Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)

So I actually saw this a little over a week ago, but I wanted to give it some time to marinate before I talked about it. You wouldn’t think an action movie would require one to think, but this one had my mind in a whirl. But now I’m ready to ramble about the latest entry in this franchise.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “John Wick: Chapter 4”.

Continuing in his globetrotting defiance against the enigmatic High Table, world’s greatest headshotter John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds himself in his most difficult quest yet, as he has to face off with powerful foes both new and old around every corner, all hindering his journey to try and be free of the assassin life. Cue then the shootouts, fisticuffs, sword fights, and existential musings on the futility of their lifestyle, the consequences of John’s actions, and the longing for something else beyond the carnage. For as much as the action tends to be the focus of these movies, I found myself caught off guard by and also adoring the more quiet moments, letting the characters breathe, adding this somber and surprisingly beautiful tragic drama to proceedings. Of course it’s not necessarily the most profound drama out there, but there’s a depth here that we haven’t really seen from this series before, and it makes this story hit a bit more, especially as certain narrative escalations occur throughout. It gives things weight, it made me care about everything in a way that I haven’t really felt since the first movie. It makes the bombastic shenanigans feel like they have action heft and stakes. ’tis a great god damn story.

One thing these films have always been good at is giving us colorful characters that really feel lived in and like they have an actual presence in this world, and “Chapter 4” is no different, and even does a great job of making them way more interesting than before. Again, they’re not necessarily THE deepest out there, but there is an amount of depth here that makes them stick out way more. Keanu Reeves returns as John Wick, assassin extraordinaire, a man fighting the current of destiny, wanting an out from the violence. He’s always been a compelling protagonist and here he continues to really be a good character, with Keanu giving a good performance. The next one I want to talk about is Caine, an old acquaintance of John’s. He’s a skilled fighter, swordsman, gunman, and a loving father. He’s been reluctantly drawn into this fight and they use this for a good dramatic arc. Caine’s played by Donnie Yen, who is absolutely fantastic in the role. From the physicality to the drama to the comedy, Yen is electrifying. And then finally we have the man in charge of the villainy, Marquis, played by Bill Skarsgård. An arrogant, slimy cunt of a man. He’s such a bastard and I think he works well for the movie, with Skarsgård giving a delightfully punch-worthy performance. We also get supporting work from people new and old, such as Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Shamier Anderson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Lance Reddick (R.I.P.), Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins (who is fun as hell in this), Clancy Brown, and many more, all delivering really solid work.

As with the first three movies, the score here was composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, and once again it is fucking spectacular. A kinetic, operatic cacophony of strings, distorted guitars, acoustics, synths and percussion, creating a symphony of carnage that drives the action marvelously. But it also knows when to go more quiet, leading to some emotionally resonant bits. But we also see DJ Le Castle Vania returning to create some thumping club tracks and they rule. Hell, I’ve had “Blood Code” on fairly frequent rotation since seeing the movie. Then there are a few licensed songs used throughout and they work very well too. This movie just has one hell of a fantastic soundtrack.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” was, as with the previous ones, directed by Chad Stahelski who just continues to kill it, developing his stylish style of stylishness even further here. Wide, stunningly blocked shots of guns firing, punches hitting, and dudes dropping, with kinetic movements from actors, stunt team, and camera alike. Combine it with Dan Laustsen’s breathtaking cinematography and you get one of, if not the best looking action movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes on. But it’s not just eye candy for eye candy’s sake, every shot feels deliberate in telling story both immediate and in the background. It’s just crafted in a way that is awe-inspiring to see. And I can’t speak enough of how amazing the action scenes are. They’re brutal, kinetic, slick, mesmerizing, a little unhinged, and creative as hell. There was a part of me that was a little worried that maybe they were running out of tricks after the third one… but holy god damn mother of mercy, am I glad to have been proven wrong. It’s ludicrously good.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on it has a score of 8.3/10 and is ranked #155 on the “Top 250 Films” list.

The more I think about it, the more I absolutely adore “John Wick: Chapter 4”. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is now completed.

Not often does a nearly three hour movie fly by this fast.

Movie Review: Luther: The Fallen Sun (2023)

I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while. If there’s anyone unaware and/or forgetful, last March I had myself a little review series I called The Ides of Elba, in which I review every season of the BBC police drama “Luther”. It was fun, and now I can technically continue that journey as Netflix has given us a little follow-up movie. So, without further ado… BEWARE THE IDES OF ELBA.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther: The Fallen Sun”.

After finding himself in prison for some of his past transgressions, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) must find a way to escape custody in order to track down a sadistic killer (Andy Serkis) that’s terrorizing London, all while trying to stay ahead of the officers attempting to re-apprehend him. I found the story of this movie to be quite enjoyable. Granted, it never reaches the dramatic peaks of the TV show, but it does find ways of retaining a lot of that grit while leaning more into a cinematic action-thriller style, rather than the smaller scale cop thriller we’re used to. The cat-and-mouse game between Luther and Andy Ser(ial)kis is quite a bit of fun, building up this really fun and decently tense back and forth that is quite compelling to watch. Then you add Luther trying to stay ahead of the law, which adds its own mild tension. It’s quite a rollercoaster of a journey, featuring some really fascinating and kind of tense set pieces. There’s even a few horror-ish moments, akin to a few standout bits from the show, that I found to be really creepy and engaging. On the whole it may not engage *quite* on the level of the show’s stories, but it’s still a really fun and decently tense action-thriller narrative.

The characters in this are pretty good. Idris Elba returns as brilliant, but troubled detective John Luther, who once again gets pushed to his limits by everything going on around him. And as with all the seasons of the show, the characters remains really compelling, with Elba once again killing it in the role. We also see the return of Dermot Crowley as Luther’s soft-spoken but surprisingly tough boss, Martin Schenk, and Crowley is also damn good here. Now let’s talk about Andy Serkis who plays our villain… his character is a truly despicable son of a bitch, a disgusting sadist that made me shudder. And Serkis plays it to perfection, as he gets moment to go a little ham, and moments to be quietly menacing. He rides the line marvelously and gives a truly memorable villain performance. We then have Cynthia Erivo as Odette Raine, a detective on the hunt in the middle of this whole debacle. She proves to be quite an engaging foil in the entire thing, with Erivo (unsurprisingly) delivering a great performance. Filling out the cast you have people like Thomas Coombes, Hattie Morahan, Einar Kuusk, and more, all delivering really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Lorne Balfe and I thought it was pretty good. Maybe goes a little bi with the brass at times, but for the most part I think it does a decent job at escalating tension and making the atmosphere shine. It especially works for me when it goes slightly more quiet, creating this creeping dread that actually managed to really help put me on edge, and I thought those bits were great. There’s also a handful of tracks used throughout, and those work well in their respective scenes. So yeah, the movie has good music.

As mentioned before, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” follows on from the five season long BBC series “Luther”. And before we move on, I just want to mention that you don’t need to see the show before going into this. It works as a standalone adventure, but there are a few minor nods throughout, little treats for the fans. But the show is not required viewing… you should watch it though, it’s fantastic.
Anyhow, “The Fallen Sun” was written by series creator Neil Cross and directed by season 5 director Jamie Payne. And I think Payne did a damn good job with his direction. He retains a lot of the grit from the show, while also being allowed to flex the big movie budget a bit. Sweeping and creeping, big and tight, intense and intimate, Payne does a good job of bringing Luther’s antics to a cinematic scale without sacrificing what made the show’s direction work. Combine this with Larry Smith’s gorgeous and well thought out cinematography, and you get a movie that’s just well crafted.

This movie just came out, so ratings will change. But at the time of writing, it has a 68% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on it has a score of 6.9/10.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Luther: The Fallen Sun”, it’s another solid romp from the detective. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score “Luther: The Fallen Sun” is an 8.21/10. So it’s certainly worth watching.

My review of “Luther: The Fallen Sun” is now completed.

I’m not saying that I had an effect on it, but I find it interesting that I reviewed the TV show in March, and then the movie came out the following March.

Movie Review: Puss in Boots (2011)

With the recent success of this film’s sequel, I thought it was time for me to finally check this out… and then I neglected to actually watch it for several weeks, but now I finally did it and I want to talk about it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Puss in Boots”.

Swashbuckling advenpurrer Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) finds himself teaming up with a feline fatale (Salama Hayek) and an old eggquaintance (Zach Galifianakis) in order to find the fabled golden goose so he can hopefully restore his honor and find redemption in his hometown. I very much enjoyed the story in this movie. Sure, it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel in any manner, and it doesn’t have anything profound or powerful to say, but it has enough charm, heart, and good humor to please from start to end. It’s a heavily Spanish-flavored swashbuckling take on fairytails that ultimately succeeds in providing a suitably entertaining narrative. And I found it fun and decently engaging.

The characters in this are just a ton of fun, giving us cartoony, exaggerated characteristics on the furface, only to then be given a decent amount of depth. Not super deep, mind you, but there’s definitely a bit more to them than meets the eye. First is the titular hero, Puss in Boots. A charismatic, highly skilled, sometimes overconfident rogue. From the word go, he’s a very enjoyable presence, and over the course of the movie he’s given many moments to shine, along with getting some surprisingly decent development. And Antonio Banderas shines with his voice work, his performance is positively pawless. Rest of the voice cast is great too, featuring talent such as Salma Hayek, Zack Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro, and more, with everyone killing it.

The score for the movie was compawsed by Henry Jackman, and I found it to be absolutely wonderful. There are tracks emulating a very familiar Spielberg/Williams whimsy, but there are also a lot of tracks here that rely on a lot of tango and flamenco-inspired tones, making for a score that captures the sizzling suaveness of its lead while also giving a really fun energy to the adventure. It’s just a damn good score from a damn good composer.

Based on the catracter in “Shrek 2” that was based on the 16th century fairytale, “Puss in Botts” was directed by one Chris Miller (not the “Lego Movie” one). And I think Miller, along with the many talented artists at Dreamworks, did a stellar job with bringing the world and characters to life. Every shot flows nicely, action is nicely choreographed, some of the editing feels really inspired, and there are a lot of really nice colors and shot compositions throughout. It’s just a really nice looking and delightfully directed feature, clearly crafted with a ton of love and care.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% pawsitive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Meowtacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on it has a score of 6.6/10. It was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the cat-egory of Best Animated Feature.

So yeah, “Puss in Boots” is a very charming and funny little animated swashbuckler. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Hairball noises*. My final score for “Puss in Boots” is an 8.67/10. So I’d say it’s worth buying.

My reveow of “Puss in Boots” is now completed.

Is it unpurfessional to have this many puns?

Movie Review: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

IT’S FINALLY HERE. God damn staggered release dates, WHY DO YOU EXIST!?

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Banshees of Inisherin”.

On the Irish island of Inisherin, a happy-go-lucky fella named Pádraic (Colin Farrell) finds his world flipped turned upside down when his longtime best friend (Brendan Gleeson) decides that he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. And so we follow the two as their rough spot start to escalate further and affect both them and everyone on the island. The storytelling here is absolutely phenomenal, creating an emotionally rich and surprisingly grounded web of ever evolving relationships and personal drama. Even as some situations are heightened to absurdist extremes, the emotional core behind those situations still feels nuanced and believable, leading to them leaving a stronger impact. What further makes the story hit home for me is the perfect balance between dark comedy and devastating drama, which further adds beautiful details to the rich tapestry being weaved before us, which really does help make for a truly compelling narrative that both made me cry from the tragedy, and laugh my ass off at the black, oft absurdist humor.

The characters in this are just absolutely stunning to follow, beautifully nuanced and flawed, having a way of feeling both heightened and very believable at the same time, making for some of the most colorful and instantly fascinating individuals I’ve ever experienced in a film. I won’t go in-depth with each and every one of them however, as I do think part of their impact lies in experiencing them for yourself. But I will say that everyone in the cast is absolutely fucking phenomenal. Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, Gary Lydon, Pat Shortt, Sheila Flitton, and more, everyone in this cast absolutely excels in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Carter Burwell, and he has positively outdone himself with this one. It’s a fun and layered batch of tracks that beautifully uses a mix of traditional strings, along with some harp, chimes, along with some woodwind to create a score that can be jaunty, heart-wrenching, mysterious, and even terrifying at times, making for an absolutely stunning score that further elevated the beauitful story and characters.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” was written and directed by Martin McDonagh, a director whose previous work I’ve very much been a fan of. And once again he has delivered, even showing a lot of improvement as a visual storyteller. From his blocking, to the way he paces out a scene, McDonagh has very much improved his craft and made a stunningly crafted film. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Ben Davis, which is both general eye candy and stunningly considered, which adds to the visual storytelling in really interesting ways.

This movie’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie’s also been nominated for 9 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Farrell), Best Supporting Actress (Condon), Best Supporting Actor (Gleeson AND Keoghan), Best Music, and Best Editing.

So yeah, I absolutely adored “The Banshees of Inisherin”. It has a fantastic story, fantastic characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Banshees of Inisherin” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Banshees of Inisherin” is now completed.

McDonagh doesn’t miss.

Movie Review: The Pale Blue Eye (2023)

*inhale*. Can you smell that? First new release of the year. I’m excited.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Pale Blue Eye”.

New York, 1830. When a young student at the West Point military academy is found dead, weary detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is called in to investigate and hopefully figure out what happened. And to aid him in his quest, he secretly acquires the assistance of an enigmatic young man (Harry Melling) who goes to the academy. I find myself a tad conflicted when it comes to the story here. On one hand, I genuinely enjoy the murder mystery going on here, it has this dark and very pulpy feel to it that I love, and it does take some pretty interesting turns that build in engaging ways. But there are also aspects to the story where it can feel slightly unfocused, as it tries to not only be a pulpy detective thriller, but also explore various other dramatic avenues. And while that could be fine, the script never makes them feel truly cohesive or like they weave in and out of each other as well as they could. This unfocused nature can especially be felt towards the middle, where it almost felt like it dragged. The movie on the whole is a slow burn, but the middle section does feel kinda bogged down. But in the moments where it zeroes in on the desolate, isolated, almost claustrophobic mystery, that is when it shines. Those bits are genuinely compelling.

The characters in this I find to actually be pretty interesting. most of them are generally presented with somewhat interesting personalities and it’s interesting to see how everyone interacts with each other or react to the vents unfolding. Christian Bale plays Augustus Landor, an aging and world-weary detective who’s gone through some rough times. He’s a compelling character that’s hard to describe since I don’t want to say too much. But he’s a solid protagonist and Bale is great as always. Next is Harry Melling as a young Edgar Allan Poe, a cadet at the academy and Bale’s secret assistant/confidant. He’s an enigmatic and talkative fella and I loved seeing both his personal arc and how his relationship to Bale’s Landor evolves. And Melling gives a fantastic performance in the role, this is so far a career best from him. Supporting cast is great too, containing people like Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, Toby Jones, Gillian Anderson (a bit underused, IMO), Charlotte Gainsbourg (very underutilized), Lucy Boynton, and more, all giving damn solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Howard Shore and he killed it. Chilling strings, harsh brass, the man just brings an emotionally resonant score to proceedings that I could feel deep in my bones throughout the entire thing. It’s haunting and beautiful and I loved it.

Based on a novel by Louis Bayard, “The Pale Blue Eye” was recently released on Netflix, and was written and directed by Scott Cooper, and while his script could’ve had another look, I can’t deny what a good director he is. The pacing of scenes, the way he shows and/or hides things from the audience, the man brings his A-game in that regard. He also has a great way of making this movie feel cold, and I don’t strictly mean emotionally. Rarely do I see a movie set in a cold or snowy environment that genuinely makes me feel like I’m freezing, despite wearing knitwear in a relatively well heated room. And Cooper, together with cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi masterfully makes that come across through the way they shoot the movie. Just thinking about some of these scenes makes me feel like I need a blanket.

This movie’s so far gotten a pretty mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 56/100. And on it has a score of 6.7/10.

While it doesn’t quite reach its potential, I still found “The Pale Blue Eye” to be a fairly enjoyable little mystery-thriller. It has a mixed story, pretty good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Pale Blue Eye” is a 7.44/10. So while it is flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth a watch.

My review of “The Pale Blue Eye” is now completed.

Linger ooooooon… your pale blue eyes…

Movie Review: Raymond & Ray (2022)

Hello there! First post of 2023. And I don’t know about you, but I am ready to get into a new year of blogging shenanigans. So let’s jump into the our first review of the year.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Raymond & Ray”.

When their estranged father dies, half-brothers Raymond (Ewan McGregor) and Ray (Ethan Hawke) reunite in order to bury the old man. And as they go through the motions associated with a funeral, the brothers begin to process their upbringing, along with learning about some of the stuff their father’s been up to in the years they’ve not seen him. On paper, I get what the story wants to do, and I think there’s a lot of great ideas found here, both in the bigger picture and in individual scenes. Sadly though, I never really found myself invested in any of it, something about the way it’s written just makes it feel like it never comes alive. I feels like the script could’ve used another pass or two. Not outright terrible, the ideas and even a few scarce moment are interesting, but the overall story feels undercooked.

The characters in this are fine. As with the story, they are the victims of a script that could’ve used more time in the oven. That said, they do still fare a little better. They feel a bit more defined, even if they never feel fully developed (despite the film’s best efforts). And then there’s the performances. On the whole, they’re generally pretty good. Ethan Hawke is great as always and just naturally slots into the role of Ray well, bringing him to life nicely. But then you have Ewan McGregor as Raymond, which I have mixed feelings on. I love McGregor as an actor, and he tries his best with his performance, but never did he feel like he fit the role. Whether it’s the dialogue or even a gaze, while his overall performance is technically good, I just never bought him as this character. Supporting cast is pretty good too, containing people like Todd Louiso (sidenote: where’s he been the last 15 years?), Sophie Okonedo, Maribel Verdú, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and a few more.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Beal, and I really liked it. It has this really interesting sound to it, mixing elements of lounge jazz with some mild thriller droning, and it makes for a soundscape that sometimes elevates the various scenes it can be found in. It’s solid.

“Raymond & Ray” was written and directed by Rodrigo García, and while we’ve gone over that his script isn’t the best, I can say that his directing is pretty solid. Everything’s nicely paced and his framing is nice. And that’s about all I can say, it’s well done. Not amazing, not terrible, just good.

This movie has not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 47% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. And on it has a score of 6.2/10.

While I think it has some good ideas, “Raymond & Ray” ultimately ends up being fairly underwhelming. The story isn’t very interesting, the characters are underdeveloped, the performances are mostly good, the music’s good, and it’s pretty well directed. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Raymond & Ray” is a 4.44/10. So I’d personally recommend skipping this one.

My review of “Raymond & Ray” is now completed.

Some spacemen use rayguns. Others use raymondguns.

Movie Review: The Big Four (2022)

GUNS! EXPLOSIONS! INDONESIA! BUZZ WORDS! Let’s talk about a movie, shall we?

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

When her father is murdered, a police officer (Putri Marino) goes on a quest to track down a group of elite assassins to help her in finding her father’s killer, as these assassins seemingly had history with the old man. Right from the word go, “The Big Four” intrigues, setting up a dark, violent world, filled with assassins, evil organizations, and… slapstick? Yeah, the story here is a bit of a mishmash of tones, ideas, and inspirations. The main revenge mystery at the film’s is pretty intriguing on its own, giving us some really intriguing world building and escalating the drama pretty well. But then it further builds on itself and its characters with bombastic set pieces and a little bit of Stephen Chow-esque slapstick. Not quite “Kung Fu Hustle” levels of cartoony, but it did give me his kind of vibes at times. And while this hodgepodge mix of “The Night Comes For Us”, “John Wick”, and goofy farce could (and honestly should) end up a fucking mess, it all comes together incredibly well to make for a really fun and enjoyable narrative. And despite being nearly two and a half hours long, it’s really well paced, never was I bored. It’s an enjoyable, well told story.

The characters in this are wonderful, all being colorful, charming, and a ton of fun to watch. They’re also really well defined, their personalities standing out and balancing each other out really well. The one that arguably sticks out the least is Dina (the policewoman), but that’s also since she’s sort of the straight man in this scenario. And Putri Marino plays it really well, so I can’t complain. As for the rest of the cast, I won’t go too in depth, as I think their quirks are best left experienced. But they’re all fun, and I think the cast is brilliant too. Abimana Aryasatya, Arie Kriting, Lutesha, Kristo Immanuel, Marthino Lio, and everyone else just deliver some really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Bembi Gusti, Tony Merle, and Aghi Narottama, and it was alright. Can’t remember much of it as I sit and write (its lack of availability online doesn’t help) beyond the feeling, which was generally “Yeah, this is alright”. There’s also a little bit of licensed music used throughout, and those tracks work quite well in their respective scenes.

“The Big Four” was (at the time of writing) recently released on Netflix, and was directed and co-written by Timo Tjahjanto, and the dude absolutely brought his A-game with this. As a fan of some of his previous action movies, I knew the dude knew how to shoot action scenes. But once again, he managed to blow me away just with the sheer intensity, creativity, and brutality on display. It’s been slightly recontextualized from his previous, more serious work, to fit the goofier tone, but it still carries everything we can expect Indo action at this point… AKA intense camera movements, gorgeous wides that clearly show what’s going on, and some of the goriest violence in film. And it’s all a blast to watch, delivering all the well choreographed, blood-soaked carnage you can ask for.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating. And on it has a score of 6.1/10.

While its strange blend of tones, lengthy runtime, and gory violence might not be for everyone, I had an absolute blast with “The Big Four”. It has a fun story, great characters, really good performances, pretty good music, and fantastic directiong/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Big Four” is a 8.44/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Big Four” is now completed.

“Big Four”, my ass. Couldn’t see Metallica anywhere…

Along with the Gods: The Two Movies

Hi there. So this won’t be a typical review style post of mine (though it shares minor aspects of those). Instead it’ll be more like my post on the Fable movies (AHEM AHEM), loosely rambling about them in a bundled post. I should mention that both movies will from here on out simply be referred to by their subtitle, as it’d be too long and clunky to use the full title each time. So anyhow… let’s go.

The Two Worlds

After perishing in the line of duty, a firefighter (Cha Tae-Hyun) finds himself in the company of three spirit guides (Ha Jung-woo, Ju Ji-Hoon, Kim Hyang-gi) who have been tasked with guiding him through the afterlife in order for him to potentially earn the right to reincarnate. Based on a webtoon by Ju Ho-min, “The Two Worlds” is an interesting blend of inspirations and tones. Most noticeably, it uses Buddhist philosophy as a springboard to tell an interesting and really fun fantasy adventure story, a morality tale that also happens to have some really fun VFX-driven action and colorful characters. Taking us through visually distinct environments to tell a nuanced fantasy story.
As we follow the firefighter’s journey through the afterlife, we get to know him more and more, seeing what led him to the initial incident. We see why he does what he does, we get to know the deepest inner workings of his soul, and finding out just how complex even the most seemingly good people are. And the way that affects the events of the movie, the ways his guides have to assist him, it makes for some compelling drama and some surprising suspense. So when we get to the climactic trials that are crucial in determining his fate, it put me on the edge of my seat, and also may have caused the waterworks to begin operating. Because while someone might come to this for the spectacular VFX, fun action scenes, or extremely good looking cast, soon enough they’ll also find that this movie has a strong emotional core as well. I am not ashamed in admitting that this movie made me cry. It’s one of those flashy action flicks that also happens to have some truly compelling characters and drama. But it can also be quite funny at times, especially with the quips and general demeanor of Ju Ji-Hoon as the delightful Haewonmaek.
What else is there to say? It’s a big popcorn flick with a great story, plenty of heart, a wonderful cast of characters, and some mesmerizing visuals. I loved it.

The Last 49 Days

Released a year later, “The Last 49 Days” sees our favorite spirit guides as they take on the task of helping a new soul towards reincarnation, all while also trying their damndest in trying to retrieve a fellow guardian (Ma Dong-seok) who’s been living on Earth for a long time. “The Last 49 Days” is once again a blend of things. Fantasy action, historical epic, domestic dramedy, and I think all these individual pieces are great… but together they don’t flow super well. I get that you need all the bits together to tell the complete story, take one piece out and the tower comes crashing down, but there is a whole lotta movie to this movie. And I’m not just talking about runtime, as it’s really only like 5 minutes longer than the first one, but rather it’s how much is crammed into it. There’s an exhausting amount of narrative threads going on at any one time, and while I found all of them pretty compelling on their own, their flow is just almost non-existent. It’s especially horrid near the middle of the movie, where things really begin to drag. You know that deep sigh you make when you’re bored? Yeah, that happened here. It’s just an exhausting drag at times.
So while the story is a mess, the characters do get some really interesting extra depth, which also leads to the actors getting more to chew on. The cast was great in the first one, but they really get to flex their acting chops here, and I think they give terrific performances here. And it’s just nice to have Ma Dong-seok be part of proceedings, the man just slots in flawlessly and brings such a unique charisma.
Action scenes are once again a lot of fun, not quite as flashy as what we saw in the first one, but definitely still highly enjoyable. Effects are still top notch (bar one or two obvious green screens), costumes and makeup are solid, and there’s some really fun cuts and transitions spread throughout. It’s just stellar on a technical level.
So while nowhere near as strong as its predecessor, I can’t say that I disliked “The Last 49 Days”. It still has some great stuff to it. If the first one’s a strong 9/10 for me, then this is maybe a weak 7/10. Hurt by its poor pacing, but still has a lot to admire.

So yeah, I watched and generally liked the “Along with the Gods” movies. Basically if you like big spectacle with plenty of heart and don’t mind reading subtitles, then I can easily recommend them. And apparently there’s a third and fourth one coming at some point… so I’ll be cautiously looking forward to those.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

Alright, after a short break (that ended up longer than intended, oops) following the Month of Spooks, I am back, ready to write about non-spooky stuff again. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Don’t Worry Darling”.

Living in a seemingly utopian 1950s suburbia, Alice (Florence Pugh) seems to lead a wonderful life with her husband (Harry Styles). But this bliss is soon tested when Alice discovers that this seemingly perfect suburbia may hold some dark secrets. On paper, I love pretty much everything about the narrative, there are so many cool ideas for an effective psychological thriller here. In terms of execution though, I find it a bit lacking. Not outright bad, and never boring, but I never got that “Oh yeah, I’m really into this movie” click. Something about the way the story unfurls, the way that the narrative expands just doesn’t entirely come together for me. It’s undercooked and a bit messy that way, but I also can’t say that I disliked it. It’s… eh.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. One or two I find pretty compelling, like there’s something interesting about them. The rest of them on the other hand show shades of being intriguing, but their arcs don’t really go far enough to be truly compelling. I’ll say, our lead character Alice is pretty compelling, it’s interesting to see how she reacts to the various events and revelations of the story, she’s a fairly dynamic and interesting character. And Florence Pugh is absolutely fantastic in the role, as she always is. Harry Styles plays her husband, and he’s… fine. He’s not terrible, but he’s not great either… just fine. Then we also have people like Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, KiKi Layne, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll, Kate Berlant, and more rounding out the cast, and they all deliver really solid performances. It’s generally speaking a really good cast.

The score for the movie was composed by John Powell, and I thought it was great. It’s this strange mix of more typical thriller droning and some basic orchestrations with colorful and really eerie vocalizations, with some interesting piano and percussion. It’s one of the more unique scores I’ve heard in a while, and I kinda loved it. There’s also a lot of licensed songs from the 50s that are used throughout, and they work pretty well in setting a mood in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has some great music.

“Don’t Worry Darling” was directed by Olivia Wilde, and I think she did a pretty solid job with it. She has a good grip of how to try to build tension in a scene, she shows how to have a good flow to her scenes. Her talent behind the camera does help elevate some of the less than stellar writing a bit. And when you combine her directing with Matthew Libatique’s frankly stunning cinematography, you get a movie that, on a technical level, is quite stunning.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 38% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 48/100. And on it has a score of 6.2/10.

While it isn’t as emotionally engaging as it could’ve been, I’d still say that “Don’t Worry Darling” is fine. It has a meh story, okay characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Don’t Worry Darling” is a 6.57/10. So I’d say it’s still worth renting.

My review of “Don’t Worry Darling” is now completed.

I didn’t worry… so now what do I do or do not do?

Movie Review: Tremors (1990)

Friends, we’ve reached the end. The final Month of Spooks review of the year. So if you’re tired of me rambling about horror, then you’re about to get a well earned break. And if you wish you could get only horror content from me all year, then tough luck… go watch Dead Meat or Ryan Hollinger on youtube, they provide excellent spooky content all year round. Anyhow, with further ado… let’s finish this.

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

Welcome to Perfection, a small backwater town in the middle of god damn nowhere. They’re in for the experience of a lifetime when a group of giant, underground worms start killing people and animals around the area. So it’s up to a group of locals, led by best friends Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward), to find a way of surviving this nightmare situation. The story of “Tremors”, on paper, would be absolutely fucking terrifying. Giant worms that kill everything they come into contact with? That can collapse buildings? Horrifying. The movie plays it a little more light however. While the Graboids (as they’re known nowadays) are given the intimidating power and reverence they deserve, the movie isn’t afraid of also being a bit goofy. The town of Perfection is filled with colorful, eccentric people, and they’re used to great effect in creating scenarios that are equal parts intense and funny. Had the movie played it all completely straight, then I doubt the story would’ve been as enjoyable. It is that generally lighthearted and campy tone, along with some really creative set pieces, that makes it so much fun to watch. Not necessarily THE most fun ever, but I can’t deny that I had a fun time with it.

As alluded to in the story paragraph (storagraph?), the characters in are a so insanely colorful and a million flavors of fun. From a pair of slightly dim good ol’ boys, to mildly crazed survivalists, to smart grad students, we’ve got all sorts in this here dust bowl of a town. And holy cow, the cast is just wonderful. Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, Finn Carter, Victor Wong, and more, all delivering delightful performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Ernest Troost, with a few tracks being done by an uncredited Robert Folk, and I think their music here is a lot of fun. While it’s sad that some of Troost’s music got replaced (without him knowing, mind you), I do think that Folk’s additions still work within the context of the movie. How to tell them apart? If it’s fun and a little country-ish, Troost. If it’s more typical serious orchestral movie score, Folk. Either way, the music in this movie is solid. There’s even a really fun song during the end credits sung by Reba McEntire, which is nice.

“Tremors” was directed by Ron Underwood, and I think he did a really good job. The man has a good way of making the action and Graboid attacks feel big and intense, while also creating this intimate tension with the unknown surrounding when and where the Graboids will pop out next. Speaking of which, the creatures themselves were created by Amalgamated Dynamics, the VFX company of living legends Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, and the creatures look awesome. The designs are super fun, and the overall effects work is so good, really making them feel alive. It’s just a really well made movie.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on it has a score of 7.1/100.

Yeah, “Tremors” is a good time. A fun monster flick. It has a good story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Tremors” is an 8.77/10. So yeah, I’d definitely say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Tremors” is now completed.

Aaaaand that’s it for the Month of Spooks this year, good night, everybody!