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: You Don’t Know Jack (2010)

Oh dear. How do I make a fun intro to this? I mean, I don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t because of the heavy subject matter… but I like making fun intros. What a dilemma.

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… “You Don’t Know Jack”.

The story follows Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), a highly controversial doctor. Why is he controversial? Because he advocates (and leads) for the service of assisted suicide for the terminally ill or severely disabled who no longer want to suffer. So the story is about Kevorkian helping his patients while also fighting the legal battle to have what he’s doing be legal… I told you the themes in this were heavy. But in presentation they’re not overbearingly heavy to just make you depressed every minute of the movie. Not saying that it’s exactly a lighthearted movie, but it knows how to find a tone that emphasizes the drama while keeping it relatively easy to watch. And yeah, the plot here has a lo of nuance and balances tone very well, but it also has some trouble with pacing. I get it, Kevorkian had a long career, and this isn’t a fast-paced action movie, but there are times when the pacing drags a bit. It doesn’t ruin the plot, but it does pull it down a bit in my book. Still, the plot here is good.

The characters in this are colorful, layered, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian, the man at the center of the story advocating for assisted suicide. He’s a passionate and highly determined man, doing everything in his power to let people (as he puts it) have the choice to suffer or not. He’s also kinda quirky, but it never clashes with his dramatic struggle, as it shows that there’s many sides to him (like with most people). And Pacino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Cotter Smith, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

There wasn’t a lot of music composed for this movie, but the little there is was done by Marcelo Zarvos, and the music was good… not much else I can say there. The use of licensed music worked pretty well in the movie too. Yeah, not much else can be said.

Based on the life of actual doctor Jack Kevorkian, this movie was written by Adam Mazer, and directed by Barry Levinson. And their work together was really good. Admittedly the camerawork leaves a little to be desired, as the tv movie constraints really show at times here. But the overall direction here is still good, getting close and intimate with the characters and their struggles in a wonderful way.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

While not perfect, “You Don’t Know Jack” is still a really engrossing movie that should spark some interesting discussion. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and good writing/directing. As previously stated, it does suffer a bit in pacing and camerawork (but nothing major). Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “You Don’t Know Jack” is an 8,82/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “You Don’t Know Jack” is now completed.

I have nothing that’s really related to the movie to end on, so let’s just share one of the most profound quotes of all time. “Hoo-ah” – Al Pacino.

Movie Review: Game Night (2018)

What’s your favorite game? Not counting video games here, just things that you can easily play with friends on a game night. Charades, Yahtzee, Uno… doesn’t matter. Let me know your favorites.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Game Night”.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) have a weekly tradition of inviting their friends to a game night. One such weekend the group gets invited to a game night by Max’s brother (Kyle Chandler). They find out that he’s planned a bit of a murder mystery themed game night. But soon what should just be a fun evening with friends turns into something a bit crazier than originally expected. So now we have our twisty-turny comedy. And the plot here is pretty good. I appreciate that it tries to do something a bit different than a lot of modern comedies. It takes a really clever idea and has a lot of fun with it. Now, while I’m all for a twisty-turny web, this one twists around a bit much, turning it into a bit of a mess at times. Twist upon twist is fine, but the way it’s done in “Game Night” doesn’t always work, turning it from a clever mystery into a bit of a messtery (see what I did there?). It’s not so bad that it made me angry, but it does take me out of it a little at times. But it’s still a fairly refreshing entry in the world of Hollywood comedies. Good stuff.

The characters in this are all a ton of fun to follow, and they share some solid chemistry. First up we have Jason Bateman as Max, who is a very Jason Bateman-esque type. I can’t put it any other way, if you’ve seen Jason Bateman in a comedy, you know what to expect from him. But it still works, and Bateman does a good job. Next we have Rachel McAdams as Annie, Max’s wife and fellow game night entusiast. She’s not always the brightest bulb in the shed, but she’s always full of glee and is just a ton of fun to follow. And McAdams is fantastic in the role, absolutely the scene stealer. We also get supporting work from people like Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Jesse Plemons, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and it was really good. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a fan of some of Martinez’s older work, but I think it’s genuinely a great score that works really well in adding a surprising amount of suspense and intrigue to the movie. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“Game Night” was written by Mark Perez, and directed by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein, and this trio really outdid themselves here. In terms of the overall craft of the movie, I didn’t expect much. So imagine my surprise when I notice all the clever and engaging camerawork used throughout the movie, especially during one sequence that I will not spoil, but let’s just say that my eyebrows were raised and my jaw was on the floor. And since this is a comedy, you might wanna know if I laughed. So did I? Like a fucking idiot. I didn’t expect this movie to crack me up as much as it did. Some jokes were chuckles, some were loud gut-busters. Yeah, I had a blast with the humor here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Game Night” is one of the biggest surprises of the year. It has a pretty good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, great directing, and hilarious comedy. Though as previously mentioned, my score gets brought down a bit by the plot being a bit convoluted. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Game Night” is an 8,88/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Game Night” is now completed.

I think Uno might be my favorite, purely because of how fun it is to fuck people over.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

With the impending release of “Justice League”, I thought that it was time to finally get around to watching/reviewing this movie. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wonder Woman”.

After an American soldier named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the mysterious island of Themyscira, he finds himself at the mercy of the Amazons, the group of warrior women inhabiting the island. And he soon brings Diana (Gal Gadot), the princess of the island, to Europe to help in the fight against the Germans during World War 1. So now we have our origin story. And I honestly thought this was a solid plot. There is a bit of a fish out of water element to it, with Diana coming to our world and experiencing World War 1, as well as things people at the time took for granted. But it’s not just a fun little “Oh, she’s not from here” type of story, as it is also an interesting look into her origin and how she has to learn to be Wonder Woman, and there’s a surprising amount of emotion in that journey. The final act is the weakest, as it becomes kind of like the other DCEU movies, but I also feel like this movie earns it by having a great story for the rest of the runtime. Really, this is a good, emotional, not messy, and fun plot.

The characters here are fun and interesting and for the most part quite layered. Gal Gadot reprises her role as Wonder Woman (after 2016’s “Batman v Superman”), and I have to say that I really liked the character here. In “BvS” she was just a fun little addition that didn’t add anything of value, but here she becomes a real character. You see Diana grow as a character here, from a somewhat naive person who wants to see the world and doesn’t know shit about it, to something more. And unlike the DCEU other “heroes”, she’s not broody. She’s fun and optimistic and just incredibly likable. She gets a lot of great character development here and I think Gadot was great in the role. Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor, the soldier who crashes on Themyscira and acts as a sort of guide/love interest for Diana. And what I liked is that he’s not just some one-note person that is either total badass or a helpless idiot, he feels like a legit person here who helps a lot in the development of Diana’s character. And Pine is great in the role. Danny Huston plays one of the movie’s villains, and he’s a bit cartoony. He seems like he’s just evil for the sake of evil (muahaha). He gives a good performance, but the character isn’t very well developed… but I will not dock any points from the movie because I did kind of enjoy him here. Then I’m not gonna go in-depth with more characters, but I can say that the rest of them are pretty interesting. I’ll at least give you the list of actors instead. Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Saïd Taghmaoui, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya… and they’re all great. This is seriously a talented cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams and I thought it was great. It’s big, epic, dramatic, fun, triumphant, awe-inspiring, and just overall worked very well for the movie, often elevating scenes throughout the movie. It is probably my favorite of the DCEU scores so far.

This movie was directed by Patty Jenkins and I thought she did a great job with it. Her direction has a lot of energy to it, keeping it from getting boring. And that is important, because this is an almost 2,5 hour long movie, but I never felt that it dragged, often due to Jenkins’ energy-filled direction. And holy shit, colors! There are actual colors in this DC movie! Let’s talk about the action. While there’s a ton of slow-motion in this (which I hoped they’d use less of in future movies), it didn’t bother me too much and I enjoyed the action scenes. And by enjoyed I mean that there are some fucking awesome action scenes in this. There’s one scene especially that is in a battlefield (people who’ve seen this know which scene I mean) that is one of the best action set pieces of the year. AS for visual effects in this movie, they range from terrific to meh. There were a couple moments where stuff looked less than stellar, but I’m not gonna take points away because they weren’t really that big a distraction, but I thought it could be worth mentioning.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/100.

“Wonder Woman” is a great movie. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wonder Woman” is a 9,76/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wonder Woman” is now completed.

Dear “Justice League”. Please be good.

Movie Review: 30 Days of Night (2007)

And here it is, the final review for the Month of Spooks. I’ve had a lot of fun talking about horror stuff this month, and I hope you guys have enjoyed it as well. Now, let’s get into this thing… which is another vampire movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “30 Days of Night”.

Barrow, Alaska. Once every year it gets covered in complete darkness for 30 days. Only this year it will be a bit more problematic than usual since a group of vampires enter the town to kill every last person in Barrow. And we follow Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) as he tries to keep a small group of people alive. So now we have our survival horror movie. And I say survival horror because it’s not so much about Eben and the other trying to find a way to kill all the vampires, but it’s rather about them just trying to survive until the sun rises once again. And it’s actually quite enthralling, based solely on the never-ending tension. Good plot.

The characters here are all flawed and all get some kind of good development throughout the movie. Josh Hartnett plays Eben Oleson, Barrow’s Sheriff and our main character for this story. He’s a recently divorced man trying to just live an okay life… which of course gets interrupted because motherfucking vampires decide to come to town. And I have to say, this is the best I’ve ever seen Josh Hartnett, he’s actually kind of great in this movie. Melissa George plays Stella, Eben’s ex-wife. She is a fire marshall who wants to get out of Barrow during this dark time, but that gets interrupted by a couple of things. And Melissa George is great in the role. Tough, but not a brash idiot. Danny Huston plays Marlow, the leader of the vampires. He doesn’t say a lot, at least not in a language any of us mere humans understands. But he gives a terrifying performance, and he has a very intimidating presence. So yeah, Huston is great. Mark Rendall plays Jake, Eben’s younger brother. He’s not as brave as his brother, but he is willing to help out when shit gets tough. And Rendall is really good in the role. Then we have Ben Foster as a strange man… I’m not trying to be funny, he is credited as “The Stranger”. But he is a crazy weirdo, which is probably the type of character that Ben Foster does best. And as you could expect, he’s really entertaining in the role. This movie knew how to use it’s Ben Foster. And in further supporting roles we have people like Mark Boone Junior, Manu Bennett, Amber Sainsbury, and more… all doing well in the movie.

The score was composed by Brian Reitzell and it was pretty damn good. It’s eerie, droning, intense, exciting, emotional, and just overall fit the movie very well, often elevating certain moments throughout. ’tis a good one.

This movie was directed by David Slade and is based on a comic book series written by Steve Niles. And while I haven’t read Niles’ comics, I think Slade did a mostly great job with his direction here. It is intense and never really gives you a moment to feel relaxed or safe. His direction makes you feel like there could be a vampire or ten around the corner, which I really appreciated. The only thing I don’t like about the directing is that during the action scenes the camera movement/editing goes from steady and smooth to really shaky. Sure, I had a good idea of what the hell was going on during the action scenes, but there were moments where the shakiness got quite distracting and a little bit disorienting. For the most part it wasn’t too bad, but in some parts it was shakier than a chihuahua trying not to shit itself in a blizzard. Again, doesn’t take away too much for me, but it is worth noting. I do have to mention that there’s plenty of blood and gore here, so if you like that stuff in your movies, then you are in for a treat. But if you’re squeamish, there is your warning. Anyway, the visual effects/makeup look awesome. As for scares, it has a handful, but I feel like the tension and feel of unease is this movie’s strong suit rather than any straight-up scares.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“30 Days of Night” is flawed, but it is an overall good vampire movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and mostly good directing. My only flaw(s) with the movie come in the form of those really shaky action bits. Time for my final score. *RAWR!*. My final score for “30 Days of Night” is an 8,99/10. While flawed, I’d say that it is definitely worth buying.

My review of “30 Days of Night” is now completed.

There is apparently a comic that crosses this over with “The X-Files”, and I kind of want to read that. Also, wouldn’t the basic idea of this movie make for an awesome video game?

Movie Review: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

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I’ve made my love for DC’s animated movies very clear several times on my blog, so I’m not gonna ramble on anymore about that on this post. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”.

Barry Allen (Justin Chambers) wakes up one day to find that everything is different from what he’s used to. His mother’s alive and he no longer has his powers. So he then teams up with a very different Batman (Kevin McKidd) to try to get everything back to normal. And with that said, I do think that the plot here is surprisingly good. Sure, parts can feel a little bit rushed at times because of the 75 minute runtime, but it’s still a really interesting premise that was kept me interested and entertained for all of those minutes.

The characters here are all interesting and entertaining in some way. Justin Chambers does a good job as Barry Allen/Flash. I thought C. Thomas Howell was great as Professor Zoom, he really was the perfect mix of menacing and cocky. Kevin McKidd was great as the flashpoint version of Batman, perfectly playing this very angry individual who also happens to be a little bit of a dick. Then we get a bunch of other really good vocal performances from people like Michael B. Jordan, Steve Blum, Cary Elwes, Nathan Fillion, Danny Huston, and a bunch of others.

The score for the movie was composed by Frederik Weidmann and it was pretty damn good. It’s a really exciting and even at times dramatic score that perfectly works to the movie’s advantage. Yeah, it’s kind of awesome.

So how is the animation in this animated movie? Well, since this was a direct-to-DVD animation I have to judge it a little differently than any big Disney animations we seee in theaters. But I do overall think the animation was really good. Especially during the action scenes, they looked really good and were loads of fun to watch.

Since this is a DC animated movie, it barely exists on the sites I tend to use here. But on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” is another great animated movie from DC. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great animation/action (for this kind of movie). Time for my final score. *ZOOM*. My final score for “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” is a 9,88/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” is now completed.

Makes you wonder what certain characters that we didn’t see would be up to in the flashpoint timeline.