Movie Review: The Abyss (1989)

Sci-fi. A genre that I hold very closely to my heart. From “Star Wars” to “Blade Runner” to “Ex Machina”, there’s a ton of movies/shows/books/games/etc. within the genre. And one of the main reasons why I adore the genre so much is that there are so many kinds of stories that can be told within the genre. From pew pew laser action to brain-y AI philosophizing, it’s a versatile genre. So let’s explore another one of its depths.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Abyss”.

After an American nuclear submarine mysteriously sinks to the bottom of the ocean, a diving crew gets tasked with diving down there to investigate what might have happened to it. And soon they discover something they never expected to find down there.  So now we have our underwater thriller with a potential sci-fi twist. And yeah, this plot is great. What we have here is not just people finding something strange and never before seen, but it’s also about people stuck in a claustrophobic situation and how that affects them. And it makes the plot so much deeper. The plot here is tense, engaging, awe-inspiring, and just overall enjoyable.

The characters in this are all interesting and overall entertaining. First up we have Ed Harris as Bud Brigman, who is more or less the leader of the dive team. He’s a man willing to do a lot to get the job done, but he also cares deeply for his crew, never wanting to push them too far. He’s an interesting character who gets some decent development throughout. And Ed Harris is of course great in the role. Next we have Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Lindsey, the somewhat estranged wife of Harris’ Bud. She’s quick-witted, smart, and quite tough, making her quite an enjoyable foil to the rest of the cast. And Mastrantonio is great in the role. Next we have Michael Biehn as Lieutenant Coffey, the leader of some Navy SEALs who have been tasked with helping out on this dive. He’s tough and a little bit of a dick, but he’s not a straight up bad person. And he gets some really interesting development through the movie that I won’t explain any further. And Biehn is great in the role, it’s probably the best I’ve ever seen him. And we get some supporting performances from people like Leo Burmester, Todd Graff, Kimberly Scott, John Bedford Lloyd, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri, and it was absolutely fantastic. His score has a way of evoking a sense of awe and wonder, as well as building tension. It captures many kinds of emotions, and just overall elevates the movie quite a bit. It’s seriously fantastic.

“The Abyss” was written and directed by James Cameron, and he did a great job with all that. His directing really evokes that sense of claustrophobia that a movie set under the sea should be able to bring. And this sense of claustrophobia of course gives the movie some really solid suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat for a good chunk of it. And Mikael Salomon’s cinematography is stunning, especially in the many ways it plays around with lighting. Combine that with the absolutely amazing visual effects, and you got one of the most visually stunning movies around.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Cinematography, Best Set Decoration, and Best Sound.

“The Abyss” is a highly ambitious movie from James Cameron, and I think it worked out incredibly well. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/visual effects. Time for my final score. *Blub*. My final score for “The Abyss” is a 9,86/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Abyss” is now completed.

Thank god that it wasn’t… abyssmal.

Advertisements

Movie Review: Arlington Road (1999)

The 90s. Now, while that isn’t the most relevant thing to this movie, I just wanna take a second to mention what a great decade that was for film. Especially thrillers, as we got so many interesting and varied kinds of thrillers out of the decade. Let’s just give a nod or a clap for the thrillers of the 90s.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to… “Arlington Road”.

Shortly after history professor Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) starts getting acquainted with his neighbors after an accident involving their son, he starts suspecting that there’s something a bit off with them. And we follow Michael as he investigates them to see what they may be hiding. And I must say that I really enjoyed this plot. Sure, there were a couple moments of “Really, movie?” throughout. You know, those types of conveniences that are a bit more noticeable than others? Yeah, a couple too many here, bringing the plot down a little bit. But other than those moments I thought the plot was great, filled with excellent suspense, highly engaging drama, and just a great sense of intrigue.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and quite interesting. First up we have Jeff Bridges as Michael Faraday, the aforementioned history teacher who starts suspecting his neighbors. We find out early on that he lost his wife a while before the events of the movie, which still haunts him a little bit, which may or may not add to his paranoia throughout. And he’s quite a complex character. And Bridges is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Oliver Lang, the father in the family he suspects. He’s a charming, fun, and just overall cool guy… and he may or may not be hiding something. He’s quite an interesting character. And Robbins is great in the role. And that’s all I’ll go in-depth about, since if I say more it could potentially ruin some stuff. But I can mention that in the supporting cast we see people like Joan Cusack, Spencer Treat Clark, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, and Mason Gamble, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Angelo Badalamenti (with some additional tracks done by musical duo Tomandandy), and it was good. I didn’t notice it too frequently, and when I did it ranged from really good to kinda meh. Not saying any of it’s bad, since I do think all the tracks working fairly well for their respective scenes, just that I won’t find myself listening to it any time soon.

The movie was directed by Mark Pellington, and I think he did a damn good job. His direction is tight and suspenseful, often playing around with the main character’s sense of paranoia. He also plays around a lot with lighting, making for a bit of fun watching. There’s also some excellent use of the Dutch tilt in a couple scenes, perfectly encapsulating what is going on the character’s head. Really well done.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While not perfect, “Arlington Road” is still a really solid conspiracy thriller. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing. A previously mentioned, I do think there are moments throughout the plot that bring it down a little bit. Not enough to ruin it, but enough to bring the score down a little. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Arlington Road” is an 8,90/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Arlington Road” is now completed.

One more clap for 90s thrillers, they deserve it.

Movie Review: The Guard (2011)

Ireland. An island known for its alcohol, Bono, and delightful accents. And thanks to movies, it’s probably now getting known for its dark filmmakers.

Ladies and gents… “The Guard”.

When a drug smuggling operation is believed to be operated out of the Irish west coast, a local policeman (Brendan Gleeson) has to work with an FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to try to find the people behind the operation and stop them. So now we have our Irish crime story. And is it any good? Yeah… surprisingly so. I mean, it’s not much of a mystery as we get a lot of details early on, but it’s still quite a bit of fun to see Gleeson and Cheadle investigate this entire ordeal. It has a very fun and quirky vibe about it without getting silly, still feeling like a good crime story as it’s embracing some of that Irish charm.

The characters in this are colorful, unique, highly entertaining, and surprisingly layered. First up we have Brendan Gleeson as Gerry Boyle, the Irish cop at the center of this story. He’s a loud, racist, bullheaded asshole with a warm heart beating inside of him. We get to see many sides of Gerry throughout the movie, and it makes him quite an interesting character. And Gleeson (as expected) is fantastic in the role. Then we have Don Cheadle as Wendell Everett, the FBI agent who has to work with the Irish police to investigate the drug smuggling. He’s a bit more uptight compared to the slob that is Gerry Boyle, which makes him a good foil for Boyle’s antics. And he’s given a fair bit of depth here too. And Cheadle is great in the role. And we get some supporting performance from people like Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, David Wilmot, Fionnula Flanagan, Dominique McElligott, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was done by American indie rock band Calexico, and it was quite good. The score has a very western-y vibe that somehow works incredibly well for this Irish crime comedy, somehow blending with the overall strangeness of everything going on throughout the movie. It works quite well for the movie.

“The Guard” was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, and I think he did  great with it. The shots look pretty good, and his direction has a fun vibe that never feels too slow or too fast, finding a good balance for each element it presents. And since this a comedy the main question is “Did I laugh?”. Yeah, I did. Now, I should preface this by saying that the humor in this movie is quite dark, which should come as little to no surprise considering who this guy’s brother is. But if you like the humor in stuff like “In Bruges”, “Seven Psychopaths”, or even Quentin Tarantino’s various movies, then you’ll probably find this movie funny. Anyway, I sure as hell laughed, I thought it was fucking hilarious.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“The Guard” is a hilarious Irish crime-comedy wit ha surprising amount of heart. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, great directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Guard” is a 9,64/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Guard” is now completed.

Damn you, Ireland. Damn you and your awesome accents.

Movie Review: The Color of Money (1986)

Pool. Also known as billiards. Something I’m not particularly good at, but I still enjoy playing it with friends. Now let’s see how well that sport can translate into a movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Color of Money”.

The story follows former pool hustler Eddie Felson (Paul Newman, R.I.P) as he starts delving back into that world when he takes young Vincent (Tom Cruise) under his wing. So now we have a road movie/comeback story/passing a torch kind of story, and it’s a good one. While it tries to have several kinds of story at the same time, it never feels cluttered or messy, as it blends these elements quite well. Now, it does feel a bit uneven in parts, but it doesn’t break the movie for me, more like bring it down a notch. But overall it’s still an enjoyable and pretty interesting story.

The characters here are colorful, layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. First up we have Paul Newman (may he rest in peace) playing “Fast” Eddie Felson, a former pool hustler who now seems to be making a living selling whisky. But he finds a new purpose when he discovers this young man he can teach. He’s a complex man who goes through quite a bit of development throughout the movie. And Newman is of course fantastic in the role. Next we have a young Tom Cruise as Vincent, the new protegé of Felson. He’s an energetic, fast-talking, and skilled pool player that at first seems reluctant to be taken under Felson’s wing, but soon warms up to it. He too gets a fair bit of development throughout the movie. And Cruise is good in the role. And then we have Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen, Vincent’s girlfriend. She’s tough, she’s independent, and quite clever, she’s really a good foil for Vincent’s energetic and fun nature. And Mastrantonio is really good in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like John Turturro, Helen Shaver, Bill Cobbs, and more, all doing quite well in their respective roles. So yeah, it’s a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Robbie Robertson was good, had a fun, slightly blues-y feel to it that worked well for the movie. Then there were a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only were they pleasing to my music tastes, but they worked incredibly well within their respective scenes, elevating them a fair bit. So yeah, this movie has some damn good music.

Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, this movie was directed by Martin Scorsese who I think did a really good job. He really managed to catch the fun but also somewhat unpredictable nature of bars/pool halls, and even managed to keep a good bit of energy going through it all. I also have to mention the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus, because it’s fucking excellent. Not only are there a good amount of stunning shots, but the camera work here is really playful and makes for quite a fun watch.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Actor (Newman). It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Mastrantonio), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Set Decoration. 

“The Color of Money” is an enjoyable little sports drama. It has a good story, good characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by the plot feeling a little uneven in parts. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Color of Money” is an 8,82/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Color of Money” is now completed.

Guess I should check out “The Hustler” at some point.

Movie Review: Jackie Brown (1997)

I don’t have any clever thing to put here as the intro. I just felt like watching this movie as it’s been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. So now I’m finally getting to it.

Ladies and gents… “Jackie Brown”.

The story follows Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), a stewardess who gets caught with smuggling money for an arms dealer (Samuel L. Jackson). And shortly after that she finds herself involved in a complex plot featuring said arms dealer, the ATF, a bail bonds agent (Robert Forster), and half a million dollars. So now we have our crazy crime story. And it’s good. While the plot in itself is interesting and even quite a bit of fun at times, I feel like it is a bit overstuffed sometimes. I’m not against a movie having more than one thread, I welcome that kinds of shit, but in this case it doesn’t always fully work. Again, it’s a good plot, but the threads here get a little tangled and create something that is, like I said, a bit overstuffed. It’s simple enough to follow, but it is also quite cluttered. But with that said, it’s far from bad, it’s still a highly enjoyable crime plot.

The characters in this are layered, colorful, and overall really entertaining. First up we have the titular character of Jackie Brown, played by Pam Grier. She’s a tough lady who takes no shit from anyone, but she’s not some impossible badass as she does show a more vulnerable side from time to time, giving her some extra layers. And Grier is great in the role. Next we have Samuel L. Jackson as arms dealer Ordell Robbie. He’s basically the Samuel L. Jackson archetype, easy to anger, charming when he needs to, says motherfucker at a good rate. But that character never fails to entertain. And Jackson is of course damn good in the role. Next we have Robert Forster as Max Cherry, the aforementioned bail bonds agent that gets entangled in the entire plot. He’s probably the closest we get to a good guy in this story, as most characters in this are kind of dicks. But he’s still a layered and interesting character. And Forster is great in the role. Then we have Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette, an ATF agent that Jackie interacts with throughout the story. And I’m not gonna say too much as his entertaining self is better left experienced. And Keaton is damn good in the role. Then we get some solid supporting work from people like Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Chris Tucker, Michael Bowen, and more. Sorry that I’m keeping it vague, but this section is already getting a little too long, and I don’t wanna keep you stuck here for too long. But I do think this is a well acted movie.

There were some tracks composed for this by James Newton Howard and they worked well I guess, though it’s hard to find info on which specific ones he did. Then there were a ton of licensed music throughout from a load of different artists. And all of the music here is used very well in their respective scenes, helping sell the very unique mood that the movie and director is going for. The soundtrack is in general also catchy as all hell.

Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, this movie was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. And of course he did a damn good job here. His dialogue is snappy, fun, and as interesting as it ever was. And his direction was really good too, always keeping me on edge with a good flow, a decent sprinkling of suspense, and all the fun Tarantinian shots that you can expect from his movies.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actor (Forster).

While not Tarantino’s best, “Jackie Brown” is still a damn good crime movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great direction. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by the plot feeling a bit overstuffed. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jackie Brown” is an 8,84/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jackie Brown” is now completed.

Pam Grier really knows how to rock a suit.

Movie Review: Prevenge (2017)

Pregnancy. Amazing, fascinating, terrifying, weird. Many words can describe this natural part of human life. But I never thought one of them would be “murderous”.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Prevenge”.

Ruth (Alice Lowe) is a widow. She’s also seven months pregnant and about to go on a killing spree. And that’s the premise for this movie. So how’s the plot here? I actually thought it was good. Weird, but good. When I say weird I don’t mean that it does anything overly ambitious and strange with the narrative, as it does follow a pretty regular structure. But what I mean by weird is that some strange shit happens throughout, and I found all of that quite interesting. The plot also has a darkly comedic tone that gives it a unique and off-kilter vibe that for the most part works. There are times where the tone somewhat clashes with moments in the narrative, but it was never enough to ruin the plot for me, it just brings it down a notch. So overall this plot is pretty good.

I’m only gonna talk about one character here since we only really follow one, and she’s the only one we really get to know. Here we have Alice Lowe as Ruth, the pregnant widow going on a killing spree. She’s a damaged and quite unstable individual that is quite interesting to follow, as she’s quite a unique and intriguing. And Rowe does a great job in the role. And all the supporting players in this are all godo in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Toydrum, and it was good. It’s an eerie electronic score with plenty of droning notes to give an ethereal and uneasy vibe that I really liked. Took scenes that would’ve been kind of bland and turned them into something unique and intriguing. It’s amazing how much music can affect something.

“Prevenge” was written and directed by its star, Alice Lowe. So she’s wrote, directed, and starred in a movie while also being pregnant? That is pretty fucking impressive. And I have to say that she did a damn good job with her directing duties here. She gives the movie a very weird, almost dreamlike feel with her directing, complementing the off-kilter story quite well. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a movie that feels like this one does, so that’s pretty cool.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,9/10.

“Prevenge” is a weird and off-kilter character study that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it. It has a good plot, a really good character, really good performances, really good music, and great directing. Though as I previously mentioned, there are moments throughout where the tone clashes with narrative. Not a deal breaker, just brings it down a notch. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Prevenge” is an 8,88/10. So while not perfect, I still think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Prevenge” is now completed.

Well, that was… weird.

Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

I know, I know, you’re probably sick of me talking about “Mission Impossible” at this point after all the previous reviews. But like I promised you in my “Rogue Nation” review, that would be my last “Mission Impossible” post until “Fallout” came out. And now it’s out. And after this post, no more “Mission Impossible” stuff… unless they come out with a new one, but we’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it. So let’s go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mission Impossible: Fallout”!

When a group of terrorists get hold of some items that could cause a nuclear holocaust, it’s up to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team to find these items and stop the terrorists. Right, there are elements of this plot that certainly are recycled from other movies, but they’re all mixed together in such a way that it feels fresh and interesting. What I also like is that the plot doesn’t really hold your hand, it respects its audience enough to not spoonfeed them everything, trusting us to pay attention to what’s going on. Combine that with the usual “MI” twists and turns, genuinely engaging drama, as well as some real suspense, and you get what could be the best and most intriguing plot in the franchise so far.

The characters in this are layered, unique, and quite interesting. After all the previous reviews, I don’t need to go into Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, I already did in my previous reviews, and not much has changed in that regard, but I don’t mind since Ethan is such a well realized action protagonist. And yes, Cruise is still great in the role. Same with Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg. Rebecca Ferguson reprises her role from the previous movie, and she’s still great. Same with Alec Baldwin and Sean Harris. So let’s talk about the newbie that is Henry Cavill as August Walker, a CIA agent who’s been tasked to help Ethan and the gang out with this operation. He’s an intense bruiser who is constantly at odds with Ethan and his ways, which creates an interesting character dynamic. And Cavill is great in the role. Then we get supporting performances from people like Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Kristoffer Joner, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles. Sorry if I’m being a bit vague with this, but I do it to either not repeat stuff from previous reviews or to not spoil some character stuff that’s better left experienced.

The score for the movie was composed by Lorne Balfe, and I think the score here is great. It really does help improve on an already well crafted movie by adding to the intensity or overall fun-factor of a scene. Not much else I can say, it’s a badass orchestral score that works very well for the movie.

Returning as director we have Christopher McQuarrie. That’s right, first “Mission Impossible” movie where the director hasn’t been switched out. And I’m glad, because McQuarrie is one of the best action directors working today. I loved his work on “Rogue Nation”, and also really liked his work on “Jack Reacher”, so I was actually happy to see him return for “Fallout”. And he fucking outdid himself here, giving us fast-paced, suspenseful, and badass direction. Both in the quieter scenes and the action. And yes, the action is spectacular. From fights, to shootouts, to chases, to insane Tom Cruise stunts, this movie has all the action… and all of it is amazing. Not only because we know it’s Tom Cruise actually doing stunts, but because of how visible it is. Not shaky shit here, this is sleek and brutal action that is shown beautifully through McQuarrie’s direction and Rob Hardy’s cinematography.

This movie came out fairly recently, but it’s been very well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10 and is ranked #133 on the “Top 250” list.

“Mission Impossible: Fallout” is an action lover’s wet dream and it’s absolutely my favorite of the franchise. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/action/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mission Impossible: Fallout” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mission Impossible: Fallout” is now completed.

This is how you do action.