Movie Review: Jarhead (2005)

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

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Jarhead”.

Anthony Swofford is young man who recently enlisted with the United States marines. And we follow him in the time leading up to and during Operation Desert Storm, and how much damage it does to him psychologically. There’s a lot of interesting scenes throughout that does develop the story, and I was somewhat interested in everything that was going on. But I never really felt as engaged as this type of story should’ve gotten me. There was never that emotional hook that a story like this should be able to get. Now, I’m not saying it needs to make me cry, just that it needs to grab me and hold onto me really tightly… which it never really did. I remember some really well done moments throughout, but never was I fully invested in it all. Overall, a fine story.

The characters in this are all assholes… but in a believable way. I really believe that this is what one would become if going through all of that. And I find them all to be quite interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal (as previously mentioned) plays Anthony Swofford, a smart young man who goes through the ups and downs of marine life. Seeing a good guy like him tested like this is quite interesting, and it makes him a pretty compelling character. And Gyllenhaal is of course fantastic in the role. And throughout the movie we get supporting performances from people like Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Evan Jones, Brian Geraghty, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It takes some inspiration from rock and a few middle-eastern influences, all of which comes together to create an interesting atmosphere for the movie. It’s tense, fun, and just overall pretty cool. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, all of them pleasing to the ear, and all of them working quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Sam Mendes, and I think he did a good job. When he wanted to make me feel uneasy, he made me feel uneasy. When he wanted to build some suspense, he built some suspense. Mendes has a good eye for these things. And speaking of seeing things, the cinematography by Roger Deakins? Absolutely fantastic (what else would you expect from that man?).

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Jarhead” has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s far from perfect. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down quite a bit by a lack of a good emotional hook in the story. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jarhead” is an 8,54/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jarhead” is now completed.

Bang a gong, get it on…

Movie Review: Shot Caller (2017)

Don’t commit crimes, kids. It’s bad for you.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Shot Caller”.

Jacob (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) used to be a successful businessman, but that started changing after getting thrown in jail because of a DUI. And he soon starts getting involved with the gangs inside of the prison, turning him from a successful business person and loving father, to a stoic and ruthless gangster. And I thought the plot here was pretty good. It’s told in a semi-non-linear way, in that it jumps between past (ending up in jail) and present (out of jail) and shows how Jacob changes over that time, and I thought that was quite interesting. And overall there is some decent tension throughout the plot, as well as some pretty good dramatic moments spread throughout. My problem with it is that I felt like the pacing dragged at times. I’m fine with a movie that can move at a somewhat slower pace, but this at times just decided to drag it’s feet rather than move at a decently steady pace. It’s not a constant ass-drag, but it is noticeable in parts. So overall the plot here is pretty good.

The characters here are pretty good. Some more interesting than others. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays the main character Jacob (or Money as he’ll be known as later). Seeing his progression from good-natured businessman and loving father to this cold and ruthless gangster is endlessly fascinating. And you can tell that even when he’s become this cold gangster, he’s a bit conflicted, like there’s still good in him. And Coster-Waldau is great in the role. Then we have Jon Bernthal as a guy called Shotgun, one of the gang members that Jacob gets to know. As the movie goes on we get to know some interesting things about him that makes him feel a bit deeper than a lot of other ones in the movie. And Bernthal is great here. Then we get Emory Cohen as Howie, a young man who’s part of Jacob’s gang. And he gets some interesting development here. And Cohen is really good in the role. Then you get some really solid supporting performances from people like Omari Hardwick, Evan Jones, Benjamin Bratt, Lake Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Holt McCallany, and many more. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Antonio Pinto and I have mixed feelings about it. There are some great tracks here that are very well composed and work to elevate the scenes that they’re used in. But then there are some tracks that aren’t particularly well composed and feel distractingly out of place in certain moments. So at best I guess the score could be summarized as okay.

This movie was written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh and I think he did a pretty good (there’s that phrase again) job with it. Scenes have a decent flow and have a decent amount of tension to them. And while this isn’t an action movie, when the shit does hit the fan it is badass, exciting, and violent as fuck. And the cinematography from Dana Gonzales looks good.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Shot Caller” has flaws, but it’s still a good movie. It has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, okay music, and good directing/cinematography. My flaws are that the pacing drags at times, and some of the music is kind of distracting in how it doesn’t always work. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shot Caller” is an 8,51/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Shot Caller” is now completed.

They might as well rename it to “Cops, Crooks, and Facial Hair”.

Movie Review: The Homesman (2014)

Something something, Markus likes westerns.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Homesman”.

After three women goes mad from living very tough lives they have to be transported to Iowa. So a woman named Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) volunteers to take on this daunting task. However, she soon realizes that she might not be able to do this alone, so she employs a low-life drifter named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to help her out. So now we have our western-drama. And I’d say that it’s an interesting plot. It’s very serious and and at times even a bit disturbing, and overall it is very well told. My main issue with it is the first half which meanders quite a bit. I get that this is a simple road movie set during the old west, but even I feel like it doesn’t get very far plot-wise during that first half (a little less than half to be a bit more fair, but shut up). But when we get into the second half the plot picks up a bit more and I found myself really invested in the journey. And just to be clear: The first half isn’t bad… just a little bit too slow… a little bit.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. Hilary Swank is great as Mary Bee Cuddy, giving a vulnerable yet determined performance. Tommy Lee Jones is great as George Briggs, playing him as a kind of pathetic but still tough and semi-honorable man. Then we have the three crazy ladies (that is what they are, shut up), played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Sonja Richter. And they’re all great in their respective roles. They don’t say a lot, but they give great performances nonetheless. Then there are a bunch of good supporting performances throughout from people like Evan Jones, William Fichtner, John Lithgow, James Spader (his Irish accent isn’t very good), Jesse Plemons, Tim Blake Nelson, and Meryl Streep. Most of these actors aren’t in the movie for very long, but when they are… they’re good.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco Beltrami and it was really good. It was very dramatic and emotional, often adding to the quality of the various scenes in here. Sure, a lot of the music sound like stuff we’ve heard in other western-dramas, but that doesn’t make the music any worse… ’cause it’s really good.

This movie was directed by Tommy Lee Jones and I think that he did a really good job. The movie is directed with a lot of confidence which makes for an investing watch. It’s also a really good looking movie, having a bleak style that doesn’t feel too depressing and sad. I also feel like I should mention that this isn’t an action packed western. It’s a slow drama, with very few shots being fired. Just thought I’d mention that.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“The Homesman” is a really solid western-drama. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. My main problem with the movie is that first half which meanders a bit too much. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Homesman” is an 8,84/10. So while it is flawed I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Homesman” is now completed.

Sloooooow burn.

Movie Review: 8 Mile (2002)

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The world of rap music is not one I am heavily invested in. Sure, there are a handful of songs I do like. I can honestly say that I like pretty much anything by The Beastie Boys. And I am a fan of Eminem and his music too. What I am trying to say is that even though the genre isn’t one of my favorites, I still have a fair amount of respect for it. With all of that said, let’s review a movie about rapping.

Ladies and gentlemen… “8 Mile”.

So in this movie we follow Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith (Eminem) who lives in a shitty part of Detroit. He is a young rapper who recently broke up with his girlfriend. He also have to try to puzzle his life together in general because, well… everything has kind of gone to shit. He froze up during a rap battle, like I said before he broke up with his girlfriend (who got his car by the way) and his mom (Kim Basinger) is soon to be evicted from her trailer. And the plot was actually kind of interesting. The plot, while familiar, was pretty engaging. You wanted it to go well for this guy which is always a plus when you make a movie. The drama worked pretty well and never felt overly preachy, in lack of better words.

The characters in the movie… I don’t know what to say. I guess they are all decent enough. Not fantastic, but they work. Eminem is fine enough in the main role. To be fair, he was a little than I actually expected. He worked for the character. Kim Basinger as his mom was great. Also damn, she looked great for being 49! Brittany Murphy as Eminem’s new girlfriend was pretty good as well. All other actors were fine too. Also, Michael Shannon was in this movie, so that’s always a plus.

If you are strictly against rap music then you would hate the soundtrack to this movie as it is 100% rap. I however thought it was pretty good. Not fantastic, but pretty good. It worked for what it was used for. Fun fact: This was the movie that introduced the world to Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” which is actually a song I really like. And like I said, the soundtrack was fine, fit well enough.

This movie could have been directed better. Not that the direction was bad, Curtis Hanson did a good job with it, but I feel like it could have been better. The way this movie was directed was pretty simple and “regular” in lack of better words for it. But hey, at least no dutch angles! But to give some credit where credit is due, the rap battles in the movie are pretty cool. Maybe not in the way they are directed, but just in the way how they are. Those scenes have attitude and raw power and that is something I like to see!

This movie was fairly well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Original Song (Lose Yourself). 

“8 Mile” is a movie with an engaging yet familiar story, good performances, music that fits, decent direction/camera work and some pretty cool scenes with people having rap battles. Time for my final score. *Yo* My final score for “8 Mile” is an 8,52/10. It is worth buying.
Worth buying

Review of “8 Mile” is done.

You better Lose Yourself in the music, the moment…