Series Review: A Christmas Carol (2019)

I guess we gotta cover something christmas-related since the holidays are upon us. And lucky for me, we just got a new christmas mini-series to talk about. Yay.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) is an anti-social, greedy businessman who’s made his success on the misery of others for years. But one night right before christmas day, three spirits come to visit him to try to make him realize the fault of his ways. Everybody knows the setup for this story, question with each adaptation tends to instead come down to execution. And the execution in this series is not great. It’s a really dark, bleak, and edgy take on the classic story that is honestly stretched way too long. Sure, three episodes don’t sound like much. But when each episode is just under 60 minutes long and tries to then stretch a 110 page book out to that runtime, it just feels like it drags its ass. Plus, while the darker take sounds interesting on paper, it just doesn’t work, often taking me out of it. Even the supposedly heartwarming bits leave me feeling cold. The story’s just off for me.

The characters in this you know the basic dynamics of. But they also get given a somewhat darker edge to them that just makes things feel a little off at times. Guy Pearce of course plays the ultimate douchebag that is Ebenezer Scrooge. Anti-social, greedy, douchey… he’s just the worst. And Pearce is great in the role. You get Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, and he’s of course great. Joe Alwyn does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit. Lenny Rush who plays Tiny Tim does a really good job. Andy Serkis as the ghost of christmas past rides the line between intimidating and hammy wonderfully. Really, all actors here brought their A-game, even if the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The score for the series was composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran. It was okay. Nothing too memorable, nothing that ruined the series, but also didn’t improve it. It’s just kinda there. Moving on.

Based on the classic book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was brought to us by Steven Knight, with Nick Murphy serving as director. And while the show felt a bit lackluster in the story and character departments, it excels in the production parts. The sets are immaculate, the costumes neat, and the cinematography by Si Bell was gorgeous. You can tell that so much love and care was put into how the world was crafted.

This show hasn’t been too well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Despite having some things strewn throughout, 2019’s “A Christmas Carol” is ultimately not a great adaptation. The story isn’t very good, the characters are meh, the performances are great, the music is meh, and the directing, cinematography, and sets are great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Christmas Carol” is a 4,65/10. So despite some good stuff, I’d still recommend skipping it.

My review of “A Christmas Carol” is now completed.

If someone disagrees with me, they better use “humbug”.

Movie Review: The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Well, this is fun. I was already planning on doing this movie for the Month of Spooks, but then I found out that today was Guillermo del Toro’s birthday, so what better time to do it? So here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Devil’s Backbone”!

Set during the Spanish Civil War, the story follows a young boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) who gets moved into an orphanage for boys. And it doesn’t take long to discover some of the dark secrets that lurk within the place. So now we have our spook drama. And I found it quite engaging. I do like that it’s not just about a child sneaking around a creepy place, as it’s more about exploring the dark side of humanity rather than just jumping out at the audience like any ol’ horror flick. Yes, there is some spooky shit within the plot, and I do think it’s implemented really cleverly into the plot. It manages to blend effective drama with a simple enough ghost plot to create a really compelling and engaging package.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and quite interesting. Fernando Tielve plays Carlos, the main character in this. He’s a good-hearted kid who gets pulled into some less good stuff, and it makes for an interesting contrast with some of the bad things he gets involved with. And Tielve is great in the role. Next up we have Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto, who is kind of the groundskeeper of this orphanage. And he’s a huge dick, I don’t know what else to say other than it makes him an interesting antagonist in this. Noriega is great in the role. Then we get supporting performances from people like Íñigo Garcés, Federico Luppi, Marisa Paredes, Irene Visedo, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Javier Navarrete, and I thought it was great. It build a good amount of suspense, it adds a lot of emotion, and it just overall sounds fantastic, making scenes where it’s prominent am even better experience. It uses a lot of strings, and I think that works very well here.

As you probably guessed from the intro to this, the movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (with Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz helping out on the writing side). And of course it’s as well crafted as ever. The way that del Toro captures his scenes/actors manages to feel very real while still having an otherworldly essence to it. And when he wants to creep me out, he really succeeded with that. And the cinematography by Guillermo Navarro is pretty stunning, capturing both the disturbing and the beautiful in this world.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“The Devil’s Backbone” is an impressive horror-drama from one of the best director’s around. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Devil’s Backbone” is a 9,67/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Devil’s Backbone” is now completed.

Happy birthday, GDT.

Movie Review: We Are Still Here (2015)

And the month of spooks continues. So what’s on the menu today? Haunted shit? Cool.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Are Still Here”.

To try to cope with the recent death of their son, a couple (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) move into a remote New England house. But it doesn’t take long for them to find out that there’s something sinister about their new home. So now we have our spooky plot. And I find it to be good. I like that it plays around with a lot of haunted house clichés we’ve seen before in ways that makes it all feel fresh. I also like that it has an old school slow burn feel rather than the rushed factory made spookfest that so many are these days. That said, it’s not perfect. There are moments where the slow burn kinda turns into nothingness. I’m all for a slower burn, but there still needs to be some kind of hook. And there are moments throughout the movie where there is none, keeping those slow moments from feelings the most relevant. But overall it’s still a well crafted and intriguing story that both engages and chills.

The characters in this are layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. Barbara Crampton plays Anne, the woman at the center of this story, and the first to acknowledge that something might be up with the house. She’s still broken up about the sudden death of her son, and it helps make her a more interesting character as she goes through the film’s events. And Crampton is fantastic in the role. Next we have Andrew Sensenig as Paul, Anne’s husband. While the death of his son has had some effect on him, he clearly has moved on a bit more. He’s also a skeptic to the idea of spooky shit going on. But he’s never an asshole about it, as I found him quite likable. And Sensenig is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham, Michael Patrick Nicholson, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Wojchiech Golczewski, and it’s pretty good. It does have a similar sort of eerie droning sound as many other horror scores, but I think this one stands out a little better as it captures the isolated and cold feeling of the location. Would I be able to recognize a track from it if I randomly heard it? Not really. But it’s still pretty good and works well enough for the movie.

“We Are Still Here” was written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, and I think he did a really good job with it. He clearly has a knack for making a person feel uncomfortable with simple camera movements as well as what he puts in the fore/background. But his direction here is tight and helps build a decent amount of suspense throughout. And while I was creeped out in parts, I don’t think I was fully scared. But I don’t think I needed to, as the creepiness factor keeps it from feeling like a failure. Also, I’m not saying exactly what happened, but there are some really effective/enjoyable deaths in this movie that brings it up a notch for me.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

While not perfect, “We Are Still Here” is still a really enjoyable and well-crafted movie. It has a good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a little bit by a few moments throughout being kinda dull. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “We Are Still Here” is an 8,88/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “We Are Still Here”.

That title sounds like something annoying house guests say when you try to get them out.

Movie Review: The Conjuring (2013)

And the Month of Spooks marches on! So what type of horrible horror is on the table tonight? Another haunting? Cool.

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… “The Conjuring”.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are a couple who happen to be paranormal investigators. And one day they get called in to try to help a family who claim to be haunted by some dark/evil presence. So now we have our haunted family/house/person/thing story. And I use that quick description of it because there’s a lot of familiar elements to it. A good amount of the beats throughout we know from various other movies, so it doesn’t bring a lot new to the table. That said, it does these things quite well. The plot here is creepy and tense, and I was invested in it from start to finish. Not saying that it’s perfect, but it’s definitely good.

For the most part I found myself invested in the characters here. They were interesting and decently likable. Patrick Wilson plays Ed Warren, one of the two who go to investigate this creepy situation. He’s a bit reluctant to do it based on something that happened in the past, and he’s given a good amount of development in this movie. And Wilson is great in the movie. Vera Farmiga plays Lorraine Warren, wife of Ed, and fellow investigator. She’s a fairly well developed character as well, which includes the same past situation as her husband. I also like her because she’s determined and decently tough without coming off like a thundering dumbass. They make her strong but vulnerable. And Farmiga is great in the role. Lili Taylor plays Carolyn, the mother of the family that is having haunting problems. She goes through some interesting stuff in this movie that makes her a pretty interesting character. And Taylor is great in the role. Then we have Ron Livingston as Roger, the father of the family. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with Livingston’s performance (it’s actually quite good), I found his character kind of lackluster. He’s supposed to be an important part of this, but his character feels underdeveloped compared to everyone else. And to not drag out this bit too much: All the kids in this movie do a good job. There, this is a well acted movie. Moving on!

The score for the movie was composed by Joseph Bishara and it was great. It was droning, creepy, eerie, chilling, and just overall worked quite well for the movie, often elevating the suspense of various scenes. There were also a couple of licensed tracks used in the movie that worked pretty well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by James Wan (making his second appearance this Month of Spooks) and I thought he did a great job. He does a lot with very little, building a lot of suspense with very few things. Really, the suspense/tension really builds throughout the movie, and any scares that pop up feel earned. I also want to mention that this movie is rated R. “How is that interesting?” I hear you ask. Let me explain. Cursing? Almost none. Sex/Nudity? Mildly implied, but never shown. Blood/gore? Minimal. This is rated R based purely on how scary it is… not gonna lie, that is pretty fucking cool.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“The Conjuring” is a pretty damn good horror movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great direction. My only flaws with it (which are fairly minor) are that the beats of the movie feel very familiar, and Ron Livingston’s character feeling underdeveloped. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “The Conjuring” is a 9,01/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it is definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Conjuring” is now completed.

There were several occurrences of 70s lingo in this and it makes me so happy.

Movie Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

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BOO! Ha, got you! That’s right folks, the Month of Spooks is continuing. So instead of writing the typical clever intro, let’s just get into the review and see what spooky antics we’re facing today.

Ladies and gentlemen, please beware of… “Crimson Peak”.

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) is a young, aspiring writer who falls in love with the mysterious Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and moves in with him is a shitty, old house. There we also find Thomas’ sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain) who will be staying with them. However, everything might not be as it seems. And from that we get a story that was kind of mismarketed. The trailer and ads made this seem like a straight-up horror movie, but that’s not really true. This is more of a romance with some spooky stuff to it. And the plot from the start seems really pretty interesting, presenting some compelling mystery in combination with the gothic romance. However it is bogged down a bit by some mediocre pacing. I mean, there are scenes that are pretty slow and don’t really add to much plotwise. The last 15 – 20 minutes on the other hand… fucking great stuff, I telll you. That bit is exactly what I wanted the movie woverall to be like… intense, suspenseful, bloody. So yeah, interesting overall plot with some mediocre pacing, and a pretty great final act.

The characters in ths movie aren’t the most interesting. The only truly interesting characters are the ones played by Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, and that’s mainly because you can tell that there’s something off about them, as well as their backstory being interesting. Though their backstory is not revealed until pretty late into it. But where the characters in the movie aren’t that interesting, it’s almost made up for by the performances, all of which are really good. Mia Wasikowska as Edith is great, Tom Hiddleston is great, Jessica Chastain is great, and even Charlie Hunnam is great… even though he shouldn’t attempt an American accent. Then we also get a few smaller supporting performances from Jim Beaver and Burn Gorman, both of which do really well in their roles. So okay, the characters are maybe not that interesting, but the acting in the movie is really good.

The original score was composed by Fernando Velázquez and I thought that it was really good. The score fit the movie perfectly, helping create the atmosphere that would be needed for each scene. Sure, it’s not the best score I’ve ever heard, but I really did think it was good and it worked very well for the movie.

This movie was directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and when it comes to him I can’t help but be excited for something new. He’s a fantastic director who has an eye for making some really creative and awesome stuff. From “Pan’s Labyrinth” to “Pacific Rim”, the man knows how to make a visually interesting film. And god damn it, he did it again! The sets, the directing, and the cinematography all look fucking fantastic! That is something you can always count on with Del Toro’s movies, the visuals will always be terrific. What I also really liked is that he set up a creepy atmosphere with his direction here. The movie isn’t really scary per se, but it definitely gave me some chills with it’s atmosphere. And I guess we have to talk about the ghosts that pop up every now and then. I think that they are visually interesting and look really cool. I’ve seen some behind the scenes stuff of how they did it and it’s practical makeup/prosthetics enhanced with CGI, which gives it a very great look. And of course, Doug Jones was the one under said makeup/prosthetics, just being creepy and stuff.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 71% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“Crimson Peak” isn’t really one of Del Toro’s best, but it’s also not a bad movie. It has a somewhat interesting plot, really good acting, really good music, fantastic directing and cinematography, fantastic sets, and a really good final act. However it is dragged down a bit by some occasionally mediocre pacing and the characters not being that interesting. Time for my final score. OOOOOO, SPOOOOOKYYYYYY. My final score for “Crimson Peak” is an 8,55/10. So I’d say that it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Crimson Peak” is now completed.

For the ladies (and possible men) out there, you do get some Hiddle-butt in this movie.

 

Movie Review: Ghost (1990)

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Does love transcend all? That is a question many people ask themselves. Can love for someone be the solitary reason for one’s survival/struggle? Intrepret the situation however the hell you want. Me? I don’t know, haven’t felt true love yet.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ghost”.

Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze, R.I.P) is a young man with a lot of things going for him. He’s doing well at his job as a banker, he lives with his true love Molly (Demi Moore) and they have a pretty big apartment. Unfortunately he gets murdered one evening. But he also comes back as a ghost and takes the help of a psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) to keep in touch with the world and help Molly from a terrible fate. I know my description sounds a bit off, but I am simply trying to explain it without really spoiling it. Anyway, I really liked the plot. I was a bit skeptic since it seemed like it might become a very melodramatic and sappy plot, but I actually enjoyed it a lot. It had a lot more depth than I thought it would. It also made me tear up at a spot. Let me put it like this, on the outside I shed a tear… but on the inside I cried like a little baby. Good job, “Ghost”.

The characters are interesting and entertaining, that’s the best way I can put it. Patrick Swayze was pretty great in this movie. As a big fan of him I have still been able to see that he hasn’t been that great of an actor, but here he was genuinely good. Demi Moore was pretty great in the movie as well, showing a lot of emotion and simply giving a great performance. Whoopi Goldberg was also really good, she actually gave a great performance in the movie (holy shit). Tony Goldwyn was also great, but I guess you can safely assume such a thing when Tarzan is in the house (Obscure references, ho!). Every actor was in fact great in the movie.

Leave it to Maurice Jarre to create a truly great score for a movie. If you don’t remember, he is the man who was the main composer for the movie “Fearless” which I love. And here he knocked it out of the park again. This score has a lot of emotion behind it, but it also manages to create tension whenever it needs to. It managed to capture all kind of musical feelings it could. He did a great job. I also like how they included the song “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers, it was really well done.

This movie was directed by Jerry Zucker who, HOLY SHIT HE DIRECTED “AIRPLANE”! That is a funny jump, from a hilarious and strange comedy to a love story featuring ghosts. Anyway, he did a great job directing this movie, nothing else to really say here. What I also enjoyed is the fact that this movie manage to capture pretty much every genre without it all feeling totally mish-mashed and terrible. It captures drama, comedy, fantasy, thriller, action… you name it. And I’m genuinely impressed by how well it actually managed to do it.

This movie has been pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie also won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg) and Best Original Screenplay. The movie was also nominated for an additional  3 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score. 

“Ghost” is a movie that surprised me on so many levels. Not only did I actually like the story, but I was even touched deeply by it. I also really enjoyed all the performances (which were great), the score was terrific with the inclusion of “Unchained Melody”, and the directing was good. I also enjoy how it actually made me laugh because of real humor. Time for my final score. BOO! My final score for “Ghost” is a 9,88/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“Ghost” is now reviewed.

I guess love does transcend all…