Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Flash Gordon Review


It’s time to look at the legendary Flash Gordon movie. This is definitely a retro sci-fi film that pretty much everyone has heard of at this point. It’s definitely a pretty good movie that’s aged pretty well. Despite the film mainly having a light tone some parts do get pretty dark which is that rare back and forth you don’t see as much nowadays. I’m definitely cool with that, but basically Flash Gordon really gets around and tackles the sci-fi genre from all sides.

The film starts with Flash and Dale on a flight. Unfortunately their plane goes down thanks to some fire hail and a weird storm that came out of nowhere. They meet up with a crazy scientist named Zarkov and he forces them into a ship with him as the 3 head towards the planet of the invading alien race. The guy definitely is crazy and a villain as he forced them in, but I suppose at the very least you do have to give him some props for actually being right here. It all was an invasion and all those years he was right for worrying about it. No excuse though. Now these 3 unlikely heroes have to save the world or die trying!

Flash is definitely a fun hero. He’s basically the classic lead you would expect from a classic action film. He may not have any professional experience, but he’s got natural leadership skills and is quick on his feet. The scene of him using football skills to take on the villains was definitely pretty fun. The guy’s confident and also nice to a fault. If anything you may get frustrated with how forgiving he can be at times, but that’s just how he rolls. Flash is here to save everyone and he’s quick to put his life on the line to help his friends and even total strangers.

Then we’ve got the heroine Dale. She’s also got a strict moral code that she lives by which she refuses to break. I do like when heroes have an honor code and the same goes for villains, but at the same time I do think she put herself in a pretty bad spot right from the start. Why promise the villain that you won’t try anything if you know that he’s gonna break his promise? Not going through with the poison plan was a bit iffy. Still, I guess Dale was a good character.

Then you’ve got Zarkov. He’s pretty strong willed and certainly has the deepest voice of the cast. That makes his scenes pretty fun even if the character himself can’t quite keep up with the rest. You can’t really forget that everyone’s in trouble because of him. He also is directly responsible for Flash losing round 1 so if he hadn’t made that mistake the heroes may have won a whole lot sooner than they did.

Next up is Aura who is the daughter of the main villain. Unlike Ming, she isn’t pure evil though. It may not be accurate to call her a pure hero at first as she saves Flash for her own reasons, but at the very least she doesn’t like his cruel methods. She definitely suffers the most from all the characters though and you’ll feel pretty bad for her during the various scenes. Her moments are the only parts where the film does tend to get pretty dark. Considering how much work she did to help the heroes I would have liked for her to have had a bit of a happier route. The torture scene was particularly brutal.

The villains definitely aren’t quite as solid as the villains. You’ve got Klytus who is Ming’s right hand man. He just wants to be with Aura though so that doesn’t make for the greatest villain motivation. He’s just petty and you can’t root for a villain like that. Then you’ve got Barin who likes tricking Klytus and not following his orders. This makes him look even worse to be honest. She’s not bad, but doesn’t really have much of a role next to the others.

Ming is the main villain and he’s one of those classic spoiled kings who can’t really fight much. He has a pretty OP ring which helps him fight a bit, but beyond that he is dependent on his allies. Considering that all of his allies are constantly looking for an excuse to betray him the guy can’t rest easy. In particular there are 2 generals who are always rebellious. First is Kala who doesn’t like Ming, but he’s too scared to do anything. He spends most of the film trying to destroy Flash and grumbling a lot before finally being forced on board. Likewise for Vultan who talks a big game but is too scared of Ming to do anything.

Actually maybe I should take that back because all of the villains in this film seem to be cowards. They probably wouldn’t even try betraying Ming if there was any chance of them getting caught. No wonder he enjoyed such a long stint as the leader. Good thing Flash came when he did eh?

The special effects have definitely aged pretty well. The space battles are a lot of fun and it feels like a scene from Star Wars. The music here is definitely pretty fun. The classic Flash song definitely pops up a lot and the timing is pretty solid. At one point the heroine asks rhetorically who could possible save them and then the song starts with the lyric “FLASH!!!” as he shows up in a meanwhile scene. The song loves to keep on repeating that lyric in particular so expect to hear it quite a lot as the film goes on.

In general the writing is pretty solid here as well. The character cast may not be amazing for the most part, but Flash and Aura are really all you need. The film’s pacing is pretty quick. It’s a long movie, but it doesn’t drag on. The romance may not be particularly solid, but it doesn’t play a big role in the film. It’s just kind of there to check off the box.

The film does end with a pretty cool cliffhanger as well. I imagine it probably won’t ever be resolved, but it was still neat to see. I think a nostalgia sequel could actually do pretty good so the film companies should definitely think about it. It may be hard to get a scene quite as cool as Flash using Football to take down the villains, but it’s worth the attempt.

Overall, Flash Gordon is a pretty good sci-fi film that holds up well. Any character who isn’t Flash will probably annoy you at times, but he puts them in their place. The film’s light, but can get a bit violent at times like in Flash’s spike battle. It’s really a film that can change elements at any given time which is pretty cool. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would recommend checking it out. Just remember that Aura could have left at any time, but chose to be a hero and paid the price. She proved her heroism more than any other character except for Flash.

Overall 6/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Replicas Review


It’s time to look at a film that I really only knew of because everyone was constantly taking shots at it. I’m used to amazing films getting bad reviews so that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but on the other hand there are numerous films that are panned for good reason. You never know what it’s going to be like until you watch it. Replicas is definitely not a great film, but I wouldn’t call it terrible either. Yes, there are big plot holes and the characters can be weak, but at the same time the film avoids making “the big mistake.” It does have any soul destroying moments like some films tend to have so that’s good….right?

The film starts off with William having some trouble trying to set up his A.I. robot. He’s been trying to load a human consciousness into one, but they all reject the body and go away. The whole company is going to be shut down if he doesn’t get results soon so William decides to go on a vacation with his family. While his wife Mona tells him to slow down William has no time for such luxuries and speeds down a pitch black highway during a casual hurricane. Naturally he crashes in the water and his family all die. No worries though, William’s co-worker Ed has been cloning animals for years and cloning people is basically the same thing. They clone the family except for William’s youngest daughter since they ran out of tubes. William erases her memories from everyone else since the brain is really just one big computer chip and life goes on.

Unfortunately the numerous problems with this plan start to surface as people who have a real brain and aren’t clones remember that William used to have a daughter and wonder why nobody else remembers her. Then you’ve also got the fact that William’s company is actually an evil terrorist group who wants to use the clones to conquer the world. William’s gonna have to use his A.I. program to stop them, but as he does this he’ll have to wonder why he spent so many years working on a dead-end A.I. project when he could have been cloning people for big profits all this time.

Look…I know this film has dozens and dozens of plot holes and irrational character choices, but another way to look at it is that you’ve just got the least intelligent cast of characters out there. Look at it through that lens and then you’ll be fine. There are hundreds of ways that William could have handled the situation better. He could have actually told the family a lie that would hold up rather than counting on them to not notice that almost 3 weeks have passed. He could have remembered that they all had lives and let people know so it wouldn’t appear that they vanished. He….could have slowed down in the storm, etc. Keep in mind though that he’s a crazed genius who couldn’t make a robot. He spends the first half of the film refusing to make any choices so Ed has to do everything. He’s just not ready for this madness.

There’s less excuse for Jones and his gang though. There’s one scene where they’re chasing the heroes and the heroes run into a hospital to remove the GPS trackers in their body. Mona works at the hospital so at least it is believable that she would know how to do this. However the villains follow them in through the back but don’t bother going to the front to block the exit? They don’t even bother breaking the car so the heroes can’t drive away. None of it makes any sense. Then they have 0 reaction times when the robot appears. I’d also argue that William has no reason to show Jones mercy and make him rich by the end. Why? Why do this?

Ed’s a reasonable friend, but the kind of guy you ultimately can’t trust. He’ll help you out of course, but when the chips are down he falls like a log. He did almost all of the work so either way William would have been doomed without him I suppose. Mona is actually pretty smart compared to the other characters even if I’m not sure how much that means anything next to these guys. She notices that something is wrong and once she figures out the deception she rolls with it as best she can. Mona doesn’t freeze up or anything which is always crucial in high pressure situations. I get the feeling that she would have handled this better than William in general.

The special effects for the robot are pretty bad, but beyond that I thought the visuals were pretty sound. The writing may be pretty bad in terms of structure and logic, but the script could have been a lot worse. There are some reasonable funny scenes in the movie. While the intro is tragic the film doesn’t dwell on it too much. It also doesn’t go for the easy fanservice during the tube scenes which I’m definitely grateful for. I think a good chunk of what makes the film salvageable is the ending. The ending is on point and if it had ended in just about any other way I think the film would have had 0 chance of recovering. There are certain tragic elements that will just end a film if the ending doesn’t do something to help it.

Overall, Replicas was actually decently good. It was entertaining and actually did have a pretty compelling plot. There was no animal violence or anything real sketchy here. The plot holes are enormous and you will have a hard time believing that William is a genius, but the good part is that you’ll feel pretty proud of yourself as you imagine how many ways you could have done a better job. The film is a little long, but I wouldn’t say it drags much. The first half is just a little on the slow side, but the film definitely speeds up later on. Once the villains start appearing it almost feels like a completely different movie. I’d actually recommend checking this movie out, you may just be surprised at how you enjoy it.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movies

Moneyball


It’s time to look at a film based on true events. I’m not all that knowledgeable on Baseball so even once they mentioned the team and the year I didn’t know what was going to happen ahead of time. In a way that helps to make the film more interesting. You know that the year had to be special in some way or there wouldn’t be a film, but the question was whether or not they would win the World Series. Big Baseball fans will know the answer to that right away, but whether you do know or not, this film’s pretty enjoyable.

The film follows general manager Billy Beane as he is faced with a tough dilemma. His team lost in the playoffs last year and now all of their best players have been swiped by other teams. This team also doesn’t have a lot of money so it’s not like they can just go and buy some good players. Billy is confident that if they try drafting people the normal way they are going to lose. Following this train of logic be brings in an assistant from another team known as Peter. Peter believes that there is a data way to picking out good players rather than simply looking for talent. He builds the algorithm and then the main characters start drafting from there. Still, just because the team is good on paper doesn’t mean that it will necessarily work. Also, while it will be tough enough to meet the opposition from other teams, there are forces within the organization who don’t like what is going on.

Another interesting dynamic here is the fact that Billy isn’t the owner or the coach, he’s the GM. It’s an interesting position as it’s a very powerful one, but not a position that comes up in the news much. Beyond Jerry Jones I couldn’t name any other GM in all of sports. So for the film the tough part is that Billy can make all the trades he wants, but if the coach doesn’t play them then he is stuck. He can’t really fire the coach because of the contract. I’m sure he could ask the owner to buy the coach out, but considering how the owner doesn’t want to spend any money that definitely seems pretty unlikely. The players also comment on how it’s rare to be talking to a GM, but Billy makes sure to take a hands on approach with the team. He even acts like the coach for a good chunk of the film.

Billy’s a fun lead. It was definitely interesting how he said he doesn’t watch the games though. I personally find Baseball to be a little boring with how long the season is and the slow pace of the games, but if you’re a GM I just assume that you like the game or at least that you like the salary enough to like the game. At least he is pretty upfront about this with Peter though and by the end he watches more though. By the end of the film he has a tough coaching decision. I definitely agree with Peter on going up to show how the system works and not letting it get too personal. Billy ultimately makes the move he was most comfortable with which based on his backstory makes sense. Definitely feels like a missed opportunity though.

Peter is a pretty good supporting character. He doesn’t quite have the confidence or know how that Billy has, but in the guy’s defense he had only just started his first job when he was pushed all the way up the ladder. It makes sense that he wouldn’t really be too comfortable with these more difficult tasks like staying on the line with multiple clients or firing people. Billy shows up the ropes though and by the end he is definitely pretty good in these various roles.

A film like this is naturally counting on the writing to be a success. The sport scenes are definitely important of course, but without a good script it’ll fall flat. I’d definitely say that it was pretty solid. Perhaps not perfect, but it was engaging and you’ll be interested in what is going to happen from start to finish. The on the field action is naturally pretty cool since it’s like a sped up version of the game as the movie doesn’t have to wait between hits, but the off the field parts are nice too. You definitely do get the feeling that the owner was trying to save up as much money as possible as the players are even charged for soda. That does sound pretty crazy so it’s no wonder why the team always loses. Even if Billy does give it a good system, I can see the owner messing it up by never giving anyone a pay increase. Eventually even if you use the data model you’re gonna have to pay some of the players.

Overall, Moneyball is definitely a really good film. I do think basically any sport can be interesting in cinema form as there was even that Golf film I saw a while back that was pretty fun. Baseball is no exception and this one was really well made. I think you’ll be able to enjoy it whether you follow the sport or you do not. Think of it more as a drama title and you’ll be engaged. I feel like a lot of films based on true stories tend to be more about traumatic experiences or really big events. In comparison this one was a lot smaller so it was cool that it got picked to be adapted. I’d definitely be down for more sport movies to come out someday.

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

All Dogs Go to Heaven Review


I definitely know this film pretty well from the title, but certainly not the movie. Now I could finally really experience this classic. It’s definitely a pretty fun film although without the ability to come back from Heaven it would be a pretty grim tale for these dogs. Who knew that even dogs have to deal with gang violence and all of these villains trying to mess with the system. This is definitely a quality film that I’d recommend.

The movie starts with Charlie and Itchy escaping from the Pound. This place means business as there are armed guards and a bunch of sirens. The heroes manage to just barely evade this rain of bullets, but their survival is very short lived as Carface shows up and murders Charlie. Charlie never did trust this guy. Well, now that Charlie is in heaven it would seem like his dreams of money are over, but he’s actually got one more chance. See, you can sneak out of Heaven and that’s exactly what Charlie does. He’s now safe from dying as long as he holds onto his watch. He then meets a little girl named Anne-Marie who has the ability to speak to animals. Charlie senses that some money can be made this way so he tricks her into a team up. She’ll get him rich and in exchange Charlie vows to find her parents. The scheme is working well, but can he keep it up or will she eventually see through him?

From that plot you can basically imagine how the rest of the film will go down. Eventually Charlie’s conscience starts to catch up with him and he also realizes that he thinks of Anne as a friend. By then it’s a little hard for him to make a comeback but it’s never too late to help a friend right? The film definitely has its share of emotional moments contained within. It goes for a balance of humor and emotion which I think works out pretty well. This is due in no small part to the fact that the writing is on point here. The character cast is strong and the plot is pretty nice.

As I mentioned earlier, the movie can also get surprisingly intense which is also handled well. One such scene is when the villains do a drive by and start shooting Charlie. If not for his lucky watch that would have been game over. These villains are clearly not messing around and that is actually pretty rare in these films. Usually they are content to just make threats from the sidelines and hide a lot. That’s definitely not how Carface and his team operate. It’s definitely one of those cases where the minions really only serve him out of fear though. Carface makes it obvious that he’ll take them all down when the time is right. He comes very close to sacrificing his general after all.

Charlie’s a solid lead even if he is pretty antagonistic for a while. I also think that he didn’t plan things too well as it should be obvious that Carface would come after him again once Charlie had amassed a lot of money. Why wouldn’t he make a second attempt at the lead’s life? Meanwhile, Itchy is a good second in command. He’s a loyal partner to the end. You can understand his frustration near the climax as well since it looks like he was beaten up quite a lot while Charlie was having fun singing songs. I feel like Charlie may have even forgotten about him completely a some points.

Anne is a nice enough kid even if she is a little on the gullible side. I’m still not a big fan of kids taking center stage in these things, but she could have been a lot worse. I’d prefer it if she didn’t take the whole thing so personally, but again, that is asking an awful lot out of the kid. At least she is trying to make Charlie a better person so that’s always good. Then you’ve got King Gator who is definitely a powerful ally to have. He doesn’t get a lot of scenes, but the ones that he does get are pretty critical. He’s not really my kind of character either, but he gets the job done.

I enjoyed the animation here. It’s definitely pretty sharp and the character designs are on point. It works well for the action scenes and the quick speed of the animations helps it keep up with the pace of the film. We also get some songs here. They aren’t quite on the level of Disney, but they’re catchy. Charlie probably got one of the better songs when he was getting the kids to share their pizza. I don’t blame the pups for being skeptical though, how do you share a single slice of pizza? That’s not going to be enough to fill anyone up.

Overall, All Dogs Go To Heaven is a pretty fun film and I’d definitely recommend it. This feels like a complete movie as it really has everything you’d need in a feature like this. It’s got danger, comedy, and suspense. The writing is good and there are no sections of the film that really drag on. It can be annoying to see Anne falling for all the tricks since you know she’s going to take it hard later on, but even if you know the story beats that are coming up the film doesn’t overplay them. There’s just nothing to really dislike about this movie and the replay value is pretty good. It’s the kind of film you could see a second time and still have a similar experience. I wonder if the sequels will end up being as good.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

White Lightning Review


It’s time to look at one of those old films where you wonder who to root for because everyone is pretty corrupt. As you can expect this one wasn’t exactly a winner for me. It’s not an abysmal film or anything like that, but at the same time there isn’t much to it. It’s a pretty simple plot, but no part of it is really well executed. As a result you’ll find yourself feeling like something is missing.

The film starts off with two teens being murdered by the sheriff and some loyal minions. We then cut away to the main character, Gator. He’s currently doing hard time for distributing illegal drinks. Gator then learns that his brother is one of the teens who was murdered so he makes a deal with the cops. He gets to leave jail early but in exchange he’ll find some evidence on the corrupt sheriff so the cops can take him away. The cops like this deal and set him loose. While this mission should be easy, Gator starts to sympathize with the crooks and now he isn’t sure if he should put them away. Still, he’ll take down the Sheriff!

Gator is a really bad main character. Now, you can certainly understand why he wants to get revenge on the sheriff. That’s pretty reasonable, but Gator decides to go about doing this in the worst ways possible. For starters when he gets into town one of the first things he does is to confront the sheriff passive aggressively. By this, I mean that he drives up to the guy and just stares at him. Part of the point of this ordeal is to make his co-driver sweat it out since Gator is basically blackmailing him at this point and the sheriff could shoot them all on sight. What did this act accomplish though? All it did was put Gator on the guy’s and if not for his plot shield that would be it for Gator.

Gator does a lot of nonsensical things like this throughout the film. Then when you thought things couldn’t get worse he decides to cheat on one of the crooks with the guy’s girl. Again….why would he do that? Clearly Gator doesn’t respect the other guy at all. It’s an excuse for some quick romance which ultimately doesn’t add anything to the movie. Beyond Gator, the rest of the characters are all crooks so there are no other heroes. Even the cops who show up from time to time to blow Gator’s cover seem like bad apples. They come in with an attitude and then storm off when Gator talks to them. Nobody’s reasonable here.

Of course Connors (The sheriff) is your average bad guy so he just likes walking around and terrorizing everyone. Some senior citizens try to play dumb when he shows up and he doesn’t spare any mercy for them either. You’re either with Connors or you’re against him. It’s definitely interesting how the cops can’t do anything about him though. The guy doesn’t seem like he covers his tracks all that well and the whole town is pretty up front with their illegal activities. I think if the cops had tried a little harder they should have been able to crack this case without Gator.

There aren’t any nice visuals to distract you with either as the film takes place in an old town. Everything’s pretty grungy so you certainly won’t be seeing any technology running around. The film’s supposed to keep you engaged with Gator’s quest for evidence, but this doesn’t work either since the main character doesn’t want to find any evidence. He just wants to take Connors down for the count and I doubt that arresting him was ever really part of the goal. He’s just lucky that everyone kept on sparing him the whole time instead of shooting on sight. His final plan takes forever and a day to finally get started.

The final car chase is good at least though. We get to see the characters put the pedal to the mettle as they chase each other around for a while. You can probably guess how the chase will end, but it’s still an action scene at last. Before that we do get a full action scenes and even a fight, but this was the car chase that we needed. It’s not enough to save the film of course, but at least this way we don’t have to end on a sour note.

It’s a shame that the cops ignored the town because it seems like it was definitely pretty rough for everyone in it. They probably should have moved away, but of course that is never possible for everyone. At first you think that Connors and his gang are at least nice rulers to those who follow the rules, but based on how they act later on it seems like they also just like to terrorize people for kicks. They get away with a whole lot and even by the end of the film you wonder how much has really changed. Even without the head honcho we know that a bunch of other people were also corrupt so hopefully those guys were taken down too.

Overall, White Lightning is definitely a film where I’d recommend skipping it. The character cast is weak and the film does tend to drag on a bit. Not having a good main character definitely hurt this movie right from the start and it only gets weaker from there. Even the teens who died at the beginning don’t sound like they were all that smart. When you live in a town controlled by the villains it probably isn’t the best time to exercise your right to free speech. If you want to watch a grim tale of tragedy and revenge then this is the one for you. If you want a movie with a better main character then check out the original Mission Impossible instead.

Overall 3/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Varan The Unbelievable Review


It’s time to look at an old classic in Varan The Unbelievable. Varan is a film that you’ve likely heard of if you’re a big Godzilla fan. On the other hand, if you’re not really into the Godzilla mythos then the odds of you knowing about this film are slim to none. It’s a very classic Kaiju film that plays it by the numbers. At its core the main point of the film is seeing Varan take on the humans, but I’d say that it’s a bit weaker than the average Kaiju film. The humans just aren’t that good.

The plot of the film revolves around a guy named Jim who heads to Japan to run some experiments. His tests involve potentially eroding the water supply of a nearby village so he tells them all they have to leave. Naturally the villagers don’t want to just pack up and go just like that so the army has to get involved. They send tanks and a lot of man power for this mission which increases tensions. Jim’s wife warns him that this is a bad idea, but he won’t listen to anyone. By this point his ideas are simply too important to him and anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t understand his passion. There’s nothing that can stop him…nothing but Varan!

Varan is definitely a fun Kaiju. For some reason I always thought he looked a lot more like Titanosaurus, but his actual design is still pretty solid. Once he appears the film certainly becomes a lot more fun. He really takes it to the army and shows that he isn’t to be trifled with. Varan also lasts a very long time ad he doesn’t go down until the final minutes of the film. Even then it’s hard to say if they really destroyed him since that’s partially up to interpretation. He did lose though, which does mean he is one of the weaker Kaiju out there. Sure, the humans came up with their own special formula as per usual, but losing to the army is not something you want to do. Humans are pretty creative when they’re in a pack though so it’s no shame to lose to them.

What holds the film back is Jim. It’s impossible to root for him because his experiments were never justified. Why does he have to do them in this lake where a village is depending on the water source? Apparently there were other locations that he could have chosen so by the end it feels more like pride is the only thing keeping him there. He could have easily just picked a different spot when the inhabitants clearly told him to go away.

As the villagers escalate their attacks on Jim and Anna you’d think that Jim would finally consider leaving. Even Anna mentions that she is now scared of what may happen and the police chief hints that Jim should leave as well. Jim does nothing of the sort though so it becomes clear where his priorities are. Even though he manages to have a change of mind by the very end of the film it feels like it is too little too late. By then his character is already down for the count in my book.

The writing is pretty reasonable here. It’s not the best dialogue, but it’ll do. The film’s pretty quick and the pacing manages to keep up so the scenes don’t drag. I wouldn’t call the first 20-30 minutes without Varan boring, but I definitely would freely admit that they could have used a better cast. The action scenes are fun though. It’s pretty dusty in the climax so it can be hard to see, but it’s not like you need HD graphics to see that the government is firing a lot of shots at Varan. He shakes them off for a while, but every creature has its limit.

Overall, Varan The Unbelievable is a classic Kaiju film, but it doesn’t have the same level of charm as the others. It is interesting how different the plot seems to be between the sub and dub versions of the movie though. The character names are super different and the Wikipedia summary for the Japanese version seems like it might as well be a completely different film. I’d recommend checking out the English version if you want to see the impact that Jim has on the story. It may not be a positive one, but it’s an impact nonetheless. I’d recommend checking it out even if it wouldn’t be at the top of my list.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Detective Pikachu Review


It’s time to look at the new Detective Pikachu film. It is still an odd decision not to have gone with a traditional Pokemon film, but just having them on the big screen in some form is really cool either way. It’s a pretty solid film all around. I do think some scenes drag on a bit and the human characters are definitely on the weak side, but the movie has a good premise and the action scenes that we do get are definitely solid.

The film starts off by establishing how Tim isn’t a Pokemon trainer. He wants nothing to do with them and that’s because his Dad chose his job and Pokemon over Tim a while back. Well, Tim gets a call one day that his father has been murdered so Tim heads over to get some closure. What he doesn’t expect is that this will lead him to Pikachu and the ultimate mystery. He has to find out who axed his father and finish what the detective started. It won’t be easy, but he’s got this.

They say a film is only as good as its cast and that’s why it’s good that we’ve got Pikachu on board. He’s definitely the highlight here and his quick wit is definitely entertaining. It is a bit annoying that he doesn’t do any real fighting for the most part since he has amnesia as well, but I know the film was trying to avoid being an action title so to that end it makes sense to get Pikachu out of the equation. After all, he could easily wreck most of the cast if he was at full power. Pikachu also shows that he doesn’t need to be able to fight in order to be a quality character. I like his bravado even when outmatched.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same for Tim. He’s not my kind of character by a longshot. He spends most of the first half complaining and it’s hard to be all that sympathetic after a while. He doesn’t even have any interest in finding his father or solving the mystery for a while because he’s still sore about the past. Considering that the father isn’t evil or anything, I think he should be able to put that aside to save him at least temporarily. He also saw the poison gas so it’s not like he has no clue that this is going to be pretty serious. If you ask me he should have gotten with the program a lot sooner.

Also, his romance subplot definitely isn’t all that great. It’s pretty much shoehorned into the film for no real reason and naturally he fumbles this quite a bit as well. Lucy’s a good heroine though and she’s definitely a lot more proactive than Tim. Staking out the father’s place was a longshot at best and she must have been waiting up on the stairs for a very long time. That’s the kind of dedication you need if you want to be an expert reporter so she did a really good job. It’d be handy if she had a more powerful Pokemon than Psyduck though but he came in handy when it counted.

I don’t have much to say about the villain. I think it’s pretty obvious who the evil one is from the start just because it would have been too straightforward otherwise. He’s pretty generic and there’s not much to him though. He serves his purpose well enough, but I think Charizard made for the more imposing villain. It was definitely nice to see him get some action even if the battle was definitely very one sided.

As for the effects, they’re definitely quite good. Whether you like the realistic style or not, the Pokemon definitely all look like their game counterparts mostly. I thought Machamp and Mewtwo in particular came out really good. I think the only one I was skeptical of was Tauros since he looked more like a normal bison than the iconic Pokemon, but on the whole the film did a great job of giving them all live action designs. I think it would make for pretty excellent fight scenes and we got a tease of what that could be like early on. If we do get a spinoff or a sequel I definitely want to see some trainers get involved.

The soundtrack is pretty decent. You’ll notice some homages but for the most part the film is going for original tunes. There is a singalong with one of the best songs in the franchise though so that was pretty neat. I would have liked for the trailer theme to show up during the climax though. “I need a Hero” would have been really epic to hear in the theater.

Now if you were hoping that the cops would look good here, then I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Maybe there’s more to this that the games would have explained, but it seems to be like they did a really halfhearted job of looking into this mystery. Lets say Tim and Pikachu never got involved. The cops would have been absolutely doomed since they didn’t even suspect a thing. None of them thought to slow down the footage or investigate where the detective had been driving from. As the film goes on we learn that the villains don’t even bother to cover their tracks so the cops must have done absolutely no legwork. I was thinking maybe the main chief was in on it or just evil as well. Maybe he is……or maybe he’s just really bad at his job.

A big part of the film involves some smoke and while I won’t elaborate, at first I thought I was going to have to stretch some disbelief on why Pikachu was unaffected. By the end of the film I’d say it clears this up in a way that makes sense though so no issues there. On the whole the logic in the film was pretty sound. Sure, if you think about some things for too long then they start to break down (Like kids trying to catch Pokemon that can lethally injure them. That Cubone came really close with his retaliation explosion) but the film did good with the power scaling and with making the city make sense. Since there are no trainers here and the Pokemon are inherently good it makes sense how they could co-exist.

I think the main parts that can drag at times are when the film is throwing us exposition (like showing Mewtwo’s origin a bunch of times from different angles) and the heroes running across the mountain. It’s technically more of an action scene as the giant pokemon wake up, but it wasn’t all that exciting. There are bits and pieces like that around, but on the whole the film isn’t all that long so these moments aren’t that frequent.

Overall, Detective Pikachu is definitely a solid film that I would recommend. It’s far from perfect, but it does a good job of showing the Pokemon world and giving us some nice action scenes. The actual story is also good even if it’s held back a little by Tim. Even by the end I wasn’t sold on his character. It’ll be interesting to see where the films go from here assuming that it makes back enough money for them to roll the dice on another installment. If they do I’ll certainly be there.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Die Hard 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 far more negative.

It’s time to look at one of those action films that pretty much everyone has heard of at some point or another. Die Hard is a pretty big series at this point with many sequels after all. It’s definitely a pretty fun film and I can definitely see why it is remembered so well. It’ll be interesting to see how the sequels go though. Will they try to feel rehashed or will they try for another dynamic? I’m sure I’ll find out the answer to that at some point.

The film starts with John heading over to his wife’s workplace in time for a big party. Unfortunately Holly wasn’t exactly expecting him and they begin to bicker as per usual. The day suddenly becomes a lot more eventful than John had expected though as a group of terrorists show up and seize control of the tower. John manages to hide on one of the higher levels, but everyone else has been taken hostage. John will have to try and alert the police, but in the meantime he’ll also have to take all of these terrorists out. Fortunately he’s a cop from New York so he has some good experience here, but taking down a dozen+ terrorists with a single gun while trapped in a building isn’t easy no matter what experience you’ve got. He’s going to have to think fast here!

Die Hard definitely won’t disappoint you with the action scenes. There are a bunch of gun fights throughout the movie and some hand to hand brawls as well. There’s always something happening and it makes for a pretty tense environment since he is in enemy territory the whole time. John can never let his guard down or they’ll take the upper hand. It’s a pretty long film, but one that doesn’t feel stretched out. It just gives time for everyone to have a good role at one point or another. For example, the film does a good job with the cops who aren’t useless here. A lot of the time they look pretty iffy in these films, but at least they do try some good plans.

Al is the main cop here and he definitely looks good. At first you may be worried as he starts off by buying a bunch of Twinkies, but eventually he quickly becomes someone that John can count on. He is a little limited in how much he can help since it’s not like he has a high ranking title and getting in the building is tough to start with. At least he actually believes John though. The rest of the cops don’t take the threat as seriously and a bunch of them pay for it. Then the FBI also shows up and they are about as arrogant as you’d expect. I definitely like the confidence even if things don’t end up going too well for them. At least they tried right?

There’s also a decent amount of humor here and it works out pretty well for the most part. There’s definitely a lot of banter going on with the communicators. While they are plot important, I do feel like the writers forget that everyone is on the channel at times. John and Al will be chatting on the line and even mentioning things like the officers coming in, but the villains are presumably listening to this at all times as well. I feel like that should have been addressed a little more. Most likely the cops would have kept dying anyway since they didn’t care though.

John does a good job of not giving away his identity much although you get the feeling that the villains will find out from the start since several of the employees already know his identity. One of them even decides to negotiate with the villains which basically goes as you would expect. He definitely wasn’t the smartest guy in the building as the plan just wasn’t very good to start with. Holly did a much better job of playing it cool and not talking much at all. She did give a bit of info near the beginning, but after that she did good.

So the cast is pretty solid. John’s good and the other characters are likable enough. Then you’ve got his driver who gets a bit of an important role at different points in the film. He definitely earned his tip by the end so hopefully they set him up well after getting out of the car. From the villains the biggest two are definitely Hans and Karl. Karl spends most of the film wanting revenge for one of the other villains, but as a result that definitely clouds his judgment. As for Hans, his plan is definitely an interesting one. It was reasonably well thought out although I think his escape plan felt a little risky. I think a lot of things would have to go right for it to go as smoothly as he seemed to think it would. Still, he was a fun main villain to have. Hans had some decorum and was always polite to the characters even if it was pretty fake.

As you might expect the film can be pretty violent at times though. I wouldn’t say anything too crazy like Alien or anything like that, but enough to be noticeable. The writing is decent and fortunately the TV version helps with that. As I mentioned there definitely aren’t any big weak points for the film. It’s a pretty fun experience through and through. I think the length probably does limit the replay value that this one would have, but the plot is executed well so it is a good watch.

Overall, Die Hard is a film that I’d recommend. It’s a classic takeover plot and while it is always iffy to see the villains take over so quickly the bulk of the plot is always about getting the building back. Even if you stretch your disbelief at the beginning you’ll have ideally forgotten all about that by the time you’re at the end of the film. As such it shouldn’t hurt the film much, if at all unless it’s a really big deal. The film takes itself seriously but also has fun with some of the subplots like making the TV reporting a bit exaggerated. I do think that putting the kids on TV and giving the terrorists extra information is incredibly naive, but the sad part is that I could totally see this happening in real life if this made it on the news while the situation was being reported live. It totally shouldn’t but the channels want the ratings. If you haven’t watched this film yet then you should check it out.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

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 a lot more negative.

It’s time to look at the 80s movie that started it all. I’m not the biggest fan of the Alien series but I always thought the Xenomorphs were cooler than the Predators. Their design just can’t be beat. Still, I hadn’t seen their solo movies before so it was time to change that. It basically plays out like you would expect. It’s a lot classier than Alien 3 but at the end of the day there are unavoidable errors that the film will bump into due to its nature.

The film starts off with Dutch and his group getting called back to base. The commander quickly explains that they have to go into enemy territory and free the hostages that were captured after they wandered past the border. Also, the group has to take local pencil pusher Dillon with them. Dutch isn’t happy about this but orders are orders. Unfortunately as the group gets deeper into the jungle they start to realize that this mission wasn’t what they were expecting and the real enemy may not even be human.

It takes them a long while to actually realize that there is a Predator around and even longer to realize that he is wearing a cloaking suit. While this is annoying it isn’t unreasonable considering how far fetched the whole thing would seem at face value. As a result the heroes don’t really stand a chance for a while there.

The Predator is fast and has a cool cannon, but he isn’t bullet proof so if you can get the shots off quick enough then you’ve still got a chance. Problem is that his cannon is basically automatic so it is hard to fire before he gets his shot. Also at night he absolutely has the advantage since he can see while the others have to fumble around.

The Predator definitely does have more character than I expected. Again, I saw him in the crossover but I don’t remember the Predators laughing there or copying voices. In this one they can do all of that which is pretty neat. In particular the laugh is definitely pretty fun. On the whole I definitely like the Predator more than I did from the crossover. I still prefer the Xenomorphs but these guys are worthy rivals.

Unfortunately the film does step into the unfortunate error of adding in a bit of animal violence. As always it is a very forced scene that should never have made the cut in the first place. The boar didn’t ask for this! It’s not a terribly long scene but it definitely doesn’t help matters. Also holding the film back is naturally how violent it is. With characters getting skinned and being mangled throughout you can expect a whole lot of violence. It’s fairly tame before the Predator shows up but then he starts it all with a bang.

The character cast isn’t too bad though. I definitely did like the main character Dutch. I never knew that the meme of the handshake was from this movie so that was pretty cool. Dutch was a good leader who could think on the fly and kept coming up with new plans over and over. He’s definitely the kind of guy you want to have around as he won’t desert you no matter the situation. It’s easy to see why he is known as one of the in the field. It’s clear that he and the group weren’t gonna lose to the other humans. He doesn’t get to let loose with too many puns and one liners this time around, but the ones that we do get are pretty good.

One of the more annoying characters is definitely the friend from the old days. Dillon definitely become just another government drone you can’t trust by this point. He also isn’t used to recon missions like this one so he is pretty sloppy at times. Even once Dillon finally decides to go for his hero move by the end it is simply too late for him to be likable. Better than nothing I suppose.

Predator definitely gets some respect for developing so many of Dutch’s squad here. Usually in these films you get the main character but then the rest are basically expendables. While Dillon wasn’t very likable he certainly did get his character arc. Likewise, Mac got a lot of screen time as he tries to avenge one of the other members of the group. He definitely did get a little overconfident in the end which cost him big time though. Never underestimate the Predators! Then there’s Billy who knows something isn’t right from the start but doesn’t do enough about it. In his defense, there is only so much you can really do. I do think he handled the ending pretty badly though. I’m thinking his rationale was to fight the Predator one on one without a gun so in close quarters he would have a chance, but that was never going to happen. It’s off screen so we don’t know if the Predator went the honorable route or not, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he just shot the guy.

Also the premise is just a lot of fun. It’s basically like the Hunger Games except it’s one guy against everyone else. You’ve got the numbers advantage but the person doing the chasing always has some advantages of their own. It’s easier to pick people off when they’re in a group. The whole survival aspect will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s why it is a shame that the film is so violent since you could just keep all the murders off screen and that would help a lot. This could easily be the kind of horror film that actually ends up being really good. Even the writing isn’t as terrible as you’d expect although the TV version does make it look a lot better than it actually is since they block most of the iffy parts.

Overall, Predator makes for a fairly enjoyable watch at times but definitely is still not a film I would recommend. Even edited down for TV the violence is pretty over the top. It’s definitely a very brutal survival film and as long as you can get behind that then you’ll like it. I’m thinking that the next Predators film will probably have a tough time matching up to this one though since this one probably took the franchise as far as it could go. Still, it’s never over til it’s over!

Overall 2/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Detour Review


It’s time to take a look at a very old noir film. This one is definitely a movie that you likely haven’t heard of unless you are a really big fan of the genre. It’s pretty obscure and I certainly had not heard of it until after I had seen it. It’s a pretty fun film, although one that will likely cause you to have to suspend some disbelief here. There were a lot of ways for the main guy to get out of his predicament, but ultimately he didn’t choose any of them. That was definitely his big mistake.

The film starts off with Al and Sue getting ready to be married. At least, that’s what Al had in mind, but then Sue lets him know what is really going to happen. She’s heading off to Hollywood to become a famous star and so she’ll se him later. Al isn’t happy about this at all and heads back to his music gig to sulk. That’s when he decides that job or not he will head over to Sue’s place. The problem is that he’s in New York and only has ten dollars on him. He’ll have to travel a long way in order to reach her, but he is determined to hitch hike all the way. The problem is that the guy he is driving with ends up falling asleep after having a lot of pills. Al opens the door which causes the guy to hit his head on a rock and die. Al must now deal with his conscience as he heads to California.

That would already be a reasonably difficult drive for him, but then he notices a lady hitch hiking as well and decides to lend her a hand. The only problem is that she knew the previous owner of the car so now she is blackmailing him to do whatever she wants or she will get the police involved. Can Al satisfy Vera long enough to get to Sue or should he cut his losses and run now? Either way it is about to be one adventure that Al will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Al is the really annoying character here. He complains a lot about how life isn’t fair, but half of the time it’s because he isn’t making the smart calls. Even the first incident where he lets his co-driver die was a little suspect. How did he not see the rock? Also, he knew the guy wasn’t conscious so why would you open the door and then not prepare to catch the guy falling out of it? It’s all a bit iffy there which does reduce your sympathy levels for the guy. He also should have been pretty grateful to the guy for giving him a ride instead of grumbling inwardly the whole time. (Admittedly the guy seemed shady, but they wouldn’t be together for too long)

Then the last straw is when he meets up with Vera. Sure, giving her a ride is nice, but he’s on a deadline and is already mixed up in criminal business. Not letting her in the car is almost the nice thing to do if you think about it since you don’t want her to get messed up in all of this right? Keeping her out is one way to keep her safe. Instead he lets her in and then she starts blackmailing him. Now, he could have just walked out at any time, ditched his car like he was planning or something like that. He could have told her he was stopping at any point except where he was actually going. Where’s the benefit in telling her that he has to get to California?

As far as I’m concerned Al blew it 7 ways to Sunday. Again, there’s just no point in feeling bad for the guy because everything that happened was on him. There are a lot of unfortunate coincidences for him of course like the phone cord with Vera at the end, but beyond that he shouldn’t have even been in this situation that whole time. Al should have cut out early. Meanwhile Vera is the main antagonist here so you’re not really supposed to like her either. She definitely talks tough the whole time and does her best to get in Al’s way. Like he said though, she’s just greedy. Her final plan doesn’t even make a whole lot of sense because there’s no way it would work and she already could have gotten a whole lot of money otherwise. That’s why you end up losing everything when you try for too much.

Meanwhile Sue seems like a decent heroine, but I felt like the film was hinting that she didn’t care for Al all that much. She did leave at the drop of a hat and didn’t even bother calling him. If Al hadn’t called first she may have even forgotten all about him. As a result it makes his journey feel even more futile. I was half expecting him to finally make it only for Sue to tell him that she found someone else. Maybe that would have just been too tragic for Al since by that point he’d already been through the ringer. Still, if the movie had kept going I could see that happening.

The ending definitely works out pretty well though. It’s one of those solid endings that may not work out too well for Al, but after a while something had to end his journey. By this point he was already too far gone. I’ll give him credit for never cheating on Sue though. There was a brief moment where I thought he was going to weaken, but fortunately he did not. That’s a really good thing since it definitely would have crushed his character and probably would have hurt the film a bit as well.

Overall, Detour is a solid film. It’s surprisingly short so the film ends just when you think it’s getting to the second act. The ending is abrupt, but not bad. While there aren’t any real likable characters, I do like the premise/plot quite a bit and since the writing is solid it lets the film succeed even without a good cast. It’s not as if the cast is painful either, they all do well in their roles except for Al. He is maybe just a bit too annoying the whole time and I think the film should have just put him in a tougher situation so there would have been less ways for him to escape. That would have made his complaints a little more valid. Still, valid or not I did enjoy the inner monologue. That’s definitely a noir trope that I’ve always enjoyed. It’s nice to see exactly what the character is thinking the whole time.

Overall 7/10