Searching (2018) Review


This is a film where the title is a very fair way to know the premise immediately. The whole film is a pretty big search after all and it uses some pretty interesting tactics such as how all of the scenes are filmed. It’s the kind of thriller that won’t offer as much replay value since it’s a movie where you are most engaged the first time around since you have no clue what is about to happen. If you’re up for a tense flick then this should be up your ally.

The movie starts by introducing us to David and his daughter Margot. David’s wife died early on in the film so it’s just been these two. They’ve got a pretty good bond going although Margot has started to drift apart a bit more and keep some secrets. One day she calls him three times but he ended up being asleep at the time. After repeated attempts to contact her he realizes that this is actually pretty serious and gets the police involved. They call in a detective. Now the two of them must try to track Margot down fast before it’s too late.

Searching uses more of an experimental style here as the characters never actually appear through normal camera view. Every scene is from an electronic view such as a web cam, TV, or something like that. Definitely a unique look and I will say right now I already prefer it to a traditional found footage/hand cam kind of approach. There’s no shaking or anything here which is good. I’d never want this to be the new norm but it does work rather well I would say.

As the movie is a mystery part of the fun will be in trying to connect the dots on your own. See if you can figure out exactly what happened or who the culprit is. For the latter the film gives you a fair chance of finding this out. At the very least I imagine you’ll be able to pull out the smoking gun a while before even the main character gets a chance to think about it. That being said, figuring out the rest would be very difficult and the film executes the plot rather well. A film like this always has to be careful because it has to keep the thriller elements ramped up but a poor ending would destroy everything. If the film were to get too gritty then the whole movie would be a waste of space but of course it needs to keep in some danger. It’s all balanced in rather well.

David’s a solid main character. He’s portrayed as a very reasonable guy and does a great job of narrowing down the mystery and finding as many clues as possible. He’s certainly a man on a mission and you would expect absolutely nothing less from him. He tries every available resource. It was fun to see Youtube, Twitter, and Reddit making an appearance. I would say that Reddit is typically the number 1 resource for virtually anything. I would consider it to be even more useful than Google if you want to find information. No matter what kind of content you’re looking for, whether it be real life history/science, video game information, or even food recipes, Reddit has you covered.

Naturally he also has to see a lot of pretty startling information as everyone is eager to chime in on the situation with their own information. It’s not the kind of stuff he would want to see but he can’t let any lead go cold. He goes as far as contacting many people in person to get to the end of this. He had one pretty intense moment in the theater as a result and you definitely see why he attacked the guy. Things had been going too far in that guy’s social media postings.

Along the way one of the big themes of course is learning about Margot. She kept quite a few secrets the whole time, some of which were pretty massive. She clearly didn’t have the happiest time and isolated herself quite a lot. Then there’s the fact that there are a lot of bad influences at school or even at the home which got to her. As a character she certainly isn’t as strong willed as David. I expect this experience will bring the two of them closer though and she’ll certainly be on the right track.

The cast is pretty small but the other two main characters are Rosemary and Peter. Peter looks pretty awful the whole time I have to say. His first scene shows that he’s on Weed and from there things just keep getting worse and worse. Even by the end you can’t like the guy. Then you have Rosemary who has a lot of accolades for being a pretty great officer. She has a lot of contacts and is supposed to be the best the force has got. The city has a ton of unresolved cases but no matter how good you are that’s to be expected. I can’t say I was a fan of hers ether though.

Overall, Searching is a well made thriller where things add up pretty well. Even once you’ve gone through all of the twists I would say that most of it all adds up. I would make the case that when searching through the zones that’s the one area where I can’t really buy into nobody double checking them. Seems like a really bold move not too. If you really dig deep maybe you’d expect people to know more things by the end but with a case like this where the answers seem apparent, I can see how there may not be a lot of extra digging. Searching is a movie built inherently to draw you in on the first viewing but there wouldn’t be much replay value in watching it again. That would be the film’s only main drawback here as is the case for most slow burners. The movie takes a long time to develop what happens next and showing off the characters so the pacing doesn’t speed up much. It hits you with quick bursts and then goes back to staying at an icy pace. I’d still recommend checking out the movie on your initial watch. It’s a plot that can be a little more down to Earth than a lot of thrillers though so if the concept of a kid going missing suddenly in a town like this is a little too much then you may want to check something else out.

Overall 6/10

Ocean’s 8 Review


It’s been a while since I saw the original Ocean films so it was time to check out the spinoff. I do enjoy a good heist film like this where it’s not about breaking in with guns and taking everyone out but using a lot of trickery and deception to get to the bottom of things. It’s certainly weaker than the main installments but makes for a good film overall. You shouldn’t have too many issues with the execution.

The movie introduces us to Debbie who has finally gotten out of jail after 10 years. She has promised not to commit any more crimes but can’t help herself. She wants revenge on the guy who got her into jail and wants to make some money on the side. Her objective is to steal a super fancy necklace. To do this she’s going to need to form a whole team. Her main partner Lou is ready for this but they still need 6 more people. It’s time to go recruiting and then the game is on. Can they really outwit the insurance team as well as the people who are in charge of keeping the necklace safe? It’ll take all they got.

As with most ensemble films like this the movie’s first act is mainly about getting the team together. Each character is good at a different task so once they have the team assembled then they’re ready to move out. It’s a tried and true formula which works out pretty well. The characters are decent although there are few standout characters. Then we move to the actual heist which is always a lot of fun because of how much planning goes into that. The real question is always, do you buy into it?

Well, I think most of it works out rather well. Mainly due to the twist of the heroes covering their bases by the end of the film. Without that final twist the whole thing would have blown up and been completely unbelievable. With it, there’s only a few parts that break the case I would say. One is that the necklace was secured so that it could not be removed so easily. Because of this, I don’t see how anyone would believe for a second that it just fell to the floor during the party. It actually would have been easier to just slip the replacement necklace on at that point. Initially I thought the plan was going in a different direction but the whole “I found it in the water” excuse didn’t really fly. I also doubt it would have had the same kind of lock installed so the company would have realized something was wrong from the start.

The other issue here is when the heroes get greedy at the end and start stealing everything. Really guys? That last move would sabotage everything. Put it this way, they now all had to drive off in a big getaway vehicle that was caught on camera. What if the detectives decided to search the vehicle? When you add that onto the fact that Debbie is already a wanted criminal then you’ve definitely got a big issue here. Fortunately they got a certain inspector on the case but things could have easily gotten dicey there.

Those are the two reasons why I don’t think the whole heist would have gone over very smoothly but otherwise I thought the adventure worked out well enough. The film’s pacing is pretty decent. The writing is okay but it does have a tough balance to fill with the humor and heist aspects at times. For example, some of the characters here really aren’t very well prepared to handle a heist so what happens is there will be a lot of gags for the audience like the characters being obvious about what they’re doing but then in universe is raises quite a lot of questions. Again, the film’s final twist does help with this a bit though. The dialogue itself is also decent for the most part but you feel like it could have been a lot better. One thing I would have liked to see was more discussion on planning the heist rather than Debbie setting everything up off screen. The heist itself is a lot of fun though which is always the main goal here.

Debbie is the leader of the crew and the main character so she is the one coming up with all of the plans. She does pretty well at making sure everything is thought through and you do understand why she wants to squeeze the revenge in there as well even if it does ultimately put the whole thing into jeopardy. She could have easily destroyed all of their hopes and dreams with this. After all, the guy could have turned the tables had he not fallen for every trap so obviously. There’s no real excusing the second scene where he receives a call at a very convenient time and still goes to her house to have an affair even though he should know that he’s being framed. He was literally given all kinds of information and Debbie even revealed herself just to rub his nose in the situation. Any halfway decent intelligent character would have figured something was out so Debbie’s risk was pretty huge here. She’s a solid character but not a good leader.

Lou was Debbie’s main ally and certainly the one who got the biggest role here. She was solid and helped to keep the lead grounded most of the time. She’s also got a lot of talents which helps her blend into the role really well. Amita came in handy for the jewel cutting which was one of the most crucial parts. Tammy was fun as one of the more down to earth characters who had a pretty content life before getting mixed up in all of this. If anything she should have said no since the risks heavily outweighed the rewards here.

Constance was one of the standout characters here since her sleight of hand is quite impressive. Without those abilities the plan would have to be dramatically altered. Nine Ball gives the team the tech advantage they would need for this case. She’s not as solid as the other characters but does well when needed. The weakest link is definitely Rose though. She’s the old art dealer who helps out with getting the necklace but she is not good at the criminal game and really puts everyone at risk. Then you have Daphne who is a main focus here since the heroines are trying to manipulate her into being in the right place at the right time. She’s much more self absorbed than most of the other characters but does come off as one of the more likable ones. I was also glad she was shown to be a little more intelligent than she would let on.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a good movie. It has more positives than negatives. It may ultimately feel a lot weaker than the main one so if you compare them directly then this will lose out but on its own I would still say it’s worth a watch. I’d certainly be down with a sequel as well. That said, the movie should be a little more careful with its title. If you’re paying attention to that then you’ll know more about the film than you’re supposed to. All while it’s playing you’ll be counting to 8 and so if the numbers don’t match up….well it’s something to think about. I was surprised the ending didn’t have some kind of big reveal or plot twist for the climax but I suppose they didn’t want to tip their hand in case we don’t get another film. Perhaps that is for the best but I have to say it would have been a hype way to end things off and an improvement on the ending. The ending was satisfactory though.

Overall 6/10

You Only Live Twice Review


Bond’s adventures continue with some more espionage and thriller elements. Here’s the thing for Bond though, he’s been relying on luck for quite a while now so what happens when it runs out? That’s something Bond’s going to have to think about here as the leader of SPECTRE finally gets to appear. Ultimately this film is more of the same in many respects. It is going for a new element by having Bond stay in Japan for a while but I would say the core of the film is basically the same.

The movie starts with Bond having yet another affair. This one ends a little differently than most as the girl quickly calls in her goons and they all shoot Bond down. Seeing Bond get murdered within the opening minutes was definitely a chilling experience. After Bond gets back into the sub where we find out he faked his death, he is given a new mission. Some kind of space creature/machine has been eating up every rocket sent into space. The U.S. thinks Russia did it while Russia is blaming them. Bond has to find out who the true culprit is before World War III commences. The heroes believe the rocket may have originated from Japan so that’s where Bond is going. Will he be able to crack the case?

I don’t think anyone honestly thought for a second that Bond died in the opening scene but it definitely would have been a pretty interesting twist I gotta say. His distractions would have finally cost him everything. This film is not kind to Bond for the most part though. He looks pretty bad as expected but not just physically here. Lets start with what had to be the most entertaining scene in the film. Bond is faced off with one of the big villains and they slowly start to walk towards each other.

Sizing each other up and all. Then the guy just throws out a punch real suddenly that knocks Bond for a loop. Bond was completely unprepared for the punch and you would have thought that it wouldn’t have been a surprise since a fight was about to start. I guess his reaction times just weren’t on point. Then there’s the fact that he is still confident as ever so he doesn’t mind his surroundings anymore. He meets with one of the big suspects and just assumes he can casually leave.

If not for the heroine showing up in time he would have been gunned in the back without suspecting a thing. There’s another scene where his informant is stabbed to death while Bond was having his drink. You can’t blame him for that one but at least he knows to watch his back because the enemies are everywhere right? Well, that’s not exactly the case either. Bond goes to sleep real quick later on and nearly gets poisoned to death if not for the heroine stepping in once again. This really isn’t Bond’s best day but he hasn’t had one of those in a while so it’s not too surprising.

The action scenes are okay when they happen but I wouldn’t say there are a whole lot of them in this film. The movie tries an interesting sky view for one of the larger action scenes but I wouldn’t say it works particularly well. It feels less like a battle and when the villains jump backwards it doesn’t even seem like Bond connects with them. The Japan backdrop for the movie was nice but they definitely didn’t paint the place in a really flattering light. Bond’s liaison there goes out of his way to say that women are second over here and has what equates to a bunch of female servants working for him. This is one of the heroes we’re supposed to root for eh? Bond fits right in with all of these guys.

You Only Live Twice has more dead time than the average Bond film so at times things can almost get a little dull. I’d hesitate to say that the movie actually gets boring at any points but I would say that it is just a bit more aimless than some of the others. I also thought the countries looked pretty awful just sending their rockets up without a plan. Maybe the first time but sending it again after the others were captured and you don’t even give the pilots guns? The whole thing just made SPECTRE look good of course but at the expense of everyone else.

The leader was decent even if he’s not very smart. You’d think that as the big boss he would have everything going according to plan but Bond plays him like a fiddle. Aki does well as the main heroine and is one of the better ones in the Bond films. That being said, while she does make Bond look poor in comparison with how she keeps on saving him, she also hurt’s Bond’s character further. After the villains get to her Bond wastes almost 0 time in going for the next girl so once again you see how he doesn’t take anyone seriously.

In a way this feels like it should end the SPECTRE arc. I suppose the villain got away but at this point he won’t have the same mysterious aura anymore. Well, I suppose hopefully he can come up with another good plan. This bond film suffers from poor romance, fanservice, and an unlikable cast so the rest of the review would be rather par for the course. It could be a while til the next Bond film but at least as of this point you can’t say that Bond forgot its fundamentals. It delivered consistent performances through and through.

Overall, You Only Live Twice is definitely a pretty interesting title. Bond does act like he has multiple lives most of the time so it’s pretty fitting. As always I feel like the Bond films would be so much better if they would focus on the secret agent stuff and leave Bond’s hobbies alone. Have him act professional once in a while even if it’s just to be a change of pace. I dare say that would go quite a long way. Maybe the Bond films will be able to do this in the future or at least that’s the hope.

Overall 4/10

Thunderball Review


Agent 007 returns in this next caper and SPECTRE has a very active role here. Right from the start they’re holding whole countries hostage which is pretty impressive. I suppose when you’ve stolen a nuke this is just the kind of thing you can quickly get away with. Thunderball decides to have a whole lot of ocean scenes which unfortunately don’t work nearly as well as land ones. At the end of the day you just need solid ground to get that crispy choreography you want for the battles. Thunderball’s a pretty standard Bond film I would say, it brings in about what you would expect from the series.

After SPECTRE issues their demands we cut away to Bond enjoying a nice vacation as usual. The guy seems to have an awful lot of vacations if you think about it, but he is in the business of saving the world so I suppose it makes sense. Well, the resort is awful shady and his life gets threatened multiple times before he is pulled out. M tasks him with finding a lead and Bond remembers the murder event at the hotel and quickly gets on the case. He doesn’t have a whole lot of time to find out where the bombs are as well as the villain base before the government will ultimately have to meet SPECTRE’s demands.

I have to say that right from the start Bond doesn’t look amazing here though. For starters, while he is at the resort he notices numerous times that shady things are going on. People skulking about, going into his room, etc. Yet when it’s hit time for the stretcher exercise he eagerly gets into the machine that has his arms and legs bound. Naturally a villain shows up but instead of murdering Bond he just puts the machine on high intensity so the nurse arrives later and saves him. Keep in mind that we were barely 10 minutes into the film and Bond should have already been murdered. It’s not really a great look for the guy. My idea here is that Bond’s continued success continues to raise his ego higher and higher to the point where he no longer bothers with being cautious. Why be cautious if you always end up winning right?

Well, either way the main chunk of the film takes place in the Bahamas as Bond very quickly figures out that the big villain behind this plan is a man named Largo. The guy isn’t exactly subtle about it though so Bond enjoys humiliating the guy by beating him at cards and dancing with his girl Domino. Bond loves to troll the villains like this but it always ends up with his friends being murdered so was it really worth it? For example, in this case Bond is accompanied by a few other agents. I forget their names, but naturally the girl gets kidnapped and it doesn’t end well while things don’t go very well for the guys either.

You can always expect Bond to be the last man standing in these things but then maybe he shouldn’t be so obvious about his trolling attempts. As always he has a ton of affairs in this film. He throws himself at everyone the whole time so even when you get the emotional ending scenes it’s hard to actually buy into it because you know Bond will be going to the next girl as soon as possible. As always we do have some fun scenes with M and Moneypenny as they both try to keep him on the straight and narrow. M always tends to get the best lines in these things as he reminds Bond of who is in charge here. I’d like to see him get a bigger role one of these days although in a way the small roles help portray him as being fairly invincible as he never gets into the line of fire.

I wasn’t a big fan of Domino here so between her and Bond that means that both of the main characters weren’t great. I feel like it took a while for her to put the pieces together of what happened to her brother. It’s also an example of her not really caring that she was on the wrong side until things got personal so you couldn’t really call her a hero either. She was just content doing her own thing. She does have a good moment at the end of the film though which was a solid conclusion to her subplot. She should definitely be upset with Bond though for giving her such a loud radiation sensor. He had to have known that he was basically selling her life away by giving her that but still gave it to her anyway.

This film is pretty long. I wouldn’t say it really drags on though. The Bond films are pretty good at making sure something is always happening. As mentioned though, I’m not a big fan of the underwater scenes though. The water hampers all of the movements so it’s like the characters are fighting in slow motion most of the time so not much gets done. I much prefer the quick land moments like Bond taking people out at the resort or when he tried to rescue one of the hostages. The scenes on land are just a lot more tense and make for good fights.

As always the film has its issues with the poorly developed romances and tons of fanservice. The beach setting doesn’t really help its case either since you know the film was very intentional about the selection. As long as the movies continue to focus on this I feel like there’s only so far the movies can go. They won’t be able to catch up to the rival franchises either. At least we still have the classic Bond theme so that helps with the soundtrack but you can already tell that it is appearing less and less. Once it stops altogether that will definitely be a pretty sad day. You really need that to complete the experience.

Overall, Thunderball is a pretty standard Bond film. From the early ones I’ve seen so far I would say it is one of the better ones even if it’s almost a by default kind of thing. I do have to say that the opening henchmen who tried to defy SPECTRE is probably one of the least intelligent villains I’ve ever seen. Why would you try to swindle money out of an organization with thousands of members involved in over 100 countries that can murder you in any which way? He was literally a part of the plan where they murdered a bunch of people and assumed their identities. He can blackmail them but they can always just pretend to give him what he wants and murder him the next day. There’s no possible way this would have ended well for the guy so you’re almost rolling your eyes when he asks for the money and confidently starts to walk away. It’s humorous in a sense though. So if you like the Bond films then I’d recommend this one even if just to see how Bond’s lucky streak gets him out of jams this time. Otherwise you’re better off giving it a skip.

Overall 4/10

The Beast with Five Fingers Review


When you get a film with a name like this you’re definitely going in expecting a certain kind of cinematic experience. A giant monster running around or a guy who played with science a little too much and ended up transforming into something truly fantastic. It’s a tried and true formula that always results in a fun experience. Unfortunately this film decided to go away from that format quite a bit. I think the other angle could have been more interesting but this mystery does keep your attention very well so I would still call it a pretty good movie.

The movie starts by showing us Bruce scam a few tourists as he makes a few bucks. He then heads back to the mansion of Francis who used to be excellent at playing the piano but hasn’t had a lot of inspiration to do so after his accident which left him crippled. He is close to death and has all of his closest allies witness him signing the Will. He then falls down a flight of stairs and dies. His only two relatives immediately show up since they expect to be named in the will but instead Francis has given all of the money and his estate to Julie. The relatives decide they have to find a way to void the will but Hillary is thrilled because this means he can continue to study the stars. Unfortunately, a mysterious hand appears and murders the local attorney. It would appear that Francis may not be completely dead quite yet.

This is a classic murder mystery as a mysterious hand goes around murdering people and the characters have to find a way to stop it. The issue is that Hillary can’t seem to convince anyone that the hand is real which presents an issue. The local cop does a fingerprint test and the only print showing up on the murders belongs to Francis..but he died a long time ago. What could this mean!!!? One thing’s for sure, the characters are going to have to keep up their guard at all times. Still, what can a hand do right? Usually that would be your reaction but Francis was shown to be quite strong. In one of the scenes that played before he died, Francis started to choke Hillary even while on his wheelchair and would have slain the guy if Julie hadn’t shown up. Francis was definitely strong for his age and that was a pretty powerful scene that you would not soon forget.

Hillary makes for a very interesting character. He certainly pops out at you the instant he appears. The guy is quite possessive of his books and also likes causing trouble with everyone so he’s definitely not here to make friends. Still, he does add a level of chaos to everything which is always appreciated as shaking things up can be nice. He starts to go off the deep end to an extent by the end though and you’ll be shaking your head at his scenes. The guy has a flair for the dramatic to be sure.

Julie’s a solid heroine. She may have started to get intimidated in the second half but she did stay strong for the most part and I’m glad that she didn’t hand the building off to the relatives initially. That’s a ton of money to keep and it’s not like they were going to give her any part of it if the situation had been reversed. She also does her best to help her friends out but takes some huge risks in the end that weren’t very smart. Then there’s Bruce who is effectively the main character although his role gets smaller in the second half. He’s pretty good at scamming people all the time to earn money so he’s not exactly a hero. I thought he would take a more pro active role in trying to find the hand but he was more amused than anything during the course of the film. The whole thing felt like a game to him.

We can’t forget the Commissario who had a nice role here. He was pretty quick to try and help solve this case. He may not have been able to do much against the hand but it’s always reassuring having a cop in the building here. At the very least it’ll slow down the body count. The body count here was actually quite small so the Hand didn’t make for the most impressive horror villain out there. I suppose a small body count is better than no body count though right? It’s a start at least.

I do think that the film ended a little weakly though. For starters I didn’t like Julie’s final decision as the relatives get too sweet a deal here. They definitely didn’t earn this in the slightest and I would have preferred some kind of big sale instead. That would have made a lot more sense. Additionally, the film ends off with a few different jump scares in a row with a bunch of fake outs. I don’t think that was the most effective way to go about things. The character even started to break the fourth wall which really came out of nowhere. The ending just didn’t mesh well with the rest of the film at all so it comes off as being a little forced with nothing to do with anything. Maybe the film figured it needed some levity because things were getting too serious?

Overall, I would have taken this film in a different direction but it’s a quality title nonetheless. The writing is on point which is always important as all the characters sound very distinguished even when debating each other. They’re all looking to get the upper hand here so you definitely can’t trust anyone and in a way you could say that is how this should be. Every character is always looking to manipulate someone else so why would you trust them in the first place? At the very least you shouldn’t try to talk to any of the characters alone at night when there are no witnesses. I’d still recommend this movie though as it’s a very complete film which is strong in all areas. If it ever got a sequel I’m sure there would be some potential there.

Overall 7/10

Marnie Review


Marnie is the kind of film that sneaks up on you. By all accounts it should be a pretty decent film as it was made a long time ago and has the classic writing/witty dialogue that you would expect to see here. Unfortunately it makes a number of key mistakes which ultimately doom it to not just being a bad film, but a horrible one all around. There’s certainly no reason to check this out so I would recommend giving it a hard skip.

The movie starts with Marnie swindling another business out of a lot of money. She enjoys going around and stealing money whenever she can which she then gives to her mother Bernice who suffered a major accident a while back and needs the support. Marnie’s next target is another big company led by Mark. What she doesn’t know is that he is one of the people who saw her at the last job so it isn’t hard for him to catch her. His terms are that he won’t report her to the police if she marries him so they get married but she is determined to make this difficult on him.

Everything goes straight down from there quite drastically. For starters we get a pretty random plot with her horse where it shows up but missed the jump and gets injured. Marnie has to put him down which shot a hole through the film’s chances of survival. The horse seems like he was added in just to be blown up which was a bad move. There was just no reason to do this. The film already had enough issues but at the end of the day this does tie into the film’s core problem which is trying to add too much information and backstory. We really don’t need to know any of this stuff for a solid mystery but the film insists on giving everyone an origin story or an extra detail.

Take Lil who is the main villain here. She’s trying to win Mark away from Marnie and it would be the usual love triangle except for one fact which changes everything. She’s Mark’s sister in law. So that basically throws the whole plot out because it’s just an awful storyline to even include in the film. Why did we need to add this extra information to her character? If she was the childhood friend or something it’s be cliché but at least would work a lot better than this variation. It’s too bad because she is easily the most entertaining character of the bunch and I dare say the smartest as well.

Then you have Beatrice and her whole backstory. Naturally it’s tragic to fit in with the rest of the film as she was in a dicey business and getting out took a lot of effort and turned into a whole conspiracy. Where the whole thing ends poorly is that suddenly she is unable to love her daughter anymore and I have a hard time buying into that. Does she sub consciously blame her for what happened or she’s just been completely traumatized from physical touch after the incident? Either way I don’t see how this would totally be blocking her from at least showing some more kindness towards Marnie.

Of course we can’t end there. Then you’ve got Marnie’s phobia of the color red as well as physical contact. This also transfers over to storms as well so she has a phobia of quite a lot of things by the time the film is through with her. We have a rather painful scene where she absolutely refuses to be touched but Mark had enough of this subplot by then and forced the issue. I don’t see why this part of the phobia had to be added and it couldn’t just stick to the color red. Having the phobia evolve with the film’s loose explanation of she was faking it all during the first act was definitely very weak.

Marnie gives Mark a tough time throughout the movie though as she struggles at every turn and never makes any effort to change. While the scenes can have good banter at times, the film never changes things up so a lot of the dialogue remains the same with slight variations. Then you have Mark who isn’t exactly a hero either as his main goal was to marry Marnie from the start so he effectively allowed her plans to progress until he could make use of them. He does what he can to rehabilitate her for most of the film but ultimately wasn’t able to stick the landing such as the boat scene.

This film does have some of the typical thriller aspects like having one person from Marnie’s past show up to start stirring up some trouble. I was glad for at least some quick stakes here because the film needed something. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t focus on this plot a little more and just throw the other ones out. That would have gone a long way towards improving the movie without a doubt. The main issue is really just the writing as it relies on a whole lot of shock value to keep the film going. That’s always a sign of poor writing because it means they were not confident enough in the script to get people watching towards the end without such big scenes.

Overall, Marnie is a film I would highly recommend staying away from. All of the plots are pretty bad here so the film never really gives you a chance to just sit down and enjoy the scenes at hand. It’s always throwing more shock value at you which definitely destroys any chance of the movie actually turning into a quality experience. It’s a shame because at the very least the premise of a thief going around robbing a bunch of people with the boss knowing about it could be fun. This just won’t be the title that actually puts that kind of storyline on the map.

Overall 0/10

Gilda Review


Gilda is a Noir film from a while back. It’s definitely got every noir element you can ask for and makes for a pretty interesting film although the main character is definitely pretty bad. Definitely not someone you can trust in the slightest and there’s a lot of twists and turns here as the characters mess with each other. The main takeaway is that you shouldn’t get involved with gambling as things tend to get dicey.

The movie starts with a confident guy named Johnny cheating a bunch of sailors at cards and running off with all of their money. He doesn’t get far though as someone holds him at gunpoint and Johnny realizes that it may be curtains for him. That’s when a guy named Ballin shows up and rescues Johnny. Ballin is the owner of a local casino and so naturally Johnny repays this kindness by going to that guy’s casino and stealing a bunch of money. He’s caught again but Ballin decides to make him a partner. Johnny is surprisingly loyal and so the two get along really well. This all changes when Ballin goes on vacation and returns with a new wife named Gilda. Johnny and Gilda have quite the history between them which leads to a lot of friction. Gilda is a free spirit who flirts with everyone so Johnny tries to keep Ballin from finding this out. Will Johnny and Gilda’s feud end up destroying the casino?

At first things are going almost too well so you know something’s got to give. Johnny and Ballin have perfect teamwork with each other and the casino is doing better than never. They’re really on cloud 9 and Johnny’s enjoying his new lease on life. As someone who used to cheat a whole lot it makes sense that he would be good at noticing if others were using the same tricks. That said, things all fall to pieces when Gilda shows up. She is intentionally difficult a lot of the time as well as she puts him into tough situations that are hard to explain.

I would make the case that if he was straight with Ballin from the start instead of making up stories then it would have been easier. By the midway point that isn’t an option anymore though as Ballin starts to act rather dangerously. Perhaps Johnny knew that would be his reaction all the while. Johnny was really solid in the first half of the film but then he looked really bad later on. His punishment scheme involving marriage started off as incredibly petty and by the end just turned flat-out villainous. There isn’t any real way to root for him as he went completely off the deep end.

Then you have Gilda who isn’t a very good heroine. She admits to being someone who goes on the rebound all the time. While the characters do ultimately say she never actually cheated on the leads, it’s hard to really believe that given her actions. She actually did cheat on Ballin while they were still married with Johnny and she was already getting into a serious affair with someone overseas until it turned out that he was actually an inside agent. The common theme in both of these instances is that she was really quick to move on so it’s hard to imagine any real romance sticking around for the long-haul by the end. Without trust you can’t possibly have a healthy relationship after all.

The romance in the film in general is just really weak and takes away from the more interesting thriller aspects of the story. You’re interested in the conspiracies and the truth behind the casino. Not in what’s going on between Johnny and Gilda. That’s the kind of stuff you can just leave for a side story or just to the imagination but it ends up playing quite the central focus by the end.

There are two main supporting characters in Pio and Obregon. Pio is a nice janitor type character who completes all of the odd jobs around the Casino. He’s been around for a long time and is always completely confident in himself. Nobody can scare this guy and that’s because he knows just about everything. You can always count on him in crunch time and he was just fun. Then you’ve got Obregon who appears for a lot of the movie. He’s a mysterious character who is always hanging around the scene of the crime just doing his own thing. There are naturally twists around his character and they are handled quite well. He may even be the best character in the film when you think about it.

Finally you’ve got the main villain Ballin and he definitely messes up what was a pretty good system for him. He really had everything he could have wanted and then ended up messing it all up by going after Gilda when he shouldn’t have. If he had just stayed strong or not gotten married so impulsively then he would have been okay. While the guy went crazy by the end, he may have been distracted by success long enough for that not to take effect. It’s quite the coincidence that he ended up meeting up with Gilda of all people.

As with any classic Noir film the writing is important and I would say it is pretty solid here. The banter with Johnny and Ballin is always solid with a lot of subtle jabs thrown in. Johnny has a quick word for anyone who gets in his way. The only time the interactions aren’t as solid is with him and Gilda as you can see the romance coming a mile away so their tough talk just doesn’t work as well. Beyond that the whole film is definitely interesting from start to finish and the pacing means that it all goes through pretty smoothly. There’s never a point in the film where you feel like it’s dragging on.

Overall, Gilda is a solid Noir film. I wouldn’t put it as one of my all time high picks in the genre but it holds up well enough. Gilda is the weakest element of the film to be sure along with the rather weak romance here but the plots about the casino and such are solid. There’s always something going on here and definitely a lot to unpack. All of the characters could have handled the situation differently and would have been in a better spot for it except for Obregon who handled everything well from start to finish. That guy was always a step ahead of the rest. With a solid ending to close things out, I’d definitely recommend Gilda if you want to check out a classic film with a little mystery and intrigue.

Overall 6/10

Goldfinger Review


Bond is at it again with this next installment but is the film going to go to the next level here or will this be about on the level as the first two. It’s definitely a movie that retains a lot of the same issues as the earlier titles. The action scenes are fun though but Bond certainly gets punked a whole lot. Again, how is this guy the best agent that M16 has got? It feels like he mostly just relies on luck in all of his appearances and that’s not a good strategy that’ll work long-term.

Well, the movie starts with Bond blowing up a facility and basically showing the audience that 007 is back! Bond heads to a resort for vacation but the worst fear of every person on vacation happens…his boss shows up. The agent tells Bond that he is to investigate and monitor an infamous villain known as Goldfinger. The guy stays at this very resort and loves cheating people out of their money. Bond is pretty confident that he can beat anyone up so he promptly begins trolling Goldfinger by stealing his girl, making fun of him, and then cheating the guy out of a bunch of money. Naturally this leads to Goldfinger murdering the girl and beating Bond up multiple times. Bond wants revenge now but will he be able to stop Goldfinger in this frenzied state or is he on a one way trip to oblivion?

This film really highlights the issue with Bond’s overconfidence. It just doesn’t feel earned since each time it causes him to lose or his friends to get murdered. The girl from the opening scene is a big example of this. Bond basically threw her life away by antagonizing Goldfinger and not giving her any kind of protection after that. What did he really expect was going to happen here? As a special agent you need to be confident in yourself. Absolutely, that’s a true statement but there are limits to this. It’s like how Iron Man dared Mandarin to try and attack him in Iron Man 3 and was surprised when the guy did or even a random thug mocking Accelerator and saying he wouldn’t dare shoot her only to find out that he actually would. If you’re going to test someone you should be prepared for retaliation.

So Bond is no better in this film than in the last few. Not only is he very weak but of course he is distracted by every lady in the film and has a number of affairs as normal. I’m okay with him getting extra emotional for this one. While some may say this isn’t very professional of him, he knows very well that the situation is his fault and should want to avenge the girl. It just makes all of his losses in this film sting all the more. He still has his more charismatic moments of course and can be a fun lead to follow but not a likable one.

Unfortunately Goldfinger is definitely the worst main villain so far. The guy can’t really fight all that well and just relies on the fact that he can always outwit Bond. His final plan only gets so far out of pure luck. I have a very hard time believing he would be able to shoot down over 10 Army fighters on his own and then escape for a third time. That whole sequence will have you shaking your head. Keep in mind that the army went in knowing that there had been a hostile takeover at this point. Should be on full alert….

His main minion Oddjob was really good though and definitely a standout character. He’s actually very skilled. First off, the steel hat is a genius invention because you can wear it very discreetly and then toss it when you need to take someone down. The villains clearly have their own Q who can make some solid items. He’s also not a one trick pony as he was able to fight really well even without the hat. I wasn’t surprised that he was a lot stronger than Bond either as we never see the agent training while this guy was clearly devoted to his craft. That’s a lot of shots at Bond eh? I’ll give him a break til the end now.

Galore is the main heroine in this film and I’ll give her some points for being able to fight. In fact she even defeated 007 on multiple occasions. It’s definitely nice to have hand to hand skills and even better to have that coupled with a gun. At that point there just isn’t much you can do if she has the proper angle. Galore does really well in this film even if ultimately you know that some romance will be appearing at some point.

As always this is where the Bond film falters. There’s a ton of random affairs in the film. Even the opening credits are pretty painful here as it focuses on a ton of suggestive imagery the whole time. From the posters and such you can see exactly how the film was advertising itself and this did not change with this film. It makes all of the usual mistakes here and just makes you shake your head at how predictable it is, but also at how much better it could have been without that.

The movie’s about on par with the last two. I would argue it’s a tad bit better than the opening 3 but not by enough to really make much of a difference. Hopefully as the films go on Bond will look a little better but at this point I’m rather doubtful. Usually you have the lead look his best in the opening films before having him lose more in the sequels since it shows how the villains are getting more powerful. So if he is already getting crushed here then that really does not bode well for him.

Overall, Goldfinger continues to show why the James Bond films aren’t in the same league as Mission Impossible or Jason Bourne. Those titles really focus on the special agent aspect of the plot as the primary focus while this one seems to have that as the backdrop at times while Bond’s charms are the main focus. He’s just thrown off his game so often it gets pretty crazy. The film does flow by as the pacing is good and I would also say the writing is on point. It’s mainly just held back by Bond himself and the fanservice. The fact that Goldfinger is not only a sub par villain but a flat out bad one doesn’t help matters either. We’ll see if the next film is able to overtake this one.

Overall 4/10

Time Lock Review


Time Lock is a very retro thriller that has aged quite well. The main danger here is trying to save a kid before a certain amount of time has elapsed so it’s a concept that you could easily apply to a modern movie as well. There’s a lot of solid dialogue here and a quality cast of characters so the movie goes by rather quickly. It’s got a good amount of replay value as well so I could easily recommend it.

The movie starts with the bankers getting ready to close shop for the long weekend. It had been a busy week so they were all glad to have some time off. They get ready to close the vault but there’s a traffic incident outside so the two men take a break to look outside. In the meanwhile the banker’s kid sneaks into the vault. The bankers don’t notice this as they close the vault only to find out right afterwards that he snuck in. The issue is that the vault is sealed with a Time Lock which was created for the sole purpose of making sure that nobody can get into the vault once it is closed. They must now find a way to get the boy out before he runs out of Oxygen and call in everyone they can think of to help. Their best bet is the expert known as Mr. Dawson but he is already on vacation so they’ll need to track him down.

Dawson doesn’t appear until we’re deep into the film but his presence is felt almost immediately. Right from the start the characters acknowledge that he is their best bet and he is portrayed really well as an expert who knows his stuff. He takes charge and makes all of the right moves. Initially my reaction was that he could have started giving instructions before he got to the bank but as this was the 50s I assume that wasn’t really an option at the time. Dawson’s easily the best character in the film for sure.

Still, there aren’t really any bad characters here. Everyone does their best to help the kid out and it’s nice to see the community come together like this. For example, at one point the main characters are effectively out of options so a local reporter offers to help out by getting alerts out on all their channels and even flying in Dawson. Then you’ve got all of the townsfolk who are ready to help break through the vault however they can. Everyone here is doing their part. If anything the bank gives the reporter a tough time despite being so helpful towards the end but they weren’t trying to squeeze in a random antagonist. I suppose in this film you didn’t need one although it would have been pretty interesting to have some bank robbers run in to cause chaos.

The main emotional plot here is with the kid’s parents since they aren’t taking this quite so well. The Dad blames himself for not noticing that the kid went into the vault in time while the Mom is stressed out since the kid may not make it. The Secretary was also slow to alert them that the kid went into the vault since she saw him run in and should have yelled out immediately. Then you have the boss who didn’t do a second check after turning his back to the vault. In a situation like this there is naturally a lot of collective blame that can be had. At the end of the day the characters were just a bit careless because it’s a task they’ve done so many times and so they got a bit complacent this time around. Human error is something that can happen so it was just about time.

I’ll give the kid some credit for not panicking here though. He actually takes the whole situation pretty well in stride. He doesn’t start crying or yelling once he’s stuck there and just calmly tries to follow orders. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to unlock the vault or the whole film would have ended a lot sooner. It was a good idea on their part to use the megaphone though and it was an interesting dilemma since there was no way for the kid to signal if he heard or not. So they would have to talk not knowing if they were receiving a response or not. Definitely not an easy spot to be in.

As for the solution to breaking through the vault, it was pretty interesting. I feel like one of the side characters had actually suggested going in through the side and the others had said it was a waste. Ultimately the idea seemed good although of course here they were going for the switch as opposed to going all through the side. So there is a difference there but at least the Welder deserves some credit there before Dawson came in to save the day. Most of the characters in this film were professionals and it was nice to see them be able to use their expertise to help out in the situation.

Overall, Time Lock is a solid film. It really has no weaknesses and performs well as a low key thriller. The stakes may not be something like a city at stake but any life in the balance makes for a very personal film. You’ve got a solid cast, solid writing, and an interesting plot. It all boils down to a movie that’s just entertaining from start to finish. You’re bound to have a good time with this one. It also shows how well designed the bank vault is as not just anyone could have broken into it without those resources. I’m sure that the manufacturers would probably build some extra precautions into the next version so this probably wouldn’t even work next time around. That said, I doubt the kid will be going anywhere close to a vault after this.

Overall 7/10

From Russia with Love Review


James Bond continues on another adventure with this second film. From Russia with Love is definitely a very well known film in the series and the title is certainly iconic. What’s better than seeing Bond have to go up against his Russian counterparts right? Well, while the action is dialed up and we have some interesting ideas here, I wouldn’t say that it’s a match for the original film. This is still not quite as the point where the James Bond films were epic to watch. I wouldn’t quite give this one a thumbs up.

The movie starts with SPECTRE returning to the forefront. After Bond messed up their plans last time they are not eager to see it happen again. The leader calls in a big chess master and the former head of Russia’s special agent program. They are to find a way to get a device over from Russia and then bump Bond off. Rosa decides to use special agent Tatiana for this mission, all the while pretending that she is still in the Russian program as an officer. Meanwhile M16 sends Bond in to obtain the device after Tatiana claims she wants to defect from Russia. (All part of the plan) Bond figures he’s walking into a trap but doesn’t really mind.

This film has a lot going on at all times and the plot is certainly crafted well. It’s quite hard to predict exactly how things will shake out all the time. I like the idea of SPECTRE trying to pit Russia and the US against each other from the shadows. As an international organization it makes sense that they would be messing with all of the countries. It’s also good to see the organization return since it does work as a nice ongoing plotline in the series. They have trained their fighters rather well.

Grant makes for a very impressive villain, although perhaps too impressive. Throughout the film he saved Bond and gets the upper hand on him. He’s shown to be more powerful and smarter. At that point, what’s left for Bond? His presence is felt throughout the movie and it makes Grant a fairly unforgettable character. His opening appearance was definitely impressive as well so from start to finish this guy made for a good villain.

On the hero side we had Ali this time who was a head of M16 for this division. He’s a pretty good agent who may not be the best at fieldwork but he is highly resourceful and has kept up a good system for many years. Naturally once Bond enters the picture these plans tend to go haywire since everyone is always targeting the agent. Ali did well in his screen time though. M and Moneypenny appear as well of course and they’re always fun supporting characters as well. M likes to shatter all of Bond’s plans all the time while Moneypenny likes to play along. It makes for a good dynamic at the office.

As for the main heroine of this film, I can’t say Tatiana was one of the better ones. She is put into a rather tough mission of course but I feel like she was tricked rather easily. This is definitely a weakness of being in a super secret organization if they never even told their members that the head had been let go. Does Tatiana have no contacts here she could have contacted? The organization itself is to blame for a lot of it but Tatiana should have done some more research as well or just defected for real once she was betrayed. The villains give her so much distance she would have had a lot of good opportunities to pull this off. At the end of the day she does manage to step up though.

Then that takes us to Bond and he takes so many Ls in this film that you wonder why the 007 title is so legendary. He gets beaten more times than you can count to the point where he isn’t even as cautious as he used to be in the first film. I suppose at this point he’s just decided that there’s no point and rolls with whatever the next challenge is. Due to this though, it’s hard to picture him looking really good in a movie. The guy’s just let his overconfidence run wild within himself. As long as he is unable to clear his missions without flirting or getting distracted I imagine that his potential will always be rather limited. He has his moments but on the whole I wouldn’t be able to call him a good lead.

Bond’s worst moment might be near the end where he notices Grant ordering a drink combination that doesn’t make sense. Bond had already been suspicious from the start but he still allows Grant to put something in Tatiana’s drink. Bond calls him out on it and buys the very suspect explanation that it would be easier this way. The whole thing makes him look like a rookie. I thought he was also incredibly harsh with Tatiana during the interrogation in the car afterwards. If Bond was unlikable before that moment then he was really doomed after that.

I’ll throw out a quick mention to Rosa who had a lot of fighting spirit for an old lady. She certainly knew that returning to base with no results would be a bad idea of course so that was good thinking on her part. Her main mistake is that she definitely should have fired right away rather than waiting so long. That’s the mistake most villains make here. With the amount of people who get Bond at gunpoint you’ll definitely always be surprised to see him still alive.

The main issue with the film naturally is its over reliance on fanservice and having Bond have an affair with every female character he runs into. The film always includes a lot of romance only since Bond is constantly jumping to the next character we know that it’s not actually a true romance anyway. The opening credits for the film are fairly painful to get through as well as the film’s artistic style here is really just to sell more tickets with fanservice once again.

At least the movie has a good soundtrack though. The Bond theme never gets old no matter how many times they play it. It’s just classic and I’m up for as many remixes as they’ve got. The action scenes are fun when they happen as well. We even get a train backdrop for a good chunk of the film which works out quite nicely. A change of scenery is always a good idea. I’d also say the writing is solid for the most part. There’s a lot of good banter here and the film handles the light hearted action tone rather well. The movie doesn’t drag on and at close to 2 hours that’s fairly impressive.

Overall, From Russia With Love is a very classic Bond film. It’s got the usual spy adventures along with a number of mysteries and intrigue that Bond must sift through in order to get to the heart of the problem. He takes every single stop on the journey that can be had though and is never in a hurry. His number 1 ability here is really just having a lot of luck and also is fortunate that the villains decide to show him mercy so often. I’d recommend watching a movie like Jason Bourne or Mission Impossible if you want a film that focuses more on the stealth aspects though. They operate at a much higher level.

Overall 4/10