Series Review: The Strain – Season 1 (2014)

Hey, finally a tv show in the Month of Spooks.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Strain” season 1.

After a plane filled with dead people lands in New York, a mysterious viral outbreak begins, turning people into savage, vampiric creatures. And it’s up to Doctor Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) to find out what the hell is going on. So now we have our horror story. And it’s a good one. Sure, it does lean into some classic vampire tropes, but it also plays around with others to create something that feels fresh and unique in television. Admittedly the first few episodes are a bit on the slow side. They’re not bad, they carry a fair bit of intrigue, but they feel a bit like a drag at times. But when you get past them, and the plot truly gets going, it is an utterly compelling and quite entertaining vampire thriller.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Corey Stoll plays Ephraim Goodweather, a CDC scientist who has to investigate this mysterious viral outbreak. Eph (as he’s called by so many) has a lot of personal flaws and demons in his past, and seeing him have to deal with those in tandem with this intense outbreak makes him an interesting character. And Stoll is great in the roll. Yes, pun intended. Next we have David Bradly as Abraham Setrakian, a mysterious old man who seems to know a lot about what’s going on with this whole situation. We learn a lot about him as the show goes along, and I don’t wanna ruin it (’cause it’s good and should be experienced rather than told). And Bradley is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand, Miguel Gomez, Richard Sammel, Sean Astin, Jonathan Hyde, Ben Hyland, Ruta Gedmintas, Robin Atkin Downes, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Ramin Djawadi (oh sweet), and it’s pretty good (what do you mean “pretty”?). It’s not among Djawadi’s best work, but he still did a really solid job, giving us some decently tense pieces when needed, and some more emotional tracks in others. It’s pretty good.

Based on a series of novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the show was created by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, with writing and directing by them and some other cool people. And the craft in this show is pretty spectacular. The direction creates a fair bit of tension, while still making us feel intimate with the characters. And fuck me sideways, the use of colored lighting in this show is fucking magnificent. Reds, greens, blues, yellows, it is stunning to look at. And the visual effects are pretty great too. Since it is a Del Toro production, there’s a lot of disgusting-looking practical creature effects, with some CG mixed in at times. And god damn, it is so cool to see that here, since it makes everything going on feel more real. It also kind of adds to the horror, as it doesn’t make the scary creatures look all shiny and fake. It’s some creepy stuff.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

Season 1 of “The Strain” may drag a bit at the start, but it ultimately ends up being an effective and highly entertaining vampire thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing/effects/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Strain” is an 8,67/10. So while flawed, I still think it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “The Strain” season 1 is now completed.

David Bradley’s a bit of a badass. Honestly never expected that.

Movie Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)

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We are now here, at the fourth part in my series of reviews leading up to “Jason Bourne” this July. For anybody new here: Over the past few months I have been watching and reviewing all of the “Bourne” movies. And at long last we have gotten to the fourth one. So let’s just get into it and see what happens!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Bourne Legacy”.

So in this film we don’t follow the character of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), oh no. Instead we have a new guy named Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who is on the run because of reasons triggered by the previous three films. And he teams up with a female doctor (Rachel Weisz) because there needs to be a female lead. Look, I had trouble following the plot because it makes no damn sense and it’s not even really there. I’m being one-hundred percent serious guys… the plot is not good or compelling or memorable and let’s just move this shit along so I don’t start rambling too much.

Where the story happens to be lacking (a lot!), the actors kind of make up for it. Jeremy Renner does a really good job in his role as Not-Bourne. Rachel Weisz is good in her role too. Then we also get some really good supporting performances from people like Stacy Keach, Edward Norton, Joan Allen and Oscar Isaac. Sure, the characters aren’t that interesting overall, but the acting I think makes up for that pretty well.

The music for the movie was composed by James Newton Howard, who is a composer that I’m a fan of. And how was his score in this movie? Meh. It was fine for what it was trying to do, which was to be music for an action movie. But there’s no piece here that I would even dare call memorable. In the previous three films I could listen to the music and go “Ooo, that was a great tune! Oo, THAT was a great tune!”, but I never had any such moment here. It wasn’t bad, just not that great. And how was this film’s version of Moby’s “Extreme Ways”? Meh. It isn’t a bad version, but it’s not that great either.

So this movie wasn’t directed by Paul Greengrass… or Doug Liman for that matter. No, for this one they got Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter for the previous three films. And did he do a god job directing the movie? Yeah, I’d say so. It’s a pretty smooth movie, filled with a lot of really good shots. Sure, it doesn’t have the shaky intensity of Greengrass’ “Bourne” films, but it at least looks good. And the action in the movie was actually pretty good. Sure, there was never any tension in the action taking place in front of our eyes, but it was entertaining to look at. I can’t say that I found it boring at all. The word I would use though is… toothless. Like I said, there was no tension in it at all. But it was pretty fun. Don’t expect too much action though, because there isn’t too much. This is a more dialogue-driven film… although, the dialogue is pretty mediocre if you ask me… so I’m conflicted.

This movie hasn’t been that well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 55% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“The Bourne Legacy” is a bit of a mixed bag for me. While the story isn’t that compeliing or interesting, there is still some good stuff, including good acting, decent music, and good directing/action, even if it lacks tension. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Bourne Legacy” is a 7,25/10. While not that great of a movie, it’s still worth a rental.
Rent it

My review of “The Bourne Legacy” is now completed.

“Jason Bourne” is finally out in a month… what will I do until then?

Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

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With “Civil War” just around the corner, and by around the corner I mean that it comes out tomorrow but I might not be able to see it until saturday because of the company I keep, I deemed that it was finally time for me to see the last entry in the MCU that I had not seen yet, please don’t kill me.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ant-Man”.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) just got released from prison. However his life outside of the bars isn’t going to be the easiest after he ends up taking another job where he steals a special super-suit from scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). So now Scott has to work with Hank and also Hank’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to pull off a big heist to more or less save the world. Basically it is “Iron Man” combined with “Ocean’s Eleven” when it comes to the style of the story. Don’t misinterpret, I am not saying that “Ant-Man” is as good as eitehr of those movies, but that it feels like a mix of the both. And I have to say that I really enjoyed the experience of watching this play out. It’s actually kind of refreshing to have a Marvel movie on such a small scale where the entire planet isn’t TOTALLY at risk. It’s a fun, fast-paced trip and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The characters in this movie are all very entertaining and all work pretty well within the story. Paul Rudd is fantastic as Scott Lang, he is likeable, funny and his performance overall was really good. Michael Douglas, an actor I like but haven’t seen much from recently… holy hell, he was great as Hank Pym. Seriously, I haven’t seen him this great in a lot of (if any) recent stuff. Evangeline Lilly was great as Pym’s daughter and the two had really good chemistry with each other. Michael Peña plays Scott’s buddy who kind of helps him after he’s released from prison… seriously, pretty much every word out of that guy’s mouth is comedic gold. He is so great in the movie, he constantly had me chuckling/laughing. Then we have Bobby Cannavale who plays a police officer who now has a relationship with Scott’s ex-wife… yeah, he’s great. The last one I want to mention is Corey Stoll who plays the main villain, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket… how do I put it… he’s kind of a mixed bag for me. I do think Corey Stoll gives a good performance in the movie and when he puts on the Yellowjacket costume he is absolutely badass… but as a villain he isn’t that compelling, kind of standard stuff here. His motivations aren’t that interesting and I won’t really remember him too well after this I think… at least his acting was good.

The score for the movie was composed by Christophe Beck and it was actually really good. Sure, some of the tracks sound like your typical superhero stuff that doesn’t sound bad but you’ve heard it a billion times. But then there are tracks very reminiscent of tracks for a whole bunch of different heist films and I thought that was really cool and that it really worked for the movie.

This movie went through some problems as it was getting made. Originally it was supposed to be directed by Edgar Wright (which would have been amazing), but then he dropped out due to creative differences between him and Marvel. Then it went through some different hands until finally landing in the hands of Peyton Reed (oh boy). And while I think that whatever Edgar Wright would’ve conjured up would have been much more interesting/better, I have to say that I am happily surprised with how Reed handled the direction of this movie. It is quick, it is smooth and it’s overall very well done (Still wanna see Wright’s version). The action scenes too, holy shit, they exhilarating and really entertaining. The way they use Ant-Man’s shrinking technology for the action scenes is very creative and makes for some very fun and awesome scenes. I will also say that the visual effects are overall really great. The writing is also really good, with a lot of clever and funny dialogue that kept me entertained/laughing. Also, like with every Marvel movie I recommend that you stay through the entire credits for some pretty sweet stuff. Also look out for some pretty cool cameos throughout the movie.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Ant-Man” is one of those strange supereroes that I’ve for a long time wondered how he would make it on the silver screen. Well I can safely say that his first outing is a good start. The movie is fun, fast-paced, heartfelt, well acted, well directed, well written, funny, has great action and is just pretty damn great. Yes, the villain isn’t very compelling, but I guess he’s servicable. Time for my final score. *Shrinks* Damn it… My final score for “Ant-Man” is a 9,76/10. While flawed, I think it deserves the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Ant-Man” is finally completed.

*Grows to normal size* Gotta stop leaving the buttons so easily accessible.