Movie Review: Parasite (2019)

Well hello there, friends of the interwebs! How are you? Welcome to 2021, where dreams are made and/or shattered, and where Markus catches up on movies that everybody already have seen. So let’s go, yo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Parasite”!

Shortly after young man Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gains employment as a tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family, he starts scheming with his family to get them employed for these wealthy folks too. What’s fascinating about “Parasite” is that it spans more genres than the entire filmography of more directors. Is is a crime story? Yes. But it’s also a family drama. And a black comedy. And a thriller? But despite all of this, there never is any clashing as we flow through the movie. They blend together beautifully, held together by some of the tightest writing I’ve experienced in a film in recent memory. All of this making for a brilliant satire on class differences within modern day South Korea (and possibly other parts of the world), while in general also being a highly enjoyable narrative to follow on a surface level. The storytelling of “Parasite” can be enjoyed both as this deep, nuanced satire, and as a general piece of entertainment. It’s just great stuff.

The characters in this are incredibly interesting, because it’s clear that a lot of time and love has gone into making them feel as real and nuanced as possible. I believe every second of their characterization, and that makes them extremely compelling. And when you pair that with an excellent cast, featuring people like Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Park So-dam, Choi Woo-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Jung Ji-so, Cho Yeo-jeong, and more, you get some extremely engaging character work going on.

The score for the movie was composed Jung Jae-il, and it was terrific. It’s a fairly minimalist score, all things considered. It’s based mainly around piano, some strings, and light percussion, which helps give the movie a uniquely fascinating vibe that is equal parts fun and uncomfortable. And I love it.

“Parasite” was directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho, and I think he did a superb job with it. Few directors have as much control over every scene as he has here. Every moment is perfectly crafted and calibrated in a way that I seldom see in movies. I also have to take a second to praise the cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo, because it is not only ridiculously pretty, but it also adds so much to the overall storytelling, with each shot being able to convey so much about a moment. And when you take the superb editing into account, you get one of the most perfectly crafted movies I’ve seen. It’s insane how perfectly constructed this is.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #30 on their “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best original screenplay, and Best international feature. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best production design and Best film editing.

Yeah, guess I’m joining the choir in saying that “Parasite” is fucking fantastic. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Parasite” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Parasite” is now completed.

Not a bad start to my movie watching this year.

Movie Review: Let Them All Talk (2020)

A new movie, from one of my favorite directors, from the safety of my own couch. Ain’t that nice? So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let Them All Talk”.

Alice (Meryl Streep) is a famous author who is sent on a cruise ship towards the UK so she can accept an award. On this trip she has brought two of her oldest friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest) and her nephew (Lucas Hedges), so they too can have some fun and maybe even reconnect a bit. The narrative here is partly about confronting your past, while also looking ahead towards the future. And this sounds like it could be really fascinating and compelling. But I do think it falls flat, and the reason for that is that there’s no script. That’s not me being dismissive of any existing one, by the way, the filmmakers have confirmed that there are only guidelines and bullet points, but no proper script. This makes the narrative feel really directionless and lifeless. Characters walk around and talk, but never does it feel particularly engaging. I don’t necessarily hate what’s going on here, but I also don’t really like it that much. It’s pretty mediocre.

The characters, much like the story, fall a little flat in this. I don’t mind a bit of improvisation, but when the movie is 99% that, proper characterization is hard to find, which makes me care less about what’s going on. I’ll at least give it that Meryl Streep, Lucas Hedges, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, and Gemma Chan are all pretty good in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It mostly consists of fun little jazz tunes, giving the movie a bit more of a breezy vibe, which helps a lot in making it all a bit more watchable. It gives it all more energy.

“Let Them All Talk” was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and I think he did an okay job. His fast-paced directing style and tight editing is generally here, but is brought down by a thing that’s been plaguing his movies the last few years… it’s shot on his iphone. Now, I get why you’d use it. We all have phones with at least decent cameras these days, so it’s convenient and not very cumbersome. But this also makes images look a lot more flat and lifeless than if shot on an actual camera. He does his damndest to make this movie look good, and at times it kinda works. But for the most part the movie looks quite flat.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.8/10.

“Let Them All Talk” has good ideas and a good cast, but overall isn’t able to rise beyond mediocrity. It has a mediocre story, uninteresting characters, pretty good performances, pretty good music, pretty good directing, and mediocre cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let Them All Talk” is a 6.01/10. So it can be worth checking out.

My review of “Let Them All Talk” is now completed.

Damn it…

Movie Review: Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Yes, another alleged classic I hadn’t gotten around to yet. But now we finally fixed that. So let’s talk about it.

Boyz and girlz… “Boyz n the Hood”.

“Boyz n the Hood” follows the lives of three young men (Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut) living in South Central Los Angeles, and how they try to deal with all aspects of their lives. From race, to love, to family, to their futures, there’s a lot of ground covered within this narrative. And all of it blends together seamlessly to create one of the most nuanced and engrossing narratives I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing recently. There’s so much genuine heart and emotion within the narrative. Even though it isn’t based on an actual true story, it feels so raw and genuine, like they’ve at least pulled inspiration from real life situations. Combine this feeling of genuineness with a healthy helping of humor and a looming sense of dread, you get a narrative that feels like no other. It’s its own beast, and it’s a mighty one at that.

The characters in this are all flawed, nuanced, entertaining, and highly interesting. Our main trio of Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut are all pretty different in personality, but they’re all equally compelling, and make for a great central group of protagonists. And all three of them are great in their respective roles. We also get Laurence Fishburne as Gooding Jr’s father, a solid, morally good centerpoint for our sometimes conflicted young man. And he’s a great character in his own right, with Fishburne delivering a great performance. We also get supporting performances from people like Nia Long, Regina King, Angela Bassett, Kirk Kinder, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, and more, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Stanley Clarke, and I thought it was really good. Mixing traditional dramatic instrumentation with some hip hop/RnB percussion, to create a sound that blends well with the drama of the story, and with the urban setting. There’s also a handful of licensed songs throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“Boyz n the Hood” was written and directed by John Singleton (r.i.p), and I think he did a fantastic job with it. What’s even more amazing is that this was his debut feature, which he made at age 22. And yet, despite his low age and relative inexperience, he showed skill way beyond his years. His direction is very intimate and really brings you into the drama of the various scenes. There are also several scenes where Singleton builds a lot of tension, which put me on the edge of my seat. He really showed with this that he could be a master behind the camera.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best director and Best original screenplay.

I understand now why “Boyz n the Hood” is considered such a classic, it’s a fantastic first feature from John Singleton. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Boyz n the Hood” is a 9.91/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Boyz n the Hood” is now completed.

John Singleton at 22: Makes a fantastic movie that gets multiple Oscar nominations.
Me at 23: How do I word good?

Movie Review: Mank (2020)

A brand new movie from one of my favorite directors, available from the comfort of my own home? Sweeeeet.

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… “Mank”.

Hollywood, 1940. We follow Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), a drunken, opinionated writer as he goes through the tumultuous process of crafting the screenplay for a little movie called “Citizen Kane”. But it’s not just him sitting at some typewriter, rubbing his temples all movie. Because this movie jumps back and forth in time a little bit, showing us Mankiewicz’ struggles in the “present” (circa 1940), but also his antics and encounters with various Hollywood figures in the early 30s. I have mixed feelings about the narrative here. On one hand, it is a pretty interesting look into 1930s Hollywood and the politics within it. But on the other, I never felt emotionally invested in what was going on. I was interested by what was going on, and was certainly never bored… but never did I feel truly hooked. It just feels a bit hollow at times. Again, I wouldn’t call it bad, I did enjoy the narrative on some level, but never did I actually feel any emotional connection to what was happening in front of my eyes.

The characters in this vary in terms of interest. Luckily our main character is at least one interesting figure. He’s Herman J. Mankiewicz, an alcoholic, highly intelligent writer who both gets along and butts heads with many figures within the Hollywood system. He is most certainly an interesting figure that livens up proceedings a bit. And Gary Oldman does a great job in the role. In supporting roles we also see people like Amanda Seyfried, Tom Pelphrey, Lily Collins, Charles Dance, Tuppence Middleton, Joseph Cross, Tom Burke, Jamie McShane, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and I think they did a good job of it. Their score has a way of really capturing the era the film’s set in, cleverly utilizing some jazzy percussion and a decent bit of unique woodwind usage. It’s hard to properly explain, but I do think their music fits the period perfectly, and it works quite well within the movie.

“Mank” was directed by David Fincher, and written by his late father Jack. And I think Fincher did a good job here. You can tell that he and his production crew really did their damndest to make this movie feel old school and, and I would say that they did that quite well… at the expense of one thing. At no point does this feel like a Fincher film. As a fan of the guy, I’ve learned to pick up on a lot of his tricks and stylistic choices… but they are nowhere to be seen here. It’s hard to explain, but what Finchy brings to his films in terms of style isn’t really here. And that’d be fine, if Fincher’s style wasn’t one of his most defining features. There’s no denying that it’s very well directed, even if it lacks what I love about this director. But to end this section on a high note: Erik Messerschmidt’s cinematography is superb, making perfect use of light, shadows, and the monochrome. It’s a visual treat.

This movie just came out, but already it’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it (AT THE TIME OF WRITING) has a score of 7.6/10.

While there’s a lot to admire about it, I didn’t find “Mank” that emotionally investing. It has an okay story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, great (if slightly off) directing, and excellent cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mank” is a 7.77/10. So while flawed, I’d still recommend watching it.

My review of “Mank” is now completed.

I actually haven’t seen “Citizen Kane” yet… maybe I should fix that some day.

Movie Review: Joker (2019)

Hoo boy, a lot of talk around this one last year, which is part of why it’s taken me so long to get around to it. Whether people were on the positive or negative side of the discourse, I wanted to wait until shit calmed down before I finally gave it a go. And now that things are a bit more quiet, I can give my two cents. So which side of the aisle will I be on? Let’s find out.

Ladies and gents… “Joker”.

Gotham City, 1981. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a mentally ill lower class citizen trying to make ends meet as a clown for hire. However, since the society around Arthur is so awful to him, that is of course easier said than done. As he starts to really come to terms with this, Arthur starts going down a dark and violent spiral of carnage. This movie tries to have a message… or two… or three… or, I think you get the point. “Joker” is trying to say a lot, but never does it in a way that really engages, barely scraping the surface level on any of its ideas. And when you have that surface level stuff over multiple messages it tries to convey, everything gets a bit fucking muddled. What doesn’t help is that the movie really seems to think that it’s really something, but ultimately ends up being almost nothing. Never does the movie get under my skin (despite trying), never does it get me emotionally invested (even though it damn well attempts to), and never does it get me on its side regarding any of the things it tries to say. It’s a shallow mess.

The characters in this aren’t great. The writers have tried giving them depth and nuance, but like the story before them, due to the writing it kinda fails. Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur, our central protagonist, a poor man with mental health issues. He is basically the punching bag of society, everyone always kicks him while he’s down, he’s not having good days, h- do you see these unsubtle things I’m hammering home? I don’t mind things being obvious, but Arthur’s “development” is so hammered home that it gets a bit much. At least Joaquin Phoenix does a good job with that material he’s given. We also get supporting work form people like Zazie Beets, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, and more, all giving solid work, even if the writing around their characters isn’t great.

The score for the movie was composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and it was utterly terrific. It’s intense and dark and scary and one of the most emotionally arresting scores I’ve heard in recent years. It’s by far the best aspect of the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they work fine, I guess. They’re good songs, and they kinda fit the situations they’re used in.

Loosely based on the DC Comics character, “Joker” was directed and co-written by Todd Phillips. And I guess he did an okay-ish job with it. Much like the story, it just feels shallow and hollow. Violence, despite having some genuinely cool blood and gore, lacks impact, and the general shot composition and editing just feels hollow, like it’s trying to be epic and beautiful, but feeling like it lacks something. Lawrence Sher’s cinematography does generally look good, but there’s something about everything around it that just falls flat.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.5/10, and is ranked #60 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Phoenix) and Best original score. It was also nominated for an additional 9 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best cinematography, Best costume design, Best makeup, Best film editing, Best sound mixing, and Best sound editing.

Despite its many accolades, I was honestly not a fan of “Joker”. It’s a shallow drama with muddled messages and surface-scraping drama. The story isn’t very engaging, neither are the characters, the acting’s good though, the score is superb, and the directing is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Joker is a 4.45/10. So sadly I have to say that I’d skip it.

My review of “Joker” is now completed.

*Eyes dart in every direction* Oh dear…

Movie Review: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)

If you’ve followed my blog for an extended amount of time, then you’re probably aware that I have a certain fondness for animated movies based on DC superhero comics. I tend to watch them all, and review a lot of them. And today we’re doing just that. So here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”!

After the Justice League fails to defeat the alien despot Darkseid (Tony Todd), the world turns into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. And with the League basically gone at this point, it’s up to a ragtag gang of remaining heroes and villains to team up to make one final attempt at stopping the alien dictator. So this is basically the big, “everything looks dire” finale to this specific universe of animated films. And you can really feel that the crew of this movie are taking a big swing at giving us an emotionally satisfying finale to this universe that they’ve kept going since 2014. And I think they succeeded quite well. For only having a 90 minute runtime, they manage to get a lot of stuff in there without making any of it feel forced. As the title implies, we get to see a little more of the Dark League, especially since John Constantine (Matt Ryan) more or less acts as the main character here. We get the Suicide Squad involved, we get payoffs from the Teen Titans stuff from other movies. They somehow manage to involve payoffs from pretty much all branches of this movie universe, and it all works marvelously… for me as a fan who’s followed these films for years, at least. I felt satisfied with this wrap-up. It’s dark, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it even got me a little emotional. It’s just a solid narrative.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and surprisingly nuanced. We both get to see the personalities we’ve come to know (and mostly love) over the years as they are, but we also get to see a surprising amount of nuance and character development throughout that really made me care for them all much more. And since this is the big finale, they bring in the big guns on the cast. A lot of recognizable names, and all giving top notch voice performances. Matt Ryan, Jason O’Mara, Roger Cross, Tony Todd, Camilla Luddington, Jerry O’Connell, Taissa Farmiga, Stuart Allan, Ray Chase,Liam McIntyre, Rainn Wilson, and more all deliver their talents wonderfully.

As with a lot of the previous DC animated movies, the score for this one was composed by Frederik Wiedmann. And as per usual he knocked it out of the park. Of course he gives us the familiar superhero brass, but he also gives us a fair bit of somber pieces as well to really show how desperate the entire situation is for our heroes. And really, Wiedmann has never failed before, but this is still somehow his best work for this series.

Based on various comics from DC, “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was directed by Matt Peters and Christina Sotta. And I think they did a terrific job. As with the story, you can tell that they were going all out on the directiong/animation on this one. Because out of all the movies in this animated universe, this is the best looking one. The animation is crisp, and everything flows beautifully. And this makes action scenes an absolute blast to watch. They also went all out on violence in this. People die… and not in nice ways. And that helps add some extra impact to fights. So yeah, the crew killed it.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

I know some of you don’t care for these movies, but for me “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was a satisfying and exciting finale to this specific run of DC animated features. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is a 9.78/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is now completed.

I’m really gonna miss looking forward to new movies in this series.

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)

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

Ladies and gentlemen… “Da 5 Bloods”.

In the present day, four African-American Vietnam veterans travel back to the country they once battled in to find the remains of their fallen comrade, and bring him back to the States. But as we soon learn, there is a bit more going on with this situation than just men wanting to pay respect to their brother. “Da 5 Bloods” is a fascinating movie in the sense that it evolves quite a bit over time. It has its main goal of course, but then it also uses various tangents to make points about a lot of real life things, from the Vietnam war, to the messy relationships of the characters, to history of race within the States. It’s a very ambitious narrative, which I respect quite a lot. And there’s a lot to like about the story. But I also feel like the amount of content here ultimately hurts the story somewhat. You really feel the 150 minute runtime at multiple points, and the sheer amount of threads within this narrative does make it feel somewhat messy sometimes. I was mostly invested in what was going on, and I would still say that it’s a good story… but also a flawed one.

Whereas the story can feel a little iffy at times, the characters shine, always being extremely interesting. Their different personalities make for fascinating chemistry, as there’s clearly a brotherly bond between the group, but then there’s other aspects of their personalities that clash, and I thought that made for some electrifying cast dynamics. I won’t go into too much detail on each one, as they’re better left experienced. But I will say that Delroy Lindo plays possibly the most complex character in this movie, and his performance is fucking amazing. The rest of the cast is great too, filled with very talented people like Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Jonathan Majors, Chadwick Boseman (R.I.P) and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was very good. Sometimes it creates a subtle and emotional vibe that creates a lot of dramatic tension and maybe some heartache, and at times it’s slightly more bombastic for various reasons. It’s not my favorite score that Blanchard has composed, but it still works really well for this movie. There’s also some licensed music used throughout, and those tracks work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“Da 5 Bloods” was directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and I will say that he’s done a really good job with it. The dude somehow manages to bring a big, epic scope to this project while still managing to keep us intimate with the characters. The movie just feels grandiose, like one of those older war epics, even though it never really focuses on any actual warring. The movie also plays around with aspect ratio in some fun ways. In the present day it’s a nice wide 16:9, but when we get flashback’s to the early 70s, it goes in on a 4:3 aspect ratio, which I thought was a nice touch for the storytelling. Also, there’s some grisly images in this. Really grisly… just thought I’d mention that.

“Da 5 Bloods” has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

“Da 5 Bloods” may not be perfect, but it’s still a very good drama about some very interesting people. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Da 5 Bloods” is an 7.99/10. So even thought it’s flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Da 5 Bloods” is now completed.

If Delroy Lindo doesn’t get the Oscar, we riot.

Movie Review: Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

You know that Universal Monsters box set I’ve been going through this month? Yeah, this is the last one in that. I decided to skip reviewing “Phantom of the Opera”, because I had nothing interesting to say about that boring movie. But I am dedicated to at least cover this here. The last one. The big shebang. The one with all the water.

Mermaids and mermen… “Creature From the Black Lagoon”.

A group of scientists are deep within the Amazonian jungle, studying Devonian fossils. What they don’t know however is that there is a living prehistoric creature roaming the area, about to cause them a lot of grief. What I appreciate about the story of this movie is that there are no lofty ambitions, no aim to make it a thoughtful experience. It’s justa simple creature feature, a fun popcorn flick. Don’t get me wrong, I love the contemplative tone of the two “Frankenstein” movies, and I do love me some  depth in my fiction… but sometimes you just need to see a strange amphibian messing with some people. This does however come with the backside of it feeling very disposable. It’s an easy watch that one can easily enjoy on a slow evening, but it’s also very surface level. It’s basic entertainment, never engaged beyond a “I enjoyed that, that was alright”.

The characters in this are alright, they’re nothing special. They serve the story just fine. And Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Whit Bissell, Richard Denning, and Antonio Moreno all do very well in their respective roles. For fans of this movie, I did indeed leave out Nestor Paiva as Lucas, the boat captain. And that’s because he deseved his own little section, because he’s a ton of fun to watch. By far the most entertaining character/performance. And then there’s the double act of Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning as the titular creature, with either actor used depending on if the creature was in the water or on land. They both did a solid enough job with that.

The score for the movie was composed by Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, and Herman Stein. And it was pretty good. For a lot of scenes they’ve composed tracks that overall just work decently enough for whatever is going on in the scene, whether that is going on a boat in the jungle or serenely swimming. Then they’ve also composed a leitmotif for the creature, and it awesome. It’s basically just three notes, but the combination of those notes, and the intensity in which they are played makes for a phenomenal little theme that adds a lot to the creature’s appearances.

“Creature From the Black Lagoon” was directed by one Jack Arnold, and I think he did a good enough job. Scenes flow nicely, and he has a good way of shooting both slower talk scenes and more intense monster appearances. But I must also give a lot of credit to James Curtis Havens who helmed the underwater sequences, which are terrifically well made. Speaking of well made, the creature design is iconic as fuck. Eyes look a little wonky, but the suit itself still holds up quite well. The craft in general is just good here.

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 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.0/10.

“Creature From the Black Lagoon” may not be anything special compared to some of the other movies in the Universal Monsters box set, but it’s still an enjoyable little monster flick. It has a decent story, decent characters, good performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Creature From the Black Lagoon” is a 7.45/10. So it’s certainly worth renting.

My review of “Creature From the Black Lagoon” is now completed.

For other lagoon recommendations, I point you to the anime series “Black Lagoon”. It has nothing to do with the monster, but it’s a damn good show.

Movie Review: Doctor Sleep (2019)

I just love that header image. My amazing buddy The Craggus took the first poster that was released for this movie and added a little of my shenanigans to it. Anyhow, let’s talk about a belated sequel.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Doctor Sleep”. The director’s cut.

A little over 30 years after the horrifying events at the Overlook hotel, a now grown up Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) tries to get his life back together. While doing this he befriends a young girl (Kyliegh Curran) who also can Shine. But these powers also makes her the target of a dangerous cult that tracks down kids who can Shine, and then kills them and steals their power. So yeah, it’s a little bit of a departure from the claustrophobic thrills of “The Shining”. But that’s okay, because I found the story on display utterly enthralling. It’s a slow, contemplative burn of a narrative. Going in-depth with the effects that the Overlook incident’s had on Dan’s life, the story really gets to the heart of a lot of stuff, and it’s wonderful to follow… even made me cry at a point. But it’s not just heartfelt drama here, as this is also a horror movie. It’s not the scariest one I’ve seen, probably wouldn’t even crack the top five in terms of pure scariness. That’s not to say that there isn’t any creepy shit here. There is some good, subtle creepiness and suspense going on throughout, occasionally punctuated by some decently grim shit. And I think it works quite well here. Again, not the scariest, but I still enjoyed the horror elements of the narrative.

The characters in this are quite nuanced, flawed, and highly interesting. Ewan McGregor plays Dan Torrance, former tricycle enthusiast and currently broken man. Seeing the low point his life has come to after you-know-what is fascinating in itself, but it’s what comes from that that makes it even more interesting, as he has a really great arc in this movie. And McGregor does a great job with his performance. Kyliegh Curran plays Abra, the young girl that Dan befriends. She’s a smart, funny, and charming little kid who I think made for a good foil for Dan. And Curran is fantastic in the role. Next we have Rebecca Ferguson as Rose, a hat wearing lady who loves meeting new people… oh, and she’s also an immortal who kills people who can Shine, just so she can keep being immortal. Yeah, she’s our main villain, and she’s so mesmerizing and intense, with a lot of that coming from Rebecca Ferguson’s spectacular performance. We also get supporting work from people like Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Carl Lumbly, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Greenwood, Jacob Tremblay, Carel Struycken, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by The Newton Brothers, and I thought it was great. It’s an emotionally charged and eerie score that, while taking a lot of familiar horror cues into certain tracks, manages to feel somewhat unique to this movie. They also utilize some familiar notes from the original “Shining” film on occasion, and it never feels overly intrusive, but rather works as a nice tie-in to that. So yeah, there’s some good music here.

Based on the “Shining” sequel of the name name written by Stephen King, “Doctor Sleep” was written and directed by Mike Flanagan, and I think he did a fantastic job with it. His direction is bold, confident, and manages to create a good amount of suspense throughout. There’s something otherworldly about it, which helps add a good amount of eeriness to proceedings. And Michael Fimognari’s cinematography certainly helps add a lot to that, giving us a lot of gorgeous, dynamic shots that add to the atmosphere of the movie. It’s just really well crafted.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Doctor Sleep” (director’s cut at least) is a fantastic horror-drama that manages to both entertain and deeply engage. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Doctor Sleep” is a 9.90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Doctor Sleep” is now completed.

Three hours seldom fly by so fast for me.

Movie Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

Oh hi there, I hope you’re doing well. Our journey through the Universal Monsters box set continues. So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wolf Man”.

After he returns to live with his father, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) finds himself on a late night trip with a beautiful woman (Evelyn Ankers). This trip takes a sinister turn however when Talbot has a violent encounter with a wolf. An encounter that would change his life forever. While not the first movie to feature a werewolf, it’s definitely the one that set the standard for that type of story. Several tropes originated from it, and that legacy can’t be ignored. And I enjoyed the narrative here. I don’t necessarily think it’s the most nuanced or even most well told of these Universal monster stories, but I did most certainly enjoy it. The tone is the right balance between the campy monster stuff and something more somber and dramatic. The storytelling hits just the right mark for me. Nothing overly special, but definitely quite enjoyable.

The characters in this have a decent bit of nuance to them, and I found them to be decently entertaining. Lon Chaney Jr. plays Larry Talbot, AKA the man who is a wolf. And he is definitely the most nuanced character here. Seeing his arc, from smooth talking and charismatic man to someone more tragic is genuinely engaging, and Chaney Jr. is fantastic in the role. Next we have Claude Rains (the Invisible Man himself) as John Talbot, the father of our protagonist. A man of god and science, he serves as an interesting dramatic foil in Larry’s development, and makes for an interesting presence. And Rains is great in the role. We also get supporting work from Evelyn Ankers, Maria Ouspenskaya, Warren William, and Bela Lugosi (fuck yeah), and they were all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Charles Previn, Frank Skinner, and Hans J Salter… not often we see a trio of composers, so I’m just gonna let this moment simmer for two seconds. One, two. Okay, how was the score then? Pretty good. It was decently atmospheric and eerie, perfectly complementing the vibe the movie was going for. It’s good.

“The Wolf Man” was directed by a man named George Waggner, and I would say he did a really good job with it. Shots flow nicely into each other, and the man shows here that he haad great skill when it came to create a gothic sense of dread, without making it feel too overbearing in any sense. Speaking of gothic, I love the sets here. Yes, they often look like just that: Sets. But they’ve been coated in this dark, eerie, gothic atmosphere that just makes me so happy.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While not a top tier Universal monster movie, “The Wolf Man” is still a highly enjoyable one. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wolf Man” is an 8.66/10. So I’d say that it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf Man” is now completed.

Of WOOOOOOOOLF, AND MAAAAAAAAAN!