12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 7)

Only five days until this little series is over. Which also means only five days until christmas… it’s celebrated on the 24th here in Sweden, don’t argue with me. Anyhow, shall we get on with today’s holiday film?

So today we’re talking about “Arthur Christmas”, a 2011 animated holiday film from Aardman animation. Except you’d be forgiven for not realizing it was Aardman, because this doesn’t use their traditional claymation style. Anyhow, “Arthur Christmas” is about Arthur (James McAvoy), the clumsy son of the current Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent). However, when Santa misses one present, Arthur teams up with his grandfather (Bill Nighy) to deliver it, despite being told that it’s a futile quest. What we get is a charming little fantasy adventure with themes of legacy and overcoming your fears and all those other familiar things we’ve seen in family holiday films. But the execution here is really good, giving us a fast-paced and generally well-written story that I had fun with. It’s also very funny, especially whenever grandsanta (the grandfather) is on screen. He is a goofy, hammy, and a little crazy old man that serves as a comic relief, and does so really well. And with Bill Nighy hamming it up with his vocal performance, you get some absolute fucking gold from grandsanta. The rest of the cast is great too, with people like James McAvoy, Imelda Staunton, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and many other awesome people filling out the cast list.
I guess I should also briefly touch on what I said at the start. This is an Aardman film, except it doesn’t look like it. “Arthur Christmas” is completely CGI, with hints of the typical Aardman visual style. And while I am slightly sad about that, I’m not complaining. The movie still looks good, it’s a very well animated movie, filled with plenty of nice colors and movements.
But yeah, “Arthur Christmas” is a charming and funny little holiday adventure. I’d recommend sticking it on if you got 90 minutes to kill and want something lighthearted.

On the seventh day of christmas, Markus spent no money
Lucky for him, he could still watch Bill Nighy be funny

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 3 (2020)

Took me a bit longer to get around to this than I originally wanted. But now we’re finally here. So let’s talk about this show for a bit. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for season 2… so you have been warned.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 3!

A few months have passed since Dracula’s demise, and everyone’s kind of gone their separate ways. The peace isn’t kept for long however, as the various characters all run into their own share of problems. Trying to break down the narrative of this season in a well-written and concise way without getting into too many spoilers is difficult, as there are about as many threads as a season of “Game of Thrones”. But I’ll do my best. First off we have Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) who find themselves visiting a mysterious village that seemingly holds more secrets than they at first let on. Then you have Alucard (James Callis) adjusting to the solitude of living in Dracula’s castle. Then there’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her fellow vampires scheming to take over the world. And then there’s Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), building his army of night creatures and traveling across the world. But then there’s also the mysterious newcomer Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his schemes. Like I said, there’s a lot, and I didn’t even touch on all of them, either due to spoilers or fear of overextending this section. But believe me when I say that the ten episodes of this season cover A LOT of shit. But despite covering so much, it never gets confusing. This doesn’t mean that all aspects get treated with an equal amount of care and devotion, which at times can make this feel like a little bit of a middle chapter, but I do still find the narrative very engrossing. You get this epic fantasy tale, which also mixes in clever mystery, some gruesomely dark horror, a lot of heart and humor, and even a bit of enjoyable human drama. It’s great stuff, yo.

The characters in this, both old and new are colorful, flawed, layered, fascinating, and highly entertaining. The older ones get a little development, and newer ones do too. All of them are highly interesting and I loved seeing them. And the voice cast is fucking phenomenal, featuring such talented folks as Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Jaime Murray, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Theo James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jason Isaacs, Navid Negahban, Ivana Milisevic, Rila Fukushima, Toro Uchikado, Bill god damn Nighy, and more.

As with the previous two seasons, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris. And he absolutely knocked it out of the god damn park. He manages to cover so much ground with the various tracks in the show. From big bombastic brass, to more subtle strings, to even a bit of really intense synth, the dude did a fantastic job.

All episodes of “Castlevania” season 3 were written by Warren Ellis, with direction being handled by brother Sam and Adam Deats. And not that previous seasons were slouches in the animation department, but fuckin’ hell, the animation this season is the best it’s ever been. In quieter moments it looks really good, but it’s really in action scenes where it shines. Really captures the intensity and insanity that would happen from these battles. The final two episodes especially show this, as they have some of the best battles I’ve seen in animation. It’s one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever watched.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 is another winning batch of episodes for “Castlevania”, giving us more of what I’ve come to love from the show. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 3 is a 9.92/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 3 is now completed

This remains the best video game adaptation.

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

We’re at the third part in my series of “Pirates of the Caribbean” reviews! If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two movies, you can easily find them here on my blog. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gents… “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s end”.

(Spoiler alert for the end of the previous movie) After Jack’s (Johnny Depp) death the hands of the Kraken, he has been cursed to be stuck in Davy Jones’ locker. So now we find Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), and Will (Orlando Bloom) going to great lengths to get Jack back, because they apparently need him to take on and hopefully stop the evil Davy Jones (Bill Nighy). And now we have our bloated pirate adventure. I don’t necessarily have any problems with long movies as long as they’re well paced, but this movie meanders a lot to stretch out that runtime (two hours and forty-one minutes!). They’re also going a little overboard (HAHA!) with the overall plot, having so many plot-threads going on to the point where nothing feels truly fleshed out. There are moments in throughout the runtime that show great promise, making me actually go “Now, that’s some good storytelling”, but the overall thing (while pretty fun) feels bloated and messy.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty entertaining, though most of them are kind of uninteresting, mainly because they get no real development. Johnny Depp is still good as Jack Sparrow, though he’s also getting up to a few too many silly antics throughout. What was a charmingly unpredictable character has become kind of a buffoon (more than he already kind of was). He has some good moments throughout, though he feels more like a parody of Captain Jack rather than the original Captain Jack. Elizabeth Swann, she’s still a great character, a tough and clever woman who still shows that she isn’t perfect. And Keira Knightley is once again great in the role, even getting a very emotional scene in the moment that kind of got to me. Will Turner, generic handsome hero-guy who overall is kind of a dull character. The only thing making the character watchable is Orlando Bloom who gives a charismatic enough performance. Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa, once again a fucking blast to watch, he’s amazing. Jack Davenport is once again great as Norrington. Bill Nighy, once again kind of hammy as Davy Jones, but it still works perfectly for the character. Jonathan Pryce, once again great as Elizabeth’s father. Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook came back as Pintel and Ragetti, and they’re both still pretty fun. Kevin McNally, once again good as Gibbs. Stellan Skarsgård is once again great as Bootstrap Bill. Tom Hollander once again was geat as the smug asshole known as Cutler Beckett. Naomie Harris was kind of goofy but still really good as Tia Dalma. Chow Yun-Fat was good as pirate captain Sao Feng. We also got a fun little cameo in here from Ketih Richards, playing captain Teague (and if you don’t know who he is then 3, 2, 1) AKA Captain Jack’s dad. Yeah, it’s a good cast.

The score for the movie was (like in the previous movie) composed by Hans Zimmer and it was really good. Big, epic, fun, and just great. The only part about it that bugs me is one track called “Parlay”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, it’s a good track. What bugs me about it is that is rips off Ennio Morricone’s “Man with a Harmonica”. As I was watching the movie as preparation for this review I sat there thinking “I- is that Man with a Harmonica?”. Seriously, listen to both tracks and compare them. Other than that, the score is great.

As with the previous two movies, “At World’s End” was directed by Gore Verbinski and I think he does a really good job. There are some really great shots in this movie, in particular there is one where the stars are reflected on the water, it’s pure eye candy. And the shots where this movie doesn’t feel like blowing my mind, they look good too. Verbinski really has a good eye for visuals. Speaking of which, I don’t think I ever mentioned in my previous reviews (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that the sets in these look fantastic. Also, the costumes and such… great! And the CGI looks great once again, especially of course on the crew of the Flying Dutchman. And the action scenes, while bloated and kind of dumb, are quite fun.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 45% rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 50/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best makeup and Best visual effects.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is a mess but it’s also pretty fun. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, really good music, really good directing, and great visual effects. My problems with the movie come from the messy plot and a good amount of characters not being the most interesting. Time for my final score. *Yarr*. My final score for “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is a 7,78/10. While quite messy and bloated, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” is now completed.

One more movie in this damn review series left…

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

As promised (thanks to a twitter poll) I am bringing you reviews of all the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies because the new one which can’t choose a fucking title is out. I already reviewed “Curse of the Black Pearl”, so now I am bringing you a review of the second movie. So let’s just get into it!

Me mateys… “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”!

Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) are about to be married, but their wedding gets interrupted by Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) because they helped a certain pirate in the previous movie. To redeem them, Will has to find Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and fetch his compass for Beckett. And while all of this is going on, Jack is getting into even more trouble when he finds out that legendary pirate Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) is coming for him. So we have a lot of moving parts in this, and question is… does it work? For the most part, yeah. While there are a lot of things going on, it only borders on feeling convoluted. Really, the plot for the most part works. I say “for the most part” because about 20 minutes into the movie we get a section that has no real bearing on the rest of the plot. Sure, there’s some fun to be had, but it has no real purpose other than extending the runtime, which actually kind of messes with the overall flow of the movie/plot, and that kind of bugs me. So while I don’t mind most of the plot, there’s that section around 20 minutes in that brings it down for me. Again, kind of fun, but overall has no real purpose.

The characters in this movie are all entertaining and for the most part quite interesting. Johnny Depp is once again really good as Jack Sparrow, even though he’s up to a few too many silly antics in this movie… most of them around the dipping point I mentioned earlier, hmm. But he’s still fun. Keira Knightley is once again great as Elizabeth Swan. What I liked the most about her character is that she got to do a lot more in this movie, and be a more active part of the cast, showing what a clever character she is. Orlando Bloom once again played Will Turner, the generic handsome hero guy. But you know what, I appreciated his character a bit more in this one because they start introducing things relating to his past, giving him some more weight and making him a slightly more interesting character, and Orlando Bloom is really good in the role. Kevin McNally returns as Jack’s right hand man, Gibbs, and he’s once again good in the role. Jack Davenport returned to play James Norrington, this time stripped of his fancy fucking title and wig, and instead becomes a more compelling and also rugged character. Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook return as comic relief characters Pinel & Ragetti, and they’re once again pretty fun. Jonathan Pryce returns as Elizabeth’s dad, and he’s ocne again great. Now, on to the newcomers! Tom Hollander plays Beckett, the man who sent Will to find Jack’s compass, and he’s just the most smug dick I’ve ever seen in a movie, and Hollander does a great job. Bill Nighy plays Davy Jones, the legendary pirate who also happens to be a squidman. And while there’s ham in Nighy’s performance, I feel like that’s the only way the character could be played, it is really the perfect performance for the character. We also got Stellan Skarsgård as Bootstrap Bill, the father of Will Turner, which is what made Will’s character more compelling. And Skarsgård is great in the role. Really, there are a lot of solid performances on display here.

The score for the movie was composed by the great Hans Zimmer and he did a phenomenal job with it. Sure, there’s some of the familiar tunes from the first movie, but he also created some original pieces that were big, loud, epic, dramatic, haunting, and just plain awesome. And I have to mention it, the track called “The Kraken” is the best track to come out of this franchise. That’s right, the middle child gave us the best song, whoop-de-fucking-do.

Like the first one, this movie was directed by Gore Verbinski and I think he once again did a really good job. The shots look great and he just has a good sense of scope. This really is a beautiful movie, and I’m not just saying that because of the tropical locations, this is a good looking movie. And the action, while really fucking ridiculous at times, is really fun. And the CGI in this movie… fantastic. The way that Davy Jones’ crew looks, with all of them being part man, part sea creature, it looks amazing. And when they choose to introduce the Kraken in the movie, holy shit, it’s badass. It’s a big and fancy effect that looks great. Really, from a visual standpoint this is a great movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 54% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best visual effects. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best art direction, Best sound mixing, and Best sound editing.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is a good follow-up to the awesome first movie, even if it isn’t as good. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, really good directing, and great visual effects. My flaw with it is that dipping point around the 20 minute mark. Time for my final score. *Shoots undead monkey*. My final score for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is a 9,23/10. So while it’s flawed, I’d say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” is now completed.

2 down, 2 to go.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

hp7

Guys, we are now at the penultimate part in my series of reviews leading up to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. There’s not much else to say other than… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”!

With Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his death eaters getting more and more control over the wizarding world, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) have to go out into the world (and by world I mean the UK) and find/destroy the Dark Lord’s horcruxes. And while doing this they come across the existence of three incredibly powerful items… the Deathly Hallows (Roll credits). What the studio and filmmakers did with the story, splitting it into two movies, that shit was risky. So how did it turn out with taking the first half(ish) of a book and making it into one movie? Pretty well actually. You can tell that there is some slight stretching being done to make it into a two hour and twenty minute movie, but it still has really good pacing. The plot is interesting and there are some really great moments throughout, both of the exciting and emotional varieties.

The characters in this movie have now really gone into maturity. Daniel Radcliffe, once again being absolutely fantastic as Harry who this time has to go through some of his toughest challenges yet. There are some scenes where he have to show a lot of emotion, and he just fucking nails it. Rupert Grint, knocking it out of the park as Ron. Emma Watson is also great in her role as Hermione. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, great performance. Alan Rickman (rest in peace, you awesome man) was really good as Snape. Imelda Staunton returned for a bit to once again play Dolores Umbridge and she was great as that horrible person. Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, fucking great. All returning actors were great… so let’s talk about any new additions. Domhnall Gleeson played Bill Weasley, Ron’s older brother that we’d never seen before and he was really good in the role. We also got Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood, the father of the magnificently amazing Luna. And he gave a great performance. And we also got Andy Linden as the very shady and slimy Mundungus Fletcher, and he was really good in his role. Yeah, great characters, great acting.

The score for this movie was not composed by the one and only John Williams, nor Patrick Doyle, nor Nicholas Hooper. No, the score here was composed by Alexandre Desplat. And I think he did a terrific job with it. The score is well composed, fun, and exciting. It is really great.

David Yates once again took on the mantle of director and he did a terrific job. The movie is magnificently shot and the scenes are very well handled overall. And the action scenes in the movie, they are some of the best in the series. As an example: There is a very exciting and tense chase through a forest… yeah, it’s awesome. There are also some scenes that really touched me *sniffles* Shut up, I didn’t cry, you cried! Okay that was a lie… I cried. On a lighter note, the visual effects in this movie are fucking fantastic… just wanted to get that out there.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 78% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best visual effects and Best art direction.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” is not perfect, but it’s still a damn good movie. It has a really good plot, great characters, great acting, great music, great directing, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. *ACCIO!* My final score for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” is a 9,83/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” is now completed.

One review left, guys… get fuckin’ hyped!