Movie Review: The Godfather Part II (1974)

I recently ran a poll on my twitter page where I asked which of four classics that I hadn’t seen yet people waned to see a review of. And at the end of it, this movie came out victorious. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part II”.

We follow Michael (Al Pacino), the new head of the Corleone family as he ascends within the crime world, trying to hold on to his empire and his family. And throughout the movie we also get flashbacks to a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), from his arrival in New York during his childhood, to him rising in the mob world as an adult. What I liked about the first “Godfather” movie, and also this is that while it has this sweeping and epic gangster story, it also focuses on the smaller family drama, which gives it a lot more nuance. Yes, it is a very long movie (3 hours, 10 minutes), but it needs that runtime to be able to tell this big and impressive story. Emotional, suspenseful, intriguing, and well written, the plot in this movie is great.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, the current head of the Corleone family. In this movie we see a very conflicted Michael as he has to become the new Godfather, while being pulled in the “legitimate” direction by his wife. And it makes for an interesting character study. And Pacino is fantastic in the role. Then we have Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone. He’s a quiet man with a lot of emotion built up inside of him after some stuff that happened in his past. And it’s interesting to see him go through everything he goes through. And De Niro is fantastic in the role. Diane Keaton returns as Kay, the wife of Michael. She goes through some stuff in this movie, and seeing her try to deal with the shit that comes from her husband’s mob-life is quite fascinating and heartbreaking. And Keaton is of course great in the role. Then we have John Cazale (R.I.P) as Fredo, Michael’s older brother. In this movie you see that he’s a bit of a spineless man who does love his family, but some of his own agendas seem to come first, and it makes him an interesting foil for the other characters. And Cazale is great in the role. And in further returning roles we see people like Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, Richard Bright, Gianni Russo, and Morgana King (among others), all doing very well in their roles. Then we also got some new comers like Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Bruno Kirby, and many more. They also do very well in their respective roles. ’tis a very well acted movie.

The music for the movie was composed by Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola, and it’s fantastic. It’s a sweeping and emotional score that fits the world perfectly and helps elevate the scenes to the next level. What I also liked is that it’s not just super serious string tracks, but there are also a couple of more fun tracks for a few moments throughout the movie, and I think that works quite well. Yeah, the music’s great.

Like with the first movie, “Part II” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (with some writing help from Mario Puzo), and once again he knocked it out of the park. His direction captures the sweeping nature of the crime syndicate plot, while also managing to really elevate and engage during the smaller family drama scenes. I really don’t think anyone could have captured it as well as Coppola.

This movie has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,0/10 and is ranked #3 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (De Niro), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best set decoration, and Best original score. The movie was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Pacino), Best supporting actor (Gazzo), Best supporting actor (Strasberg), Best supporting actress (Shire), and Best costume design. Fuck, that’s a lot of awards and nominations.

Does “The Godfather Part II” live up to the hype? For me, it does. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part II” is a 9,85/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Godfather Part II” is now completed.

And for those wondering, I do prefer the first one.

Movie Review: Alien (1979)

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As October is coming to a close, so does “The Month of Spooks”. That’s right, this will be the final review for “The Month of Spooks” and that is why I started it in such a cliché way. And I thought therefore that the final review would be for one of the first horror movies I ever saw and hell, it’s even one of the first that I ever enjoyed. But do I still like it after a few years of not seeing it. So we are ending the series of horror reviews in a pretty big way.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big hand to… “Alien”.

So in the movie “Alien” we follow the crew of a giant cargo ship called the Nostromo as they receive a distress call from a seemingly unexplored planet. But after their search for survivors come up with jack shit… sort of. When they return to the ship and plan to leave they learn that some strange biological life form has come aboard and wants to murder them all. So it’s a fight for survival as they try to get home and make sure to not be killed by this Alien. The concept is pretty simple, it’s kind of like “Jaws” but with a scary fucking space alien in a close quarters environment instead of a shark in the ocean. And how is it executed? Saying that it was done well would such an understatement. The story not only is presented in a well told way, but is is also suspenseful and scary. The reason this all works so well is that they keep it very confined and doesn’t stretch it out too far into something that it isn’t. I also like how it explores a very realistic science fiction universe. And the entire way the suspense is real and the scary bits are least said terrifying. Great job, plot of “Alien”!

Since this basically is a monster movie, you expect that the majority of the characters will die at some point. The interesting part is though that you don’t want them to bite the dust in this movie. Yeah, these characters aren’t just tasty snacks for the alien in the movie, but they all feel like actual people who you care about, even if they at times are dicks. And the acting is really good in the movie, and it’s great to see that there are so many well known actors here. Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt… we got a great selection of people here. And they all perfectly nail it in the movie!

The score for the movie is about as tense as the story. Yes, I think it’s pretty damn great. It got a lot of subtle tracks which sort of just lie in the background as ambient noise, but then we also got a lot of the tense and action-y tracks which made my heart race. And who do we have to thank for all of this? The combined forces of Jerry Goldsmith and Lionel Newman, that’s who!

This movie is almost 40 years old and the visual effects still hold up brilliantly. And the overall directing is pretty damn fantastic as well, all perfectly orchestrated by Ridley Scott who despite some failures, is one of the greatest directors ever. And of course we have to give some awkward and creeped out love to H.R. Giger who designed the alien in the movie, it is scary and will live on forever as one of the coolest monsters ever. And the sets all look fantastic and oh my god, everything in the technical department is just amazing in this movie! I’m sorry, I can’t help but praise the praise-worthy stuff in this movie, it’s just great in that sense.

This movie has gotten some pretty great reception over the years. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and has it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,5/10 and is ranked #52 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for 1 additional Oscar in the category of Best set decoration. 

Guys, “Alien” is one of the first horror movies I remember seeing and actually enjoying. And that memory is now justified with a tense, scary, well acted, perfectly directed movie that also has great sets, visual effects and music. Time for my final score. *Hiss*. My final score for “Alien” is a 9,88/10. It most certainly, without a single doubt gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“Alien” has now been reviewed.

In Space, no one can hear you scream…

Movie Review: Escape from New York (1981)

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Raise your hand if you like 1980’s/1990’s action. Okay, now let’s all sit down and relax… good. And while you sit down and relax, let me review a 1980’s action movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Escape from New York”.

The year is 1997 (Hey, the year I was born!) and the USA has gone to shit. Because of ultra high crime-rates, the entire city of New York has been turned into a maximum security prison. Then one night, the US president (Donald Pleasence) crashes into the giant city and gets captured by crazy people. So then a police chief named Hauk (Lee Van Cleef, R.I.P) decides to send in criminal & manly-man Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) into the city to go in and save the president. The idea I personally think is great, turning a familiar environment into a hostile and dark place for the sake of entertainment… genius. Problem is that for some reason I never really felt invested in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea and the pacing was very good, but I jsut didn’t feel that invested into it. So let me put it like this, the plot was good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should’ve.

The characters in the movie are colorful, entertaining and Kurt Russell decided to try to do his best Clint Eastwood impression. And you know what? All those factors come together so well that I can’t really criticize it. Sure, it’s cheesy but it is also incredibly fun and entertaining. Kurt Russell in this movie is really good in this movie as the macho manly-man Snake Plissken. Is he cheesy with the Clint Eastwood voice? Yes, but I still enjoyed it a lot. And I can’t help it, whenever I see Lee Van Cleef on screen in a movie I just have to smile… I love that guy. And Ernest Borgnine is a million flavors of fun in this movie as well. Every character in this movie is entertaining and every actor does a great job.

Fun fact: the score for the movie was done by none other than the director, John Carpenter. And it is the typical synth-based sci-fi/thriller soundtrack that you would maybe expect at the time. Not that it’s a bad thing, I did rather enjoy the music in the movie. It fit in very well and was used to really good effect.

Like I said, this movie was directed by John Carpenter who delivered a very well-directed and tense style to the movie. However I feel like the movie could be a little brighter because a large amount of the time it was difficult to see. I’m not saying that it should be really bright and happy and colorful and such, I am just asking for it to be a little brighter so I can see the action going on. That is anotehr thing, the action… it’s fine. Nothing special, it’s fine action.

This movie has been pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist. Roger Ebert never made a review of it. But it does exist on imdb.com at least and has a score of 7,2/10. Weird, the movie only exists on two of my regular sites…

“Escape from New York” is a decent action movie with a pretty good plot even though I wasn’t very invested in it, it had fun characters, good music and good direction despite being a bit too dark. Time for my final score. *Cough* My final score for “Escape from New York” is an 8,88/10. It is worth buying.
Worth buying

Review of “Escape from New York” is completed.

If you look closely at the plot, you’ll notice that this movie definitely inspired parts of the game “Batman: Arkham City”.

Movie Review: The Green Mile (1999)

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Stephen King is one of those authors that writes stuff the majority of people who read it like. Personally I am a big fan of his “Dark Tower” series. Most people know King for his horror novels like “The Shining”, “It” and “The Monkey”. What some people maybe didn’t know is the fact that he also writes drama…yeah. Does “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” sound familiar? Well if it doesn’t, then you have missed out on the thick words there and with that, something great. But today we are taking a look at another one of his dramas, in movie format.

Ladies and gentlemen, the most voted movie in my poll…”The Green Mile”!

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is a guard on death row. More specifically he is a guard at the death row called “The Green Mile” (Roll credits). He works there with his colleagues Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). They have a bunch of different criminals in there. But one day they get a special new addition to the group of criminals in there…a huge black man named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan, R.I.P) who was arrested for the (this is not fun to say) rape and murder of two young girls. Sounds like a scary guy huh? But when he walks in he acts like the biggest softy ever (Scared of the dark, very polite and doesn’t seem like a troublemaker at all). Soon after, Paul and crew will find out that this man has a mysterious “gift”. Now that is all I can say about the plot without going into too many spoilers. Now, like most Stephen King stories, this is incredibly complex. And for you people out there who think complex only means “Mindfuck”…you’re wrong. For a story to be, all it needs are several layers…not necessarily mindfucking. And with that I have to say that “The Green Mile” succeeds with it’s multi-layered story and general well done execution. Not only is it a good story on paper, it is also really well done. But that is something director Frank Darabont is really good at (See “Shawshank Redemption”). With an original plot by Stephen King, an adapted screenplay and direction by Frank Darabont, the story comes together nicely.

The characters in this movie have more layers to them than a wedding cake. Not only are they incredibly well-written, but the actors are fantastic! I was especially impressed by Michael Clarke Duncan…that dude did a fantastic job in this movie. I was also happily surprised to see Barry Pepper in a really good role (considering he would do the worst movie I’ve ever seen one year later). One thing when it comes to the actors really surprised me. One of the inmates at the place was played by Sam Fucking Rockwell…wow. I am a big fan of his, so seeing him in this movie (pulling off a fantastic performance). You really thought he was this psycho hillbilly. So in general, characters have many layers and the actors are fantastic.

The music…oh my fucking god, the music. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman is fantastic. I am really surprised it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. It is your typical oschestral/beautiful drama soundtrack…but that is why it is as fantastic as it is. It is your typical thing…but it is so well done that I don’t mind. It is as I always say…the idea can be as generic as it can get, as long as it is executed in a really good way.

The camera work…nothing special there. It is good, nothing more. I can also mention that this movie left me crying. If a movie can make me cry…good job you bastards (who worked on the movie), you won! Also, did I mention Sam Rockwell was in this movie? What? I did? Oh well, rather one time too much than one time too few. I was also very surprised how funny it got at a few point in the movie…good job Frank Darabont, your comedy in your drama doesn’t feel forced. Might also be good to mention that it is three hours long…so prepare.

Time for the reception of this little movie. Let’s see here…we have an 80% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic is by far the lowest with a score of 61/100 (damn). Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars, and I quote

The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.

This movie has a score of 8,5 on imdb.com and is ranked #46 on the Top 250 list (as of this review). The movie was also nominated for 4 Oscars. Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best adapted screenplay, Best sound.

This movie has a lot of depth in it’s story, the actors are fantastic, the music in fantastic, the camera work is good and it has Sam Rockwell (Okay, I’m done with that now). The only thing dragging the score down a bit is the knowledge of this movie being three hours long…even though it only feels like two and a half. But it also gets a pat on the back for making me leave it with tears in my eyes. And now I am ready to give this movie my final score. “The Green Mile” gets a score of 9,72/10 which not only requires you to add it to your collection, but also gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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Review of “The Green Mile” is completed.

I should probably go find the book somewhere. Also, R.I.P Michael Clarke Duncan.

Movie Review: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

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Just so you all know…I love dark comedies. They offer something different. Not your typical sitcom type of humor but something that goes even further. Dark comedy often go on the edge of “sick” or “fucking weird”. And that is kind of why I love that stuff. It often makes me laugh in a way that is neither over-the-top nor sarcastic. These movies are different and that is why I love them. If you remember, I reviewed the movie “In Bruges”. Well that director made another movie…this is that one.

My fellow psychopaths…”Seven Psychopaths”.

Screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) is struggling. His problem is that he can’t figure out what type of psychopaths he want for his screenplay/movie “Seven Psychopaths” (Roll credits). His girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish) leaves him and his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) steals mobster Charlie’s (Woody Harrelson) dog. So basically Marty and his new friend Hans (Christopher Walken) gets dragged into Billy’s shit. And through the movie we see how Marty works his script back and forth and what types of psychopaths are in this. Now I am not gonna say more because this story, while simple, is highly entertaining. I am not kidding, you need to go into this movie for the most part blind to get the most enjoyment out of it. Kinda like me. But this movie got some of the most fun things I have ever experienced in the movie. But it is not only funny but also got a few tragic moments here and there. And that mix is something Martin McDonagh is a professional at. Don’t believe me? Go watch “In Bruges” and then come back! But this is still awesome. May not be the most advanced and deep of stories…but it is not always the concept that is the most important…it is the execution. And the execution for “Seven Psychopaths” is fantastic.

Now the characters…they are fucking awesome. Incredibly well-written, incredibly well-acted and just plain hilarious. Sure, some are tragic…but still well-written. The characters are basically the glue of this movie…and the casting of the actors. And I can happily say that everything on that aspect worked out perfectly. Especially Sam Rockwell, I mean, damn! He really stole the show here (Take note I haven’t seen “Moon”). The casting for everyone was fantastic and couldn’t have been better. It jsut kinda felt weird that Woody Harrelson wasn’t as much of a weirdo as I expected him to be…but I am not disappointed. This movie had chracters that I just loved.

The music was really good. It was based as far as I know only on licensed tracks. But these tracks were really good. I have no complaints on them. Moving on!

Like I said before…this movie is really funny. I think I laughed more to this than most comedy-comedies out there…and this is a dark-crime-comedy. And msot of these laughs I have to be honest came from Sam Rockwell…that guy just fucking rocked this movie and stole every scene…not kidding.

The reception for “Seven Psychopaths” has been overall good. Rotten Tomatoes has the score of 83% positive reviews and it has gotten a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic holds the lowest score for this movie out of the big review aggitators with a wopping 66/100. Roger Ebert gave this movie 3,5/4 stars saying something like

“Walken sometimes leans toward self-parody, but here his performance has a delicate, contained strangeness. All of the actors are good, and Farrell wisely allows the showier performances to circle around him. Like any screenwriter — like Tarantino, for example, who is possibly McDonagh’s inspiration here — he brings these people into being and stands back in amazement.”

And finally imdb.com has the score of 7,2/10.

I have given this movie a lot of credit…for good reasons. This movie is awesome. I am giving this movie a score of 9,72/10 and the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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It is hilarious, it got some tragic moments and some really great performances. This movie is really great.

“Seven Psychopaths” is now reviewed.

Four, five six, wait…where is number seve…OH SHIT!