Movie Review: We Can Be Heroes! (2002)

Time for the Summer of the Swedes to keep going. So what’s on the menu today? A children’s film? Oh fuck.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Can Be Heroes!” (Original title: Bäst i Sverige!).

Marcello (Ariel Petsonk) doesn’t have it easy. He’s bullied by some boys in schools, and his parents (Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson) try to dictate where his life is supposed to go. But when he befriends the new girl in his class (Zamand Hägg), his life starts changing in a few ways. If some of these elements sound familiar, that’s because you’ve seen other movies. But just because this film borrows cliches from other ones doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I’d argue the story here is pretty good, with writing that takes the cliches and uses them in charming and enjoyable ways. There’s a lot of times when our main character has really vivid dreams, both in the middle of the day and during the night, which serve to not only develop him as a character, but also further the plot and also entertain. And it helps make the storytelling here feel fresh and fun. There are one or two moments in the story that maybe don’t fit too much, since they push the suspension of disbelief a bit too much, but overall I really liked the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and at times surprisingly nuanced. Sure, they all might seem like walking cliches at first. But as the story moves on, we see most of them get some decent development that makes them endearing and likable. And the cast, which features people like Ariel Petsonk, Zamand Hägg, Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson, Ralph Carlsson, Pontus Stenshäll, and more, all do pretty well in their respective roles.

The music in this movie is based heavily in a lot of pop tunes, which I guess is used to help add to the overall fun tone of the movie. I’m not saying all of them 100% fit all of the time, but I also don’t think any of the tracks ruin the mood at all. The songs work fine.

“We Can Be Heroes!” was directed and edited by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a damn good job. The way he shoots a scene is energetic and fast-paced, while still allowing for some of the more quiet scenes to nicely simmer. And man, the editing is really good too. Malmros knows when to make perfect cuts and how to nicely transition between reality and Marcello’s dreams. The craft here is really good. And since this is a comedy (despite imdb not acknowledging it), how is the humor? Fucking funny. It’s charming, it’s silly, it’s cute, it’s even a little brash at times… and most of it made me laugh.

On Rotten Tomatoes it exists with no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,8/10.

“We Can Be Heroes!” had a bit of an uphill battle with me, being both from my own home country and a children’s film. But god damn, it managed to win me over. It’s a charming little comedy about finding yourself. It has a good plot, really good characters, really good performances, pretty good music, great directing/editing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Can Be Heroes!” is an 8,89/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying.

My review of “We Can be Heroes!” is now completed.

Things are starting to look up.

Series Review: What We Do in the Shadows – Season 2 (2020)

Taking a break from my dive into my own country’s filmography, just so I can talk about a show I’ve watched over the past ten weeks.

Ladies and gentlemen… “What We Do in the Shadows” season 2!

We once again follow  Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), as they deal with all sorts of supernatural hijinks throughout their daily lives. All the while their human familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) tries to keep his recently discovered vampire slaying legacy secret. So it’s another season of vampiric shenanigans. And just like the first season, the story here are quite a bit of fun. They really went for a deep dive in exploring their own world, as well as old school vampire mythology. And I found it all very entertaining. Sure, there are parts of the show where it dips every so slightly, but generally I have nothing negative to say about the stuff going on here. It’s a silly bit of fun with a surprising amount of thought behind it all.

The characters are colorful, charming, funny, and overall just really interesting. Some of them even go through a surprising amount of development throughout the season. The returning lead cast of Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, and Mark Proksch are all terrific once again. And the guest stars this season (that I won’t mention by name, because it might spoil things) are terrific too.

The music for the show was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, and I think it’s really good. Really captures the sort of gothic, semi-Victorian vibe that they go for with these centuries-old vampires, while still keeping a somewhat cheeky/silly vibe to it. Really fits the show splendidly.

This season was written and directed by a whole bunch of different people, and I think they all did an excellent job with it. The directing is great, they really make the most of the mockumentary format, making for a lot of energetic cleverly directed scenes. The editing is also really good, a lot of good cuts and such going on throughout. And since the show is a comedy, I guess I should briefly touch on the show’s sense of humor. It’s really funny, at times even gutbustingly hilarious. It’s very silly, relying on a mix of wordplay, slapstick, and a hint of raunchy stuff. Sure, the show’s sense of humor might not be for everyone, but I certainly love it.

This season/show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “What We Do in the Shadows” continues the show’s winning streak, with another ten episodes of funny supernatural antics. It has fun stories, great characters, great performances, good music, really good directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “What We Do in the Shadows” season 2 is a 9,80/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “What We Do in the Shadows” season 2 is now completed.

BAT!

Movie Review: House of Angels (1992)

The Summer of the Swedes continues.

Ladies and gentlemen… “House of Angels” (Original title: Änglagård).

When an elderly man (Per Oscarsson) passes away very suddenly, his granddaughter (Helena Bergström) and her boyfriend (Rikard Wolff) inherit and move into his old mansion. And the arrival of this somewhat bohemian couple starts stirring quite a few emotions within the village. The setup is one we’ve kind of seen before, and it’s one I have no problem with seeing, because it’s a fun setup. And while there are some enjoyable moments throughout this film’s narrative, I overall find it lackluster. Any time you see a hint of conflict to add drama, it finds a way to resolve itself before anything genuinely interesting has a chance to kick off. This makes the story feel very inconsequential. What doesn’t help it either is an ass-draggingly slow pace. I don’t mind a slow pace, as long as there’s something actually happening to add to the story (See stuff like “The Godfather”). So when you combine an inconsequential narrative with a drawn out pace, you get an experience that isn’t very fun to follow along with. Like I said before, there are a few fun moments throughout, but the overall package that is this movie’s story just feels very underwhelming.

The characters in this are all wandering cliches, with some of them handling it better than others. Helena Bergström plays Fanny (don’t laugh, it’s an actual name), a young and ambitious woman working to renovate her new home, all while trying to be friends with people in the village and still being herself. It sounds layered, but it’s not. Again, no conflict, no character development. She’s a blank, friendly slate throughout the entire thing. I’ll give her this at least, Helena Bergström is okay in the role. I am generally not a fan of her, but she did an alright job here. Then we have Rikard Wolff as Zac, Fanny’s boyfriend. He’s a man of few words, a cool as ice biker dude with a background as an artist. And while he doesn’t do too much in the story, he at least has a sense of cool that I enjoy watching. And Wolff is good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Sven Wollter, Reine Brynolfsson, Ernst Günther, Viveka Seldahl, Per Oscarsson, Jakob Eklund, and several others, all doing quite well in their respective roles (even if their characters feel a bit hollow).

The score for the movie was composed by Björn Isfält, and it was alright. If you’ve seen other movies set in these sort of rural parts of Sweden, you have heard this sort of idyllic, old school kind of music before. It’s a certain sound that I haven’t really hard in movies from other countries, which I find interesting. Anyway, it’s an alright score that works fine for the movie.

“House of Angels” was written and directed by British expat Colin Nutley, and I think he did an alright job with it. While his direction can’t save the ass-dragging pace or underwhelming story, I do think that it still manages to give some level of watchability to proceedings by being visually pleasing and actually somewhat competent.

This movie has gotten some mixed (but mainly positive) reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10.

While other people seem to like it, I found “House of Angels” to be an uneventful slog to get through. It has a boring plot, hollow characters, good performances, fine music, and pretty good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “House of Angels” is a 4,99/10. So even if there’s some good elements to it, I’d say skip it.

My review of “House of Angels” is now completed.

Summer of the Swedes is off to a rocky start…

Movie Review: Adult Behavior (1999)

Hi there friends. Recently on twitter I announced that I would do a little series called “Summer of the Swedes”, in which I would take a good chunk of my summer to cover more movies from my home country of Sweden on here. I’m not the most well versed in my own country’s output, so I think this little series of mine could be a good way to experience more of it. So let’s get into the first review in this series!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Adult Behavior” (Original title: Vuxna Människor).

Frank (Felix Herngren) works for a respected law firm and lives an alright life with his wife (Karin Bjurström). However, he is also very bored with his life, often drifting off into sexually charged fantasies about most women that he sees. This soon leads into Frank cheating on his wife with a young art student (Källa Bie). However, Frank isn’t the only one in a precarious spot, as those around him also have complications of their own to navigate. “Adult Behavior” has an interesting setup, and even has some interesting things to say about its situations and characters at times. But as a whole, the plot does disappoint slightly. At first it really seems like it will explore its themes and characters in-depth, but never quite goes as far as they probably could. They also have a trouble with tone, sometimes it’s more on the lighthearted side of things, and sometimes it’s quite serious, but there’s no natural transition between the two to justify the sudden switches. This isn’t saying that there aren’t things to appreciate in the storytelling, just that it could’ve used a few more tweaks. But as for what we got, it’s okay.

The characters in this are flawed, somewhat layered, and pretty entertaining. Felix Herngren plays Frank, our main character. He’s a somewhat immature, very horny man. I think he’s probably the most interesting one in the cast since we get to see right into his mind as he drifts off at several points throughout. And Herngren is really good in the role. The rest of the cast, consisting of people like Karin Bjurström, Källa Bie, Mikael Persbrandt, Cecilia Ljung, and more, all portray pretty interesting character, and all give good performances.

The music for the movie was composed by Matti Bye, and it was alright. It’s a little different than other film scores I’ve heard, going for a mildly psychedelic pop-rock vibe that adds a weird and unique edge to the movie. The movie also uses the song “Happy Together” by The Turtles, and I think the usage of it is pretty clever.

“Adult Behavior” was written by Fredrik Lindström, with direction by Lindström and Felix Herngren. And I think they generally did a good job with that stuff. They have really good control of camera and blocking, giving us some visually interesting scenes. There’s also some fun editing going on here, mainly in the scenes switching between the real world and Frank’s filthy thoughts. And since the movie’s a comedy, how is the humor in this? It’s alright. There’s some really funny jokes, but there’s also a bunch that don’t really land, because there’s little to no punchline in them. Really, on that fron it’s kind of a mixed bag.

On Rotten Tomatoes it exists, but has no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,1/10.

“Adult Behavior” is a mixed bag of a movie. It has an underdeveloped (but overall okay) plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, good directing/editing, and mixed comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Adult Behavior” is a 6,25/10. So while heavily flawed, it can still be worth a rental.

My review of “Adult Behavior” is now completed.

Look forward to more Swedish flicks being discussed this summer.

Series Review: We Got This – Season 1 (2020)

For anyone unaware, I’m from Sweden. However, despite this, it is quite rare for me to talk about shows and movies made in my own country. But today I’m actually doing that. Yay?

Mina damer och herrar… “We Got This” season 1.

American ex-pat George (Schiaffino Musarra) has been living in Sweden for some time. However, he has recently acquired quite a huge tax debt. However, he soon finds out that there’s a 50 million SEK reward for solving the assassination of former prime minister Olof Palme. So George teams up with a colorful group of people to try to solve this nearly 40-year old case. But as they investigate, George and his team find themselves delving into a way deeper conspiracy than they probably expected. This concept is a bit on the absurd side of things, and the writing is fully aware of that, taking full advantage of said knowledge to give the storytelling a self-aware and charming tone that gives it a surprising edge over other conspiracy stories. Now, that’s not to say that “We Got This” doesn’t have any serious moments, because it does. But often it leans into a more comedic tone, almost reminding me of stuff from the Coen brothers at times. And I must say that I was thoroughly entertained by the storytelling here.

The characters in this are colorful, a bit weird, and all highly entertaining. Schiaffino Musarra plays George English, American expat trying to fix his financial situation. He’s a kind, smart, but also slightly impatient fella who’s fallen on hard times. And seeing his determination through the series to try to solve this case is quite entertaining. And Musarra is really good in the role. Next we have Alexander Karim as Alex, an old school journalist in a changing landscape. He’s also a friend of George, and the one who’s often the voice of reason (until proven wrong). He has an interesting dynamic within the show that I find quite fun. And Karim is great in the role. Next we have Olle Sarri as Björn. Björn is a bit special. He’s one tinfoil hat away from total kook, but his madness does make him and entertaining and surprisingly valuable part of the cast. And Sarri is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Anki Larsson, Hans Mosesson, Sandra Andreis, Christian Svensson, Johanna Wilson, Lennart Jähkel, Ida Hedlund-Stenmarck, and more, all doing really well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Goran Kajfes, and I think he did an alright job with it. It’s often a fairly jazzy affair, helping sell the lighthearted, working class absurdism of the premise. My main problem is that there aren’t really enough tracks. It makes the few in here (which generally are good) feel slightly repetitive due to some overuse. Again, the music’s pretty good… there just isn’t quite enough unique tracks.

“We Got This” was created by Schiaffino Musarra, who wrote all episodes along with Santiago Gil and Patrik Eklund, with Eklund directing all the episodes. And from that standpoint, the show is quite good too. There’s a lot of fun blocking and camera movements in the show that show how much they actually cared about the actual craft behind the show. And my god, the editing is marvelous. I did not expect to get a show with editing this snappy and energetic and fun. Reminds me a little of Edgar Wright at times. And since the show is a comedy, how’d the humor? I found it quite funny. Now, a lot of it can get lost in translation, unfortunately. But as far as I’m concerned, I laughed.

This show isn’t exactly a big, international thing, so there isn’t much review data on it on most sites I use for this section. But on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

I’ll be honest, I did not expect much from “We Got This”… but boy, am I glad I was proven wrong. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish. It has a really fun plot, great characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Got This” season 1 is a 9,51/10. So it most certainly gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “We Got This” is now completed.

Maybe the title was to make me feel secure with watching the show. “You want a good show? Well don’t worry, We Got This!”.

Series Review: Run – Season 1 (2020)

Love… is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. Wait, Johnny Cash has nothing to do with this. Um… Love is complicated? Sure, let’s go with that. Nice save, Markus… idiot.

Ladies and gents… “Run” season 1.

Years ago, Ruby (Merritt Wever) and Billy (Domhnall Gleeson) were romantically involved, but then sort of lost touch. But not before they made a pact: If one of them text the word “RUN” to the other, and that other person texts back, they would hop on a train and run away together. And now in present day… that’s what happens. So we follow these two ex-lovers as they try to reconnect while also dealing with the personal fallout of past and present actions. “Run” is at its surface a rom-com, but does throughout also show that it has elements of a fast-paced thriller. And I thought it was a fun journey. There were several times where I didn’t see what was coming, and I enjoyed a lot of those moments. Though, the story here isn’t perfect. It often buckles under the pressure of it’s fast-pace, which can make parts of it feel a bit rushed. And without spoiling specifically what happens, I felt that the season finale was underwhelming. I get that they might want a season 2, and that they might want some bigger payoffs further down the line (if they get renewed)… but the finale here still felt like such a whimper compared to what the show felt like it was building to. Again, it’s a fine journey, and I hope that a second season could rectify that underwhelming season finale… but overall the story here is alright.

The characters in this are fun, colorful, flawed, and overall pretty interesting. Merritt Wever plays Ruby, a wife and mother and the person we meet first in this show. She’s a charming woman with some emotional baggage that creeps up at times for a bit of drama. And her arc here is mostly interesting. And Wever is great in the role. Next we have Domhnall Gleeson as Billy, Ruby’s ex-lover, and our male lead. And I won’t say what he’s like, since there’s a few details better revealed through the plot. But he also has an interesting arc that they do some fun stuff with. And Gleeson is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rich Sommer, Archie Panjabi, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The music for the show was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe (haven’t seen his name in a while, wow). And I think he did a good job with it. His music is fun and frantic, very much befitting of the nature of this show. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work pretty well too.

“Run” was created for HBO by Vicky Jones, with writing and directing by a whole bunch of people. And the craft here is generally good. The direction is energetic and engaging, really bringing us into the scene in interesting ways. And the cinematography, which was split between Matthew Clark and Kristin Fieldhouse, is really good, giving us a lot of fun and visually arresting shots.

This show/season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

Season 1 of “Run” may be a flawed experienced, brought down by a sometimes overly frenetic pace and an underwhelming finale, but overall it’s still an enjoyable season of television that subverts rom-com cliches in some really fun ways. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and good directing and cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Run” is a 7,10/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it can be worth watching.

My review of season of “Run” is now completed.

This might be the horniest show I’ve seen in a while.

Movie Review: Bad Education (2020)

I am so thankful for HBO existing over here in Sweden. This means I got to watch this movie the day after it aired in the United States. Yes, I am bragging. Not as an insult to those who can’t watch it, but just because I’m happy over this luck I have. Anyhow, review time.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gents… “Bad Education”.

Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is the superintendent of the Roslyn school district in the state of New York. He’s beloved by all, always taking time to assist colleagues and students, being a real beacon of hope and success. But as we follow him through the movie, we start to find out that he and his colleagues may have some shady, monetary dealings going on. I really enjoyed the story here, as it takes a very fly-on-the-wall approach to its storytelling. While it makes clear that some of the shady shit going on isn’t okay, it doesn’t necessarily take a side and say that anyone here is an outright bad person, instead just presenting the facts, pimples and shiny smiles alike, allowing the viewer to take their own stance on things. It also has an interesting tone, more often than not going for a more darkly comedic approach rather than straight drama, which I think really adds some extra flavor to proceedings. It’s an interesting story told in a nuanced and engaging way.

The characters are flawed, colorful, layered, and just overall quite interesting. Hugh Jackman plays Frank Tassone, the charismatic superintendent at the center of the story. He’s friendly, charming, coming off as the perfect man to lead the charge in getting a school district to the top. But as we soon find out, he may or may not have a few secrets of his own. Hugh Jackman is excellent in the role, giving a relatively subdued performance where you can read every little emotion and thought in his eyes. Next we have Allison Janney as Pam Gluckin, Frank’s colleague, and also the person who keeps tabs on the economy in the school(s). And as you might expect from that description and the fact that she’s played by Allison Janney, she’s quite an intriguing presence in the story. And Janney is great in the role. I love her chemistry with Jackman as well, they are a lot of fun together. Next we have Geraldine Viswanathan as Rachel, a student at one of the schools in Frank’s district. She’s a bright young lady, working as a journalist for the school paper. She’s one of the more interesting supporting players here as she gets plenty to do, and Viswanathan does a really good job in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Ray Romano, Rafael Casal, Annaleigh Ashford, Stephanie Kurtzuba, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Abels, and it was good. It has a bit of a classic vibe, leaning mainly on string-based arrangements, with the occasional woodwind to back it up. And I think it works well for what happens in the movie. There’s also one or two licensed songs used throughout, and they decently well too.

Based on the article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker, “Bad Education” was written by Mike Makowsky and directed by Cory Finley. And I must say that I am impressed by that side of the movie. There’s a slickness to it all. Finley really gives scenes a nice flow, you can tell that he is in full control of the situations, giving us directing that really made the movie have an interesting and engaging vibe.

This movie has so far been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Bad Education” is a really well made biopic that tells a really interesting tale. The story’s really good, the characters are interesting, the performances are great, the music’s good, and the writing/directing is great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Education” is a 9,77/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Education” is now completed.

Stay in school, kids. Even if shady shit could be going on.

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 2 (1997 – 1998)

As some of you may know, earlier this year my mother and I started our rewatch of this show. And I promised to document said journey. Episode-by-episode thoughts will be posted to my twitter as soon as an episode is watched. And as each season gets finished, I will (as seen here) write a review of them all. Enough dawdling, review time!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 2!

Summer holiday is over, which means Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) makes her return to Sunnydale after spending some time with her dad in L.A. Which means it’s back to business as usual: Trying to get good grades in school while also working to save the people of Sunnydale from various supernatural threats, including the newly arrived vampires Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau). Season 2 takes the basic setup of the first season, and improves upon it tenfold thanks to increased budget and confidence in the writing. The main arc(s) in this season mesmerizes, creating an emotionally resonant experience that leaves a unique emotionally visceral impact by the end of it all. The highs of this season are even higher than the first one. Yes, there are still a dud or two, such as the much maligned “Go Fish” or the messy “Bad Eggs”. But then you get some truly awesome experiences in exchange, such as the wonderful “Halloween” or the spectacular and gut-wrenching “Passion”. So while there are a few less than stellar episodes, the overall package is a huge leap in quality from the first season, making for a fucking terrific batch of stories.

The characters in the show are still very colorful, fun, and entertaining, but also get a shitload of development, deepening our bond to them even further. Sarah Michelle Gellar of course returns as the titular vampire slayer. She gets to go through a loooot of stuff this season, and whoa, by the end she has developed so much as a character, which is truly compelling. And Gellar is great in the role, really getting to flex her acting muscles even more than in the first season. David Boreanaz returns as Angel, the vampire with a soul… that means he’s not a bitey bastard anymore, for you uninitiated folks out there. And like Buffy, he goes through a lot of stuff this season that is really interesting to see, both in how it affects him as a character, and how it affects his relationship with Buffy. And Boreanaz is great in the role. Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, and Charisma Carpenter return as Buffy’s friends, and they’re all great, both on the character and acting front. Anthony Head is still wonderful as Buffy’s Watcher/mentor Giles. Now let’s talk about some newcomers… namely Spike and Drusilla, the newly arrived vampires. Spike is an anarchic punk, an absolute dick who likes to cause chaos and fear where he goes… and that kind of makes him the best character, because he’s just a blast to watch, especially since James Marsters clearly has a blast with the role. Next is Drusilla, Spike’s girlfriend, and resident crazy person. I don’t wanna say much more, since I find her personality and arc to be more fascinating to experience rather than told. But I’ll say that she’s interesting and Juliet Landau does a good job in the role. And with people like Robia LaMorte, Kristine Sutherland, Armin Shimerman, Seth Green, Danny Strong, and many more filling out the supporting cast, you get a lot of solid performances.

Season 1 composer Walter Murphy did not return for this second go-around, with compsing duties being handed over to Christophe Beck. And just like with the storytelling and character arcs, the music of season 2 is a vast improvement on the first season. Way fewer synthesizers to emulate orchestras are used, with real instruments getting to take center stage. And while there are some big, bombastic pieces for action set pieces, the overall vibe of the score this season is somber, giving off an understated feeling of sadness that still manages to have some hope behind it. Of course this is best shown in the track “Close Your Eyes”, but it does show in a few other pieces too. Beck really brought his A-game here. There’s a few licensed tracks used throughout too, and they’re fine.

As with season 1, Joss Whedon and a bunch of other cool people handled writing and directing for the season, and generally it is all really well handled (yes, even in bad episodes). It’s well shot, fight choreography ranges from alright to really good, the craft is just generally improved from the first time around (wow, saying that is really getting old). You can tell that the creatives behind the show really cared, trying to bring it to 110% each time (with varying results). Even the effects are improved… even though that doesn’t say much, because we’re talking about late 90s tv budget CGI for certain effects. The practical stuff looks fantastic, but hooooo boy, some of them there fancy computer effects aren’t so fancy anymore. It doesn’t ruin the experience for me, but it’s worth pointing out. Generally the craft here is terrific.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but with no critics rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

While it does have one or two low points, season 2 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a great sophomore outing that takes its simple premise and elevates it to something really special. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 2 is a 9,78/10. So yes, that is correct, it does indeed get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

Season 2 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is now completed.

“Go Fish”, more like “Go Fuck Itself”.

Series Review: Transformers Prime – Season 1 (2010 – 2011)

Hello. My name is Markus. I’m 22 (soon 23) years old, and I watch kids cartoons. And you can’t fucking stop me.

Ladies and gents… “Transformers Prime” season 1.

A heroic group of alien robots known as the Autobots secretly reside on planet Earth as they try to fight off the villainous Decepticons. The setup is basically the same as any other “Transformers” adaptation, Autobots fighting Decepticons, Autobots having some human friends, yada yada yada. No need to dwell on the setup stuff, as it’s basically the same in most shows. However, “Transformers Prime” transcends its well-trodden premise in its execution, which is pretty damn good. While it’s still a kid-friendly action cartoon, it sports a fairly serious tone that isn’t afraid to go to some surprisingly dark places at times, making for a show that can give kids the colorful action fix they might want, while also featuring some surprising nuance for any potential adults (AKA me) watching. Even the filler episodes help further develop the world and characters, while still retaining a relatively closed off plot for those specific episodes. Am I saying this is the deepest plot for a show ever? Of course not. But it’s still way more compelling than I actually expected, leading me to be genuinely invested in what was going on without solely relying on my nostalgia for this franchise.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and surprisingly nuanced (kinda like the plot). The cast is a bit too big to go into detail for, so here’s just a quick rundown (starting with the core Autobot team). You got Peter Cullen back as the ever inspiring Optimus Prime, you got Kevin Michael Richardson as the strong but not too smart Bulkhead, you got Sumalee Montano as the fierce and loyal Arcee, and you got Jeffrey Combs as the ever cranky but lovable Ratchet. Among the bad guys you got Frank Welker (fuck yeah) back as the menacing Megatron, you got Steve Blum as the ever scheming Starscream, you got Daran Norris (who possibly gives my favorite performance in the show) as the sassy and clever Knock Out, and you got Gina Torres as the sinister Airachnid. As for human characters, you got Josh Keaton as aspiring cool guy Jack, you got Tania Gunadi as the almost annoying, but luckily endearing Miko, you get Andy Pessoa as the young but bright Rafael, and you get Ernie god damn Hudson as Special Agent Fowler. Sorry I won’t go into more detail on each character, but I don’t have the time or willingness to ruin some interesting developments that occur.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler and Matthew Margeson, and I think they did a good job with it. For the most part it is of course the cool action brass one might expect, but it does get a little more somber when needed. There is also frequent use of the main theme as well, but I’m fine with that, because it’s great. Really, this score is solid.

“Transformers Prime” was developed for the Hub Network by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Duane Capizzi, and Jeff Kline, with writing/directing by a whole load of cool people. And I have to say, this show is way more well crafted than I expected… those last three words seem to be coming up a lot in this review. The first time I saw the art style, I wasn’t really a fan. But when I watched it in action, I grew to really like it, with only a few minor niggles regarding some of the human designs. But the overall animation here is great, showing plenty of detail without sacrificing good movements and such. Usually I tend to lean towards preferring drawn 2D animation, but here I think the animation team made great use of 3D animation to create a lot of fun angles and camera movements, making for some spectacular action scenes.

The show doesn’t really exist on my sites I use for this “other ratings” section. But on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

Season 1 of “Transformers Prime” surprised the hell out of me, it’s one of the best action cartoons I’ve seen in recent years. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Transformers Prime” is a 9,62/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Transformers Prime” season 1 is now completed.

Roll out…

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.