Movie Review: Out of Sight (1998)

Hey. Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. Had a bad case of the lazy. But now I’m back. And hopefully we’ll get some consistency in post frequency from it. Anyway, first review of the year, here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Out of Sight”.

After he escapes from prison, career criminal Jack Foley (George Clooney) has to go on the run and try to avoid a U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez) that he shares a connection with. So now we have our crime-caper plot. And it’s a good one. It doesn’t rely that much on shocking twists and turns for its narrative, instead just relying on a fast pace and a sort of sex appeal that gives it a unique vibe that I can’t say I’ve seen much of in crime-capers. But yeah, the plot here is just generally fun, fast, and quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, interesting, and overall quite entertaining. George Clooney plays Jack Foley, the crook at the center of this story. I’d say he’s like a less cool-headed version of Danny Ocean, but you can definitely recognize some elements of that character in this one. Though Foley does stand out as his own entity and I find him to be quite an entertaining protagonist. And Clooney is great in the role. Next we have Jennifer Lopez as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens… no, wait… sorry, wrong Elmore Leonard franchise… U.S. Marhsal Karen Sisco, that’s her name. She’s a tough, sexy, and capable woman who is on the hunt for our main protagonist. She’s pretty fun and has an enjoyable dynamic with Foley. And Lopez is really good in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, Dennis Farina, Luis Guzmán, Albert Brooks, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Holmes, and it’s awesome. It’s funky, it’s jazzy, and it captures the sort of sly sex appeal that the plot is going for, which adds to the overall fun factor of the entire thing. My favorite aspect of it is how many slick basslines there are throughout, I love the inclusion of them. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has great music.

Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard (hence the joke from earlier), this movie was written by Scott Frank, and directed by Steven Soderbergh. And as a fan of “Justified” (another Elmore Leonard adaptation), the writings and overall style of this movie appeals to me. It has a similar kind of energy and snappiness to “Justified”, and that just makes it incredibly watchable for me. But even discounting my love for the aforementioned tv show, the movie just has this sort of infectious energy that I find quite fun. And even through the fun, it manages to have a decent bit of suspense throughout, giving it a bit of a welcome edge.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie was nominated for two Oscars in the categories of Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing.

“Out of Sight” really surprised me, it’s one hell of an enjoyable movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Out of Sight” is a 9,65/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Out of Sight” is now completed.

Despite having seen multiple Elmore Leonard adaptations, I haven’t read any of his books. Might need to fix that soon.

 

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Movie Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

What really is there to say about Spider-Man at this point? He’s one of the most well known, beloved, and profitable superheroes of all time. You all know who he is, so nothing really has to be said, I am excited to talk about this different take on the franchise.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is just your average guy, except for the fact that he’s been bitten by a strange spider and has received Spider-Man-ish powers. And at the same time as he’s trying to get the hang of these new abilities, he discovers that Spider-people from other dimensions have shown up. So now Miles has to team up with his inter-dimensional namesakes to save the multiverse. And I absolutely loved the story here. It’s a fast-paced and fun comic book adventure that flies by fast than you can say “thwip”. It manages to be a good origin for this character that a lot of mainstream audience members might not know anything about, while also presenting a big multiverse adventure that should please a lot of comic book fans. But even amidst the fast-paced insanity, it knows when to slow down a bit and let the dramatic moments simmer a bit, making this whole ordeal a bit more engaging. So yeah, this is a great plot.

The characters in this are colorful, unique, fun, and just really interesting. Shameik Moore plays Miles Morales, this average guy who has a bit of trouble fitting into his current life. And when the Spider stuff comes into his life it forces him to evolve a bit as a person, and the development Miles gets is quite interesting. And Moore does a really good job voicing him. Jake Johnson plays Peter Parker, a cynical slob who’s also god damn Spider-Man. Not gonna say how he got there, but it’s funny and interesting, and he too gets some good development here. And Johnson does a really good job in the role. Next we have Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, another interesting character who gets some decent development. And Steinfeld does a great job voicing the character. We also get supporting performances from people like Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, LIev Schreiber, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Kimiko Glenn, Kathryn Hahn, Chris Pine, and MANY more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Daniel Pemberton, and I think he did a great job. While there of course is a lot of the heroic orchestral stuff throughout, Pemberton also mixed in stuff from hiphop, electronica, jazz, and even rock to create a sound that is both familiar and unique, which gives the movie its own sound. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and while I personally wouldn’t find myself listening to them on my own time, I thought they worked very well within the movie.

So this is an animated movie, and I seriously loved the animation here. At first some of it might look like it’s missing frames, but it didn’t take too long for me to get over that. And from that point on I got to experience one of the most visually stunning things ever. I don’t even know how to fully explain it, it’s just like someone put a fucking comic into a machine that would make the panels fully animated. It’s colorful, it’s fluid, it’s stylish, it’s unique, and it’s just some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at. Which also makes for some truly amazing action scenes. The movie also has a lot of comedy throughout, and all of it made me laugh, this is absolutely hilarious. Some of it subtle dialog, some of it broad slapstick, and some in-between stuff.

This movie just came out, but it has already been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #30 on the “Top 250” list.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is an absolutely magical movie, filled with great stuff for both comic book fans and casual movie goers. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, amazing animation/action, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a 9,90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is now completed.

2018 is a great year to be a Spidey-fan.

Series Review: A Very English Scandal (2018)

What? You thought I was taking a break from blogging just because it’s christmas? Pffft. Don’t be silly.

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 show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Very English Scandal”.

We follow Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), a British politician who’s beloved by many. But that could change if the people found out that he’d had a sexual relationship with a young man named Norman (Ben Whishaw). So really this is all about how Thorpe tries to cover up this part of his life, for fear of Norman exposing him. And I really liked the plot here. It not only gives us an engaging personal journey for both Thorpe and Norman, but we also get a fascinating look at how British politics and such worked in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s mainly steeped in drama, which it already handles very well, but what really gives it an edge is a sort of sly wit that makes it a lot more watchable. So yeah, the plot here is layered, fun, and overall quite engaging.

The characters here are layered, colorful, and just overall interesting. Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a highly charismatic British politician (paradoxical description, I know) who, as I already mentioned, has a secret… a secret that back in those days could be devastating if it would be brought into the light. So seeing him develop throughout the show as he deals with trying to hide his “shameful sins” is quite fascinating. And Hugh Grant is Hugh Great in the role. Ben Whishaw plays Norman Josiffe, the young man that Thorpe has his affair with. After they have a bit of a falling out, Norman kind of tries to expose this affair to the world. And seeing him go through all his struggles in the series is quite interesting. And Whishaw is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Alex Jennings, Patricia Hodge, Paul Hilton, Blake Harrison, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Murray Gold, and I think he did a great job with it. Remember how I said the storytelling here has kind of a sly wit to it? That often reflects in the score as well, as it both through its excellent main theme and a few other pieces carries an almost bouncy feel to it that captures the witty style quite well. That’s not to say that it’s all fun, as Gold also knows when to pull it back a bit and create some really good dramatic pieces.

Based on a book by John Preston, the show was written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, and I think their teamwork here paid off quite well, as I think the craft on display here is really solid. There’s an energy to it all that makes it quite entertaining to follow, Frears (who is a generally a good director) really brought his A-game here. And Davies’ writing here presents all characters here in a way that doesn’t take much of an actual stance. Positives, negatives, both are shown here. The writing here is also surprisingly funny. Not in a straight-up comedy kind of way, but (again) in a sort of sly way.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“A Very English Scandal” is a surprisingly entertaining political drama filled with great acting. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Very English Scandal” is a 9,61/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “A Very English Scandal” is now completed.

Maybe Hugh Grant is more of a character actor than a proper leading man…

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Final Part)

It’s time, ladies and gentlemen. The final part in this year’s 12 Days of Christmas series. It’s been fun, but it’s time for it to come to an end. So let’s go out on a note.

I was considering going with “Jingle All the Way” for this last one, as it was on tv earlier. But then I decided against it because I’d prefer to not get annoyed by a movie on christmas fucking eve. So instead I went with a different thing that was on tv, something that airs every year, same Bat-time, same Bat-channe- damn it, wrong old thing. This is “From All of Us, to All of You”. In this interesting piece of Disney animation, Mickey Mouse and Jiminy Cricket host a sort of christmas show in which they give us some “christmas cards” from various characters. These “cards” are short films, some actually christmas related, and some just clips from movies like “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book”. And for some unknown reason, it has aired on Swedish television every year since 1960. So yeah, living here in Sweden all my life, I’m kind of familiar with this. I feel nostalgic about seeing it, but at the same time it almost gets a bit same-y, since nothing new is added. Okay, I lied, at the end they show clips from new/upcoming Disney movies, but other than that, it’s the same thing as always, with only minor edits throughout the years. That said, there’s something a bit nice and warm about it, and it brings a nice sense of joy every time I see it. “From All of Us, To All of You” is a charming little compilation with a fascinating legacy.

On the last of christmas’ days, Markus wishes your ass, happy holidays, and a merry fucking christmas.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 11)

Part 11. The penultimate part. Man, time sure has flown by. It feels like barely any time has gone by, yet we’re already right at the end of this. Anyway, less sentimentality, more profanity.

Can you really talk about christmas movies without ever mentioning Shane Black? He makes movies that aren’t strictly about the holiday, but are set around it. And “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is no different. Released in 2005, the movie follows Harry (Robert Downey Jr.), a no-good shyster pretending to be an actor to evade the law. As he does this he gets to work with a detective (Val Kilmer) to prepare for a role. But soon they find themselves having to solve the complicated murder of a young woman. So now we have our murder mystery that is also a satire of murder mysteries while also being a buddy cop movie of sorts… hmm. And I still think it’s one hell of a fun movie. I saw it for the first time a few years back and loved it… and I still do. The mystery (while a bit convoluted) is quite fascinating, and Downey and Kilmer make for one hell of a double act. They have an infectious chemistry that I loved following from start to finish. All the performances here are great, and Shane Black’s dialog is as razor sharp as ever. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a total blast.

On the eleventh day of christmas, Markus he did laugh, at Val Kilmer asking “Who taught you math!?”.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 10)

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Why am I doing this to myself?

Sometimes you watch good movies. Sometimes you watch bad movies. And sometimes, you might find a “Holy Mess”. Released in 2015, this holiday dramedy is about a gay couple (Anastasios Soulis and Anton Lundqvist) who invite a bunch of their relatives over to celebrate christmas. Cue the dysfunctional family crap, involving homophobia, familial inadequacy, and poor writing. The ideas here aren’t inherently bad, I am 100% sure that they could be used to make a truly compelling piece of cinema. But the writing here isn’t exactly what you’d call… good. When it tries to be funny, it’s groan-worthy. Then when it switches to the drama side of things it expects one to care… but I really didn’t, because like I said… the writing is a holy mess (see what I did there?). But let’s be generous and look at some of the positives. Most of the performances here are good, with Robert Gustafsson (mostly known for comedy) being a real standout with a really good dramatic performance. And the cinematography here is pretty good too, there are some solid enough shots and camera movements throughout. But in the end it all comes down to the writing, and as we’ve discussed, it’s more lutfisk than christmas ham. As the title suggests, this film is indeed a “Holy Mess”.

On the tenth day of christmas, Markus must confess, that he’s not a fan of Holy Mess.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 9)

Holy shit, we are already three quarters through this dumb thing. Man, time flies like a hummingbird on cocaine. Anyway, let’s get into this thing.

So what’s the movie today? Is it another cute and family-friendly thing? More made-for-tv schlock? Nope. Today we’re going quite far from the glitzy shit of the Hallmawk channel or the kid-friendly stuff of the Muppets. Today we are talking about a foul-mouthed, violent, and foreign movie. This is “Jackpot”, a 2011 Norwegian crime-comedy-thriller written by famed author Jo Nesbø and follows Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) who wakes up, covered in blood and with a shotgun in his hand… in a strip club. And we follow him as he talks to a cop about everything that led up to this. So how’s this connected to christmas? It’s set around the holidays, that’s it. Anyway, do I think this is a good movie? Kind of. With this I really sense that Nesbø tried to emulate Quentin Tarantino a bit. And while I like Tarantino, I don’t think it was the right approach for this. Nesbø is a brilliant writer, but I think that’s more when he goes for his own style rather than trying to ape someone else. That’s not to say that this is bad, because it’s not. The actors are great, the directing is pretty solid, and there’s some genuinely funny and even kinda tense moments. It’s one of those that I kinda recommend you putting on during a rainy Sunday afternoon, when you got not much else to do. “Jackpot” is a decent crime caper.

On the ninth day of christmas, Markus gives to you, something with blood, booze, and some money too. 

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 7)

Good day to you all! Hope all of you are doing well! Man, I’m in a good mood today, let’s do this!

I was considering doing “Alvin and the Chipmunks” for today’s thing, but then I decided to not be cruel to myself like that. So instead I went with something that I hadn’t seen, but was based on something that always brings a smile. It’s “A Muppet Family Christmas”. So what’s it about? Simple, Kermit, Animal, and the rest of the gang travel to Fozzie’s mother’s home to celebrate the holidays. Cue the singing, heartwarming talks, and funny hijinks that one expects from these lovable cloth creatures. And that’s really it. The only real twist here is that characters from both “Sesame Street” and “Fraggle Rock” show up to join in the fun. Not much that can be said, I love Muppets, and they use them to great effect here, giving me a nice, cozy feeling. It’s the frickin’ Muppets… how could one not get all warm inside? “A Muppet Family Christmas” brings much joy for the holidays.

On the seventh day of christmas, Markus brings to you, the Swedish Chef once again speaking gobbledygoo. 

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 4)

What? Did you think all these would be made-for-tv schlock? Wrong. Sometimes I do old stuff too.

As you could probably guess from the header image, today we are talking about Rankin/Bass’ beloved 1964 classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. And you guys already know the story. Even if you haven’t seen this thing, then you’ve absolutely heard that song. And if not, then I wonder what cave you’ve been living in for the past millennium. But to recap, there’s this reindeer, his name’s Rudolph, he has a red nose with the watt count of a fucking spotlight (and it apparently also has a dimming option). This little thing makes the other reindeer mock him, despite it doing no actual harm to anyone. So we follow him as he tries to fit in. That’s basically it. All I wonder is how in the shit they stretch this out to a 50-minute runtime. I mean, the inclusion of snow monsters, an elf that wants to become a dentist, and a prospector packing heat certainly might help in extending it a bit. But this is also the aspect that drags this special down a bit… that runtime feels dragged out. 25 – 30 minutes would have sufficed, but somehow it’s 51 minutes long. Yes, this special has a ton of charm and some really catchy tunes… but it all feels a bit dragged out. I mean, it’s good… I’m just not in love like those who grew up watching this.

On the fourth day of christmas, Markus decided to pick, a thing telling you not to be a dick.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 3)

Howdy, and welcome to part 3 in this year’s 12 Films of Christmas series. Let’s get into this thing.

That’s right, I’m doing another made-for-tv movie. This time it’s “Just in Time for Christmas”, a 2015 Hallmark channel original about a young woman (Lindsay Rogers) who has to ponder a difficult choice. Either she follows her ambitions to get her dream job, or she follows her heart and marries her long time boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David). As she ponders about this, a mysterious man on a carriage (William Shatner, yes really), who I’ve elected to call Shatner Claus (because that’s what he might as well be), takes her for a ride. And at some point during this ride she may or may not be transported into the future that shows her following her ambitions (anybody else getting “A Christmas Carol” vibes?), and what consequences that might have. Admittedly, this is a decent idea, I have a soft spot for alternate universes/timelines in storytelling, so this intrigued early on. But then I finished watching it. And guess what? It’s absolutely fucking… mediocre. Yeah, bet you didn’t see that one coming. There is some actual talent on display here, it’s not a full-on shitshow (unlike the “movie” we talked about yesterday *shudders*). I mean, it foregoes a lot of logic and realism, but it’s at least passable. The characters aren’t the worst, the story has a few decent ideas, and I got kind of a cozy vibe from this entire thing. Plus, having Christopher Lloyd in your movie doesn’t exactly hurt. The actors are pretty good, the cinematography is… fine, the storytelling isn’t bad. The movie’s biggest problem is that it’s just passable at best. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend going out of your way to watch it. But if I had to choose between rewatching this or yesterday’s “movie”, I’d happily pick this every time. “Just in Time for Christmas” isn’t a modern classic, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve watched.

On the third day of christmas, Markus brings to thee, Shatner Claus and some mediocrity.