Series Review: National Treasure (2016)

Sexual assault. A horrible thing that I wish never existed, but unfortunately is all too common in our world. It’s a very uncomfortable, but very important topic that needs to be discussed if we want change. On that note, here’s a show about being accused of such things.

Ladies and gentlemen… “National Treasure”.

Paul Finchley (Robbie Coltrane) is a comedian with a very long career, beloved by many people, a bona fide national treasure. But he soon finds himself in hot water when he’s accused of sexual assault. So we follow Paul as he tries to deal with these accusations and how they affect not only his life, but the lives of the people he loves. So now we have our drama. And I have to say that I found this plot quite compelling. Seeing Paul’s life go through change because of these accusations makes for some really solid drama. Another great element of the plot is that you never really know if Paul actually committed the acts or not, which makes you doubt everything, which adds a layer of tension to it all. I don’t wanna say too much because I don’t wanna ruin anything, but I’ll end this part by simply saying that this plot is great. Tense, emotional, and utterly compelling.

The characters in this are all layered, damaged, and really interesting. Robbie Coltrane plays Paul Finchley, the man at the center of this story who finds himself accused of sexual assault. As previously mentioned, Paul is a comedian with a very long and successful career, leading to him being loved by many people. So seeing that slowly peeled away because of these accusations leads to some great character stuff, especially as we learn more about his life and see how all these things affect his life. And Coltrane is fantastic in the role. Julie Walters plays Marie, Paul’s wife. She’s a tough, take no nonsense woman, but she does show a few more vulnerable sides to her as well throughout, which of course happens because of the accusations against her husband. And we do learn some things about her too throughout that adds to her character. And Walters is just absolutely fantastic in the role. Then we have Andrea Riseborough as Dee, Paul’s & Marie’s daughter. She’s a former addict now trying to get through the aftermath of that while also getting tested emotionally because of the accusations against her father. And Riseborough is fucking great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from people like Babou Ceesay, Tim McInnerny, Mark Lewis Jones, Trystan Gravelle, Susan Lynch, and many more… all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Cristobal Tapia De Veer and it was good. While the style wasn’t my cup of tea, I can acknowledge that it was well composed and worked well within the show, using a very electronic style that often helped create an uneasy and emotional feel within the show. It’s not something I would find myself listening to during my spare time, but I think it works for the show.

The episodes were written by Jack Thorne, and directed by Marc Munden. And the combination of those two is quite good. The direction somehow manages to capture the feel of unease and confusion of the characters. Combine that with the writing and you get some compelling stuff. And the cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland is stunning, this is a great looking show. There are a few weird cuts throughout the episodes, but none of them makes me think less of the show… just confused why they were there.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“National Treasure” isn’t always an easy watch, but it’s a great and I’d even say important miniseries. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, good music, and really good directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “National Treasure” is a 9,71/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “National Treasure” is now completed.

This is not quite how I’d imagine the Hagrid’s and Mrs. Weasley’s reunion going…

Advertisements

Series Review: Altered Carbon – Season 1 (2018)

So it’s a new sci-fi series? From Netflix? Sign me up!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Altered Carbon” season 1.

In the future people have found a way to sort of cheat death by transferring their consciousness from one body to another. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is a man who gets to experience this as he’s brought back to life in a new body. And soon he’s hired to solve the murder of a very wealthy businessman (James Purefoy). And as Kovacs begins investigating this murder he soon notices just how deep and twisty this whole thing gets. So now we have our cyberpunk story. And is it any good? Yeah, it really is. Not only is it a complex whodunnit with plenty of twists and turns, but it’s also a journey of identity and life. I mean, with people more or less being able to cheat death, it’s got to lead to some interesting questions. And these explorations are quite interesting, and meshes quite well with this cerebral murder mystery. The only flaw I have with it is that it can get a little bit meander-y at times. For the most part it has a good focus on what the hell it’s doing, but there are times where the pacing meandered a bit too much. Luckily these meander-y bits aren’t too frequent, so it doesn’t kill it to much for me. So overall this is a really solid plot.

The characters here are layered, flawed, damaged, and just overall quite interesting. Joel Kinnaman plays Takeshi Kovacs, the cool guy at the center of this story. We learn quite a lot about Kovacs and his backstory throughout the season, and we see him get some decent development as it moves forward. And Kinnaman is great in the role. Martha Higareda plays Kristin Ortega, a cop that Kovacs runs into throughout the season. She’s a tough, take-no-nonsense kind of character that still shows a fair bit of vulnerability throughout, adding to her layers. And Higareda is really good in the role. Then we have James Purefoy as Laurens Bancroft, the very wealthy businessman whose murder Kovacs has to solve. And I hear you asking “How could Purefoy get any acting/character development if he’s dead?”. Simple: His consciousness got put in a new body. He is the one that hired Kovacs to solve his murder. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s something you learn very early in the first episode. Either way, his character is slightly weird and seems a bit shady and is just an interesting addition to the cast. And Purefoy is good in the role. Then we have Ato Essandoh as Vernon Elliot, a man that Kovacs runs into throughout the plot (and kind of starts working with). He’s damaged and has some things in his past that clearly trouble him, but he isn’t some broody and overly serious character, he feels fairly realistic. And Essandoh is great in the role. And the final one I want to go slightly in-depth with is Chris Conner as Poe. Poe is the manager of the hotel that Kovacs stays at throughout the season. While he is intended as a slightly less serious character than the others (often having a lot of funny moments), he still works well dramatically speaking. And Conner is really good in the role. As for the other characters in the show, they are interesting in some way, but I don’t wanna ruin it for you. But I can say that we get some really good supporting work from people like Kristin Lehman, Hiro Kanagawa, Antonio Marziale, Tamara Taylor, Adam Busch, Matt Frewer, Cliff Chamberlain, Will Yun Lee, and many more.

The score for “Altered Carbon” was composed by Jeff Russo, the man who also did the music for “Fargo” and “Legion” (two awesome shows). And once again he has killed it with the music. Sure, it clearly takes inspiration from “Blade Runner” (which we’ll get back to in a bit), but it still does enough differently to feel fresh. It’s tense, emotional, and just overall great. There are also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout the season and they work quite well within their scenes, improving said scenes quite a bit. So yeah… this show has good music.

Based on a novel by Richard K. Morgan, this show was created by Laeta Kalogridis and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And in terms of direction this show is excellent. The direction here is stylish and sweeping, but still tight and tense. And now we get to the bit that I alluded to before… visually speaking this has a lot of similarities to “Blade Runner”. At least when we see the skyline or follow the characters on the streets, it all looks a lot like Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. That said, I’m not bothered by it since that seems to be the general aesthetic of cyberpunk fiction. And I just generally like it… it shows that a lot of time and love went into crafting this show. That and an obvious fuckload of money. You can really tell that Netflix went balls out with the budget, wanting to make this as extravagant as possible. The props, sets, and CGI are all absolutely fantastic. My breath was taken away at a lot of the visuals here. And the action scenes in this are all really good. They’re tense, badass, and really well choreographed. From shootouts, to melee combat, to a chase or two… the action here is really good. Oh, and violent… really violent… many gallons of blood. So if you’re squeamish you might have have a hard time watching this. There’s also a lot of nudity. So if you hate naked people, don’t watch this. But yeah, this show has some good production value.

The show just came out, but it has already pretty good reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10.

“Altered Carbon” isn’t for everyone, but I sure as shit liked it. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography/action/effects. Sure, the pace meanders a little bit at times, but it’s not too bad. Time for my final score. *Pew*. My final score for “Altered Carbon” season 1 is a 9,52/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Altered Carbon” season 1 is now completed.

“Blade Runner? Never heard of it!”

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 4 (2017)

As some of you might know, I have reviewed the previous three seasons of this shows before (nudge nudge, wink wink), and I honestly loved them all. So I was of course excited for the fourth season. So now that I’ve finally watched it I can give you my thoughts on it. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Peaky Blinders” season 4.

It’s christmastime, and everybody is trying to enjoy the holidays. But when Tommy (Cillian Murphy) receives a letter he realizes that his family will be in danger. So he has to bring the family together so they can defend themselves against their newest foe: A group of American gangsters led by the dangerous Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody). So now we have our Peaky plot. And it’s still great. The plot here is tense, dramatic, filled with twists and turns, and never failed in keeping me engaged. There’s an air of mistrust and unease after the end of season 3 across the entirety of this season, and it adds so much to the quality of it all. So yeah, this is a great plot.

I’m not gonna go too in-depth with the main/returning players here, since I’ve talked about them so much in my previous reviews. But I can say that they’re all damaged here, and they’re all a bit different since the end of the previous season, adding another compelling side to them. Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Finn Cole, Sophie Rundle, Harry Kirton, Joe Cole, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Kate Phillips, Ned Dennehy… they’re all fantastic. Now for some of the newer people. As mentioned earlier, this season introduces Adrien Brody as Luca Changretta, an Italian-American gangster who’s coming for Tommy and the others. He’s a ruthless, cunning, and calculating villain. And Adrien Brody is inconsistent in the role. The writing itself is great, and there are moments where he can be quite menacing. But at a lot of points his delivery is almost like a caricature of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”. It doesn’t take away too much from the show, but it is quite noticeable. Then we get Aidan Gillen as Aberama Gold, a Romani Gypsy that Tommy starts working with after the Italians make their entrance. He’s a clever and cool man who got a few tricks up his sleeve. And Gillen is really good in the role. And then of course we see the return of Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons for a bit. And he’s as awesome as ever. There are more actors throughout the season, but if I get too in-depth I might accidentally spoil stuff and also be here all night. But let it be known that this is overall very well acted.

The music here is interesting as there are some tracks composed specifically for it by Martin Slattery and Antony Genn. And those tracks are great. But let’s face it, everybody is here for the licensed rock tracks used throughout. And if this is your first time hearing about this, let me quickly explain. “Peaky Blinders”, despite being a period drama, has rock music in it… and it fucking works. Anthing from Nick Cave to Johnny Cash to Arctic Monkeys to a fuckload of other ones… and it works surprisingly well. All the music here’s great and it all works well within the show.

The show was created by Steven Knight, and he wrote all the episodes this season. And all the episodes here were directed by David Caffrey, who I think did a damn good job. He captures that gritty yet stylish “Peaky” flair that has been in all the seasons so far. And the cinematography by Cathal Watters is fantastic. There’s also some action in this show, and it’s tense and exciting. And really violent. ’tis awesome.

This show/season has been well received (from the little data I can gather on my usual sites). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists but has no real score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,8/10 and is ranked #57 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Yeah, season 4 of “Peaky Blinders” was great. Had a slight nitpick, but nothing to break it for me. It has a great plot, great characters, great acting, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Like I said, I found Brody to be a bit inconsistent here, but it doesn’t ruin it for me. Just takes me a tiny bit out of it at some moments. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season 4 is a 9,60/10. This means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Peaky Blinders” season 4 is now completed.

PEAKY FOCKIN’ BLOINDEHS!

Series Review: Godless (2017)

A Netflix western miniseries? Yeah, I didn’t need any convincing to watch this. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Godless”.

Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) used to be part of an infamous gang up until he betrayed them. And the gang’s leader, Frank (Jeff Daniels), wants Roy dead for that. So now Roy is hiding out in a town called La Belle, a town run entirely by women. So now we have our western plot. And with this plot they embrace pretty much every western cliché known to man… but they also put some interesting new perspectives on them to make them feel a bit more fresh. There’s a lot of good drama here that I found myself quite invested in while they still gave me some of the classic western plot points. If I had to make a comparison in plot style I’d say that this is part “The Beguiled” and part “Red Dead Redemption”. There’s the women-majority cast of the first, and the violent gang betrayal stuff of the latter. And I think it makes for an interesting mix in this show. Hell, I’d say that it’s great.

The characters here are given a good amount of time to develop and I think they’re interesting. Jack O’Connell plays Roy Goode, the former outlaw hiding out in La Belle. He has the kill-skills from his gang-days, but you can tell that he’s also a good guy who prefers to live quietly and help out. He’s a tragic character and O’Connell is great in the role. Michelle Dockery plays Alice Fletcher, the woman who is responsible for helping/hiding Goode. She’s tough, but she also shows a more vulnerable side during the show, giving her a good amount of layers. And Dockery is great in the role. Then we have Merritt Wever as Mary Agnes, one of the many women of Le Belle. She’s tough as hell, but you can tell that she’s also a sad and damaged character. And Wever is great in the role. Then we have Scott McNairy as Bill McNue, the Sheriff of La Belle and one of very few men there. He’s aging, but he’s still determined to get the job done. And McNairy is great in the role. Then we have Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin, the outlaw in charge that Roy Goode betrayed. What I like about him is that he isn’t just a ruthless asshole kind of outlaw, but he’s given a lot of interesting sides to him. He’s damaged, he’s charismatic, he has a kind heart, but he is also an intimidating outlaw that will shoot you dead if you cross him. And Daniels is absolutely great in the role. The final one I want to go slightly more in-depth with is Whitey Winn, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster. He’s a slightly over-confident young deputy. But they don’t go the route of making his over-confidence turning him into an unlikable idiot (which so many shows/movies do), but they show that it’s a flaw of his. But generally he is a good guy that is worth liking. And Brodie-Sangster is great in the role. And then you can expect some great performances from people like Kim Coates, Samuel Marty, Tantoo Cardinal, Sam Waterston, Christiane Seidel, Erik LaRay Harvey, Jessica Sula, and many more. Seriously, this is an incredibly well acted series.

The score for the show was composed by Carlos Rafael Rivera and it was pretty fucking great. Trumpets, strings, piano, other types of brass… seriously, this is a full-on western score emulating a lot of classic ones and it makes me so happy. And overall it is just fantastic, perfectly fitting the show and often elevating scenes throughout the show.

This show was created by Scott Frank and Steven Soderbergh, with Frank having written and directed all of the episodes. And I think he did a fantastic job with that. His direction here is sweeping, but also tight and focused when it needs to. It has a good sense of flow and style to it, while also managing to create a good amount of tension to it whenever it needs to. And let’s talk about the shooty-bang-bangs (I know they’re called shootouts, but I prefer my phrase for them). They’re badass, fun, exciting, and quite violent. There’s even a decent amount of tension in them, making them even more interesting.

This show just came out but has already been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it (as of writing this) has a score of 8,5/10.

“Godless” is another win for Netflix. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Godless” is a 9,85/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Godless” is now completed.

Part of me wants more. But part of me feels like it should stay a miniseries.

Series Review: Bosch – Season 2 (2016)

A long time ago (October 2015) I reviewed the first season of this show, and I liked it a lot. So naturally I was excited to see a second season… which didn’t air here until this year. And I know that you will mention that I could simply stream it last year on Amazon, but this is a show I watched on TV with my parents, and I didn’t wanna break that for season 2. So I patiently waited and it finally came out here weeks ago. And a day or so ago the season finale aired. So, let’s just get into it and see if this follow-up is any good.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bosch” season 2.

Detective Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is called back into active duty after a six month absence to investigate the murder of a pornographer. And as Harry, with his partner Jerry (Jamie Hector), investigates this case they find that this guy might’ve had ties to the mob. And as the two continue investigating, they find that this case is a lot more complicated than it might’ve seemed at first glance. So now we have our gritty cop drama. And while this season admittedly lacks some of the tense unpredictability of the first, it’s still a well constructed plot filled with twists, turns, engaging drama, and intrigue. In a world filled with cop dramas, “Bosch” and it’s plot stands out.

The characters here are layered, entertaining, and interesting. Titus Welliver returns as Detective Harry Bosch, the eponymous cop with a less than shiny past. He’s not necessarily a “bad” cop, but he is a bit rough around the edges. We get to see a more vulnerable and emotional side to Harry this season as he learns more about what happened to his mother, and also because of some other stuff that I won’t spoil here. But he’s a really interesting character, and Welliver is great in the role. Jamie Hector is back as Jerry Edgar, Bosch’s partner. He’s funny, he’s cool, he’s interesting, and he’s a good counterpoint to Bosch. And Hector is great in the role. Amy Aquino returns as Grace Billets, Bosch’s friend and superior. She’s still the tough yet charming and lovable woman we got to know in season 1. And Aquino is great in the role. Lance Reddick returns as Irvin Irving (actual name), the highly ranked police that Bosch often works for/with. And without saying too much, he goes through a pretty interesting and even emotional arc this season that made me care a bit more for him. And Reddick is great in the role. Then we have Sarah Clarke and Madison Lintz returning as Bosch’s ex-wife and daughter respectively. And they add some interesting dramatic weight to the season that I won’t go into. But both actresses do a really good job here. Now for newer people worth talking about. We get Jeri Ryan as the widow of the dead pornographer. And she’s an interesting character that gets to go through some stuff this season. And Ryan is great in the role. Then we have Brent Sexton as a security guard that Bosch gets to know through the season, and he gets some interesting things to do here. And Sexton is great in the role. Then in a couple more supporting roles throughout we get actors like Robbie Jones, James Ransone, Matthew Lillard, John Marshall Jones, and more… all doing a great fucking job.

Jesse Voccia returned to do the score for this season, and he once again did a great job. The score is tense, exciting, emotional, and just overall works very well for the show in general, at a lot of times elevating certain scenes. Then there are some licensed tracks used throughout and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Eric Overmyer and Michael Connelly, and is based on Connelly’s book series about Bosch. And it was written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And I think they did a great job. This world/show feels fully realized, and they make it feel interesting. The directing here is great, often adding tension and/or energy to a lot of scenes, making sure it never feels dull. The action scenes in this show too are pretty exciting. They don’t do anything unique, but they’re done well enough and they have enough tension so that you can’t help but sit and enjoy them. The first season’s sly and dark sense of humor is back, and it’s just as enjoyable.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

Season 2 of “Bosch” is a great follow-up to the great first season. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bosch” season 2 is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bosch” season 2 is now completed.

As far as modern cop shows go, “Bosch” is one of the best.

Series Review: The Punisher – Season 1 (2017)

I don’t really think I need to make an introduction for this. I’ve talked about this show several times on this blog before, every time reminding you of my excitement for the show. So let’s just get into the review and see if this show is any good.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is season 1 of… “The Punisher”!

After he has seemingly killed the people responsible for the death of his family, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) soon uncovers a deep and complex conspiracy that somehow relates back to his past as a soldier. So now Frank has to find out what the hell is going on while a Homeland Security agent (Amber Rose Revah) gets a whiff of him being back in town. So now we have our comic book thriller. And is this plot any good? Yeah, it is. It’s not a fast-paced action/revenge plot, but it’s a slightly slower conspiracy thriller that features Punisher, and I think the plot here is very intriguing. My only gripe with it is in one of the early episodes. It’s not bad, but the pacing at one point dragged a little bit. But overall here we have a surprisingly deep plot that isn’t afraid to tackle dark and socially relevant themes regarding guns, violence, vigilantism, PTSD, black ops, family, and it is all incredibly engaging and intriguing. ’tis a great plot.

The characters here are flawed, damaged, layered, and just really interesting. Jon Bernthal (like in season 2 of “Daredevil”) plays Frank Castle/The Punisher, former soldier turned violent vigilante. Already in “Daredevil” he got a fair amount of development as a character, and they somehow managed to cram in a bit more here. As we follow him through the season we see how the war, death of his family, and the vigilantism has taken a toll on him and how it messes with his mind a bit. And it is all incredibly engaging. He’s of course also a motherfucking badass, but that didn’t need to be mentioned. And Bernthal is once again fantastic in the role. Amber Rose Revah plays Dinah Madani, the Homeland Security agent on Frank’s trail. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to find Frank and possibly get justice. But she’s not just some brash and unstoppable idiot, as she at times is shown as vulnerable, but in a good way. And Revah is great in the role. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays David Lieberman (AKA Micro), a skilled hacker and whistleblower that Frank teams up with to try to solve this conspiracy. And he brings a much needed levity to the dark and grim tale of “The Punisher” without coming off as forced or out of place. He is funny, but he is also a serious character with a good dramatic arc. And Moss-Bachrach is great in the role. Then we have Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Frank old best friend that I will not talk too much about since it’s too easy to get a bit spoiler-y with him. But he has somewhat of an arc and Barnes is great in the role. And then (to not ramble or give too many character details here) in various supporting performances we have people like Jamie Ray Newman, Kobi Frumer, Deborah Ann Woll, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jason R. Moore, Daniel Webber, Kelli Barrett, C. Thomas Howell, and they all are great in this. Really, it’s a great cast.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates, and it was great. What we have here is a tense, exciting, dramatic, emotional, badass, and just overall interesting score that takes heavy influence from rock and blues to create a fairly unique sound for a show like this. It’s not straight-up rock or blues, but there are traces of it in the score and I like that, makes it sound almost a bit western-y at times. And it all works very well for the show. There are also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they all work well in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Steve Lightfoot and written/directed by a whole bunch of different people (with Lightfoot having written a couple of episodes). And I think they did a good job here. While it’s not as action-packed as the trailer made it out to be, there is still action here. And when action happens it is exciting, badass, and brutal. Not just brutal as in a lot of blood being spilled, but brutal as in the violence having a real impact here. And it’s not just gunshots penetrating bodies, there’s also close quarters fighting, and knives, and various other things used throughout to create the memorable and brutal as fuck violence. And the directing and such in the less action-based scenes is good too… got a little sidetracked there, I usually save action for after overall directing… oh well, c’est la vie.

This show just came out, but it has already gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,6/10 (though this is very likely to change).

Season 1 of “The Punisher” is pretty damn great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. My only flaw was the slight pacing problem in one episode, but it doesn’t really bring it down too much for me. Time for my final score. *One batch, two batch, penny and dime*. My final score for “The Punisher” season 1 is a 9,52/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Punisher” season 1 is now completed.

I really want to get into the comics.

Series Review: Stranger Things – Season 2 (2017)

The Month of Spooks, still going strong! And on the plate today we have the second season of last year’s smash hit Netflix series. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Stranger Things” season 2.

It’s 1984, one year has passed since the horrifying events that transpired in Hawkins, Indiana. And ever since he’d been rescued from the Upside Down, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) ihas been experiencing a series of terrifying visions. And we soon find out that a new threat in looming over the sleepy little town, ready to take over. And that’s just the main plot here, we do get several sub-plots as well. This is an ambitious narrative, both in making the monstrous threat feel bigger, and in just expanding this world that we’ve gotten to know. And while that is a risky move for any show, since the multiple sub-plots aspect can tangle itself up and become convoluted, I feel like “Stranger Things” pulls it off nicely. You have the tension of the monster plot, you have the drama of finding out more about Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), you have the kids meeting this new girl (Sadie Sink) that comes to town, you have the struggles of Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve (Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery)… what I’m trying to say is that there’s a metric buttload of threads here, and they never feel like they tangle into a mess. It’s a solid plot filled with good drama, mystery, and charm.

The characters in “Stranger Things” are likable, layered, and endlessly interesting. Let’s start with Will Byers, played by Noah Schnapp, because he is more or less the focus of this season. Sure, he’s safe(ish) from the Upside Down, but he’s experiencing these horrifying/traumatic visions, putting him in a more vulnerable position. And Schnapp is great in the role. Then we have Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, the pseudo-leader of this group of friends. Seeing him trying to cope after his friend/love Eleven has been out of his life is actually a bit heartbreaking, but he’s not some mopey idiot about it, keeping him interesting. And Wolfhard is great in the role. Then let’s go with David Harbour who once again plays police chief Jim Hopper. He’s still a stern man with his heart in the right place. Hopper was my fave last season and he still might be. So yeah, Harbour is great in the role. Gaten Matarazzo returns as Dustin, the funny and slightly naive little man with the colorful hat. Like I said, he’s a bit naive, but he’s not stupid. He’s also the funniest of the four main kids. And Matarazzo is great in the role. Caleb McLaughlin returns as Lucas, the slightly more serious one in the group. And McLaughlin is great in the role. Then we have Winona Ryder once again as Joyce, mother of Will, and slightly neurotic person. However, her being a bit nervous like that is understandable after everything that happened last season. But she seems to have found a decent system for her life… until shit starts getting real again, that is. And Ryder is great in the role. Natalia Dyer returns as Nancy and she’s really good. Charlie Heaton returns as Jonathan, and he’s great in the role. Joe Keery is back as Steve, and he’s great in the role. Millie Bobby Brown returns as Eleven, and she’s great in the role. Right, returning faces done, now for some newbies. We get Sean Astin as Bob, Joyce’s new boyfriend. He’s a bit of a dork, but he’s a good person and he does everything to try to be a good pseudo-father for the Byers boys. And Astin is really good in the role. Sadie Sink plays Max, the new girl in town with a seemingly troubled home life. She meets the boys and more or less starts befriending them. And Sink is great in the role. Then we have Dacre Montgomery as Billy, a new guy in town who is a big asshole bully. And while he doesn’t have much of an arc, Montgomery is really in the role. And finally, we have Paul Reiser as a doctor who is likable and kind, but seems to have some shady shit going on. And Reiser is great in the role. Overall, this has great characters and the performances are great.

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein returned to do the score for this season, and once again they killed it. The synth-heavy sounds perfectly capture the era and tone, and does even manage to create some decent tension at times. Really, it’s more of the good synth-y stuff, not much else I can say. And since this is set in the 80s, we of course get some really awesome licensed songs throughout from not only the 80s, but also 60s and 70s… it’s really just an awesome soundtrack that made me very happy. Overall, great music.

The show was created by the Duffer brothers, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And it’s just overall very well handled. The directing is tense, fun, and filled with energy. And Tod Campbell’s cinematography is of course absolutely stunning. And the visual effects in the show look great too. There’s also plenty of comedy in this show, and I thought it was all really funny. I also enjoy that it never overshadows the drama/Lovecraftian sci-fi, but just is another part of the world that comes into play every now and then.

This show/season just came out but has already been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10 and is ranked #37 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Stranger Things” season 2 is pretty awesome. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography/writing. Time for my final score. *Rawr*. My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is a 9,86/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is now completed.

Awesome.

Series Review: Mindhunter – Season 1 (2017)

I know what you’re thinking. “Markus, you said that October was about spooky shit, and maybe some trailers and Thor!”, and that is true. However, sometimes an idiot like me has to make exceptions. Plus, this could technically count as Month of Spooks stuff… ’cause serial killers are scary.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mindhunter” season 1.

Set in 1979, “Mindhunter” follows FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) as he investigates various murder cases while also developing a system for psychologically analyzing criminals. So now we have our drama plot. And is it any good? Yeah. Seeing the early stages of criminal psychology and how it develops is fascinating, and the way they use it to investigate these horrible crimes is quite riveting. The pace here is deliberately slow as a tortoise, which will turn some people off, but I thought it worked quite well for the show. But the plot isn’t just the development of the criminal profiling system, it is also an engaging character-drama. Seeing how these characters react to all the shit going on and how it affects their lives is quite riveting. So yeah, it’s a solid plot.

As you probably could understand from the end of the previous paragraph, the characters here are all quite interesting and engaging. It’s also pretty refreshing to have a cast where I didn’t know any of the main players. I recognized a couple of the supporting people, but for the most part I knew no one. Jonathan Groff plays Holden Ford, the young man who we follow for the majority of the show. He’s slightly naive, but means well and shows great intelligence. And Groff is really good in the role. Holt McCallany plays Bill Tench, Ford’s colleague/partner. A slightly stern family man, Tench often get slightly annoyed at Ford’s plans and action, but understands that they can be important. And McCallany is great in the role. Anna Torv plays Wendy Carr, a consultant who gets brought in to help Ford and Tench in their work. She’s determined to get shit done, and she’s an interesting part of the team. And Torv is great in the role. Hannah Gross plays Debbie, a woman that Ford meets and starts a relationship with. She’s sassy, she’s smart, and she’s a nice foil for Ford. And Gross is really good in the role. The entire cast does a solid job here.

The score for the show was composed by Jason Hill and it was great. It was dark and quite chilling, reminiscent of the movie scores by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. It often helped elevate certain scenes, making them feel a little eerie and slightly uncomfortable. There were also licensed tracks used throughout the show and they were used pretty well.

This show was created by Joe Penhall, and directed by three people. The directors are Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm, Andrew Douglas, and David fucking Fincher. And yes, the only reason why I listed all of them was for that dramatic effect on Fincher. And even though he only helmed four of the ten episodes, all of them feel very Fincher-esque. Cinematic, cold, steady, confident, it just oozes of David Fincher. So yeah, it is incredibly well directed. This show is also R-rated. Cursing, nudity, sex, some violence. Sure, it’s not “Game of Thrones” levels of R-rated, but it still has some stuff that makes it inappropriate for younger audiences. Also, this show was produced by Charlize Theron… not trying to make a point, just think that’s pretty cool.

This show just came out but has already been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,2/10 (but will most likely drop in the near future).

“Mindhunter” is great… don’t know what else I can say. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mindhunter” season 1 is a 9,65/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mindhunter” season 1 is now completed.

Month of Spooks, not Month of Spooks… Killers are scary, Month of Spooks.

Series Review: The Frankenstein Chronicles – Season 1 (2015)

IT’S ALIVE, IT’S FUCKIN’ ALIVE! JEFF, GET THE CAMERA… ‘CAUSE IT’S ALIVE!

Ladies and gentlemen, these are… “The Frankenstein Chronicles”.

London, early 19th century. Inspector John Marlott (Sean Bean) discovers the body of a dead child washed up on a shore. Upon further investigation it is found out that this child is made up of body parts from a whole bunch of kids, all stitched together. So it’s up to Marlott and his partner Nightingale (Richie Campbell) to find whoever did this and bring him/her to justice. So now we have our 19th century crime-drama. And is it any good? Yeah, I’d definitely say so. Is it perfect? Not really. But damn, it sure did impress me quite a bit. They create an interesting enough plot here that kept me engaged all the way through, filled with twists and turns. And while it has “Frankenstein” in the title, it isn’t a strict “Frankenstein” story, but rather creating an entirely new thing relating in some way to Mary Shelley’s classic story. My only flaw with the plot is the finale. It isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, it even has some pretty damn cool things happening in it. But compared to the relatively slow burn of the rest of the episodes, it felt like it rushed a little bit. It’s a minor flaw, but I thought it would be worth noting. Overall the plot here is really good.

When it comes to the characters here, only three of the main players I found interesting. The rest I thought were a little bland and forgettable. Sean Bean plays John Marlott, the inspector leading this investigation into the stitched together child. He’s a deeply troubled man who has experienced some shit in his past, and Sean Bean is absolutely fantastic in the role, often acting the shit out of a scene with just his eyes, he really knows how to do troubled really well. Richie Campbell plays Joseph Nightingale, Marlott’s partner in this investigation. He’s a bit more of a lighthearted presence than Marlott, but he’s still a fairly serious and interesting character. And Campbell is great in the role. The final one I want to properly go through is Elosie Smyth as Flora, a young woman that Marlott meets during his investigation and makes an ally out of. She’s a damaged individual, but she does get a somewhat good arc here. And Eloise Smyth does a really good job here. And while I think pretty much all the other characters were kind of meh, they weren’t necessarily bad. Their writing is fine, and the actors do really well in their respective roles, but their characters weren’t really as memorable or interesting as those three I mentioned before. So this is overall well acted, with some flaws in the characters.

The score for the show was composed by Roger Goula and I think he did a really good job. His score is eerie and atmospheric, perfectly capturing the intended tone of the show. It also managed to give me some chills throughout, which helped elevate some already kind of chilling scenes.

This show was created by Benjamin Ross & Barry Langford, and written/directed by various people. And they manage to create some really interesting stuff here. Their directing looks really good and managed to create a feel of unease from the very first frame. There are also some scenes here that are pretty suspenseful, adding to the already good quality of the show. I also want to mention that the period detail here is amazing, they really made it feel like the early 19th century.

While there isn’t much on this show where I usually steal reception data from, it seems to have been pretty well received (as far as I can tell). On Rotten Tomatoes it does exist, but has no score on there. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist at all. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“The Frankenstein Chronicles” is a pretty damn solid show. It has a really good plot, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. My only flaws with it come from my minor problem with the finale, and most characters being pretty unmemorable. Time for my final score. *IT’S ALIVE!*. My final score for “The Frankenstein Chronicles” season 1 is an 8,98/10. While flawed, I’d say that it is definitely worth a watch.

My review of “The Frankenstein Chronicles” season 1 is now completed.

IT’S ALI- Okay, I’m gonna stop that now.

Series Review: Hap and Leonard – Season 2 (2017)

About a month ago I reviewed the first season of this show, and I thought it was quite good. Not perfect, but definitely a good season of television. And now I am finally reviewing season 2 (which aired in the spring on this year). So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Hap and Leonard” season 2.

Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael Kenneth Williams) are back, though this time they are not looking for money. This time they instead find the remains of a dead child underneath Leonard’s floorboards. The two then report this find to the police (as you should) only to find themselves under investigation for committing the crime, despite them being innocent. But hope is not completely gone as Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack), a lawyer, comes in to try to help ’em out. So then the plot follows our heroes as they try to find the actual culprit while also dealing with corrupt lawmen. And immediately we can see that this season goes for a more serious and less cartoonish plot compared to the first season. And the season we have here is more quiet and serious. It brilliantly manages to tackle dramatic topics like racism, corruption, and child murder without sacrificing the offbeat and unique feel that the first season set up. It perfectly manages to balance a serious drama with an entertaining and pulpy world. And the pacing is much better compared to the first season, moving at a much more steady and focused pace. So yeah, the plot here is pretty great.

The characters are unique, entertaining, colorful, and just really interesting. James Purefoy of course returns as Hap Collins, the well-meaning worker who sometimes takes a wrong step (which makes him a flawed and interesting character). And Purefoy is great in the role, getting to show a somewhat wider range of emotions this season… his southern accent is also a bit more consistent here, so that’s nice. Michael Kenneth Williams returns as Leonard Pine, the black, gay, Vietnam veteran. He’s a troubled man who gets to endure a whole bunch of various problems throughout the season. And Williams is of course great in the role. And the chemistry between our two leads? It’s great, it’s very entertaining and feels genuine. Tiffany Mack plays Florida Grange, the lawyer who comes to Hap and Leonard’s aid and becomes their most important ally this season. She’s tough, smart, sexy, and fun, making for a refreshing presence in this show. We also get Cranston Johnson as a police detective that is investigating this case that our dynamic duo have gotten themselves involved in, and he’s great in the role. I also have to mention Irma P. Hall as MeMaw, the elderly woman that Hap and Leonard find themselves with every now and then throughout the season. She’s so much fun and one of the best things about the season. Overall the season is filled with good performances.

Like the first season, the score here was composed by Jeff Grace, and it’s once again great. It often manages to add a lot of emotion, excitement, or tension to a scene, really showing Grace’s talent/versatility as a composer. It’s great and works very well for the season/show. There are also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they work quite well.

If you forgot or just didn’t read my season 1 review, “Hap and Leonard” was created by Jim Mickle & Nick Damici and is based on a series of novels by Joe R. Lansdale. And it was written/directed by a whole bunch of people (including Mickle/Damici/Lansdale). And in season 1 they made such a well defined world that felt lived in. And with this season they improved on it, deepening the stories of the area they’re in as well as the backstories/relationships of everyone there. The shots look good and the direction in this season just has a really nice flow to it, having some nice energy to it while still keeping it feel real and lived in. And even though there are some heavy dramatic moments this season, they don’t skimp on the black humor. There’s quite a bit of humor here and it made me laugh.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists but has no score. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Hap and Leonard” season 2 takes everything that was good about the first season and improving on it quite a bit. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Y’all*. My final score for “Hap and Leonard” season 2 is a 9,82/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Hap and Leonard” season 2 is now completed.

Mucho mojo.