Series Review: The Looming Tower (2018)

I don’t have anything clever to say here. Usually I do, but there’s nothing I can think of here. This show deals with some sensitive stuff, so it’s hard to make up an intro that is fun. So let’s just get into it, I guess.

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 show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Looming Tower”.

Set in the late 90s, we follow people from both the FBI and the CIA as they both try to stop the rising threat that is the Al-Qaeda. But their inability to cooperate makes the process a lot more troublesome than it could be. So now we have our historical counter-terrorism drama. And let’s make it clear right now, this isn’t counter-terrorism in the Jack Ryan sense where there’s a bunch of thrilling action scenes. This is a slow burning drama all about investigating and bureaucracy and arguing and such. And I found it all utterly compelling, thanks to calculated writing that prefers to take the realistic and relatively mundane path to its goal, compared to so many counter-terrorism stories, which tend to go for the thrilling sensationalist route. But yeah, I really liked the plot here.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, interesting, and fairly realistic. First up we have Jeff Daniels as John O’Neill, an FBI agent keen on stopping Al-Qaeda the right way (arrest, court, all that jazz). And while he generally tries to be a good guy, he does have some skeletons in his closet shown throughout that make him quite compelling. And Daniels is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tahar Rahim as Ali Soufan, a new agent within the FBI who gets assigned to work with O’Neill in finding and stopping the various Al-Qaeda members who may exist. And he has some god development throughout that makes him quite interesting. And Rahim is great in the role. And we get supporting performances from people like Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alec Baldwin, Ella Rae Peck, Jamie Neumann, Louis Cancelmi, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Will Bates, who I think did a damn solid job. It goes for a relatively downplayed and somber style. You won’t hear big, tense brass in this to highten the tension of a scene, instead the pieces are smaller, more intimate, almost droning at times to sort of help capture that realistic/slow burning counter-terrorism style that the show’s going for. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on a book by Lawrence Wright, the show was created by Dan Futterman, Alex Gibney, and Lawrence Wright himself, with writing and directing by a whole bunch of people. And the craft here is really tight, giving us close and intimate examinations of all the various situations while also giving us the sweeping storytelling of everything leading up to 9/11. The directing gets in close with the characters and really made me feel like a fly on the wall in these situations, I was fully immersed thanks to the tight work of the crew. And the way the show occasionally splices in real life news footage is pretty damn good.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

“The Looming Tower” is a compelling counter-terrorism drama. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Looming Tower” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Looming Tower” is now completed.

You know what’s a little funny? I made a comment about this not being Jack Ryan-esque in style, but Alec Baldwin (who once played Jack Ryan) is in the show.

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Movie Review: Upgrade (2018)

Can I just take a second out of this review to talk about release schedules? Because everyone got this movie in the cinemas at some point in 2018… but I didn’t, and then I had to wait until today to be able to see it at home? It’s not the first time I’ve gotten screwed liked this. I wanted to watch it, but my local cinema was like “Nope, sorry, not showing it… you dick”… okay, they didn’t directly say that, but that’s what it felt like with “Upgrade” and various other movies. Seriously, screw release schedules some times.

Ladies and gents… “Upgrade”.

After his wife is killed and he gets paralyzed, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) accepts an offer to get an experimental surgery that would let him walk again. But soon he finds out that he’s able to do more than that, which he will use to find the people responsible for his misery. So now we have our cyberpunk revenge thriller. And it’s good. I mean, the opening isn’t the most inspired, in a lot of ways it’s just kind of bland. But after that generic opening, the plot just gets better and better and I think it becomes quite unique for a revenge thriller. It’s not one of the greatest plots ever, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and has enough little twists and turns to keep it fresh. So yeah, it’s a good plot.

The characters in this are… fine? Most of them are kind of underdeveloped. For some of the bad guys, I can accept that, as it gives them a sort of video game boss battle quality, which I enjoyed about them. But others that the movie expects me to care about… nope. Anyway, Logan Marshall-Green plays Grey, the average Joe who receives the title to become a badass. And he’s honestly quite a fleshed out character, as he’s given quite a bit of development throughout. And Marshall-Green is great in the role… mostly. At the start he’s bland and average, but like the plot, when shit gets going, he becomes great in the role. Next we have Betty Gabriel as the detective working the case of Grey’s dead wife. And where the movie expects us to give a damn about her… I didn’t, her character isn’t interesting enough in her writing for me to care. But Gabriel is pretty good in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Simon Maiden, Harrison Gilbertson, Melanie Vallejo, Benedict Hardie, Christopher Kirby, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Palmer and I thought it was really good. It somehow sounds like a mix between typical cyberpunk stuff (“Blade Runner”, “Deux Ex”, etc.) and a couple different horror scores. And the mix, while familiar, feels unique and gives the most an eerie and interesting vibe that I liked quite a bit.

Based on nothing at all, this movie was written by Leigh Whannell, and I think he did a great job here. While the opening (as previously stated) is a bit boring, his direction gives the movie a certain energy that makes it kind of a joy to watch. He finds ways of really engaging the viewer with little details. But it’s in the action scenes where the directing and cinematography truly shines, because holy fucking shit, the action scenes in this movie are fantastic. They’re fast, energetic, and have some of the most clever and unique camera movements I’ve ever seen. There are a couple fights in this movie that honestly kinda blew my mind. There’s also a surprising amount of humor throughout the movie, and none of it feels intrusive, rather just adding to the movie’s fun factor.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Upgrade” is a really good revenge action-thriller. It has a good plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously stated, the start of the movie isn’t great, and I don’t really care about most of the characters. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Upgrade” is an 8,72/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Upgrade” is now completed.

That was fun.

Movie Review: Out of Sight (1998)

Hey. Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. Had a bad case of the lazy. But now I’m back. And hopefully we’ll get some consistency in post frequency from it. Anyway, first review of the year, here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Out of Sight”.

After he escapes from prison, career criminal Jack Foley (George Clooney) has to go on the run and try to avoid a U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez) that he shares a connection with. So now we have our crime-caper plot. And it’s a good one. It doesn’t rely that much on shocking twists and turns for its narrative, instead just relying on a fast pace and a sort of sex appeal that gives it a unique vibe that I can’t say I’ve seen much of in crime-capers. But yeah, the plot here is just generally fun, fast, and quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, interesting, and overall quite entertaining. George Clooney plays Jack Foley, the crook at the center of this story. I’d say he’s like a less cool-headed version of Danny Ocean, but you can definitely recognize some elements of that character in this one. Though Foley does stand out as his own entity and I find him to be quite an entertaining protagonist. And Clooney is great in the role. Next we have Jennifer Lopez as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens… no, wait… sorry, wrong Elmore Leonard franchise… U.S. Marhsal Karen Sisco, that’s her name. She’s a tough, sexy, and capable woman who is on the hunt for our main protagonist. She’s pretty fun and has an enjoyable dynamic with Foley. And Lopez is really good in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, Dennis Farina, Luis Guzmán, Albert Brooks, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Holmes, and it’s awesome. It’s funky, it’s jazzy, and it captures the sort of sly sex appeal that the plot is going for, which adds to the overall fun factor of the entire thing. My favorite aspect of it is how many slick basslines there are throughout, I love the inclusion of them. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has great music.

Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard (hence the joke from earlier), this movie was written by Scott Frank, and directed by Steven Soderbergh. And as a fan of “Justified” (another Elmore Leonard adaptation), the writings and overall style of this movie appeals to me. It has a similar kind of energy and snappiness to “Justified”, and that just makes it incredibly watchable for me. But even discounting my love for the aforementioned tv show, the movie just has this sort of infectious energy that I find quite fun. And even through the fun, it manages to have a decent bit of suspense throughout, giving it a bit of a welcome edge.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie was nominated for two Oscars in the categories of Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing.

“Out of Sight” really surprised me, it’s one hell of an enjoyable movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Out of Sight” is a 9,65/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Out of Sight” is now completed.

Despite having seen multiple Elmore Leonard adaptations, I haven’t read any of his books. Might need to fix that soon.

 

My most anticipated movies of 2019

Hello and happy new year, guys! I’m back from my… two day break. Okay, I wasn’t gone for long, but I’m excited to be writing again. New year, new opportunities, new movies! And it’s that last one that we’re talking about today, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you guys, since this blog is mostly built on movie stuff. So since the year just started, I think it’s only appropriate to talk about some movies that I’m excited for this year. Will all of them be amazing? Probably not. But I’m just looking forward to watching them all, and I thought I’d share some of them here with you today. A few stipulations for both of us here.

Number 1: Please be respectful. I’m asking you to have the exact same opinions as me, I’m fine with disagreement. Just don’t be a dick about it. I’m all for friendly discussion, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Just be nice. This is a friendly space, yo.

Number 2: I’m not gonna talk about movies that had limited releases in 2018 that then get worldwide releases in early 2019. This is for those that have their first release in 2019. Understood? Cool.

Number 3: These are not ranked. These are just a bunch of movies I’m looking forward to a fair bit.

That should be it. Let’s get into the movies.

Glass.

First movie on the list is the first one I’ll probably see in the cinema this year… which would be pretty much unlikely a few years ago. A January movie by M. Night Shyamalan? Ew. But this is something I am genuinely excited about. So spoilers for previous Shyamalan movies, I guess. In 2000, he gave us “Unbreakable”, and it was amazing. In 2017, he gave us “Split”, and it was really good. And at the end of “Split”, it was revealed that it was a secret sequel to “Unbreakable”, which blew my fucking mind. And now we get the culmination of those two movies with “Glass”, and I am really hyped.

Avengers: Endgame

Yes, I talk about a lot of superhero movies. And yes, I am aware that a lot of people are either sick of or just don’t care about them. But you can’t deny that what Marvel has done with their cinematic universe is really impressive. And now we get the ending to it… sort of. It’s the sequel to 2018’s “Infinity War”, and it will be the end for a lot of these actors in this universe. It’s kind of bittersweet. Bring on the endgame.

Captain Marvel

Another superhero origin. This one starring Brie Larson. She’s a good actor. This looks pretty good. Has a stellar cast. It’ll be fun.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I am a fan of the 2014 “Godzilla” movie, so I was already excited for a sequel. Then it was revealed that some classic monsters would be involved in it, which got me even more excited. Then this trailer came out and showcased some gorgeous imagery, and it got me even more hyped. So yeah, this is one of the biggest ones for me this year.

Star Wars Episode IX
It’s “Star Wars”. The end of this new trilogy. It’s “Star Wars”. How could I not be excited? “STAR WARS”.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
I am a huge Spidey-fan, been for most of my life. And this is a sequel to “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, which I liked a lot. Tom Holland is a fantastic Spider-Man. So I’m excited. Plus, Jake Gyllenhaal.

John Wick: Chapter 3

“John Wick” was one of the biggest surprises of 2014. “John Wick: Chapter 2” was a great sequel. And in 2019 we’ll get the third part in this series. The hype for this one is real.

Knives Out
No footage. No on-set images. All we have is a good director, a star-studded cast, and the vague premise of a murder mystery. And that is enough to intrigue me. Let’s go.

In the Shadow of the Moon
Like with “Knives Out”, we know practically nothing about this. But at least “Knives Out” has a vague premise of what it could be… this one on the other hand doesn’t even have that. So how could I be excited? Well, it has several good actors involved, and it’s directed by Jim Mickle, who I’m a big fan of. I’ll be supporting him any way I can.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What do you get if you take one of the most star-studded casts even assembled and combine it with the mind of Quentin Tarantino? You get “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. Anything that Tarantino makes, I’m already excited for. But add all those cast members and an interesting setting, and you most likely have my money as well.

Lucy in the Sky
*Starts humming The Beatles*. Oh shit, you’re still here. Right, so what’s this? It’s a sci-fi movie, starring the likes of Natalie Portman, Dan Stevens, Jon Hamm, and Zazie Beets, and it’s written/directed by Noah Hawley, who brought us two of my favorite shows; “Fargo” and “Legion”. That’s all I need. Bring on the weirdness.

The Irishman
Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro. Joe Pesci. Al Pacino. Bobby Cannavale. Harvey Keitel. Jesse Plemons. Excited yet?

Jojo Rabbit

A World War 2 satire from Taika Waititi? With said Kiwi playing Adolf Hitler? And a good cast surrounding him? Yes please, hell yeah, this is interesting.

So those were a bunch of movies I’m looking forward to. I’m sure more will be revealed throughout the year, but these are my current picks. But I also wanna hear from you guys. What movies are you excited for? Leave any and all answers in the comments!
Have a good one!