Movie Review: Crawl (2019)

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by crocodilians, potentially due to watching a fair bit of “Crocodile Hunter” as a kid. And possibly also because they’re badass. Either way, it baffles me that we barely get any movies featuring them, at least with decent budgets. So I’m excited to finally get to talk about such a movie.

Ladies and gents… “Crawl”.

When Haley (Kaya Scodelario) goes searching for her dad (Barry Pepper) during a devastating hurricane, she finds herself trapped in their old family home’s crawlspace, not only having to survive the vicious weather, but also a bunch of alligators swimming around. It’s a B-movie premise… but I really liked seeing it unfold. There’s enough self-aware brains within the writing to make it work. It nicely shifts between being a suspenseful monster movie and a decent enough family drama, the balance is just right. I’m not sitting here saying that it’s the greatest storytelling ever put to celluloid. But what I am saying is that it knows what it is, and works with it to create a fun and engaging popcorn thriller that managed to scare, make me feel tense, and invest me in the struggle of the people at the center.

The characters in this, while not the deepest, are written with enough nuance to make the viewer care for them, at least on a surface “I don’t want to see these guys die” level. Kaya Scodelario plays Haley, a young woman with some emotional baggage that affects her relationship to her dad. She’s clever, resourceful, and determined, and makes for an interesting protagonist that I enjoyed following. And Scodelario is great in the role. Next we have Barry Pepper as Dave, Haley’s dad with whom there’s some past issues with. I don’t have much to say, as he’s not as well defined in personality as Haley, but I still found him decently enjoyable/interesting. And Pepper is great in the role. And seriously, when was the last time we saw Barry Pepper in a movie? Dude was in everything for a while, and then he just suddenly wasn’t. Oh well, it was nice to see him show up here.

The score for “Crawl” was composed by Max Aruj & Steffen Thum, and I think they did a pretty good job with it. Some basic emotional strings, some neat horror stings, and a few other things. The score here doesn’t do anything new, but intead does all the familiar things well, creating a solid soundscape for the movie.

“Crawl” was written by brothers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, with Alexandre Aja handling directing duties. And the craft on display here (for its relatively low budget) is pretty damn good. They really manage to create an oppressive atmosphere that helps the movie stand out in both the disaster and monster sub-genres. Even the huge storm is given a real presence that makes it feel far from cheap. Now, let’s talk about the real stars here… the gators. As expected, they’re CGI, because real gators would be too dangerous. But even for CG animals, they work quite well here… for the most part. Their animations are great, really lifelike, which makes them quite intense. Where I have to leave a slight criticism though is the texturing. Yes, they got the general gator appearance right, but it feels like they could’ve used another render or two. But I can also forgive it because of how low the budget was, and because of the presence the overall animations on the gators gave off. Quick warning too: As you probably expect, there’s some gore in this, but it’s also quite vicious. Not just blood for blood’s sake, but some genuine brutality happens. Just putting that out there in case anyone’s a bit squeamish.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

I know it sounds like I shit on it multiple times throughout, but I want to make it very fucking clear that I highly enjoyed “Crawl”. It’s a damn fine monster movie (yes, alligators aren’t monsters, but what else would you call this style of movie?). It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing, effects, and atmosphere. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Crawl” is a 9,57/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Crawl” is now completed.

See you later, alligator…

Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

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War. Dirty, brutal, terrible… the is nothing good about it. Of course we have the PMC’s (Private Military Corporations) out there that disagree with me on that, but that is only because war is their only income. Okay, weapon manufacturers will make a few bucks from it as well… but that is not the point. My point is that war is not something that should EVER be glorified. With that said, here is evidence of that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Saving Private Ryan”.

“Saving Private Ryan” is about a squad of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) who after getting through the brutality of Omaha beach get sent further into France to find paratrooper Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Which sounds weird considering Ryan isn’t even part of their squad, but the order came from higher-ups for propaganda purposes. And while that isn’t overly clear in the movie, it is still there… to raise morale (Greedy fucking American military). But even though the basic plot is simple, it is still a thoughtful, brutal and well-written plot that works in every aspect. It is all portrayed in a way where you believe it and just want to see how it unfolds. In otehr words… it is pretty great.

This movie is just full of acting talent everywhere. You can’t go ten minutes without saying “Hey, it’s *insert actor here*!”. But let’s just go on the most important ones. Tom Hanks (as per usual) is great in this movie. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he is a great dramatic actor (Sidenote: Don’t believe me? Go watch “Philadelphia” and then come back). Next up (and the final one I am going to mention) is the character of Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies). Now I hear your collective gasps and I will explain. Yes, Private Ryan is in the title, but he doesn’t show up until the third act of the movie. Instead I will focus on another (probably) young character who got a good amount of focus. Basically Upham is this young guy who have never really killed anyone before and Tom Hanks takes him under his wing(ish). Now I already liked Jeremy Davies as an actor after seeing him in shows like “Justified” and “Constantine”, but I didn’t know he was THIS GREAT as an actor. His character is pretty much a coward through the entire movie and he plays it fantastically. Hell, he plays the character well at all times. And I can mention that all actors in the movie were great. All of them.

The score was done by none other than John Williams. And as you probably know, he is one of the best composers of all time. He has made iconic scores, he has made emotional scores, he is just amazing. And he shows it here as well. Having emotional music when there needs to be emotional music and really intense battle music when there needs to be intense battle music. In other words… hell yeah, John Williams!

It is interesting how this movie was shot. I am not saying it does something incredibly unique like “Birdman”, but it is still a curious case. Spielberg is a director who is known for having very steady direction and camera work in his movies (Sidenote: Don’t believe me? Go watch “Jurassic Park” and “E.T.” and then come back). But in this movie he went for a more handheld style. No, it’s not the same as shaky-cam. I am not explaining the differences here, that is for another time. Anyhow, like I said, “Saving Private Ryan” is a rare example of Steven Spielberg going for a more handheld style. And I like it. It gives the movie a more gritty and realistic style, you feel like a fly on an exploding wall. And to add to that we have some of, if not the most brutal and shocking action scenes of all time. Limbs flying off, heads exploding… this isn’t traditional Spielberg. And while the brutality will be too much for some people to stomach, I feel like it just added to the movie and is part of why it is so great.

This movie is one of the most critically well-received movies ever(ish). On Rotten Tomatoes the movie has a 93% positive rating and is certified “Fresh”. On Metacritic it has the incredible score of 90/100. Roger Ebert also loved it, giving it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #33 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 5 Oscars in the categories of Best Director, Best cinematography, Best sound, Best sound effects editing and Best Film editing. It was also nominated for an additional 6 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Original Screenplay, Best set decoration, Best makeup and Best original dramatic score. 

“Saving Private Ryan” is a brutal, gritty, thoughtful, dark movie filled with terrific performances, a terrific score, great direction/camera work, excellent action scenes and a beautiful ending. Time for my final score. God damn it, Jeff. Where is that son of a bitch? There you are, what took you so l- what the fuck happened to your leg? Nazis shot it off? Well do you have the envelope? Thank you! My final score for “Saving Private Ryan” is a 9,88/10. It does of course get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Saving Private Ryan” is now reviewed.

So much trouble for one guy? Damn…

Movie Review: The Green Mile (1999)

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Stephen King is one of those authors that writes stuff the majority of people who read it like. Personally I am a big fan of his “Dark Tower” series. Most people know King for his horror novels like “The Shining”, “It” and “The Monkey”. What some people maybe didn’t know is the fact that he also writes drama…yeah. Does “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” sound familiar? Well if it doesn’t, then you have missed out on the thick words there and with that, something great. But today we are taking a look at another one of his dramas, in movie format.

Ladies and gentlemen, the most voted movie in my poll…”The Green Mile”!

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is a guard on death row. More specifically he is a guard at the death row called “The Green Mile” (Roll credits). He works there with his colleagues Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). They have a bunch of different criminals in there. But one day they get a special new addition to the group of criminals in there…a huge black man named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan, R.I.P) who was arrested for the (this is not fun to say) rape and murder of two young girls. Sounds like a scary guy huh? But when he walks in he acts like the biggest softy ever (Scared of the dark, very polite and doesn’t seem like a troublemaker at all). Soon after, Paul and crew will find out that this man has a mysterious “gift”. Now that is all I can say about the plot without going into too many spoilers. Now, like most Stephen King stories, this is incredibly complex. And for you people out there who think complex only means “Mindfuck”…you’re wrong. For a story to be, all it needs are several layers…not necessarily mindfucking. And with that I have to say that “The Green Mile” succeeds with it’s multi-layered story and general well done execution. Not only is it a good story on paper, it is also really well done. But that is something director Frank Darabont is really good at (See “Shawshank Redemption”). With an original plot by Stephen King, an adapted screenplay and direction by Frank Darabont, the story comes together nicely.

The characters in this movie have more layers to them than a wedding cake. Not only are they incredibly well-written, but the actors are fantastic! I was especially impressed by Michael Clarke Duncan…that dude did a fantastic job in this movie. I was also happily surprised to see Barry Pepper in a really good role (considering he would do the worst movie I’ve ever seen one year later). One thing when it comes to the actors really surprised me. One of the inmates at the place was played by Sam Fucking Rockwell…wow. I am a big fan of his, so seeing him in this movie (pulling off a fantastic performance). You really thought he was this psycho hillbilly. So in general, characters have many layers and the actors are fantastic.

The music…oh my fucking god, the music. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman is fantastic. I am really surprised it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. It is your typical oschestral/beautiful drama soundtrack…but that is why it is as fantastic as it is. It is your typical thing…but it is so well done that I don’t mind. It is as I always say…the idea can be as generic as it can get, as long as it is executed in a really good way.

The camera work…nothing special there. It is good, nothing more. I can also mention that this movie left me crying. If a movie can make me cry…good job you bastards (who worked on the movie), you won! Also, did I mention Sam Rockwell was in this movie? What? I did? Oh well, rather one time too much than one time too few. I was also very surprised how funny it got at a few point in the movie…good job Frank Darabont, your comedy in your drama doesn’t feel forced. Might also be good to mention that it is three hours long…so prepare.

Time for the reception of this little movie. Let’s see here…we have an 80% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic is by far the lowest with a score of 61/100 (damn). Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars, and I quote

The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.

This movie has a score of 8,5 on imdb.com and is ranked #46 on the Top 250 list (as of this review). The movie was also nominated for 4 Oscars. Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best adapted screenplay, Best sound.

This movie has a lot of depth in it’s story, the actors are fantastic, the music in fantastic, the camera work is good and it has Sam Rockwell (Okay, I’m done with that now). The only thing dragging the score down a bit is the knowledge of this movie being three hours long…even though it only feels like two and a half. But it also gets a pat on the back for making me leave it with tears in my eyes. And now I am ready to give this movie my final score. “The Green Mile” gets a score of 9,72/10 which not only requires you to add it to your collection, but also gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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Review of “The Green Mile” is completed.

I should probably go find the book somewhere. Also, R.I.P Michael Clarke Duncan.

Movie Review: 25th Hour (2002)

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If you didn’t know, I love Edward Norton. He is not only a fantastic actor…but he also donates a good amount of money to charity and let’s face it…he is one handsome son of a bitch. He have pulled out some great performances in movies like “Fight Club” and “American History X” (in which he was amazing). He is one of those actors that never is bad…NEVER! It is the movie that is bad, not him! HE IS NEVER BAD YOU MOTHERFUC…hmm, sorry about that, I had a fanboy rage moment there. So we are taking a look at one of his lesser known movies.

Dudes and chicks…”25th Hour”.

Montgomery Brogan (Edward Norton) is not at his highest point in life. Why? Because he is going to jail in 24 hours. For what you may ask. And I can tell you he is going in for drug dealing. In 24 hours he will serve a seven year long sentence. During these last hours he kind of re-evaluates his life. He wants to set a few things straight before he ends up in the joint for seven years. He got busted because someone probably ratted him out and he thinks it might be his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson). But during these last hours he also have a few drinks with his friends Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman, R.I.P) and Frank (Barry Pepper). I am not going further than this with the story explanation for one reason: This story is too easy to spoil and is too interesting to spoil. It is a story that I think you should experience yourself. It is emotional, it is gripping and it is deep and makes you think about what’s right and wrong…trust me.

The characters are…people. People who have been through some shit. First up is Montgomery (out of those I wish to shortly analyze). A man who ended up on the wrong side of the law. An intelligent man who could have gotten a great job but didn’t have a too good start of life. Next up is Jacob. A teacher who got a lot on his mind at the time. His best friend is going to jail, one of his students (Anna Paquin) shows interest in him and tries to get a higher grade. And finally up on the table is Frank…he is for the most part a partying, drunk stock broker who like Jacob is a little confused since his best friend Monty is going to prison. In general…the characters in this movie are incredibly realistic and incredibly well acted. Still…that is not too much of a surprise when you have people Like Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman as some of your main actors. In general…I found them incredibly interesting to watch.

The music is damn good. The bits of original score by Terence Blanchard are magnificent, really expressing the feel of depression, sadness and a little isolation that the movie wants to show. And I fucking love that stuff. The score is near perfection (not gonna sit here and try to explain why I said “near perfection”). There are a few licensed songs as well but…I didn’t really give a shit about them. They were decent enough I guess.

I have nothing really to mention in the “General Stuff” section. Maybe I can mention that it is based on a novel by David Benioff. There, I mentioned it. Now go away.

Reception for “25th hour” was overall good. Rotten Tomatoes has a 78% rating for it and a “Fresh” Certification. Metacritic has given this movie a 67/100 score. Roger Ebert himself gave this 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great movies list”. The score for the movie on imdb.com is 7,7/10.

“25th Hour” is an intelligent, compelling, gripping and overall fantastic movie. My final score for it is a 9,76/10. This movie is worth a buy. Wait…worth a buy!? I command you to buy it! How do I do that? With the “SEAL OF APPROVAL” of course!
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Review of “25th Hour” is now done.

I wonder what I would do with my last 24 hours…