Movie Review: It (2017)

And the Month of Spooks continues! And today we’ll be talking about a Stephen King adaptation. How fun.

Ladies and gentlemen… “It”.

Maine, 1989. A group of outcast kids have to come together during their summer holiday when an evil clown (Bill Skarsgård) starts haunting them and wreaking havoc. So I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, when this story focuses on the drama of the Losers Club (the kids we follow) and their personal issues, that shit is compelling, it is insanely well written and it had me engaged. There’s a lot of nuance to that stuff, and it really adds to it all. But when it focuses on the horror shit… meh. I’ll get into that in more detail later, but for now… this plot is a mostly positive mixed bag.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall really interesting. The kids feel real, I love their camaraderie, and they have great chemistry. Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, and Wyatt Oleff, they play the Losers Club, and they were all fantastic. And then we have Bill Skasgård as Pennywise. I really liked his performance, but I’m not sure if that’s for the reason the filmmakers wanted. They wanted him to be terrifying, and at times he does have a creepy gaze. But for the most part he’s just an absolute fucking ham, and I loved watching it, because I live for hammy shit. But seriously, that was a great, if a bit goofy, performance.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and god damn, it was great. It has many layers to it, and it helps build a strong emotional core that really manipulated me at points. Usually with horror movies, my expectations for the music are often kinda low, so I’m glad the Wallfisch proved my ass wrong by giving us some really stunning tunes. And some decently creepy ones. Good job.

Based on the beloved novel of the same name by Stephen King, “It” was directed by Andy Muschietti, and I think he did a great job. His control of the camera and flow a scene can’t be understated, it was truly some damn good stuff. Even built some decent creepiness to it at times. And the various effects in the movie, both practical and digital, were damn good. Buuuut then we get to the “scary shit”. Yeah, I wasn’t scared by it. And that’s not me being a douche about it, I would’ve loved (for lack of a better word) to have been scared by that stuff. But it never got to me. Like I said, there’s some decently creepy moments throughout, but when it tried to full on scare me, it never really worked. Partly due to the hamtastic Bill Skarsgård, and partly due to some of the audio cues added to certain scares. So the craft here is great… I just wasn’t scared.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While it fails at spooking me, I still think “It” is a damn good movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Boo*. My final score for “It” is an 8,78/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “It” is now completed.

I am so mixed on this movie.

Movie Review: Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

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I am one of those people that has a soft spot for DC’s animated movies. I’m not saying that I think all of them are great, but when a new one is announced I get a little excited. And this year we officially got one announced that is based on one of the most beloved graphic novels of all time. So… how is this adaptation? Well, I can’t speak for what you think… but we can get into the review and find out what I think. So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Batman: The Killing Joke”.

The Joker (Mark Hamill) has once again escaped from Arkham Asylum, this time with a plan to terrorize the Gordon family to prove a certain point. So it’s up to Batman (Kevin Conroy) to find him and bring him to justice. And the stuff we get here is really solid. It is a dramatic, tense, and almsot disturbing plot where we get to see Joker do these horrible things, while also giving us a glimpse into his past. And all that stuff is great. However, the plot-based stuff isn’t 100% perfect. There’s a 30 minute period at the beginning of the film that has nothing to do with the actual “Killing Joke” stuff, instead having some plot focusing on Batman and Batgirl (Tara Strong) chasing some criminals. I understand what they tried to do here, adding some runtime to the movie while also trying to give us more of a reason to care about Batgirl. But I never felt that it really added anything worthwhile to the plot, instead just adding 30 minutes of average(ish) entertainment. Seriously, you can skip the first 30 minutes of the movie and not miss a single important thing. So the “Killing Joke” stuff is great, but it takes a while to get there.

The characters featured in this movie are ones that all know and love… except for like several in that opening 30 minutes. But the ones we came to see, they are very well represented. Kevin Conroy once again did the voice of Batman (I don’t think he will ever quit, #SteadyPaycheck). And really, I don’t have to say anything. He is as phenomenal as ever, he really is the Batman. Mark Hamill as the Joker… Yeah, he’s fuckin’ masterful. Let me put it like this: Nicholson and Ledger were both really great as the character, but Mark Hamill really is THE JOKER. His voice is iconic and simply perfect for the character (#HesMyJoker). We also got Tara Strong, returning to her role as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. And she was really good. We also got Ray Wise (not a returning Bat-cast member) as Commissioner Jim Gordon. And he was really good in the role. Not as good as Gary Oldman or even Jonathan Banks, but still really good. Then the rest of the supporting cast was rounded out by a lot of other voice actors. All of them are very talented, but I don’t want to sit here and write all of them down here. But let it be known that they did a great job!

The score for the movie was composed by Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, and Kristopher Carter. And it is a very exciting and very well composed score, perfectly fitting this type of action movie. I will also mention that there is an actual song in there too (as in a song with lyrics) and it is pretty amazing. And the scene where it’s featured is nothing short of a masterpiece.

DC animation regular Sam Liu stands as director of this movie, and I’d say it is for the most part a well directed movie. Scenes play out at a decent pace. However… the animation leaves a little bit to be desired. And I know that can be the thing with these DC animated movies, but you’d think they’d up the ante a bit with such an iconic story combined with the fact that this played in theaters. But here’s also the thing: Some scenes look great, with a decent amount of detail in them and overall really good flow of animation. But then some bits look kind of bad. Some movements look stiff and kind of jittery.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even have a score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

Guys, in the end, “Batman: The Killing Joke” disappointed me a bit. Is it as bad as some say? No. But it’s also not among the best DC animated features. It as a good plot, good characters, great voice acting, really good music, and some decent animation. howeer it is bogged down a bit by those first 30 minutes and the animation being as inconsistent as I mentioned. Time for my final score. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! My final score for “Batman: The Killing Joke” is an 8,51/10. So it is flawed, but I think that it can still be worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Batman: The Killing Joke” is now completed.

And for those asking: No, I have not read the graphic novel. I know, shame on me!

Short Film Review: Harlequin (2016)

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Some if not most of you might be asking right now “What the hell is this, Markus? What’s goin’ on?”. Relax, I’m going to explain. I was one of not many people to receive the honor of getting to see this little short film before it’s released to the rest of the public. So that’s pretty big for me, a small town dude who just happens to be running a blog where movies occasionally get reviewed. Just don’t expect this to become a regular thing… reviews of short films, I mean. Call this a special occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harlequin”.

Charles (Kenton Hall) is a clown. But he isn’t your normal “nice guy who makes kids happy” clown. He has some mental issues going on. And these issues seem to manifest themelves around the time of a performance he is setting up. And that’s about all I can say. It’s a bit difficult to tackle the plot of a short since it is just that… short. So there’s not much that can truly be said about it. I’ll give it this: It intrigued me a lot. There’s definitely some really interesting stuff going on here. I could definitely see this as a full length feature. But seeing as it is as surreal as it is, on such a short runtime, I can’t really say much about it plotwise. I was intrigued and I was invested in it which is a testament to the talent of the writer/director, but I can’t really talk about it as in depth as most regular movies.

There aren’t many actors in the movie. There are a total of four, but only one should really be focused on: Kenton Hall. This is because he’s the only one that gets enough space to the point that I can look at his performance. And to give credit where credit is due… he’s really good in this. Not Oscar worthy or something like that… but he’s really good in this independent short film about a crazy clown man. He’s really good, and the supporting actors do fine in their very minor roles.

The music in this short film help set a pretty eerie atmosphere in a way that actually kind of symbolizes the mess that is Charles’ mind. Sure, the music is not as thought-provoking and symbolic as in other movies, but I honestly don’t think that it’s the point. The music here is meant to help show that nothing is as it seems while also setting a pretty eerie mood. And that is a plus for this little thing.

“Harlequin” was written and directed by Jakob Lewis Barnes, a man who’s very passionate about film and the art of filmmaking. Me and Jakob have communicated a lot on twitter and I think that he’s a really cool dude. But I’m not gonna let my positive experiences with Jakob cloud my judgment of his directing and writing. And it’s really well directed and well written. The writing presents the interesting stuff with Charles and his mental health, and it kept me intrigued. And the directing was really good as well. I mean, for someone who’s on such a small budget and with no major stuff under his belt he did a pretty great job. You can tell from the shots we get that something is a bit odd here, kind of like with the music choices. And that of course helps the short a lot and makes it really interesting. Again, I am basing this on the small budget that this pretty clearly was on. And while not really related to the directing itself, there’s a fun little clown-related easter egg in this that I thought was kind of fun.

I can’t really judge “Harlequin” like I do most normal, full length features. To tell you the truth, I had to think carefully how I would judge this thing. Then after some thinking I figured it out… I think. The pretty minor plot presented is intriguing, the performance from Kenton Hall is really good, the music choices are good, and the directing is pretty good. I can’t really give it any of my normal ratings since it’s such a different thing for me to review, so all I can really do is say whether I recommend it or not. *Drumroll*. Yeah, I recommend it. If you want to see something kinda weird but still really interesting, I recommend that you watch it. Although you’ll have to wait until it is released for the public in late October or something (Not entirely sure to be honest). If you want to keep up with it, follow the JumpCut Uk Productions twitter account. Keep in mind that I do recommend it.

My review of “Harlequin” is now completed.

Jakob, if you’re reading this… it was an honor to be one who got to see it early! Thank you.
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