothing to really like here but it is always surreal to see some of the choices that the main characters make. Needless to say they were not prepared for a fight like this.

The film starts off with Dracula murdering someone and we then cut to the present where Ernest walks into that town. Everyone is still afraid of Dracula because while he may be dead at the moment, his aura is still enough to corrupt everything that it reaches. It apparently even gets into the Church so everyone just hangs around the bar now. Ernest laughs at them and runs over to Dracula’s castle which he seals with the Cross. Unfortunately, the drunk pastor who had been following him trips and breaks Dracula out of his tomb of ice. Dracula then decides to team up with this guy so they can get revenge on Ernest by getting his nephew, Maria. Will their nefarious plan succeed?

Dracula has just never been a good concept for a film. I still stand by that today. The writing is often terrible for these films and they just heavily rely on shock value the entire time. The heroes also never manage to stop him before he bites the main heroine so they’re simply too late. The fact that his victims all crumble into quivering children when faced with his power is also annoying. They’ll just start fainting and running away while in his presence which is not really the kind of thing you want to see from characters who are supposed to have strong wills. The pastor guy was drunk and apparently spineless from the start though so I suppose I shouldn’t use him as a base to judge anything.

Still, the characters are really annoying. First off we’ve got our lead Paul. He wants to leave a good impression with Maria’s folks since he is supposedly serious about her, but that doesn’t stop him from passing through the bar and deciding to drink a little. Naturally this doesn’t end well and he messes up the Uncle’s big return by ruining the mood. He decides to sulk by getting even more drunk and allowing himself to be ensnared by the waitress named Zena. He hardly resists her actions and just shrugs it off. Then when Maria actually needs his help he gets one shotted by Dracula several times. He missed with the fire shovel and then runs right into Dracula’s arms. Paul’s a terrible main character and I certainly couldn’t support him during the movie. He makes all of the wrong decisions and doesn’t come off as genuine. How do you lose so many battles in one film?

Unfortunately, Maria is just as bad. She gets mind controlled by Dracula and gets thrown into a dungeon by the waitress. The heroes get to her in time before anything drastic occurs and ask her what happened. Her response is to faint multiple times and to explain in the most cryptic and misleading ways possible. She doesn’t mention any of the people who were there, which puts the heroes at a disadvantage. Thanks to her weak mind, Dracula can also enter the house as she opens the windows for him. While not everyone can agree with me that mind control only works on the weak that quickly, we can all agree that she should have at least told everyone what happened the first time.

Meanwhile, we’ve got Ernest. He’s probably the only quality character in the film and even then he makes some of the same mistakes as the others. He is betrayed and knocked out to the point of death by the drunk. Later, we see the drunk arrive at his house with Paul (Paul invited him because he’s helpful like that) and instead of warning everyone that the guy is evil, Ernest faints from fright. It’s almost amusing since you Never see the old, experienced tough guy faint in a film like this one. It’s unheard of and also incredibly hard to wrap your head around this. It doesn’t make any sense and it feels like a lazy way for the writers to get Maria kidnapped. Otherwise there’s no way Dracula could have broken in.

Zena is the waitress and she’s certainly not a good character. She only exists to flirt with everyone and to get Paul on the wrong path. You know that she is doomed immediately since that always happens to these characters in horror films. Staying in the friend zone is typically the only way you’re safe. Zena didn’t and ultimately ended up paying the price. As for Dracula himself, he’s not really a cool villain at all. He blames all of his failings on Zena and doesn’t even look very good in combat. He shrinks away in fear whenever someone holds some fire or the cross. He trips over his own feet in the climax as he lands in his doom. He even sleeps in a coffin that’s in the basement of a busy bread shop so it’s easy for someone to murder him during the day. It’s almost hard to see why everyone fears him so much when the guy just isn’t very smart.

This film is also pretty violent as you would expect from a Hammer production. It really does its best to show blood whenever possible and lots of it. Everyone gushes blood as if we’re back in Bleach whenever they’re stabbed and you can tell that they’re just doing it because they can. The Vampire bites are still as iffy as ever and since the characters take so long so stop Dracula it can barely be counted as a win. The actual body count actually isn’t all that big in this film but the movie makes sure that each one gets enough screen time for two.

Overall, Dracula Returns is a pretty terrible film. The writing is lousy and the cast of characters are completely uninspired. There is nobody to root for and that is always a problem if you ask me. You won’t be able to stay invested in the film and the best way to get through it is to take a shot of water every time a character makes the worst move possible. Anything stronger than water and you’ll likely faint so try and stay safe. Still, I’d recommend watching many other films before I’d ever even consider this one. If you have to pick a Dracula film, at least pick the modern one from the new cinematic universe that Universal has been putting together. At least that one tries to stay classy.

Overall 1/10

The King of Comedy Review

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It’s time to look at another Jerry film. This one is certainly a cut above the others that I’ve seen but does suffer quite a bit from one unfortunate subplot. This is one of those films where the first half definitely destroys the latter, but it’s a pretty entertaining film through and through. Who is the real King of Comedy? Well, you’ll know the answer by the end of this film.

The film starts off with Rupert Pumpkin trying to get a word in with Jerry. Jerry is a world famous comedian who has people lined up just to try and talk with him. Jerry isn’t having any of this and tells everyone to cool it as he runs to the car. Rupert quickly gets in as well and from here on out Rupert goes off the deep end. He wants Jerry to accept him as one of the all time greats and when Jerry is reluctant to do so Rupert kidnaps him and decides to get on TV by himself. Can he show that his comedy skills are the real deal or is he nothing more than a filler who makes everyone around him even better?

On the surface this is basically just a comedy film. It handles the humor fairly well like with Rupert’s dreams. They’re all pretty solid and some of them come in so quickly that you barely even realize that they are dreams. They feel far too real and convincing, but while the first dream will catch you by surprise you’ll likely see the others coming. They’re not too exaggerated or anything like that which is part of why the dreams are so good. They’re just handled really well. The quick banter between the characters is also solid and Rupert is a decent antagonist.

Where the film goes wrong is when it tries to be really serious as well. Masha is Rupert’s accomplice in crime and she wants Jerry for herself. In her subplot we see how crazy she is and she attempts to break Jerry. Fortunately for him she isn’t very smart and her plan isn’t even all that good. You’ll probably take this whole subplot less seriously once you see the twist, but it doesn’t take away from how long and drawn out it was. Seriously, take away this plot and the film gets much better. Rupert should have kidnapped Jerry on his own. Masha adds nothing to the film and her crazy subplot is just wince worthy.

A better supporting character is Rita. Rupert is desperate to prove to her that he is actually a big shot which is his main incentive throughout the whole movie. It’s a bit part of his character motivation. Unlike him, she seems rather sane. While I question her judgment in hanging out with him so much when he seems pretty off balance, at least she’s just trying to be nice I suppose. Aside from her and Masha there are really just two major characters, the two leads.

As I mentioned, Rupert is a pretty great villain and easily the most interesting character in the film. He really sells every scene that he is in and the guy feels like he would be better at comedy than Jerry. While he is certainly way too obsessed as a Jerry fan, at least you can’t deny his resolve. Even when his Mom interrupts his recordings time after time he keeps at it. The security guards don’t scare him either. While he is crazy, Rupert doesn’t randomly go from petty criminal to full murderer or anything like that. He still wants to be a star and takes his path to stardom. It’s not the right road, but the destination is clear.

Meanwhile we have Jerry. He’s hard to sympathize with or even like at all in this film since he’s always grouchy. It’s hard to see how he’s supposed to be a big comedian and we don’t even get to see him make any real jokes. Maybe one or two, but if so then I don’t remember him. He’s a reasonable guy though and I think anyone would be a little miffed if they were kidnapped and constantly followed by a crazy person. So I have to give him a little space there, but he’s still not really a likable character. I won’t say I was on Team Rupert, but I was always glad to see him get back on screen.

What I enjoyed a lot were the scenes with the TV producers and the Cops. It was nice to see them all talking about the situation and it’s always a tough question. Do you give the kidnapper what he wants if it won’t harm anybody in order to save the hostage or do you say no so others don’t get the same idea. It’s a tough moral debate for sure, but you gotta save the person in the moment so I agree with giving Rupert the air time. The fact that it’s to a live audience is tricky since he could say something upsetting but ideally they can nab him right away if he tries anything. The cops also tried to apply some pressure, but Rupert’s really good at keeping on a tough act. He’s certainly not the kind of guy who bends over to the pressure.

Finally, the ending is pretty intense. It’s one of those endings where you have to decide if it’s real or not. After all, a big part of the film is how Rupert can’t tell reality from fantasy so he has these visions that appear to be real. The ending almost seems too good to be true with how he has become famous now and everyone loves him so I’m inclined to say that it’s a dream. So then when does the dream start? I’d say that it starts as soon as he heads to prison. In reality, he went to prison and is still stuck there. Now, it would be a bold twist if he has been dreaming for even longer than that and never kidnapped Jerry in the first place, but I think that would be reaching a little and that would make a large chunk of the film fake. Still, it’s up to your interpretation and either way I think it’s a pretty good ending.

Overall, The King of Comedy is a solid film. While it may have gotten a little mixed up with its genres at times, it does have some moments that work really well. The ambiguous ending is also pretty fun and depending on what you think happened, it makes Rupert look quite good. I’d recommend checking this film out, it reminds you that fans can get desperate and you should never get into a strange car even at gunpoint. You gotta try to make a break for it or disarm the guy before it’s too late. I also liked the depiction of the TV studio and in general the writing was better than expected. Who’d have thought that Jerry would be in a film this good?

Overall 6/10

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Star Wars series. It’s still the most popular Sci-Fi franchise out there and it’s pretty surreal that the series finally got to keep going after the long gap since episode III. This one’s been getting fairly mixed reception and it’s easy to see why. I have a lot of mixed thoughts on it as well. There’s a fairly large laundry list of pros and cons that I have with the film that all get thrown together which is why this review will be fairly long. Long story short, it’s a good movie, but one that feels like it’s considerably longer than it should be with not much actually happening for most of it.

The film starts with the Republic getting wrecked on all sides by the First Order as per usual. They’re outgunned and outnumbered but they have spirit. Against orders Poe decides to take down one of the enemy flagships and single handily saves a good chunk of the fleet. For his bravery he is demoted. Unfortunately the First Order is still gaining on the heroes and their only chance is that Rey will return with Luke Skywalker to save the day. In case she fails at this task, Finn is charged with a backup plan to find someone who can help them disable the tracker that is preventing them from escaping. With two plans in the works surely one of them will succeed right? Or is all hope lost already?

It’s great to see the opening credits roll and the classic Star Wars previously segment play. It’s always been a nice staple in the franchise and it works well. It also allows the film to go forward without having to show everything by giving us a little info from the start. As a result, the actual movie starts out with the big fight in space and that’s exactly how you should start a Star Wars fight. While the Lightsabers may be the most popular aspect of the series, the title would suggest big galactic battles like this one. It’s handled really well and you feel bad for the Republic since their ships are always so outnumbered. I’m a little skeptical on Poe’s ship massacring the big Star Destroyer but I always did say that I’ll take speed over power any day so I guess this proves my point. He did a lot of damage there. It’s a very strong start to the film and it hits all of the beats that it should. Unfortunately things start to slow down here. Lets stick to one chunk of the film at a time though. There are 3 main plots so in those plots I’ll discuss the relevant characters as well as positives and negatives.

The first plot is the Poe plot. The heroes are on the run and they need a plan. Leia gets knocked out because she made the mistake of being in the command room with all of the other generals. However, it is the only unguarded part of the ship and this is such a big design flaw that the people who built the Death Star can now breathe a little easier. This leads to a rather random scene. I won’t go into detail, but I didn’t care for the scene simply because it leads into absolutely nothing. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like Leia. She’s become such a bad character ever since she went into power. It’s like all good characters are corrupted by their bureaucratic status. Just look at how Naruto fell once he turned into Boruto’s father. Now, I can’t blast this scene too much though since obviously the plans had to change when the actress passed away. This plot point could have very well led on to something if she had stayed alive or perhaps she was supposed to die but to let the actress go out on a happier note they spared her.

Leia’s replacement is even worse though. While Leia makes consistent bad choices and shows no leadership qualities, at least she tries. Her replacement refuses to share her plans with anyone and is constantly aggressive for no reason. She seems to be very self conscious about what a bad leader she is so she takes it on everyone else. I don’t remember her name and I don’t even care enough to look it up. She has purple hair and you’ll know her when you see her. She has some of the worst plans that I’ve ever seen a “competent” general come up with. By “competent” I mean that the film wants you to think she is a brilliant strategist and that she knows what she is doing. It’s one thing for a comic relief character to come up with a bad plan or for someone that the film is trying to make look bad to come up with a bad plan. This is something altogether different because it is portrayed as a good plan. Without going into specifics, the new commander wants to sacrifice 100% of the fleet and get everyone to escape in small escape pods that have no barriers or weapons. Except for massive plot armor this is a complete suicide strategy with no hope of success. How would the villains not notice these pods on their scanners? This is the future right? In the present you are able to see small objects on a scanner, I refuse to believe that they simply wouldn’t notice them. Even once the plan starts tanking nothing is done for a very long time and then the lady remembers that she has one last option. By then almost everyone is dead, but still she is supposed to be remembered as a hero. Forget that!

The true MVP of this plot was definitely Poe. So much so that I can safely say that he is easily the best character in the whole film. He is always the one making the right decisions. It may have been risky to take down the Destroyer, but he saved a lot of lives in the process as it would have meant trouble for the other planets. It’s the other pilots who should have done a better job of steering and not dying so easily. Poe’s plan is much sturdier than the commander’s as it is at least a plan that has a chance of saving everyone else. Just giving up is the worst possible call to make in any situation. I’m also glad that Poe has a lot of loyal allies by his side since it shows that the crew can think for themselves. Getting sucker blasted by Leia was annoying, but not something I would blame on Poe. It’s just another reason not to like Leia. Hopefully Poe gets another big role in the next film since his character is really going strong now.

This plot was probably in the middle of the 3 for me. It wasn’t as slow paced as the other two, but at the same time it did stall the most. When you think about it, that whole plot is basically just the main ship running and the enemies blasting at it. It’s stuck for so long that it almost feels like they’re using stock footage at times. There’s one moment in particular where the camera keeps cycling between the 3 plots and it lands on this one twice where I saw 2 ships getting blown up each time. They were probably different ships, but it really looked like the same scene.

Next up is the weakest plot in the film. It belongs to Finn and his new partner, a fan of the pros. You can tell that she’s going to be annoying from her first scene as she gives Finn a sob story and is way too in awe of him. I’ve never liked the hero worship trope in fiction or the fact that it’s a real thing in life. (Shoutout to the Smash community) While her backstory is tragic and all, you have to wonder why she is in the film. Her romance with Finn is awful at best and while she makes the right call in stopping him during a critical moment, it’s also just super annoying. I was annoyed with her the entire time and that probably hurt the plot as a whole. Finn wasn’t much better though. He was seriously going to just run away. I was waiting for the twist or for him to explain that he wasn’t actually doing that…but he was seriously going to just up and run away. You can immediately see the contrast between him and Poe. Both agreed that the commander couldn’t lead her way out of a barn, but Poe decided to stay and do something about it while Finn decided to run away. Case Closed.

Finn’s just not a fun guy. Even when they go to the casino and hundreds of lives are hanging in the balance..he stops to enjoy the atmosphere and the games? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s hard to even root for him against Captain Phasma since she always gets the shaft in these films. Why is she not able to beat Finn in a one on one fight? She’s also not experienced enough to know that turning your back to the enemy and having slower reflexes than a turtle is a bad combination. I can’t say I’m really a fan of Phasma either, but I’m convinced that the writers just don’t like her. She is intentionally treated as a joke. Finn is unintentionally treated as a joke and there’s a big difference between those two. The former can be good writing while the latter is tragic. Finn is maybe slightly better here than in the first film…maybe. In some ways you can say that he has regressed as a character.

If it’s not obvious why this plot is the weakest, it’s because there are no good character here. They break out a quirky locksmith guy, but as he’s drunk the whole time it’s not like he’s going to be much of an improvement to the cast right? He doesn’t appear for very long anyway and I have to question just how weak the imperial defenses are if some guy in jail can pick them. Shouldn’t they keep upgrading their tech at this point? The plot is easily the least relevant to the film as well and probably could have been cut with nothing actually changing. As it’s the backup plan it could have easily been wrapped up a lot sooner or just been left to the way side and the Rey plot could have changed a bit to accomodate it.

Of course, that’s the big plot. We’re finally up to Rey and her adventures with one of the worst developed characters in history the biggest traitor since Benedict Arnold the mass murderer through negligence Luke Skywalker. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can’t stand this character. It’s hard to hear the guy talk since Luke is so obnoxious. Luke is not only a traitor and mass murderer, but in general a very egotistical, arrogant guy who can’t back up any of his tough talk. He went from being a standard main character for 3 films to someone who has turned his back on the heroes and doesn’t mind if they’re all slaughtered. I’m still puzzled as to who on Earth thought it would be a good idea for him to be such a heel here. The trailer set off all of my warning bells back in the day and the film solidified them. They may as well have turned him into a Sith Lord considering what happened here. When he first rebukes Rey and tells her that what she said was wrong you want to slap him since it was a valid answer. Luke’s answer is the one that’s hogwash as he tries to tell her that the Force is just energy everywhere and all that. It’s his catchphrase as well so you’ll hear him say it again, but he’s annoying (and wrong I’d say) both times. Rey didn’t say anything that really contradicted him and lifting things is basically the Force’s greatest strength. The Force wouldn’t be nearly as good without telekinesis since you could be shot from behind without it or lose in a fight. Controlling weak minds is okay and all but it only works on the weak. You need to keep your barriers up at all times or you’re through.

What they did to Luke is just plain insulting to the original trilogy. His character has been completely warped and I can see why fans would want to pretend that this film just never happened. I still say it’s depressing that after Episode VI where we finally beat the Dark Order and the Republic got to be in control, that everything was thrown back into the status quo off screen. It’s just hard to picture and also makes the first three films entirely pointless. Take them away and now nothing has changed. I went into that a lot with Episode VII so no need to tread old ground.

Rey is still a solid main character. I liked her a lot in the last episode as she was a pretty selfless hero who wrecked Kylo Ren and used the Force pretty well. She’s a slightly weaker character here as she lets Luke and Kylo take control quite a lot. I’d like to see her ordering them around or at least holding her own a little more. Perhaps in the next film though as she is steadily growing stronger. She is still a great character regardless and I’d put her as the second best named character. She may believe in Kylo Ren’s chance at turning over a new leaf too much but that’s not something I can fault her for.

I still can’t take Kylo Ren seriously. When your first scene is getting mocked by the main villain and throwing a temper tantrum in an elevator, you’re just not the kind of villain who is ever going to command respect. His conversations with Rey also don’t help the mystique angle as he just seems like someone who is being led around by forces he cannot comprehend. Kylo Ren can fight of course, but I’d still say that Rey should be able to beat him and so he shouldn’t be much of a threat to any of the higher fighters. The Red Agents should have obliterated him.

I’ve always liked the Red Guards. Those guys have awesome designs and have been a big part of the Star Wars background for a long time. How they didn’t defeat Rey and Kylo I’ll never know. I can understand Rey beating them, but Kylo? He should have gotten wrecked the instant the fight started and yet they acted as if he may be a little stronger than Rey now. I dunno about that, but I was really satisfied wit the fight scene. It’s easily the highlight of the movie. I’ve been waiting for a modern day Lightsaber fight for so long. It’s not quite as solid as the fights from the prequels yet, but we’re getting there. I imagine it’ll take time to get the choreography quite up to that level, but by the next film they should have it down. While Star Wars may not revolve around the Lightsabers, I think it should. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of the franchise and that’s why I like the prequel era so much. The Jedi vs Sith wars were a blast and nowadays you only really get to see that in the video games. If this is any indication of what will happen in Episode IX, then I’m all set for that.

Emperor Snook is pretty disappointing though. He doesn’t get to fight and is heavily nerfed so Kylo won’t look too bad. The character had a lot of potential so it was rather disappointing to see him go out this way. He has to lose at some point so I wouldn’t mind a Rey and Kylo team up against him, but at least some kind of fight. He’s a Sith Lord! The guy should be crazy strong. At least he has some hype though. The only other villain left is Hux and he’s effectively comic relief. The film did a good job of making him look part monkey to an extent though, bravo!

This plot was the best thanks to the fight scene. The Luke and Rey scenes were fairly dull though and the characters didn’t really do anything for a while. She’d ask him some questions, he’d ignore her. Rinse and repeat for roughly an hour. Rey did go into a cave, but nothing actually happened there so it was basically filler. Luke spent the whole subplot embarrassing himself as well so the longer it went on the worse it got for him. Even the flashback with Kylo makes him look terrible. He looks painfully weak and I’ll never be able to take him seriously again since this was allegedly Luke at his prime. Luke should blame himself for what happened since it really was his fault, at least when you look at the scene that’s the impression I got. He should have done a much better job of leading. Luke gets so bad that even the Sith complement him on making their job easier. I almost thought his final scenes had some plot hax, but the film handled it well so I have no complaints there.

The plots all merge by the end so for Episode IX we should finally have the full cast assembled. It’ll be nice to see the characters think up a battle plan as a team for a change. That being said, the war seems like it’s pretty much over. There basically aren’t enough people still alive to form a resistance since everyone was murdered so they’re going to need to just rely on Rey. She can take on an army on her own so the others should just sit tight and try to learn how to be Jedi in the meantime. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how they will really be able to contribute, but with the timeskip maybe the rest of the planets will send more cannon fodder to the heroes to beef up their ranks. You can’t help but feel bad for those guys, but they knew what they were signing up for.

So where does this rank in the Star Wars films? Well, I’d consider Episode IV, VII, III, and Rogue One to be the 4 strongest by far and in that order. Next up I’d place this one followed up Episode V, VI, and I. Episode II is all the way below and I doubt/hope a Star Wars film never reaches that low again. So at 5th place out of 9 that’s not bad at all. I fully expect the next Star Wars film to beat this one, but I guess we’ll see what effect bringing back the old writer will have. I do wonder just how much the writers like to mess with the script and what the last writer did to their benefit. After all, only the writers and executives are likely going to know how the film was “supposed” to go so we can only speculate. Whatever happens, I just want a lot of action so deliver that without falling into any landmines and I should be good. Pull another Luke Skywalker twist and that will just be sad.

I think it’s safe to say that big Star Wars fans will appreciate this title a lot more than a typical action fan. There are likely a ton of cameos and references thrown for these guys. I picked up on some, but for others I have no idea. As the plot doesn’t move too much, you’re supposed to get hyped over each character and what they’re doing. Since I didn’t like half of the characters I was supposed to like it didn’t work as well on me as it was supposed to. That shouldn’t be a big problem if you’re super into the franchise. After all, it’s not like I gave most of the films positive scores. That being said, if you’re especially a big fan of the original trilogy then there’s the chance that the opposite will be true and you’ll see this one as insulting its legacy. The only way to find out is to watch the film.

While the camera work is good for scenes like the Red Room where it’s very atmospheric, I’m not sure about the directing for the characters. It may not be the director, but I’m not sure who’s in charge of this. All of the characters seem to be out of breath all the time. It’s borderline distracting and this was an issue in Episode VII as well. Just think back to the first trailer for that one where the cliffhanger every time was Finn really out of breath trying to get up. (Always thought that was a weak scene btw) That happens here to basically everyone. It’s like the director tells them to all go for a job right before filming each scene. I just don’t get it and it’s a problem that I only really notice for Star Wars. The film also really overdoes the close ups on each character. We don’t need to see their faces in such intense detail to understand that the scene is intense. A standard far shot will suffice.

The movie uses a lot of the classic themes from the old films. They still sound as good as they ever did, but the movie still seems to be relying on nostalgia here as opposed to coming up with new tracks. I can’t recall any new tracks that were memorable or epic during the scenes. I only remember the iconic themes that play during the movie. Still, they’re enough for me to consider the film to have a pretty solid soundtrack. The visuals are pretty nice as well. The space fights are epic and the lightsabers are solid as well. Now all we need is a city like New York and we’ll really be all set!

The writing is quite solid. Ignoring the talking animals and robots who use grunts to say nothing while sounding deep, the humans all seem pretty good. There’s not a lot of random language at all and in general I don’t remember characters swearing. It probably happens, but certainly not all that frequently if so and it makes the film a lot more peaceful to watch. It definitely helps the characters as well. There’s no real animal violence here either although Chewy was a pretty bad character in this film for actually cooking an animal off screen. Considering what planet he is on, it came off as really insensitive. He’s not as bad as Groot, but he definitely had no real role in this story. Yoda’s cameo is a lot more satisfying with his fans and I’d say he looked good. Anyone who zaps something Luke’s a fan of is okay in my book and it was just a really great thing of him to do in general. If Yoda can look like this in the future, he may become more tolerable.

One pattern you’ll quickly notice in this film is that the rebellious characters are the best ones. Poe defies orders to quickly take command and it’s a great scene. Rey impulsively decides to head for the main villain’s base against Luke’s command (ha!) and while the plan doesn’t go well at first, I can agree with the notion. She’s confident in her abilities and certainly wasted no time in arriving there. It’s amazing how quickly she got there honestly and I was glad to see someone was taking charge. It’s similar to when Luke defied Yoda to go save his friends. It’s always the right option and always a blast to see even if it rarely goes too well for the hero.

I think the real issue that hurts this film a lot is the fact that it has virtually no replay value. It’s the kind of film that you really wouldn’t want to see twice because there isn’t really a reason to. There are a couple of big scenes where a character almost dies but doesn’t. I suppose it’s dramatic if you think they are going to die but since you would know better the 2nd time around it loses the impact. You could say the same for many films, but this one in particular really builds up the scene to the death as it drags on for a while to get maximum effect. Since you know these scenes are red herrings the next time, you’ll just want them to get on with it. It’s a really long film that feels like a long film. In the same way that some mysteries are hurt by watching them twice while others keep the replay value, this is just one of those action films that works best as a 1 time experience. It’s a natural consequence of upping the drama but maybe you can make an argument that the enhancement to the film the first time around is worth it. Not sure I’d argue that, but it’s there.

Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good film. It’s hampered by its long run time and fairly weak cast, but still has enough strengths to carry it over the hill. Poe and Rey are two solid heroes and that’s enough to help keep the film going. The fight scene we get with Rey vs the Red Guards is pretty fun and hopefully we’ll get more action in the next film. Now that certain characters shouldn’t be appearing anymore, the cast should get a lot stronger for the next film. Since it is also the end of the trilogy I’m expecting a lot more action. We got 1 Lightsaber fight and maybe 2 space fights. I’d like to see us double that number in the sequel, especially the lightsaber fight. I want an extended Force battle where Rey has to use her full arsenal. Anyway, I’d recommend the film to any action fan but if you’re a Star Wars fan then it goes without saying that you need to watch this one.

Overall 6/10

The Incredible Shrinking Man Review

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It’s time for a classic film that I’m sure everyone has heard of at some point or another. It’s a concept that is always fun to play around with as shrinking makes the world look even bigger. Honestly it’s not a super power that I would ever want to have because it just wouldn’t be as fun as the others. Being able to make snow would be far superior if you ask me and that’s something that I could get behind. Still, it’s not as if the lead asks for this ability in the film but he takes it so poorly that you have to wonder if this character was ever good to begin with. The film plays it off as if this ability slowly makes him grow worse and worse as a person, but really it just brought his true self out into the light.

So, the plot starts with Scott and his wife Louise on a boat. They are on vacation, but Scott is as annoying as always and just wants to get drunk on as many beers as he can handle. Vacation ruined, they prepare to head back home when a UFO whizzes past them and blasts Scott with a bunch of radioactive material. He shrugs it off, but gradually notices that he is getting shorter. At first everyone denies it and cites crazy theories that you just shrink by a noticeable amount during the day so it’s all legit. After this is impossible to deny, the doctors work around the clock to create a cure while Scott decides to take out his frustration out on Louise. Will she trap him in a jar so that he can’t hurt anyone anymore or will the scientists have to give him a fake antidote to buy some time? A lot of tough decisions are on the table.

The premise has potential even if it’s not a whole lot of potential. It could be a reasonably fun comedy like Honey I Shrunk The Kids or something. Instead, this film decides to play it straight and is so serious that it is borderline grim at times. Scott becomes such a villain in the film that he yells at his wife, stabs the cat, and even destroys a spider. If I said he was beyond redemption at this point it would be an understatement. I couldn’t stand his character by the end and he already showed signs of being bad from the start with how he ordered Louise to get him a beer. When she denied this he played it off as a joke but this guy is definitely a bad apple. Did I mention how he also starts getting ready to cheat on Louise with someone from the circus but his plans are dashed when he shrinks again? That’s just the kind of guy he is and it’s unfortunate since Louise is such a good, loyal person. She definitely deserved better than what she got in this film.

Naturally none of these scenes are any fun to watch. Scott is basically acting like a bully only there isn’t anyone around to notice and call him out on it. Louise decides to just take it because she hopes he will be better soon. Although in my head canon I like to think that she purposefully let the cat inside and then shut the door to teach Scott a lesson. I was rooting for the cat by the way. Fortunately the cat doesn’t die or get seriously injured but the film was definitely stressful for those scenes. Still, Scott later murders the spider in graphic detail which sent the film that had already jumped over the shark all the way over the cliff. It was game over. Game Set and Match. There was just no hope left for it. Mixing in animal violence is always a way to sour any recipe and this film is no exception.

There just isn’t anything good about this film. Scott and Louise are basically the only two characters in the film. It feels rather low budget which would explain the small cast. Scott’s brother (in law? I forgot if they mentioned this or not) shows up once or twice to point out that Scott is acting petty and he should try getting some money for this. Scott denies because he just wants to see the world burn and in exchange the brother almost steps on him a few times by the end. The human interactions in these old films are usually the good parts, but it’s just hard to enjoy them. This is what a bad main character can do. He can wreck the rest of the movie just on account of how insufferable he is.

The only positive thing I can say about the film is the ending. Granted, it’s because the ending has Scott get destroyed by his own ego as he shrinks away into nothingness, but I’ll accept that. Scott couldn’t be left alive by the end of the film. A life taken is a life lost after all so since he took down the spider I’m glad that the universe placed the scales back in order. We can’t let reckless villains like Scott do whatever they want. I have higher hopes for another installment in the franchise since Scott would no longer be around.

What another film should play up more is the media angle. I want to see how the rest of the world handles this. There’s a lot of potential there as there always is when something supernatural happens in an otherwise ordinary world. I’d also like to see the main character get adjusted to his new situation and make the best of it. Moping for a little can be all right, but there has to come a time where you just make the best of it. Make a film like that and it could actually end up being quality confirmed. This goes without saying, but no animal violence either of course.

Overall, in case you didn’t guess, I didn’t like Scott. He’s absolutely terrible and the same can be said for this film. He just makes every scene around him worse and I already said that so lets keep it moving. The animal violence didn’t help matters and you’ll just struggle to get through this movie. I highly recommend staying far away from this film. The only thing it’s good at is winning Razzi awards and as much as I would like to vote for this one, I probably couldn’t depending on what the competition is. Either way, if you want a film about someone who shrinks, check out Ant Man. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that movie either, but it’s still considerably better than this one.

Overall 2/10