8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

This Island Earth Review


It’s time for a retro Sci-Fi movie. This one definitely had an interesting plot so I was ready to see if it could make it all the way to the end. The movie takes a different direction than what I had been anticipating though and while that still could have worked, I believe that the film lost its direction. The second half doesn’t live up to the promising beginning even if there are a lot of interesting themes at work. It ends up being a movie that is crammed by a bunch of plots and probably would have worked better as a full TV series or movie series. Still, it’s a pretty engaging watch and definitely one of the original alien stories.

The plot follows a pilot named Meacham who is also a super genius. He has been studying Atomic energy along with his partner and together they will make the world a better place. One day, he receives a bead of immense power and a guy on a computer screen tells him to get on a plane. It’s purely optional, but the alien blows up the table and nearly destroys the main characters before Meacham disconnects the TV. Meacham ignores the act of violence and decides to board the plane. It turns out that the “aliens” are actually normal people who all work in a big government facility. They have obtained the best geniuses from around the world and simply want to achieve everlasting peace…through Atomic Energy. Meacham notices how this could build the world’s greatest nuke and also notices how everyone is acting oddly. Maybe this paradise isn’t quite as pleasant as it appears to be.

From the start there is a lot of tension here. Have the humans been replaced by alien shapeshifters? What are they planning to do witih all of the Atomic energy? Are they even aliens or is it possible that they are simply very advanced people? You’ll be wondering about all of this and more as Meacham subtly looks around. He actually does a pretty good job of gathering intel and not being too obvious with what he’s doing. He probably should have guessed that the aliens could see through the walls since their tech can do just about anything, but I suppose it was a worthy attempt. By this point, Meacham decides to get a little more bold with his plans.

It turns out that it is aliens who are running the operation and they have resorted to brainwashing humans. The same would have happened to Meacham, Ruth, and Steve but the alien in charge of this branch believes that brainwashing defeats the purpose of getting the help from the humans. The aliens need them to come up with new innovations because their own planet is dying and they need Atomic energy to protect themselves. His suspicions prove to be accurate as the brainwashed scientists are no longer useful. Still, Meacham and the others aren’t fools so they decide not to help. They try a good escape effort, but are kidnapped and brought to the alien planet.

This is where the film maybe adds too many elements. There is a big intergalactic war going on and both sides appear to be pure evil. They sling meteors at each other and take over planets to defend themselves. The alien race that is attacking Earth have powerful guard robots to protect them. Fortunately, they don’t stand up to well to a good human thrashing. The designs were pretty neat though. Again, Meacham and the others made the right move in not trusting these aliens. They would have certainly been used and then thrown away. As it is, they were very close to being brainwashed. Some satisfying punches are thrown. Letting the alien help at the end was a little cheesy and I definitely think he was too far gone, but it was a decent attempt by the film at trying to make him likable.

Besides Meacham stealing the show rather easily with his dynamic performance and intense voice, the supporting cast wasn’t so bad. Steve seemed like a reasonable fellow even if his role wasn’t too big. He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to help the others so that speaks volumes about his character. Ruth is all right as well as she helps Steve trust Meacham and helps the team stay active. Unfortunately, she doesn’t do much after that besides getting into trouble with the aliens a few times. It would have been nice to have seen her use some of her genius to take down the robot since she is also supposed to be very smart.

Back to the robot, I wasn’t too impressed with it. While it may look cool, is it really that deadly if a human can deal so much damage to it? I was a little skeptical the whole time. Still, the overall effects were very impressive considering that this came out in the 50s. Honestly, it would hold up fairly well by the 70s standards as well. It has elements from Star Trek (The ships and the fights are almost identical, but on a lower budget) and even Star Wars with the big battles going on. I definitely got a little invested in the universe and could have had quite a lot of potential as a franchise. There’s just so much that they can do here.

Alas, it was just one film so they really had to pick and choose what they wanted to do. The best part of the film is still the beginning as it’s all very strange. You don’t know what’s happening, only that the whole situation is eerie. It felt like a Twilight Zone with the atmosphere being this way and it was just handled really smoothly. It reminds you of why the Sci-Fi genre is so popular in the first place, it can give you some really intense plots.

I think what puts this film over the edge is the strong writing. I’ve said this many times over, but you simply don’t see this level of writing nowadays. In modern films you either have to deal with some language or characters having annoying/quirky gimmicks to differentiate them. These films don’t bother with that as everyone just speaks matter of factly. All of the threats are said very politely and everyone is passive aggressive. They all talk to each other with a lot of respect, but still show a lot of emphasis depending on the situation. They may be nice, but they are still making a point. As such, the dialogue is pretty strong throughout.

Overall, This film was actually really interesting. It may not have lived up to its full potential and scored a 9, but it still did a lot of things right and nothing wrong. An animal appeared and actually lived to tell the tale for a change. They really should have considered a sequel where the aliens got to attack Earth or maybe the other side since the main ones were defeated. With their advanced technology maybe it would seem like a blowout or something, but I definitely think it could have worked. It’s easy to see why this film is apparently so well known (I had never heard of it until I watched the film to be honest) and it’s aged really well. I definitely recommend checking it out as it shows you how an alien film should be crafted, even if perhaps it is a lesson on how you probably shouldn’t execute it. At the very least, not so many plots when your run time is only in the ball park of 90 minutes. With Star Wars coming up soon, I’ll be able to get my next Sci-Fi kick provided we don’t stick with Luke’s plot for too long.

Overall 8/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Mummy (2017) Review


It’s time for the first film in the Dark Universe cinematic universe. Unfortunately it starts off with a complete flop. Mummy hits all of the wrong notes throughout the film and negates whatever presence and intensity it may have had. I can respect its reliance on jump scares as it has well over a dozen of them, but none of these moments were actually effective and it just goes to show that relying on horror tropes won’t get the job done. It’s also unsure whether it’s an action or horror film which adds to the confusion. Ah well, this isn’t one for the history books and you should stick to the last Mummy series.

The film’s about a thief named Nick who releases Princess Ahmanet from her prison. He doesn’t believe in Egyptian curses or anything like that and just saw it as a way to get rich very quickly. Unfortunately, this leads Ahmanet to pick him as her chosen vessel who will be possessed by Set and help her rule the world. Nick’s partner is destroyed in the process and becomes a ghost who blames Nick for his death and loses his mind half the time. Seriously, the guy can never decide whether he wants to be friends with Nick again or just destroy the guy. Meanwhile, an archaeologist named Jenny is in danger since Ahmanet doesn’t want Nick to have any friends who could become rivals. Can this human take on the Mummy? There’s also an Illuminati led by Henry that specializes in destroying supernatural forces. Hopefully they can help out a bit…if they’re not evil or super shady.

This movie has a long list of problems so lets start going through them. One of the biggest problems is..you guessed it…animal violence. I had to shake my head here since we start with Crows being tied down and end with masses of them being forced to suicide by the Mummy. I don’t think these scenes added to the movie and were just here as shock value. It’s a shame that it already started the film out on the wrong note, but things continued from there.

Ahmanet’s main attack is that she’ll kiss people to death. Is this what the Mummy has been reduced too? See, this is the problem that Hollywood keeps making. Why does the female Mummy have to attack this way instead of through sand attacks like every other Mummy? She also happens to be a very weak Mummy as she loses to a few stun guns and a net towards the middle. In the climax, she goes down in one hit. Did I mention that the climax is very anticlimactic and there is no actual fight? It’s a shame since the film hinted there was going to be a cool fight with super speed and epic effects but no, the kiss of death was activated. Ah man, a certain action hero better not keep that as his main attack. That’ll be brutal.

Ahmanet’s not a bad character, but she really wasn’t used well. I’m honestly not a big fan of the design myself as I’d prefer a normal look, but that she has the ability to turn to sand at will. Think Sandman or Crocodile. (One Piece) Her sand abilities were fun though so I wish she had gotten to use them more. She’s a total villain despite the film practically begging you to root for her at times. There just aren’t any real heroes in this film.

Another issue I had is that the Illuminati is clearly evil. I expected the movie to go this route, but they went as far as possible with them deciding to punish Ahmanet with a living, very long drawn out process of mummification. Basically they’ll fill her with mercury which sounds like a pretty painful way to die. Henry is also insane as the leader and the film doesn’t hide this at all so I may as well say that he’s the famous Mr. Hyde. If he doesn’t have his drugs constantly, he gains very mild super strength and poorly handled effects. It reminded me of an old film I saw a while back where the main character’s hair changed for when he’s evil. It’s very similar and poorly handled as well. Henry is the worst character in the series. If you have to choose between an evil organization or an evil Mummy, it’s probably best to just choose yourself and fight everybody. I’m on Team Cruise in this case.

The Mummy also couldn’t resist throwing in some poorly handled romance and dialogue. The banter between Nick and Jenny is painfully bad and played out. It’s all dialogue that we’ve seen before and doesn’t add anything to the film. We don’t need to see Ahmanet constantly throwing off her robe or stripping just to make deals or give people dreams of the future. We don’t need the same flashback a million times of her about to stab someone and then get stabbed herself. Murdering the baby once was enough, we don’t need to repeat that. All of the repetition just made each scene worse and worse as if they weren’t poorly handled enough the first time. We should stray away from child violence and baby violence as it is. No need for any of that here. So, to get this straight, Ahmanet was used for romance and fanservice a lot and was fairly weak for a Mummy. Like I said, the character wasn’t used well at all.

Then there’s Nick. He’s not very heroic as he was close to ditching Jenny a few times and he did steal from her after their hotel fling. Nick also decided that riches were more important than stopping the rebels or investigating the area like he was supposed too. Don’t worry though, Jenny tells us that he is a good man at heart so we’re supposed to believe that. His personality was also a little intriguing as he had the classic Cruise wit and fast talk down like you’d expect, but then he’d also get shaken a little easier. His conversation with Henry was just weird in that sense as he started stammering a lot like “Cure me right Doc? I I I’m ready….cure. You’re gonna cure me? Right? Lets do it. Lets do it Doc. Doc?” The lines were just really weird and scrambled during that scene and I thought it was because Set was starting to control him or something, but we learn that he had no influence until Nick was stabbed so…it was just random.

I didn’t care much for Jenny either. She wasn’t much of a fighter and her lines of “Get him off me” when the zombie broke into the car just illustrated that she wasn’t going to do anything about it. It was Nick’s job to get them away and she only “helped” by kicking him in the face for it. She sold Nick out to the evil organization as well and just never became likable. I actually preferred Nick’s partner which is saying something since his whole role was to panic constantly until he died. He was also odd to me as I mentioned before. He seemed to lose his mind when he tried destroying everybody but then he got it back. Somehow he kept his free will I guess after he had settled down, but why? Everyone else was a crazy servant and then he almost got Nick run over by a car. Nick just shouldn’t trust this guy, but it seems like he’ll be sticking around for the long haul….great.

This is a modern movie, but it doesn’t really have a modern soundtrack. There’s not much to it this time so the film fails on that account. The scenery isn’t bad when the characters are in the city. I do like cities for action films like this one and the underwater caverns weren’t bad either. The desert scenes hold it back to an extent though along with the flashbacks. Not to keep grating on this point, but 3 random guards were able to hold the Mummy down after she was given her powers? I dunno about that. Maybe the powers hadn’t sunk in yet, but I would have expected her to win that round.

That’s not to say there were no positives to be found here. The film is reasonably fun. Fun doesn’t go a long way when it comes to the score, but I don’t think you’ll really be bored. Something is usually happening at the very least. While the chase scenes aren’t very inspired, you do get to see Nick take down a bunch of zombies. There are some fun parody moments as well like when Nick tries to approach the Mummy and gets slapped or punched through a few walls. People got a chuckle out of it the first time. The film made sure to use that scene a few more times, but it was met with deafening silence on the re runs. Usually you don’t want to re use a joke more than once. It was good that the film showed the Mummy had super strength…it’s just too bad that it vanished when it counted. I am glad that the film didn’t cop out though and the Mummy had the edge over Jenny. I would have had a hard time believing that she could last very long against the Mummy at all.

Finally, I have to take another shot at Henry’s plan. His big plan…is to give Nick unlimited power and then destroy him before he takes them down. That’s such a flawed plan that it hurts. The instant Nick gets those powers, he could probably use super speed to get away or just activate some mystical ability to blow them all away. It just seems to risky, wouldn’t the better plan be to just destroy the jewel? It’s apparently very delicate as a quick bump can break it. There’s not much that the Mummy or Nick could do without it so that’s the optimal plan. No risk and the day is saved. That’s why if Henry is supposed to be this world’s Nick Fury, then we’re doomed. He’s just not all that intelligent.

Overall, I’m a little worried about the Dark Universe. The premise of it still has a lot of potential. Nick should play a big role and that should be interesting as he is a charismatic guy. That being said, most of the monsters haven’t aged well. I can’t imagine the Werewolf, Frankenstein, or Dracula even being all that interesting. Maybe the films can change my mind but based on how they handled this one, that could be a long shot at best. You should definitely skip this film and stay far, far away. It’s just not a good movie.

Overall 3/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Son of Frankenstein Review


After that last Frankenstein film it seemed that things were looking up for the series. Well, they head back down with this film although it is still significantly better than the first film. It’s problem is just that the plot ends up going nowhere and a large portion of the film is spent with boring dialogue and annoying main characters. The writing is good since this is an old film, but the lines just feel pointless at times with no actual plot progression to speak of.

It’s been a while since Frankenstein was taken down for good and now his son has returned to the land to claim his inheritance. I don’t think the timeline was very well thought out though since he meets up with a one armed police chief who was in the first film, but it’s apparently been at least 20-30 years so he shouldn’t be the same age. Also, he claims that his arm was ripped out as a child by the monster, but that can’t be true. So many questions and so few answers. Anyway, Baron wants to revive Frankenstein to prove that his father was correct in creating him, but is this smart?

First off, Baron is an extremely annoying character and having him as the lead can grow quite tiresome. I don’t see how he could possibly want to bring Frankenstein back or how he can really think it is a good idea. I think just about anyone can realize that this is not the smartest move you can make. Everyone in town already despises him and the guy does have a wife and a kid to look after. Putting them all in danger just for the sake of his reputation is quite bad. It also made for a very awkward carriage ride with his wife as he went on a long rant about how his father was right while she just looked confused and nervous. It’s probably a good time to start talking about how the house should be good rather than this. Baron just seems very on edge and shifty for the entire film and was definitely not likable in the slightest. I’d rather just have the normal Frankenstein back.

We’ve got Ygor as the main villain, but I don’t think I can take him seriously. He’s not exactly a character who screams “Main Villain” and he’s never been all that serious before so why start now? Furthermore, Baron should have taken him over to the cops right away after the guy tried to murder him. Not doing so was a rather large error in judgment and one that the Baron would continue to pay for over and over again. The Monster also returns for a rather large role of course, but he just seems like a shell of himself here. It definitely does feel like this film had a completely new staff since he seems to be based more on his legends than on the actual character from the previous two films. He’s back to being his usual unlikable self. While he does have some self control at times, it’s hardly enough to make him interesting in the slightest.

As for Krogh, he was solid. At least he actually gave Baron a chance unlike all of the others who wrote him off just because he was related to Frankenstein. It was certainly not the warmest welcome that the town gave the guy. At first, Krogh appeared to be antagonistic as he kept beating around the bush and talking about his past, but I suppose that was all misdirect or the writers weren’t sure what was happening at the time. It was definitely a tough ordeal for Krogh, but he stayed strong and was nice to have around. The townspeople were interesting as well as they seemed a little more petty than usual. They threw fruits at the main characters and just tried to act as mean as possible the whole time. I don’t think Baron cared as much as he implied though since he was too busy trying to become a mad scientist.

The film’s biggest mistake is certainly the fact that it’s very boring. Now, it’s interesting because you’d think that a horror film that’s mostly slice of life shouldn’t be all that boring right? After all, Nisekoi is a series about a guy trying to remember his days as a kid so he can remember a promise and involves a lot of happy days at school and it is never boring. By all accounts, Frankenstein stories should be more interesting right? I’d say that the issue is you expect Frankenstein to be a little more about horror and less about characters just talking around. If anything, getting rid of the Frankenstein angle could elevate the rest of the film since you’d be going into it with a Andy Griffith kind of expectation. By trying to attempt both genres, Son of Frankenstein ended up succeeding in neither of them.

What’s a real shame here is that the film’s setting had promise. The inside of the mansion that Baron inherited had a pretty interesting architecture and I wouldn’t have minded exploring it a little. The kid wasn’t overly annoying, but luckily he didn’t appear much so that was a good thing. Baron would have been a more compelling character if he either hadn’t believed in the monster or wanted nothing to do with it anyway. Then we could have had Frankenstein appear to avenge himself and they would have had some fights and mind games. It all wasn’t to be though and the film somehow manages to lose all of this potential to the winds. What could have helped was also a plot that made more sense because as I mentioned earlier, it just feels like plot holes are everywhere.

Overall, Son of Frankenstein is a pretty weak third film. It’s not nearly as bad as the first film so that’s a start at least. How I see it, the first film was just bad and super violent. The second film was interesting and had a decent mix of comedy and horror. The third film didn’t have much of a focus and became boring as a result. They all failed and succeeded in different ways so at least you can’t say that the series doesn’t try to experiment a little. If you’re a big fan of Frankenstein then you should probably check this film out just to add it to your collection. Otherwise, I’d advise you to just check out the Bride of Frankenstein instead and to leave this one to the history books. After all, it’s not as if you’ll miss much right?

Overall 3/10

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Bride of Frankenstein Review


Looks like it’s time to take a look at the original sequel to Frankenstein. I did not like the first film and I’m not a Frankenstein fan in general. I didn’t walk into this film with high expectations and I was not disappointed. That being said, it is a considerable improvement over the first film. It’s not nearly as violent or grotesque and handles itself rather maturely this time around. It can still be a bit of a tragic film at times even when it tries to be funny so it can be hard to tell when you’re supposed to be laughing or feeling sorry for the characters. I usually voted for the former.

The film starts off in the “real” world as Mary lets everyone know that the story isn’t over yet. We have some really over the top actors who yell about this and everyone gets excited so she tells them what happened. It turns out that Frankenstein’s monster didn’t die because he fell into the river and Frankenstein didn’t die because his body is very durable. This prompts Doctor Pretorius to arrive and tell Frankenstein that he wants to make a female version of the monster. Frankenstein halfheartedly refuses so Pretorius kidnaps his wife. Frankenstein now has to work against time in order to save her, but can he really duplicate the experiment?

The main improvements from the first film all stem from the reduced violence. The first film had a little kid drowned and we saw way too much brains and body parts for my liking. It was pretty distasteful and this one steers clear of all that. Even when they’re creating the bride, it’s never graphic. The film just isn’t violent in general and the victims are far fewer in number. We do have a few people die of course, but they’re casually thrown aside for the most part so it isn’t all that bad.

Frankenstein has changed a lot since the first film. He’s now incredibly timid and fears everyone. He’s always getting picked on and forced into doing things that he doesn’t want to do. However, he reverts back to his mad scientist phase whenever there is work to be done and it’s like he never changed at all. It would have been nice to have seen him have a little more will power. Naturally, he did have to go ahead with the project to save his wife, but he could have done it in a sane way instead of losing his mind once he was back in the lab.

Pretorius takes over Frankenstein’s role from the first film and I do certainly have to admit that he is smart. The first thing he does is to get the monster on his side and that was crucial since his plan would not have worked otherwise. His use of “Miller Time” and Cigars was a very potent combo. He always has the upper hand on the monster as he even drugs the poor guy later on. Pretorius fears nothing and is just very confident from start to finish. He was a pretty good villain and while it never felt as if he had much of a reason to do what he was doing…do mad scientists ever need a reason to do something? They just do whatever they want for kicks.

Minnie is the main comic relief character of the film and she does a good job in the role. She always talks a good game and is one of the only characters to insult Pretorius to his face. She is smart enough to actually run away from the monster and tries to warn the heroes even if they refused to listen to her. She certainly did a fine job if you ask me. As for the Bride, I guess she was fairly reasonable. Her reaction wasn’t all that bad when you consider that the heroes didn’t give her a chance to relax. Plus, who wants to be thrown into an arranged marriage the instant you are born into existence? Nah, the first thing you’d want to do is get out of there!

The Monster is all right I suppose, but he’s still not very smart and the monster noises can be annoying. I was glad that he finally learned how to talk a bit as the film went on. I figure that will make him a much better character in the sequels although it seems like I wasn’t on the same page as the writers. At least the monster tried to live a calm life at one point and was doing just fine with the blind guy in the hut. It’s a shame that the hunters had to wander in at that point and wrecked his one chance at a happy ending. He didn’t get burned this time and while he was captured at one point, he was able to break free pretty quickly. He certainly had a much more enjoyable adventure this time around.

Be warned that the title of this film is pure click bait. The Bride doesn’t appear until the final 5-10 minutes which is pretty disgraceful. She only gets roughly one line before the film has to end so if you were watching the movie to see her in action, prepare to be disappointed. It’s really just Frankenstein V2 as the film takes a lot of similar twists and turns. It seemed like it was meant to be a homage to the original in a lot of ways even though it had just come out. It was just handled far better than the first film and as a result, the film wasn’t half bad. I can’t say that it’s the kind of film that I’d want to watch again, but it wasn’t a chore to watch the way that I would have expected it to be.

Overall, If you’re looking for a horror comedy film, then this could be the right film for you. At the very least, it’s one of the best Frankenstein films that you can hope to see. That being said, it’s still not all that great and it’s short length ensures that the film has to run through the plot. The ending is pretty satisfying though and that’s always a good thing for these kind of films. Scooby Doo may still be your best bet when it comes to horror comedies, but this one gives it its best. Can the third film manage to defeat this one? I somehow doubt it, but we are getting closer to the Werewolf and that could certainly end up being another story.

Overall 5/10

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Cult of The Cobra Review

cult_of_cobra_poster_03
Time to look at another retro film by Universal. This one definitely came out quite a while ago and I will admit that I have never heard of it before. The poster is certainly intriguing and I never get tired of seeing the scared looks on everyone’s face as they look at the main characters of the film. It was a staple of the old films after all and they do have a good reason to be very afraid. After all, their lives may be in grave danger!

A group of American soldiers were getting ready to go to New York, but they hadn’t found anything really cool to take pictures of. They became fascinated by a man who could play music to a snake and one American mentioned how their was a religious cult who believes that people could turn into snakes and vice versa. The old man told them that he could take them to a meeting so they could see for themselves…for 100 dollars plus 10 up front. The heroes went and saw an intriguing show with a whole lot of dancing. Unfortunately, one of the members was drunk out of his mind and decided to take a very bright and loud picture of the show. Naturally, this did not fly with the members there and they decided to attack.

The army members were able to escape thanks to their military training, but one of their members died to a Cobra bite and they were cursed so that the rest would die the same way. Was this real or was it fantasy? Most of the members disregarded this right away, but then a mysterious lady moved next door and all of the animals were afraid of her. Also, more of the army members started to die from mysterious accidents. It may take a rocket scientist to put the clues together before it is too late!

This is certainly a classic horror film at its core. The Cobra even gets her own theme music. Whenever she puts on her serious face, the music speeds up and you know that one of the army guys is going to die…or at least be threatened. She typically gets to play her theme music at least three times before any fatalities occur. You know that the characters will be toast, but you just don’t know when they will bite the big one. Even the wife of one of the main character is nearly taken down, but the handy dandy mailman arrives just in the nick of time. That’s why speedy mail delivery is always so important right? Naturally, I’d give the soundtrack here a thumbs up. It’s not quite Resurrection F or Bonds Beyond Time, but it’s rare for a 50’s film to have any notable themes at all, so this was quite an impressive feat.

The film’s only a little bit above an hour so it’s quite short. That being said, the end of the film starts to drag just a little as you’re waiting for the heroes to make a move or for the next victim to show up. The Cobra doesn’t even seem all that sure herself as she struggles to decide whether she should go through with the murders or not. She hints that she may not be able to stop herself, but it’s hard to tell whether she meant that physically or just about the honor of it all. Either way, if she really wanted to settle down, not murdering the main guy’s friends would have been a good way to start. As she was a half hearted villain, I can see why she never became as big as characters Dracula or the Werewolf.

I was glad that the cops were actually pretty reasonable here as the evidence was pretty clear cut so they should agree that the new girl was the likely suspect. It did make sense after all right? Paul was definitely the best character in the film as he always suspected that there was some truth to the curse as cults would need to have someone to back them up. The way that he and Lisa handled the whole wedding arrangement admittedly lacked any form of tact or honor and came across as a little rude, but they probably hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought so they were just trying to go through the motions of being Tom’s friend even though their romance was their top concern. You will feel bad for Tom for a second, except that he went for the rebound immediately which shows that he’s the kind of guy who can move on way too quickly.

I think this film could have used a little more action. Not a whole lot happens and that’s usually okay, but a good portion of the film is spent on giving the cobra some character development, which ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. That screen time could have been better used for some fights against the Cobra. Some of the characters struggle, like throwing vases and things of the sort, but how can you not be able to outrun a Cobra? At the very least, you can manage to land a hit right? Even if the bite happens first, you can squash it…of course, that would have hurt the film’s score so it’s a double edged sword.

It should be noted that the film takes the high road with the animal violence so I have to give it kudos for that. A dog, cat, and a horse appear and they are all spared. There was one scary scene where we think that the cobra will attack the dog, but this doesn’t happen. I think the dog should have been a little braver and could have approached the cobra, but since that could have been dicey, I’m fine with this. The shaking was a bit much though and you’ll feel bad for the little guy.

Overall, Cult of The Cobra was a good film. It was probably a little more dull than some of the other retro classics, but it was still an interesting film. My favorite part of it was probably the opening scenes as that could have been expanded into a film in its own right. I wouldn’t have minded if it was about them infiltrating the cult, but that’s another plot for another film I suppose. The characters were decently developed even though you knew that they would be toast by the end. Snakes aren’t too scary compared to other monsters so this definitely won’t scare you at this point, but that’s all right. The solid music theme for the cobra will be good enough for the horror/thriller aspect. If you like these retro thrillers, then I certainly recommend it. It may not be the most exciting tale out there, but it’s fairly short and the writing is solid.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Black Cat Review

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Have you ever seen a film that was very different from what you expected? That happened to me with this film as I just expected a completely different plot and the whole film was as radically different as any I’ve ever seen. Luckily, this was in a good way! As much as a horror film about a Black Cat knocking everyone would have been entertaining, a classic “Who Did It” murder mystery is infinitely better. Aside from one mistake, the film does quite well, but it is unfortunately a big mistake!

An old lady is near death so her family members quickly head to her mansion so that they can pick up their inheritance. If they don’t like what they receive, they are prepared to attack her if necessary. Luckily, they all receive a decent amount of money so they are pleased, but the lady announces that this only comes to pass once her maid is dead as the cats need to be taken care of. One of the family members doesn’t like this and quickly stabs her. With the old lady out of the way, the main characters must figure out who did it as the body count will only rise from here!

One difference in this film compared to the average murder mystery is that the body count isn’t actually that high. The suspense is mostly grabbed by near deaths and the ominous feeling that someone is always watching you. Also, it isn’t played completely serious as it is part comedy. Similar to another murder mystery film that I saw a while back, whose title escapes me. The light tone with the classic mystery make for a winning formula in terms of how interesting the film is.

As this film came out in the very early 1940’s, you can expect that the writing is quite good as well. That makes all the difference in any mystery title and I can almost certainly guarantee that a modern version would not be nearly as good in this area. Whether it be the subtle threats or the not to subtle ones, you just don’t see dialogue like this nowadays. The film is a little on the short side, but there’s still enough time to flesh out the characters and not have a rushed ending.

The film does a good job of making everyone look a little suspicious. There’s the main character who really reminded me of Bill Murray from Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. Seriously, the guy looks almost identical to him complete with the voice and a similar role. He was definitely one of the best parts of the film and I’d say that he earned the role of best character. As he’s the main character, most of what we see is from his side of the story, but you can never discount the lead as they sometimes don’t tell you everything. I was rooting for him to close the deal though!

The main character’s friend is here to break things to make them more valuable in the future. He’s extremely scatter brained to the point where he can never follow a sentence and it takes him hours to realize what people knew in seconds. He was a fun character as he constantly trolled the rest of the cast and found the secret passages before anyone else. He was in danger many times, but the good part about being oblivious is that fear won’t slow you down! Naturally, he’s suspicious because you have to wonder if it is all truly an act.

Next up, we have the family of three. There’s the step son who threatens his step father several times not to break his mother’s heart as he knows that the guy is cheating with someone else. Considering the threats and how much the money would help him, it’s obvious why this guy is a suspect. Likewise, if the father is willing to cheat on his elderly wife, we don’t know what he is capable of! He definitely wants the money from the will as he constantly yells about it. Maybe he wants it for sinister purposes!

His elderly wife is always in the background and prefers to let everyone else to the talking. She keeps up the pretense of liking the old lady even though everyone else constantly insults her and just waits for her inheritance. Is it possible that she actually cares or is she just playing along to throw away suspicion from herself? There’s the main heroine who believes that no murders took place and that her family are still decent people deep down who wouldn’t cross this line. She tries to distract the main character from this train of thought several times. Is it possible that she is right or does she just want us to think that?

Rounding up the list of suspects are out final members. We have the maid who threatened that the heroes would leave the house one way or the other. Wow, that’s pretty ominous right? A bit obvious, but perhaps that’s the point to lower our guard! There’s also the grounds servant, Eduwardo. He is always listening and watching from outside and he has free reign over the place. He would certainly have the time to commit the acts and the motive as well since he received almost nothing from the will in the end. Finally, we have the old lady. Maybe she cheated death somehow by using a fake poison right?

So, we definitely have a lot of suspects. I’m glad to say that the film doesn’t cheat with the final verdict. The culprit does have a good motive and was one of the suspects so that was good. Cop outs are the one thing that you don’t want in a mystery film! The opening of the film reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. The mask party one where the relatives all wanted the old man to die and ultimately had their true faces exposed to everyone. The opening was definitely similar and I wouldn’t be surprised if one borrowed from the other.

This film would have been an easy 7, but there was one big mistake, which really hurt it. Unfortunately, one of the cats is poisoned and died. That was a really low blow and it definitely hurt the film. At least the cat wasn’t injured as that would have been even worse, but the death still ensured that I wouldn’t be giving this film any higher than a 5. It’s just hard to recommend a film with animal violence like this at times. For a show that has over 200 episodes or a long series like that, it’s much easier, but a single film….it’s just not happening. This was the one big mistake that the film made, but boy was it a big one!

The romance angle was surprisingly nonexistent for the most part. Of course, we have the main character and heroine who are polite to each other, but it never goes anywhere which is nice and realistic. There’s also the cheating subplot, but it also doesn’t really go anywhere. I’d say that this is a good thing as those plots weren’t needed to make the film be enjoyable anyway. As it stands, most of the character personalities were enjoyable, which really helped the film.

Overall, The Black Cat was much better than I anticipated. The score was lower due to the animal violence, but otherwise it was essentially the ideal mystery. It’s short, but there are no cop outs and the writing as done quite well. The film was pretty funny without going over the top in the comedy aspect. It wasn’t much of a problem back in the day though as the humor was almost always great or you would just miss the joke, but we never saw the kind of jokes that you see in something like Pixels. The horror aspects were also handled well as you would see an ominous hand reach out to take someone down or someone’s frightened expression as they realized that they were doomed. From the classics, this one easily takes down Frankenstein and Dracula without a doubt! In pure entertainment value, this would probably beat all of the other Universal classics.

Overall 5/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Jurassic World Review

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I recently saw all three Jurassic Park films so I was all set for this one. To an extent, the premise of the Jurassic Park franchise guarantees that the films will always get low scores thanks to the fact that it revolves around dinosaurs and will have a lot of animal violence. This film is no exception and it’s safe to say that it does lose to Jurassic Park III, but beats the first two films. If you’re a fan of the older films, you should definitely enjoy this one.

Claire has helped to put Jurassic Park back onto the map as the new amusement park, Jurassic World. While her boss doesn’t care to much about the financial part of the operations, that’s where she comes in. She had her team create a new dinosaur that was even bigger than the T Rex to increase the wow factor of the park, but ends up underestimating the creature. It escapes so she is forced to call in the resident dinosaur expert, Owen Grady!

That’s essentially the plot in a nutshell and while I will be talking about the film a lot, I’ll try to avoid spoilers. I managed to see this film yesterday which was fun since a day 0 viewing is always intense. The audience wasn’t quite as ready to roll as they were in Age of Ultron or the first Avengers, but it’s mostly due to the timeslot. They were still ready for action though and I had my comfortable recliner so I was ready for anything as well.

I was cracking up for the first 30-45 minutes. Roughly of course since this isn’t the kind of film where you will be glancing at your watch. It was probably partially intentional by the film, but I mostly didn’t laugh at its jokes, but at the scenes due to being unintentionally funny. One example of a joke where I was laughing (on the inside, I rarely laugh on the outside) was when the parents tease Zach after his heartwarming moment with his friend. It was all in good fun so the parents went a little higher on my coolness chart. They were essentially non factors here though as their screen time was minimal. The kids were fairly awful, but they did help the humor for the film.

Another example is when the two kids finally meet up with Claire. She tries to be nice and excited about seeing them only to get one of the more awkward receptions. Zach basically doesn’t want to talk to her at all and Gray’s mood swings of being somber and then super excited don’t wait for anyone. Claire can’t stay so she lets her assistant babysit them. You just gotta feel bad for Claire and I sympathized with her for the whole film. She doesn’t have a lot of free time so it makes sense that she hasn’t seen her nephews in 7 years. It’s regrettable, but these things happen and the kids shouldn’t hold it against her. She’s trying to be a good Aunt, but they never even gave her a chance. Gray may have, but he was disheartened when she couldn’t stay.

Let’s quickly talk about the two kids. Zach’s thing is that he believes that he’s really cool. He completely ignores his parents at times and ends up flirting with every single girl that he meets. (Even though he’s taken) Zach’s constantly giving Gray a hard time. “Sometimes we have to grow up!” Those may not have been his exact words, but he gets a lot of the most generic dialogue in the film and he’s also a shining bad example in many situations like when he decides to head to the forbidden zone. He felt like the kind of character that you would see in a commercial warning you not to hang out with people like that. He has his hero moments towards the end with Gray of course and he sees the light, but that would help him in the sequel, not here. He was just terrible.

No worries, Gray was awful as well. He’s way too excited and constantly blasts through rides to the dismay of the babysitter. At one point, he starts to whine about where all the dinosaurs are…even though we see that dozens of them are in front of him only about a minute later. There’s no way that he wouldn’t have been able to see them. It reminds me of a critique for the flowers film where someone saw a dead body before they ever could have seen it. Sort of the opposite of this event. Gray really had no consideration for anyone but himself during his visit to the park and while you can sympathize with him since Zach doesn’t want to hang out with him, Gray should have still done a better job of enjoying the park. He’s also pretty emotionless when pointing out a giant dinosaur that is around.

Time for a few quick nitpicks. After two characters jump into a lake, we see them walking a few minutes later and they are hardly wet. Their hair is matter and one of the T shirts is soggy, but the characters look way too dry considering the fact that they were completely underwater for a little while. Anyone who has ever jumped into a pool and then walked out will know that you don’t dry out that quickly. There’s also the ball ride where two characters explore the park. Even once an emergency announcement cuts off the presentation and tells everyone to leave…the ball is unaffected. The passenger still has complete control of it and that’s certainly not very safe. If passengers could control these things to go wherever they wanted, people would constantly be crashing into dinosaurs.

I did also chuckle at the fact that one guy’s whole job was making sure that all of the balls were safe during the crisis. He tells everyone that they’re all safe until he actually looks at the screen and realizes that one is gone. Whoops….that didn’t look too good for the guy. I liked his Dinosaur collection and admired the fact that he always talked a good game, but he was out of his league and he also tried flirting towards the end. Luckily, it wound up being the ultimate friend zone moment and I thought that it was handled rather well. We need more friend zone moments to be honest as they would make just about every film better.

The actual park is definitely somewhere that you would want to go and it looks kind of like Epcot. They have big water rides and a petting zoo section as well. You could say that it’s a fusion of your local zoo with one of the big amusement parks. It’s hard to believe that people would get bored of such a place even though the wow factor was apparently leaving. How I see it, Zoos have remained relevant for decades, a Dinosaur park would at least last 20 years without any big decline in viewership. That being said, Claire may have been overreacting as the numbers still seemed to be quite good when she was mentioning the statistics.

Let’s take this time to quickly talk about Owen and Claire. I haven’t really mentioned Owen up til now, but he did have some solid scenes. I did enjoy his interactions with the Raptors and I like how it was handled. He was their partner, not their boss although he thought of himself as an Alpha. Owen’s essentially your average action hero who has his good moments and his iffy ones. His flirting and dicey remarks keep him from being a good character, but he’s still decent for the most part. It’s easy to root for him at any rate and he certainly knows what he’s doing. He’s another guy who never bows to authority and talks when he feels like it. Imagine if everyone in real life were so bold right? I think the world would be topsy turvy before long.

Claire is a good main heroine for the film and she was actually one of my favorite characters. She didn’t want to have kids which is a noble goal and she has spent her career moving up in the ranks until she became one of the higher ups at the biggest amusement park in the world. That’s no small feat to say the least. Towards the end of the film, she has a bit of a generic ending where you can probably guess that she decides to back away from one part of her logic, but she was still a good character through and through. I thought that she did a decent job watching the kids. Sure, she left that to the assistant, but she gave them VIP passes and they got to have a blast. It’s not like she could take a day off when the big bosses were in town and awaiting her sales pitch after all. I also can’t really imagine her getting on some of the rides and having a blast like the kids. Actually, one of the rides was only built for 2 anyway.

The assistant was actually fairly likable and I originally thought that she was going to be one of the main characters. The actress looked like the main one from Twilight so I thought that I may have just been out of the loop there, but considering her minimal role, I’m going to assume that it was someone else. She definitely didn’t care to be there, but she’s probably seen and been on all of the rides many times over at this point. Still, her facade was good enough to fool the kids I’d say, but they were intent on giving her a tough time right from the start. Her character path goes down a dicey road and I felt bad for the whole time. It just wasn’t her day.

The higher up in charge of the park was decently charismatic. The film was going for a Tony Stark kind of feel for the guy and it worked to an extent. He started to look a little iffy towards the end though, but at least he cared about the dinosaurs a little. As always, there is a human antagonist to liven things up and he is similar to the guy from the first film. He talks tough to everyone and he has his own plans in mind. He gave the film another jolt of humor and I liked him as one of the big bads. This guy certainly wasn’t playing around.

Time to talk about the mystery dino. If you’re seen the trailers, then you know that there is a new Dinosaur hybrid attacking everyone. While she is a little smaller than I had expected, she still packs a punch and makes for a great threat. There are few dinos who can hope to match up to this fighter and she is also very smart. The fact that this dinosaur has been created in a lab gave the writers a little freedom to add some new techniques so this dinosaur doesn’t just need to rely on physical strength. It has two defensive skills, which greatly increase how deadly it can be in a fight. This dinosaur was definitely one of the highlights.

The classics like the T Rex and the Raptor are also present of course and I still love both dinosaurs. Once you see this film, you’ll be reminded why the T Rex is so awesome and how merciless the Raptors can be. It would have been fun to have seen the Spinosaurus enter the fray, but maybe next time. The Raptors get a fairly large role and are integral to the plot. They are still my favorite Dinosaurs out there and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. They just look so happy and cuddly next to all of the others.

As you might expect, there is a big climactic fight towards the end of the film and it’s quite impressive. It was a fight that I actually called out as I walked into the theater and I was thrilled to see it play out. The fighters gave it their all and we see some nice teamwork as well. The fight isn’t that short either and gives the dinosaurs enough time to really show what they are made of. It’s easily the best fight scene that we’ve gotten in the Jurassic Park franchise and it’s hard to picture this one being topped.

There are some plot elements left around to get you ready for the inevitable sequel. Let’s just say that the next film could have dog sized super dinosaurs running around and it’ll make for a pretty epic clash. Alternately, it could have a plot similar to the original King Kong. Either way, the sequel should be fun and I wonder if the main characters would return or if it would be time for a new cast. I would like these characters to return, but I’m open to change so that we wouldn’t have to see the kids return.

Now, this review sounds decently positive so you may expect something like a 7? A 7 is what the film would have gotten if not for the main negative, but it is something that it almost literally impossible for the Jurassic Park franchise to get away from. That is…animal violence. It’s a dinosaur eat dinosaur world out there so it’s expected and I’m not surprised at the fact that dinosaurs are getting hurt all over the place. It simply makes sense even if it is regrettable. So, while I enjoyed the film as a whole, I’ve still got to cripple the final rating due to how many times an animal is injured and how prevalent this is in the film.

One scene is really just there so that the mini army can get some hype as a gun man casually shoots one of the Pterodactyls. That was just unnecessary and a lot of the other animal scenes aren’t much better. We see dinosaurs blown up, eaten, and effectively drowned. If you’re a dinosaur in this film, then you’re in a whole lot of trouble. A lot of the hurt also comes to my good ole Raptors, which is unfortunate, but probably a price of being one of the main characters. I could go on and on, but you get the drift and it occurs too often to be overlooked so you should prepare for a fairly low score on this one.

Still, it was more fun than the first three Jurassic Park films and certainly seemed to have more fun with itself as well. I’m glad that the Park finally got to open and the film was certainly able to make it look much more authentic than it could have with older effects. This is one of those times where the fact that it’s modern and has some good effects, really helps it. To an extent, I feel like new technology will always help films to have an edge over older ones. The older ones typically hold their own through the better writing, but when you have a good modern film against a good old one, the modern one certainly has that extra edge. Jurassic Park III still wins overall, but the tone and pacing of this film can’t be beat. World feels like a classic Summer Blockbuster.

Hmmm, have I touched on everything? I managed to stay pretty vague on all spoiler related areas and that also slightly limits what I can discuss in the review. The first half was really funny and made this the funniest film in the series and the ending also had the best action scene from all 4 so it was a nice balance. Any scene with the Raptors is typically a good scene as well. As for the soundtrack, you’ll certainly recognize the classic theme from the first film as well as the trailer theme, which plays during one of the scenes. The soundtrack may be a tad generic at points, but the main theme is still iconic and you probably won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. As long as you have one memorable scene, that’s more than most films have got.

While the animal violence is really the only big negative, there are some mild ones as well since this still wouldn’t be a perfect film if the violence was gone. (Although it would be a good-very good one) The kids naturally weren’t good characters, but the rest of the cast helped to nullify them. The writing isn’t great although this is mainly due to Owen and Zach’s characters as the rest are typically fine. There is one scene that will puzzle you a little bit as two security guards seem to have no idea that the Park is in trouble even though the alarms had already gone through a good half hour ago. It struck me as a little odd and random. That’s about it so the film was mostly solid. At around 2 hours, it was a good run time, which gave the film enough time to develop the characters and showcase the dinosaurs.

While Jurassic World is mainly a popcorn film with a lot of epic action and enjoyable moments, it can actually get pretty somber and sad at other moments. One of those moments is the Dinosaur graveyard, which is definitely tragic and one of the more emotional moments of the film. One moment that is supposed to be emotional is when we learn of a divorce, but it has no point in the film and its thrown out so randomly that you probably won’t feel any emotion other than a casual wince. Of course, if you like to have fun with films, then that may be a good thing as I was having fun grinning and wincing for some of the dialogue, but in a good way. On the whole, Jurassic World is still a fairly upbeat film that stays happy for most of its run time as it only gets sad once in a while.

The Pterodactyl attack scene will just get thrown in with the rest of the animal violence issue, but I wonder how some critics will take it. I read a critique of Jurassic Park III that Pterodactyls shouldn’t be strong enough to lift a grown man. Let’s just say that they lift quite a few people during the attack in this one. Is the science/films right or are the real life keyboard warriors correct on this one? I don’t know myself, but it seems perfectly feasible that Pterodactyle could lift humans up since animals are typically so tough. I’m no dinosaur expert though and am happy just being a casual moviegoer.

Overall, I’m definitely glad that I saw this one. If you liked the first three Jurassic Park films, then you should definitely like this one a lot. At the most, you may not like the fact that it’s much more of an action film than the first Jurassic Park, which was a survival film, but it’s still about dinosaurs and it’s still a good film so I believe that you would end up enjoying it. The animal violence is regrettable and it’s something that likely won’t leave the series until they bring in the mecha dinosaurs and I’m ready for that to enter the picture soon. Well, next stop should be good ole Terminator and it’ll be fun to see how that holds up.

Overall 3/10