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: Captain Marvel (2019)

Missed this in the cinema, so catching up now. Also, apologies that I haven’t written any posts in over a week, just haven’t been feeling up to it due to the hot weather. But here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Captain Marvel”.

The story follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a former fighter pilot who gets caught in an intergalactic war between two alien races. So now we have another Marvel origin movie. And I think that’s the one issue I have with it, it’s another Marvel origin. Not saying I disliked it, au contraire, I enjoyed it quite a bit. But it does still follow a lot of those familiar beats we recognize, and rarely does much to stand out. It does have a few enjoyable turns, and the overall narrative is still a fun, superhero adventure with a good message. So yeah, it’s pretty good.

The characters in this are fun, flawed, and interesting. Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a cocky, snide woman who has to go through a journey to become a hero. And I enjoy her arc, which weirdly enough reminds me of Ratchet’s arc in “Ratchet & Clank” (the original game, not the movie), starting out as a little bit of a cocky jerk, but goes through a good personal arc thanks to the events of the movie, and it makes her quite the enjoyable character. And Larson is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Djimon Hounsou, and more, all doing really well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Pinar Toprak, and I think she did a good job with it. Admittedly it does play it a bit safe sometimes with some of the orchestral action pieces, but then there are also tracks that play around with synthesizers to great an interesting, space-ish sound that kinda reminds me of “Mass Effect” (why am I making so many video game comparisons today?). And overall it works for the movie. Then there are some licensed tracks used throughout certain scenes, and some work better than others. There’s one in particular, which is a song I love, but was caught off guard by. So overall the music here is good.

Of course based on the popular Marvel Comics character, “Captain Marvel” was directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and I think they did a really good job with it. They really brought a unique sort of energy to it, which made for some fun and interesting stuff during the action scenes. And I think it goes without saying at this point that the visual effects are fucking great.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 78% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Captain Marvel” isn’t one of the MCU’s best movies, but it’s still one hell of an entertaining movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Captain Marvel” is an 8,78/10. So while not perfect, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Captain Marvel” is now completed.

SHAZA- wait, that’s the wrong one.

Movie Review: The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

We all have to live with what we’ve done. Good, bad, doesn’t matter.

Ladies and gents… “The Place Beyond the Pines”.

A motorcycle stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) has to take drastic measures to be able to financially support his family. We also have a police officer (Bradley Cooper) who wants to move up in his field. And these men will find their stories crossing paths in some manner. Trying to stay vague while not misrepresenting this story is hard. But what I can say is that this is a slowly burning drama with a few action-thriller elements. Don’t expect an exciting cat-and-mouse game between the two leads, because that’s not what it fucking is. It’s a layered story about family, legacy, and fate. It has a structure that might throw a lot of people off. Not because it’s hard to follow, because it’s not, it’s very straight-forward. But it’s not your typical one thread narrative. It’s one thread that connects to another that connects to another, creating a bit of a web that I find quite intriguing.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, realistic, and just overall interesting. And that’s as deep as I’ll go on them, thinking that this is one of those movies where it’s better to know less about the characters when you want to get into it. But I can say that the cast is fantastic, including people like Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Mahershala Ali, Dane DeHaan, Bruce Greenwood, Rose Byrne, and Emory Cohen (among many others). Not a weak link in this cast, everyone’s fantastic.

The score for this movie was composed by Mike Patton. That’s right, Faith No More frontman and voice of The Darkness composed a film score. And I think he actually did a good job. It has a unique, almost ethereal style that I don’t think I’ve really heard in any other movie. It’s so odd, but it works so well for the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Derek Cianfrance, and I think he did a great job with it. His directing is tight, never letting including any unnecessary fluff. All the shots in this have a purpose. What I also appreciate about his direction is that he uses a couple different styles. For most of the movie, the camera is steady. But when the action scenes happen, it goes to a more handheld style á la Paul Greengrass. But these changes in camerawork doesn’t hurt the movie in any way, as they’re both handled expertly.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” isn’t for everybody, but I certainly think it’s a great movie. I think it has a really good plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Place Beyond the Pines” is now completed.

To those who think Ryan Gosling doesn’t emote enough, look at his eyes.

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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Guys… motherfucking “Star Wars”! No clever intro needed!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a young woman who has joined forces with the Rebellion to try to find the plans for the Empire’s new superweapon… the Death Star. That’s it really. Erso together with a ragtag group of rebels trying to get hold of the Death Star plans. And it’s a really good plot. There are a bunch of layers to it all, which I thought was a really cool aspect of it. The biggest flaw of the plot really is that it takes a little while to get going. There is a while in the beginning that sets up the story and characters and it’s a little slow. It’s not bad per se, I was entertained… but it’s worth mentioning to be quite honest. But everything after that setup… great stuff.

The characters in this movie are pretty interesting and they worked well for the movie. Felicity Jones did a really good job as Jyn Erso, playing this tough, determined, young woman that has a bit of a tragic past. Diego Luna was really good as his character, this Rebel captain that becomes part of Jyn’s group. Donnie Yen played Chirrut Îmwe, a blind man with a strong connection to the force. And he was really badass and gave us a really good performance. Wen Jiang plays Baze Malbus, Chirrut’s friend/sidekick and he was also really good. Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook was also really good. Alan Tudyk played K-2SO, a big droid. And he was so great, the character was so cool and so much fun. Ben Mendelsohn was really good as Imperial director Orson Krennic. He was a bit over the top, but in a way that actually really worked for the character. Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen are both really good too. Now, let’s get to the character everybody wonders about… Salacious B. Crumb. Nah, just kidding. It’s actually Darth Vader. Now, this can be considered a mild spoiler, but I also wanna get it out there. He isn’t in the movie very much, this isn’t a Darth Vader movie, don’t go in expecting a Darth Vader movie. He didn’t really have to be in the movie, but I’m still glad he was. His role may have been minor, but god damn… it was pretty awesome. Again, he was used VERY sparingly in the movie, so don’t expect fifty-five-billion Darth Vader scenes.

This is the first “Star Wars” movie not to be scored by the one and only John Williams. What’s interesting is that the movie was originally going to be scored by Alexandre Desplat, but he dropped out for some reason. So Michael Giacchino stepped up to the challenge. And it was really a challenge for him, he only had four weeks to score the movie. But despite that, he did a great job. Sure, there are a lot of familiar motifs throughout, but most of them are worked into some of Giacchino’s new tracks, and it all sounded absolutely terrific. The score was epic and it fit the movie perfectly.

This movie was directed by Gareth Edwards and I think he did a very good job. The movie had a lot of grit and intensity in it’s direction, which is something we haven’t seen really with previous “Star Wars” movies. What I also loved about his directing is the same thing I always praise about his “Godzilla” movie… you get a real sense of scale here. You really get to see a lot of size differences which really helps it all feel a bit more real. An example is (like we’ve seen in the trailer) how during a battle we get to see AT-ATs from the perspective of the people and how these machines look gigantic. Speaking of the battles, Jesus fuckin’ Christ, they are awesome! Again, there’s a lot of grit and intensity in the directing which makes the battles feel so much more grounded and badass. We not only get the ground battles, but also space battles… and those are really awesome too. You can tell that Edwards knew what he was doing when directing this. Which kind of segues into the visual effects, and all of them look amazing. Okay, there was one digital face thingy in the movie that looked a little off, but for the msot part the visual effects are amazingly good. There was also a surprising amount of humor in this movie. Really funny humor at that.

Any scores from review sites can and will change over time since the movie just came out. Anyway, on Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is another great part in this beloved franchise. It’s not the best “Star Wars” movie, but it’s still pretty damn good. It has a really solid plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, terrific direction/action, and amazing visual effects. The only problem was that the slow(ish) opening act. Time for my final score. Ah.. Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars! Gimme those Star Wars.. don’t let them end! My final score for “Rogue One: A Star Wars” story is a 9,59/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is now completed.

What’s this? An actual Star WAR? Holy shit.

Movie Review: Mississippi Grind (2015)

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Here’s a question for you: Do you have or know anyone with an addiction? Not just drugs, but any kind of addiction really. If so, maybe say yes and what that addiction may be. Okay, on to the review.

Guys and gals… “Mississippi Grind”.

Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) got a bit of a dilemma. He is overall down on his luck and he got some financial problems. Then one day he meets young and charismatic poker player Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). So they team up to go on a road trip through the south to try to change Gerry’s luck for the better and get a load of money. But it’s not only a typical “Financial hardships and poker” movie, it is also a drama about addiction (Hence the intro to this post). You see, Gerry has a bit of a gambling addiction and that is a big theme of the movie. And I have to say that I really enjoyed the story of the movie because it kind of showed the consequences of addiction while still making gambling look like fun even though you most likely might lose. I thought the plot/story was great.

The characters in this movie are consistently entertaining and they all have several layers to them. Ben Mendelsohn plays the skilled but still struggling poker player and he is absolutely terrific in the role. I don’t have much to really compare to since I have only seen him in one thing before I saw this, and that thing was “Slow West” (Sidenote: Great movie). And Ryan Reynolds as Curtis… terrific! This is the best I have ever seen from him (Sidenote: I have not seen “Buried” yet). Both actors did a great job, as did all the supporting actors.

While there was no real original score (as far as I know/have noticed) for the movie, there was still a soundtrack. It is very heavily based in southern rock & blues music and I absolutely loved it all. The songs were not only great on their own, but they also fit the tone and style of the movie really well.

This is one of those weird movies that have two directors sharing credit. So if the movie is bad, we got two people to blame. Luckily, the movie is very stylishly directed, but not in a bad way. Sure, it’s not as stylish as “Drive” or anything by Wes Anderson, but it still got a lot of style and uniqueness to it. And it’s interesting to see the different parts of the American south that our “heroes” do their trip through because the southern parts of the U.S. interest me a lot.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“Mississippi Grind” is a pretty damn great movie about gambling addiction. It has a great plot, great acting, a great soundtrack and great directing. Time for my final score. ALL IN! My final score for “Mississipi Grind” is a 9,88/10. It most definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Mississippi Grind” is now completed.

What’s your favorite poker/gambling movie?

Movie Review: Slow West (2015)

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I don’t think there’s a point for me to even do some kind of intro when I review a western, because you guys already know that I am a western fanboy. But in this case I still feel like I should do one to mention how fun it is to see that there are still westerns being released. Sure we have gotten some real stinkers in recent years like “The Lone Ranger” and “Jonah Hex” (I feel sick just mentioning those pieces of shit). But I do still have hope that a western might be good/might entertain me. So let’s see if this one is any good.

Ladies and gents… “Slow West”.

So in this movie we follow young, Scottish man Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who have traveled to America to find his beloved girl named Rose (Caren Pistorius). Of course he doesn’t have the easiest time doing this on his own, but luckily he runs into an outlaw named Silas (Michael Fassbender) who is willing to help Jay find Rose. And from that we get a very unique western with a very well told and entertaining plot. The plot touches a lot on the themes of love, right & wrong and a lot of other things that I didn’t expect from it which is something that makes me appreciate a lot more. I also like how the plot has a slight sense of dark humor to give it a very fun style/mood. In conclusion, I liked the plot a whole lot.

The characters in this movie all evolve pretty well and are consistently entertaining. Kodi Smit-McPhee gives a terrific performance as this young, inexperienced yet determined man. Michael Fassbender is terrific as he always is, playing a rough  and badass outlaw who still has a little bit of a conscience. Caren Pistorius who pops up now and again throughout the movie in flashbacks and such is great as well. And I have to touch on Ben Mendelsohn as an outlaw named Payne who appears in this movie… he’s fucking great. That’s it, I have nothing else to say about that.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel and I think he did a great job with it. I would say that it is very “Wes Anderson-ish” in style. If you have seen some of Wes Anderson’s movies you know what I’m talking about. Sort of quirky and whimsical but still done in a way where it could be used in a serious way. Does that makes senese? No? Well, I still thought it was great and fit the movie very well.

Since this is a western I have to do this thing where I touch on the shooty-bang-bang parts of the movie. And I do think they are great. Sure, they are kind of few and far between, but this is also a pretty short movie, so I’d say that it’s just proportined to the running time. And like I said, when the shootouts happen, they are pretty damn great. SImple, but effective.

This movie was the directorial debut of John Maclean and I think that he did a fantastic job directing the movie. The shots are steady and it is gorgeously shot. Of ocurse I then have to give some cred to cinematographer Robbie Ryan because the cinematography in this movie looks fantastic. And I like how they used actual environments when they filmed and not jsut some generic green screen soundstage. A lot of cred should be given to the crew of this movie.

This movie has been pretty well received by people and critics. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Slow West” is a very traditional western that still does a lot of unique things with it’s story while also having interesting & entertaining characters, great music, great shootouts and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Bang Bang*. My final score for “Slow West” is a 9,87/10. It definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Slow West” is now completed.

In one scene he goes from Michael Fassbender into Michael Fassbendrunk.