Cube Review

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

Time for one of those death trap films where you have to survive until the end to win. Of course it won’t be very easy and if you know your genre well then it’s unlikely that more than 2 will survive. In fact, sometimes you can’t even expect 2 to make it. So as you watch the film you will be wondering just when these guys are gonna die. Unfortunately the film is pretty bad and doesn’t end up using the concept to its full potential.

The movie starts with all of the characters waking up in a mysterious Cube. Each room is lit up by the same 4-5 colors and it’s easy to get lost. The place seems to be endless as well which causes the characters to start cracking. Making matters even worse is the fact that many rooms have death traps installed within them. Can the heroes really find a way out of here or is it game over for them?

A movie like this is usually doomed as soon as you see the cast since the characters tend to be unlikable and this one is no exception. The characters always end up being either mean, evil, or complain a lot. They’re not ready for this kind of adventure and it’s why you always wish they would do a film with a group of trained professionals instead. For once it would be nice to see the characters not be panicking the whole time and actually just make the right calls when it counted. This isn’t that film though.

First you have Quentin who’s the worst character in the film. You know how his character arc is going to play out almost as soon as he starts talking. Maybe it’s an escape room type gimmick but you know that you’ve seen this character arc play out before. It’s a shame since the drama should really be focused on the literal death traps instead. Quentin’s scenes just get worse and worse as he film goes on which is a shame since it just drives the film lower and lower.

Granted, the film was always going to be a really low one. It’s a pretty violent film with the death traps everywhere and each death is always rather gruesome. One guy gets his face melted off, others are stabbed. There aren’t really any happy moments in the film. Since the characters started off already in the cube, we don’t even get a happy intro with the characters talking as they walked in an area for a test or something. The film is part mystery as they don’t even know why they are in the Cube in the first place.

Joan is effectively the main character here. She’s a math genius which really comes in handy here due to how the Cube works. The film throws a lot of twists about this but the key thing to remember is that as a trap/puzzle there is a right way to move around. If you find this method then you will end up going far and claiming victory. Of course it isn’t easy though. Joan definitely goes through quite a lot in the film. I wasn’t particularly a fan of hers either though. She complains a lot with the rest of the group and isn’t particularly nice to Kazan.

Nobody is safe from cracking in this film. Kazan is one of the biggest examples as the whole experience basically broke him completely. Unfortunately you feel like he’s just here to make everything more uncomfortable for the rest of the characters. One of the worst scenes is when he has to use the bathroom and it’s crude moments like that which will hold the film back even more. You don’t need anything like that in this film or any other.

David is the cynic of the group who thinks everyone is dead anyway so we may as well not try further. He is hiding some secrets which strengthen his case on why they shouldn’t do much but of course that’s not very helpful in trying to stay alive. He’s really not being helpful to the cast at all. Someone like this is just really annoying to have in the group spreading more negativity.

Helen also can’t stay focused as she talks about the government conspiracies and how someone is always watching. Her theories only serve to aggravate the rest of the characters even more. She seems nicer than most of the other characters at least even if she breaks down a lot. The only character who seemed likable was Wren. He wasn’t panicking and was at least making some moves in trying to get out of here. I can at least respect that.

But yeah this is the kind of film that’s just very mean spirited the whole time. It’s about throwing the cast into an unwinnable situation as you watch them all get bumped off and turn on each other. If the film had stayed about survival and didn’t go down the “Lord of the Flies” route then it would have been better. Likely not good of course but at least it would have been better. The death traps are all you need and everyone turning on each other is always one of the worst plot points.

In fighting is bad enough but the films always have to go way too far with it. If everyone was just upset at each other or snapping with insults that would be fine. It’s when they try to murder each other or go further that we have a problem. That’s most of the second half unfortunately because the characters figure out how to get around the traps reasonably early on and so after that the people are the real danger.

The ending is your classic horror ending so I won’t say how it goes but you aren’t expecting a happy ending here anyway. We get a few jump scares but the last one doesn’t even make any sense. I don’t see how this person would be here given what we just saw. That’s absolutely impossible, it’s just not going to happen and is here for pure shock value. The film simply couldn’t leave well enough alone and it makes the whole journey feel even more pointless.

Overall, This film is just pretty bad. There’s already not much to salvage within the sub genre when you take it to the horror extreme and this one lowers the bar further by adding all kinds of unnecessary plot elements. The only thing I would say for it is that the design of the Cube is rather solid. I liked the various colors and there were some decent background music tracks within. The mystery itself might compel you a bit but as the film goes on you get the sense that you’re not going to be getting any answers to it anyway. You will have your headcanon at least which will have to do. Of course with more films out you may get all of the answers there. I wouldn’t advise checking this film out or any of the sequels though.

Overall 1/10

London Has Fallen Review

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

It’s been close to 7 years since I originally saw Olympus Has Fallen. It’s fun to look back to my old review of it. I ended up seeing the film again to get ready for this one and would score it higher nowadays. I’d probably bump it back up to around a 7. I still do have an issue with how easy the whole takeover was. No way that plane should have been able to take out the two jets like that and I feel like everyone wouldn’t go down so quick…but that’s how it goes. This film isn’t quite as strong as the first and I do have to suspend my disbelief again but it’s still a solid sequel.

Following up on the events from the first film, Mike is back on the security detail protecting the president. They have been invited to attend a funeral for the prime minister along with the presidents and leaders of many different countries. I have massive doubts that everyone would actually attend in person due to the great security risks this would bring but the President does want to go in person. A virtual meeting would have been best but it looks like America is going. Mike and the President head in with the team but of course it’s a trap and nearly all of the leaders are assassinated while London is burning. Mike has to help the President get back to safe ground but comms are down and enemies are everywhere. Will Mike be able to pull off one more rescue?

The film is definitely escalating the situation a lot more than the first film. We’ve got traitors everywhere, the villains have a plan so big that they outsmarted the G8 and tons of cops were planted on the inside. The film points out that this is a plan that was years in the making but even then I have doubts on this all going through. It seems like the USA was the only place to even think of bringing in any guards. Everyone else just folded immediately when the enemies attacked. No extraction plans or anything, they all just curled up and died. Even at the end of the film they nonchalantly mentioned that a new government has been installed and everything’s all good….but it’s not a focus.

You may as well have had this take place in the U.S. again because it feels like the other countries just did not matter at all. They don’t ultimately do anything and feel incidental. The villains don’t even seem to care about the other governments at all anyway. I could go on about that angle but it would go in circles pretty quickly. Bottom line is I don’t think this plan would really work nearly as well as the film is trying to spin it. I always have a lot of skepticism on these outside attacks at least on this scale.

Mike continues to be a great lead here. He takes charge right away and gets the President to safety. Each time he manages to take on several opponents at once and is quick under pressure. He has a lot of good lines here and is just really talented. He doesn’t let the team pull him off the field and lives up to his reputation as a one man army. Soon the villains are going to need to start factoring him into the equation if they really want to win these battles. Otherwise it’s really curtains for them.

The President is also fun. I still wish they would let him fight at least once since we did get the whole boxing scene in the first film. He shoots someone here but I’m talking a true hand to hand fight. He always ends up taking a beating instead but the guy always stands strong so I’ll give him credit there. He’s not going to give up or crack in the end.

Trumbull is also a very solid character. He really did an excellent job of filling in during the events of the first film. His role isn’t quite as big in the second film but he gets a really good scene at the end where he turns the tables on the main villain. I also liked how he turned the guy’s line against himself. The ending is also a bit ironic for him since the villain was rambling about how the U.S. blows people out of the sky all the time and this and that. Well, now he had the honor of being blown out from the sky himself.

The villains aren’t quite as memorable as in the first film though. You’ve got the classic “I want revenge for my fellow terrorists” kind of guy who doesn’t realize that he should be blaming them for being terrorists in the first place. The U.S. does look a bit iffy with one explosion where it turns out that we blew up a bunch of civilians as collateral damage as a result. Sounds like it was a rough choice but since we didn’t even get the villain that did make us look bad. We ultimately got him on the second shot though. Certainly there was not going to be any other decision after the President was taken hostage and nearly murdered though.

The action scenes are on point as you would expect. Definitely a lot of very intense battles there and nobody is taking prisoners here. We get some solid hand to hand fighting and Mike surprisingly has a bit of a tough battle at the end. Of course he has to be utterly exhausted by this point so that makes sense. He does spend a little too long gloating at the end which nearly leads to one villain getting away but I suppose after beating so many enemies he has earned a little speech to himself.

Overall, London Has Fallen is a good sequel to the first film. It doesn’t surpass the original as it’s weaker in almost every way but it’s still a good movie in its own right. The characters are on point and you’ll be engaged with what’s going on in the story. The villains aren’t as memorable and I would say the film isn’t quite as tense as the first though. It’ll be interesting to see what the third film’s all about. I’d assume the only way to get even bigger is to have the whole world engaged in some kind of World War III as Mike has to protect the president from every country. That might start entering the point of parody if they were to do that though so we’ll see how that works out. Either way, this is a film I could recommend checking out without a doubt.

Overall 6/10

Kenny Rogers as The Gambler Review

The Gambler is an interesting wild west film because it’s not focused on the shootouts and instead the card playing is a big focus here. Of course with a title like The Gambler you would expect that. The actual card game has to be one of the big highlights in the film. It’s definitely a good film and holds up pretty well compared to a lot of wild west kind of titles.

The Gambler starts off by introducing us to Brady. He is an extremely good gambler to the point where nobody can really hope to defeat him. He sees a young guy named Billy Montana who is getting himself into trouble by cheating a lot and beating everyone. Brady saves him from a rough fate and then takes most of Billy’s money after beating him in a bunch of games. The two of them head on to a train which is heading to a world championship tournament for big gamblers. Billy is super excited to be entering the tournament of course although Brady isn’t heading there. He got a message from his son Jeremiah that he and his mother are in trouble so Brady’s off to the rescue. Can he really stop the new guy who has taken over the town though?

Brady didn’t even know he had a kid before now. He had ultimately split up with Eliza a while back and as the film goes on we learn more of the circumstances surrounding that. I wouldn’t say every question is answered but we see that it wasn’t really up to Brady. This ultimately doesn’t make Eliza look great especially getting together with this new guy who was Brady’s rival. I’d like more of an explanation on how this whole situation went down because it’s just hard to see. Rufe is shown to be a really awful guy right from the start.

As you can expect he doesn’t end up doing great once it’s time to fight personally. All he can really do is hide behind others to stay in the battle. Otherwise he’s completely out of his league and he knows it. His scenes are definitely the worst ones in the film like striking Eliza and threatening Jeremiah. It’s always more fun when we’re focused on the Brady plot.

The train isn’t the safest spot either though. The owner of the train is one of those sleezy types who wants his customers to do him favors. Fortunately Brady was around and we even get a quick fight scene where he takes someone out with his cane. Brady may be a great card player but I should mention that he is also an excellent fighter. He is old so Brady can’t move as well nowadays but he does have his gun at the ready. One of his better moments is when he breaks into the tavern to save Billy.

Of course his card game against the old rival was another great moment. We got to see how each player would wager their bets and there was a lot of good strategy here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that was truly just about the cards and from this film I can safely say that it would probably be a lot of fun. I may not play card games very often myself but they were fun to watch. It may be a little more luck than most gamblers would like to admit but there is also skill involved. This almost could have been the climax of the film since the fight with Rufe feels more like an after thought.

Billy ends up being an excellent character by the end too. At first he is a bit annoying with all the cheating. The guy claims to be confident but he is cheating so often that it’s hard to take this very seriously. If he was really super good then surely he wouldn’t need to cheat right? Then there is the fact that he enters the super suspicious tavern even after he is warned not too by Brady. Brady made it obvious that this was a bad idea but of course Billy didn’t listen and it nearly cost him everything.

So the first half was rough but in the second half he has a lot of good moments like sticking up for Eliza along with Brady, throwing the gun out the window, and of course his role in the climax. Billy was able to take down a whole lot of enemies at once and seemed really good with the gun considering that he just got it. It was a good way to continue his character arc and you could tell that he did learn from his earlier mistakes. That was nice to see.

I wasn’t a big fan of Jeremiah though. The kid definitely gets into a whole lot of trouble and blames Brady quickly before learning the full story. For Eliza I question her decision making here in being with Rufe from the start and leaving Brady. Without more details I can’t say this for sure of course but it doesn’t seem like the right decisions were made. At least we learn that she did try escaping a few times but he would always find her so I guess at that point it was too late. She should have gone with Brady and Jeremiah at the end though. There’s really no reason to stay.

So The Gambler is a pretty well balanced film. The adventure is good and it’s nice to see Brady sharing the wisdom the whole time. He has a lot of good dialogue and shows his wisdom throughout the film. He’s great at cards, gunfights, and just knows what he is doing the whole time. His final scene about calling bluff with the villain was also handled really well. Really a perfect way to end things for his character.

The only part of the film that’s weak is any scene where we have to see Rufe. Any scene with him is usually very annoying and can be brutal. Part of why you would never want to live in the Wild West is because there was really no justice in a bunch of these places. It seems like the villains would often own the towns and then that would be game over. Even the train of course was corrupt and things would have gotten dicey if Brady wasn’t around. Definitely not a whole lot of people to trust out here.

Overall, If you’re looking for a very climactic card fight this is the film to check out. The battle with Brady’s rival is a lot of fun and the game goes on for quite a long while. It’s nice and I wouldn’t mind if they ditch the gun angle entirely and we just focus on the gambling. It could really hold a whole film by itself without a doubt. We’ll see if the sequels are ultimately able to keep up with this one.

Overall 6/10

The Predator Review

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

Whenever you decide to have a bunch of villains be the main characters it doesn’t seem to end well. One of the Alien films tried pulling this off with the prison movie and that wasn’t great. Suicide Squad tried this with super villains and no dice. Now you’ve got The Predator where the main character is surrounded by a bunch of lunatics and unsurprisingly none of them are particularly likable. That’s a bit of a problem because that means the rest of the film has to work that much harder. This one was ultimately not able to succeed.

The movie starts off with McKenna and his squad of army fighters going through the forest when they are attacked by something out of this world. McKenna manages to survive but the rest of his squad is taken out. McKenna quickly mails himself some of the alien tech he was able to grab to prove the truth about the aliens but the government quickly catches up to him and naturally they want to keep this a secret. So they send him to a prison to possibly be lobotomized or just buried there forever. The Predator appears once again to take names though so McKenna convinces the rest of the crew to knock the cops out and escape. Now it’s their turn to hunt the Predator. They were all trained professionals at one time or another before being taken to the asylum so surely they can beat this Predator right? That is McKenna’s hope at least and he has to hurry because the Predator is now after his son since the kid has the equipment now.

McKenna is really the only good character in the film and that’s a shame. He’s not a bad lead or anything but it’s really hard to hold a whole film on your back. McKenna does his best but ultimately you just wish there was a better supporting character. He is determined to help his kid and does get a lot of solid moments as the film goes on. His gun skills are on point and he lives up to the hype that he builds for himself. The main heroine Bracket isn’t bad I suppose although criticizing the Predator’s name along with another one of the characters kinda feels petty considering that she’s just found out that aliens exist on the planet. The name can wait. While it’s played for laughs, she did have the right reaction in going for the gun and firing it when she woke up in an unfamiliar spot the way that she did. You always want to play it safe after all.

The rest of the guys from the truck are just super annoying though. They contribute quite heavily to the poor writing in the film as they just talk like criminals. We get a whole lot of crude dialogue the whole time and they can’t keep their eyes on the prize. They’re easily distracted and also lack reaction times like when one guy started shooting at a barrier instead of jumping. Not a really good move there. I really would have preferred if the main characters would have been McKenna’s squad. I guess that would be a clone of the first film but I can get behind that.

Naturally this movie is super violent so if you’re not up for that then this is a movie that you will certainly want to be skipping. Characters are ripped apart and really taken down a few pegs. The Predator isn’t holding back and then of course you also have the Super Predator running around. I feel like we’ve already done the whole Super Predator thing like in the third film but with all the films soft rebooting or at least taking things to a new location, why not go through it again. It is interesting how they switched up the Predator’s motivations a bit here. So now they hunt in order to improve their species through some kind of spinal fluid. It’s like Attack on Titan I guess.

It’s a reasonable explanation for why they hunt but it doesn’t really add or change anything so I don’t have much of an opinion on that. It’s just there I guess. I will always still prefer Aliens to Predators. As for the kid Rory, he has a few scenes that might stretch your disbelief with how he operates the Predator tech but at least he doesn’t immediately figure it out like the girl from Robocop. I’m not a big fan of kids getting a big role in these things since they always become a hostage at some point like how this kid is inevitably grabbed later on. I guess Rory handles the situation decently enough but I just want to get back to the big battles.

The movie easily has the best ending for a Predator film though. It’s like something out of Skyline or Iron Man. The heroes are finally going to have a way to fight back against the Predators. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the sequel may be coming at this point but if it does I could see this being the very best entry in the series. I would have a whole lot of hype for that one because it’s just such a good ending. It would really change the entire tone and feeling of the franchise and for the better. This would be more of an action series going forward and I am absolutely down with that.

Overall, The Predator is pretty much what you would expect from the series. The Predator goes around bumping everyone off as he dashes around. I do think it is not the weakest entry in the series or anything like that as it destroys the second film but it does feel like the series is completely stagnated. It makes all of the usual mistakes like being ultra violent and having an unlikable cast. That’s why the ending is interesting to me because it would show that the series is finally about to change things. That would be a massive win for the series. Not sure they would succeed but at least it would give them a fighting chance. If we just go back to basics with another Predator showing up to destroy a bunch of random humans then it feels like the series is just going in circles at this point. I’ll give the third film some props for at least massively changing things up.

Overall 3/10

Extremities Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts should be addressed as such as this review would be even more negative otherwise.

There are some films were you know they will be trash almost immediately and this is one of those. With nothing redeeming to be found in this film you know that you’re in for a rough time right from the jump. That said, the film is pretty straight forward about this so if you’ve even seen the plot summary then you know that this should be an instant skip. Extremities does its best to be as extreme as possible and succeeds, much to the detriment of the film as a whole.

The main character here is a lady named Marjorie who is assaulted one night by a mysterious figure. She tries to ask the cops for help but unfortunately there isn’t anything they can do to assist and the villain has her address. She heads home when the guy strikes again. Ultimately she is able to subdue him but her two roommates think he should be given leniency while she just wants to murder the guy or at least get a confession out of him. Will she be able to destroy him or will the roommates get in the way?

The movie certainly makes the roommates annoying as they try to fall into every horror trope imaginable. Believing the main villain, letting their guard down, etc. For a while there you think things are really going to backfire on them but fortunately the film at least doesn’t go with the whole he escapes into a whole new climax filled with lots of fighting. That would have been rather pointless and would have only served to drag the whole film out even more.

The movie moves at an incredibly slow pace. The first 30 minutes feels like it’s 3 hours. The scenes just never end and I can’t imagine seeing this kind of movie in theaters. Then the whole second half doesn’t need to exist as Marjorie should have finished the guy off already. Just end him immediately and you don’t have to worry about the debates and aftermath that follows. Because that didn’t happen you have to go through scene after scene of the characters debating.

Everything is really detailed in this film including the actual assault and rape which puts this film at a 0 right out of the jump. This is never a plot device that should exist in a film, much less be the main plot point. Just including that doomed the movie and there was no way the film could salvage itself after that. It just makes for a painful watch. The home invader plot is already a tough storyline to tackle because it will almost always devolve into a long hostage situation and this just takes the whole thing one step further.

With this kind of plot there is no way to make a movie good. It’s absolutely impossible and thus shouldn’t even be tried. The villain’s awful and as far as I’m concerned the roommates are awful for taking this guy at face value at all. C’mon now, this guy’s rather obvious the whole time. This is one of those films that is transparently putting the main heroine in as bad a position as possible so that when she starts getting her revenge and torturing the villain you can cheer along.

The issue is that this cycle of violence will always make for a poor viewing experience. For starters, it means that the villain is going to do something truly awful at the start to make the revenge feel that much better. This is a really bad decision. Then you will have the hero doing something really awful like full on torture as well to even the scales. So in effect it’s an excuse by the film to have two super violent moments and to just keep going in circles like that. It goes without saying that this film is very violent and dark as well so keep that in mind if you actually end up wanting to check it out. Trust me, you don’t want to watch this one though, you could do better with numerous other films. It’s no exaggeration to say that 90 minutes of watching paint dry with some fireplace sound effects in the background would be better as it would at least put you to sleep.

Overall, Extremities is an absolutely awful film that is horrible from start to finish. It’s the kind of film that’s so bad that you just want to forget about it rather than even discussing the film for very long. If you ever see this on TV or in a store you’ll want to keep on walking right past it. If you hear about a remake being in production and a trailer pops up on Youtube feel free to leave a dislike if the feature has been brought back onto Youtube. You’ll have a better time buying a bag of potato chips and mixing it into your mac n cheese or dusting off the old Sega Genesis and playing some old games there. Either way that would be a more ideal way to spend your evening.

Overall 0/10

Birds of Prey Review

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

DC may have made some of the movies starring superheroes of all time like Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but it’s certainly made some of the worst movies starring villains with Joker and Suicide Squad. While this one is better than Joker, it’s still at a really low level and feels like it is picking up where Suicide Squad left off in a lot of the worst ways. The more we get films like this, the more I’m convinced it is definitely best to stick to films based around the heroes. Not every film can pull off a Venom where you get the lead to be a rather fun anti-hero. The first step is probably to remove Harley Quinn from the starring role though. You also have to get the memo that any film with a villain as the main characters needs to make that character effectively turn good or be an anti-hero. You can’t have the villain…stay a villain.

The movie starts with Joker dumping Harley Quinn so she’s quite upset. She gets drunk and into trouble a whole lot but this catches up to her once she tells the world that Joker no longer protects her. She barely lasts a day before she is captured and Black Mask orders her to find a jewel that Cassandra Cain stole. If she doesn’t produce this jewel then she will be destroyed. Meanwhile Renee Montoya of the cops needs to find this jewel as well. She wants to make Gotham a better place but it’s been a tough road. Meanwhile Black Mask orders Black Canary to get the jewel as well and Huntress is making an appearance here as well.

So everyone wants the jewel that’s for sure. Don’t get hyped about Cassandra Cain though. Like just about everyone else in the film, she is the character in name only. This has to be one of the biggest ruined portrayals of a character. Forget Taskmaster, Lex Luthor, and the other big names. Cain has to take the cake here. Gone is the history of her being a lethal fighter trained from childhood who would go on to be one of the strongest hand to hand fighters in the DC verse. This version of Cain is a petty thief who isn’t very smart in choosing her targets. She is even caught by the cops almost immediately which speaks to her “skill” at being a thief. I did not like Cain here. I doubt I’d have liked her much even if she had a random name since she’s an annoying kid who gets everyone into trouble but this did not help matters.

Zsasz and Black Mask are your classic gritty villains here. Black Mask has a thing where he likes to cut off people’s faces. I don’t know if this is something he does in the comics as well but it’s certainly just here to remind you that he’s evil evil. The guy is incredibly unbalanced as he throws fits and cries and everything. You’re certainly not meant to find this guy all that interesting and his death scene is certainly something. Even the mask isn’t imposing because you already can’t take this guy seriously.

Zsasz is awful but I’ve never seen him in a continuity where he was good anyway so that’s to be expected. As always he’s a lunatic who just likes making scars and being a villain. He seems like a creep in all of his scenes and definitely someone you are hoping will get bumped off early so he won’t get much more screen time. With these two as the only big villains…that wasn’t setting things off on a good note.

The color scheme could have tipped you off to that right from the jump though. Everything is all gray scaled and grim throughout the movie. I saw a western film right after this one and the first scene has more color in it than this whole adventure. The gray scale can certainly work as with Man of Steel or Batman V Superman where you had a lot of compelling dialogue and great fights to balance it out. This film has none of that though so it just serves to continue to show Gotham as a super hopeless place that you should want to leave immediately.

As for the “Heroes” here, well firs toff is Harley Quinn who is decisively not a hero. She beats up people for no real reason like the guy at the club and abuses her power. She is quick to betray Cain when it benefits her and is really someone that you can’t trust at all. She talks tough but loses quite a lot of fights. If not for Black Canary saving her at the start she would have been in a lot of trouble. The problem is that Harley Quinn is not likable or entertaining. She’s just extremely annoying in all of her scenes and ends up being a liability most of the time. You absolutely do not want her in your corner if you’re going to be facing off against a tough opponent as she’ll fail more often than not.

The film will try to have you take her seriously again later on by having her beat a bunch of random thugs but she loses too many times in this film for that to actually work. Then you have Renee who is drunk half the time. That’s not doing her any favors and you don’t see how she will be much of an asset here. She isn’t a professional fighter or anything and the drinking will definitely hold her back. Of course like everyone else she is beating tons of experienced thugs at the end but you don’t see her career lasting long unless she gets some kind of big weapon.

Huntress should have easily been the best character here but she is used as borderline comic relief half the time. Nobody takes her name seriously and they interrupt her big speeches. She does get to use her crossbow to murder a lot of people of course but always blows up with her random anger issues that the other characters poke fun at. It’s a shame since she was so good in Justice League but she is severely lacking in this film. She doesn’t even get the classic costume or anything until the literal end of the film. She’s another character that might as well not be Huntress.

The worst part about all of these adaptions is that you’re likely stuck with them for the foreseeable future. Of course a good writer can improve these characters but otherwise you’re stuck. They really need to try and put some distance with the characters from Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad. Go for a soft reboot or something and then you can try to turn this around. I can’t say I have much hopes for any sequel or spinoff of this film though. It’s hard to picture it being a winner.

For Black Canary, well the film does remember that she has sonic abilities at the end. She is so incredibly nerfed though that a single hit is enough for her to faint. So I guess we can’t expect her to be going up against any tough fighters by the end of this. She does have a decent hand to hand fight against some of the random thugs though so at least there’s that.

This film could have really used an appearance by Batman at some point. Sure he would have stolen the show but it’d be worth it. This whole thing takes place in Gotham and Harley Quinn blew up a giant chemical plant. Surely Batman should be on the case right? Even just some references of Batman taking down minions would be nice since Black Mask is so openly sending his crooks around to bump people off and kidnap the characters off the street. I know this is Gotham but a lot of nights pass by without any sightings of the Batman. They can’t be everywhere but in this case it’s literally Gotham city, he should be popping up somewhere.

I would say Gotham itself is a big problem for the film. A lot of times films like to show how depraved Gotham is and that’s where they tend to fail. For example, of course we have a scene where the villain orders a girl to strip and dance. That’s completely unnecessary and we also have Harley Quinn shown to be someone who frequents these kinds of establishments as a villain. The movie has a lot of fanservice throughout and sketchy costumes.

Birds of Prey is unrelentingly depressing most of the time. This is a harsh city where the heroes lost years ago and villains rule all over the place. It’s not to the extreme of Joker but you will have a hard time finding any really happy/fun scenes. Harley and Cain have some bonding moments but mostly that’s just Harley being a terrible role model the whole time. Someone who will act nice and talk a good game but lose in one hit or just sell you out in the next scene. It was fun to see the owner of the restaurant accept the money and leave though. In this city that seems to be the quickest way out of here.

The writing’s not particularly good and the song choices are really bad. The final song’s probably the worst one by far and had to be aired out at several moments. Yeah this film was really going for grit. The action scenes could have been worse in that respect as it didn’t try going over the top most of the time. We did have some real choreography and fight scenes which is good. The film wasn’t trying to be gritty all of the time. Usually in the moments it wasn’t, it was the characters just being annoying all the time though.

Overall, Birds of Prey is a pretty bad film. At least I’m glad they ended up ditching the long sub title later on since nobody ever used the whole title anyway. I know that point’s been beaten to death but it’s not even all that accurate with Joker having dumped Harley Quinn as opposed to it being the other way around. You can of course say that the process helped her but when you consider the fact that she would probably run right back to him if he would have her….it doesn’t help her case. Regardless, the biggest issue here is that this is a film about the villains…that forgets to make the villains likable. Harley Quinn and her constant narration does not make for a good lead. The Birds of Prey group aren’t likable yet either. Black Canary is decent and Huntress has potential but for the moment give me a random lead from any big DC character and I would probably take him or her instead. The Birds of Prey will have to work hard to improve their characters in the next film but without Harley Quinn holding them back at least they have a chance.

Overall 2/10

How to Make a Monster Review

A movie about the villain being a guy who designs the monster suits is very original. I’ll give the film some points there and while it does go into the more classic creature feature kind of story beats, it’s still a different angle to it at least. I thought this was a rather solid film and of course we got to see corporate step in to try and take control. It’s an entertaining film from start to finish even if you have to suspend a lot of disbelief for how slow on the uptake all of the kids are.

The movie starts with Pete working on his horror effects as always. He’s really outdone himself this time as the Wolfman and Frankenstein look so real that everyone will be terrified. Pete knows that he’s done a great job and is rather proud of his work. Not many can say they’ve reached this level of talent. Well, his dreams of the future are ended abruptly as the company is bought by a new studio that doesn’t want to make horror movies anymore. They view horror films are old hits that won’t be popular anymore and tell Pete that this will be his last picture. Pete has no experience with anything else and so even when a bunch of people offer him some new gigs and ideas, Pete turns them all down. He wants to prove that his monsters can still be scary enough to be a success though. So Pete remembers that he has hypnosis powers and decides to turn his two latest stars, Larry and Tony, into malicious monsters that will murder all of the new executives. Can he pull this off?

It’s certainly an ambitious plan on his part and one that only works if he has absolute skill as a hypnotist. If he was just an ordinary makeup guy then he would have been doomed from the start. This way though he is even able to give the kids super strength by commanding it. He won’t stop until everyone’s dead! By the end it also seems like he wants to take their heads to put on his display case which was a really radical jump but I guess we already knew this villain was crazy so it shouldn’t be too surprising.

I don’t think the film intends for you to feel bad for Pete anyway which is good since he would make this very difficult otherwise. The guy resorts to murder almost immediately just because the execs don’t like monster movies. There’s no way you could make a guy like that very sympathetic. He slowly gets more and more unhinged as the film goes on. He’s certainly lost it by the end that’s for sure. He barely even tries to hide the fact that he’s the villain, Larry and Tony just aren’t very smart so they don’t notice.

Pete has an assistant in Rivero but he isn’t very smart either. He practically tells Pete that he will be betraying the guy soon. He says if the cops show up that it wasn’t Rivero who called them but the mind controlled teens. Sure……sure they are the ones who called the cops but Rivero will be out of state visiting family? Rivero must have known how this would play out but since he seems surprising, it makes him one of the biggest suckers in the film. Cmon now, you can’t try threatening the main villain like that or dropping any crazy hints. It is not a good idea.

As for the two teens, well they don’t have a whole lot of character. When they aren’t being mind controlled they are wondering what’s going on and talk to each other about how this might be a trap. Near the end of the film they even try leaving but the door’s locked. Rather than panic or try to bust through, they ask the main villain why he locked the door. Yeah…I wonder why. These kids are really not too bright and they were very nearly destroyed here. They barely even felt like people at times and were just plot objects to do Pete’s bidding. I would have liked to have seen some intelligence and critical thinking from these guys instead. That could have taken them far.

There was one random character I enjoyed a lot though as a mysterious third party. His name was Monahan and he’s a guy who thinks of himself as a detective. To his credit, he did a lot of ground work and even figured out that Pete was a likely suspect. His main mistake was in telling that to Pete though. Don’t tell your suspects that they are a suspect until you’ve reported this to the cops. Otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose and puts yourself at risk. So Monahan may have made a rather obvious mistake there but I did like how confident he was. At the very least you won’t be forgetting this guy anytime soon. I thought he was even more entertaining than the two corporate execs.

Those guys were fun too though. They were definitely not the nicest guys around but at least they were trying to give Pete a severance package. The corporate takeover could have honestly been a lot worse. Ultimately they are here to get the job done though and so they can’t just back off too quickly. They’re here to end the monster films and that’s final. The characters just have to learn to respect that and most did….just not good ole Pete.

Overall, This movie is over in the blink of an eye but it succeeds at what it is trying to do. The Creature Feature setup works well and I liked the whole designing aspect. It helps give Pete a little more control over the monsters than usual and you can’t go wrong with hypnosis. I may scoff every time it appears but at least it explains why these teens were crushing everybody. Otherwise I feel like they should be getting dominated by the execs and corporate. Those guys aren’t going to lose to a bunch of kids. The ending wraps things up nicely and so if you want to watch an old creature feature, this is a good one to check out. The writing is good and the film’s just fun. It’s got a lot of energy to it all the time and I enjoyed all of the characters. The heroes and villains were all properly developed. Some may not be very smart at all…but that’s also why the guy is stuck in a dead end assistant job for this many years under the creature designer. We even get some fun exchanges between the cops and the villains when they are brought in for questioning. It should remind you of Detective Conan with how Pete feigns a ton of outrage at how the heroes would dare suspect him. Works every time.

Overall 7/10

Eye of the Tiger Review

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

Eye of the Tiger is definitely one of those films that gives revenge titles a bad name. I mean, it’s probably not a genre you want to see a whole lot of anyway as it’s difficult to succeed in so many attempts would fail but this one just never stood a chance. It puts the main character in a rough environment where everyone is evil or mean and so by the time Buck gets his revenge, there isn’t a lot left to fight for. That’s usually the downfall with revenge films, at least this one has a good soundtrack though even if the timing is often pretty bad.

The movie starts with Buck finally getting out of jail. He made some friends in there but it’s time to head home. Unfortunately his small town is even worse off than usual. The place is run by a corrupt sheriff who is in league with gangs that go around assaulting everyone and forcing people to live in a life of fear. Nobody has ever risen up to do anything about this and they all just look the other way. Well, Buck isn’t going to do that and he foils one of the gang’s attacks. They retaliate and murder Buck’s wife while also putting his daughter in the hospital. Buck aims to take them all down now but to do so he will need a lot of weapons. Additionally he will also have to go up against the cops who are in the pocket of the gang.

In this movie it’s nearly everyone teaming up against Buck. The only person on Buck’s side is his old friend J.B. and even then that guy usually just warns Buck not to fight against the villains since he thinks the lead will lose. Buck doesn’t like backing down though so he plans to fight either way. He has some good equipment and plans like when he stretches a wire across the street to take one villain down. The problem is that he has to beat a lot of them and quickly or they just run to the police to have Buck arrested. As the film goes on Buck starts carrying his gun at all times which is a good idea. At least with that he always has a fighting chance.

Buck definitely should have left with the family as soon as he got back though. I don’t think your life can ever be all that easy if the cops have it out for you. We know that the Sheriff is willing to go quite far to mess with Buck right from the start given that he was put into jail on account of that guy. So just leave the place and start roots somewhere else. That’s absolutely the best thing to do and the only way to get out of this cycle. By the time Buck decides to go it’s unfortunately too late. So the rest of the film will be bitter sweet at best since his wife isn’t around anymore.

I’ll still give Buck props as a main character because he stands up to the gang and does what’s right. It would have been easy to have just walked away or ignored what they were doing but he didn’t do any of that. So definitely some credit there. He also does well in the fights even through to the end when he takes on the leader of the gang. Buck doesn’t go down easy and never loses a true 1 on 1 fight in the movie. The guy just keeps going forward and landing hits until he can’t anymore.

As mentioned, Buck’s friend J.B. takes a long while to actually step in and help though. It’s understandable why he doesn’t want to get mixed up in any of this but it does mean that I’m probably not going to be rooting for him a whole lot. If Buck had some help sooner the film could have potentially been over a lot quicker. The rest of the police officers all look terrible as they work for the corrupt sheriff. The whole town is complicit to an extent as they all look the other way and allow him to stay in control. It’s no wonder that the village is under such tough times. There’s nobody there who is willing to fight back against the villains.

One area that holds the film back big time is how gritty the whole thing is. It’s got Mad Max vibes from the start with the gang going around and attacking people. If they were just murdering people then that’d be one thing but of course they’re all going after the women and piling on the crimes. It’s always a bad way to build up tension in these films, having the villains just be murderers is good enough to show why they need to be stopped. No reason to go any further than that. The extra details are what puts the film in the red right away and it’s hard to get out from there.

Then as I mentioned the music timing is always very off. It is nice to hear the Eye of the Tiger song since that one’s always filled with energy. This film has some good heroic themes as well. The issue is that they will play right after a tragic scene or during one. It’s like the film’s trying to say this is a happy moment even while the heroes are still taking hits. The timing was never quite right and it’s hard to get into the music and experience the hype/fun that’s going on because you know that the moment just isn’t happy yet. The only time the song works is the very last time it plays because that’s after the big battle and so it makes sense to celebrate. The other attempts fell flat.

Overall, Eye of the Tiger is a film I would avoid. It’s a classic revenge film through and through where Buck is put through the wringer so you can get some satisfaction when he inevitably caches the villains. The reason why this genre is tough is because it’s easy to make things go too far in how much the villains are winning so it’s just hollow even when the lead gets his revenge. I don’t think the wife needed to die here and additionally the gang could have just been about getting rich and murdering people. It would be a lot less dark and would help the film as a whole. In the end, you should definitely watch Taken instead if you want a better revenge film.

Overall 2/10

It’s a Dog’s Life Review

Right from the title of the film I had a bad feeling about this one. The tricky thing about having an animal be the focus of anything is that it increases the risk of some animal violence being around. Let me tell you, that definitely gets awful risky and this film was not able to avoid the issue. As a result I would definitely say it’s a bad film that you should avoid. Most of the characters are rather mean spirited and the tough road that the dog had to travel was simply too challenging.

The movie starts with Wildfire explaining his life. He lives in the Bowery, a tough part of town. He owns the back alleys at least and chases out dogs who try to eat there. It’s just tough keeping up this lifestyle though and there are certainly no frills or benefits here. His life’s goal is to find and destroy his father for leaving his mother when she was still pregnant. Unfortunately for him, Wildfire’s mother will never even talk about the guy. One day his mother disappears so Wildfire is forced to start his journey early. He will end up being involved in dog fights and fashion shows, but will he ever get closer to finding his father? Will he even be able to locate him since he doesn’t really know what the guy looks like? The only thing he does know is the father’s title: Champion Regent Royal. That will have to be enough.

As soon as I mentioned dog fighting I’m sure your eyebrows twitched for a second there. Well, rightfully so as this is the weakest part of the film. So Wildfire figures that his father may have been a fighter based on the title so he doesn’t mind being in the circuit. In fact, he enters into the store to make sure that happens. Unfortunately it’s not a very pleasant sport and we see him get bruised up after each fight. Even when he wins you can’t feel good because you know that means that he beat up another dog. Eventually he is defeated and barely escapes with his life but the whole thing is definitely on the violent side.

Of course the injuries are just makeup and such but it looks quite realistic. This is the kind of film where you’d rather they just made them robotic dogs or something like that so you wouldn’t really worry about the injuries. His owner Patch is also an abusive guy. Both to humans and animals so you don’t like the idea of Wildfire working for him. All of Patch’s scenes are just hard to watch and his toxic romance really didn’t need to be on the screen for any period of time. The sooner that guy was gone the better.

The movie was really going for some rather serious themes here but it didn’t need them. This could have been a nice little Air Bud kind of story and that would have been really good. Of course with Wildfire wanting to take down his father from the start, it’s safe to say that this was never really in the cards. One way or another this was going to be a rather serious film with lots of danger around every corner.

Things start to get a little brighter for Wildfire when he meets a nice old man named Jeremiah. The guy works for the rich Wyndham who enters professional dog shows. The guy doesn’t see any potential in Wildfire but his daughter Dorothy disagrees and bargains that if Wildfire can win a show then Wyndham can’t throw both him and Jeremiah out. Wyndham agrees to the terms and Wildfire finally gets to see the glimmer of what it’s like to live the life of royalty. Certainly it’s far different from how it was in the Bowery.

You never have to wonder about what Wildfire is thinking of something either since the guy is constantly talking. It’s all as thought bubbles I should say but he never quiets down. Wildfire is always thinking about something and has a lot to say. There is pretty much never a moment’s silence in the film. The dialogue is okay though so that’s not too bad. Wildfire’s not a bad lead either. I wouldn’t call him super interesting or anything like that but he gets the job done as the lead.

As for the human characters, well Patch is obviously no good. Aside from him you have Jeremiah who is nice enough. He’s probably the first person who has Wildfire’s back which is important. He’s also loyal enough where he was willing to lose his job to stay with the dog. That’s definitely how a good character would act. Wyndham isn’t nearly as reasonable at first, particularly as he is the one firing Jeremiah. The guy slowly starts to come around but it was an extremely rocky start. To so easily get rid of someone that has faithfully worked for you for so many years? I can’t say I liked Wyndham after that because it was just far too drastic.

Dorothy was nice enough. She doesn’t have a huge role but is the one who preps Wildfire for the matches. Without her he definitely wouldn’t have stood much of a chance so she deserves a lot of credit there. If the whole film had been about the talent shows this would have been a winner. The second half of the film is more like what you would expect in a light hearted adventure. There is a moment of danger when Patch kidnaps Wildfire. I would have certainly cut that out since we didn’t need to bring this awful character back. It was nice to see him get punched out though as opposed to Wyndham falling for the usual blackmail scheme. Instead he just took the guy down a few pegs and showed that he could fight. Now that was a really solid moment.

Overall, It’s a Dog’s Life just really suffers from not being a very fun movie. When bad things are happening to Wildfire, there’s just no way to enjoy the scenes. You can’t enjoy any of the scenes with Patch in it either aside from him getting beaten up so that adds up to a considerable part of the movie. As a dog, Wildfire’s dialogue isn’t quite up to par with the classic writing of this era either. Mix all that together and this is a film you’ll really want to skip. There aren’t any big hooks to draw you into the story and there are much better dog films out there. Since this one loses as its main sub genre, that means it was doomed from the jump.

Overall 3/10

Where the Sidewalk Ends Review

Next up on the review list is an old murder thriller. This time we really get to see what happens at the end of the road. It’s an engaging film that shows what happens when mistakes are made on every side and how this keeps on snowballing. I do like the idea of a hero trying to frame a villain. It’s something that doesn’t happen too often but is something to think about. Of course this is also morally dubious at best but ultimately the film has a satisfying conclusion.

The film starts off with introducing us to Mark Dixon who is really tough on crime. This is to the point of being excessive though as he tends to rough them up quite a bit during interrogation. He has now been demoted and warned to curb this behavior. Well, this will be difficult as he is wrapped up in another case when a rich man is stabbed to death at a local gaming arena led by some notorious gangsters. Of course the trick is that there is no real proof here and these guys have a habit of getting away. Mark ends up doing some interrogating anyway and ends up murdering Paine by accident as his punch hit the guy in a way where his metal plate shattered. Mark figures he’ll hide the body and then frame Scalise for it.

Unfortunately he ends up framing an innocent cab driver instead. Mark has grown close to the guy’s daughter Morgan and needs to settle this. Will he be able to get proof against Scalise or is this curtains for him? Additionally now that he has murdered someone, even if accidental, he is facing some issues as well. After all, fully attacking someone as part of an investigation was outside the mission parameters.

There’s a lot going on here to be sure. I was glad that the rich guy stepped in to protect Morgan when she was attacked but it is tragic since you know he never stood a chance. The guy was surrounded by gangsters after all and just wouldn’t have lasted either way. It’s hard to trust anyone at these high stakes gambling arenas, especially if it isn’t at a reputable venue. It makes for an intense opening scene as we know what happened and have to see how Mark will put the evidence together.

As a main character, Mark is solid. I do like his determination even if he lets it get the better of him sometimes. He doesn’t buy into the false stories as quickly as the other cops but ultimately there is a limit to what he can do as a cop. It’s not like he can just beat the truth out of everyone although he would certainly like that. His final attempt to frame Scalise was also a very bold approach as he was directly putting his life on the line. Not just anyone could pull that off.

Even Scalise comments on this and how Mark is crazy here. His obsession with taking down Scalise and defying his father’s legacy is certainly impressive. Unfortunately this isn’t a big James Bond action movie and so his big attack on the villain base doesn’t quite go as planned. It would have been intense to have seen him take them all down but realistically that would be nearly impossible without a gun or something like that.

As for Scalise, well he’s your classic noir villain. I’ll give him a little extra kudos for being intelligent though. He sees through Mark’s plans and also knows how to prevent evidence from getting out. He’s an old hand at this and isn’t your run of the mill gangster. While his personality may not be super memorable beyond the usual tough dialogue, this is enough where he holds his own as the main antagonist.

Finally we have Morgan and her father. I liked her Dad’s constant talking about how he helped Mark with a case back in the day. He just seems like a nice guy who is always cheerful and trying to look out for Morgan. Morgan makes some dicey calls with the people she hangs out with like Paine. Ultimately I don’t think she’ll be around those areas much going forward though and has developed quite a bit as a result of this experience. The severity of the case against her father gradually sinks in during the film and she doesn’t take this in stride but then the film shows the contrast of how she handles the news at the end of the film. She’s come a long way and won’t be blindsided anymore.

As a noir thriller kind of movie, this film always has some level of danger present. Whether it’s Mark trying to hide a body or quickly thinking up an alibi, you can tell that he’s never quite safe. It also works well in keeping your interest the whole time through. The movie’s fairly long but the pacing is on point so it never drags on. We see enough of Mark’s life to see what makes him tick and it helps build the world around the mystery. He’s certainly quick on his feet so it’s easy to see why he got such a high rank at the start even if he’s been on a bit of a decline since then with how he beats up the criminals.

Overall, This was a solid movie. It really builds a good atmosphere from the start and the adventure is interesting from start to finish. Mark makes for a good hero and Scalise ends up being a smarter villain than I expected. As a result you have some decent banter with them. The only time Mark goes too far is when he takes such a hard stance against his partner at one point. That was definitely the wrong move and showed him taking out his aggression on the wrong person. Even though the case may be solved, it is fair to say that this line of work may not be right for him. There really is nothing to prevent this kind of scenario from happening again because it’s fair to say that this case hasn’t really changed him. The ending is left up to interpretation on how it will go though so you can ultimately reach your own ending. If you’re looking forward to a good noir title then this is a good one to watch.

Overall 7/10