Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 1 (1997)

Oh hello there. So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this show. Well, frankly, it’s because I’ve been a fan of it for quite a while, but it’s been years since I actually properly watched it. So my mother and I recently sat ourselves down with the DVD box set and started a rewatch. And that made me think “Hey, maybe I could talk about each season on my blog as we get through them”. So that’s what we’re gonna do for however many months this’ll take. I’ve been looking for a long-term thing to do on this blog (like the Mangoldathon I did in 2017), so this might be a decent one for now. Anyhow, let’s get on with it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1.

After she gets kicked out of her old school, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) moves to a small town called Sunnydale to start over. However, things aren’t just classes, boys, and parties, as the town lies upon an ancient secret called the Hellmouth, which brings all kinds of demonic bullshit to the area. And since Buffy is the Slayer, a young woman chosen to fight off demons, it is up to her, with the help of her new mentor (Anthony Head) and friends (Nichols Brendon, Alyson Hannigan) to deal with any demonic threats terrorizing Sunnydale, including the sinister vampire lord known as the Master (Mark Metcalf). The story here is a weird roller coaster. When it focuses on main stuff regarding Buffy’s development as a Slayer, and the Master’s plan to take over the world, it can be quite interesting, as the creators put their own unique spin on vampire mythology that still honors the traditions set by older adaptations. But then there’s also a fair bit of filler throughout, which is very hit-and-miss. From the really dumb “I, Robot, You, Jane” to the surprisingly high concept “Nightmares”, you can feel that they hadn’t quite found their footing/voice yet. This does not dismiss the entire season as outright bad though, despite its tonal and stylistic inconsistencies. It just means the road is rocky, but is filled with enjoyable and sometimes even compelling highlights (see the aforementioned “Nightmares”). So overall the story stuff here is… fine.

Where the plot may falter at times, the characters make up for it thanks to being interesting and entertaining. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Buffy, the titular teenage vampire slayer. Like every girl her age, she doesn’t want all this responsibility of having to save the world, but is of course begrudgingly drawn into it because it’s the right thing to do, and she’s a good person and all that. And seeing her duty vs. desire sides clash creates some interesting dynamics for her. And Gellar is really good in the role. Nicholas Brendon plays Xander, one of Buffy’s new friends. He’s a bit of a dork, but also knows when to stand up for those that need it. He gets a tiny bit of development this season, but not enough to make him as good as he could be, though he is still an enjoyable presence who I wouldn’t trade for anything. And Brendon is really good in the role. Next we have Alyson Hannigan as Willow, Buffy’s other friend. A shy, slightly timid nerd, she’s the brains of the main trio, but it’s also clear that she has a tougher side to her somewhere deep down. And Hannigan is really good in the role. Anthony Head as Giles, the mentor/Watcher is great, bringing a sort of father figure presence to the group. Charisma Carpenter plays a mean girl at the school, and she kills it in that role. Mark Metcalf is deliciously villainous and campy as the evil Master. And there’s a lot of other supporting characters/actors I could talk about, but I won’t, but they’re all good.

The score for the season was composed by Walter Murphy, and I know the show at this point ran on a ham sandwich budget, but jeez Louise, it sounds bad. Not like “Resident Evil” director’s cut bad, but it’s not great. They have fun ideas for some action/horror tunes throughout, but due to its weird synth-pretending-to-be-orchestra sound, it often falters. But then we also get a few piano-based pieces throughout, and those sound great. So I’m weirdly split on it, because parts sound less than stellar, and others sound really good. Oh, and the main theme by rock band Nerf Herder is pretty good too.

Based on the movie of the same name, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was created for the WB network by Joss Whedon, who also wrote and directed some of the episodes, with some help on other episodes by other cool people. And here’s where I have a lot of praise for the show. It’s pretty well known that season 1 of “Buffy” was running on a ham sandwich budget, which can often break a lot of shows. But the crew really push every penny to its absolute god damn limit. Yes, some of the effects look a bit… not great, but for the most part the crew does wonders with the few means they have of creating monsters, eerie sets, and vampire slaying tools. There’s even some decent shot composition every now and then.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

While it’s a little rocky throughout, season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a solid start to the show. It has an okay plot, really good characters, great performances, meh music, and good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 7,80/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

Nice to have another blog series going.

Quentin Rankantino

Howdy, motherfuckers. Today we’re doing something a little bit differently. Instead of reviewing something, we’re ranking stuff. And by we, I mean me. With the impending release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, I have been rewatching all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. So now that I got that task done, I have decided to rank them, from least favorite, to my top pick. So get your buckets of blood and Samuel L. Jacksons ready as we rank the movies of Quentin Tarantino, in a special post we call… Quentin Rankantino!

Number 9: Death Proof.

Coming in at the bottom is Tarantino’s grindhouse homage, “Death Proof” (fittingly used within the “Grindhouse” double feature). It’s not awful per se, but it’s Tarantula’s weakest movie by a mile. The pacing is wonky, and I don’t exactly find any of the characters particularly interesting. What gives it some points are the action scenes, which are a hard-hitting bit of fun. Also, Kurt fucking Russell… I don’t have much to say there, I just like Kurt Russell.

Number 8: Jackie Brown.

For our number 8 slot we make a huge god damn leap from “not that good” to “that’s really good”. In Toronto’s third movie, based on “Rum Punch” by Elmore Leonard, a stewardess (Pam Grier) gets drawn into a complex crime plot by the ATF. It can feel a bit cluttered at times, affecting the pacing a bit, which is why it finds itself so low on the list. But with that said, thanks to the stellar cast and one hell of a funky soundtrack it still stands out as a damn solid movie in this director’s filmography.

Number 7: Kill Bill Volume 1

Now, I know that Turntable considers “Kill Bill” one movie, but they were released as two, so I rank them as two. Now, I find the story and characterization a bit weak in this one… but it’s still a damn good movie, filled with stylish, batshit insane action and some fun performances.

Number 6: Kill Bill Volume 2

While I’d put both “Assassinate William” movies on the same level in terms of various technicalities, I still do prefer the second one, due to its slower, more character-driven journey. Yes, we do still get some crazy, well handled action, but it’s not quite as much as in the first movie… and that’s okay.

Number 5: The Hateful Eight

Tabernacle’s second western is quite the interesting tale of assholes trying to not kill each other… which is technically how one could describe all his movies to some extent. Hmm. Either way, this 2015 western-drama-thriller may be very slow, but it’s quite the electrifying experience, thanks in large part to the absolutely mesmerizing performances from its core cast. Plus, having a score from maestro Ennio Morricone certainly doesn’t hurt.

Number 4: Pulp Fiction

Oh how many watches am I gonna get shoved up my ass for this placement? That’s right, the fourth place winner is Tacheometer’s sophomore outing, “Pulp Fiction”. Often considered one of the greatest movies ever made (and I can see why), it tells the tale of many assholes and their overlapping stories. And it’s that story that brings it down a bit for me (*”Ironside” siren blares*). It’s fun to watch, but the jumping back and forth, especially between so many stories can make it feel a little, well, jumpy at times, which can every so lightly fuck with the pacing a times. But with the help from an amazing cast, great music, and the ever so fiery dialogue, it manages to still hold up quite well.

Number 3: Django Unchained

A mostly straightforward revenge tale, Tartarology’s “Django Unchained” still manages to entertain across its nearly three hour runtime thanks to a colorful cast, an amazing soundtrack, and some of the most blood-soaked shootouts I have ever fucking seen. It’s a bit of slavery drama mixed with a popcorn bloodbath. What’s not to love?

Number 2: Reservoir Dogs

At the number two slot is where we find Tatterdemalion’s cinematic debut, “Reservoir Dogs”, a heist movie that isn’t really a heist movie. Showing the before and after of a botched diamond robbery, the movie jumps back and forth as we get to know the various characters as they deal with this entire situation. It’s fun, it’s suspenseful, and it’s one of the most impressive debuts I have ever seen.

NUMBER 1: Inglourious Basterds

And we’re finally at the number 1 slot. Numero uno. Top of the pops. My favorite of Tangoreceptor’s movies. “Inglourious Basterds” is a clever piece of historical fiction, showing the stories of various people trying to kill nazis. From a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers, to the British government, to a young woman seeking revenge… everyone is out for nazi blood, and it is one hell of a good time. Dramatic, funny, suspenseful, exciting, it’s everything one could want in a movie from this director. There’s a ton of great stuff within this movie that I don’t have the time (or current willingness) to write about, but all of it comes together wonderfully to make my favorite movie from this director.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite movie from Quantum Turnbuckle? Please tell me, I’d love to hear from y’all.
Have a good one.

The Great Villain Blogathon 2019: Wafner from Overlord

Well hello there, people. Hope you’re doing well. Today I will be going out of my regular review wheelhouse a bit. When it was announced that the lovely ladies of Speakeasy, Silver Screenings, and Shadows & Satin were hosting a blogathon about movie villains, I of course had to sign up. I actually took part in another one of these about two years ago, so I’m happy to join another one! So let’s stop it with the introductions and get into my pick for The Great Villain Blogathon 2019!

Last time I took part in a villainous blogathon, I went back a handful of years and talked about the T-1000 from “Terminator 2”. So this time I went for a more recent thing. And to give you a fair warning: There will be spoilers for the entire movie. So if you haven’t seen this movie and want to remain unspoiled, maybe go and give it a rental, watch it, and then come back.

Meine Damen und Herren… This is Wafner from 2018’s “Overlord”.

“Overlord” is a 2018 world war 2 action-horror film directed by Julius Avery and starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, and Pilou Asbæk. It’s about a group of American soldiers who crash behind enemy lines on the night of D-day to take out a nazi communications tower so that the landing on Normandy beach can happen. But as they make their way further into the compound, they find more than just nazi punks in there. To be exact, they find that the nazis are experimenting on the local population to try to create super zombie soldiers. Simple plot with a fun twist to it. Not revolutionary, but highly enjoyable. So how does Wafner (played by Pilou Asbæk) fit into this? Well, he’s a nazi captain that serves as the primary antagonist of the story. What’s interesting is that it takes about 20 minutes for us to even catch a glimpse of him, and even then it’s shrouded in darkness and at a distance. It’s not until the 33 minute mark that we finally get properly introduced to him, when he invades the private space of a French woman that helps to hide our heroes.

Wafner: “Do you hear zat?”. Chloe: “What?”. Wafner: “Sounds like our movie is failing at ze box office”.

Right in the first minute of his introduction he just gets under my skin. No, not because he’s a nazi, though that is certainly a turn-off. No, there’s just a certain creepiness to him. He’s not the over-the-top villain one might expect (yet), instead going for a more subtle and slimy creepiness, which is just perfectly delivered by Asbæk. And even though he does seem calm and composed, you can still sense that there’s a ruthlessness to him, which makes you not want to mess with him. Even when he’s captured later in the movie by our heroes, he has a way of getting under one’s skin.

Wafner: “Dood, you should totes inject me with zat”. Ford: “No nazi steroids for you”. Wafner: “Oh nein”.

What I like about Wafner is that he’s just a villain. So many movies these days try to give their villains actual depth, maybe even give them some qualities that we can sympathize with. And while I enjoy that to some extent, I prefer that they didn’t try that with Wafner here. He’s just a ruthless, smirking, villainous villain. He wants to create a super zombie army so the nazis can take over the world. As Wafner puts it “A thousand year reich requires a thousand year army”.

Eventually he manages to escape capture through cunning and deception. So he’s not just a ruthless nazi commander, but he’s also intelligent, which makes him an even more dangerous villain. But he doesn’t get away completely scot-free.

Gotta admire it when a guy can crack a smile even though half his fucking face has been blown off.

If he wasn’t dangerous enough already, he injects himself with the experimental super soldier serum, turning him borderline invincible. So you have an angry, ruthless, cunning, and creepy nazi captain that can’t be killed by conventional means. Makes for quite an intense finale. All boosted by Pilou Asbæk’s over-the-top yet excellent performance.

When asked what he likes to do during his spare time, an unusually reserved Wafner told us about his recent infatuation with making stop-motion films using the corpses of his enemies.

So that was a bit about Wafner from Overlord. He’s not particularly deep, but he’s quite intimidating and works incredibly well as a primary antagonist for this crazy genre hybrid. He’s an old school villain for the sake of having an old school villain, and I god damn salute that.
Once again I have to give a huge thanks to Speakeasy, Silver Screenings, and Shadows & Satin for letting me take part in this. I had fun. Plus, it gave me an excuse to rewatch one of my favorite movies of last year.
Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 9)

Holy shit, we are already three quarters through this dumb thing. Man, time flies like a hummingbird on cocaine. Anyway, let’s get into this thing.

So what’s the movie today? Is it another cute and family-friendly thing? More made-for-tv schlock? Nope. Today we’re going quite far from the glitzy shit of the Hallmawk channel or the kid-friendly stuff of the Muppets. Today we are talking about a foul-mouthed, violent, and foreign movie. This is “Jackpot”, a 2011 Norwegian crime-comedy-thriller written by famed author Jo Nesbø and follows Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) who wakes up, covered in blood and with a shotgun in his hand… in a strip club. And we follow him as he talks to a cop about everything that led up to this. So how’s this connected to christmas? It’s set around the holidays, that’s it. Anyway, do I think this is a good movie? Kind of. With this I really sense that Nesbø tried to emulate Quentin Tarantino a bit. And while I like Tarantino, I don’t think it was the right approach for this. Nesbø is a brilliant writer, but I think that’s more when he goes for his own style rather than trying to ape someone else. That’s not to say that this is bad, because it’s not. The actors are great, the directing is pretty solid, and there’s some genuinely funny and even kinda tense moments. It’s one of those that I kinda recommend you putting on during a rainy Sunday afternoon, when you got not much else to do. “Jackpot” is a decent crime caper.

On the ninth day of christmas, Markus gives to you, something with blood, booze, and some money too. 

Movie Review: Overlord (2018)

*Ron Perlman voice activated* War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Overlord”.

Set during world war 2, we follow a group of American soldiers as they land behind enemy lines in France to take out a nazi transmitter. But as they delve further into the complex, they discover some horrifying things that are unlike anything they have ever seen before. So now we have our historical action-horror plot. And I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Admittedly it’s a very predictable and straightforward plot that doesn’t do much to increase in depth, but that is also what I like about it. Don’t get me wrong, complex plots with twists and turns are great, but there’s something oddly refreshing about the simplicity of “Overlord”. It does slow down at a couple points to build on the characters, but that is just a plus for this movie as it gives the audience some room to breathe in between all the intense war stuff. So yeah, the plot is simple and predictable, but it’s also tense, badass, engaging, and just fun.

The characters in this are simple, but they’re also interesting and entertaining. First up we have Jovan Adepo as Boyce, who more or less is the rookie in the team.  A good kid who sees the horrors of WW2 and has to step up. But they play around with that pretty well here. And Adepo is great in the role. Next we have Wyatt Russell as Ford, the badass Corporal who takes no shit and is a little stern. Russell is great in the role. Next we have Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe, a French woman that our squad of heroes meet. She’s tough, she’s resourceful, and she’s willing to help the Americans stop ze nazis. And Ollivier is really good in the role. And then we have Pilou Asbæk in the role of evil nazi captain. I know his character has a name, but that doesn’t matter because evil nazi captain is all you need to know. A clear villain, no grey areas here. And Asbæk is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Bokeem Woodbine, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel, and it was really good. It uses a lot of heavy percussion to simulate the intensity of wartime, while also implementing some intense brass stings, trodding bass, some tense string work, and it all comes together to create some music that really helps the suspense and intensity of the movie go above and beyond.

The movie was directed by Julius Avery, and I think he did a great job with it. He captures the uncertainty and suspense of being within this situation. You’d almost think this would be a straight up intense shoot-em-up all the way through, but there’s a surprising amount of sneaking around as well, and I think that adds a lot of tension to the movie. That’s not to discredit the shootouts, because when the bullets start flying, it is some of the most intense and brutal action I’ve seen in quite a while. The violence here will please fans of war films, as well as fans of gory horror stuff. There are also a couple jumpscares here, and I think they work well enough. They may be predictable, but they’re not false, and they did still get to me. Good shit.

This movie very recently came out, but so far it’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“Overlord” isn’t the most original movie, but it’s still one hell of a ride that I liked a lot. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Overlord” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Overlord” is now completed.

Came because of AC/DC, stayed for the HOLY SHIT, THAT’S BRUTAL.

Movie Review: Hellraiser (1987)

And as we reach the end of October, we come to the penultimate Month of Spooks review. Kinda bittersweet as I love doing these reviews, but I’m also looking forward to talking about non-horror stuff again. But it’s not completely over yet.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hellraiser”.

After moving into a new house, Julia (Clare Higgins) discovers the recently reanimated corpse of her former lover (Sean Chapman), who urges her to bring him people to feast on so he can regain his strength. So now we have our horror plot. And I actually enjoyed it. The setup itself is pretty fun, and the way they develop on it with the help of some other supernatural things that are in the movie really adds to it. Mix it all together and we get an enjoyable horror plot that actually subverts multiple conventions of the genre.

The characters in this are… fine. I didn’t find myself too invested in their struggles and such, except for maybe one. I never thought any of them were necessarily bad, just not very compelling. First up we have Clare Higgins as Julia, the unfaithful wife who kind of makes the plot happen. Her motivations are feel kinda muddled, and I never really found myself interested in her as a character. But I can say that Higgins was pretty good in the role. Next is Andrew Robinson as Larry, Julia’s husband who is in the dark about the supernatural stuff throughout the movie. He’s a good guy who just wants to live a good life. He can come off as kind of dull, but he’s not a bad character. And Robinson is fine in the role. Next we have Ashley Laurence as Kirsty, Larry’s daughter. Remember when I said there was like only one character I actually cared about? Yeah, it’s her, she is the most compelling one for me. And Laurence is really good in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Sean Chapman, Robert Hines, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young, and it was fantastic. As bombastic as it was subtle, it perfectly manages to instill fear while also having a surprising amount of emotion behind it. The score here manages to elevate the movie quite a bit. Good stuff.

Based on a novella by Clive Barker, this movie was written and directed by… Clive Barker, I’ll be damned. And I have to say, I think he did a great job here. He shows here that he kinda knows what he was doing behind the camera. He shows a surprising amount of restraint here and manages to create a lot of suspense throughout. And when I say that he shows restraint it doesn’t mean that he skimps out on the gory details, because that stuff is here and it is gore-ious (HA!). But what I mean is that a lot of people directing horror could make their directing loud, abrasive, and lacking in subtlety. But Barker actually gives the viewer’s a lot of breathing room here which adds to the suspense and creepiness of the movie. Now, back to the blood and gore and effects. Holy shit, this is some disgustingly beautiful stuff. The visual effects are excellent, once again showing that practical effects can’t be beaten. They are detailed, bloody, and are just overall fantastic.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. Roger Ebert gave it 0,5/4 stars (ouch). And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

While flawed, I still think “Hellraiser” is a really solid horror flick. It has a really good plot, meh characters, good performances, fantastic music, and great directing/visual effects. And as previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by most of the characters not being that compelling to me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hellraiser” is an 8,56/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Hellraiser” is now completed.

Almost at the finish line.

Movie Review: The Stakelander (2016)

Once upon a time I reviewed a movie called “Stake Land”. It was very good. Now for the Month of Spooks, I am reviewing its sequel. So let’s do it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Stakelander”.

The world has gone to shit. After his life in New Eden is destroys by the vampire brotherhood known as… The Brotherhood, Martin (Connor Paolo) must travel into the wasteland to try to find his old mentor and friend Mister (Nick Damici). So now we have our story. And I really enjoyed it. Sure, it lacks a lot of the little subtleties that made the first movie’s plot so great, but it’s still an enjoyable enough plot that works in its own right. Whereas the first one was a slowly burning road drama, this is more of a fast-paced action-horror thing. I do still prefer the first movie’s plot, but this is still an enjoyable romp.

The characters in this are interesting and entertaining. Connor Paolo reprises his role as Martin, the young man taken in by Mister in the first movie. He’s older, much more proficient at killing vampires, a hardened survivor. But he still has a warm heart beating behind that chest of his, giving some nice layers to the gruff boy. And Paolo is really good in the role. Next up we have Nick Damici reprising his role as Mister. How do we describe his character… had the movie come out in the 70s, Charles Bronson would’ve played him. He’s an older badass who is able to kick a lot of ass. But he does also have a soft side in there, he just doesn’t reveal it to anyone. And Damici is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Laura Abramsen, A.C. Peterson, Steven Williams, Kristina Hughes, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Redding Hunter (that is such a good name), and I think he did a good job with it. Of course there are a lot of familiar horror stings there, but there’s also a good chunk of the music that has a very western-y vibe, which I think really works for the whole “wandering through the wasteland” thing this movie is going for. And it all comes together to create a really good score.

Unlike the first movie, “The Stakelander” was not directed by Jim Mickle (though Nick Damici stayed on as writer). Instead this was directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, and I think they brought a somewhat distinct style to it that I liked. Where the first movie created a very broody atmosphere for its slow character drama, this has a more light atmosphere that complements the generally faster pace. But they still do bring in the creeps from time to time, thanks to solid direction and some vicious fuckin’ vamps. And the cinematography by Matt Mitchell was really good, giving us some really good looking shots. Some decently satisfying action here too.

This movie doesn’t have much of an existence on the sites I usually use, so this’ll be brief. But I can say that on imdb.com it has a score of 5,3/10.

While it lacks a lot of the subtlety and layers that made the first one great, “The Stakelander” is still a really solid sequel. It has a good plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Stakelander” is an 8,76/10. So while not perfect, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Stakelander” is now completed.

Not gonna lie, my expectations for this were quite low, but I am glad to have been proven wrong by it.

Series Review: Altered Carbon – Season 1 (2018)

So it’s a new sci-fi series? From Netflix? Sign me up!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Altered Carbon” season 1.

In the future people have found a way to sort of cheat death by transferring their consciousness from one body to another. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is a man who gets to experience this as he’s brought back to life in a new body. And soon he’s hired to solve the murder of a very wealthy businessman (James Purefoy). And as Kovacs begins investigating this murder he soon notices just how deep and twisty this whole thing gets. So now we have our cyberpunk story. And is it any good? Yeah, it really is. Not only is it a complex whodunnit with plenty of twists and turns, but it’s also a journey of identity and life. I mean, with people more or less being able to cheat death, it’s got to lead to some interesting questions. And these explorations are quite interesting, and meshes quite well with this cerebral murder mystery. The only flaw I have with it is that it can get a little bit meander-y at times. For the most part it has a good focus on what the hell it’s doing, but there are times where the pacing meandered a bit too much. Luckily these meander-y bits aren’t too frequent, so it doesn’t kill it to much for me. So overall this is a really solid plot.

The characters here are layered, flawed, damaged, and just overall quite interesting. Joel Kinnaman plays Takeshi Kovacs, the cool guy at the center of this story. We learn quite a lot about Kovacs and his backstory throughout the season, and we see him get some decent development as it moves forward. And Kinnaman is great in the role. Martha Higareda plays Kristin Ortega, a cop that Kovacs runs into throughout the season. She’s a tough, take-no-nonsense kind of character that still shows a fair bit of vulnerability throughout, adding to her layers. And Higareda is really good in the role. Then we have James Purefoy as Laurens Bancroft, the very wealthy businessman whose murder Kovacs has to solve. And I hear you asking “How could Purefoy get any acting/character development if he’s dead?”. Simple: His consciousness got put in a new body. He is the one that hired Kovacs to solve his murder. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s something you learn very early in the first episode. Either way, his character is slightly weird and seems a bit shady and is just an interesting addition to the cast. And Purefoy is good in the role. Then we have Ato Essandoh as Vernon Elliot, a man that Kovacs runs into throughout the plot (and kind of starts working with). He’s damaged and has some things in his past that clearly trouble him, but he isn’t some broody and overly serious character, he feels fairly realistic. And Essandoh is great in the role. And the final one I want to go slightly in-depth with is Chris Conner as Poe. Poe is the manager of the hotel that Kovacs stays at throughout the season. While he is intended as a slightly less serious character than the others (often having a lot of funny moments), he still works well dramatically speaking. And Conner is really good in the role. As for the other characters in the show, they are interesting in some way, but I don’t wanna ruin it for you. But I can say that we get some really good supporting work from people like Kristin Lehman, Hiro Kanagawa, Antonio Marziale, Tamara Taylor, Adam Busch, Matt Frewer, Cliff Chamberlain, Will Yun Lee, and many more.

The score for “Altered Carbon” was composed by Jeff Russo, the man who also did the music for “Fargo” and “Legion” (two awesome shows). And once again he has killed it with the music. Sure, it clearly takes inspiration from “Blade Runner” (which we’ll get back to in a bit), but it still does enough differently to feel fresh. It’s tense, emotional, and just overall great. There are also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout the season and they work quite well within their scenes, improving said scenes quite a bit. So yeah… this show has good music.

Based on a novel by Richard K. Morgan, this show was created by Laeta Kalogridis and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And in terms of direction this show is excellent. The direction here is stylish and sweeping, but still tight and tense. And now we get to the bit that I alluded to before… visually speaking this has a lot of similarities to “Blade Runner”. At least when we see the skyline or follow the characters on the streets, it all looks a lot like Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. That said, I’m not bothered by it since that seems to be the general aesthetic of cyberpunk fiction. And I just generally like it… it shows that a lot of time and love went into crafting this show. That and an obvious fuckload of money. You can really tell that Netflix went balls out with the budget, wanting to make this as extravagant as possible. The props, sets, and CGI are all absolutely fantastic. My breath was taken away at a lot of the visuals here. And the action scenes in this are all really good. They’re tense, badass, and really well choreographed. From shootouts, to melee combat, to a chase or two… the action here is really good. Oh, and violent… really violent… many gallons of blood. So if you’re squeamish you might have have a hard time watching this. There’s also a lot of nudity. So if you hate naked people, don’t watch this. But yeah, this show has some good production value.

The show just came out, but it has already pretty good reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10.

“Altered Carbon” isn’t for everyone, but I sure as shit liked it. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography/action/effects. Sure, the pace meanders a little bit at times, but it’s not too bad. Time for my final score. *Pew*. My final score for “Altered Carbon” season 1 is a 9,52/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Altered Carbon” season 1 is now completed.

“Blade Runner? Never heard of it!”

Movie Review: Shot Caller (2017)

Don’t commit crimes, kids. It’s bad for you.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Shot Caller”.

Jacob (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) used to be a successful businessman, but that started changing after getting thrown in jail because of a DUI. And he soon starts getting involved with the gangs inside of the prison, turning him from a successful business person and loving father, to a stoic and ruthless gangster. And I thought the plot here was pretty good. It’s told in a semi-non-linear way, in that it jumps between past (ending up in jail) and present (out of jail) and shows how Jacob changes over that time, and I thought that was quite interesting. And overall there is some decent tension throughout the plot, as well as some pretty good dramatic moments spread throughout. My problem with it is that I felt like the pacing dragged at times. I’m fine with a movie that can move at a somewhat slower pace, but this at times just decided to drag it’s feet rather than move at a decently steady pace. It’s not a constant ass-drag, but it is noticeable in parts. So overall the plot here is pretty good.

The characters here are pretty good. Some more interesting than others. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays the main character Jacob (or Money as he’ll be known as later). Seeing his progression from good-natured businessman and loving father to this cold and ruthless gangster is endlessly fascinating. And you can tell that even when he’s become this cold gangster, he’s a bit conflicted, like there’s still good in him. And Coster-Waldau is great in the role. Then we have Jon Bernthal as a guy called Shotgun, one of the gang members that Jacob gets to know. As the movie goes on we get to know some interesting things about him that makes him feel a bit deeper than a lot of other ones in the movie. And Bernthal is great here. Then we get Emory Cohen as Howie, a young man who’s part of Jacob’s gang. And he gets some interesting development here. And Cohen is really good in the role. Then you get some really solid supporting performances from people like Omari Hardwick, Evan Jones, Benjamin Bratt, Lake Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Holt McCallany, and many more. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Antonio Pinto and I have mixed feelings about it. There are some great tracks here that are very well composed and work to elevate the scenes that they’re used in. But then there are some tracks that aren’t particularly well composed and feel distractingly out of place in certain moments. So at best I guess the score could be summarized as okay.

This movie was written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh and I think he did a pretty good (there’s that phrase again) job with it. Scenes have a decent flow and have a decent amount of tension to them. And while this isn’t an action movie, when the shit does hit the fan it is badass, exciting, and violent as fuck. And the cinematography from Dana Gonzales looks good.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Shot Caller” has flaws, but it’s still a good movie. It has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, okay music, and good directing/cinematography. My flaws are that the pacing drags at times, and some of the music is kind of distracting in how it doesn’t always work. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shot Caller” is an 8,51/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Shot Caller” is now completed.

They might as well rename it to “Cops, Crooks, and Facial Hair”.

Series Review: The Punisher – Season 1 (2017)

I don’t really think I need to make an introduction for this. I’ve talked about this show several times on this blog before, every time reminding you of my excitement for the show. So let’s just get into the review and see if this show is any good.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is season 1 of… “The Punisher”!

After he has seemingly killed the people responsible for the death of his family, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) soon uncovers a deep and complex conspiracy that somehow relates back to his past as a soldier. So now Frank has to find out what the hell is going on while a Homeland Security agent (Amber Rose Revah) gets a whiff of him being back in town. So now we have our comic book thriller. And is this plot any good? Yeah, it is. It’s not a fast-paced action/revenge plot, but it’s a slightly slower conspiracy thriller that features Punisher, and I think the plot here is very intriguing. My only gripe with it is in one of the early episodes. It’s not bad, but the pacing at one point dragged a little bit. But overall here we have a surprisingly deep plot that isn’t afraid to tackle dark and socially relevant themes regarding guns, violence, vigilantism, PTSD, black ops, family, and it is all incredibly engaging and intriguing. ’tis a great plot.

The characters here are flawed, damaged, layered, and just really interesting. Jon Bernthal (like in season 2 of “Daredevil”) plays Frank Castle/The Punisher, former soldier turned violent vigilante. Already in “Daredevil” he got a fair amount of development as a character, and they somehow managed to cram in a bit more here. As we follow him through the season we see how the war, death of his family, and the vigilantism has taken a toll on him and how it messes with his mind a bit. And it is all incredibly engaging. He’s of course also a motherfucking badass, but that didn’t need to be mentioned. And Bernthal is once again fantastic in the role. Amber Rose Revah plays Dinah Madani, the Homeland Security agent on Frank’s trail. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to find Frank and possibly get justice. But she’s not just some brash and unstoppable idiot, as she at times is shown as vulnerable, but in a good way. And Revah is great in the role. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays David Lieberman (AKA Micro), a skilled hacker and whistleblower that Frank teams up with to try to solve this conspiracy. And he brings a much needed levity to the dark and grim tale of “The Punisher” without coming off as forced or out of place. He is funny, but he is also a serious character with a good dramatic arc. And Moss-Bachrach is great in the role. Then we have Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Frank old best friend that I will not talk too much about since it’s too easy to get a bit spoiler-y with him. But he has somewhat of an arc and Barnes is great in the role. And then (to not ramble or give too many character details here) in various supporting performances we have people like Jamie Ray Newman, Kobi Frumer, Deborah Ann Woll, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jason R. Moore, Daniel Webber, Kelli Barrett, C. Thomas Howell, and they all are great in this. Really, it’s a great cast.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates, and it was great. What we have here is a tense, exciting, dramatic, emotional, badass, and just overall interesting score that takes heavy influence from rock and blues to create a fairly unique sound for a show like this. It’s not straight-up rock or blues, but there are traces of it in the score and I like that, makes it sound almost a bit western-y at times. And it all works very well for the show. There are also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they all work well in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Steve Lightfoot and written/directed by a whole bunch of different people (with Lightfoot having written a couple of episodes). And I think they did a good job here. While it’s not as action-packed as the trailer made it out to be, there is still action here. And when action happens it is exciting, badass, and brutal. Not just brutal as in a lot of blood being spilled, but brutal as in the violence having a real impact here. And it’s not just gunshots penetrating bodies, there’s also close quarters fighting, and knives, and various other things used throughout to create the memorable and brutal as fuck violence. And the directing and such in the less action-based scenes is good too… got a little sidetracked there, I usually save action for after overall directing… oh well, c’est la vie.

This show just came out, but it has already gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,6/10 (though this is very likely to change).

Season 1 of “The Punisher” is pretty damn great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. My only flaw was the slight pacing problem in one episode, but it doesn’t really bring it down too much for me. Time for my final score. *One batch, two batch, penny and dime*. My final score for “The Punisher” season 1 is a 9,52/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Punisher” season 1 is now completed.

I really want to get into the comics.