Movie Review: The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

While I miss going to the cinema, it’s nice that I still can experience brand new movies from the safety of my own home. And this one comes to us straight from Netflix.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”.

Going on what is meant to be a family bonding road trip, the dysfunctional Mitchell family find themselves caught in the middle of a robot apocalypse, and must do everything they can to survive and possibly also save the world. So yeah, this movie blends a lot of familiar elements into its story. There’s the whole dysfunctional family angle, the misunderstood teenager, there’s a road trip comedy, there’s robots trying to take over, there’s social commentary on modern tech… yeah, this soup has a lot of ingredients. And they all come together quite well to make for a highly enjoyable narrative. Yes, it really doesn’t do much new, but that’s okay, because it handles its familiar ideas in really fun, easily digestible ways. It also helps that it seldom lets anything outstay its welcome, thanks to a crackling pace. But it does also know to slow down when there needs to be a bit of character drama. It’s basically a good, well paced story that I highly enjoyed.

The characters in this are all charming, colorful, and highly entertaining. They all have some quirk to them that is used in fun ways throughout the movie, and it also at times makes for some interesting character dynamics when needed. I don’t really wanna say too much more, as I feel the characters and their unique charms are best left experienced, so let’s just mention some of the actors in this, all of which are great in their respective roles. You got Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, and I think it’s great. It’s very energetic and fun, fitting the fast pace of the movie. I also think the heavy use of synths add a lot to it, complementing both the robot uprising and the bouncy family adventure. There’s also a few licensed songs used here, and they work fine.

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” was written and directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, and I think they did a terrific job with it. This movie has this really energetic and snappy direction that really helps keep any moment from getting stale, and which makes action scenes an absolute joy to behold. Speaking of beholding, holy crap, this animation in this is spectacular. It is of course 3D/CG in its basis, but it also seems to incorporate elements of cel-shading, some traditional 2D animation, and even a few other styles at a few points that I won’t spoil. But yeah, it makes for animation that really pops off the screen lingers in the viewer’s (AKA my) mind. The movie is also insanely funny, there’s so many jokes here I laughed really hard at. There were also a few I didn’t really enjoy, but thanks to the movie’s fast pace they didn’t really outstay their welcome, so the overall experience remained very positive.

This movie just came out, so ratings might change over time (I will however not change anything, for I am lazy). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is an insanely fun and hilarious family film that I highly enjoyed. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic direction/animation, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is a 9.67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is now completed.

It’s been a while since I laughed so much that it made me cough. Good on ya, movie.

Great Video Game Boss Music

Hello there, ladies, gents, and non-binaries. I hope you’re all doing well. So something I don’t talk a ton about on this here blog are video games. And that’s quite strange, because they’re such a huge part of my everyday life. When I’m not watching movies/TV or eating, I play video games. Fuckin’ love ’em. And recently I got an itch to write a little something about games. I wanted to write about video game music. Specifically boss music. The music that plays as you take on a special encounter in a game. Not your regular background music, but those special themes that play as you fight a bigger bad.
I should preface this list by saying that these aren’t definitive rankings, but rather it’s just a collection of boss themes I like a lot. So yeah… here we go. Oh, and I guess beware some minor video game spoilers. I’ll try to keep it somewhat vague, but there will be times where I can’t avoid spoilers due to needing the context for the fight.

One Winged Angel – Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Could I kick off this list any other way? No, no I couldn’t. People who play games know how iconic this boss theme is, there was no legal way I could leave it out. So for those not aware, “Final Fantasy VII” tells the story of Cloud Strife, an  ex-SOLDIER (which isn’t just a regular ex-soldier, don’t make me get into it) who teams up with a ragtag group of people to travel across the world to stop the legendary warrior Sephiroth from destroying the world. So as you play through the game and and experience its story, it of course builds up to you eventually facing off with Sephiroth in a big ol’ battle. And that’s exactly what happens. And in that battle is when we’re introduced to this bombastic boss bop. What I love about it is that it’s a weird mix between a sort of war march, mixed with a bit of a tango. And within the synthesized orchestra is also a latin choir which makes the track somewhat haunting. And it is awesome. It’s also been redone and remixed in so many ways, so if you’re not too fond of the original version of the track, then you got plenty of options.

Gehrman, The First Hunter – Bloodborne (2015)

Jumping ahead almost 20 years (crikey), we get to “Bloodborne” a 2015 action-horror game where you play as some dumbass who came to the city of Yharnam, only to find yourself embroiled in a nightmarish quest to slay monsters and find out the truth surrounding them. But as you get to the end of the game, you don’t find yourself fighting some huge beast… but rather an old man. An old man who you’ve had as a friend since the start. But at the end you get the choice: Submit to his mercy and die, not having to suffer the consequences of knowing the cosmic truth any more… or resist, which means that you have to fight him. So there is a bit of a tragic element to the fight. This is reflected in the music, which isn’t big, bombastic, and badass. But rather it’s sad, somber, and subdued. Just listening to the music makes me feel the sadness I did as I finally laid Gehrman to rest. And hell, it’s even making me want to play through “Bloodborne” again.

Eternity – Blue Dragon (2006)

Man, shit got real sad in the previous part, so let’s lighten the mood with some “Blue Dragon”! This game follows a boy named Shu as he and his friends end up away from their village, which leads them on a quest to save the world from a selfish and evil creature called Nene. “Blue Dragon” is a decently fun game, if a bit derivative. What does make it stand out in my mind though is the music for 99% of all boss fights. Just imagine: You’re playing through this Japanese fantasy game, you’re enjoying the art style and the gameplay, nothing’s out of the ordinary… then you suddenly hit a boss fight and Ian fucking Gillan starts screaming down your ear… yeah. Seriously, when I first heard that in the game, my jaw hit the floor, I was baffled, it was so strange. And even in the last few hours of the game my eyebrows were hitting the ceiling. How did this strange collaboration happen? I have no clue! Not that I’m complaining though, because the song’s a banger, and it made the game a lot more fun and memorable.

Last Judgement – Resident Evil 2 (2019)

Back in 1998, a little game called “Resident Evil 2” came out, and people loved it. In 2019 it got remade, and people (myself included) loved it. The game follows Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they both find themselves caught within a mysterious zombie outbreak in Raccoon City. It’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s arguably one of the best AAA horror games of recent years. And one of the reasons for that is a little fella simply known as Mr. X. And by little fella I mean he’s a ten foot tall motherfucker who shows up partway through the game and starts chasing whichever character you’re playing as, which does add another challenge to moving around the environment as you try to solve puzzles and not fucking die. But yeah, he’s a terrifying bastard that you can’t harm. But then you get to the end of the game, specifically within Leon’s storyline. You’re stuck on a huge freight elevator, and he comes crashing down. There’s nowhere to run, no safe room to hide in, no shortcuts to lose him in… you have to fight. And in that fight you get this orchestral track in the background. Some overwhelming brass to remind you of the horror, but while still feeling somewhat empowering, like “Okay… guess we’re bringing this bitch down for good”. It’s a good one.

Pledge of Demon – Yakuza 0 (2015)

And to wrap up this list is this absolute banger from one of my favorite games. “Yakuza 0” is a prequel to the rest of the “Yakuza” series, and follows younger versions of series mainstays Kiryu and Majima in 1988 as they deal with some huge conspiracies within Japan’s criminal underworld. It’s a big, bombastic, and dramatic narrative which manages to flawlessly hit all the emotional beats one could want. Speaking of beats, it’s really fun beating up dudes in this game. Especially with the game’s bosses, which of course put up even more of a fight than the regular goons do. Especially one dude you encounter during Kiryu’s side of the story… One dude named Daisaku Kuze, an older member of the Yakuza, a man who isn’t really fond of Kiryu. At a point you get to fight him, and that is what brings this amazing track into our lives. Heavy guitars, thumping percussion, some electronica, it features elements heard through the franchise’s soundtrack, but does it in a way that feels fresh and exciting, while also pumping the player up for a brutal brawl. And that’s why I fucking love it.

So yeah, those are some video game boss themes that I love. I decided to cut it off at five because this list was getting rambly as it was, and I might also want to do another part of these in the future (if you guys would be interested in that). So yeah, I hope you enjoyed reading this. And if you have a favorite boss theme (if you play games), feel free to let me know, I’m always in the market for good music and games.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: The Karate Kid (1984)

Your suspicions are correct, I only saw this classic for the first time today. I know, shame on me for being late to the party, yada yada yada. Now, for those who haven’t left me over this horrific revelation… let’s talk about the movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Karate Kid”.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) has just moved to California with his mom (Randee Heller). However, things aren’t just sunshine and palm trees for poor Daniel, as he soon starts getting bullied by a group of karate-proficient bullies. This soon leads him to befriending an older Japanese man (Pat Morita) that may or may not be able to teach Daniel how to defend himself. So you get yourself a bit of an underdog story, a bit of a coming of age story, and a bit of martial arts (and even a few drops of philosophy). It’s a narrative that encompasses a lot of things, and handles most of them with a surprising amount of grace and nuance. This does add a little bit to my main criticism with the film, which is that the runtime really could be felt at times. I wasn’t necessarily bored per se, but let’s just say that those 2+ hours do feelt like 2+ hours. Overall it is a fun story that I found myself pretty engaged with, even if it felt like it dragged at points.

The characters in this are colorful, entertaining, and surprisingly layered. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, the Jersey kid forced over to California. At first he can come off as that typical angsty teen, but soon shows that he is more than that. He’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a good dude who just wants to live his life. And to see that personality get tested through Daniel’s various trials and tribulations is quite interesting, with Macchio giving a great performance. Next we have Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the older man that Daniel befriends and (as you all know) agrees to train. He’s a bit of an eccentric man, which makes him a really entertaining character, with Morita being really good in the role. And I have to say, the chemistry between Macchio and Morita is stellar, and is arguably the best part of the entire movie. We also get supporting work from people like Randee Heller, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Bill Conti, and it was a lot of fun. It has a lot of familiar 1980s cheese to it with big, inspirational brass and what I’d like to call “montage synths”. You know, those kinds of synths that only show up in old underdog stories to serve as some sort of personal growth/montage thing for the character (you’ll know ’em when you hear ’em). Either way, I think his score is a lot of fun and works well for the movie. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used through, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Karate Kid” was directed by John G. Avildsen, and I think he did a good job. Shots have a nice flow to them, and his direction has a certain type of energy that really helps bring you into the scene. He also makes the story feel a bit more grandiose than it is. Because if you think about it, the story itself is relatively small scale, but Avildsen has a way of making it feel quite substantial. I will also say that I enjoy the way he shoots martial arts. It doesn’t show up that much in the film, all things considered, but when it does it’s nicely shot and gets properly shown off.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Morita).

So while it does have some mild pacing issues, “The Karate Kid” is still a highly entertaining coming of age story that I really enjoyed. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Karate Kid” is an 8.60/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “The Karate Kid” is now completed.

You’re the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep you down…

Movie Review: All the Money in the World (2017)

I’m back! To clarify: I took a little break from writing for a little over two weeks because I just didn’t have much energy, but now I’m here again! And hopefully I’ll be able to keep this shit up semi-regularly again. So yeah, let’s goooooo!

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “All the Money in the World”.

Italy, 1973. Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) finds herself in a precarious situation after her son (Charlie Plummer) gets kidnapped one night. And we follow her as she tries anything to save her son, which includes trying to get help from her son’s billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer). So what we have here is part kidnapping thriller and part domestic drama, and for the most part I think it holds up well. The movie jumps between Gail’s struggle with her former father-in-law, and her son being stuck with the kidnappers. And both stories are pretty solid, with one half being a really fascinating character drama, and the other being a tense as hell thriller. The only issue I do have is that the pacing does suffer a little bit towards the middle. It doesn’t break the movie in half, but it does bring it down a little bit.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting and all bounce off of each other quite well. First up is Gail, played by Michelle Williams. A tough, yet also vulnerable woman trying her damndest to just get her son home safe and sound. She is a pretty interesting protagonist to follow, and Williams is great in the role. Next we have Christopher Plummer (R.I.P) as J. Paul Getty, the billionaire whose money the kidnappers want. He’s a stubborn old man who can often come off as a real son of a bitch, which makes him a wonderful counterpoint to Williams’ Gail, making for some interesting drama and character dynamics. And Plummer is just terrific in the role. Then we have Fletcher Chace, Getty’s number one guy. While not the most fleshed out character in the movie, he does make for a nice addition to the cast as a way of briding the gap between characters. And Wahlberg is really good in the role. And Charlie Plummer is an absolute standout as J. Paul Getty III, he is so god damn good in his role. We also get supporting work from people like Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi, Giuseppe Bonifati, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Daniel Permberton, and I thought it was pretty good. It’s not exactly groundbreaking in any way, and I don’t I’m gonna remember it in a week, but overall it did work well within the movie itself, and I think it helped out the various scenes where it could be heard. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work pretty well too.

Based on a book by John Pearson, “All the Money in the World” was directed by Ridley Scott, and I think he did a damn good job with it. He clearly still has such a grip on how to really pull the viewer into a scene. From a basic enough wide shot to bits of action, the man has a masterful grasp of the film. And I don’t think I can go on without mentioning the mad lad’s reshoots. For any cave dwellers that might be unaware, this movie originally starred Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, but after all the sexual assault/harassment allegations against him came out, the studio pulled the movie from a festival. Ridley Scott, being the marvelous jackass that he is just said “Delay the movie a few days and give me some money for reshoots”, after which he pulled in Plummer (and any of the non-predatory actors left) and reshot all the Getty stuff. And the mad son of a bitch pulled it off. So yeah, Scott is a god damn pro.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

While not within the upper echelon of Ridley Scott’s filmography, “All the Money in the World” is still a damn good biographical thriller. It has a really good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “All the Money in the World” is an 8.42/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s worth buying.

My review of “All the Money in the World” is now completed.

Ridley Scott, you glorious madman.

Series Review: Des (2020)

Been a while since we covered a tv show, so I’m a bit excited right now. Also, don’t murder people.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Des”.

The year is 1983. Police have arrested Dennis “Des” Nilsen (David Tennant) on suspicion of homicide after human remains are found near his home. And throughout the show we follow the cops a they try to identify the various victims, as well as trying to get information out of Nilsen regarding everything he did. This is an interesting little crime drama. Now, it does fall back on a lot of tropes from these type of true crime murder mystery type stories, which is possibly the show’s biggest fault. It’s not outright bad, but the sometimes formulaic nature does take away some from it. But with this said, I did still find the story here decently interesting. It has this sort of eeriness that I feel we don’t necessarily get in similar things. I don’t know how to explain it, but the whole vibe around it just makes it a bit more interesting. And I do still think the investigation around Nilsen and his victims is a pretty interesting one, especially as we learn more about him as a person. There is also some stuff set around the bureaucracy of the investigation, which does add a decent bit of drama. On the whole I do think the story here is solid enough, just a little familiar in its structure.

The characters in this are pretty interesting. Especially our main two, who are both really compelling. First up we have Daniel Mays as Detective chief inspector Peter Jay, the man leading the investigation into Nilsen’s murders. He’s a man of principle, someone determined to see this all through, even when the higher ups try to get in his way. He’s a compelling lead, and Daniel Mays gives a really good performance. And then we have David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, AKA Des. He’s a really frightening character. But not in a Hannibal Lecter or Annie Wilkes kinda way where they’re made to be frightening. Nilsen is frightening in how blunt and forward he is. Right from the start he’s like “Yeah, I killed them” and has no problem telling how it happened, like how you might tell your friends about your trip to Spain. He’s frightening because he is so… human. And Tennant is fantastic in the role, giving one of the best performances of his career. We also get supporting work from people like Jason Watkins, Barry Ward, Jay Simpson, Bronagh Waugh, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Sarah Warne, and I think she did a pretty good job. It’s very low key, going for a somewhat eerie, almost droning sound to add to the atmosphere of the show. It really helps create an engaging soundscape within the show.

Based on the book “Killing for Company” by Brian Masters, “Des” was created by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold, with Arnold directing, and Neal serving as lead writer. And I think the craft here is really strong. One thing I really appreciate about the directing and such here is how remarkably restrained they are. So many other people would probably give us the gory, graphic details of the entire situation, but the crew here didn’t. They hold back quite a bit, just giving us the explanations of everything that happened. And while too much exposition can be a bit bothersome, I feel that they found the right balance here. I must also commend Mark Wolf on his cinematography, because it’s really frickin’ good and fits the story being told really well.

This show has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.7/10.

While its formulaic nature does bring it down a little bit, “Des” is still a pretty compelling crime drama. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Des” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Des” is now completed.

Symphony of Des-truction…

Movie Review: The Wrestler (2008)

I’ve never really cared about wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to begrudge anyone that does watch and enjoy it, you go have fun. It’s just never been my cup of tea. So with this said, let’s talk about a movie that’s somewhat wrestling related.

Ladies and gents… “The Wrestler”.

Back in the 80s nothing could stop Randy “The Ram Robinson” (Mickey Rourke). He was one of the biggest wrestlers around, famed and beloved all over. But in the modern day things aren’t quite as shiny and wonderful. His fame is fading, and his numerous health issues are forcing him to retire. And we follow him as he struggles with trying to get his life back together and finding his spot in the world. So yeah, it’s not just sweaty dudes knockin’ each other around in this, it’s a very human drama. One about life, redemption, limitations, and finding yourself. It’s quite an emotionally engaging narrative that had me engrossed from the start up until the credits. Whenever we see these wrestlers on a screen they seem so larger than life, so it’s deeply fascinating to see one of them so humanized here. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s really a feelgood movie, because for most of it I kind of felt like shit, which was clearly the movie’s intention, so good job on that. That’s not a flaw, by the way, just thought it was worth bringing up. But yeah, the story in this is great.

The characters in this are all very nuanced and all feel very real, really bringing the viewer further into the drama. Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, the titular wrestler. Once a big star, now a bit of a mess. He is a really fascinating fella that I really liked following throughout the movie. And Mickey Rourke is fantastic in the role. Next we have Marisa Tomei as “Cassidy” a stripper that Randy has a bit of a bond with in the movie. She is currently going through some shit herself, and it’s interesting to see how that, along with the issues Randy bring in, helps develop her. And Tomei is great in the role. We also get some supporting work from people like Evan Rachel Wood, Todd Barry, Judah Friedlander, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Clint Mansell, with some assistance from legendary guitarist Slash. It’s a moody, sad score that underlines the tragedy of Randy’s life. It’s quite beautiful and works really well for the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

“The Wrestler” was directed by Darren Aronofsky, and I think he did a fantastic job here. What I like about his directing here is that it’s very fly-on-the-wall in its execution, nothing of it is really that flashy. It really fit the story nicely, and it helped immerse me even further in the turmoil of Randy and those around him. Because this isn’t really a flashy story, it’s fairly down and dirty and occasionally depressing, and I think the directing captures that perfectly.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10. It was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Rourke) and Best supporting actress (Tomei).

“The Wrestler” is a great character-driven drama that had me emotionally engaged from minute one. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wrestler” is a 9.67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Wrestler” is now completed.

Good movie is good. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything more clever for the end, but this movie kinda broke me.

Movie Review: The Rental (2020)

Have you ever just wanted to get away for a weekend? Just sort of get out of the house and have some fun, recharging a bit. Yeah, maybe don’t. Or do, I’m not your mother.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Rental”.

The story here follows two couple (Dan Stevens/Alison Brie and Jeremy Allen White/Sheila Vand) as they rent a nice, big, fancy cottage for the weekend, as a way to unwind and celebrate a bit. But not long after they arrive they discover some sinister stuff going on around, which not only may threaten their lives… but also forces some dark secrets to come out. I like this setup, it takes elements of both a slasher and a domestic drama, which could make for a really interesting narrative… shame it doesn’t live up to that though. Because for most of it I wasn’t interested in what was going on. The story beats themselves are actually pretty interesting, but the way they were handled was just so dull. What’s even more egregious is that when the plot felt like it was picking up for its second act, it ended like four minutes later. So the ending feels very abrupt. And when you combine that with the overall execution of everything else being subpar, you get an overall poor narrative.

The characters in this, like the plot before them, have interesting setups… but in the end I don’t care. They don’t have much going for them in terms of personality, and I’d probably mix them all up if I wasn’t already familiar with some of the actors. I mean, you have Dan Stevens (who I love), you have Alison Brie (who’s good in things), you have Jeremy Allen White (who I’ve heard good things about), they all do fine, even though they got very little to work with. Sheila Vand does fine with her role. And Toby Huss who shows up briefly is alright too. It’s a good cast that does the best they can with very subpar material.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, and I think they did an okay job. It is dark and droning and very reminiscent of their other scores in those ways. So yeah, their score here is fine. Not their most original or well composed, but solid enough.

“The Rental” was co-written and directed by actor Dave Franco, and I think he did an average job. His directing here is fine, passable, serves its purpose in an average manner. This is a bit of an issue when it so clearly wants to be a creepy, suspenseful thriller, and at no point did I ever really feel uncomfortable or tensed up. I do commend his directing in that it has some snappiness to it, no shots feel like they drag or like they rush, I think that stuff is handled decently enough. But good shot composition and half-decent editing doesn’t really make me spooked, despite the movie clearly wanting me to be.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite a solid setup and a good cast, “The Rental” is sadly a bit of a miss. It has a poor plot, uninteresting characters, good performances, okay music, and mediocre directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Rental” is a 4.60/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Rental” is now completed.

That title is kind of ironic, because this movie isn’t really worth renting.

Movie Review: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Hello there, my friends! I hope you’re day is going well. Anyway, it’s once again time for Akira Kurosunday. So let’s chat about this movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Hidden Fortress”.

The story follows Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), two lowly peasants trying to get by. But then one day they get the opportunity of a lifetime when they meet a man and a woman (Toshiro Mifune and Misa Uehara) who promise the pair a bunch of gold in exchange for helping escort them across hostile territory. What the pair o’ peasants don’t know though is that the man and woman may be more than meets the eye. “The Hidden Fortress” is slightly different from the previous Kurosawa flicks we’ve covered so far. It’s not an examination of truth and lies, or a deep dive into the darkness of a man’s soul, or even a four hour epic about different people coming together. This is a more straightforward adventure story, going for less of a deep, nuanced thing, and aiming to be more of a fun affair. And I think it succeeds at that quite well, telling a very entertaining story with enough little turns to make it a little more interesting. I do feel that the pacing isn’t the best in this movie, as it drag a little in parts for me. It doesn’t completely break the experience for me, but it’s noticeable enough to bring it down a little bit. But otherwise I highly enjoyed the story told here.

The characters in this are all colorful and entertaining. First up we have the two peasants, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They have a very fun dynamic, and they help add a lot of comedy throughout the entire movie. And Chiaki and Fujiwara both give really solid performances. And I think it goes without saying how good Toshiro Mifune is in his role. And Misa Uehara does a solid job with her role too. It’s just generally a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think he did a really good job with the music here. It very much fits the fun adventure style that the story is going for. It has enough grandeur to add some weight to proceedings, but it also clearly never goes for anything too serious. It’s just a fun score that works very well for this movie.

As you already figured, “The Hidden Fortress” was directed by Akira Kurosawa, and as per usual he of course knocked it out of the park. This was also his first venture into widescreen filmmaking, and he took full advantage of that fact. He has stuff going on throughout the entire screen, giving us a lot of beautiful wides of both action and stillness. He and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki really outdid themselves here in giving us a lot of breathtaking shots and sequences. Must’ve dented the floor with how many times my jaw dropped.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

While the pacing drags a little bit in parts, I still find “The Hidden Fortress” to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hidden Fortress” is an 8.87/10. So I’d say that it ‘s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Hidden Fortress” is now completed.

Fortress: Hidden
Movie: Very visible.

Movie Review: Logan Lucky (2017)

Heist movies! I love ’em. Well, I love ’em when they’re good at least. Which begs the question: Is this movie any good? Well, how about we get into the review to find out.

Ladies and gents… “Logan Lucky”.

The story follows two down on their luck brothers named Jimmy and Clyde (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) as they decide to pull off a heist while a huge NASCAR race is going on. Basically it’s “Ocean’s Eleven”, but with hints of “Dukes of Hazzard” and even “Beverly Hillbillies”. And I highly enjoyed the story being told here. Sure, we’ve seen these beats told time and time again over the years, and even the format is very familiar to the director, but I just can’t deny how fresh and fun this take feels. It just has a pace and energy that I love. It also has plenty of heart, which is shown through many moments throughout. So yeah, it’s not an original narrative… but it’s a hell of an enjoyable one.

The characters in this are all very colorful and entertaining, but for the most part are all also quite interesting and at times even surprisingly nuanced. First up is Jimmy Logan, a blue collar worker/ex-sportsman who finds himself in quite a bad spot after he’s laid off. This is of course what drives him to wanna pull the heist, so he can live and also provide for his daughter. He’s a compelling lead, and Channing Tatum is really good in the role. Next we have Clyde, Jimmy’s brother. He’s a former soldier and current bar owner. His dynamic with his brother is pretty interesting, and I think he makes for a pretty interesting character in general. And Adam Driver is great in the role. And the final one we’ll go into detail on is Joe Bang, a legendary explosives expert that the brothers have to bust out of prison to pull off the heist successfully. He’s an enigmatic motherfucker who I loved watching, mostly because he’s played by Daniel Craig. And not just Daniel Craig… but Daniel Craig chewing all the scenery. He is amazing in the role, a ton of fun. The rest of the supporting cast is great too, featuring people like Riley Keough, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Katie Holmes, David Denman, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Holmes, and it was good. His score has a fairly lighthearted, funk rock inspired vibe that perfectly melds the heist premise with the southern setting wonderfully, working very well in those moments when it’s used. There are also quite a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work insanely well in their respective scenes. There’s good music here, yo.

“Logan Lucky” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and he of course brought his A-game. His directing is slick and energetic in a way that of course hearkens back to his “Ocean’s” movies, but while still having its own flavor to it. And that flavor can probably best be described as beer and cheap chicken wings. I’m just kidding, though I do think that the sort of bumpkin feel Soderbergh’s going for is captured marvelously and adds such a unique and fresh feel to the heisting procedures. The movie also has a charming sense of humor that I found my self laughing quite hard at at times. And as with a lot of Soderbergh’s work, the editing is of course terrific. It’s a very well crafted movie.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.0/10.

While a lot of its story beats can feel very familiar, I still found “Logan Lucky” to be a highly enjoyable and charming heist dramedy. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Logan Lucky” is a 9.76/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Logan Lucky” is now completed.

Cauliflower

Movie Review: Throne of Blood (1957)

Hello there, friends, and welcome back to Akira Kurosunday! So, are we all ready to talk about an old movie? Yeah? Cool! So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Throne of Blood”.

The story follows Taketoki Washizu (Toshiro Mifune), a hardened general as he works, with the constant egging on by his wife (Isuzu Yamada), to fulfill a prophecy that says he will become lord of a mighty castle. If you’re thinking to yourself “Gee golly willikers, Uncle Markus, this sounds a mighty bit like Macbeth”. How observant of you, reader. That’s right “Throne of Blood” takes the setup and themes of the famed play and merges them with elements from traditional Japanese storytelling, which makes for an insanely compelling narrative. What also helps the storytelling out quite a bit is the immaculate atmosphere of the movie, which makes everything feel a bit off. But not off as in bad, but off as in “Something is weird”, which gives the movie an interesting and unique vibe that adds quite a bit of nuance to everything going on. It’s just a great story that adapts the classic play to great effect.

The characters in this are all pretty flawed and nuanced, and I think they all work well here, all helping build onto the drama quite well. I would say more, but I don’t wanna go into too many details (spoilers and all that jazz). I’ll simply say that Toshiro Mifune is fantastic as usual in the lead, playing the mad, power hungry shtick ridiculously well. And in the supporting roles we find people like Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Akira Kubo, Minoru Chiaki, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think that he did a great job with it. His score for it is very atmospheric and kind of eerie for a lot of it, complementing the slightly surreal mood I mentioned earlier. But there are also a few more bombastic (for lack of a better word) tracks as well, and those work quite well in their respective scenes too. It’s just a damn solid score that elevates the movie even further.

As mentioned early in the review, “Throne of Blood” is based on William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, and was directed by Akira Kurosawa. Aaaaand Kurosawa of course brought his A-game with the direction. What I’ve noticed with each of his movies I’ve seen is that his craft gets better and better. And while I love his direction in the last two movies, I really think that this is the best I’ve seen from him so far. The way he composes movement, the way he puts you on edge with simple angles, the way he brings you into the action, Kurosawa handles any and all situation beautifully and showed just how ahead of his time he was. And the cinematography by Asakazu Nakai is fucking gorgeous.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

So yeah, Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” is another winner. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Throne of Blood” is a 9.88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Throne of Blood” is now completed.

So many arrows…