Movie Review: Regression (2015)

Is there a devil? Fucked if I know, so let’s talk about a movie, which is something I do know about!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Regression”.

Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) is tasked with finding the culprit behind the traumatic events in a young woman’s (Emma Watson) life. And while investigating, evidence starts pointing towards a satanic cult potentially being involved. I’m gonna be honest, I like the premise of this one. It is interesting, it has potential to be a really fascinating thriller. And credit where it’s due, I did find the first half of the film kind of enjoyable. Admittedly a bit rote in what was going on, as we’ve seen similar shit in other procedurals, but it was still a decent take on familiar story territory (terristory?). Buuuuut when we entered the second half the train started to derail a bit. The pacing started dragging, and things started to get convoluted and messy. It all felt like it was in service of trying to shock its viewers with weird twists and revelations rather than make something that feels coherent and satisfying in any way. It also has a habit of getting a bit silly at a few points, which would be fine if the rest of the movie didn’t take itself so god damn seriously all the time. So yeah, solid premise, decent first half, trainwreck second half.

The characters in this, much like the premise, have solid enough setups. The foundations for them is strong, and could make for some intriguing character dynamics. However, much like a chicken that gives you salmonella, they are a bit undercooked. Ethan Hawke plays detective Bruce Kenner, our skeptic lead character whose stance is constantly shifting. He’s probably the closest we get to an interesting arc at times, but then in the end I felt very unsatisfied by it. Hawke does a damn good job with his performance, but the character isn’t quite as interesting as he clearly could be. And in supporting roles we see people like David Thewlis, Emma Watson, David Dencik, Lothaire Bluteau, Dale Dickey, and more, all doing pretty well in their roles, but just like with Hawke’s detective Kenner, their characters don’t feel fully fleshed out. And when you have a top notch cast like this, it gets to be a bit of a shame when the characters themselves feel so undercooked.

The score for the movie was composed by Roque Baños, and he did an alright job. It’s a fairly standard thriller score with some mildly eerie strings and piano, with the occasional bit of brass to increase intensity in certain scenes. Not saying it really succeeds at that (sadly), but I recognize what he was going for. And all things considered, it was an alright score in itself.

“Regression” was written and directed by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, and I think he did a fine job. There are times when he creates a decent atmosphere, however it seldom lasts long enough to really elevate the messy narrative. And even in scenes that are meant to be less atmospheric and more investigative, you know, the procedural stuff, Amenábar’s skill never really manages to help much beyond a “I guess this scene is well constructed in the technical sense”. Speaking of which, to be slightly positive for once, I have to say that Daniel Aranyó’s cinematography does look nice, it is pleasing to my eye. Again, it doesn’t really do enough to save the narrative or characters, but it’s at least something I can be nice about.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it hs a 15% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 32/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite some promising elements, “Regression” sadly fell short for me. The plot felt like a mess, the characters are uninteresting, the performances are really good, the music is fine, and the directing is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Regression” is a 4.23/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Regression” is now completed.

Damn it.

Movie Review: The Kid Detective (2020)

I’ve always found the idea of private investigators a fascinating one. Whether they’re investigating missing cats, potentially cheating spouses, or other things that are too petty for the police, these detectives are interesting to me, and often help make for some great fiction. So let’s talk about a detective story.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Kid Detective”.

When he was a kid, Abe Appelbaum (Adam Brody) was a famous detective, solving cases left and right, being celebrated by everyone around him. Now in his thirties, he’s grown cynical, jaded, and often hungover, still scraping by on petty cases. But one day a high schooler (Sophie Nélisse) walks into his office, with the offer of his first “proper” case: Solving the murder of her boyfriend. Detective fiction is tricky to pull off in a way that feels fresh, often stumbling into very familiar tropes and clichés. But “The Kid Detective” is that rare gem that manages to stick out a bit. While it does allow itself to indulge in some of the tropes of detective fiction, it also does a lot to play around with and subvert most of them, delivering a take on the genre that feels very refreshing and unique. Meanwhile it also acts as an interesting and darkly comedic character study about someone with a bright future who ultimately stumbled. And when you mix these two elements you get a very compelling whole that went to places I never expected from it.

The characters in this are all very colorful, entertaining, and interesting. First up we have Abe, the titular dick. Once a bright young mind beloved by all, now cynical and not taken seriously by anyone. Seeing how far he’s stooped from that original splendor is really interesting, and is further complemented by a small glint in his eye that shows the old Abe might still be in there. He’s a really compelling protagonist, and I think Adam Brody is terrific in the role. Next is Caroline, the girl who seeks Abe’s assistance with investigating her boyfriend’s murder. She could best be described as wide-eyed and naive, being an innocent observer to Abe’s antics. But I also think she makes for a nice counterbalance to Abe, creating an interesting dynamic there. And I think Sophie Nélisse does a good job in the role. We also get supporting work from Jonathan Whittaker, Wendy Crewson, Peter MacNeill, Tzi Ma, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jay McCarrol, and I think he did a really good job with it. One thing I really appreciate about it is how it actually incorporates instrumentation and some thematic elements from all kinds of detective fiction. You get some more noir inspired stuff, like out of the 40s and 50s. You get some stuff that sounds like it’s out of the 80s. And even some more modern flourishes appear too. And it all makes for a really nice whole that works really well for the movie. There’s also one or two licensed songs used throughout, and those work pretty well too. The music’s just good, yo.

“The Kid Detective” was written and directed by Evan Morgan, and I think he did a really good job with it. He shows that he has a knack for keeping a scene flowing nicely at a good pace, without making anything feel rushed. He lets moments breathe, allowing scenes to simmer a bit in the viewer’s mind, giving us the intimacy and breathing room necessary for the story to work as well as it does.

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 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

“The Kid Detective” is a subversive and refreshing take on the detective formula that I loved. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Kid Detective” is a 9.89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Kid Detective” is now completed.

Between this and “Ready or Not”, Adam Brody is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Movie Review: Angel Heart (1987)

Ladies and gentlemen of the interwebs, it is that time of year again. The time where I for a full month focus my blog in on the spookier side of entertainment. I welcome all of you to the 6th iteration of The Month of Spooks! So let’s enter the nightmare.

Ladies and gents… “Angel Heart”.

New York, 1955. Private investigator Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) gets hired by the enigmatic Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to find a singer who’s gone missing. But as Harry investigates this disappearance, things start taking a darker turn than originally expected. What’s intriguing about “Angel Heart” in context to this month’s theme is that it isn’t immediately horrific, starting out more as a pulpy detective thriller that over time evolves into more of a psychological affair, building a looming sense of dread and paranoia. And I think the evolution is beautiful and electrifying. I am a fan of detective fiction, so to see it evolve into a horror story is fascinating to me, especially when THIS well. Never was there a moment I was bored, and many moments had me truly glued to what was going on. It’s a fascinating and creepy story that went places I didn’t expect, keeping me on edge throughout its entire runtime.

The characters in this are pretty interesting, all feeling relevant to the plot while also being engaging in their own right. Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, silver-tongued, snarky gumshoe from Noo Yohk. At first that is the side we see of him, something very familiar. But over the movie he develops in some interesting ways that I don’t wanna spoil. And Rourke is great in the role. Robert De Niro is great as the mysterious Louis Cyphre. We also get supporting work from people like Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Higgins, Brownie McGhee, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Trevor Jones, and I thought it was great. Like the narrative, it shifts a bit in genre, which is fine because of how well composed it is. Sometimes it’s eerie and suspenseful and sometimes Courtney Pine seduces you with his noir-inspired saxophone solos. It’s good shit. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this movie has some good music.

Based on the novel “Falling Angel” by William Hjortsberg, “Angel Heart” was written and directed by Alan Parker (recently passed away, R.I.P). And I think he did an excellent job here. His directing hearkens back to old detective noir while still bringing the uncompromising imagery and suspense of 80s horror, and it mixes together wonderfully. This is especially evident when paired with Michael Seresin’s breathtaking cinematography. The combo makes for an insanely well crafted film.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

“Angel Heart” is a beautifully crafted and disturbing gumshoe horror that I loved watching. It has a great story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for Angel Heart” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Angel Heart” is now completed.

Man… young Mickey Rourke was a handsome motherfucker.

Series Review: Bosch – Season 2 (2016)

A long time ago (October 2015) I reviewed the first season of this show, and I liked it a lot. So naturally I was excited to see a second season… which didn’t air here until this year. And I know that you will mention that I could simply stream it last year on Amazon, but this is a show I watched on TV with my parents, and I didn’t wanna break that for season 2. So I patiently waited and it finally came out here weeks ago. And a day or so ago the season finale aired. So, let’s just get into it and see if this follow-up is any good.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bosch” season 2.

Detective Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is called back into active duty after a six month absence to investigate the murder of a pornographer. And as Harry, with his partner Jerry (Jamie Hector), investigates this case they find that this guy might’ve had ties to the mob. And as the two continue investigating, they find that this case is a lot more complicated than it might’ve seemed at first glance. So now we have our gritty cop drama. And while this season admittedly lacks some of the tense unpredictability of the first, it’s still a well constructed plot filled with twists, turns, engaging drama, and intrigue. In a world filled with cop dramas, “Bosch” and it’s plot stands out.

The characters here are layered, entertaining, and interesting. Titus Welliver returns as Detective Harry Bosch, the eponymous cop with a less than shiny past. He’s not necessarily a “bad” cop, but he is a bit rough around the edges. We get to see a more vulnerable and emotional side to Harry this season as he learns more about what happened to his mother, and also because of some other stuff that I won’t spoil here. But he’s a really interesting character, and Welliver is great in the role. Jamie Hector is back as Jerry Edgar, Bosch’s partner. He’s funny, he’s cool, he’s interesting, and he’s a good counterpoint to Bosch. And Hector is great in the role. Amy Aquino returns as Grace Billets, Bosch’s friend and superior. She’s still the tough yet charming and lovable woman we got to know in season 1. And Aquino is great in the role. Lance Reddick returns as Irvin Irving (actual name), the highly ranked police that Bosch often works for/with. And without saying too much, he goes through a pretty interesting and even emotional arc this season that made me care a bit more for him. And Reddick is great in the role. Then we have Sarah Clarke and Madison Lintz returning as Bosch’s ex-wife and daughter respectively. And they add some interesting dramatic weight to the season that I won’t go into. But both actresses do a really good job here. Now for newer people worth talking about. We get Jeri Ryan as the widow of the dead pornographer. And she’s an interesting character that gets to go through some stuff this season. And Ryan is great in the role. Then we have Brent Sexton as a security guard that Bosch gets to know through the season, and he gets some interesting things to do here. And Sexton is great in the role. Then in a couple more supporting roles throughout we get actors like Robbie Jones, James Ransone, Matthew Lillard, John Marshall Jones, and more… all doing a great fucking job.

Jesse Voccia returned to do the score for this season, and he once again did a great job. The score is tense, exciting, emotional, and just overall works very well for the show in general, at a lot of times elevating certain scenes. Then there are some licensed tracks used throughout and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Eric Overmyer and Michael Connelly, and is based on Connelly’s book series about Bosch. And it was written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And I think they did a great job. This world/show feels fully realized, and they make it feel interesting. The directing here is great, often adding tension and/or energy to a lot of scenes, making sure it never feels dull. The action scenes in this show too are pretty exciting. They don’t do anything unique, but they’re done well enough and they have enough tension so that you can’t help but sit and enjoy them. The first season’s sly and dark sense of humor is back, and it’s just as enjoyable.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

Season 2 of “Bosch” is a great follow-up to the great first season. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bosch” season 2 is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

As far as modern cop shows go, “Bosch” is one of the best.

Series Review: The Expanse – Season 1 (2015 – 2016)

Space, the final frontier. Alright, that is enough “Star Trek” for now. Time to move on to a different science fiction thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first season of… “The Expanse”.

The Canterbury is a giant ship flying around in outer space collecting ice. During one of their missions they get a distress call and part of the crew gets sent out to investigate it. At the same in a different location we follow detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) as he is trying to find a missing woman who happens to be the daughter of a very important businessman. And soon we find out that these two seemingly unrelated stories might be connected somehow. So now we have a sci-fi story that actually turned out to be pretty fucking good. The story of the Canterbury crew makes for an exciting space-thriller, with Detective Miller’s story makes for an intriguing detective noir. But none of them feel out of place in any way, as they complement each other very well. The season also gives us a good look at the politics and such of this universe, which helps everything feel more deep and well realized. And the political stuff actually has a purpose in the story and it’s a welcome addition. The plot also takes a few interesting twists and turns throughout that I didn’t expect. So yeah, the plot here is great.

The characters in this movie are all interesting and get a fair amount of development over the ten episode season. Thomas Jane (sporting an interesting haircut) plays Joe Miller, a detective who’s determined to find this missing woman. And Thomas Jane is really good in the role, giving one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. Steven Strait plays Jim Holden, one of the people from the Canterbury investigating the distress call. He can often seem like he’s making dumb decisions, but the more time we spend with him over the season, the more we understand why he does that. And Strait is great in the role. Dominique Tipper plays Naomi Nagata, another one of the Canterbury crew members. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to get the job done soon, and Tipper is great in the role. Cas Anvar plays Alex Kamal, the pilot who goes along to investigate the distress call, and he’s probably the closest thing we have to comic relief in the show. I mean, he does get some of the funnier lines in the show, but his humor never clashes with the overall serious tone of the season, and he does have serious moments in the season. And Anvar is great in the role. Wes Chatham plays Amos Burton, another member of the Canterbury crew. He’s basically the muscle of the group, I’d even say that he’s kind of a knucklehead. But he’s not a bad guy, he’s just impulsive and brash. And Chatham does a good job in the role. Shohreh Aghdashloo (aside from having one of the most unique voices ever) plays Chrisjen Avasarala, a politician on Earth, and she’s terrific in the role. Then we get a lot of solid supporting performances throughout the show from people like Shawn Doyle, Chad L. Coleman, Elias Toufexis, Jared Harris, and Jay Hernandez. So yeah, this is a very well acted show.

The score for the show was composed by Clinton Shorter and I think he did a great job. His score doesn’t really do anything original in terms of a sci-fi score, but the overall execution is great. The score is tense, exciting, inspiring, and just overall fit the show very well.

“The Expanse” was created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, and is based on the book series of the same named written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the shared pseudonym James S. A. Corey. I haven’t read any of the books, so I can’t speak on if this is a good adaptation or not, but I can at least speak on it as it’s own show. And what Fergus, Ostby, and any other writers/directors managed to create is pretty fantastic. It’s a very well directed show with a lot of suspense being created even when very little is happening. It has a cold and kind of blue look, really making it feel like a different world than our own. There are also a lot of cool sets in this show. Sure, we’ve seen very similar things before in other shows and movies and even video games, but that doesn’t discredit any of the sets on display here… because they’re great. And the CGI, especially on a TV budget, looks fantastic. Definitely some of the best effects I’ve ever seen in a TV show. And to answer your question, yes there is action in this show. It isn’t the main focus, but action does happen in this show. And when it does it is fun and exciting and badass.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

“The Expanse” season 1 is pretty fucking great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Expanse” is a 9,93/10. Which means that it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Bit of “Star Trek”, a splash of “Mass Effect”, bit of detective noir and voila… good show!