Series Review: The Outsider (2020)

Alright, first review of an actual 2020 release. We’re finally getting into the new year properly.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Outsider”.

When a young boy is found having been raped and murdered, the evidence points to local baseball coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman) having done it. But as Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) looks further into it, there seems to be more to the case than meets the eye, leading Ralph down a dark and complicated path. So now we have our dark mystery series. And I would say the story here is a really intriguing one. The way this case evolves the further we get into the show is fascinating, making for some really interesting and often suspenseful television. It’s often also quite disturbing, but in a way that serves the story and doesn’t feel like cheap exploitative crap. Now, there are parts of the show where not much happens, and that drags it down ever so slightly. I don’t mind a slow burn (hell, most of this show is a slow burn), but there’s a difference between slowly burning drama and no real development. That said, it doesn’t full on ruin the show for me… it’s still a great and chilling story.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall quite interesting. First up we have Ben Mendelsohn as Ralph Anderson, an aging police Detective who’s the lead on this case. He’s a determined man, ready for action at any point, while also dealing with some personal demons. And Mendelsohn is great in the role. Next we have Cynthia Erivo as Holly Gibney, a private investigator who gets brought in to help out with the case at a point in the story. She’s a bit eccentric, but also absolutely brilliant at what she does, making her a very valuable part of the cast. And Erivo is great in the role. Jason Bateman is good as disgraced baseball coach Terry Maitland. Bill Camp is great as defense attorney Howard Salomon. Yul Vazquez is great as fellow detective Yunis Sablo. Julianna Nicholson is good as Terry’s wife Glory. We also get supporting work from people like Paddy Considine, Jeremy Bobb, Mare Winningham, Derek Cecil, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans (two names we haven’t seen on this blog in quite a while). And I think they did a great job in creating an eerie and chilling score that perfectly encapsulates the dark and creepy vibe that the rest of the creative team were going for. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout the show, and they work well enough in their respective scenes.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, “The Outsider” was developed for HBO by Richard Price, with writing by him and a bunch of other cool people (including my favorite author, Dennis Lehane), and directing by a few other cool people (including Jason Bateman and Karyn Kusama). And this is where the show is at its best. The craft is fucking immaculate. The slow burn of the story is very much part of the directing too, and I like that, as it gives the show this cold and almost otherworldly vibe that constantly kept me on my edge to some degree. And the cinematography, split over the ten episodes between Kevin McKnight, Zak Mulligan, Rasmus Heise, and Igor Martinovic… it’s stunning. Each shot is meticulously planned, making for quite an engaging visual experience.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #192 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it does drag a little in parts, “The Outsider” is still a damn good show that I highly recommend. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Outsider ” is a 9/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “The Outsider” is now completed.

I need to read more Stephen King.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 9)

As mentioned in my previous post, you’ll be getting two 12 Films of Christmas entries today. The previous one was technically yesterday’s the I missed. So this here is officially speaking the entry for today. So I hope you enjoy getting two pieces about contrivances today.

So for this one we’ll be talking about “Bad Times at the El Royale”, a 2018 pulp thriller written and directed by Drew Goddard. The movie is about a group of strangers who all converge at the El Royale motel for the night, and how all their pasts come to a head, creating one hell of a tumultuous experience. So what does this have to do with christmas? Well, let me learn ya somethin’.

This movie is a metaphor for family christmas dinners. Think about it. A bunch of differing people coming together and clashing? That’s very much christmas. A kindly grandpa with some skeletons in his closet (Jeff Bridges), a smug sales type who is probably your aunt’s new shitty husband (Jon Hamm), your mom who is ready to defend herself from any bullshit (Cynthia Erivo), your conniving sister (Dakota Johnson), and then there’s the cult leader (Chris Hemsworth). What, your christmas dinners don’t have charismatic yet ruthless cult leaders attending? Oh man, you should give it a try, it’s a blast… except for the one time my cousin got set on fire by said cult leader… that was a bit awkward. So yeah, “Bad Times at the El Royale” can be seen as a metaphor for insane family christmas dinners.

And even without the holiday implications, “Bad Times at the El Royale” is still a damn fine thriller filled with fantastic actors and tense moments.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

I was gonna do a joke about a priest walking into a bar, but I couldn’t come up with a good punchline. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Times at the El Royale”.

The late 1960s. On the border between California and Nevada lies the El Royale, a snazzy-looking motel. And on one fateful day, a group of strangers all decide to book rooms there, all of them carrying some secret. And we follow them as they get tangled up in the most insane night of their lives. The plot here jumps around a lot, partly in showing how all the characters got to the El Royale, and partly to show all the different perspectives on certain events that go down at the motel. And this could get messy and convoluted if put in the wrong hands. But I think that it was handled very well here. I like that they really took their time to tell this story. It’s intriguing, suspenseful, fun, pulpy, and just overall entertaining.

The characters here are colorful, unique, layered, flawed, and just overall really interesting. And that’s all you’ll get out of me. I won’t go any more in-depth on any of them, as that would be really tough without accidentally spoiling stuff. So let’s just list the cast. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and it was really good. It does lean into the pulp angle I mentioned earlier, which really helps sell the movie’s vibe while still adding to the sense of tension and drama. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only are they really good on their own, but they also work incredibly well within their respective scenes.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” was written and directed by Drew Goddard, who I think did a great job with it. He gives the movie a very slick style that makes it feel somewhat unique, without sacrificing any of the pulpy suspense that is built up through the story, characters, and music. And the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is pretty stellar, giving us some really great looking shots throughout the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” is something that I can easily tell will polarize audiences. But I thought it was great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9,71/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is now completed.

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…