Series Review: Seis Manos – Season 1 (2019)

Is it time to talk about animation? I believe it’s time to talk about some animation. Hell, I’d say it definitely is time to do that. That’s the perk of running your own blog. No editor who can say “No, you can’t talk about animation now”.

Dames y hombres… “Seis Manos” season 1.

1970s Mexico. When a vicious gangster (Danny Trejo) starts unleashing hell upon the world, a group of varying people get brought together to try to stop him. This motley crew includes some martial artists (Aislinn Derbez and Johnny Cruz), a local cop (Angélica Vale), and an American DEA agent (Mike Colter). “Seis Manos” is fascinating in the sense that it’s a pretty eclectic mix of ideas, inspirations, and styles. On the surface it seems be a mix of crime-drama and martial arts action, but then you also start mixing in stuff like grindhouse, comedy, fantasy, body horror, eastern philosophy, and even elements of Blaxploitation. And then you of course also take the Mexican setting into account, which means a lot of that culture gets mixed into proceedings. So you’d think the storytelling of this show would be an absolute clusterfuck… but no, the crazy songs of bitches pulled it off. While it does lose a little bit of focus towards the end, I do still feel that there’s some really solid storytelling going on here. Yes, it’s eclectic, but that also adds a lot of personality to it, while still being a generally entertaining narrative to follow. It does have a fair bit of emotionally resonant drama, but it also generally serves as a fun and unusual tale that is just plain fun to follow.

The characters in this are of course based on tropes and archetypes we’ve seen before, but we do also see them played around with to a decent extent, making for some enjoyable development. Like the three martial artists Isabela, Jesus, and Silencio. One a tough but loving woman, one a big, lovable goof, and one a dark and quiet man. All three start out with that one detail and get some enjoyable development throughout. Then there’s Garcia, the local police officer who gets tangled up in this insanity. A tough but fair cop trying to prove herself while still staying true to herself. And she’s very interesting too. Then there’s Brister, a fridge of a man working for the DEA, working to take down bad guys. He’s a smart-aleck with a lot of colorful lines and a very “I don’t have time for this shit” kind of attitude, which gets tested at every turn for not only great comedy, but some genuinely interesting character development. And the villain, El Balde, is one vicious motherfucker, making for one hell of an intimidating presence. And the voice cast, containing people like Aislinn Derbez, Jonny Cruz, Mike Colter, Danny Trejo, Angélica Vale, Vic Chao, and more, all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Carl Thiel, and I think he did a really good job with it. Much like with the narrative it complements, the score takes inspiration from many sources. Of course it has some familiar use of strings, keys, and brass for action stuff. But there’s also some traditional Mexican stuff throughout, a little bit of 70s noir-inspired funk, and probably some other specific styles I currently forget. Either way, it’s an interesting mix of sounds that pays off in making for giving the show an interesting soundscape.

“Seis Manos” was created for Netflix by Brad Graeber and Álvaro Rodríguez, with Willis Bulliner handling the directing. It’s also animated by Powerhouse Animation, a studio that I’ve talked about a few times before on this blog (*Shameless* and *Plug*). So as to be expected, I was excited to see how this show would end up looking. And it looks really good. Character designs are charming and fight scenes are kinetic and exciting. While it isn’t Powerhouse’s overall strongest piece of animation, it’s still really well handled, giving us some terrifically directed animation/action to enjoy. Plus, we don’t get much in terms of martial arts animation here in the west, so this show delivering on that was an absolute treat for me.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

While the final act of the story is a little bit lacking in focus, season 1 of “Seis Manos” is still a highly entertaining and refreshingly unique bit of animation. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seis Manos” season 1 is an 8.87/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching!

My review of “Seis Manos” season 1 is now completed.

I hope we get a season 2. Or should I say… SEISON!?

Series Review: S.W.A.T – Season 1 (2017 – 2018)

Fuck, there’s a lot of reboots these days. I mean, rebooting stuff is nothing new, but it’s almost gone overboard in the last ten years. Oh well, nothing we can do about it. So let’s talk about one of them.

Ladies and gentlemen… “S.W.A.T” season 1.

When his former sergeant is involved in a scandalous shooting, Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore) gets promoted to leader for his own S.W.A.T team. So we follow him as he tries to lead this team, stop crimes in Los Angeles, and at times also deal with personal problems. So now we have our cop procedural. And that’s all I can say really. It’s another case of the week cop drama. But I still liked it a fair bit. Partly because I have a soft spot for these cop procedurals, and partly because they put just enough effort into the writing to actually make me kinda care. Not so much about the A-plot (the case), as those are fairly standard cop-action stuff (which I enjoy), but the B-plots are often what hooks me, as they help develop the characters a bit. So yeah, the plot here is alright.

The characters here sometimes fall into archetypes, but then they’re pulled out of that pit and actually given enough development and personality to feel like proper characters. Shemar Moore plays Hondo (which is a nickname, but I can’t be bothered with the quotations all the time), newly appointed team leader of the main S.W.A.T team. He’s a kid from the hood who grew up to try to help his community, to be a good cop. And while he can be portrayed as perfect action man at times (damn his handsome face, damn it), he does get some decent development throughout that makes him an interesting lead. And Moore is great in the role. Next we have Stephanie Sigman as Jessica Cortez, captain of S.W.A.T and secret love interest of Hondo. She’s a tough and determined lady who’s trying to be taken seriously, as a high ranking woman in law enforcement. She’s an okay character. And Sigman is really good in the role. Next we have Alex Russell as Jim Street (actual name), a cocky kid and recent S.W.A.T graduate who is a bit of a punk at the start. But a we go on he gets more development and turns to one of the better characters on the show. And Russell is really good in the role. We also get performances from people like Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Jay Harrington, David Lim, Patrick St. Esprit, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Robert Duncan, and it was fine. It’s kinda bland and forgettable, but it never detracts from a scene, while also rarely ever adding anything. It’s fine, it works decently well. Though I do have to admit, the updated version of that old theme is awesome.

Based on the 1975 series by Robert Hamner and Rick Husky, this new version was developed by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Shawn Ryan, and while I can’t compare this to that old one (as I haven’t seen it), I can at least say that the craft behind this new one is fine, slightly above average. There’s enough grit to keep it from being completely dull. In terms of action, it can be a mixed bag. At times it’s quite enjoyable, and a few times it’s bad because of bad editing and shot composition (guess it all depends on who’s behind the camera). But when it’s at it’s best, it can be quite enjoyable. It may be another CBS police procedural, but there’s enough talent and brains in here to make it stand out a little bit.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 45/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

While it often falls back on police procedural clichés, I still find season 1 of “S.W.A.T” to be a really enjoyable little series that gives me some decent entertainment. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing. Though as previously mentioned, the plot is rarely anything special, the music is a bit forgettable, and the directing at a few points wasn’t great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “S.W.A.T” is a 7,13/10. So while quite flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “S.W.A.T” season 1 is now completed.

At least the theme song is pretty awesome…

Movie Review: The Color of Money (1986)

Pool. Also known as billiards. Something I’m not particularly good at, but I still enjoy playing it with friends. Now let’s see how well that sport can translate into a movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Color of Money”.

The story follows former pool hustler Eddie Felson (Paul Newman, R.I.P) as he starts delving back into that world when he takes young Vincent (Tom Cruise) under his wing. So now we have a road movie/comeback story/passing a torch kind of story, and it’s a good one. While it tries to have several kinds of story at the same time, it never feels cluttered or messy, as it blends these elements quite well. Now, it does feel a bit uneven in parts, but it doesn’t break the movie for me, more like bring it down a notch. But overall it’s still an enjoyable and pretty interesting story.

The characters here are colorful, layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. First up we have Paul Newman (may he rest in peace) playing “Fast” Eddie Felson, a former pool hustler who now seems to be making a living selling whisky. But he finds a new purpose when he discovers this young man he can teach. He’s a complex man who goes through quite a bit of development throughout the movie. And Newman is of course fantastic in the role. Next we have a young Tom Cruise as Vincent, the new protegé of Felson. He’s an energetic, fast-talking, and skilled pool player that at first seems reluctant to be taken under Felson’s wing, but soon warms up to it. He too gets a fair bit of development throughout the movie. And Cruise is good in the role. And then we have Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen, Vincent’s girlfriend. She’s tough, she’s independent, and quite clever, she’s really a good foil for Vincent’s energetic and fun nature. And Mastrantonio is really good in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like John Turturro, Helen Shaver, Bill Cobbs, and more, all doing quite well in their respective roles. So yeah, it’s a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Robbie Robertson was good, had a fun, slightly blues-y feel to it that worked well for the movie. Then there were a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only were they pleasing to my music tastes, but they worked incredibly well within their respective scenes, elevating them a fair bit. So yeah, this movie has some damn good music.

Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, this movie was directed by Martin Scorsese who I think did a really good job. He really managed to catch the fun but also somewhat unpredictable nature of bars/pool halls, and even managed to keep a good bit of energy going through it all. I also have to mention the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus, because it’s fucking excellent. Not only are there a good amount of stunning shots, but the camera work here is really playful and makes for quite a fun watch.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Actor (Newman). It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Mastrantonio), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Set Decoration. 

“The Color of Money” is an enjoyable little sports drama. It has a good story, good characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by the plot feeling a little uneven in parts. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Color of Money” is an 8,82/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Color of Money” is now completed.

Guess I should check out “The Hustler” at some point.

Movie Review: Mission Impossible 2 (2000)

Here we are, the second part in my “Mission Impossible” review series leading up to “Mission Impossible: Fallout” in August. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mission Impossible 2”.

When a rogue agent (Dougray Scott) gets hold of a deadly virus, it is up to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) to try to stop him from doing some bad stuff with it. So we go from a complex spy plot to a simple save the world plot. And I’m fine with that… for the most part. On one hand, sometimes you just need a “hero trying to stop a villain from doing bad shit”, and when it focuses on that it’s actually fun. But on another hand, this movie can be quite boring. The first half to be a bit more exact, as it meanders a bit too much for my taste. But when the second half kicks in, we get the fun, fast-paced, and focused action plot that we want. So overall this plot is… fine.

The characters in this are… well, they are… how do I put this… flat-ish. The first movie had tons of good character development, and this… doesn’t. Tom Cruise of course returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, and unlike being a vulnerable and interesting character, in this he’s kind of like James Bond. He went from a complex character to a badass archetype. And while he can be fun to watch, I feel like something’s kind of missing here. Oh well, at least Tom Cruise is really good in the role. Next we have Dougray Scott as the villain, Sean Ambrose. He’s not one of the greatest villains of all time, but he works quite well for the story being told, being an enjoyable foil for Ethan. And Scott gives a really good performance. Next we have Thandie Newton as Naya, a thief that Ethan recruits for the mission (impossible) and even falls in love with. She feels less like a fully realized character and more like a somewhat generic love interest/prop. But she does get some decent enough moments throughout to make her feel somewhat useful. And Newton is good in the role. Then we get supporting performances from people like Ving Rhames, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, and Rade Serbedzija, all doing okay in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer, and it’s pretty good. It uses an interesting blend of orchestrations, acoustic guitar, and slightly distorted electric guitar to create some pretty cool sounds. It actually helps to make some bits a bit more exciting. As for the theme by Limp Bizkit… it’s actually okay when there are no vocals, as the instrumentals are fairly competent.

This movie was not directed by Brian De Palma, but was instead helmed by John Woo. And I think he for the most part did a good job. The shots look good and he does make the edit quite interesting. And when we actually get to the action scenes Woo shows his true colors… and man, that is a good thing. The action scenes in this are fast-paced, badass, brutal (for PG-13), and tons of fun. Say what you want about his pigeon fetish, but you can’t deny that Woo knows how to handle action sequences.

This movie has gotten a lot of mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 57% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,1/10.

“Mission Impossible 2” is a mixed bag of things, but ultimately works if you want some enjoyable action. It has an okay plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mission Impossible 2” is a 7,01/10. So while very flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Mission Impossible 2” is now completed.

SLOW-MO PIGEONS DUAL-WIELDING PISTOLS.

Movie Review: Atonement (2007)

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How one simple lie can change the entire course of someone’s life… quite astonishing, really.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Atonement”.

Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) is a young, upper-class girl who aspires to become a writer. However her life kind of takes a turn for the not very good when she accuses Robbie (James McAvoy), her older sister’s (Keira Knightley) lover of doing something he actually didn’t do. This of course changes everyone’s lives in a pretty major way. I have to say that the basic story is one I find really interesting. Like I said in the intro, how one lie can change everything is simply astonishing. I also like that they present certain events in the story from multiple perspectives. And the ending… I applaud it for being so ballsy, it’s a really good ending.

Where the story was surprisingly interesting, the character department is where this thing kind of, sort of falters a bit. None of them every really develop, they all just kind of never learn anything or change… like a person would. Sure, you get some mild development from Briony’s part, but that is still very minimal. The acting though is pretty good. Saoirse Ronan is great as young Briony, giving a really good performance (for her age, at least). Keira Knightley is really good as well even though I still prefer her in “Pirates of the Caribbean”. James McAvoy is terrific in the movie, giving a nuanced and layered performance. Here is what is interesting though: the acting is really good, but Knightley and McAvoy who are supposed to play passionate lovers in the movie, mind you, don’t really have that good’a chemistry. I never really believed them to be the lovers that they were supposed to be. At least the acting was good I guess, even though the characters were uninteresting and the chemistry didn’t really exist.

The score for the movie was something interesting to listen to during the movie. It was composed by Dario Marianelli together with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. It is for the most part your typical period-drama music, but then they added an interesting twist to it… a typewriter. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me… there is a god damn typewriter in the soundtrack. I believe it goes together with Briony being a bit of a writer, so they use the typewriter to create some interesting sounds to go together with the rest of the score. And while it can get a bit distracting from time to time, overall it does kind of work.

This movie is pretty well directed. Everything looks pretty nice, evne if they use a lot of different camera techniques throughout the first act of the movie. Seriously, I noticed a whole bunch of different styles being done over the first third of the movie. But that’s okay, because overall it is a well directed movie. Especially a scene during the second half that has a single-take shot that is about five minutes long… I actually sat in the classroom (we watched it during literature class) and whispered to myself “This shot ist still going on, isn’t it? This hasn’t been interrupted once… holy shit”. And before we go any further, I will say it… this movie is total fucking Oscar-bait. It has all the signs of it, there is no denying it… Anywho… good job with the directing, Joe Wright.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10. The movie won an 1 Oscar in the category of Best Original Score. It also got an additional 6 nomainations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Ronan), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

“Atonement” is a bit of an interesting thing. It has a good story, not very good (but at least well acted) characters, an interesting original score, good directing and an ending that made me appreciate it a bit more than if it would’ve been different. Time for my final score. *Cough*. My final score for “Atonement” is an 8,22/10. While I think it is pretty overrated, I do still think it’s worth a rental.
Rent it

“Atonement” is now reviewed.

Oh, I’m going to get some shit for this… Bring it on.

 

Movie Review: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

The Fast and the Furious

With this franchise being as big as it is at the moment I sit down and ask “How in the hell did this franchise get this big?”. I mean for the love of god, there are seven fucking movies in this franchise. So with all of that said, since the seventh one in the franchise was released recently (Sidenote: I had also not seen any of these movies) I decided to try to get through all of the previous movies in the franchise before the end of May.

Guys and chicks… “The Fast and the Furious”.

The story is about Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker, R.I.P) who gets tasked with infiltrating a gang of street racers led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and try to find out if he is actually the one who has robbed several truck loads of DVD’s and such. Problem for Brian is that his loyalties become less and less clear. And that’s it. The plot is not original or smart, it is actually kind of stupid… which is why I like it. This plot is silly and stupid and that’s what makes it so fun and enjoyable. It is just pure fun to see what the hell they do next with this street racing movie. To be fair, I never expected much from the plot anyways, so I could never be disappointed. But it was at least a fun plot.

The characters in this movie, while not having many layers are like the plot; fun and enjoyable. Also, if you expected anything close to Oscar-worthy performances, you have really low standards. The performances are servicable at best. Vin Diesel is fine as Toretto because he is Vin Freaking Diesel. And Paul Walker (No disrespect intended) is not good… at all. Fine, I have seen much worse performances, but his was still slightly below average. I guess what I liked about the guy is that he is just so charismatic which kind of makes up for the sub-par performance. All other performances were fine, nothing else to say.

The music in the movie, while fitting, is not really that good. Sure, this is where my musical preferences kick in a little bit, but I think a lot of people can agree the music isn’t that fantastic. How do I explain it perfectly? It’s like if you take some generic instrumental tracks from some random movie, take some random hip-hop/rap songs and throw in some Limp Bizkit… that is probably how I would best describe the music in the movie. Instrumental, hip-hop/rap, Limp Bizkit. And like I said, the music fit just fine in the movie, nothing more to say about that.

This movie is directed by Rob Cohen… I am not a fan of Rob Cohen. Sure, I enjoyed “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” to a certain extent, but beyond that I am not a fan (Sidenote: This is the same guy who did “Alex Cross”, a terrible movie). Fortunately for us, this is one of his more well-directed movies. The direction is pretty slick, especially in the car/racing scenes. They all look great and they are fun as hell to watch.

This movie was decntly received by people around the world. On Rotten Tomatoes the movie has a 53% positive rating. On Metacritic the movie has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com the movie has a score of 6,6/10.

Despite being directed by Rob Cohen, I had a good time with this movie. The story was stupid and fun, the characters enjoyable, the music okay, the car scenes fast (and furious) and fun. Time for my final score. *Vroom vroom* My final score for “The Fast and the Furious” is an 8,61/10. I’d say that it’s actually worth buying.
Worth buying

“The Fast and the Furious” is now reviewed.

*Vroom Vroom*