12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 7)

That’s right, this series is still going. I am not giving up on it, even remembering to do a post each day is a surprisingly stressful act. Anyway, here’s today’s post.

Based on a book by Ron Hansen, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was released in 2007, and directed by Andrew Dominik. It follows a young man named Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) who has idolized legendary American outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) for many years, and then finally gets the chance to join his gang at the age of 19. The movie is a character-driven psychological drama all about demythologizing Jesse James while also deconstructing its central protagonist, Robert Ford. So now you’re probably wondering how I’m gonna contrive this to be a christmas movie? Well, watch and learn, my friends. This is how the pros (read: idiots) do it.

Now, one or two of you might assume I’m gonna use the scenes set in snowy landscapes for this. Well, as I’ve probably established earlier in this series, I’m not that fucking shallow. That’s not contrived enough. No, I got something else.
What we see in the movie after Bob joins Jesse’s gang is how much he notices what a psychotic, paranoid disappointment Jesse actually might’ve been, and not this awesome cowboy legend you might read about and enjoy following in a dime novel. So one of the basic messages one can sort of get out of this movie is “Don’t meet your heroes, because you’re just gonna be disappointed”. And that works as our christmas analogy, because as a kid you might be celebrating the holiday with your family, both immediate and extended. And all of a sudden Santa Claus shows up, lets kids sit on his lap, and give them presents. But then one of your dumbass cousins decides to tug at Santa’s beard and find out that it’s just your uncle in a cheap costume, and it turns out there is no actual magical lobster man. Bob getting to know Jesse is kind of the same thing. Instead of this magically awesome being he thought he knew, it turned out to be something a bit more disappointing. So “The Assassination of Jesse James” is a christmas movie in the sense that the truth about the legend is a fucking disappointment, just like Santa Claus.

The movie on the other hand isn’t a disappointment, it’s fucking fantastic. One of my favorites.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 4)

Howdy. 12 Films of Christmas, contrivance edition. The fourth part. Y’all ready?

So today’s pick is an interesting one. Today we’re chatting about “Deadwood: The Movie”, a 2019 made-for-tv film based on the hit tv show that ran from 2004 to 2006. Set ten years after the season 3 finale, we return to the South Dakota camp, now a small town. And we follow Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Swearengen (Ian McShane), and all the other cocksuckers of Deadwood as old wounds get opened up in the midst of Dakota becoming a state. I got to the show far after everyone else, only really starting it in late April/early May of this year, and was done at the end of May, right around the time the movie was released. So I didn’t have the same distance of time/nostalgia that a lot of other people did. But I still watched it. So how is “Deadwood: The Movie” a christmas film? Well tag along with me.

Imagine: The year is 2006. You’ve been watching this show, “Deadwood”. You’ve endured the drama, you’ve fallen in love with the characters, you are so excited about a fourth season… but then the show gets cancelled. You’re distraught. Plot threads dangling loosely, no real resolution, your tenure with these characters gets abruptly cut off. Then, 13 years later, you get to see them again, thanks to this movie. It’s a christmas fucking miracle, a god damn gift! And you know who delivers gifts? Santa Claus.

If you are a fan of “Deadwood” and haven’t checked out the movie yet, I highly recommend doing so. It’s a wonderfully acted and written sendoff for these characters we love. I may have been late to the “Deadwood” party, but that didn’t stop it from having a big impact on me. The show is fantastic, and the movie is one of my favorites of the year.

Have a good one.

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 2 (2019)

Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of this show. And now the second one has come to an end over here. So I guess that means I should talk about it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 2.

We once again follow rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his land from opposing forces, new and old. All the while his three kids (Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley) deal with a lot of personal issues of their own, while there’s also stuff going on with the people working for John. So now we have a more “Yellowstone”… in all the ways that entails. On one hand you do get a lot of that epic crime-drama that the show mostly sells itself on, and that shit is insanely compelling, always riding a line of grey morality perfectly, giving us some truly great tv at times. Buuuuuut then it also wallows a bit in family melodrama. At times that stuff doesn’t bother me, as there are points when it’s decently well handled. But then there are times when it sort of just drags the show down, and makes it kinda boring at times. I don’t need the crime-drama stuff all the time, but the family drama here isn’t always that great. So overall the story is pretty good. Flawed, but solid.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Kevin Costner returns as John Dutton, the aging patriarch of this family. He has to come to terms with his own age a bit this season, at the same time as all this crazy shit happens around him, and it’s pretty interesting. And Costner is once again really good in the role. Luke Grimes returns as John’s son Kayce, a father who has to deal with some issues with his wife and son, while also having to manage his new role at his father’s ranch. And while I had slightly mixed feelings about him last season, he kinda grew to become my favorite this time around. And Grimes is really good in the role. Kelly Reilly returns as Beth, John’s take-no-nonsense daughter who often acts as a bit of a wild card, even if she is a bit more restrained this time around due to development from last season. And once again, she’s an interesting character, with Reilly giving a great performance. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s lawyer son, and holy shit, he gets some actual development this season. They made Jamie interesting! And Bentley is great in the role, even if he still constantly scowls like someone shat in his backyard. Cole Hauser returns as Rip, the ranch hand/resident tough guy, and he’s once again great in the role. The stuff with returning antagonists Danny Huston and Gil Birminham is still solid. And new antagonist Neal McDonough, he’s pretty good. We of course also get supporting performances from people like Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith, Hugh Dillon, Ryan Bingham, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” was composed by Brian Tyler. And it was once again good. Tense, emotional, and fitting of the semi-western tone that the show goes for. It’s solid stuff that fits the various scenes it’s used in.  There’s of course also a lot of licensed music used throughout (especially from the band Whiskey Myers). And that music works well enough for the respective scenes they get used in.

The show was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, with Sheridan staying on as writer for all the episodes, but let a bunch of other cool people handle directing. And the craft on display here is generally good. A lot of nice looking shots of the sweeping vistas, some decent looking shots for smaller moments. The directing often elevates the material here, which is what makes some of those melodramatic scenes I mentioned earlier a bit more tolerable. And the direction also helps make some scenes quite suspenseful when needed. ’tis a solidly crafted show.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no overall score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “Yellowstone” reaches some great heights, but wallows enough in some melodramatic lows to still bring it down overall. It has a pretty good plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” is an 8,52/10. So while not perfect, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 2 is now completed.

Cooooooostneeeeeer.

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 1 (2018)

Kevin Costner. What an interesting career this man has had. From being one of the biggest stars of the late 80s/early 90s, to kinda going into obscurity for a while, and then kinda making a comeback in the 2010s. And now he stars on a tv show. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Yellowstone” season 1.

The story follows John Dutton (Kevin Costner), an aging rancher, as he tries to keep his family in check while also dealing with various parties trying to encroach on his land. So now we have our neo-western-drama-thingamabob. And while it does dip a bit much into melodrama at times, I find the story here to be quite interesting, taking some really colorful characters and having them scheming around for the sake of their own or someone else’s success. The pacing does suffer a bit at times, and like I said, there’s a strong stench of melodrama at times. But overall it’s still a highly entertaining plot with some solid drama sprinkled throughout.

The characters in this are flawed, entertaining, surprisingly layered, and overall interesting. Kevin Costner plays John Dutton, the aging patriarch of the Dutton family and owner of the Yellowstone cattle ranch. He has demons of his past he has to deal with while also trying to keep his entire livelihood going with everything going against him at once, making him pretty interesting even though he can be a bit of an ass at times. And Costner is great in the role. Next we have Kelly Reilly as Beth, John’s daughter. She has a lot of issues that she at the start of the series hasn’t gone through, making her kind of a fucking mess. But she also has one of the best arcs in the series. And Reilly is great in the role. Next we have Luke Grimes as Kayce (Kay-see), one of John’s sons. A former Marine, he tries to balance being a Dutton with trying to be a good father and husband, which is quite complicated. And Grimes is really good in the role. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s other son, who also happens to his lawyer. Yes, he’s a little smarmy, but mostly he’s probably the outlier of the family in a sense. And Bentley is good in the role. We also have Cole Hauser as Rip, John’s second hand man, who has to keep the ranch going in the events when John is unavailable. And while I won’t say too much more about Rip, I’ll just say that he’s my favorite character on the show. And Hauser is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Absille, Jefferson White, Ian Bohen, Brecken Merrill, Ryan Bingham, Josh Lucas, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler, and I think he did a great job with it. Obviously taking influence from various westerns, he creates an ambient score that works very well within the show to create a certain mood. The theme he composed for the show is also pretty damn solid. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Created by John Linson and Taylor Sheridan, all episodes this season were written and directed by Sheridan. And the craft here is really solid. Well shot, at times tense, Sheridan does a damn fine job in keeping my eyes stuck to the screen. Ben Richardson’s cinematography is also good.

This show/season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

While season 1 of “Yellowstone” misses the shot in some parts, it’s still a really solid season of television. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good writing/directing/cinematography. Where it falters (as previously mentioned) is in its occasionally dodgy pacing and unnecessarily frequent dips into melodrama. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” is an 8,61/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 1 is now completed.

Movie megastar Kevin Costner doing long-form tv. Still blows my mind.

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

Series Review: Godless (2017)

A Netflix western miniseries? Yeah, I didn’t need any convincing to watch this. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Godless”.

Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) used to be part of an infamous gang up until he betrayed them. And the gang’s leader, Frank (Jeff Daniels), wants Roy dead for that. So now Roy is hiding out in a town called La Belle, a town run entirely by women. So now we have our western plot. And with this plot they embrace pretty much every western cliché known to man… but they also put some interesting new perspectives on them to make them feel a bit more fresh. There’s a lot of good drama here that I found myself quite invested in while they still gave me some of the classic western plot points. If I had to make a comparison in plot style I’d say that this is part “The Beguiled” and part “Red Dead Redemption”. There’s the women-majority cast of the first, and the violent gang betrayal stuff of the latter. And I think it makes for an interesting mix in this show. Hell, I’d say that it’s great.

The characters here are given a good amount of time to develop and I think they’re interesting. Jack O’Connell plays Roy Goode, the former outlaw hiding out in La Belle. He has the kill-skills from his gang-days, but you can tell that he’s also a good guy who prefers to live quietly and help out. He’s a tragic character and O’Connell is great in the role. Michelle Dockery plays Alice Fletcher, the woman who is responsible for helping/hiding Goode. She’s tough, but she also shows a more vulnerable side during the show, giving her a good amount of layers. And Dockery is great in the role. Then we have Merritt Wever as Mary Agnes, one of the many women of Le Belle. She’s tough as hell, but you can tell that she’s also a sad and damaged character. And Wever is great in the role. Then we have Scott McNairy as Bill McNue, the Sheriff of La Belle and one of very few men there. He’s aging, but he’s still determined to get the job done. And McNairy is great in the role. Then we have Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin, the outlaw in charge that Roy Goode betrayed. What I like about him is that he isn’t just a ruthless asshole kind of outlaw, but he’s given a lot of interesting sides to him. He’s damaged, he’s charismatic, he has a kind heart, but he is also an intimidating outlaw that will shoot you dead if you cross him. And Daniels is absolutely great in the role. The final one I want to go slightly more in-depth with is Whitey Winn, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster. He’s a slightly over-confident young deputy. But they don’t go the route of making his over-confidence turning him into an unlikable idiot (which so many shows/movies do), but they show that it’s a flaw of his. But generally he is a good guy that is worth liking. And Brodie-Sangster is great in the role. And then you can expect some great performances from people like Kim Coates, Samuel Marty, Tantoo Cardinal, Sam Waterston, Christiane Seidel, Erik LaRay Harvey, Jessica Sula, and many more. Seriously, this is an incredibly well acted series.

The score for the show was composed by Carlos Rafael Rivera and it was pretty fucking great. Trumpets, strings, piano, other types of brass… seriously, this is a full-on western score emulating a lot of classic ones and it makes me so happy. And overall it is just fantastic, perfectly fitting the show and often elevating scenes throughout the show.

This show was created by Scott Frank and Steven Soderbergh, with Frank having written and directed all of the episodes. And I think he did a fantastic job with that. His direction here is sweeping, but also tight and focused when it needs to. It has a good sense of flow and style to it, while also managing to create a good amount of tension to it whenever it needs to. And let’s talk about the shooty-bang-bangs (I know they’re called shootouts, but I prefer my phrase for them). They’re badass, fun, exciting, and quite violent. There’s even a decent amount of tension in them, making them even more interesting.

This show just came out but has already been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it (as of writing this) has a score of 8,5/10.

“Godless” is another win for Netflix. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Godless” is a 9,85/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Godless” is now completed.

Part of me wants more. But part of me feels like it should stay a miniseries.

New “Red Dead Redemption 2” trailer!

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen, time for some more trailer talk. So let’s just get into it.

In 2010, Rockstar Games released a game called “Red Dead Redemption”, which was more or less a follow-up to their older game, “Red Dead Revolver”. In “Redemption”, you played as John Marston (Rob Wiethoff), a former outlaw who’s being forced by government agents to hunt down his old crew. It was an absolutely incredible game, winning all kinds of awards as well as the hearts of gamers all over the world (yours truly included, though admittedly years later). Then skip forward to October 2016 when we got our first poster and our first trailer for “Red Dead Redemption 2”. The gaming world collectively lost their minds. Sure, it revealed fucking nothing, other than it’s existence. But the prospect of a new “Red Dead” game was enough to make everyone go apeshit, especially since people have wanted a new one since they beat “Redemption”. Well, now we have our first REAL trailer for “Red Dead Redemption 2”, and it is all kinds of western goodness. This time we follow Arthur Morgan (voice actor not yet confirmed), an ruthless outlaw. And we will seemingly follow his journey as a total dickhead. So this reveals a bit about the story, and even has a final reveal in the trailer which more than likely made fans gasp harder than humanly possible because it confirms several things that have been speculated for a while. Sure, it shows no gameplay, but I think I know what it will be like, based on previous Rockstar titles. But yeah… I am so excited! “Red Dead Redemption 2” will be released in Spring of 2018.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Red Dead Redemption 2”? And what are your thoughts on the first one (if you played it)? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer!

Movie Review: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

*Insert repetitive comment about Markus loving westerns here*.

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

Ladies and gentlemen… “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”!

The story of this movie follows the outlaws known as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman, R.I.P) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) as they travel around, rob trains and banks, and generally outwit the law. And while that is a very basic plot that we’ve seen in many other movies, “Butch Cassidy” does it much better by focusing on the bond between our two heroes as they go through all kinds of shit. It’s actually quite an interesting plot that manages to be fun and exciting without sacrificing any drama. By drama I don’t mean that it’s super serious and overly dramatic, but when it needs to have some good drama, it nails it.

The characters in this movie and interesting, entertaining, and pretty fleshed out. Paul Newman is great as Butch Cassidy, playing him as this charming and confident bandit. He’s endlessly likable and fun to watch. Robert Redford is great as the Sundance Kid, playing the slightly more serious one of the two. Katharine Ross plays Etta, a woman that our two heroes knows/socializes with, and she’s great in the role. Really, there are no weak performances in this movie. Not saying that all are great, but none stood out as bad.

The score for the movie was composed by Burt Bacharach and it was good. It was fun, delightful, and overall worked very well in the scenes that tracks were featured. And I guess I should talk about the one “song” in the movie. It’s called “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and it was sung by B.J. Thomas, and it’s quite good. Like the score it is fairly lighthearted and it’s pretty delightful. I like it.

This movie was directed by George Roy Hill and I think he did a really good job. The shots look great and everything flows very well. And when bullets start flying, it’s fun, badass, and exciting. What I was also kind of surprised about was that there was comedy in this movie. Not saying that it’s the typical “This is a comedy, now laugh!”, but this movie has a sense of humor. And it’s funny, I laughed at the jokes in the movie. Some might think that blending this humor with some of the more serious moments in the movie could end up poorly, but this movie did this very well.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10 and is ranked #201 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscars in the categories of Best original screenplay, Best cinematography, Best original song, and Best original score. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, and Best sound.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is an incredibly fun movie and most definitely a classic. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is a 9,87/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is now completed.

This is one of those movies where I was just smiling for most of it. It’s such a delightful movie.

Movie Review: In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.

The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.

The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!

The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.

This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.

Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…

Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

mag7

Do I really need to say something? My love of westerns has been proclaimed on this blog so many times that it should be burnt into your brains by now. So yeah… let’s review a western.

Ladies and gents… “The Magnificent Seven”!

The town of Rose Creek is being held under the boot of the villainous Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). So it’s up to a band of badasses led by Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to get over there to save the town and stop Bogue. It’s a tale that’s been told a million times. The plot in this movie does nothing new in terms of drama, but I didn’t really mind. You can tell that the plot here wasn’t meant to be an epic masterpiece that would grip us with it’s impressive dramatic heft. It’s just aiming to retell a classic plot for a newer generation without pandering to a certain demographic. And I thought the plot here was realy fun and pretty well realized.

The characters in this movie are all so fun and entertaining. Denzel once again knocked it out of the park, but there was never any doubt about that… it’s Denzel, he’s awesome! Chris Pratt was very likable and fun in his role as this gunslinger who likes card tricks and also being a little bit of a jerk. Ethan Hawke was great as troubled sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (actual name, I love it). Byung-hun Lee played Ethan Hawke’s sidekick/friend and he was really cool in the movie. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo played the outlaw of the gang, Vazquez, and he was really fun. Martin Sensmeier played the native American man Red Harvest, and he was a badass. Then we have Vincent D’Onofrio as the human bear, Jack Horne… how do I put it? He was really over the top… and I fucking loved it. D’Onofrio is an actor who knows how to be over the top in a role in just the right way, and that is exactly what was shown here… and he was awesome. Peter Sarsgaard was just the right amount of slimeball as Bogue, and he did it very well. And Haley Bennett was great as this determined young woman that hires Chisolm to help the town out. Overall, the cast was really good.

The music in this movie went through some interesting developments. It was originally set to be composed by James Horner, who had begun working on it before filming even began. However he sadly passed away before it could be officially finished, so the task was given to Simon Franglen to finish it. And the score for this movie is great. Tense, exciting, fun… perfectly fitting for the movie, really elevating a lot of the scenes. What was also kind of fun was that they played the theme from the original “Magnificent Seven” during the end credits. So you could say that the music in this movie was quite… magnificent (*crickets*). Jokes aside, rest in peace Mr. Horner… you did great and you are missed.

This movie was directed by Antoine Fuqua, a director I’m a bit of a fan of. And he proved once again that he is a really good director. This movie looks terrific, some of the shots actually made me go “Wow!”. Also, the action here is pretty badass. When action is happening in this movie, it is fast-paced, intense, fun, and awesome! There are a few standout moments in this movie, and those moments are two pretty badass shootouts. This movie was also surprisingly violent for PG-13. I’m not saying that there was a ton of blood and gore, but it gets pretty violent for a PG-13 movie. I’m not saying it gets quite as brutal as “Casino Royale”, but it is still pretty violent.

This movie has gotten some pretty good reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“The Magnificent Seven” is an incredibly fun western movie. Is it a mindblowing and dramatically impressive film? No, but that was never the point of this film. It has a fun plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great action. Time for my final score. *Quick draws envelope*. My final score for “The Magnificent Seven” is a 9,54/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Magnificent Seven” is now completed.

More movies like this, please.