Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

The frontier. A wild, unpredictable, and untameable part of our world. As beautiful as it is dangerous. Something that Taylor Sheridan seemingly likes to explore in his scripts.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wind River”.

Set in the cold mountains and forests of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) as she has to investigate the death of a young woman with the help of a local tracker (Jeremy Renner). So now we have our murder mystery that isn’t just a murder mystery. Yes, the investigation is a big focus of the movie, but the plot is also largely about the exploration of this place and the people who live there. Like with the two previous movies written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water”), it sets up one basic plot, and then gives it a few extra layers to explore certain themes. So what we get here is a deep, suspenseful, emotional, haunting, and just overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are all layered, interesting, and feel quite real. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, the tracker tasked with helping out in this investigation. He’s a skilled hunter with a tragic past that gets explored in a very interesting way through the movie. And Renner is fantastic in the role, playing the character with a very understated sadness and intensity, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner. She’s a bit of a fish out of water in this, as she’s not used to the cold, unforgiving frontier. This doesn’t make her useless, as she shows herself as quite capable through the movie. She’s tough, but she also does have a more vulnerable side, which gives her some layers (which is important to have out in the cold). And Olsen is really good in the role. Next we have Gil Birmingham as the father of the dead girl. While we don’t get too many details on him as a character, seeing him in pain and trying to cope with his daughter’s death is utterly heartbreaking and makes him an interesting enough character. And Birmingham is great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from Graham Greene, Julia Jones, Martin Sensmeier, Hugh Dillon, Eric Lange, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and if you’ve read any other reviews of mine where they’ve been the listed composers, you should suspect that I loved their score for this. It’s eerie, dark, emotional, and haunting, perfectly capturing the feel of the area, while also working very well for the murder mystery plot of the movie. I am slightly biased towards their music, but I do genuinely think their compositions for this movie are fantastic.

As I’ve not so subtly alluded to, this movie was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. I already liked the other movies he’s written, so I was curious to see how he’d do at directing. And I have to say that I am quite impressed. His direction is manages to be sweeping and ambitious, while still tight and intimate with the characters/situations. He also manages to build a lot of suspense throughout, especially during the final act where that tension escalates to a whole new level. But none of it ever feels Hollywood-ized, which feels quite fresh in our modern world. And the cinematography by Ben Richardson is pretty great.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Wind River” is a fantastic little drama, and another great showcase for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wind River” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wind River” is now completed.

We’re going back to the wild frontier…

Movie Review: 30 Days of Night (2007)

And here it is, the final review for the Month of Spooks. I’ve had a lot of fun talking about horror stuff this month, and I hope you guys have enjoyed it as well. Now, let’s get into this thing… which is another vampire movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “30 Days of Night”.

Barrow, Alaska. Once every year it gets covered in complete darkness for 30 days. Only this year it will be a bit more problematic than usual since a group of vampires enter the town to kill every last person in Barrow. And we follow Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) as he tries to keep a small group of people alive. So now we have our survival horror movie. And I say survival horror because it’s not so much about Eben and the other trying to find a way to kill all the vampires, but it’s rather about them just trying to survive until the sun rises once again. And it’s actually quite enthralling, based solely on the never-ending tension. Good plot.

The characters here are all flawed and all get some kind of good development throughout the movie. Josh Hartnett plays Eben Oleson, Barrow’s Sheriff and our main character for this story. He’s a recently divorced man trying to just live an okay life… which of course gets interrupted because motherfucking vampires decide to come to town. And I have to say, this is the best I’ve ever seen Josh Hartnett, he’s actually kind of great in this movie. Melissa George plays Stella, Eben’s ex-wife. She is a fire marshall who wants to get out of Barrow during this dark time, but that gets interrupted by a couple of things. And Melissa George is great in the role. Tough, but not a brash idiot. Danny Huston plays Marlow, the leader of the vampires. He doesn’t say a lot, at least not in a language any of us mere humans understands. But he gives a terrifying performance, and he has a very intimidating presence. So yeah, Huston is great. Mark Rendall plays Jake, Eben’s younger brother. He’s not as brave as his brother, but he is willing to help out when shit gets tough. And Rendall is really good in the role. Then we have Ben Foster as a strange man… I’m not trying to be funny, he is credited as “The Stranger”. But he is a crazy weirdo, which is probably the type of character that Ben Foster does best. And as you could expect, he’s really entertaining in the role. This movie knew how to use it’s Ben Foster. And in further supporting roles we have people like Mark Boone Junior, Manu Bennett, Amber Sainsbury, and more… all doing well in the movie.

The score was composed by Brian Reitzell and it was pretty damn good. It’s eerie, droning, intense, exciting, emotional, and just overall fit the movie very well, often elevating certain moments throughout. ’tis a good one.

This movie was directed by David Slade and is based on a comic book series written by Steve Niles. And while I haven’t read Niles’ comics, I think Slade did a mostly great job with his direction here. It is intense and never really gives you a moment to feel relaxed or safe. His direction makes you feel like there could be a vampire or ten around the corner, which I really appreciated. The only thing I don’t like about the directing is that during the action scenes the camera movement/editing goes from steady and smooth to really shaky. Sure, I had a good idea of what the hell was going on during the action scenes, but there were moments where the shakiness got quite distracting and a little bit disorienting. For the most part it wasn’t too bad, but in some parts it was shakier than a chihuahua trying not to shit itself in a blizzard. Again, doesn’t take away too much for me, but it is worth noting. I do have to mention that there’s plenty of blood and gore here, so if you like that stuff in your movies, then you are in for a treat. But if you’re squeamish, there is your warning. Anyway, the visual effects/makeup look awesome. As for scares, it has a handful, but I feel like the tension and feel of unease is this movie’s strong suit rather than any straight-up scares.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“30 Days of Night” is flawed, but it is an overall good vampire movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and mostly good directing. My only flaw(s) with the movie come in the form of those really shaky action bits. Time for my final score. *RAWR!*. My final score for “30 Days of Night” is an 8,99/10. While flawed, I’d say that it is definitely worth buying.

My review of “30 Days of Night” is now completed.

There is apparently a comic that crosses this over with “The X-Files”, and I kind of want to read that. Also, wouldn’t the basic idea of this movie make for an awesome video game?