Movie Review: Jarhead (2005)

*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

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… “Jarhead”.

Anthony Swofford is young man who recently enlisted with the United States marines. And we follow him in the time leading up to and during Operation Desert Storm, and how much damage it does to him psychologically. There’s a lot of interesting scenes throughout that does develop the story, and I was somewhat interested in everything that was going on. But I never really felt as engaged as this type of story should’ve gotten me. There was never that emotional hook that a story like this should be able to get. Now, I’m not saying it needs to make me cry, just that it needs to grab me and hold onto me really tightly… which it never really did. I remember some really well done moments throughout, but never was I fully invested in it all. Overall, a fine story.

The characters in this are all assholes… but in a believable way. I really believe that this is what one would become if going through all of that. And I find them all to be quite interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal (as previously mentioned) plays Anthony Swofford, a smart young man who goes through the ups and downs of marine life. Seeing a good guy like him tested like this is quite interesting, and it makes him a pretty compelling character. And Gyllenhaal is of course fantastic in the role. And throughout the movie we get supporting performances from people like Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Evan Jones, Brian Geraghty, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It takes some inspiration from rock and a few middle-eastern influences, all of which comes together to create an interesting atmosphere for the movie. It’s tense, fun, and just overall pretty cool. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, all of them pleasing to the ear, and all of them working quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Sam Mendes, and I think he did a good job. When he wanted to make me feel uneasy, he made me feel uneasy. When he wanted to build some suspense, he built some suspense. Mendes has a good eye for these things. And speaking of seeing things, the cinematography by Roger Deakins? Absolutely fantastic (what else would you expect from that man?).

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Jarhead” has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s far from perfect. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down quite a bit by a lack of a good emotional hook in the story. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jarhead” is an 8,54/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jarhead” is now completed.

Bang a gong, get it on…

Movie Review: The Square (2017)

Not every day I review something from my own country. In fact, it’s quite a rarity. But today I’m bringing you such a thing. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not a circle or a triangle… it’s “The Square”.

The story follows Christian (Claes Bang), the chief art curator at a very prestigious museum in Stockholm, as he goes through some trouble both in his personal life and his professional one, all while setting up a new art exhibit called “The Square”. So now we have our movie. And it’s a weird one. I could follow it all just fine, and I mostly understood the themes throughout the movie, all presented very well and implemented in some really solid ways. However, sometimes the movie feels like it jumps around quite a bit, not always having the best flow. There were several times when it went from one scene to the next and I had a feeling of “Oh, now we jumped to this place”. I’m sure this won’t bother a lot of people, and it’s not a total deal-breaker for me, but it did bug a me a little bit. But aside from that, this is a layered, intriguing, odd, and overall entertaining plot.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and interesting. Claes Bang plays the main character of Christian, the chief art curator of this museum. He seemingly has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but he never comes off as an asshole, as he does have some good charm and decent intentions behind his actions. And he does get some good development throughout. And Bang is great in the role. We also get some supporting performance from people like Elisabeth Moss, Christopher Læssø, Dominic West, John Nordling, Terry Notary, and many more, all doing very well in their respective parts.

What’s interesting about the music of “The Square” is that there are no pieces composed specifically for the movie, but instead they just use a couple of licensed tracks to convey various things, with “Improvisació number 1” by Bobby McFerrin being the most frequently used track. And all of them work pretty well in their respective scenes. Makes for an interesting sound for the movie.

“The Square” was written and directed by Ruben Östlund, and I think he did a great job. There’s a lot of interesting angles he gets throughout, perfectly utilizing his sets, light sources, and actors, giving the movie an intriguing visual style. The movie also has an interesting sense of humor throughout. It’s a sort of awkward and weird style of humor that isn’t as direct as most comedies, but still gets a laugh when it needs to. There also a point when the movie is kinda suspenseful, making for its best scene.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. 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 Foreign Language Film.

“The Square” is a unique and interesting movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. As previously mentioned, it is brought down by the plot’s jumpiness not quite working for me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Square” is an 8,89/10. So while slightly flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Square” is now completed.

I hope that the invitation to the exhibition read “Be there or be square”.

Movie Review: Serenity (2005)

Once upon a time, there was a tv show called “Firefly”. It was this well-written genre-bending sci-fi show about a group of space cowboys and the adventures they went on. It was beloved by many, but was unfortunately canceled after only 14 episodes. Fans were devastated. But two years after it got canceled, fans saw something shiny in the distance. Was it a continuation of the show? Yes it was. And today we’re taking a look at it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Serenity”.

Set after the events of the show, we once again follow the crew of the ship Serenity, led by Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), as they are hunted down by a mysterious assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hellbent on getting to a specific member of the crew. So now we have our space opera featuring cowboys. And I found this to be a really good plot. It feels like an extended episode of the show, giving us the fun space adventure we wanted while also further evolving the universe. And I also think it works the perspective of someone who hasn’t seen the show before. Sure, people might be slightly lost on a few aspects, but it’s not so ingrained in the show’s plotlines that it would alienate general audiences. And I do in think this is a fun, suspenseful, emotional, and overall well told story.

The characters in this are layered, unique, interesting, and overall entertaining. While I’m sure there are those of you here who are unfamiliar with these characters, I will not go in-depth with those returning from the show as it would make this post last far too long. But in that group we have Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, and Ron Glass, all giving great performances throughout, and most getting some good development throughout. Let’s talk about Chiwetel Ejiofor as the film’s villain, simply known as The Operative. He’s a calm, well-spoken, and generally diplomatic guy who is a highly capable killer. And that makes him quite an interesting villain, making him a good foe for our beloved heroes. And Ejiofor is really good in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like David Krumholtz, Michael Hitchcock, Sarah Paulson, Yan Feldman, Rafael Feldman, Tamara Taylor, and more, all giving solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by David Newman, and I think he did a really good job with it. As expected from something that is about cowboys, it of course takes a lot of inspiration from western and country, with various string-based instruments used throughout to give off that cowboy-ish vibe. But there are also some tracks implementing the sort of percussion and brass one can expect from a lot of sci-fi. And it all comes together to create a fun, engaging, and emotional score.

As previously mentioned, “Serenity” is a follow-up to the tv show “Firefly”, which was created by Joss Whedon. And this movie is written and directed by Whedon as well, who does a great job bringing the stuff I love about the show to a larger scale. The fast-paced action, the intimate conversations between characters, and the overall fun vibe that the show always had. And yes, the snappy dialogue of course makes a return, and it’s just as funny and enjoyable as it was in the show. And the cinematography by Jack Green was really good, giving us a lot of cool shots. The visual effects can be hit or miss, but I don’t mind too much, especially since I know that this was a lower budget production (compared to a lot of contemporary movies). Overall the technical stuff just comes together nicely.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Serenity” is not only a good continuation of the “Firefly” universe, but it’s also an overall enjoyable sci-fi romp. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography/effects/humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Serenity” is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Serenity” is now completed.

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me

Announcing The Month of Spooks 2018!!!

What is up, ladies and gentlemen? It is once again time that time of year when I get to announce one of my favorite things to do within the blogosphere. I am super excited to announce that for the fourth year in a row, I am hosting what I refer to as The Month of Spooks! For those who are relatively new to my blog, every year since 2015 I spend the month of October reviewing a ton of horror things, usually with some people tagging along on their own blogs. Like I said, it’s been a yearly tradition for me to do this, and I do not intend on skipping out on it this year. So what’s gonna happen exactly?

Well to be honest, I have no fucking clue. I have some general ideas of horror-related things I might wanna review, but nothing is set in stone right now. But I know we’ll find some cool stuff to cover. And I will hopefully get some badass bloggers with me this year as well.

The Month of Spooks 2018, are you guys excited? Because I sure as hell am!
Have a good one.