Movie Review: I Sell the Dead (2009)

Greetings, friends. It is time for more Month of Spooks content. Ain’t that exciting? Let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “I Sell the Dead”.

Grave robber Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) has been captured  by authorities, awaiting his end. And in his final hours he tells a priest (Ron Perlman) about the various crimes committed by him and his friend (Larry Fessenden). I like the story of “I Sell the Dead”, it’s a fun and breezy batch of stories that explore an oft neglected theme within horror (grave robbing). And while it gives us that gothic horror angle and an interesting exploration of it, it also gives us a lot of goofy humor, and it all somehow comes together beautifully and makes for one of the most fun and enjoyable narratives I’ve experienced in a while.

The characters in this are all weird, colorful, charming, and really interesting. I don’t know what to say about them without getting too much into spoilers, so I’ll just stick to surface level stuff. First I want to mention Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden as our two lead grave robbers. The two on their own are a lot of fun, but together they’re an absolute riot, with the actors sharing some fucking incredible chemistry. Ron Perlman’s a lot of fun as the priest taking Monaghan’s confessions. And throughout the movie we see supporting work from people like Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney, John Speredakos, Daniel Manche, Joel Marsh Garland, and more, all giving really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace (hell yeah), and I think he did a really good job with it. He uses a lot of strings and some woodwind to capture a really eerie vibe that adds to the gothic feel of the movie. But he also creates a fair bit of whimsical tracks for the more comedic scenes in the movie, and those tracks work really well too. Grace is a composer whose work I’ve enjoyed a good amount of times through the years, and this is honestly one of my favorite scores of his, it’s so good.

“I Sell the Dead” was written, directed, and edited by Glenn McQuaid, who I think did a really good job with it. McQuaid has this really fun and snappy style that I think really fits with the tone of the movie, complementing both the horror and comedy beautifully. This especially shines in his editing, which is incredibly fun. And yes, there are some hokey green screen/background effects at times, but I don’t mind, I think they add to the wacky charm of the movie. It’s good stuff.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

I kind of loved “I Sell the Dead”, it’s an insanely funny horror-comedy that I had fun with from start to end. It has a good story, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing/editing, and hilarious humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “I Sell the Dead” is a 9.87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “I Sell the Dead” is now completed.

Hellboy as a priest… huh.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

And so my series of reviews of Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies continues!

Ladies and gents… “Spider-Man 2”.

As Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) tries to balance college, work, and being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he runs into even more trouble when scientist Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) becomes the villainous Doc Ock. So now we have our sequel. It’s bigger, but does that make it better? Yes, very much so. It has a lot of themes to balance, and it manages to do that beautifully. At times it’s fun, at times it breaks the viewer’s heart, at times it’s uplifting. It takes all its various themes and creates a web (HA!) that is a perfect representation of Spider-Man and his adventures.

The characters are colorful, flawed, layered, fun, and overall just really interesting. Tobey Maguire reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Seeing his development throughout here is fascinating. Yes, you do get a lot of the charming awkwardness seen in the first movie, but you also get to see a lot of new sides to him that came forward after the events of the first movie, and from things that happen here. And Maguire is great in the role. Alfred Molina plays Otto Octavius, the brilliant scientist who becomes the villain of the story. He’s under constant conflict with himself throughout, making him quite a compelling character. And Molina is great in the role. Kirsten Dunst returns as Mary-Jane Watson, and she gets some decent development throughout. And Dunst is good in the role. James Franco returns as Harry Osborne, who also has some interesting character drama going on, with Franco giving a great performance. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons (still the best), Bill Nunn, Dylan Baker, Daniel Gillies, Donna Murphy, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first movie, the score was composed by Danny Elfman, and he somehow managed to one-up himself. The score here of course brings back a lot of the sweeping heroics of the first, while also adding in a lot of nice little touches that makes it stand out. Really, it’s amazing, one of the best scores of the time. And there’s the odd licensed track used throughout that works quite well too.

As with the first movie (and as mentioned in the opening of this review), this movie was directed by Sam Raimi, who (like Elfman) upped his game. His camptastic sense of energy makes a triumphant return, which makes it electrifying to watch, even in the “slower” scenes. It also adds a lot to the action scenes, which are a blast to watch, thanks to the energetic, visceral feel that Raimi gives to them. There’s one scene in particular that really encapsulates that, and if you’ve seen this movie, then you probably know which one I’m talking about. And to bring up something I mentioned in my previous “Spider-Man” review, the effects in this still hold up. The last one had a lot of rough stuff, but the ones in this one… still so good.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It also got an additional 2 nominations in the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

“Spider-Man 2” is a sequel that takes everything that was good about the first one, and improves on it significantly. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Spider-Man 2” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

Here’s a fun anecdote: As I was (re)watching this, I realized that I actually hadn’t seen this one before. My mind had tricked me into thinking that I had seen it before, when I hadn’t. It’s quite interesting.

Movie Review: Spider-Man (2002)

With “Spider-Man: Far From Home” getting released in July, I thought I would give the Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies a little rewatch/review. I mean, it’s been years since the last time I saw them, so now is a good a time as any to see if they hold up. So here we go with part 1.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man”.

After he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, high school student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) starts developing spider-like powers. And he soon has to put them to good use when a crazed villain (Willem Dafoe) starts terrorizing New York. We had gotten a few superhero origins before this, but this really set the standard for how it’s done. Even in movies later on, let’s say “Iron Man” as an example, trace amounts of this movie can be found in the way the origin is done there. So yeah, the plot here is handled well. Not saying it’s perfect. It does have a few minor pacing issues at points, but there’s nothing that completely ruins the experience for me. It is still mostly well paced, with plenty of nuance and a decent exploration of the “Great power, great responsibility” theme. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s emotional, it’s a good “Spider-Man” origin.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, layered, and overall interesting. Tobey Maguire plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He’s a little shy, a little awkward, but also clever, good-hearted, and a fairly relatable character. Seeing his journey from that dork that everyone picks on to a hero is quite fascinating. And Maguire is really good in the role. Kirsten Dunst plays Mary-Jane Watson, Peter’s neighbor and crush. A beautiful young woman with a bad home life, but a good heart. Seeing her and how she is affected by Peter’s life/she affects him is an interesting part of the whole story. And Dunst is really good in the role. Next we have Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. He’s something of a scientist and tries to develop tech that can help the military… but things go a little… awry. Seeing his duality throughout the movie is endlessly entertaining, and Dafoe is the perfect blend of intimidating, emotionally investing, and hammy in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, James Franco, J.K. Simmons (the best), and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, and I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s epic, emotional, sweeping, and balances heroics with smaller stuff, making for one of the most iconic and enjoyable scores in the last 20 years. Seriously still great.

As mentioned in the opening of this review, “Spider-Man” (based on the Marvel character created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko) was directed by Sam Raimi, and I think he did a great job with it. He has a unique sort of energy that makes the movie a whole lot of fun to watch. He also uses a lot of fun camera movements to give the movie a unique look that feels very much in line with the character of Spider-Man. This also translates to the action scenes, which are a lot of fun and are even surprisingly brutal at times. However, to add a negative into all this positivity, there are a lot of effects that don’t hold up. Those are CGI stuff that very much haven’t aged well. It’s not a total deal-breaker, but it is distracting enough to bring the score down a little bit.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. It got 2 Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

While there are aspects of it that has aged a fair bit, “Spider-Man” is still a damn fine superhero movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. What brings it down a bit for me are the occasional pacing issues and often wonky CGI effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man” is an 8,89/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Spider-Man” is now completed.

Two more to go. *thwip*.

12 Films of Christmas (Part 8)

Only a couple of days left until christmas, which means only a couple more of these left. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts so far, because I’ve had fun making them. Anyway, enough of that semi-sentimental crap, time to talk about a movie.

Today we’re not talking about your typical single-narrative movie, but rather an anthology. Today we are talking about “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”. The stories in this don’t really have anything in common other than being about christmas and starring various Disney characters. Other than that, the only thing stringing them together is some narration by Kelsey Grammer. That’s right, Frasier doing the typical whimsy and inspiring holiday movie narration… just the idea of that makes me laugh. But he does a good job of it. Anyhow, what are these about then.

The first story is about Huey, Dewey, and Louie (all voiced by Russi Taylor) being all excited about christmas, and at the end of the day making a wish about wanting christmas every day… and that wish comes true. Every consecutive day after that is now December 25th, with the same chain of events. As expected, they soon learn that this gets a bit dull after a while, which makes them try to shake things up and that’s all you get for plot. It’s a simple plot with a simple lesson. But there’s enough decent jokes and scenes here to keep you, or at least a child entertained. I think my favorite part about it might’ve been hearing the great Alan Young (may he rest in peace) as Scrooge. He doesn’t really get any great lines, but that voice just makes everything he says something amazing. The other cast members also do well and help make this a fun little story.

The second part is about Goofy (Bill Farmer) and his son Max (Shaun Fleming) waiting for Santa Claus and being really excited for his arrival. But their excitement gets halted a bit when Pete (Jim Cummings) tells Max that there is no Santa. And this is a good short. It features the typical Goofy humor (some great, some meh), and a surprising amount of heart. There are scenes that really tugged on my heartstrings, and really made me feel for the characters and their situations. The end of the story is a bit of a cop-out since it gives a definitive answer to the “is there a Santa Claus” question. I’d have preferred a bit more ambiguity in that sense, but this is still a good short. And admittedly it has a really good joke in there that made me laugh quite hard. Funny, heartfelt, charming, this is a good short.

The third and final short is a Disney version of “The Gift of the Magi”. In this we have Mickey (Wayne Allwine, R.I.P) and Minnie (Russi Taylor) wanting to buy each other something really special for christmas, but neither of them have any money. So they try to find some way to get these gifts for each other and I won’t spoil the rest. It’s a cute story with some heartfelt moments to it. It has some okay humor in it, and the drama did suck me in a little bit. Overall it is good.

“Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” is a fun and charming collection of shorts that may not bring much for an adult viewer, but it’s still fun and perfect for younger audience members. I’ll give it this: They have put a surprising amount of effort/money into this for a direct-to-video christmas thing. They didn’t have to do that, but they did, and we got some really good animation thanks to that. Really, this is good.

What are your thoughts on “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”? And who’s your favorite Disney character? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)

This is a bit of a bittersweet one. As I hav stated way too many times on this blog, I am a longtime fan of DC animation, and I love talking about it. However, today I talk about this movie with a little bit of sorrow behind my words. This was the last movie/show/thing where Adam West plays Batman. So that’s it. After this, we can no longer look forward to any further appearances from him. So here’s to you, Mr. West, you awesome man.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Batman vs. Two-Face”.

After a horrible accident leaves him disfigured, district attorney Harvey Dent (William Shatner) takes on the alter ego of Two-Face and then starts wreaking havoc on Gotham. So it’s up to Batman (Adam West, R.I.P) and Robin (Burt Ward) to get out there and stop Two-Face. So is this plot any good? Yeah. It isn’t just a straight forward “take the villain down” story, as it has some pretty interesting twists throughout, while still keeping it relatively simple and fun. What I also like about this plot is that it’s a lot more tonally consistent than the previous movie, “Return of the Caped Crusaders”. And while I liked this plot, it’s nothing special. It’s good, but ultimately kind of forgettable.

The characters here are fun and really interesting. As said in the intro of this review, this was the last appearance of Adam West (may he rest in peace) as the Caped Crusader. And while he sounds old, his voice still has a lot of energy to it, which makes it so much more enjoyable. And really, he’s good as Batman. Burt Ward returns s Robin and he still has the childlike naivety that made his Robin so enjoyable. And Ward is jsut really good as Robin. Julie Newmar returns as Catwoman. While not as energized in her performance as Adam West, she still clearly gives it her all and she manages to do a pretty good Catwoman (even if she does sound a bit on the older side). Then we have Steven Weber, reprising his role as Alfred from “Return of the Caped Crusaders”. And if I didn’t already know that it was Steven Weber voicing Alfred, I could never guess that it was him. So yeah, he’s great. Thomas Lennon returns s the voice of police chief O’Hara, and he’s fine. Let’s talk about the newcomer here, William Shatner as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Firstly, I really liked what they did with the character here, they really managed to reinvent him in a clever way for the Westian Bat-world. As Harvey Dent he just sounded like William Shatner being nice. But as Two-Face his voice was unrecognizable, downright sinister. So yeah, Shatner was great here. Then there are a bunch of supporting actors in here that I won’t go in-depth with because I don’t want to drag this out too much. But I can say that they were really good in their roles.

The score for the movie was composed by DC regulars Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, & Michael McCuistion. And it’s very jazzy and fun, fitting the 60s “Batman” series style perfectly. And admittedly I did enjoy just listening to it in general. So yeah, it’s really good.

Rick Morales who directed “Return of the Caped Crusaders” returned to direct this, and he did a good job. The directing/animation here flows very well and feels energized enough to never feel dull. There’s plenty of goofy and fun action stuff here. And since it’s animation they are allowed to do more crazy things than the 60s live action series, and they come up with some fun, fast, and exciting action scenes that still feel like they fit this goofy world.

Since this is a small direct to video movie, there’s not a lot of data on my usual sites. But on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,1/10.

“Batman vs. Two-Face” is a fun little movie and a great sendoff for Adam West. It has a good plot, great characters, really good performances, really good music, and solid directing/animation. My only flaw with it is that it’s not the most memorable in terms of plot… just kind of scoots by. Time for my final score. Holy review, Batman! My final score for “Batman vs. Two-Face” is an 8,76/10. While flawed, I’d say that it is worth buying.

My review of “Batman vs. Two-Face” is now completed.

Rest in peace, Mr. West. We miss you.