Series Review: Mayans M.C. – Season 1 (2018)

In 2008, a show called “Sons of Anarchy” started airing. It was created by Kurt Sutter, and ran for seven seasons, ending in 2014. I loved that show. And in 2018 we got a spin-off. And in 2019 I finally watched it. So let’s talk about it.

Damas y caballeros… “Mayans M.C.” season 1.

Set a few years after “Sons of Anarchy” ended, we follow EZ Reyes (J.D. Pardo), a prospect within the Mayans motorcycle club. And throughout the show we get to see him take part in the club’s various dealings with various criminal elements, as well as the law. So now we have our biker crime-drama. Early on it’s easy to tell that it’s a bit more focused than it’s big brother, “Sons of Anarchy”, at least in terms of first season stuff. There is more of a central through-line here that makes it a bit more compelling in parts. But it’s not free of faults, as there’s a lot going on here. They set up a few face-to-face conflicts early on (cool), but they also then have a lot of sneaking around going on, making it a little convoluted at first. I did settle into it after a few episodes, but I feel like dumping that many separate plot threads early on is a bit much at the start, ease people into your world, then expand. Though like I said, I did settle into it soon enough, and I did find the overall plot quite compelling, especially when things started ramping up towards the end of the season.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, colorful, and overall quite interesting. J.D. Pardo plays Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, the show’s main protagonist. A smart young man acting as a prospect for the Mayans M.C. He’s a good guy involved in some complicated, sometimes illegal shit, which makes it interesting to see his inner turmoil throughout the season. And Pardo is really good in the role. We then get Sarah Bolger as Emily Galindo, a woman EZ once had a relationship with, but is now married to a cartel boss. She has an interesting arc throughout the season that I won’t spoil, but it does make her quite a fascinating character. And Bolger is great in the role. We then get Danny Pino as Miguel Galindo, the cartel boss that Emily married. He’s ruthless when people make him angry, but can be a reasonable man when shit isn’t hitting the fan too hard. He has a few more sides than other, similar kinds of characters, which makes him quite interesting. And Pino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Clayton Cardenas, Michael Irby, Edward James Olmos, Carla Baratta, Richard Cabral, Maurice Compte, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Bob Thiele Jr. And I think he did a good job with it, using a fair bit of acoustic guitars that helps brings the biker side and the drama side into one. There are also a good amount of licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has some damn good music.

“Mayans M.C.” was created by Kurt Sutter & Elgin James, with writing and directing by them and a whole bunch of other cool people. And the craft here is pretty tight, building decent suspense when needed, and having a good flow between the various storylines going on in each episode. They also find a way to really get intimate with the characters through the direction, really making me feel like I’m there with them. As for the few action scenes throughout the show, they’re pretty good. Kinda standard, but still serviceable enough.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

While starting off with a few too many balls in the air, season 1 of “Mayans M.C.” is still a highly compelling biker drama. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mayans M.C.” season 1 is an 8,99/10. So I’d say that it’s definitely worth a watch.

My review of “Mayans M.C.” season 1 is now completed.

At first I was worried about a “Sons of Anarchy” spin-off. But you guys proved me wrong. Bien hecho. 

Movie Review: Hellboy (2019)

It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s two “Hellboy” movies from the mid to late 2000s. They’re fun, character-driven, action movies filled with solid performances. So when a reboot was announced, I got scared. Then set pics came out, and I got less scared. And now I finally watched it. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gents… “Hellboy”… the rebootification.

When an evil blood witch (Milla Jovovich) is about to return, it’s up to Hellboy (David Harbour) and his allies to try to stop her. So now we have our plot. And it’s quite a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s an apocalyptic horror-fantasy, and on the other it’s a lighthearted monster romp, and it just clashes. Now, movies can switch between different tones and still work, we’ve seen it so many times. But “Hellboy” doesn’t have the flow to hold it up. Every tonal shift feels so sudden and unwarranted. And even if you take the scenes in on their own, they’re often so blandly written that I just didn’t give much of a shit. And that’s not how I want it. I want to give a shit, I wanted this to be a great story. But as it stands, it’s not great.

The characters in this are, like the story, a bit of a mixed bag. I see the potential in them, but they flip-flop around a bit much. Are they goofy comic action movie characters or are they broody soap opera ones? Both apparently. David Harbour plays the titular horned hero, a demon summoned from the depths of hell, raised to stop evil. He’s a bit of a jerk, but he’s also sometimes a decent enough dude. Seeing him learn more about himself is interesting, even if, as said before, he flip-flops a little bit. But I do think Harbour is good in the role, doing his best with the material he’s given. Next we have Ian McShane as Al Sweareng- I mean Professor Broom, Hellboy’s adoptive father. The reason I made that little joke was because in terms of writing, he feels like a watered down version of Al Swearengen from “Deadwood”.  I love “Deadwood”, but you can’t make everything “Deadwood” just because Ian McShane’s in it. Oh well, at least it’s an enjoyable performance. And Milla Jovovich plays Nimue, the Blood Queen, the movie’s main antagonist of the movie, and she’s fine in the role. Again, subpar material. We also get supporting work from people like Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane, Stephen Graham, Thomas Haden Church, and more, all doing either okay or very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and it was alright. It’s not exactly memorable, but it’s overall well composed. A lot of BWOOOOOM, some emotional strings, and some electronic enhancements, making a decently passable score. Then there are also a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and I swear, it feels like they went through several of my spotify playlists to pick out some of those tracks. Some of the tracks work fine in their respective scenes, and some are… meh.

Based on the critically acclaimed comics by Mike Mignola, this movie was directed by Neil Marshall, and I think he did an alright job with it. You can tell that he put a lot of work into shot composition and making sure scenes could flow decently well, making for occasionally fun action beats. But then the shit hits the fan again. The editing is really weird, making for some awkward cuts and moments. And let’s talk effects. Most of them are pretty good, both the practical and CG. But then we get to the blood and gore. I don’t mind that shit in a movie, it can be kinda fun or intense. But here it looks like someone tried rendering raspberry jam on a Windows 98, which really took me out of it when I started enjoying parts of the action scenes.

This movie has not been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 17% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 31/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

I really wanted to like this movie, and it does admittedly have its moments. But in the end “Hellboy” (The Rebootification) is not really a good movie. It has a janky plot, meh characters, good performances, okay music, okay direction, and bad editing/blood effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hellboy” (The Rebootification) is a 4,87/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “Hellboy” (The Rebootification) is now completed.

You make me sad, movie.

Series Review: City on a Hill – Season 1 (2019)

Crime. Don’t do it. It’s bad. I was gonna do a more clever intro, but couldn’t come up with one. So I guess we should just jump into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s discuss the first season of… “City on a Hill”.

Boston, the 1990s. A group of criminals commit a big robbery. So an attorney (Aldis Hodge) has to team up with a crooked FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) to try to solve this case, which leads them down a spiral that shows us the depths of Boston’s corruption. So now we have our crime-drama. And it’s a good one. The core plot is interesting, even if the writing can be a tiny bit sloppy at times. There are also a few plot threads that, while somewhat interesting, don’t serve a bigger purpose in the story than to fill out the runtime. But when it focuses on the main story, “City on a Hill” is a compelling crime drama that entertains and intrigues.

The characters here are layered, flawed, and overall pretty interesting. Kevin Bacon plays Jackie Rohr, a crooked FBI agent that works to solve the case at the center of the story, while also trying to serve his own ego. He’s an absolute scumbag, but you can also tell that there’s some goodness left in him, somewhere, hidden beneath the booze, coke, and jackassery.  And Kevin Bacon chews the scenery quite hard, which makes for a really enjoyable performance. Aldis Hodge plays Decourcy Ward, the assistant district attorney that Rohr works with to try to solve the core case. Unlike Rohr, Decourcy is straight as an arrow, wanting to do things by the book… but starts showing cracks the more he works with Rohr. So it’s interesting to see him work the case. And while Hodge sometimes seems like he’s half asleep, Hodge generally does a good job in the role. Next we have Jonathan Tucker as Frankie Ryan, one of the people involved in the robbery that helps spark the main plot. He’s a family man, trying to steer clear of trouble, but often gets dragged into shit partly due to previous action or because of his fuck-up of a brother (Mark O’Brien). And he’s certainly one of the more compelling characters in the main cast. And Tucker is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mark O’Brien, Lauren E. Banks, Amanda Clayton, Jill Hennessy, Jere Shea, Kevin Chapman, Kevin Dunn, Sarah Shahi, Rory Culkin, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the series was composed by Kevin Kiner, and I think he did an okay job with it. It’s a bit bland, fitting snuggly in with most crime dramas, but with enough little Celtic elements to make it fit into the Boston setting a bit more. It’s not bad, and it works well enough in the various scenes it can be heard. There are also a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout the season, and they work decently in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Chuck MacLean, with writing by a whole bunch of different people (MacLean included) and direction by other people. And overall I’d say the show is well crafted, creating some decent tension throughout, while also keeping the viewer engaged with some pretty good camerawork. And I rarely mention this, but I have to kind of mention the dialogue, because it sometimes sounds like someone on the crew read a bunch of Dennis Lehane novels and thought “I’ll make my own version of this… ON TV!”. Not complaining, it’s just something I picked up on.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

While not perfect, the first season of “City on a Hill” is still a really solid crime-drama. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “City on a Hill” season 1 is an 8,66/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “City on a Hill” season 1 is now completed.

Boston might have one of the funniest accents around.

Great Music #31

Well hello there, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to Great Music, the series where I just talk about music I like. Last time we did this was back in April. I’m not good at keeping up a consistent release pace for these posts. Oh well. Here we go.

So what’s on the menu this time? Bit of old school rock? Something from a famous movie? Nah, neither. This is a bit more… revolutionary (you’ll know why in a bit). Let’s first get something god damn straight: I don’t like nazis, they’re the fucking worst, get them the hell out. But since those sons of bitches don’t seem to go away any time soon, at least I can imagine it and get some catharsis from it… thanks to “Wolfenstein”. First released in 1981, “Castle Wolfenstein” was a stealth game with some shooting elements. Then in 1992 it saw a reboot of sorts with “Wolfenstein 3D”, a revolutionary (no, that’s not the part I meant earlier) game that really brought the first person shooter to the mainstream. Cut to 22 years and god knows how many games later, and we get “Wolfenstein: The New Order”, another reboot of sorts that shared some stylistic and thematic elements with “The Man in the High Castle” and “Inglourious Basterds”. That game was a huge hit among fans and critics (yours truly included). Then three years later, in 2017 we get the sequel, “Wolfenstein: The New Colossus”, a not quite as good, but still fairly enjoyable action game with some standout moments and characters. Now, the music of “The New Order” was good, but you can still tell that it played it a little bit safe, with composer Mick Gordon testing the waters a bit. After then making the acclaimed music for the 2016 reboot of “Doom”, you could tell that he had found his style and wouldn’t shy away from exploiting it like a motherfucker. Cut to “New Colossus”, where he (along with co-composer Martin Stig Andersen) brought his fucking A-game and gave us some of the best video game music of all time. I could’ve talked about any track from the OST and been just as happy, but I felt like I needed to pick one of the more unique tracks from it to truly justify this post. And that’s why I chose “Horton Hears a Revolution” (THERE IT IS!).

In the game, you play as American resistance fighter William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz (voiced by Brian Bloom) as he tries to fight back against the nazi regime which had taken over the world in 1946, and still rules with an iron cross 14 years later. But he can’t do this alone, he has to gather allies. And at a point in the game he travels to New Orleans to try to recruit a resistance group led by southern preacher Horton Boone (voiced by Christopher Heyerdahl). And as he comes to their base, they start discussing the situation they’re in, which is accompanied by a bit of nice clarinet jazz… and Mick Gordon’s heavier-than-metal guitars and drums. You see, Mick likes to approach his compositions a bit differently compared to your John Williams or Michael Giacchinos of the world. Instead of the typical orchestrations of brass and woodwind, this crazy son of a bitch uses instruments typically found in heavy metal bands (and the occasional synth for good measure). It creates a heavy sound that fits the often satirical but still brutal style of the story and writing. And the way it is used to coincide with the jazzy clarinet is absolutely frickin’ wonderful, creating a mesmerizing chaos that honestly just takes my breath away every time I hear it, while also making me want to start a revolution against some nazi assholes.

Have a good one and enjoy.

Movie Review: Batman: Hush (2019)

Once again I shall take a look at an animated feature based on characters from DC Comics. If you’ve followed my blog for some amount of time, you know that I tend to do this every now and then. So let’s have a look at their latest output.

Catwomen and Batmen… “Batman: Hush”.

Batman (Jason O’Mara) has to face one of his toughest challenges yet when a mysterious new villain starts causing mayhem from the shadows. All the while forming a relationship with Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison). Now, I haven’t read the comic that this story was adapted from, so I can’t say how it stacks up compared to that. So looking at it from an outsider perspective, it’s kind of a mess. It’s weirdly undercooked. There are a bunch of moments that could work really well in a Batman story, but the complete package here feels weirdly like it’s stitched together with scotch tape and the occasional nail. And there’s a revelation in the story that doesn’t work too well for me. I’m not saying what it is, in case you want to see this movie, but let’s just say that it didn’t entirely work for me on multiple levels. There is some good material throughout the plot, but overall it’s not too well held together.

The characters in this are enjoyable and interesting. Jason O’Mara returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne, as gruff as ever, but given a bit more nuance as his various relationships develop across the movie. And O’Mara is really good. Jennifer Morrison plays Catwoman, the thief/femme fatale and former enemy of Batman that now is a bit of a love interest. She’s tough, she’s capable, she has a good bit of sass, and she is an interesting foil to Batman’s self-seriousness here. And Morrison is… okay in the role. Sean Maher returns as Nightwing, and he’s as fun as ever in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Peyton List, Peyton List (apparently there are two of them, what the fuck?), Adam Gifford, Geoffrey Arend, Stuart Allan, Jason Spisak, Chris Cox, Maury Sterling, Bruce Thomas, Hynden Walch, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by DC Animation regular Frederik Wiedmann, who as per usual fucking killed it with his music. It’s big and epic, but also knows when to get a bit more quiet and emotional. The occasional inclusion of a cello certainly also helps it out, as it adds another layer to Wiedmann’s compositions. This guy somehow always one-ups himself.

Based on the acclaimed comic by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, this movie was directed by Justin Copeland, and he did a good job with it. Sure, the narrative stitching wasn’t great, but the way he leads on animation and action is fucking spectacular. The detailing is stellar and the fluency of it all is some of the best we’ve seen from any of these movies. And man, those fights are brutal. Not just because there’s blood used, but also because of the way the animation and sounds design really conveys how hard the characters hit their opponents in this.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

While it may be a bit of a mixed bag, “Batman: Hush” is still an enjoyable action film. It has a meh plot, okay characters, really good performances, great music, and great direction/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Batman: Hush” is a 6,86/10. So while very flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Batman: Hush” is now completed.

I was a little disappointed that they never let Batman sing any Deep Purple in this movie.

Series Review: Doom Patrol – Season 1 (2019)

We’re getting a lot of superhero stuff these days. But what I do like about it is that we’re at a point where we’re getting more experimental things, not just typical “Colorful hero saves day” thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like those… but I appreciate the lean towards a lot more weird things. So let’s discuss such a thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Doom Patrol” season 1!

The story follows a group of outcasts who have been brought together by a scientist (Timothy Dalton) as they have to reluctantly band together to stop the villainous Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk)… at least that’s the initial setup. It sets itself up with a bit of a typical superhero idea, but then decides to shove that to the side a bit to explore the stranger side of the DC universe. While there are overarching themes and ideas, each episode is generally a self-contained adventure where the team encounter a new strange thing and have to deal with that while also having to try to handle their personal demons. So the show balances a lot of ideas and tones, which can often be a movie or show’s downfall. But “Doom Patrol” balances it all wonderfully to create a unique superhero show that for the most part just subverts most superhero tropes, all while giving us some of the most surprisingly compelling character drama that I have seen in quite a while. It’s a strange, fun, emotional, and overall well-realized story that I loved following from start to end.

The characters are flawed, layered, colorful, and just overall really interesting. They’re all damaged in some way, which makes them quite dysfunctional, leading to a lot of interesting character dynamics. And with the core cast of Diane Guerrero, Brendan Fraser, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Joivan Wade, and Timothy Dalton, you get some truly great performances to go along with these vividly written characters.

The score for the show was composed by Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner. And man, it is pretty great. A lot of synth is used throughout, which gives the show an almost otherworldly feeling that helps sell the unique vibe of the show. It’s suspense-building, it’s emotionally charged, it’s exciting, it’s fun… it’s just a perfect match for the show. There are also a handful of licensed tracks used throughout the season, and they work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has great music.

Based on the comic books from DC, the show was created by Jeremy Carver, and written/directed by a whole bunch of cool people. And as mentioned in some of the previous sections, the writing is some of the most uniquely compelling stuff I’ve experienced in quite some time. And the directing is pretty stellar too, featuring some really fun camerawork that adds a lot to the show in terms of visual storytelling. I should probably also mention that the show in large part is a comedy. So is it funny? Yes, very, it’s one of the funniest shows I’ve watched in a while. The humor can often be quite crude and weird, but I do think it works to the show’s advantage in giving it a distinct feel.

This show/season 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 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

“Doom Patrol” is one of the weirdest shows I’ve seen in quite a while… but it’s also absolutely fantastic. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great writing/directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Doom Patrol” season 1 is a 9,92/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Doom Patrol” season 1 is now completed.

That was a bit insane.