Movie Review: The Karate Kid (1984)

Your suspicions are correct, I only saw this classic for the first time today. I know, shame on me for being late to the party, yada yada yada. Now, for those who haven’t left me over this horrific revelation… let’s talk about the movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Karate Kid”.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) has just moved to California with his mom (Randee Heller). However, things aren’t just sunshine and palm trees for poor Daniel, as he soon starts getting bullied by a group of karate-proficient bullies. This soon leads him to befriending an older Japanese man (Pat Morita) that may or may not be able to teach Daniel how to defend himself. So you get yourself a bit of an underdog story, a bit of a coming of age story, and a bit of martial arts (and even a few drops of philosophy). It’s a narrative that encompasses a lot of things, and handles most of them with a surprising amount of grace and nuance. This does add a little bit to my main criticism with the film, which is that the runtime really could be felt at times. I wasn’t necessarily bored per se, but let’s just say that those 2+ hours do feelt like 2+ hours. Overall it is a fun story that I found myself pretty engaged with, even if it felt like it dragged at points.

The characters in this are colorful, entertaining, and surprisingly layered. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, the Jersey kid forced over to California. At first he can come off as that typical angsty teen, but soon shows that he is more than that. He’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a good dude who just wants to live his life. And to see that personality get tested through Daniel’s various trials and tribulations is quite interesting, with Macchio giving a great performance. Next we have Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the older man that Daniel befriends and (as you all know) agrees to train. He’s a bit of an eccentric man, which makes him a really entertaining character, with Morita being really good in the role. And I have to say, the chemistry between Macchio and Morita is stellar, and is arguably the best part of the entire movie. We also get supporting work from people like Randee Heller, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Bill Conti, and it was a lot of fun. It has a lot of familiar 1980s cheese to it with big, inspirational brass and what I’d like to call “montage synths”. You know, those kinds of synths that only show up in old underdog stories to serve as some sort of personal growth/montage thing for the character (you’ll know ’em when you hear ’em). Either way, I think his score is a lot of fun and works well for the movie. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used through, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Karate Kid” was directed by John G. Avildsen, and I think he did a good job. Shots have a nice flow to them, and his direction has a certain type of energy that really helps bring you into the scene. He also makes the story feel a bit more grandiose than it is. Because if you think about it, the story itself is relatively small scale, but Avildsen has a way of making it feel quite substantial. I will also say that I enjoy the way he shoots martial arts. It doesn’t show up that much in the film, all things considered, but when it does it’s nicely shot and gets properly shown off.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Morita).

So while it does have some mild pacing issues, “The Karate Kid” is still a highly entertaining coming of age story that I really enjoyed. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Karate Kid” is an 8.60/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “The Karate Kid” is now completed.

You’re the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep you down…

Movie Review: Let the Right One In (2008)

Good afternoon, my friends. Or good whatever-fucking-time-it-is-when-you-read-this. Either way, time for another Summer of the Swedes entry.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let the Right One In” (Original title: Låt den rätte komma in).

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) doesn’t have it easy. He tries to just live his life, which is made harder at every turn by some other boys who bully him. But one day on a chilly winter night, he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a weird and mysterious girl that he soon starts befriending, which will change his life in a major way. Initial setup sounds a tad similar to “We Can Be Heroes!”, which I reviewed a week or so ago. But in execution it’s very different. Instead of being a lighthearted and funny story about outcasts who learn to follow their dreams, this is a slowly burning, somber affair that incorporates elements of existentialism and of course also the supernatural. And I found it to be utterly fucking engaging. Some people might hate the slow pace of it, in combination with the lack of scares (since it’s technically a horror movie)… but for me it just really clicked in an emotionally engaging way.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, and overall just really interesting. Something about the characters here just feels real to me, at least more so than many movies I’ve seen recently. And while some of the kid actors here aren’t necessarily great, they do still sell their performances pretty well. Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Patrik Rydmark, they all do well. And the adult actors like Per Ragnar and Karin Bergquist all do really well in their roles. It’s a well rounded cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Johan Söderqvist, and I think he did a really good job with it. It’s a somber affair, helping create this electrifying, almost dreamlike vibe for the movie. It helps create a deeper emotional connection between the viewer, really adding a lot to the atmosphere of the movie.

Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the script for “Let the Right One In” was written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, with Tomas Alfredson serving as director. The craft here is generally really good. Alfredson really knows how to make scenes feel both warmly engaging and weirdly unsettling. He also knows what to show, when to show it, and how long to show it. There is some genuinely disturbing imagery at times, and Alfredson does an excellent job in its usage. And the cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is really good as well, giving the movie a unique and stunning look that adds so much to the atmosphere.

This film has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Let the Right One In” is an excellent little horror-drama. It has a great plot, great characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let the Right One In” is a 9,78/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Let the Right One In” is now completed.

Finally, a great movie in this series of mine.

Movie Review: Booksmart (2019)

And now we enter the part of the year where I make an attempt at catching up on flicks from earlier in the year. So here we go.

Ladies and gents, are you street smart, or are you… “Booksmart”.

All through high school, best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) have been all about getting good grades. But on the night before graduation, they realize that they could’ve taken time to have a bit of fun too, so they make an attempt at compensating for that on this night. So now we have our coming-of-age comedy setup. And I really enjoyed the plot here. It’s fast-paced, it’s fun, and it manages to balance its tone perfectly. For the most part it is this fairly raunchy comedy, but there are times where it’s also willing to slow down and let its characters breathe a bit, adding some much welcome nuance that you don’t see too often in these kinds of movies.

The characters in “Booksmart” are colorful, flawed, fun, and fairly interesting. Amy and Molly. Best friends. Charming. Slightly awkward. Literature clever. I loved following them, they were really enjoyable protagonists that get a decent amount of development, without losing what made them appealing in the first place. And the performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are great. And while I won’t get in-depth with too many more characters, I will say that there’s a character here, played by Billie Lourd, who is an absolute scene stealer. But we do also get some supporting work from people like Jason Sudeikis, Skyler Gisondo, Jessica Williams, Victoria Ruesga, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music in this, while not necessarily my cup of tea, worked well throughout. There’s plenty of licensed, contemporary music. The kind that youths of today would listen to… probably. “Youths of today”, Jesus shitting Christ, I’m sounding like an old man. My age dysphoria aside, this music works well enough for the movie.

“Booksmart” is the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, and I think she did a really good job with it. A lot of these kinds of movies often run on what I call the “Press record on the camera” style of filmmaking, which means that the movies look bland as shit, having little to no visual effort put in. And while I wouldn’t say this is one of the most well shot movies of all time, the fact that there’s actual effort put into direction and camerawork in this movie  adds so much. And since this is a comedy, let’s talk about the humor. Is it funny? Yeah, I’d say so. It’s often quite raunchy, but not just in a “someone said a sex thing” kind of raunch, but in a lot of surprisingly clever ways. It makes for humor that is both raunchy and funny at the same time, which fits in perfectly with the overall snappiness of the dialogue.

This movie 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 7,3/10.

“Booksmart” is one of the better comedies in recent years. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, pretty good music, and really good directing. Time for my final *Ahem*. My final score for “Booksmart” is a 9,56/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Booksmart” is now completed.

Well done, Olivia Wilde. Solid debut.

Movie Review: About a Boy (2002)

Having kids. Not everyone’s cup of tea. There, I said it. So many think everyone should have kids and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. But that’s such a narrow view of stuff. Be open to other people’s life choices. And those who don’t wanna have kids, don’t look down at those who have kids. Let’s all be friends.

Ladies and gentlemen… “About a Boy”.

Will (Hugh Grant) is an immature, cynical bachelor that has chosen single mothers as his new dating targets, and he’s willing to put up any lie to get inside their pants. This however backfires when a 12-year old boy (Nicholas Hoult) starts seeing through his lie, and becomes a central part of Will’s life. And maybe these two will learn some stuff from each other. So now we have our rom-rom/coming-of-age story. And it honestly subverted a lot of expectations I had. With these two genres, one expects a lot of tropes, and we do get a few of them here, which end up being some of the weaker elements of the story. But with that said, there’s still enough nuance and subversion here to make it an intriguing and surprisingly engaging take on these two familiar genres, while still giving you some of the heartwarming bits you’d expect.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Hugh Grant plays Will, the cynical man-child at the center of this story. Never one to commit himself to a single person for long, he drifts around various women like a lying asshole. He isn’t the typical charming, Hugh Grant rom-com character, and it makes him quite an intriguing and refreshing character to watch as he evolves. And Grant is great in the role. Next we have a young Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, the little kid that Will begrudgingly “befriends”. He’s a bit weird, but he’s also clever, charming, and quite an endearing kid. And Hoult is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Toni Collette, Natalia Tena, Rachel Weisz, Victoria Smurfit, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by the musician known as Badly Drawn Boy, and it was good. They’re basically indie pop songs, which I’d assume is the genre that Badly Drawn Boy might be associated with usually. There are even a few instrumentals that could fit that description used throughout. And this music works alright within the story. The tunes themselves are pretty good, it’s just that when used within a movie context, it creates a bit of a bland vibe. So overall… pretty good.

Based on a novel by Nick Hornby, this movie was directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, and I think they did a good job with it. There’s certainly a warmth their direction brings that makes it feel nice to watch (if that makes any sense). What really surprised me though was the shot composition. So many romantic comedies out there have what I like to call a “start the camera” look, in which it just looks like they started the camera, with no real thought of giving the movie an interesting style or any fun camerawork. But here, there’s plenty of both, this is a really well shot movie. And since it’s a comedy, we should talk about the humor… it’s funny. Some light slapstick, some surprisingly dark jokes, some clever digs at things. I laughed throughout.

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 75/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay.

While it still dips into cliches at times, “About a Boy” still subverts enough to impress. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “About a Boy” is an 8,97/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “About a Boy” is now completed.

Hughbert Grantchester is a lot better when he gets to do these slightly more offbeat characters.

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, rebooted often like no one can. Now with Marvel, he tries again. And have to fight the Batman. Look out… here comes the Reboot-Man.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.

Set two months after “Civil War”, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back in New York, just trying to live his double life as a high school student and as Spider-Man. He also wants to prove himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to show that he too can be an Avenger. And as Peter is dealing with school, romance, and helping the community out as Spidey, a villain not called The Vulture (Michael Keaton) starts making a lot of trouble. And Peter sees this as the opportunity to really prove himself to Tony. So now we have our coming-of-age superhero movie. And I thought the plot here was great. You not only have the fast-paced parts of Spidey trying to figure who this Birdman (HA!) is and how he could stop him, but you also have slower moments developing the story of Peter Parker and how he deals with everything in his life. And I thought this was all really well handled. I felt invested in the plot, it really managed to have a good blend of superhero adventure and a John Hughes-ish coming-of-age dramedy. It was great.

The characters in this are fun, entertaining, and really interesting. Tom Holland showed in “Civil War” that he could be a really good Spidey (and Peter Parker), but his screen time was limited. Now that he has a full movie he really got the opportunity to show what he could do, and it paid off. Holland is fantastic as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, showing both the relatable and dorky side known as Peter Parker, and the fun/cool hero that is Spider-Man. He does the one thing the two previous actors couldn’t: Perfectly portray both sides of the character. Michael Keaton as The Vulture was great. Usually the MCU has villains that are passable at best, but they really managed to make him interesting. They give him a backstory and some understandable motivation which just makes him so much more interesting than most of teh generic MCU villains. And Michael Keaton is fantastic in the role. Jacob Batalon plays Peter’s best friend Ned in this movie and he’s funny and charming. And Batalon is really good in the role, sharing some great chemistry with Holland. Marisa Tomei as Aunt May was great, she was fun and I really believed her as a mother figure to Peter. Robert Downey Jr. isn’t in the movie much, and when he is there he doesn’t steal the spotlight. He acts as a sort of mentor to Peter and gave us both some funny lines and some okay drama at times. And I don’t think I have to mention that he was great here… dude’s been doing this since 2008. Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson… yeah, he was great. I never thought he could play an asshole, based on his performance and overall appearance in “Grand Budapest Hotel”, but he played an asshole very well in this. Also, welcome back Happy Hogan! That’s right, Jon Favreau returned to play Tony’s assistant, this time acting more as Peter’s supervisor, and he was great. Alright, quickfire round of this movie’s great actors: Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Angourie Rice, Michael Chernus, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr. Wow, that’s a lot of names. And there are more, but I don’t want to spoil them here in case you don’t already know about them.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and can we just take a second to talk about this man… or machine as I’m inclined to believe that he is. He puts out like 50 billion scores a year… Jesus fucking Christ, man, take a break! Anyhow, his score for this movie was really good. It’s the usual big/fun superhero action stuff, but there are also tracks for smaller scenes throughout and that too sounds really good. There are also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout this movie. And not only are they overall really good, but they are used very well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Jon Watts, the man behind the very small but still really good “Cop Car”. And I think he did a great job directing this movie. His directing here has a lot of energy and charm to it, making for a pretty fast-paced and fun watch. And the shots do look really good. And the action scenes are pretty clever and really fun, and even a little more violent than I thought they’d be. And I don’t mean violent in the Marvel/Netflix way, but it packed a bit more punch than I was expecting. There’s also a lot of comedy in this movie and I laughed a lot. From simple chuckles to full on belly laughter, this movie brought the laughs. It’s also filled with fun easter eggs and references, both to the MCU and other properties, so have fun discovering them all.

This movie just came out, but it has so far been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the best “Spider-Man” movie we’ve gotten since 2004. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, great directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Thwip!*. My final score for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is now completed.

Spidey is good again… I’m so happy!

Movie Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

earl

Fuck cancer. That’s really all I can say… fuck the fucking cancer and all it fucking stands for. As much as I’d like to come up with a more clever intro, I honestly can’t. So… fuck cancer.

Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to… “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”.

Greg (Thomas Mann) is a young man who likes to make parodies of old movies together with his “friend” Earl (RJ Cyler). However, Greg’s life changes a bit when he starts befriending his classmate Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who has cancer. And from this we get a coming-of-age story that is clever, entertaining, and surprisingly nuanced. I mean, sure one of the main characters has cancer, but they don’t use that to make a sappy teen drama. What we have here is a movie that feels real in the sense that it explores both the humor and the drama of life. That said, it did tug at my heartstrings a bit and even made me cry. What, I’m mature enough to admit that I cried… I’m not made of fucking stone. But yeah, I really liked the plot of this movie. Interesting, entertaining, emotional, and charming.

The characters in this movie are all very entertaining and feel pretty real. Thomas Mann is really good as Greg, this young man who has very low self-esteem. Olivia Cooke is great as this girl Rachel who befriends Greg while also dealing with having luekemia. RJ Cyler is really good as Earl, the “friend” of Greg. What I also like about this central trio is that they have great chemistry with each other which makes for some really good scenes. We also get some really good supporting performances from people like Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, and Jon Bernthal. Yeah, it’s a very well acted movie with good characters.

The score for the movie was composed by Nico Muhly and Brian Eno and whle it was used pretty sparingly, it was still really good. Whenever it was used it fit the scene very well, whether it’s in a more humorous scene or a more dramatic one. Then there are also a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, both “normal” songs and tracks from various movies, the latter of which makes a lot of sense with the story and such. But yeah, all the music works very well within the movie.

This movie was directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and I think he did a really good job. Scenes flow very well and the cmaera work for the most part looks really good. I say “for the most part” because there were a few points where the handheld style made it a little too shaky at times. It doesn’t detract too much from the movie, but I still feel like it was worth mentioning. Also, here’s a fun fact: This movie was written by the same guy that wrote the book that this is based on. And his writing is great. It made me laugh quite a bit.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a funny and very well made coming-of-age story with a lot of heart. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, really good directing, and great writing. Time for my final score. *Cough*. My final score for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a 9,80/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is now completed.

I’m actually surprised that I liked it as much as I did… Well done, cast and crew of this movie!