Movie Review: The Harder They Fall (2021)

Hello there! Now that we’re out of October and I’ve had a few days of rest, I can go back to talking about non-horror stuff for a bit. So let’s gooooo!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries. The bigger they are… “The Harder They Fall”.

When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) finds out that the man (Idris Elba) responsible for once causing him great trauma is getting released from prison, he unites with his old gang to track down and get revenge on this nemesis. “The Harder They Fall” is interesting in its storytelling due to how formulaic yet fresh it feels. I know, that’s a bit of a paradox, but hear me out. At the core is a very typical revenge western, something we’ve seen god knows how many times before, but then there’s a lot of times where there’s an interesting and unique spin put on one of the tropes, which keeps it feeling fresh and a little unpredictable. But then there are also other tropes that the story embraces with such gusto that those moments never feel dull or uninteresting. It manages to ride that balance between familiar and fresh beautifully, giving us a fun and engaging narrative that both entertains and engages.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, nuanced, and quite interesting. They’re all based on real people, but this isn’t adhering to any biopic format, so these real people can be used to dramatize in all kinds of interesting ways. And I found them all really engaging, with each actor firing on all cylinders. Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Lakeith Standfield, Edi Gathegi, Damon Wayans Jr, Deon Cole, Danielle Deadwyler, Delroy Lindo, they’re all fantastic, as are every other actor appearing in this.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeymes Samuel, and I really liked it. It creates a very fun and unique vibe by mixing traditional western strings and brass with elements of hip hop, funk, a little bit of jazz, and some other elements I can’t quite pinpoint. But it’s an interesting blend that may seem a little anachronistic on paper, but works insanely well within the film itself.

“The Harder They Fall” was directed and co-written by Jeymes Samuel  for Netflix, and I think he did a great job with it. Samuel has this really fun and electrifying energy to his direction, making each scene crackle in a way that keeps each moment highly engaging, while still allowing for more dramatic scenes to breathe and take their time. His style and energy especially comes alive during the action scenes, which are all kinetic, bold, and and absolute blast to watch. Adding further to the enjoyment of the movie is the editing by Tom Eagles, which maintains this snappy and fun kineticism that you don’t necessarily see in many films nowadays. It’s just an insanely well crafted film

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.3/10.

“The Harder They Fall” is an absolute treat, serving as both a send-up and subversion of the western genre. It has a really good story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing and editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My review of “The Harder They Fall” is a 9.67/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Harder They Fall” is now completed.

A rootin’ tootin’ good time

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)

*Ron Perlman voice activated* War, war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Da 5 Bloods”.

In the present day, four African-American Vietnam veterans travel back to the country they once battled in to find the remains of their fallen comrade, and bring him back to the States. But as we soon learn, there is a bit more going on with this situation than just men wanting to pay respect to their brother. “Da 5 Bloods” is a fascinating movie in the sense that it evolves quite a bit over time. It has its main goal of course, but then it also uses various tangents to make points about a lot of real life things, from the Vietnam war, to the messy relationships of the characters, to history of race within the States. It’s a very ambitious narrative, which I respect quite a lot. And there’s a lot to like about the story. But I also feel like the amount of content here ultimately hurts the story somewhat. You really feel the 150 minute runtime at multiple points, and the sheer amount of threads within this narrative does make it feel somewhat messy sometimes. I was mostly invested in what was going on, and I would still say that it’s a good story… but also a flawed one.

Whereas the story can feel a little iffy at times, the characters shine, always being extremely interesting. Their different personalities make for fascinating chemistry, as there’s clearly a brotherly bond between the group, but then there’s other aspects of their personalities that clash, and I thought that made for some electrifying cast dynamics. I won’t go into too much detail on each one, as they’re better left experienced. But I will say that Delroy Lindo plays possibly the most complex character in this movie, and his performance is fucking amazing. The rest of the cast is great too, filled with very talented people like Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Jonathan Majors, Chadwick Boseman (R.I.P) and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was very good. Sometimes it creates a subtle and emotional vibe that creates a lot of dramatic tension and maybe some heartache, and at times it’s slightly more bombastic for various reasons. It’s not my favorite score that Blanchard has composed, but it still works really well for this movie. There’s also some licensed music used throughout, and those tracks work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“Da 5 Bloods” was directed and co-written by Spike Lee, and I will say that he’s done a really good job with it. The dude somehow manages to bring a big, epic scope to this project while still managing to keep us intimate with the characters. The movie just feels grandiose, like one of those older war epics, even though it never really focuses on any actual warring. The movie also plays around with aspect ratio in some fun ways. In the present day it’s a nice wide 16:9, but when we get flashback’s to the early 70s, it goes in on a 4:3 aspect ratio, which I thought was a nice touch for the storytelling. Also, there’s some grisly images in this. Really grisly… just thought I’d mention that.

“Da 5 Bloods” has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

“Da 5 Bloods” may not be perfect, but it’s still a very good drama about some very interesting people. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Da 5 Bloods” is an 7.99/10. So even thought it’s flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Da 5 Bloods” is now completed.

If Delroy Lindo doesn’t get the Oscar, we riot.

Movie Review: The Last Castle (2001)

I don’t have much to say here. Not because the movie flabbergasted me or broke my soul in two. I just don’t have anything clever to say. So I guess we should just get into the review.

Ladies and gents… “The Last Castle”.

Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford) is an army general who has been court-martialed and sent to a military prison. But it doesn’t take long for him to notice how corrupt the entire place is. So he decides to rally the other inmates to rise up against the prison and its crooked warden (James Gandolfini). I like stories of revolutions. And setting one of those within a corrupt prison is an idea that I find pretty fucking clever. However, they only do the bare minimum with that idea, going for surface level ideas instead of giving us the kind of nuanced story one could expect from this kind of idea. That said, it’s not bad. Surface level isn’t exactly what I’d call a bad thing here. The story does entertain throughout the two hour runtime. I just wish it had a little bit more nuance to it.

The characters in this are… fine. Often they boil down to stereotypes we’ve seen before. Asshole, big dude, young/underestimated guy, etcetera. Robert Redford plays General Eugene Irwin, the highly regarded army man at the center of the story. He’s a good man, never bent, always doing what’s best for him and his men. He may not be the deepest character ever, but Redford’s performance really makes it feel a bit deeper than the writing would have you believe. James Gandolfini plays Winter, the colonel who’s in charge of the prison. He seems a half decent fellow at first glance, but it doesn’t take long for his crookedness to be clear. He’s a decent matchup for Irwin, and Gandolfini is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mark Ruffalo, Clifton Collins Jr, Delroy Lindo, Steve Burton, Brian Goodman, Michael Irby, Robin Wright, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it was good. Plenty of military-style trumpets, some emotional strings, and some heavy and dramatic percussion. It is a little bit generic at times, but overall it’s well composed and works quite well for the movie. There’s also one or two licensed tracks used in the movie, and that works pretty well too.

The movie was directed by Rod Lurie, who I think did a pretty good job here. There’s a surprising amount of fun camerawork throughout, and he does have a decent sense of dramatic flair. Whenever the writing is a little bland and uninspired, his direction sort of helps out in making it a bit more interesting.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 43/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

While not a perfect movie, “The Last Castle” is still a pretty entertaining prison drama. It has an okay plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Last Castle” is a 7,23/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth renting.

My review of “The Last Castle” is now completed.

Do you think Ruffalo played a former pilot because helicopter blades go “Ruffa ruffa ruffa ruffa”?