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 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 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 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.