Movie Review: Upgrade (2018)

Can I just take a second out of this review to talk about release schedules? Because everyone got this movie in the cinemas at some point in 2018… but I didn’t, and then I had to wait until today to be able to see it at home? It’s not the first time I’ve gotten screwed liked this. I wanted to watch it, but my local cinema was like “Nope, sorry, not showing it… you dick”… okay, they didn’t directly say that, but that’s what it felt like with “Upgrade” and various other movies. Seriously, screw release schedules some times.

Ladies and gents… “Upgrade”.

After his wife is killed and he gets paralyzed, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) accepts an offer to get an experimental surgery that would let him walk again. But soon he finds out that he’s able to do more than that, which he will use to find the people responsible for his misery. So now we have our cyberpunk revenge thriller. And it’s good. I mean, the opening isn’t the most inspired, in a lot of ways it’s just kind of bland. But after that generic opening, the plot just gets better and better and I think it becomes quite unique for a revenge thriller. It’s not one of the greatest plots ever, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and has enough little twists and turns to keep it fresh. So yeah, it’s a good plot.

The characters in this are… fine? Most of them are kind of underdeveloped. For some of the bad guys, I can accept that, as it gives them a sort of video game boss battle quality, which I enjoyed about them. But others that the movie expects me to care about… nope. Anyway, Logan Marshall-Green plays Grey, the average Joe who receives the title to become a badass. And he’s honestly quite a fleshed out character, as he’s given quite a bit of development throughout. And Marshall-Green is great in the role… mostly. At the start he’s bland and average, but like the plot, when shit gets going, he becomes great in the role. Next we have Betty Gabriel as the detective working the case of Grey’s dead wife. And where the movie expects us to give a damn about her… I didn’t, her character isn’t interesting enough in her writing for me to care. But Gabriel is pretty good in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Simon Maiden, Harrison Gilbertson, Melanie Vallejo, Benedict Hardie, Christopher Kirby, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Palmer and I thought it was really good. It somehow sounds like a mix between typical cyberpunk stuff (“Blade Runner”, “Deux Ex”, etc.) and a couple different horror scores. And the mix, while familiar, feels unique and gives the most an eerie and interesting vibe that I liked quite a bit.

Based on nothing at all, this movie was written by Leigh Whannell, and I think he did a great job here. While the opening (as previously stated) is a bit boring, his direction gives the movie a certain energy that makes it kind of a joy to watch. He finds ways of really engaging the viewer with little details. But it’s in the action scenes where the directing and cinematography truly shines, because holy fucking shit, the action scenes in this movie are fantastic. They’re fast, energetic, and have some of the most clever and unique camera movements I’ve ever seen. There are a couple fights in this movie that honestly kinda blew my mind. There’s also a surprising amount of humor throughout the movie, and none of it feels intrusive, rather just adding to the movie’s fun factor.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Upgrade” is a really good revenge action-thriller. It has a good plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously stated, the start of the movie isn’t great, and I don’t really care about most of the characters. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Upgrade” is an 8,72/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Upgrade” is now completed.

That was fun.

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.

 

Movie Review: Serenity (2005)

Once upon a time, there was a tv show called “Firefly”. It was this well-written genre-bending sci-fi show about a group of space cowboys and the adventures they went on. It was beloved by many, but was unfortunately canceled after only 14 episodes. Fans were devastated. But two years after it got canceled, fans saw something shiny in the distance. Was it a continuation of the show? Yes it was. And today we’re taking a look at it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Serenity”.

Set after the events of the show, we once again follow the crew of the ship Serenity, led by Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), as they are hunted down by a mysterious assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hellbent on getting to a specific member of the crew. So now we have our space opera featuring cowboys. And I found this to be a really good plot. It feels like an extended episode of the show, giving us the fun space adventure we wanted while also further evolving the universe. And I also think it works the perspective of someone who hasn’t seen the show before. Sure, people might be slightly lost on a few aspects, but it’s not so ingrained in the show’s plotlines that it would alienate general audiences. And I do in think this is a fun, suspenseful, emotional, and overall well told story.

The characters in this are layered, unique, interesting, and overall entertaining. While I’m sure there are those of you here who are unfamiliar with these characters, I will not go in-depth with those returning from the show as it would make this post last far too long. But in that group we have Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, and Ron Glass, all giving great performances throughout, and most getting some good development throughout. Let’s talk about Chiwetel Ejiofor as the film’s villain, simply known as The Operative. He’s a calm, well-spoken, and generally diplomatic guy who is a highly capable killer. And that makes him quite an interesting villain, making him a good foe for our beloved heroes. And Ejiofor is really good in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like David Krumholtz, Michael Hitchcock, Sarah Paulson, Yan Feldman, Rafael Feldman, Tamara Taylor, and more, all giving solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by David Newman, and I think he did a really good job with it. As expected from something that is about cowboys, it of course takes a lot of inspiration from western and country, with various string-based instruments used throughout to give off that cowboy-ish vibe. But there are also some tracks implementing the sort of percussion and brass one can expect from a lot of sci-fi. And it all comes together to create a fun, engaging, and emotional score.

As previously mentioned, “Serenity” is a follow-up to the tv show “Firefly”, which was created by Joss Whedon. And this movie is written and directed by Whedon as well, who does a great job bringing the stuff I love about the show to a larger scale. The fast-paced action, the intimate conversations between characters, and the overall fun vibe that the show always had. And yes, the snappy dialogue of course makes a return, and it’s just as funny and enjoyable as it was in the show. And the cinematography by Jack Green was really good, giving us a lot of cool shots. The visual effects can be hit or miss, but I don’t mind too much, especially since I know that this was a lower budget production (compared to a lot of contemporary movies). Overall the technical stuff just comes together nicely.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Serenity” is not only a good continuation of the “Firefly” universe, but it’s also an overall enjoyable sci-fi romp. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography/effects/humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Serenity” is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Serenity” is now completed.

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me

Great Music #28

Hello there! Time for me to once again talk about some music I like. Got nothing else to say here. Let’s jump into the song!

So for today’s edition of “Great Music” we have something relatively new. Today we’re talking about Joe Bonamassa’s “Redemption”. Now, this isn’t the first time that Bonamassa has been mentioned/written about on this blog. As a matter of fact, I went back and checked, and this is the fourth time that he’s featured in a post of mine. For those who don’t know, Joe Bonamassa is an American blues singer/guitarist. I first discovered him a couple of years ago when spotify recommended one of his songs to me. And since then I’ve been a fan. Hell, his last studio effort “Blues of Desperation” made it quite high on my favorite albums of 2016 list. And now we are talking about his newest song (which I found out about today, and it’s been out for like a month, and I feel ashamed to be this late since I love his music so much). So here we have Joe making a song about seeking redemption… simple as that, the title basically describes it. The song has a cool mix of acoustic and electric guitar work, finding an interesting blend of blues, rock, and a pinch of country. It’s basically like something you’d hear in an episode of “Justified”. But yeah, as this series suggests, it’s another great song. From the chord progressions, to the instrumentals, to Bonamassa’s vocals, and to the awesome guitar solo that blends a bit of “Kashmir” with a bit of its own awesomeness. What’s also awesome with this song is that it helps announce Bonamassa’s next studio album (titled “Redemption”), set to be released on September 21st of this year. So yeah, a great song that gets me excited for a hopefully awesome album.

Have a good one and enjoy!

“Spider-Man” E3 Gameplay Demo

More E3 stuff, woo!

So thanks to E3, we have a good look at some gameplay for the upcoming “Spider-Man” game. This was announced at E3 in 2016, and now we finally have a good look at some pretty exciting gameplay. So what’s going on in this little demo? Well, we see out beloved webhead (Yuri Lowenthal) attempting to stop a prison break where he runs into several of his old foes (Sinister Six, anyone?). And this demo gives us a decent look at the combat (very reminiscent of the “Batman: Arkham” games, awesome), and at the web-swinging. Sure, a lot of this sequence seems scripted, but it’s still a good indication of how the core gameplay is. And from what I understand, this will be an open world game, so you will get to mess around with your spider powers in the big apple. And the more I see of this game, the more excited I get. Coming from Insomniac (the developer behind the excellent “Ratchet & Clank” series), I expect a lot of fun to be had, especially with a character as enjoyable as Spider-Man. So I’m pretty excited for this game. “Spider-Man” is set to be released on September 7th of this year.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you excited for “Spider-Man”? And what’s your favorite movie/show/comic/game about Marvel’s beloved webhead? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one and enjoy the video.

Academy Awards 2018: Best Music Nominees

Hello there, ladies, gentlemen, and space aliens. The Oscars are not far away (as of writing it’s less than 24 hours to it), so to celebrate that I have teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to talk about the various categories, and give our thoughts and predictions on them. When it was time for me to choose, I chose the music categories (which had been lumped into one), because of my undying love of music and occasional analysis of it. I also chose it because I haven’t seen all the movies yet, so this is one I can do from the comfort of my own room (thank you, spotify!). So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Best Original Score
The first category we’ll go through is best original score, the category celebrating the works of the composers who work so hard to help us get immersed. So here are the nominees.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – John Williams.

First up we have the one and only John Williams and his music for the latest entry in the “Star Wars” franchise. And this really has everything that you’d expect from “Star Wars” music at this point. Big brass, tense strings, catchy melodies. And whereas the score for “Force Awakens” was damn good, it doesn’t really hold a candle to “The Last Jedi” (not comparing the movies, just the music). There are throwbacks to the previous movies in the series throughout this score, but none of it feels like forced (HA!) pandering, but rather fun inclusions to make it all feel a bit more connected. But as great as the music here is, I don’t think it has a chance in this Oscar race. Would I be made if it won? No. But we’ve heard these stylings before, and I feel like it doesn’t have the same chance at the gold due to that.

The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat.

Our second entry is the score for “The Shape of Water”, the latest weirdness from Guillermo Del Toro. As of writing this, I have not seen the movie, so I can’t comment on how well the music works within the movie. But I can comment on it as it’s own entity, and I can safely say that this score is fantastic. It takes a couple cues from old school John Williams, and even a bit from Wes Anderson’s movies (which is funny considering Anderson has worked with Desplat before). But it does a lot of unique things to give it a really odd, yet beautiful sound that works for this kind of odd love story. I’d say this has a very good chance of getting the Oscar.

Phantom Thread – Jonny Greenwood.

Here we have the score for “Phantom Thread”, the latest movie from Paul Thomas Anderson, and the final movie of actor Daniel Day Lewis. This score relies heavily on piano and various string instruments (violin being the most prominent). It creates an emotionally charged sound that evokes a lot of dramas from the 70s (I notive a little bit of “Godfather” in there). This score has a pretty good chance of taking the Oscar, though I’m not 100% sure if I want it to. I’m a little split on it.

Dunkirk – Hans Zimmer.

So here we have a score from one of my favorite composers, for a movie by one of my favorite directors. Yet I have somehow not seen “Dunkirk” as of writing. But what we have here is an intense and very unique score that makes use of not only your typical orchestral sounds, but also a ticking clock and a few other sounds that I can’t identify that easily. But I must say that this sounds fantastic, and it makes me tense up a bit, without the visuals of the movie. Zimmer catches the horrors of war incredibly well with his music, creating a haunting but also beautiful sound that drills itself into my bones and makes me feel like I’m in this horrible situation. So I’d say Zimmer has a good chance at getting the statue.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Carter Burwell.

Hey, finally a movie I’ve actually seen! But yes, the final score nominated for an Oscar is Carter Burwell’s score for Martin McDonagh’s masterful “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. At times sounding like a western, at times sounding like an emotional drama, Burwell’s score perfectly captures the tumultuous journey of Mildred as she tries to get justice for what happened to her daughter. The music follows her arc perfectly, from the badass and cool, to the intimate and emotional. But as much as I love the music of “Three Billboards”, I doubt that it will take the Oscar. Would I be happy if it did? Hell yeah. But nothing about it really says “I can and will grab that Oscar” like some of the other contenders did.

Biggest chance of winning: The Shape of Water.
My pick: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

So those were the original scores. Now moving on to the second half.

Best Original Song
Time for the category that celebrates specific tunes made for the movies we watch. It’s an interesting category that I don’t fully understand the point of, but I won’t say no to a bit of music. So let’s go.

Mystery of Love – Sufjan Stevens – Call Me By Your Name.

First song on the list is “Mystery of Love”, a song from “Call Me By Your Name”, a movie about sexual discovery rather than identity theft (missed an opportunity there, yo). Written and performed by Sufjan Stevens, it almost feels like something that you’d hear from José González, but with a slightly bigger lean towards the pop side of it all. And I must admit that this song is pretty damn good. As the title suggests, it talks about how weird and mysterious the concept of love actually is. It has an interesting and unique sound that I like listening to. Do I think it has a shot at the Oscar? Hard to say, really. Would I be okay with it winning? Sure. I’m just unsure how the Academy would vote on it. Some songs/movies are easier to pin the chances of than others, and this one’s a bit challenging to pin down.

Mighty River – Mary J. Blige – Mudbound.

Here we have a song from a movie I’ve actually seen. “Mighty River” is part gospel, and part radio ballad. And it strikes a good balance between the two to make a song that is pleasing for the ears while still having an interesting and somewhat unique sound, at least for the current music industry. It also evokes those big, emotional songs you could hear in various movies from back in the day. Like “My Heart Will Go On” or that Faith Hill song from “Pearl Harbor”. So I’d be perfectly fine with “Mighty River” winning… shit, I’d say it’s chances are good.

This Is Me – Keala Settle – The Greatest Showman.

So here we have a pop song from a musical about P.T. Barnum, a man who wasn’t a very good person… but they still decided to make a colorful musical about him and his circus. False depiction of a historical figure aside, how is this song? Pretty good. It’s a very radio-friendly pop song that still manages to elevate that with the help of some solid crescendos and a slightly more old school approach. Do I want this to win? Not really. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but I don’t think it does anything that makes it worthy of that prize. It’s a little bit too… generic, in my opinion.

Stand Up For Something – Andra Day feat. Common – Marshall.

Here we have a song from the Thurgood Marshall biopic “Marshall”. This is a pop song with a good amount of soul thrown into it to create a sound that I really enjoyed listening to. Plus, the lyrics about standing up for a cause are somewhat inspiring, especially when delivered by Andra Day’s gorgeous voice. There’s also a short bit where Common raps, and it’s really good. Do I think this song has a chance? Maybe. It definitely has a foot in the door, but it’s hard to say how much that will help in terms of actually winning. Let’s say the chances are pretty good.

Remember Me – Benjamin Bratt/Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez – Coco.

The final song on the list is “Remember Me (Ernesto De La Cruz)”, a mostly upbeat and energetic song from Pixar’s latest film, “Coco”. The lyrics are good, the the instrumentals are good, it’s very personal to the writers… and it’s sung by the great Benjamin Bratt. Yeah, this is great. I haven’t seen “Coco”, but this song has made me want to check it out even more. The chances for this to win are pretty good, and I wouldn’t be mad if it did. ’tis a good song.

Biggest chance of winning: Mighty River.
My pick: Mighty River.

So those were the original song nominations.

And those were all of the music nominations from the Oscars, and my thoughts on them. But now I wanna hear from you guys, which score/song do you think should/will win? Please leave any and all answers in the comments, I really wanna hear from you guys.

The people I collaborated with on this:

Plain, Simple Tom.

Through the Silver Screen.

Angus McGregor Movies.

QuickFire Reviews.

Fivethreeninety.

Perks of being Nath.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Batman vs. Robin (2015)

Hi. I’m Markus. I like DC animated movies. And now I’m gonna talk about one. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Batman vs. Robin”.

It’s been a while since Batman (Jason O’Mara) found out that he has a mildly homicidal son (Stuart Allan), and he’s having some trouble trying to raise him while also trying to save Gotham. And not only does he have trouble with his son, but his life is made even more difficult when a mysterious organization called The Court of Owls comes to town to cause trouble. So now we have our Batman story. And I’m not gonna lie, I thought that the story was really good. For the most part it’s a drama focusing on the struggling relationship between Bruce and Damien, and I found myself quite engaged in that stuff as the plot went along. I was a bit afraid that the Court of Owls part of the plot would make it all feel overstuffed or unfocused, but it was integrated into the plot really well, even being woven into the family drama part quite well. Yeah, this is a really solid plot.

What I like about (most of) the characters here is that the plot made them interesting and worth caring about. Jason O’Mara of course returns as Batman and he still kills it as the voice of our favorite Nocturnal Rodent Person. Just like in “Son of Batman”, Stuart Allan voices Damien Wayne, the dangerous son of Bruce Wayne. And while Damien could be a bit of mixed bag in the other movie, I really liked him in this. He’s still a bit of a brat, but they’ve done enough to make him feel a bit more layered. And Stuart Allan is really good as Damien. Then we have Sean Maher who returns as Nightwing, and he’s still a lot of fun compared to the moody Bruce. But he’s not just there for laughs as he plays a vital part in it. And Maher is great as Nightwing. David McCallum returns as Alfred, and he’s still the butler that we all know and love. But seriously, this Alfred is great and McCallum is great as the voice. Then we have Jeremy Sisto (who once voice Batman) as Talon, the Court of Owls member get to know the most throughout the movie. He’s a fairly interesting character that we get to learn some interesting stuff about. And Sisto is really good in the role. And the final one I want to mention is that we get Kevin Conroy (motherfucking Batman) in a flashback as Thomas Wayne. If that isn’t an awesome casting, then I don’t know what is. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that. Oh, and Weird Al Yankovic voices The Dollmaker, and I didn’t recognize his voice at all (yeah, he’s great). Overall, this is a great cast.

The score for the movie was composed by DC animation regular Frederik Wiedmann who once again gave us a really solid score. Sure, some tracks are your typical bombastic, heroic, action-y tunes that just sort of pass through. But then we have a couple of other tracks that take a more dramatic approach to make an attempt at elevating the emotion of certain scenes, and for the most part he succeeds pretty well. There’s also one track (can’t find it) heard early on that sounds like something right out of a horror movie, and it’s awesome. So yeah, the score is great.

The movie was directed by Jay Oliva and his directing here has a lot of energy to it, but he still let’s the quieter moments sink in a bit too. Which is probably why this is 80 minutes, compared to the usual 75. As for the animation, it’s good. Not the best that DC has pumped out, but it still looks pretty good. It especially comes alive during the action scenes where movement is fast, fluid, and just looks really cool. And the action here is overall a lot of fun.

This movie barely has any data on my usual sites. But on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating (based on only 5 reviews). On Metacritic it doesn’t exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

My expectation weren’t the highest for “Batman vs. Robin”, but I can happily say that it is a really good entry in the DC animated movie universe. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/animation. Time for my final score. *I’m Batman*. My final score for “Batman vs. Robin” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Batman vs. Robin” is now completed.

Batman as Batman’s dad… clever.

Movie Review: The Hero (2017)

Life. It’s short, but it’s also the lengthiest event we’ll experience. It’s such a fascinating subject. Why are we here,? Why are we who we are? What could I have done better? So many questions about something we mostly take for granted.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Hero”.

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is an old actor who was famous for playing a gunslinger back in the day. And one day he gets the news that he has cancer and will eventually die from it. So we follow his journey as he tries to come to terms with his past mistakes/successes and his mortality. And right up front, this plot is filled with clichés. He has an estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter), he was known for one thing which has followed him his entire life, he meets a woman (Laura Prepon) that he strikes up a relationship with… and overall the plot isn’t very original. And there are moments where it can come off as a little bit pretentious with long, contemplative shows of oceans and nature and shit like that. But it’s still an honest and heartfelt plot that I could easily follow, and I found myself interested in what was going on. Yes, it is clichéd, and it’s not perfect, but it’s still pretty solid.

The characters in this can, like the plot, come off as a bit cliché. But I still found myself interested in them and their parts in the story. Sam Elliott plays Lee Hayden, a very Sam Elliott-y man. He’s never had a true big break, and is known mainly as a bit of a cowboy… kind of like Sam Elliott. He’s a charming old man that we get to know pretty well throughout the movie. And I have to say that Elliott was fantastic in the role. It’s a fairly subdued performance, and it really impressed me. Laura Prepon plays Charlotte, the woman that Lee finds himself striking up a bit of a romance with. While she isn’t the deepest of characters, I still found myself caring about her somewhat due to her interesting relationship with Lee. And Prepon is really good in the role. Nick Offerman plays Lee’s weed dealer/best friend. He’s a fun presence popping up a couple times throughout the movie, and Offerman is good in the role. Krysten Ritter plays Lee’s estranged daughter Lucy, and she isn’t the happiest with her old man. She is fairly bitter when we meet her, but not to an unrealistic degree. She is willing to give him a chance, even if it’s not the most tempting thing. And Ritter is really good in the role. Really, every actor in this movie does a good job.

The score for the movie was composed by Keegan DeWitt and it was good. It’s very much so in the “contemplative drama” style of music, where you have a lot of droning or distant-sounding high notes to create a thought-provoking mood for the movie, with the occasional piano thrown in there. And it works well for this movie. There were also a couple of licensed tracks used in the movie and they worked fine for their scenes. Good music.

This movie was directed by Brett Haley and I think he did a good job with it. The movie almost has a dreamlike quality at times, even in moments that aren’t dream sequences, which gives the movie a fairly unique feel. And the cinematography by Rob Givens was really good, this movie looks really good. For anyone wondering, this movie is partially listed as a comedy, but there isn’t too much humor here, it is mainly a drama. But the little humor there is in this I thought was pretty funny. Just thought I’d adress it just so you didn’t go watching this thinking it was a straight-up comedy.

This movie has gotten some okay reception On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

While flawed, “The Hero” is still a solid little drama. It has a pretty good plot, mostly meh characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. My problems with the movie are the plot being very clichéd and also most of the characters not being that great. Time for my final score. *Howdy*. My final score for “The Hero” is a 7,77/10. While flawed, I’d say that this movie is most definitely worth a rental.

My review of “The Hero” is now completed.

I just want Sam Elliott to narrate my life…

Series Review: Stranger Things – Season 2 (2017)

The Month of Spooks, still going strong! And on the plate today we have the second season of last year’s smash hit Netflix series. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Stranger Things” season 2.

It’s 1984, one year has passed since the horrifying events that transpired in Hawkins, Indiana. And ever since he’d been rescued from the Upside Down, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) ihas been experiencing a series of terrifying visions. And we soon find out that a new threat in looming over the sleepy little town, ready to take over. And that’s just the main plot here, we do get several sub-plots as well. This is an ambitious narrative, both in making the monstrous threat feel bigger, and in just expanding this world that we’ve gotten to know. And while that is a risky move for any show, since the multiple sub-plots aspect can tangle itself up and become convoluted, I feel like “Stranger Things” pulls it off nicely. You have the tension of the monster plot, you have the drama of finding out more about Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), you have the kids meeting this new girl (Sadie Sink) that comes to town, you have the struggles of Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve (Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery)… what I’m trying to say is that there’s a metric buttload of threads here, and they never feel like they tangle into a mess. It’s a solid plot filled with good drama, mystery, and charm.

The characters in “Stranger Things” are likable, layered, and endlessly interesting. Let’s start with Will Byers, played by Noah Schnapp, because he is more or less the focus of this season. Sure, he’s safe(ish) from the Upside Down, but he’s experiencing these horrifying/traumatic visions, putting him in a more vulnerable position. And Schnapp is great in the role. Then we have Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, the pseudo-leader of this group of friends. Seeing him trying to cope after his friend/love Eleven has been out of his life is actually a bit heartbreaking, but he’s not some mopey idiot about it, keeping him interesting. And Wolfhard is great in the role. Then let’s go with David Harbour who once again plays police chief Jim Hopper. He’s still a stern man with his heart in the right place. Hopper was my fave last season and he still might be. So yeah, Harbour is great in the role. Gaten Matarazzo returns as Dustin, the funny and slightly naive little man with the colorful hat. Like I said, he’s a bit naive, but he’s not stupid. He’s also the funniest of the four main kids. And Matarazzo is great in the role. Caleb McLaughlin returns as Lucas, the slightly more serious one in the group. And McLaughlin is great in the role. Then we have Winona Ryder once again as Joyce, mother of Will, and slightly neurotic person. However, her being a bit nervous like that is understandable after everything that happened last season. But she seems to have found a decent system for her life… until shit starts getting real again, that is. And Ryder is great in the role. Natalia Dyer returns as Nancy and she’s really good. Charlie Heaton returns as Jonathan, and he’s great in the role. Joe Keery is back as Steve, and he’s great in the role. Millie Bobby Brown returns as Eleven, and she’s great in the role. Right, returning faces done, now for some newbies. We get Sean Astin as Bob, Joyce’s new boyfriend. He’s a bit of a dork, but he’s a good person and he does everything to try to be a good pseudo-father for the Byers boys. And Astin is really good in the role. Sadie Sink plays Max, the new girl in town with a seemingly troubled home life. She meets the boys and more or less starts befriending them. And Sink is great in the role. Then we have Dacre Montgomery as Billy, a new guy in town who is a big asshole bully. And while he doesn’t have much of an arc, Montgomery is really in the role. And finally, we have Paul Reiser as a doctor who is likable and kind, but seems to have some shady shit going on. And Reiser is great in the role. Overall, this has great characters and the performances are great.

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein returned to do the score for this season, and once again they killed it. The synth-heavy sounds perfectly capture the era and tone, and does even manage to create some decent tension at times. Really, it’s more of the good synth-y stuff, not much else I can say. And since this is set in the 80s, we of course get some really awesome licensed songs throughout from not only the 80s, but also 60s and 70s… it’s really just an awesome soundtrack that made me very happy. Overall, great music.

The show was created by the Duffer brothers, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And it’s just overall very well handled. The directing is tense, fun, and filled with energy. And Tod Campbell’s cinematography is of course absolutely stunning. And the visual effects in the show look great too. There’s also plenty of comedy in this show, and I thought it was all really funny. I also enjoy that it never overshadows the drama/Lovecraftian sci-fi, but just is another part of the world that comes into play every now and then.

This show/season just came out but has already been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10 and is ranked #37 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Stranger Things” season 2 is pretty awesome. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography/writing. Time for my final score. *Rawr*. My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is a 9,86/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is now completed.

Awesome.

Movie Review: The Lost Boys (1987)

So far for the Month of Spooks we’ve covered a couple kinds of horror. Namely hauntings and psychopaths. So let’s move on to a different kind of horror. And what better to move on to than one of the most reliable kinds of horror, vampires! So let’s fuckin’ do it.

Ladies and gentlemen, they are… “The Lost Boys”.

During a summer, brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim, R.I.P) move with their mom (Dianne West) to the town of Santa Carla. However their lives soon take a turn for the worse when they discover that this town is a haven for a group of vampires. So now we have our vampire plot. And I’d say that it is pretty good. It doesn’t take itself too seriously which I think makes it really enjoyable and easy to get through. But while it is a pro for the movie, it is also a bit of a con. Sure, this somewhat lighter tone makes it a fun and enjoyable ride, but it also makes things feel a bit inconsequential, taking away some tension from it all. It doesn’t bring it down too much for me, but I still feel like I should mention that the plot here didn’t engage me as much as it could have. So overall it is good. Not great, but good.

The characters here are all fun and decently interesting. Jason Patric plays Michael, the older of the two brothers who move to vampire-town. He is the one who gets the biggest arc here. Sure, it’s not the deepest character arc in cinema, but it’s definitely the best arc in the movie. And Patric is really good in the movie. Corey Haim (may he rest in peace) plays Michael’s brother, Sam. He’s a young, somewhat impulsive, but still well meaning lad. And Haim is really good in the role. Dianne West plays their (for the most part) really chill mom. And she’s good in the role. Kiefer Sutherland plays David, the head of the group of vampires. A thrill-seeking, corny, badass vampire who’s quite a bit of fun. And Sutherland is really good in the role. Then we have Corey Feldman (because of course he’s in the 80s movie) and Jamison Newlander, the Frog brothers, a pair of vampire hunting youngsters that Sam befriends. They’re pretty fun, and both Feldman and Newlander give good performances. Really, this is an overall well acted movie filled with recognizable faces.

The score for the movie was composed by Thomas Newman and it was pretty good. It was fun and horror-ish, adding some mild tension to certain scenes. There’s not a lot I can say about the main score here… it’s good. But what I can say more about is the soundtrack… holy shit, it is great! It’s filled with awesome rock and pop music from bands/artists like INXS, Lou Gramm, Gerard McCann, Echo & The Bunnymen, Tim Cappello, and even Aerosmith/Run DMC. It’s a very 80s soundtrack, but I love it and it works very well within the movie.

This movie was directed by Joel Schumacher (second Schumacher movie in less than a month, I swear this is a coincidence). And I think he did a really good job here. His shots look good and everything flows pretty nicely throughout. There are also some pretty neat directing tricks in here that he had to use due to the apparently low-ish budget. And the vampire makeup stuff looks fine. In terms of scares… I wasn’t scared. It is tense in parts, but it never made me feel scared or creeped out. But I get the feeling that it didn’t try to strictly try to spook us, but rather just be a somewhat chilly horror-comedy that you can watch and just have with. As for the jokes… yeah, I laughed. Never a gut-busting laughter, but it did manage to get past chuckle at a couple points.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 73% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“The Lost Boys” is a fun little vampire movie. It has a good plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Lost Boys” is an 8,99/10. While I didn’t love it, I still think that it is definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Lost Boys” is now completed.

I already wasn’t a fan of noodles, and this movie isn’t doing noodles any favors.