Movie Review: Lady Macbeth (2017)

That’s right, this summer isn’t just about films from my own country. I can review other things too if I’m in the mood. And right now I am in the mood to review something not in my own language.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Lady Macbeth”.

19th century England. Katherine (Florence Pugh) lives in an unhappy marriage that she’s been forced into. But as we follow her throughout the movie, we see her evolution as she slowly comes into her own, which may or may not stir some shit up in the house. Now, when the movie started out it felt somewhat familiar. A romantically inclined period piece drama with themes of personal liberation. However, as it went on it started leaning into directions I didn’t expect. And I really feel like this gradual shift in tone and even genre really helps “Lady Macbeth” stand out among the crowd of period dramas out there. It helps give the movie a unique identity and impact that I haven’t really seen before. It goes to some dark fuckin’ places at times, and I’d argue it really helped the storytelling out quite a bit. It is slow paced, which might put some people off, but I for one really found the story engrossing.

The characters in this are flawed, quite layered, and just overall quite interesting. Florence Pugh plays Katherine, a young woman who’s been forced into an unhappy marriage with a rich dickhead. Due to her situation she is a bit repressed, but over the movie we do see her evolving quite a bit as a character, making her really fascinating to follow. And Pugh is terrific in the role. The and the supporting work from people like Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, and more is all pretty great too.

The score for the movie was composed by Dan Jones, and it was good. Compared to so many other movies that use musical tracks in every other scene, this score only appears at a few points. And even then, none of the tracks are loud or particularly attention seeking, going for a more low-key suspense/emotional resonance, and I think that works pretty well.

Based on a novel by Nikolai Leskov, “Lady Macbeth” was directed by William Oldroyd. And I think Oldroyd did a really good job with it. He makes the most of the remote location the film is set in, really creating an engaging atmosphere that enhances the storytelling. And the cinematography by Ari Wegner is pretty fantastic too, both in the wide shots of the moorlands, and in the more cramped indoor scenes.

This film has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“Lady Macbeth” is a uniquely engaging period piece that I highly enjoyed. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good use of music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Lady Macbeth” is a 9,64/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Lady Macbeth” is now completed.

Florence Pugh? More like Florence Prettyfuckinggoodatacting.

Movie Review: The Guardian Angel (1990)

Oh hi. Ready for another Summer of the Swedes entry? Cool, let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Guardians Angel” (Original title: Skyddsängeln).

Some fictional European country, the 1910s. A revolution rages on, and one of the country’s ministers (Etienne Glaser) has decided to have a nice, relaxing summer with his family in the countryside. He has also brought his new bodyguard (Philip Zandén). And we follow these people as they go through ups and downs throughout the summer. This film tries to say things about stuff, but it never succeeded in putting it in my head. I don’t mind a movie trying to say something about humanity or politics or whatever the fuck, but you got to have a clever way of saying it that speaks to people. This right here is just fucking pretentious and boring, seldom doing anything remotely engaging. And even in those rare moments where something that could be called mildly interesting happens, the presentation (which we’ll get deeper into later) pushes it into nonsensical pretentiousness again. And while pretentiousness can be acceptable (see Ingmar Bergman), you’re gonna need something interesting to back it up… which this tale doesn’t.

The characters try to be dramatic and engaging and interesting, but guess what… nah. They all clash, as if they’re in different movies. Take Etienne Glaser for example. He very much has the vibe of an uptight asshole in a 50s drama. But then you have Björn Kjellman who feels like he should be in a 90s rom-com. And then there’s Philip Zandén whose performance feels like what Matthew Macfadyen would end up as if he wasn’t allowed to be expressive. The actors are trying, and generally I can’t actively say anything about their performances (except for Björn Kjellman, whose performance just feels weirdly anachronistic).

What’s interesting about the music in this movie is that there isn’t much of it. And the little we get is music licensed for the film. It doesn’t have a typical score. But how do these few licensed tracks work throughout? Eh. The tracks themselves aren’t bad, but the way they’ve been implemented just feels slightly off.

Based on a novel by Ricarda Huch, “The Guardian Angel” was directed by Suzanna Osten. And I have mixed feelings about the execution of her directing. It’s clear that she knows what she wants in her direction, the confidence is very evident in what we see. However, some of the choices made don’t really work for me. There are some shots that are a bit… off. But even more baffling is the editing, which is all over the fucking place, often just leaving me stunned as to why you would make a lot of those cuts, sometimes causing a weird sense of nausea even.

On imdb.com this movie has a score of 6.6/10. That’s all I got… the movie barely fucking exists on my usual sites.

“The Guardian Angel” is a bit too slow and pretentious for me, just ending up being a drab and less than engaging experience. Its plot is slow and nonsensical, its characters not that engaging despite (mostly) good acting, weirdly chosen music, the direction okay, and the editing being fucking baffling. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Guardians Angel” is a 3,11/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Guardian Angel” is now completed.

Zzzzz…

Movie Review: Let the Right One In (2008)

Good afternoon, my friends. Or good whatever-fucking-time-it-is-when-you-read-this. Either way, time for another Summer of the Swedes entry.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let the Right One In” (Original title: Låt den rätte komma in).

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) doesn’t have it easy. He tries to just live his life, which is made harder at every turn by some other boys who bully him. But one day on a chilly winter night, he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a weird and mysterious girl that he soon starts befriending, which will change his life in a major way. Initial setup sounds a tad similar to “We Can Be Heroes!”, which I reviewed a week or so ago. But in execution it’s very different. Instead of being a lighthearted and funny story about outcasts who learn to follow their dreams, this is a slowly burning, somber affair that incorporates elements of existentialism and of course also the supernatural. And I found it to be utterly fucking engaging. Some people might hate the slow pace of it, in combination with the lack of scares (since it’s technically a horror movie)… but for me it just really clicked in an emotionally engaging way.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, and overall just really interesting. Something about the characters here just feels real to me, at least more so than many movies I’ve seen recently. And while some of the kid actors here aren’t necessarily great, they do still sell their performances pretty well. Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Patrik Rydmark, they all do well. And the adult actors like Per Ragnar and Karin Bergquist all do really well in their roles. It’s a well rounded cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Johan Söderqvist, and I think he did a really good job with it. It’s a somber affair, helping create this electrifying, almost dreamlike vibe for the movie. It helps create a deeper emotional connection between the viewer, really adding a lot to the atmosphere of the movie.

Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the script for “Let the Right One In” was written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, with Tomas Alfredson serving as director. The craft here is generally really good. Alfredson really knows how to make scenes feel both warmly engaging and weirdly unsettling. He also knows what to show, when to show it, and how long to show it. There is some genuinely disturbing imagery at times, and Alfredson does an excellent job in its usage. And the cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is really good as well, giving the movie a unique and stunning look that adds so much to the atmosphere.

This film 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 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Let the Right One In” is an excellent little horror-drama. It has a great plot, great characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let the Right One In” is a 9,78/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Let the Right One In” is now completed.

Finally, a great movie in this series of mine.

Movie Review: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

If you were to ask me for perfume related advice, then I’d simply tell you that you’d gone to the wrong guy. All I can say “this one makes my nose burn” or “this one doesn’t make my nose burn”. So you better go ask someone else. But if you wonder about a perfume related movie, then I’d be happy to assist.

Mesdames et Messieurs… “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) was born with an insanely powerful sense of smell, putting him on a quest to make perfumes. But as he searches for that ultimate scent, he starts spiraling a dark and sinister path from which there is no return. This setup shows a lot of promise, and even has some moments that could make for excellent drama. And yet I never gave a shit about anything going on throughout the story. That’s not to say I was bored, or that anything was outright bad, because it was all perfectly watchable. It’s just that the storytelling felt quite flat and lifeless. I’m not sure how else to explain it. The tale itself is interesting, but the way that it’s told just never felt like it had any actual purpose or even interest in adding actual depth to proceedings.

The characters, like the story, have interesting enough setups, but in execution falls somewhat flat, only really being elevated by the actors playing them. Ben Whishaw is excellent as Grenouille, giving a mesmerizingly restrained performance that was hard to take my eyes off of. Dustin Hoffman is really good as Grenouille’s cantankerous mentor. Alan Rickman is great in his role. Really, every actor in this kills it. Just wish the material they were given had more life to it.

The score for the movie was composed by Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, and Tom Tykwer, and I thought it was quite good. It’s quite eerie, but also has an underlying sadness to it, making for a somewhat haunting soundscape that helped in keeping my attention through the movie.

Based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Süskind, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” was directed by Tom Tykwer, whom I think did a mostly great job. Where the screenplay (which was co-written by Tykwer, Andrew Birkin, and Bernd Eichinger) falters at times, they often make up for it with the production values. Tykwer’s otherworldly direction makes for an almost hypnotic experience, especially when combined with Frank Griebe’s breathtaking cinematography, which often had me going “wow”.

“Perfume” has gotten mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” may have a lifeless narrative and slightly underdeveloped characters, but I can kind of recommend it if you want to experience great acting, music, and cinematography on a rainy Sunday. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is a 6,08/10. So while heavily flawed, I can still say that it could be worth renting.

My review of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” is now completed.

Meh.

Series Review: The Outsider (2020)

Alright, first review of an actual 2020 release. We’re finally getting into the new year properly.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Outsider”.

When a young boy is found having been raped and murdered, the evidence points to local baseball coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman) having done it. But as Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) looks further into it, there seems to be more to the case than meets the eye, leading Ralph down a dark and complicated path. So now we have our dark mystery series. And I would say the story here is a really intriguing one. The way this case evolves the further we get into the show is fascinating, making for some really interesting and often suspenseful television. It’s often also quite disturbing, but in a way that serves the story and doesn’t feel like cheap exploitative crap. Now, there are parts of the show where not much happens, and that drags it down ever so slightly. I don’t mind a slow burn (hell, most of this show is a slow burn), but there’s a difference between slowly burning drama and no real development. That said, it doesn’t full on ruin the show for me… it’s still a great and chilling story.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall quite interesting. First up we have Ben Mendelsohn as Ralph Anderson, an aging police Detective who’s the lead on this case. He’s a determined man, ready for action at any point, while also dealing with some personal demons. And Mendelsohn is great in the role. Next we have Cynthia Erivo as Holly Gibney, a private investigator who gets brought in to help out with the case at a point in the story. She’s a bit eccentric, but also absolutely brilliant at what she does, making her a very valuable part of the cast. And Erivo is great in the role. Jason Bateman is good as disgraced baseball coach Terry Maitland. Bill Camp is great as defense attorney Howard Salomon. Yul Vazquez is great as fellow detective Yunis Sablo. Julianna Nicholson is good as Terry’s wife Glory. We also get supporting work from people like Paddy Considine, Jeremy Bobb, Mare Winningham, Derek Cecil, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans (two names we haven’t seen on this blog in quite a while). And I think they did a great job in creating an eerie and chilling score that perfectly encapsulates the dark and creepy vibe that the rest of the creative team were going for. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout the show, and they work well enough in their respective scenes.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, “The Outsider” was developed for HBO by Richard Price, with writing by him and a bunch of other cool people (including my favorite author, Dennis Lehane), and directing by a few other cool people (including Jason Bateman and Karyn Kusama). And this is where the show is at its best. The craft is fucking immaculate. The slow burn of the story is very much part of the directing too, and I like that, as it gives the show this cold and almost otherworldly vibe that constantly kept me on my edge to some degree. And the cinematography, split over the ten episodes between Kevin McKnight, Zak Mulligan, Rasmus Heise, and Igor Martinovic… it’s stunning. Each shot is meticulously planned, making for quite an engaging visual experience.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #192 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it does drag a little in parts, “The Outsider” is still a damn good show that I highly recommend. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Outsider ” is a 9/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “The Outsider” is now completed.

I need to read more Stephen King.

Movie Review: Coming Home (2014)

Sometimes life is complicated.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Coming Home”.

Set during and after China’s cultural revolution, the story follows Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) and Feng Wanyu (Gong Li), a devoted loving couple who get separated when Lu Yanshi gets arrested and thrown into a labor camp. But when he returns years later, his beloved does not recognize him. So we follow the two as they deal with this situation. What we have here is a melodrama that could feel pandering and very dull in lesser hands, but thanks to a well constructed script in tandem with a confident and talented director, it manages to become quite a powerful tale that managed to rip out my fucking heart more than once. But it’s not just an emotional family drama, as it’s also a sociopolitical critique, which gave me an interesting look into a historical period I didn’t really know about. Blending all these elements makes for a really compelling story that has gained a spot in my heart.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall simply fascinating to follow. Gong Li plays Feng Wanyu, the main lady in our story. She’s a bit split at first, because she wants to love her man, but also don’t want to be arrested for being associated with him due to the political climate of the era. And what we learn about her throughout the movie is quite interesting, especially when put contrasted against the other characters. And Gong Li is fantastic in the role. Next we have Chen Daoming as Lu Yanshi, the man sent away who later comes home (there’s your title reference, whoop-de-doo). He has a fantastic arc in this movie that is utterly compelling, and Chen Daoming is fantastic in the role. We also get Zhang Huiwen as the daughter of our two mains, who has an interesting dynamic with the two, with Zhang Huiwen giving a really good performance. So yeah, this is quite well acted.

The score for “Coming Home” was composed by Chen Qigang, who I think did a really good job with it. It’s not used too much throughout the movie, but when it shows up, it’s quite emotionally effective. It’s heavily based in strings like violins (and a little bit of cello), with the occasional bit of piano for good measure. And it makes for a sound that is as heartbreaking as the story.

Based on “The Criminal Lu Yanshi” by Yan Geling, the movie was directed by Zhang Yimou. And while I can’t say anything how this fares compared to the book, I’d still like to say that Zhang Yimou did an excellent job in the craft here. Based on the little I’ve seen from him before (namely “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers”), he’s a very visual director. This movie isn’t without dialogue, but it often relies more on the subtle emotions of individual scenes rather than just blatantly expositing what the hell is going on in the characters’ skulls. What helps bring this to life even more is the cinematography by Zhao Xiaoding, which is absolutely beautiful, and helps sell the vibe of the movie incredibly well.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

While the slow and deliberate pace of “Coming Home” might scare away some people, I found the movie to be a heartbreaking and engrossing drama. It has a really good plot, good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and terrific directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Coming Home” is a 9,64/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Coming Home” is now completed.

Since we’re talking about Zhang Yimou, let’s put some pressure on distributors. I’ve been waiting for his latest movie, “Shadow” to come out here for quite a while. Where is it, yo? Gimme.

Series Review: A Christmas Carol (2019)

I guess we gotta cover something christmas-related since the holidays are upon us. And lucky for me, we just got a new christmas mini-series to talk about. Yay.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) is an anti-social, greedy businessman who’s made his success on the misery of others for years. But one night right before christmas day, three spirits come to visit him to try to make him realize the fault of his ways. Everybody knows the setup for this story, question with each adaptation tends to instead come down to execution. And the execution in this series is not great. It’s a really dark, bleak, and edgy take on the classic story that is honestly stretched way too long. Sure, three episodes don’t sound like much. But when each episode is just under 60 minutes long and tries to then stretch a 110 page book out to that runtime, it just feels like it drags its ass. Plus, while the darker take sounds interesting on paper, it just doesn’t work, often taking me out of it. Even the supposedly heartwarming bits leave me feeling cold. The story’s just off for me.

The characters in this you know the basic dynamics of. But they also get given a somewhat darker edge to them that just makes things feel a little off at times. Guy Pearce of course plays the ultimate douchebag that is Ebenezer Scrooge. Anti-social, greedy, douchey… he’s just the worst. And Pearce is great in the role. You get Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, and he’s of course great. Joe Alwyn does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit. Lenny Rush who plays Tiny Tim does a really good job. Andy Serkis as the ghost of christmas past rides the line between intimidating and hammy wonderfully. Really, all actors here brought their A-game, even if the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The score for the series was composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran. It was okay. Nothing too memorable, nothing that ruined the series, but also didn’t improve it. It’s just kinda there. Moving on.

Based on the classic book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was brought to us by Steven Knight, with Nick Murphy serving as director. And while the show felt a bit lackluster in the story and character departments, it excels in the production parts. The sets are immaculate, the costumes neat, and the cinematography by Si Bell was gorgeous. You can tell that so much love and care was put into how the world was crafted.

This show hasn’t been too well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Despite having some things strewn throughout, 2019’s “A Christmas Carol” is ultimately not a great adaptation. The story isn’t very good, the characters are meh, the performances are great, the music is meh, and the directing, cinematography, and sets are great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Christmas Carol” is a 4,65/10. So despite some good stuff, I’d still recommend skipping it.

My review of “A Christmas Carol” is now completed.

If someone disagrees with me, they better use “humbug”.

Series Review: His Dark Materials – Season 1 (2019)

Adapting books is difficult. There’s a risk of alienating old fans if you fuck it up, and there’s a chance of alienating new ones if you just adapt word for word, with no regard for the viewing experience. We’ve covered some good ones, and some bad ones on the blog before… so let’s see where this falls into the spectrum

Ladies and gentlemen… “His Dark Materials” season 1.

Set in an alternate universe England, the story follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a girl looking to find a way to get out of her boring scholastic existence and into some adventure. Well she soon finds her wish coming true when she gets dragged into a big, magical adventure through this mysterious, alternate world. I really enjoyed following the story here. It’s a fresh take on the familiar “child hero” fantasy formula. And unlike so many other such adaptations it manages to balance a generally family friendly approach with a lot of darker moments that dare to challenge younger viewers a bit. It reminds me of the “Harry Potter” movies a bit in that sense. There’s also enough interesting twists in the story to keep me on my toes. The pacing does feel like it slightly drags at times due to how dense with content each episode is, but generally it never full on breaks the show for me. It’s still a really engaging and entertaining story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and overall just interesting. Dafne Keen plays Lyra, our protagonist. She’s clever, crafty, adventurous, and just a really entertaining protagonist that I loved following throughout. And Keen is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Ruth Wilson, Kit Connor, Amir Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariyon Bakare, James Cosmo, and James McAvoy, among many others. And they all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Lorne Balfe, and it is absolutely fantastic. From the beyond catchy main theme, to many of the quieter pieces, to some of the bigger tracks, it is all fantastic. What I also like is that as we switch between a few different settings within the show, Balfe actually plays around a bit with his instrumentation, not only relying on the typical orchestral stuff. So yeah, this show has some great music.

Based on the beloved novels by Philip Pullman, “His Dark Materials” is a co-production between BBC and HBO, written by Jack Thorne, and directed by a bunch of cool people. And the craft here is seriously fantastic. The direction manages to capture the sweeping nature of the epic fantasy story it sets up, while still staying intimate with the characters, bringing us further into the world in a wonderful way. And this show is also proof why HBO should be allowed to help out with the financing of a show, because in terms of sets, effects, props, puppetry, and all such production values, this is one of the most well crafted and expensive-looking shows I have ever witnessed. It is stunning what they’ve made here.

This season/show has generally been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

It’s of course not flawless, but I still kinda loved season of “His Dark Materials”. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing, cinematography, and effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “His Dark Materials” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “His Dark Materials” season 1 is now completed.

I’ve had a weird void in my life since the “Harry Potter movies ended. And this show has kinda filled it for the past two months.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 10)

Can you imagine that after this post, there’s only two more? It’s a little surreal. You get into the groove of doing a daily series like this, and then it’s about to end. But before that happens, we still have some shit to talk about. So let’s do it.

So what’s on the menu today? Well, I’m about to get to it, relax, you impatient person. Based on a 1997 novel by Neil Gaiman, “Stardust” is a 2007 fantasy adventure directed and co-written by Matthew Vaughn. It tells the tale of Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox), a young man infatuated with a woman living in the same town as him. One day he agrees to fetch a fallen star for her, in exchange for her hand in marriage. And this leads Tristan on a big, magical journey involving a conniving prince (Mark Strong), an evil witch (Michelle Pfeiffer), a pirate (Robert De Niro) and a woman who may or may not be a literal fucking star (Claire Danes). So what’s my holiday connection for this one then?

Well, compared to some of my previous ones, this is a bit more simple. No, there’s no scene involving christmas. And no, it’s not even the family squabbling between the three princes. No, it’s less contrived than that. Christmas is a holiday that’s supposed to bring joy to people, be it through presents, food, or good company. And “Stardust” is a very joyous movie, it’s a simple and fun swashbuckling adventure with a fantasy twist. And both of the times I’ve seen this movie, it has brought me great joy. It has put a gigantic dumb smile on my face. And since christmas should bring joy, then “Stardust” is clearly something one could easily slot into the holiday hangouts. Plus, that song from Take That playing during the end credits is fantastic.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Look, I loved doing the Month of Spooks. But god damn, have I missed being able to talk about other kinds of movies. So let’s talk about a children’s film.

Ladies and gentlemen… “How to Train Your Dragon”.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the son of a great dragon-slaying viking (Gerard Butler), yet he himself is expected to reach his father’s legacy. And one day when he meets an injured dragon, he soon learns that these beasts might not just be bloodthirsty monsters. So now we have our children’s fantasy adventure story. And by Odin’s beard, this story is great. Yeah, sure, we’ve seen similar premises done before. But the care they put into how their storytelling is presented here is quite astonishing. The story here is told in a really mature way that doesn’t treat its audience like absolute idiots, like so many kid’s movies do. And by the end I was emotionally invested in the story, thanks to the clever and nuanced storytelling.

The characters in this are colorful, layered (for the most part), unique, and really interesting. First we have Hiccup, son of a great viking, but more of a scrawny wimp himself. He’s a smart young dude, relying on wits to get him through shit rather than actual force. And he has an interesting and fun arc in this movie that I really enjoyed following. And I think Jay Baruchel did a great job voicing the character. We then have Gerard Butler as his burly dad, and he’s great. You get America Ferrera as Astrid, a local girl that Hiccup may have a bit of a crush on, and she’s great in the role. You get Craig Ferguson as another viking/comic relief, and he’s great. And in other supporting roles you have people like Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller, and more, and they all do a great job. Really, it’s a top notch cast.

The score for the movie was composed by John Powell, and it was absolutely wonderful. Big and epic, but also small and intimate. Epic and exciting, but also subtle and emotionally resonant. It manages to capture every emotion one would want in a movie like this.

Based on a novel by Cressida Cowell, “How to Train Your Dragon” was written by William Davies, Dean DeBlois, and Chris Sanders, with DeBlois and Sanders handling direction. And just like the story and characters before it, the craft on display here is marvelous. Everything in the direction is carefully considered, not a single frame is pure filler, everything exists either do develop a character or to add nuance to the story. Which leads us to the animation, which is absolutely spectacular. It’s highly detailed, and makes for some absolutely gorgeous images, especially during the action scenes, which are some of the best I’ve ever seen in an animated feature. The final set piece alone is one of the best I’ve seen in relatively recent movies. And with this being an animated kid’s film, there’s of course plenty of humor throughout… and it’s funny, I laugh. Slapstick, snappy comebacks, it’s all there, and it’s funny.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10 and is ranked #189 on the “top 250” list. It was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best animated feature and Best original score.

“How to Train Your Dragon” is one of the best animated films I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic directing/animation, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Aye*. My final score for “How to Train Your Dragon” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “How to Train Your Dragon” is now completed.

I can now see what all the fuss was about.