Series Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1 (2017)

Shit. I thought tv was a form of escapism, not a look at how the world was, is, and will be at its most shit states.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Handmaid’s Tale” season 1.

America has turned its back on human decency… oh sorry, I’m reading the news, not the show’s plot synopsis. *Gets slapped*. Okay fine, I’ll do it properly! Topical jokes aside, in the not too distant future, America has become a society where women are considered lesser creatures and then get forced into sexual slavery under high ranking commanders. Through the show we follow a young woman named June (Elisabeth Moss) as she on a day to day basis lives as a handmaid. So now we have our dystopian drama. And I must say that the plot here is incredibly compelling. We get good looks into both the show’s present time as well as flashbacks to what June’s life was like prior to everything going to shit. The drama is harrowing and disturbing, but there’s always also a sense of hope throughout, making it all a bit more watchable than if everything was just bleak and sad. That said, it’s not exactly a happy show. The plot is dramatic, compelling, well paced, and endlessly interesting.

The characters here are layered, compelling, and just overall very interesting. First up we have Elisabeth Moss as June (also known as Offred). She’s a determined a clever woman who falls in line with this horrible reality that she’s part of so she can survive. But we do also see her get some really solid character development throughout, and that’s where I’m leaving it as I don’t wanna ruin most of it for you. And Moss is fantastic in the role. Next up we have Joseph Fiennes as Fred Waterford, the commander that June slaves under. He’s quite the interesting figure, as he clearly is all in favor of this horrible world, but he also shows respect towards anyone under him. He’s a really intriguing character. And Fiennes is great in the role. Next we have Yvonne Strahovski as Serena, the wife of commander Waterford. She’s quite an ice cold bitch, but does show a more vulnerable side at times which makes her quite an interesting character. And Strahovski is great in the role. The final one I’ll go into some detail with is Nick, who’s played by Max Minghella. He’s basically a driver and such under Waterford, and becomes a bit of an ally of June’s over the show. He is quite the interesting guy. And Minghella is really good in the role. Through the show we also get supporting performances from people like Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel, Samira Wiley, Nina Kiri, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Adam Taylor who I think did a great job. His music has a very eerie feel to it, highlighting just how disturbing and fucked up this world is. But it’s also emotional, suspenseful, and overall just well composed. There’s also a good amount of licensed tracks used throughout, and they all work quite well within their respective scenes.

Based on a novel by Margaret Atwood, the show was created by Bruce Miller, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And all this comes together to make one suspenseful and tightly directed show. And the cinematography by Colin Watkinson is absolutely stunning, some of the best I’ve ever seen in a tv show. What is also great about it is that none of the shots feel out of place. A lot of times pretty shots are added to a movie or show just to have a pretty shot with no actual purpose, but here all the gorgeous shots have a reason to be there.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 92/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #148 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a harrowing but also beautiful show. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Handmaid’s Tale” season 1 is a 9,80/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Handmaid’s Tale” season 1 is now completed.

I got nothing clever to put here. I used up my topical joke at the beginning.

Movie Review: Child 44 (2015)

Adapting a book to a film is a very serious gamble. Sometimes you can  succeed very well and get something as great as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, or you get something as mediocre as “The Hunger Games” (That’s right, I said it). So for you aspiring filmmakers out there want to adapt something into a movie… be careful.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Child 44”.

The Soviet Union, 1953. Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) is a member of the Russian Military police that takes on the the task of investigating a series child murders. And what follows is a tale of betrayal, redemption, and other fancy words. The basic story of this movie is actually really good and could be incredibly compelling… however, the execution of said story in this movie is not that good. I wouldn’t say that it was bad, but you can tell that the movie’s reach exceeds it’s grasp. The people who made this film clearly wanted to make the plot compelling and suspenseful, but in the end it was just kind of… meh. Which is kind of sad, because the ideas they set up here are actually good. The execution on the other hand is not that great. It’s kind of boring. I can appreciate a slowly paced movie, but the pacing in this movie is kind of shit.

The characters in this movie are decently interesting. I wouldn’t say that I was too invested in them, but they weren’t bad. Tom Hardy plays the main character Leo Demidov and actually gave a great performance. I actually did kind of care about his character, but that’s mainly because of Hardy’s great performance. Noomi Rapace played Hardy’s wife in this movie and she was good. Joel Kinnaman plays one of Hardy’s colleague in the movie and he did a really good job. His character was a bit psycho, and Kinnaman portrayed that very well. Gary Oldman is also really good in the movie, even though he doesn’t get to do too much in this. Jason Clarke pops up very briefly in this movie, and he does a really good job even though, like I said, his appearance is rather brief. We also get Fares Fares as another one of Hardy’s colleagues and he gives a really good performance. So yeah… there are a bunch of really solid performances in this movie.

The original score for the movie was composed by Jon Ekstrand and it was pretty good. While it never did anything overly unique/original, it was still well composed and fit the movie fairly well.

This movie was directed by Daniel Espinosa and he did an okay job. The shots for the most part look really good, but I think that’s more thanks to the cinematographer, Oliver Wood. There are a few action scenes in this movie and they are… okay. The main problem with them is that they are too shaky. I know that it works in “Bourne Ultimatum” (also shot by Oliver Wood), but here it just looks bad. Basically when there is no action and people are simply talking or there is some establishing shot, this movie looks great. But when action comes it turns into a shaky, quickly cut mess. Also, remember when I talked about adapting books at the beginning of the review? Yeah, this movie is based on the book of the same name written by Tom Rob Smith.

This movie has not been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 26% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 41/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

“Child 44” is a movie that has glimpses of greatness throughout it’s entire runtime, but ultimately falls flat. It has a meh story, okay characters, great performances, good music, okay directing, and good cinematography. The things that bring it down is an uncompelling plot, characters not being the most compelling, and action scenes being shaky as shit. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Child 44” is a 6,22/10.
So it might be worth a rental.

My review of “Child 44” is now completed.

In Soviet Russia, movie watch you.

 

Beyond the Cover Blogathon: Shutter Island

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Hello there, ladies and gentlemen of the internets. I believe you’re asking yourself what the hell is going on here, and don’t worry, I will explain it all to you. I decided about a week ago(ish) that I would take part in a Blogathon held by the terrific Kristina of Speakeasy and the also terrific Liz of Now, Voyaging. The theme of this Blogathon is “Beyond the Cover”, or “Movies based on Books” as the simple man would call it. I found the idea rather intriguing and had the thought “Hey, I read books and I watch movies… maybe I should take part?” and then I signed up. So now we’re here, ready to take on this topic.

The book/movie I have chosen is “Shutter Island”. The book came out in 2003 and was written by Dennis Lehane (Sidenote: He might honestly be my favorite author). Then the movie came out in 2010, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. As you might’ve been able to tell, this isn’t going to be a conventional review. Instead I will see what the movie did different to the book and also compare the characters and their interactions (Minor spoilers might occur). But I might still give you a normal review of the movie as well in a separate post because, why the fuck not. So let’s do this stuff.

Teddy Daniels
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Edward “Teddy” Daniels is the main protagonist of both the book and the movie (where he’s played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Overall there is no major difference between the two characters, both are U.S. marshals from Boston (Like all Lehane protagonists), both have the same backstory. The only real difference is that there is a slight difference in how he’s physically described in the book and how he’s portrayed in the movie. In the book we get a brief mention that his head is shaved and that he’s a pretty big guy. He is also supposed to look pretty rugged. And in the movie he has a decent amount of hair on his head and he is also not a particularly big guy and he has the face of a DiCaprio. He’s pretty average when it comes to his physical attributes. He is a troubled character, but that is one of the things that make him interesting. DiCpario also does a good job of playing him.

Chuck Aule.
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Chuck Aule is the partner who had been assigned to help Teddy with the investigation of Rachel Solando’s disappearance. In the movie he’s played Mark Ruffalo. What makes this comparison interesting is that there are some differences in both physical description (sort of). In the book he’s described as being about 5’9” (180 cm) tall and a maybe not in perfect shape. He also has hands that look a bit too small in proportion to the rest of the body. In the movie (like I said before) he is played by Mark Ruffalo who is about 5’8”. But with the rest of the appearance (hair/skin) it seems they are pretty close in resemblance. But the biggest difference comes to how he’s portrayed. Ruffalo plays him very well, actually nailing the essence of the character. But in the book he is fucking hilarious, constantly having great lines. In the book he acts as both a comic relief and a serious marshal who helps Teddy. But in the movie he doesn’t have nearly as much awesome stuff to say which is a little sad.

Dr. John Cawley
Ben-Kingsley

Generally speaking, he’s the same. Nothing to add really. Ben Kingsley’s great.

 

Story
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The basic story is (for you unfamiliar few) that two U.S. marshals are sent to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient there. Basic plot is pretty much the same in both the book and the movie. The only differences come in the form of parts being left out. There is for example a part in the book where Teddy has an argument with his dead wife Dolores which ends with him accidentally cutting himself while shaving and being pissed at her. The ending is basically the same as well, I won’t go into detail about it because I’m sure there are at least a few out there who haven’t read the book or seen the film. I’m just saying, they’re basically the same with minor changes done in the film.

Dialogue

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LD – “Ya know that asshole, Markus?” BK – “Yes?” LD – “Yeah, he’s got a great blog.”

This might seem like an odd topic to bring up, but it’s one that I’ve been givin’ some thinkin’ over the past… day. To prepare for this post I read through the book (for the fourth time) and also rewatched the movie (third or fourth time seeing it) and I noticed some things regarding the dialogue in the movie. While the basics of it is intact, a good amount of dialogue has either been altered or removed. I mentioned before how Chuck doesn’t say as much fun stuff as he does in the book, and that’s just the start of it. Relatively large chunks of dialogue that existed in the book has been removed, including a good amount of dialogue from the final confrontation near the end. Having read the book and then moving on to the film in such a quick succession makes these changes very clear which actually annoys me a little bit. I guess a lot of these exchanges were cut out to keep the runtime on the shorter side, but I wouldn’t mind if they made the movie a bit longer to keep those really interesting bits of dialogue in it. But I guess they wanted to keep it at a higher pace and not keep people watching for “too” long… *sigh*.
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What the movie did well
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The previous bit might’ve made me sound like I was just complaining about the film, so let’s just relax and quickly talk about what it did right. The plot holds very well, Scorsese’s directing is terrific, all of the performances are somewhere between really good and fantastic, the music choices (though few) are great, the cinematography is gorgeous and the ending (if you think about it) is absolutely terrific. The movie is also very suspenseful makes for a really interesting and gripping watch.

Conclusion
So those were my thoughts on the book/movie differences for “Shutter Island”. What do you think of this movie? What do you think of the book? Leave any and all thoughts you have in the comments. Also, I might post a regular review for it as well in the near future. So maybe look forward to that! With that said, I will now leave you with a goodbye of some kind and my favorite image/still from the movie.
Have a good one!
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“The Legend of Tarzan” trailer just dropped

Hey there, guys. Whenever I talk about trailers coming out it’s because it is something that I’ve been genuinely interested in and had previous knowledge about. But this time I wanna share/talk about this trailer because it just kind of came out of fucking nowhere. I didn’t even know that this movie was releasing a new trailer, let alone knowing it was in production.

So if you don’t know about the story of Tarzan, let me explain it to you, you unknowing person. It started out as a book titled “Tarzan of the Apes” written by author Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900’s. It follows a man named Tarzan who was raised by apes despite being a human and not an ape. And at some point in his life, other humans come to his jungle, one of those humans being a young woman named Jane Porter whom Tarzan falls in love with. And adventure ensues. While I haven’t read Burroughs’ original books, I can at least say that I am a fan of the 1999 animated disney movie starring the voice of Tony Goldwyn as Tarzan. And while this movie seems to stray a bit away from most basic story elements. This will apparently follow Tarzan as he returns to the jungle after living in London.

Now this trailer sets a fairly dark but still relatively lighthearted tone. It’s not overly serious, but also not too silly. And since it is a disney production, it was kind of logical to take a cue or two from the Marvel productions. Okay, so what do I like about this thing so far? Well, I do like the choice of director for the movie. “The Legend of Tarzan” is directed by David Yates who directed the final four “Harry Potter” movies and also the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” which really gives me hope for that movie.  As the titular character we will see Swedish (my nationality) actor Alexander Skarsgård who I have seen in some things and thought he was good. At least in the trailer and some photos he does look like he could do it… I hope. I would say that the cast overall looks promising. Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, John Hurt, Djimon Hounsou… this is a great frickin’ cast. So there are a few promising elements to this movie, question is though how it will hold up when it comes out in July.
Enjoy the trailer!

So are you excited for this new upcoming Tarzan movie? Leave a comment.

Movie Review: Jack Reacher (2012)

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Book to film adaptations are one of the biggest gambles in the movie industry. There are always books that some people want to see as movies and/or TV-shows. Personally I am waiting for any type of adaptation of Patricia Cornwell’s book series about Kay Scarpetta. But enough about that. Today we are taking a look at a book to film adaptation that not many saw coming and that got decent reviews when it came out.

Jacks and Jills…”Jack Reacher”.

The story is as follows: Trained military sniper shoots (and kills) five innocent civilians. When he later is captured he requests that a certain man investigates his case. And that man is our main character; Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise). So when Reacher comes to start his investigation he runs into the suspect’s lawyer Helen (Rosamund Pike). The two starts investigating the case, they find out a lot more than they would expect. They run into some bad stuff during this. One thing is that there might be more people involved in this. And that is all I can really say without diving into the spoiler end of this pool. This movie is something I expected to be a straight up action film (based on a trailer I saw). But this movie is so much more than that. It is a dark, brutal, smart crime-thriller that always stays on. And you guys know I am a HUGE fan of crime-thrillers. Hell, I even made a Top 5 list about crime thrillers a while back. But anyway, this is a movie that spends a good amount of time with investigations, so it’s not all non stop action. But when there is action in this movie…it is awesome! This movie is a big thrill ride that never let’s go. The only thing that kinda bugged me (a little bit) was the fact that a bunch of conversations between Reacher and Helen are very, how should I put it…expositional. I am not kidding, a lot of their conversations are made for exposition…and that bugs me a little bit. Otherwise…good storytelling in this movie.

The characters are…I don’t know how to put it. They are…complex, I think is the right word to explain them. It is difficult to say. One thing for sure is that they are interesting to watch. I especially got very interested in Cruise’s character Jack Reacher. Sure, he is the main character, but a lot of times the main character in movies is kind of uninteresting. But here he is a complex, brutal guy who you can never really tell what he is thinking. And I love complex characters. So yeah, that is what I can say about the character in this movie. They are complex and have several layers on them.

The music is fucking amazing. It is as dark and cold as…the music in “Prisoners” (2013). That is all I can really say. I did say that the movie was dark and brutal, so I guess the soundtrack fits. Wait…guess? No! I know it fits!

The camera work in this movie is really well done. I think the scenes when the camera swings around the current character of that scene, it looks really good. I do think the direction by Christopher McQuarrie was excellent. And I did some research about the character of Jack Reacher prior to this review…apparently Tom Cruise isn’t Reacher in that sense even though his acting was great. Apparently Reacher is a guy that is like 6 foot 5 inches tall and in general being a real Hulk of a man. And that is something that bothered fans of the books when it comes to this movie. They weren’t happy about Tom Cruise who is only 5 foot 7 inches tall and not overly muscular. And I can see why it would bother them…but I don’t care. Tom Cruise pulled off a great performance and that is all that matters to me.

The reception for “Jack Reacher” was pretty good. Rotten Tomoatoes has a 61% positive rating calling it “Jack Reacher is an above-average crime thriller with a smoothly charismatic performance from Tom Cruise.” Metacritic gave this a 50/100. Roger Ebert has no review or score for it. This movie has a solid 7/10 on imdb.com.

I have spoken about “Jack Reacher” and I am going to hand out a score for this movie. My final score for “Jack Reacher” is an 8,89/10 and a recommendation to buy it. With a few faults it is not worthy of the “SEAL OF APPROVAL”. Mainly due to the expositional conversations. But it is still worth buying. This is a thrilling murder mystery that should be watched by anyone who wants a good movie.

“Jack Reacher” is now reviewed.

I should probably seek out the book…