Movie Review: Hotel Artemis (2018)

At last, first review of the year not featuring a movie starring Ghostface. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going through the “Scream” movies, but a bit of variety doesn’t hurt, you know. So with that out of the way, let’s do this.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, let’s check in at… “Hotel Artemis”.

Los Angeles, 2028. The city has been torn to shreds by constant riots. In the middle of this chaos is Artemis, a hotel/hospital dedicated to treating criminals, run by a woman known as The Nurse (Jodie Foster). And we follow her on what might be the most hectic night in the establishment’s history. I mostly enjoyed the story here. When it focuses on the lean, colorful contained thriller aspect, it’s a lot of fun. Where it does falter though is when it tries to go for a more serious tone, developing the backstories of the characters. Wanting to add more nuance and emotional depth to the narrative isn’t an inherently bad thing, but the writing isn’t really strong enough for it to feel successful, which does make those sections feel like a bit of a drag. Luckily, those parts aren’t the main focus of the movie, so for the most part it’s an enjoyable story… bar those select few sections, I mean.

The characters in this are decent, all stand out enough from each other, and work well for the story. But what does elevate them beyond just being passable are the actors. Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sophia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Zachary Quinto, and more appear in this movie, and there’s not a weak link within the cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and I think he did an okay job with it. As with most of his work, it’s based heavily in synths, and I think it fits with the neon-soaked, dingy style of the movie. It’s not Martinez’s best or most memorable score, but it worked fine for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

“Hotel Artemis” was written and directed by Drew Pearce, and I think he did a pretty good job. His style does have this fun, almost comic book-ish charm that really keeps each scene feeling fun and charming. His action scenes are also pretty well handled. Not perfect, but they’re generally well made and fun. What also adds to the overall quality of the craft is the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, which is beautiful and really adds to the feel of the movie, making each scene even more engaging.

This movie’s not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 58% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

While it does falter a bit when trying to be more serious, “Hotel Artemis” is an enjoyable contained thriller. It has a pretty good story, okay characters, great performances, okay music, good directing, and great cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hotel Artemis” is a 7.23/10. So while it is flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth renting.

My review of “Hotel Artemis” is now completed.

Welcome to the Hotel Artemis, such a dingy place, such a dingy place…

Movie Review: Scream (2022)

My friends, it is finally here. The reason for my content output the last two weeks. It’s finally here and I can talk about it. And after this, you’ll be free of me rambling about this franchise… until the next inevitable one in 5-10 years. But for now, this is the last one you’ll hear me talk about. So let’s see if it’s another worthy entry in this franchise.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream”, which is also “Scream 5”.

25 years after the original Woodsboro murders, everything is seemingly nice and quiet in the small California town. But this peace is brought to a halt when a new masked murderer starts stalking a group of teens, seemingly with the intention of drawing out the town’s darkest secrets. The story of “5cream” is really strong, and talking about it is difficult. Of course we see a lot of the familiar meta/characters aware of horror tropes stuff come back, but it doesn’t just feel like a retread of what’s come before. While it’s here to poke that sort of fun at horror tropes, it also takes its time to satirize lovingly legacy movies and so-called “elevated horror”, while als taking some absolutely brutal stabs at toxic fandoms. And all of that helps make for a strong, pertinent, funny, tragic, and quite well written satire narrative, while still of course also indulging in a bit of violent carnage. It’s a damn good story that I liked from start to end, but can tell will piss some people off.

The characters in this are all pretty good. Do I think all of them carry the same memorability as some of the cast from the older movies, not quite. But out of the core cast, there’s none that felt like they didn’t belong or like they were outright poorly written. And as for the actors, there’s not a weak link. Of course you have the old trio of Arquette, Campbell, and Cox coming back, all slipping beautifully back into these roles, once again delivering top notch performances. And within the new cast you have people like Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mikey Madison, and more, all great in their respective roles.

This is the first one in the series not to be composed by Marco Beltrami, with Brian Tyler instead taking on that task. And lucky for us, Tyler killed it. His score hearkens back to Beltrami’s scores with a lot of similar musical tricks and stylings, without ever feel like he’s just rehashing what came before. From brash, intense brass to more subtle, emotional tracks, it’s all here, and it all works wonderfully. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and those work well in the movie too.

Unlike previous ones, “Scream 5: The Fifth Screaming” wasn’t written by Kevin Williamson or directed by Wes Craven (R.I.P). Instead writing duties fell on James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, with direction being handled by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who also gave us the wonderful “Ready or Not”). Aaaaand, they knocked it out of the park. The direction here is really suspenseful and intense, never really letting the viewer feel at ease, even during seemingly safe scenes. This really helps keep the whodunnit element relevant and exciting, while also making sure that when Ghostface appears, it actually feels scary. Speaking of the ol’ mouthgaper, Jesus Christ, the kills in this are savage. Not that the other killers in the series weren’t violent psychos, but there’s something about the violence in this that just feels extra mean-spirited and brutal, which does fit with the story and tone of this movie, and helps make el spookerino feel like more of a threat than ever. So yeah… this movie’s well crafted.

At the time of writing, this movie been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

I think it’s pretty clear that I think “Scream: Another Scream” is another fit for the franchise. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ooga booga*. My final score for “Scream” is a 9.76/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream the Fifth” is now completed.

Let’s end this on a classic question, because it’s fun and I genuinely wanna know… What’s your favorite scary movie?

Movie Review: Scream 2 (1997)

Hi there friends! Let’s continue through this franchise!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream 2”.

Two years after the traumatic events in Woodsboro, Sidney (Neve Campbell) has moved a few states over and seems to be doing fine. She’s going to college, she has friends, and she has a sweet, caring boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell). But this nice quiet life will soon be interrupted when a copycat killer starts stalking Sidney and her friends. Much like the first movie, “Scream 2” takes familiar slasher tropes and turns them on their head in fun, sharp-witted ways, while also gleefully embracing them when needed. It’s a story that cleverly plants seeds of doubt about anyone and everyone within. Combine that with the relentless pace and you get a strong narrative that never bores. Do I think it’s as strong as the first movie through? No, not quite. Like I said, it’s strong, but the increased scope of it can make it feel a bit more unfocused than the first at times, which does keep it from being as strong as it could be. But overall it’s still a damn solid, highly entertaining story.

The characters in this are fun, charming, layered, and overall just highly interesting. The ones returning from the first movie have seen major developments since then, and I really like that, as it adds some extra depth and clever character drama to proceedings. And even the new guys are really good too. And I think the entire cast, containing people like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Liev Schreiber, Jerry O’Connell, Jamie Kennedy, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and many more, do fantastic work in this.

As with the first movie, the score for this was composed by Marco Beltrami, who I think did a really good job with it. He very much brings back a lot of the stylings he used within the first movie, and then refines them to make for a more polished and more nuanced sound. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

“Scream 2” was once again written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, and once again the craft is top notch. The direction’s slick, intense, energetic, and a bit more creative with how it frames the action and violence. Speaking of which, my god, there’s some grisly stuff in here. Not that the violence in the first movie was “clean”, but there’s definitely a bigger focus on brutality in this… and I dig it, as it does fit with the whole “sequel = bigger” satire they’re going for. ’tis good shit.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While it lacks some of the focus of the first one, “Scream 2” is still a damn good sequel that entertains from start to end. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Scream 2” is an 8.81/10. So while not as strong as the first, it’s still most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Scream 2” is now completed.

2 down, 2 to go.

Movie Review: The Dry (2021)

Hey there. Doing well? I hope you’re doing well… I got nothing clever to intro this with, so let’s just get into this shit.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Dry”.

After he returns to his old hometown for a funeral, Federal Agent Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) starts looking into some allegations laid against his dead friend, all while dealing with his past coming back to haunt him. “The Dry” mixes elements of smalltown drama with police procedural, and I think that the story here is quite compelling. It weaves main plot and subplots quite nicely, making for a world and narrative that feels lived in, like we’re going into lives that have existed for years, rather than it feeling like it starts with the audience’s arrival. And while its very deliberate pace might test some people’s patience, I found the slow, drip feeding approach of the storytelling to be quite engaging, as it also made me question everything going on, which added quite a bit of suspense to proceedings. ’tis a damn solid story.

The characters in this are all flawed, layered, and overall quite interesting. Much like the narrative, they all feel pretty real and like they actually had lives and existed before we saw them. And the grounded feel of them helps make this story and world quite compelling. But what really helps sell them are the actors, who all deliver terrific work. I’ve been a fan of Eric Bana for years, but this might be the best performance I’ve seen from him. Further filling out the cast, we got people like Genevieve O’Reilly, Bruce Spence, Keir O’Donnell, Matt Nable, Julia Blake, Joe Klocek, BeBe Bettencourt, and a lot of other talented people.

The score for the movie was composed by Peter Raeburn, and I think he did a really good job with it. It’s very somber, leaning heavily on strings to deliver a fairly serious and often also sad score that really helps sell the drama and desperation of Aaron’s investigation and predicaments. It’s good.

Based on the novel of the same name by Jane Harper, “The Dry” was directed and co-written by Robert Connolly, who I think did a damn good job here. Connolly’s direction is (for the most part) not very flashy, but rather quite subdued, which I think fits the story and the pacing of the movie, really letting every dramatic beat simmer nicely. Stefan Duscio’s cinematography adds a lot as well, giving us some really nice shots that still captures the dry, gritty vibe of this place and story wonderfully.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While its slow, deliberate pace may put off some people, I found “The Dry” to be a highly engrossing crime-drama. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Dry” is a 9.61/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Dry” is now completed.

I am so used to seeing Bruce Spence as aliens, monsters, and creeps, so it was a nice change of pace to see him as a regular dude for once.

Movie Review: Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Hello! As some of you might remember, last year I retired my 12 Films of Christmas series, as I got burnt out on doing 12 themed pieces over the span of 12 days. And I stand by that retirement. However, that won’t prevent me from still doing a few chrimbo movies on this blog. So with that out of the way, let us talk about one.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Tokyo Godfathers”!

’twas the night before christmas, and all throughout Tokyo, some shit was stirring, I can’t keep this up, yo. Anyhow, during christmas eve, three homeless people find a baby abandoned in some trash and set out on an adventure to find its parents. “Tokyo Godfathers” is a unique take on familiar ideas, creating a compelling narrative that is equal parts heartwarming, heartbreaking, tragic, and funny. It’s a wonderful and delightfully off-kilter story that had me feeling every emotion possible. I’m sorry that this section is so brief and vague, but it’s hard to talk any more in depth about this story without revealing too much. But trust me when I say that it’s a great little tale.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, flawed, nuanced, and overall quite interesting. First up are our leading three, all coming from tragic backgrounds, all trying their damndest to make the most of their bad situation(s). They’re a frankly amazing trio of characters that I loved following. They’re also wonderfully brought to life by the vocal talents of Toru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, and Aya Okamoto. The supporting cast is great too, featuring interesting characters voiced by terrific actors like Akio Otsuka, Yusaku Yara, Kyoko Terase, and more.

The music for the movie was composed by Keiichi Suzuki, along with Moonriders, his band. And I think they did a swell job with it. It takes some influences from jazz, pop-rock, and various styles of film score to create a unique soundscape that fits the movie wonderfully.

“Tokyo Godfathers” was directed and co-written by Satoshi Kon, and he and his crew did an amazing job here. The animation quality is spectacular, with beautifully fluid movements and actions. But much like Kon’s other works, the characters have a lot of imperfections to them, compared to the oft’ flat and glossy look of many animes, which really helps add to the grounded and somewhat gritty vibe of this movie. It’s stunningly animated, cleverly edited, and just overall wonderfully put together. Kon was an absolute master who was taken from us too soon.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

“Tokyo Godfathers” is not just a fun christmas romp, but also a beautifully nuanced drama, and I adored every bit of it. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic direction/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Tokyo Godfathers” is a 9.93/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Tokyo Godfathers” is now completed.

Simply wonderful.

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Hello there, hope you’re having a good weekend. Only a few days until “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is released, which means it’s time for me to cover the second (and final) movie in the previous reboot. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.

Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) life is a bit of a hectic one, trying to balance being Spider-Man with being a regular New York teenager. But this is going to get way tougher when a series of new villains emerge and start causing chaos. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a curious case of occasional good ideas getting absolutely crushed by the overabundance of superfluous plot threads. First is the Peter/Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) romance, fine. Then there’s the introduction of Electro (Jamie Foxx), fine. But then there’s also the backstory involving Peter’s parents. And a plot involving Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan). And then there’s a few more threads throughout. There’s so much shit going on that it really messes with the pacing. First act is fine, and even has some great shit going on. But as the film goes on, it just becomes an overstuffed, underdeveloped, sluggish mess that is hard to engage with. There are moments of quality in the storytelling, but the overall narrative is just… ugh.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. Our two leads, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, they’re both charming, fun, engaging, and just overall a great pair, with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone both delivering top notch performances. Next we have Max Dillon/Electro, who is at first set up as our main villain. His characterization is bizarre, and I don’t completely get why they wrote him the way they did. And Jamie Foxx… it’s a mixed bag of a performance. On occasion I do enjoy it, but it often just didn’t click with me. Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn? Decent performance, undercooked writing. Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich? Unnecessary, but very amusing. I’ll at least say that the rest of the supporting cast is solid, featuring people like Sally Field, Colme Feore, Marton Csokas, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Junkie XL, Johnny Marr, Steve Mazzaro, and Andrew Kawczynski… FUCK, that’s a lot of composers. But they acted as sort of a supergroup to make the music for this, and I think it mostly paid off. It’s an interesting mix of styles and genres, making for a unique and slightly eclectic score that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing throughout the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they are a bit of a mixed bag. Some work pretty well, some less so.

As with the first one, “Amazing Spider-Man 2” was directed by Marc Webb (HA!), and I think he did a solid job. Despite the script being a complete mess, Webb’s direction is sound, flowing beautifully and bringing some nice energy to proceedings. It especially shines in action scenes, which are all generally quite enjoyable. And that’s something I can say, on the technical side of things, this movie is solid.

This movie has gotten some very mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Despite a lackluster and overly messy script, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” still has enough bright spots in it to keep it from total failure. It has some good story moments, it has a few good characters, the performances are (mostly) great, the music is really good, and the direction is really solid. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a 6.23/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

*thwip*

Movie Review: Nightmare Alley (1947)

With the impending release of Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of this story (super excited for that), I thought it could be fun to watch the first film bearing the title. So without further ado… let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, I’d recommend not walking down… “Nightmare Alley”.

The story follows Stanton “Stan” Carlisle (Tyrone Power), a con man currently working with a traveling carnival. And we follow him as he lies and deceives everyone around him for his own personal gain, and what consequences that brings to his life. It’s an interesting narrative, filled with twists, turns, and good ol’ noir suspense. It’s a fascinating look at a very shady and fascinating man, giving us a fairly nuanced and clever little noir narrative. Its pacing can be a little bit weird at times, sometimes jumping a little too quickly and sometimes dragging its feet. It doesn’t completely break the story, as I’d say it mostly paces itself quite well. And the overall narrative is quite engaging, so it does mostly even itself out.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, layered, and overall just highly interesting. At the enter of our story is Stan Carlisle, a con man and supposed mentalist, always working and scheming to further his own interests. He’s quite a solidly written and engaging lead character, with Tyrone Power giving a great performance in the role. We also get supporting work from Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Mike Mazurki, Taylor Holmes, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Cyril J. Mockridge, and I can’t remember any of it. Nothing sticks out as bad about it, nothing sticks out as good about it… it just doesn’t stick out in any way at all. It’s probably perfectly passable, but man, I wish I had more to say.

Based on the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” was directed by Edmund Goulding, who I think did a damn good job. Do you like seedy, dimly lit sets with very atmospheric shadows draping over the characters? Well, that’s what you get here, and it’s handled to perfection in that regard. It takes the classic noir stylizations and does them beautifully. It’s a solidly crafted film.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

While its pacing can let it down a little, “Nightmare Alley” is still a damn good noir film. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Nightmare Alley” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “Nightmare Alley” is now completed

Is it just me, or is “Tyrone Power” one of the coolest names ever?

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

If you’ve been following me for a few years, you might remember that back when “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came out in 2019, I reviewed all of the Sam Raimi-directed webhead movies. Well, now that we’re getting “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in a few weeks I thought it was a good time to finally talk about the two “Amazing” movies. So today I’ll be reviewing the first one, and then the sequel in like a week. Sound good? Then let’s get into it!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Amazing Spider-Man”.

After he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, high school student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) starts developing spider-like powers… wait a minute, this is how I kicked off my review of the 2002 “Spider-Man” (absolute hack). But yeah, since this is a reboot, it kind of does have a similar setup to what has come before. But despite this, “Amazing Spider-Man” manages to still stand on its own two feet, largely thanks to a slightly more serious and subdued tone. For the first two acts, I genuinely found myself really invested in the storytelling , it’s an enjoyable and emotionally resonant take on a very familiar setup. It does start stumbling towards the last act however, largely due to the villain of this. Again, early scenes of the character getting introduced are really strong… but the further we go on, the more he loses the compelling drama and just sort of devolves into generic villain, which does affect the drama of the narrative a bit. There are still some really good moments in this final act, and even the weaker elements aren’t outright terrible, but it is enough to bring the overall product down for me a little. Again, on the whole it’s a strong story, even though it does stumble a little towards the end.

The characters in this are all pretty solid, generally I find most of them quite compelling. Peter Parker in this isn’t the überdork he’s been in a few other adaptations, but he still carries some of that awkward charm that the character needs, and it’s all beautifully brought to life by Andrew Garfield giving a fantastic performance. Then we have Gwen Stacy, a smart, clever, and fun young woman who also acts as a love interest for Peter, and she’s great, with Emma Stone killing it in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and more, all delivering really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by James Horner, and it was great. Some nicely inspiring and heroic brass, some more somber and emotional pieces, some tense bits involving strings, synths, and some other goodies… it’s just a damn solid score. Horner never missed when he was still around, and this is just further proof of it.

Based on various Marvel Comics, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was directed by Marc Webb, who I swear was chosen for the pun alone. Joking aside (for now), I think he did a damn good job. The direction of this movie has this way of feeling very grounded while still bringing some of the energy of superhero comics to life. But there are also a select few bits that are directed and edited with a bit of a horror vibe, and I really dig it. So on the whole, it’s just a really well crafted film.

This movie has gotten mixed to positive reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While it does stumble in parts, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is still a damn good retelling of the wall-crawler’s origin. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really solid direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Amazing Spider-Man” is now completed.

Well, that’s that for today. *Thwip*.

Series Review: Vigil (2021)

I’ve talked about my fair share of British tv shows over the years. And now it’s time to talk about yet another one, let’s gooooo!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Vigil”.

Following a death on board the submarine HMS Vigil, DSI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) gets sent aboard to investigate it. But what starts out as a somewhat death investigation soon turns into a much larger conspiracy involving the Royal Navy and potentially various other, high level sectors. So it’s part mystery, part conspiracy thriller, and then also part melodrama. So let’s break things down a little, starting with the mystery and conspiracy angle. At the off-set it feels fairly grounded, just a standard Beeb cop drama of a death being investigated, and as it goes on it becomes more complex, more improbable, and even a bit silly… and I liked that. It’s a conspiracy thriller right out of Robert Ludlum or or Tom Clancy’s typewriter, and there’s something about those kinds of stories I find quite compelling. It keeps it fun and engaging. Now let’s talk about the third part I alluded to earlier… the melodrama. Interspersed throughout is a backstory involving Amy and her relationship to fellow policewoman Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie). And while a bit of personal drama can add some nice weight to a show like this, it didn’t feel super well implemented in this. There are a few moments involving the two that I don’t mind, but a lot of these scenes of romantic melodrama just don’t feel as naturally baked into the show as they could be. So yeah, the story here is a little bit mixed. Mostly good, but has some things that let it down.

The characters in this are all decently interesting, sporting interesting personalities and mostly having interesting dynamics between each other. But what really makes them stand out is the cast. Every actor in this cast is at the top of their game, bringing the characters to life beautifully. Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans (my personal standout), Paterson Joseph, Stephen Dillane, Daniel Portman, Martin Compston, Adam James, Anjili Mohindra, and more, are all fantastic in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Berenice Scott and Glenn Gregory, and I think it was pretty good. It’s a mostly ambient affair, taking a low-key and almost sneaky approach  to build creeping tension or have you more invested in the personal drama. And I think it works fine, it’s a decent score that works well for the show.

“Vigil” was created for the BBC by Tom Edge, with writing by him, Chandni Lakhani, and Ed Macdonald, and with directing duties split between Isabelle Sieb and James Strong. And I think this show has some strong direction. While the submarine seems waaaay bigger than an actual sub, they still find good ways of making it feel claustrophobic, which adds a little to the suspense in the scenes set down there. But even the ones set on the surface, following the investigations up there are really well helmed with good shots and editing. It’s just a well crafted show.

This show has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While its melodramatic bits drag it down at times, “Vigil” is still a highly enjoyable, if ludicrous, conspiratorial police thriller. It has a fun plot, good characters, fantastic performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Vigil” is a 7.98/10. So while it’s far from perfect, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

My review of “Vigil” is now completed.

We all live in a Vigil submarine…

Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Been quite a while since I talked about a Marvel movie on here… yeah, 2019, blimey. And before we move on, I know these movies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. I just like watching them and I’m gonna keep talking about them as long as they’re made. So yeah… on with the review.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.

After having lived a quiet life in San Francisco for years, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) must come out of hiding when his father (Tony Leung) begins stirring to enact a mysterious and potentially dangerous plan. The story in “Shang-Chi” is interesting to me, because it takes some of the familiar themes and structural pillars of other MCU movies, but makes them feel fresh by implementing elements usually seen more in wuxia stories and kung fu movies in general. But it also weaves in a pretty nuanced and surprisingly complex family drama throughout, which really makes the story feel more tangible and emotionally resonant. So when you blend all of these together, you get a narrative that feels familiar yet also fresh and unique for this franchise. And I loved it.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, pretty layered, and overall just quite interesting. Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, our protagonist. He’s a man who’s gone through a lot of things in life, and it does create an interesting conflict with his more lighthearted side and the good stuff he’s experienced since moving to America. And I find him to be an interesting lead, with Simu Liu giving a damn good performance. Tony Leung plays Shang-Chi’s dad, Xu Wenwu, a mighty leader of the shady organization The Ten Rings. He’s a complex and interesting character that makes for a really compelling antagonist, and Leung is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Florian Munteanu, and many more, all giving great performances in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Joel P. West, and I think he did a great job with it. It’s big and epic, but it can also be quiet and emotional. And it creates this really cool vibe for the movie by blending elements of typical western action movie music with traditional Chinese music, and it makes for a really engaging soundscape that worked insanely well for the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they’re fine. They’re not something I’d really find myself listening to in my spare time, but they worked well enough within their respective scenes.

Based on various Marvel comics, “Shang-Chi” was directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton, and I think he did a great job with it. He has this really fun, yet grounded energy to his style that melds really well with a lot of the big budget comic book stuff. And it does help give the movie a nice vibe and flow that I highly enjoyed. I especially think his direction shines in the action scenes that are spread throughout this movie. There’s some nice, decently long takes, and we always get a good view of the action going on. But what I appreciate most about it is the focus on martial arts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big, pew pew action of the other MCU movies, but there’s something so refreshing when instead of Iron Man flying around blowing shit up, it’s a dude using kung fu to fend off an opponent. And even when the action got way bigger in scale and effects budget, it was really fun and well handled. It’s just really well made and comes together so well.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is a fun and absolutely wonderful action movie with some well written and nuanced character drama. The story’s great, the characters are great, the performances are great, the music is great, and the direction is great too. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shang-Chi” is a 9.90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is now completed.

I really need to watch more Tony Leung movies.