Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Good grief, that title stylization is such a double-edged sword. Looks neat, and is a great piece of wordplay… but god damn, it is a pain to keep in mind when writing it out. Oh well, that’s all the time we’re spending on that, let’s get into the review.

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… “BlacKkKlansman”!

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is a young, black police officer in the 70s. He’s an ambitious young man, looking to make a real difference. And one way he intends to do this is by starting an undercover operations to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with the help of one of his colleagues (Adam Driver). So now we have our quite unique story setup… and good god damn, I loved seeing how it unfolded. What makes it work so well is how impressively they balance tones. On one hand, it’s an undercover cop movie featuring one of the most horrible organizations in the worlds, which is very serious. But then they also acknowledge the bizarreness of a black man making an attempt to enter the Ku Klux Kunts, and have a bit of fun with that idea. So it manages to both put me on the edge of my seat with some of the darker aspects, and have me smiling at some of the more lighthearted and fun moments. It’s also remarkably fast-paced. The movie has a 135 minute runtime, but I never felt that, it moved at a brisk pace that kept it from getting dull. It doesn’t rush through things though, when it needs to slow down and soak in a moment, it does that. But yeah, it’s well paced and well written and highly entertaining.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, colorful, and overall just quite interesting. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the young cop at the center of this story. He’s smart, highly determined, but also a bit of an underdog considering he’s like the only black officer in the department. And he’s one of the more uniquely compelling protagonists of recent years. And Washington is fantastic in the role. We then have Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, Stallworth’s colleague who joins in on this batshit undercover operation. He’s a bit torn between some various things we learn about him throughout the movie, and it makes him quite fascinating to follow. And Driver is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Michael Buscemi, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Topher Grace, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “BlacKkKlansman” was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was great. There’s a consistent theme that gets woven throughout various tracks, making for a consistent emotional quality while still giving it a few different spins. There are of course a few unique tracks as well, and they are very good too. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has good music.

Based on a book by Ron Stallworth, “BlacKkKlansman” was directed by Spike Lee. And he did a great job, he really brought his A-game here, giving it a fierce energy that makes it stand out among so many movies in recent years. His direction manages to capture the broadness of this whole operation while never sacrificing the intimacy with the characters. And this makes it absolutely electrifying. And Chayse Irvin’s cinematography is stunning, complementing the storytelling wonderfully. There’s also a surprising amount of comedy throughout the movie, and it’s very funny. It helps to digest some of the bizarre and darkly uncomfortable aspects of this story.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best adapted screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best original score, Best director, Best supporting actor (Driver), and Best film editing.

Despite it’s annoying-to-write title, “BlacKkKlansman” is a fantastic and highly unique bio-pic. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing/cinematography, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “BlacKkKlansman” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “BlacKkKlansman” is now completed.

This kind of stuff is why I love movies.

Series Review: The Looming Tower (2018)

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

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Looming Tower”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

I know, I know, you’re probably sick of me talking about “Mission Impossible” at this point after all the previous reviews. But like I promised you in my “Rogue Nation” review, that would be my last “Mission Impossible” post until “Fallout” came out. And now it’s out. And after this post, no more “Mission Impossible” stuff… unless they come out with a new one, but we’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it. So let’s go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mission Impossible: Fallout”!

When a group of terrorists get hold of some items that could cause a nuclear holocaust, it’s up to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team to find these items and stop the terrorists. Right, there are elements of this plot that certainly are recycled from other movies, but they’re all mixed together in such a way that it feels fresh and interesting. What I also like is that the plot doesn’t really hold your hand, it respects its audience enough to not spoonfeed them everything, trusting us to pay attention to what’s going on. Combine that with the usual “MI” twists and turns, genuinely engaging drama, as well as some real suspense, and you get what could be the best and most intriguing plot in the franchise so far.

The characters in this are layered, unique, and quite interesting. After all the previous reviews, I don’t need to go into Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, I already did in my previous reviews, and not much has changed in that regard, but I don’t mind since Ethan is such a well realized action protagonist. And yes, Cruise is still great in the role. Same with Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg. Rebecca Ferguson reprises her role from the previous movie, and she’s still great. Same with Alec Baldwin and Sean Harris. So let’s talk about the newbie that is Henry Cavill as August Walker, a CIA agent who’s been tasked to help Ethan and the gang out with this operation. He’s an intense bruiser who is constantly at odds with Ethan and his ways, which creates an interesting character dynamic. And Cavill is great in the role. Then we get supporting performances from people like Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Kristoffer Joner, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles. Sorry if I’m being a bit vague with this, but I do it to either not repeat stuff from previous reviews or to not spoil some character stuff that’s better left experienced.

The score for the movie was composed by Lorne Balfe, and I think the score here is great. It really does help improve on an already well crafted movie by adding to the intensity or overall fun-factor of a scene. Not much else I can say, it’s a badass orchestral score that works very well for the movie.

Returning as director we have Christopher McQuarrie. That’s right, first “Mission Impossible” movie where the director hasn’t been switched out. And I’m glad, because McQuarrie is one of the best action directors working today. I loved his work on “Rogue Nation”, and also really liked his work on “Jack Reacher”, so I was actually happy to see him return for “Fallout”. And he fucking outdid himself here, giving us fast-paced, suspenseful, and badass direction. Both in the quieter scenes and the action. And yes, the action is spectacular. From fights, to shootouts, to chases, to insane Tom Cruise stunts, this movie has all the action… and all of it is amazing. Not only because we know it’s Tom Cruise actually doing stunts, but because of how visible it is. Not shaky shit here, this is sleek and brutal action that is shown beautifully through McQuarrie’s direction and Rob Hardy’s cinematography.

This movie came out fairly recently, but it’s been very well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10 and is ranked #133 on the “Top 250” list.

“Mission Impossible: Fallout” is an action lover’s wet dream and it’s absolutely my favorite of the franchise. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/action/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mission Impossible: Fallout” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mission Impossible: Fallout” is now completed.

This is how you do action.

Movie Review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

We are finally here, my friends. The final part in my series of reviews leading up to “Mission Impossible: Fallout” in August. As for anyone wondering about “Ghost Protocol”, I already reviewed that one back in the day when my blog was fucking awful… so you’re not getting a review of it now. And after this review, there will be no more “Mission Impossible” content on this blog… until “Fallout” gets released at least. Anyway, let’s get into the final part of this review series.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”!

After the IMF gets disbanded, Ethan (Tom Cruise) and the gang have to go rogue to try to take down a shadowy organization known as The Syndicate. That’s the basic plot, not saying much more about that due to potential spoilers. But what I can say is that while the plot is relatively straight-forward, it still succeeds in feeling like a good spy-thriller plot. Instead of going for convoluted twists and turns, it focuses more on being a fast-paced, suspenseful, and engaging thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for most of it.

The characters int this are colorful, unique, interesting, and overall entertaining. As expected, Tom Cruise of course returns as Ethan Hunt. This is the same Ethan Hunt as in most of the previous ones, but a bit more developed. And seeing the shit he has to endure throughout this (not counting crazy stunts) is just as engrossing as it’s been in the past. And Cruise is of course great in the role. Next we have Simon Pegg reprising his role as techie Benji Dunn. He once again acts as a comic relief, but he also gets a few more dramatic moments this time around, and it just makes the character even more interesting. And Pegg is great in the role. Ving Rhames returns as Luther Stickell, the other techie of the team. He’s once again a charming, caring, (sort of) voice of reason kind of man that is so much fun to watch. And Rhames is really good in the role. Jeremy Renner returns as agent William Brandt, and he once again provides a bit of fun commentary on Ethan’s antics while still being a very important part of the team. And Renner is really good in the role. Newcomer time! First up we have Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, a mysterious woman who Ethan and the audience can’t be sure to fully trust, and she’s given a good arc in this film. And Ferguson is great in the role. Next we have Sean Harris as Lane, a dangerous hitman who acts as the movie’s main villain. Not gonna say much more because his role is better left experienced rather than explained. But he’s a suitably creepy villain with good enough motivations. And Harris is really good in the role. We also get some supporting work from people like Alec Baldwin, Tom Hollander, Jens Hultén, Simon McBurney, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Joe Kraemer, and I think he did a damn good job with it. Sure, he mostly builds upon sounds established in previous installments, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of it. His score is badass, bombastic, exciting, and suspenseful, often elevating the movie’s many scenes.

“Rogue Nation” was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and I think he did a great job with it. His direction has a good flow, making even the actionless scenes interesting. And then we come to the action scenes, which are beautifully shot. There’s not a shaky-cam in sight, everything is fully visible and shot to be as exciting as possible. Also, minimal CGI. Real vehicle chases, real fights, real Tom Cruise strapped to a big-ass plane like a crazy person. McQuarrie shows here that he has an eye for making compelling and awesome action scenes.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” takes what was good in the previous installments and blends it to make a damn fine action film. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” is a 9,86/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” is now completed.

I really enjoyed going through these movies. Love doing review series like this.

Movie Review: The Departed (2006)

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Martin Scorsese, you motherfucker. Woaw, woaw! I did not mean that in a bad way. I’m just saying he got a tendency to make good movies with a fair amount of well known and good actors. Take for example “Wolf of Wall Street” or “Shutter Island”. But those are the more recent examples. How about we go back a few more years. Not all the way back to “Goodfellas”. But back to 2006, which was a good year for movies. This year, Scorsese made one of the so called “powerhouses” of the year. But what does this dude think of that specific movie.

Boys and girls…”The Departed”.

We are now in Boston. The story follows several different characters. But the main focus is set on two characters and their separate…yet connected storylines. First up we have the one of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a recently examined undercover state cop. But he isn’t there to be a cop. He was pretty much planted there by mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) to be a sort of mole for him. Then we have the second main storyline following William “Billy” Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is set as the sort of polar opposite of Colin. He is sent by Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and the asshole known as Staff Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) to infiltrate Costello’s gang. And both main characters (Sullivan & Costigan) are trying to figure out who is the rat of each respective crew. So it is pretty much a game of cat and mouse, but without a specific cat/mouse…kinda like “Death Note”. So yeah, the story is pretty damn interesting with this Cat and Mouse game. Fun fact about the story: It is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong movie “Infernal Affairs”. Another good point to mention about the story is that Damon’s character strikes up a relationship with psychiatrist Madolyn Madden (Vera Farmiga). So I really like the story because of how engaging it is and how it never gets boring, even though it’s two and a half hours.

The characters are complex and I want to hit them in the fucking face. Except for Costello, but that is because I love Nicholson. But these characters are complex and well acted…I fucking love that. I have nothing more for this.

The music in this is really good. It is a combination of licensed songs, most notably the song “I’m Shipping up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys. Then there are a whole bunch of original songs composed by the fantastic Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hobbit movies, Hugo). So yes…the soundtrack is really awesome.

This movie has so much talent under its wings. Here I will list up a lot of the great actors:
Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Kevin Corrigan, Robert Wahlberg…this list is massive. Also, this movie looks beautiful, it is really well directed.

Reception for “The Departed” was overall good. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 92% rating and a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic gave this movie an 86/100 rating which is pretty high for their standards. Roger Ebert gave this movie 4/4 stars and said:

“It is intriguing to wonder what Scorsese saw in the Hong Kong movie that inspired him to make the second remake of his career (after “Cape Fear”). I think he instantly recognized that this story, at a buried level, brought two sides of his art and psyche into equal focus.”

I know it doesn’t sound too much like praise, but I couldn’t find a good quote…so this’ll do.
imdb.com gave this 8,5/10 and it is ranked #46 on their Top 250 list. Also this movie got 4 Oscars. It was nominated for 5 with the fifth being for Mark Wahlberg as “Best Supporting Actor”. But he lost to Alan Arkin in “Little Miss Sunshine”.

So the story is good and intriguing, the characters/acting are awesome, the music is awesome and it is beautifully made. So I am giving this movie a 9,6/10 and a personal recommendation to buy it. It is great. Sure, you can choose to rent it if you want or stay the hell away, but this movie I actually recommend to buy. I also give this my Seal of Approval. That is a thing now…so whenever I give something that seal…it’s good.

“The Departed” is at last reviewed.

So long, boys (and girls)!