Movie Review: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2001)

Well this is a first for the Month of Spooks… animation. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust”.

When a girl (Wendee Lee) is kidnapped by a vampire, her family hires a legendary bounty hunter (Andrew Phlipot) to get her back. The setup is an old school one, but the way they handle it feels fresh. For one, it’s set in the distant future… but it also looks like the old west. This blend of different styles makes for a fun and unique universe. But it’s not just the world building that works about this movie. “Bloodlust” really takes time to weave a surprising amount of nuance throughout, making me really care about what really happens throughout the story, be it larger, epic moments or smaller, intimate drama.

Like with story before them, the characters in this movie have a bit more nuance than expected. At first they can seem like stereotypes. Broody, stern, Hannibal from “A-Team”, asshat. But if one sticks around, the characters get fleshed out quite a bit, making them a hell of a lot more compelling. First up we have D(E,F,G), the titular character at the center of the story. He’s the broody fucker I mentioned before… but he’s also a compassionate, strong-willed, and endearing guy who works to stay on the side of good. And I think Andrew Philpot does a great job with the voice work. Next we have Leila (cue Derek and the Dominos), another bounty hunter searching for the kidnapped girl. Tough, determined, stern, and also has a good heart. And she grows quite a fun rapport with D. She’s voiced by Pamela Adlon, who I think does a damn fine job with it. Wendee Lee does a good job as the kidnapped girl, who we meet multiple times throughout. And the vampire that did said kidnapping, played wonderfully by John Rafter Lee, is quite an interesting antagonist. Again, all the characters are pretty interesting. And the supporting cast is great.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco D’Ambrosio, who did a wonderful job with it. It’s moody and atmospheric, but also big and epic, as well as emotionally charged. It perfectly helps create the vibe the movie is going for, which is has a familiar sense of gothic brood, while still feeling fresh and unique for this movie.

Based on a manga series by Hideyuki Kikuchi, “Bloodlust” was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who I think did a wonderful job with it. His direction manages to keep the energy and pacing up throughout, without making it feel like he’s rushing things. He will let quiet moments simmer a bit, but without accidentally slipping into boredom. And holy fucking shit, the animation is stunning, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the fact that Madhouse was the studio behind it (they make well animated stuff, yo). Combining Kawajiri’s meticulous direction with the animation talents at Madhouse was clever, as it makes for not only some gorgeously detailed wide shots, but also some insanely entertaining action scenes. It also makes it so the few pure horror bits we get become genuinely creepy. So well done, crew.

This movie has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” isn’t just a highly entertaining vampire action movie, but it’s also a surprisingly nuance movie that subverts a fair bit of expectations. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” is a 9,67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” is now completed.

Any time you have a character with single-letter names, I just wanna continue the alphabet after referring to them.
“So what’s the character’s name?”
“D”
“Interesting”
“E, F, G, H, I… “

Movie Review: Upgrade (2018)

Can I just take a second out of this review to talk about release schedules? Because everyone got this movie in the cinemas at some point in 2018… but I didn’t, and then I had to wait until today to be able to see it at home? It’s not the first time I’ve gotten screwed liked this. I wanted to watch it, but my local cinema was like “Nope, sorry, not showing it… you dick”… okay, they didn’t directly say that, but that’s what it felt like with “Upgrade” and various other movies. Seriously, screw release schedules some times.

Ladies and gents… “Upgrade”.

After his wife is killed and he gets paralyzed, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) accepts an offer to get an experimental surgery that would let him walk again. But soon he finds out that he’s able to do more than that, which he will use to find the people responsible for his misery. So now we have our cyberpunk revenge thriller. And it’s good. I mean, the opening isn’t the most inspired, in a lot of ways it’s just kind of bland. But after that generic opening, the plot just gets better and better and I think it becomes quite unique for a revenge thriller. It’s not one of the greatest plots ever, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and has enough little twists and turns to keep it fresh. So yeah, it’s a good plot.

The characters in this are… fine? Most of them are kind of underdeveloped. For some of the bad guys, I can accept that, as it gives them a sort of video game boss battle quality, which I enjoyed about them. But others that the movie expects me to care about… nope. Anyway, Logan Marshall-Green plays Grey, the average Joe who receives the title to become a badass. And he’s honestly quite a fleshed out character, as he’s given quite a bit of development throughout. And Marshall-Green is great in the role… mostly. At the start he’s bland and average, but like the plot, when shit gets going, he becomes great in the role. Next we have Betty Gabriel as the detective working the case of Grey’s dead wife. And where the movie expects us to give a damn about her… I didn’t, her character isn’t interesting enough in her writing for me to care. But Gabriel is pretty good in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Simon Maiden, Harrison Gilbertson, Melanie Vallejo, Benedict Hardie, Christopher Kirby, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Palmer and I thought it was really good. It somehow sounds like a mix between typical cyberpunk stuff (“Blade Runner”, “Deux Ex”, etc.) and a couple different horror scores. And the mix, while familiar, feels unique and gives the most an eerie and interesting vibe that I liked quite a bit.

Based on nothing at all, this movie was written by Leigh Whannell, and I think he did a great job here. While the opening (as previously stated) is a bit boring, his direction gives the movie a certain energy that makes it kind of a joy to watch. He finds ways of really engaging the viewer with little details. But it’s in the action scenes where the directing and cinematography truly shines, because holy fucking shit, the action scenes in this movie are fantastic. They’re fast, energetic, and have some of the most clever and unique camera movements I’ve ever seen. There are a couple fights in this movie that honestly kinda blew my mind. There’s also a surprising amount of humor throughout the movie, and none of it feels intrusive, rather just adding to the movie’s fun factor.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Upgrade” is a really good revenge action-thriller. It has a good plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously stated, the start of the movie isn’t great, and I don’t really care about most of the characters. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Upgrade” is an 8,72/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Upgrade” is now completed.

That was fun.

Movie Review: Mute (2018)

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for quite a long time. The director is one whose movies I’ve enjoyed quite a bit, so a new movie from him is something I of course was hyped about. And now it’s finally out, and I have now seen it. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mute”.

Berlin, 40 years from now. Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) is a mute bartender living a seemingly happy life. But after his girlfriend disappears, he goes on a mission to find out what happened to her, which leads him down the seedy Berlin underground. So is this plot any good? Parts of it are. The problem(s) with this plot is how tonally inconsistent it is. Because at first it seems like it’s just gonna be an emotional and gritty character drama, but then it throws in  bunch of more lighthearted and almost silly scenes featuring a pair of surgeons (Paul Rudd & Justin Theroux) as they go about their lives. Yes, the surgeon stuff is important to the plot, but it’s so tonally different to Leo’s quest. The pacing is also inconsistent. At times it moves at an acceptably slow-ish pace, but then there are times where some unnecessary stuff happens that pulls the pace to a bit of a crawl. Really, the best word I can use to describe the plot of “Mute” is inconsistent. Not necessarily bad (though some bits aren’t that great), just very inconsistent.

The characters in this are (you guessed it) inconsistent. Alexander Skarsgård plays Leo, the mute bartender at the center of this story. He’s clearly a damaged person, and seeing him go through his journey is compelling as he’s a fairly interesting character. I’m also really impressed by Skarsgård’s performance, because he has to convey so much emotion without being able to utter a single word… and the dude kills it in the role. Paul Rudd plays Cactus Bill, one of the two surgeons that are a large part of this story. He’s a dickhead, but he also seem to have some morals (mainly relating to his daughter), so he’s somewhat grounded (even if I don’t always like the character). And Rudd is good in the role. Then we have Justin Theroux as Duck Teddington (best name ever?), the other surgeon. He’s a bit of a hippie that we learn some interesting stuff about through the movie. And he’s one of the reasons for the “tonally inconsistent” things I mentioned before. Theroux is good in the role. Then we get supporting performances in the movie from people like Noel Clarke, Rob Kazinsky, Dominic Monaghan, Seyneb Saleh, Florence Kasumba, and more, most doing a good job (though the characters could use some more work).

The score for the movie was composed by Clint Mansell, and now we finally have something that I can give some high praise to! His score here does take some cues from “Blade Runer” (and a few from “Moon”), but it does enough unique stuff to stand out in a crowd, and ends up being a fucking great score that elevates a lot of scenes in the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work decently in their respective scenes.

This movie was written and directed by Duncan Jones, and this is very clearly a passion project of his. But did he do well? For the most part, sure. The direction here has a nice flow to it, and I was fairly sucked into it. It also helps that Gary Shaw’s cinematography is really fucking gorgeous, this movie has some really great eye candy in it. And any and all visual effects in this look really good.

This movie just came out, but it has already received some less than stellar reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 6% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 36/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

“Mute” is a mixed bag. It has a tonally inconsistent plot with some pacing issues and some lackluster character work. But it does also have some good ideas, a few okay characters, great performances, fantastic music, and good direction/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mute” is a 6,31/10. While very flawed, it could still be worth a watch.

My review of “Mute” is now completed.

At least this movie has a really cool easter egg in it…

Movie Review: Elysium (2013)

Space, the final frontier… the perfect place to go if you’re a rich asshole that doesn’t want to help the poor.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Elysium”.

The world has gone to shit. As the poor struggle to survive in the slums of Los Angeles, the rich have escaped into a space station called “Elysium” because they don’t want to take responsibility. And we follow poor person Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) as he takes on a mission that could help bring a bit more equality to this rich vs. poor world. So now we have our sci-fi movie that wants to deliver a message. And while the delivery of said message can be a little clumsy at times, I think it for the most part works. I think this is an interesting world that gets set up and I also think the overall plot is quite good. I felt invested in it, I wanted to see where it was going. So yeah, the plot here was good.

The characters here are for the most part interesting. I say for the most part because… well, we’ll get to that. Matt Damon plays Max, our sympathetic main character who is likable, funny, and pretty badass. I cared about him, I wanted to see him succeed. And Matt Damon is great in the role. Jodie Foster plays, Delacourt, the sort of antagonist of the film. Let’s put it like this: She’s kind of an asshole that wants to keep the rich at the top and the poor under the shoe of inequality. And yeah, I didn’t really care for her. I didn’t find her very interesting as she was a very one-dimensional character. And while Foster’s performance wasn’t bad, it wasn’t really that great. It was bland and she had some weird accent going on that didn’t really work. Now on the other end of that spectrum we have Sharlto Copley, playing a sort of rogue black ops agent that is out to kill Damon. The character is a total psychopath and Copley killed it as the character, stealing every scene he was in! Alice Braga plays Frey, an old friend of Damon who pops up several times throughout the movie, and she was a pretty good character with an okay arc. And Braga was good in the role. Diego Luna is in the movie as a friend of Damon’s, and he was good. Wagner Moura was also in it, playing a rebel leader of sorts, and he was great. We also got a little bit of William Fichtner in the movie and he was really good in the role. Overall it is a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Ryan Amon and it was quite good. While not doing anything terribly original, it does work very well for the movie, often adding a bit extra excitement/emotion to a scene. So yeah… it’s good. MOVING ON.

This movie was directed by Neill Blomkamp and I think he did a for the most part really good job. When not a lot is happening, when something just needs to be shown or when there’s just a conversation between two characters, the movie looks quite good. And the way the visual effects are implemented into the movie is some of the best I’ve ever seen. However, whenever action happens… oh boy. It’s shaky and filled with plenty of cuts and it really annoyed me. Hey Blomkamp, just because Matt Damon is in the movie doesn’t mean you should imitate “The Bourne Supremacy”! Sometimes it isn’t too bad, but for the most part it’s just… yikes.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“Elysium” is a good, albeit quite flawed sci-fi movie. It has a really good plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, really good music, and good directing. But it is brought down by Jodie Foster’s character/performance, and the action ebing really shaky/annoying. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Elysium” is an 8,66/10. While flawed, I’d still say that it is worth buying.

My review of “Elysium” is now completed.

Matt Damon is… Jason Poor.