Series Review: Midnight Mass (2021)

It’s finally here, friends… THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! That’s right, Oc-fucking-tober, a month of spooktacular content! Yeah, I’m excited. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Midnight Mass”.

“Midnight Mass” follows the residents of Crockett Island, a remote little mound somewhere in America, as strange things start happening around their home following the arrival of a new, charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). This show is at its core a character-driven drama, delving deep into themes of grief, guilt, faith, and past traumas, and I find all of it compelling. The way that this stuff is handled throughout the seven episode run is some of the most nuanced and beautiful storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in any show. This even gives extra weight to the sections which lean more on classic horror, both in terms of thematic depth and  in terms of how much suspense and terror it is able to generate. So yeah, the story here is emotionally resonant, nuanced, unpredictable, scary, and overall just fucking spectacular.

The characters in this show are all very flawed, layered, colorful, and insanely interesting to follow. All of them have some past (or present) trauma going on, and it makes for some incredibly engaging character work. What helps this further is the frankly insane cast, featuring people like Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater (who is the standout for me), Henry Thomas, Kristin Lehman, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and many more, all giving top tier performances.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, who absolutely knocked it out of the park with the music here. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, but I feel like they really outdid themselves here. Of course you do have some traditional horror stings, but there are also a lot of quieter, more emotional pieces throughout the show as well, along with some frankly haunting bits as well. It manages to hit every kind of emotion possible, making for a very engaging soundscape that adds a lot to the show.

“Midnight Mass” was created for Netflix by Mike Flanagan, who also directed and co-wrote all the episodes. And I gotta say, the dude knocked it out of the fucking park with his directing here. Not that Flanagan’s direction has ever been bad, but you can tell that this was a real passion project for him just by how all out he goes with the way his shots flow, how tightly edited it is, and how just how ambitious it can be at times. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Michael Fimognari, which is beautiful and really adds to the storytelling. The special effects in this are all great as well. It’s just an insanely well crafted show that you can tell everyone involved put 250% into. I know that is mathematically illogical (and possibly impossible), but I don’t care, it’s how I feel.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10.

“Midnight Mass” is an absolutely phenomenal horror show that had me glued to the screen from start to end. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midnight Mass” is a 9.94/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midnight Mass” is now completed.

Month of Spooks is off to one hell of a start!

Series Review: The Righteous Gemstones – Season 1 (2019)

Quick anecdote before we get into this sermon… I mean review. I actually started watching this as it aired last year, but forgot to keep up with it. So I decided to finally remedy that recently. So now that it has been done, l can at last talk about the show.

Ladies and gents… “The Righteous Gemstones” season 1.

The story follows the Gemstones, a family of devout televangelists delivering the word of god to huge amounts of people on a regular basis. And we follow them in a peculiar period in their lives when a lot of their dirty laundry and hypocrisies start bubbling towards the surface. Now, looking at that setup might make one expect this show to be purely “Fuck Christianity, fuck religion”, that’s at least what I thought  going into it. But surprisingly, it doesn’t go for that low hanging fruit. Now, it does poke fun at organized religion and mega churches at times, but it does it in a way that still is respectful towards those who believe in the Christian beliefs. The characters in the show aren’t shysters and con artists, they genuinely believe in god and want to spread his love and teachings… they just also happen to be a little tempted by the less than savory sides of life sometimes. And I must say that I generally enjoyed the story here. It’s a darkly comical family tale with a surprising amount of nuance… however, I do have some issues with the storytelling here. It does feel a little unfocused and scatterbrained at a few points. It doesn’t always feel like they have all their priorities straight for what they wanna do with the narrative. If they had trimmed down some sub-plots a bit, maybe it could’ve felt less messy. But despite being a little less focused than it could’ve been, it’s still an enjoyable story.

The characters here are all flawed, colorful, and surprisingly nuanced, and to see how their personalities at the start clash with various developments in the show is pretty intriguing and entertaining. Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, Adam Devine, and John Goodman are all terrific as the main four Gemstones. And in supporting roles we see people like Walton Goggins (the absolute fucking standout), Tony Cavalero, Tim Baltz, Cassidy Freeman, Skyler Gisondo, Scott MacArthur, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Joseph Stephens, and it was alright. Fairly standard stuff that never really stands out. The only original music track that stands out is a sung song we experience in a flashback, and it’s absolutely wonderful. As for licensed tracks, there’s a handful throughout the season, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Righteous Gemstones” was created by Danny McBride for HBO, with writing and directing by him and a bunch of other awesome people (including David Gordon Green). And I must say that the craft behind the show is pretty damn good, featuring a lot of visually pleasing shots and clever camera movements. It’s not often that a comedy makes this much of an effort to captivate in terms of directing, editing, and such, but “Righteous Gemstones” certainly did, and I appreciate that. Now, let’s talk about the humor in this. It’s an intriguing mix of dirty and crass jokes that stoners and teenagers can laugh at, with some decently clever stuff within dialogue at times. Now, some of it lands and some of it don’t. Sometimes I laugh hard and sometimes I sit with a blank stare. It all really goes up and down at times. But overall I’d say it’s pretty funny.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

While it does have some flaws within its narrative, season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is still a highly enjoyable batch of episodes that I can still recommend. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, great directing/cinematography, and decently funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Righteous Gemstones” is a 7,89/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

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

Flintstone, Gemstone, John Goodman plays ’em all. Yabba-dabba-Amen.

Series Review: Preacher – Season 2 (2017)

Last year a little show called “Preacher” premiered on AMC. Critically speaking it did well, with audiences it did well, so of course a second season would get made. And now it has finally finished, which means that I can finally review it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Preacher” season 2!

After the explosive end of season 1, we find Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) on the road to try to find god… I’m not being metaphorical, they’re seriously trying to find the individual known as god. All while they’re trying to survive being chased by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who wants to kill Jesse. So now we have our plot for the season. And I’d say that it is quite good. It’s not flawless, but it’s strengths definitely outweigh it’s flaws. For the most part you have this weird, fun, and sometimes blasphemous adventure with plenty of fun mythology to it. And at times you get some pretty solid character drama. And it’s filled with a whole bunch of good twists and turns. Now, my only gripe with the plot here is that there are some mild pacing issues in maybe two episodes near the middle. But they’re not that bad… noticeable, but not deal-breaking. So overall I’d say that the plot is really good.

The characters in this are fun, colorful, and just incredibly interesting. But it’s not just the characters being the same throughout, you see them develop more and more over the season while still remaining true to what we were introduced to in season 1. Dominic Cooper returns as Jesse Custer, the troubled preacher with a special ability. Seeing him trying to find god while also dealing with his other demons is quite fascinating, and Cooper is great in the role. Ruth Negga returns as Tulip, Jesse’s girlfriend and partner in crime. She’s as badass as ever while still showing a relatable vulnerability, and Negga is great in the role. Joseph Gilgun is back as Cassidy, the Irish vampire… yeah, he’s as awesome as he was in season 1, still my favorite character in the show. He’s incredibly fun, but he’s also given some good dramatic depth this season which was fun to see. And Gilgun is of course awesome in the role. Graham McTavish returns to play the Saint of Killers, AKA the cowboy we saw every now and then in season 1. Though this time he has an arguably bigger role, and he’s honestly quite awesome. He’s a terrifying villain, an unstoppable badass who will kill Jesse Custer no matter what, and any scenes with him were quite tense. But he was also given some solid dramatic moments too, fleshing out his character a bit more. And McTavish is fantastic in the role. Ian Colletti returns as Eugene/Arseface, and he’s still great in the role. As for new people, there are a whole bunch, including Noah Taylor as… you know what, I’m not gonna spoil it if you haven’t seen it already, because it has to be seen to be believed. That said, he’s great in the role. Then in more supporting roles we have Pip Torrens, Julie Ann Emery, Ronald Guttman, Malcolm Barrett, and Amy Hill. There are more people in the show, but I’m not gonna write up every name that appears in this season. But with that said, every actor did very well in this season.

Like in the first season, the score was composed by Dave Porter, and once again he did a great job. The score is tense, dramatic, and just overall fits the show quite well and elevates a couple of moments throughout. There’s also plenty of licensed music throughout, not only being overall ear-pleasing, but also fitting the scenes they were used in very well.

The show was created by Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg and is based on a series of comics by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (R.I.P). And the show was written/directed by Rogen/Goldberg and a whole bunch of other people. And they all did very well in those departments. The show is directed with plenty of style and energy, making sure to keep most shots interesting. It’s also a visually appealing show. And the action scenes too are quite entertaining. Sure, a couple feel a little bit clunky, but most of them are quite solid… intense, fun, and badass. This show also has plenty of humor in it… admittedly quite dark humor, but humor nonetheless. And I laughed quite a lot throughout the show, both in small chuckles and in loud, gut-busting laughter. I also feel like I have to mention that if you have a problem with copious amounts of blood/gore, then this might not be for you because fucking hell, this is gory. But if you can stomach blood and gore then you might have some fun with it.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Preacher” season 2 is a fucking blast. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great humor. My only issue with it was that an episode or two had some mild pacing issues, but it’s not horrible for me. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “Preacher” season 2 is a 9,52/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Preacher” season 2 is now completed.

By the way, my friends from the We Have a Hulk podcast interviewed Graham McTavish (The Saint of Killers) a handful of weeks back, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Movie Review: Pilgrimage (2017)

Usually I am for hiking and wandering around in nature. But in this situation I might just stay home. This journey seems a bit… dangerous.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Pilgrimage”.

13th century Ireland. A group of monks have to transport a holy relic across the land. And the further they go, the more dangerous their journey becomes, and the more their alliances are questioned. So that’s our plot. And for the most part I think it is pretty good. It does take an interesting look at faith and how blindly a person is willing to follow it, despite disheartening dangers. My main gripe with the plot is the pacing. Sure, it is a deliberately slow-paced movie, but the first half drags it’s feet quite a lot and borders on boring a whole bunch of times. Then in the second half it picks up a bit, becoming a bit more interesting and moving a bit more steadily. So overall it is pretty good.

The characters for the most part are admittedly kind of uninteresting, but I still felt like I could follow them throughout just fine thanks to the actors. As you probably guessed from the picture at the top, Tom Holland is the star of this movie, and he does a really good job, having to play a young and inexperienced monk that has to go along on this journey. Applause to him as well since he has to speak both English and Gaelic in this movie. We also get Jon Bernthal as a mute with a mysterious past that is following along on this journey. He’s probably the most interesting character since we get clues throughout the movie as to what his past was. And Bernthal is great in the role, despite not really saying anything throughout. We also get Stanley Weber as another monk who’s following along on this journey, and while his character wasn’t the most interesting, I think Weber did a good job here. We also get Richard Armitage as a French knight that our “heroes” meet during the journey, and he’s really good in the role. All the actors do well here.

The score for the movie was composed by Stephen McKeon and it is quite good. It’s atmospheric and really helps to create an uneasy mood throughout the movie. Plus, it has some really cool choral tracks throughout that really elevated certain scenes.

This movie was directed by Brendan Muldowney and I think he did a pretty good job. His direction manages to really sell the 13th century Ireland setting, and the uneasy mood that the plot requires. It also looks quite good, with several shots making me go “Wow”. Now, while this isn’t really an action movie, it does have a couple of action scenes in it. And they are… okay. I wish that they’d have used a steady camera instead of the handheld style that they use in those scenes, would have made them a bit more engaging. But they’re not the worst that I’ve seen. You get what’s going on. You see the hits, you see the blood, even if there’s some shake in the camera.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 69% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,8/10.

“Pilgrimage” is a pretty good adventure/drama. It has a pretty good plot, meh characters, great performances, really good music, and good directing. As previously stated, my problems with this movie come from the pacing in the first half, the characters not being very interesting, and the shake in the action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Pilgrimage” is a 7,99/10. So while quite flawed, I would say that it is worth renting.

My review of “Pilgrimage” is now completed.

Remember that time Spider-Man, Punisher, and Thorin Oakenshield went on a medieval adventure?

Movie Review: Risen (2016)

Religion. A touchy subject that I’m not gonna get into in this post. This is meant as a lighthearted review of a movie that includes religious themes. So if you’re a religious individual, any possible criticisms I might have about this movie isn’t about your religion, it’s about this movie as a movie. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen, he has… “Risen”.

The story follows Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman who is pretty much the right hand man of Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth). And he has been tasked of finding the body of Jesus (Cliff Curtis), because it has disappeared from the tomb that it has been placed in. So we follow Clavius as he, together with his new assistant Lucius (Tom Felton), investigates what happened to Jesus Corpse. And I actually liked the story here… for the most part. The stuff with Clavius investigating the disappearance of Jesus is quite interesting as it gives us a different angle to look at this really old story. I was honestly hooked by the plot of the movie up to a certain point a little after the halfway point. Because then something happens that changes the movie from one thing to something else. I’m not gonna say exactly what it is, but you can probably figure out what it is. And while the second half of the movie isn’t bad, I wasn’t as interested in it as I was with the first half. First half, really good stuff. Second half, meh.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty interesting. Clavius is a skeptic, at least when he hears about Jesus’ disappearance. The followers of Jesus of course thinks he’s risen (roll credits) to once again walk the earth, spreading love and the word of god. But Clavius is a bit more “That doesn’t make sense, I have to get to the bottom of this mystery”. And Joseph Fiennes did a great job in the role. Tom Felton was good as Lucius (“Harry Potter” prequel, anyone?), playing him as the young and slightly naïve guy who follows Clavius no matter what. Peter Firth was great as Pontius Pilate, playing him as a bit of a dick. Really, it’s overall a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Roque Baños, and while it’s nothing terribly original, it’s still quite good. It perfectly fits the setting and just overall works very well for the movie.

This movie was directed by Kevin Reynolds, the man who brought us “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Waterworld”. And I think he did a good job with this movie. The shots look good and everything just flows nicely. There is a little bit of action too, and it’s okay. Surprisingly violent for PG-13. I’ll also give it this, the sets here look pretty great.

This movie has not been the most well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10.

“Risen” presents an interesting spin on the Jesus story, even if it isn’t perfect. It has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. As previously stated, my problem with the movie comes from the second half not being as interesting as the first one. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “Risen” is an 8,76/10. While flawed, I do think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Risen” is now completed.

Joseph Fiennes stars in… CSI: Jesus.