Series Review: Chernobyl (2019)

Usually I make some kind of cute remarks in these intros that relate to the thing I’m reviewing. But in this case I just can’t. There’s nothing clever I can say. So I guess we should just get into the review itself.

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… “Chernobyl”.

The Chernobyl power plant, Ukraine, April 1986. It’s in the middle of the night. The people working the plant notice something going awry. The core has exploded. So we follow in the aftermath of that, showing how it affects the people either working the plant or trying to stop it from getting worse. We also get to see how scientist Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) tries to figure out ways to fix it, while dealing with all the red tape of the Soviet government. So now we have our historical drama. And man, this is a fucking masterclass in storytelling. Sure, it doesn’t give you any major twists or turns, but it instead takes the relatively straightforward events and tells them in a very nuanced, respectful, and anxiety-inducing way. There isn’t a scene in this show that didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. It may not technically be listed as horror, but it sure as hell felt like it at times.

The characters in this all feel layered, flawed, nuanced, realistic, and overall very interesting. Jared Harris plays Valery Legasov, the scientist put in charge of trying to fix the whole conundrum of the Chernobyl explosion. He’s one of those people who tries to make sense of everything, but also gets frustrated when people won’t listen to him. And it’s interesting to see him go through the various issues he has to deal with in the series. And Harris is fantastic in the role. We also get performances from people like Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Jessie Buckley, Barry Keoghan, Con O’Neill, Paul Ritter, David Dencik, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “Chernobyl” was composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and it was fantastic. It’s dark, it’s eerie, it’s emotional, it’s anxiety-inducing… it’s exactly the kind of score that is befitting of the storytelling. So yeah, it fits quite well.

Based on the horrifying nuclear disaster in 1986, the show was created and written by Craig Mazin, with Johan Renck directing. And the craft behind this is stellar. The direction is always eerie, never letting up any of the suspense. It’s claustrophobic, but also intimate with its characters, really bringing you into their personal struggles. And the cinematography by Jakob Ihre is quite eerie too.

This show 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 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,7/10 and is ranked #1 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Chernobyl” isn’t a fun show… but it is quite fantastic. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Chernobyl” is a 9,94/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Chernobyl” is now completed.

You know what’s interesting? The guy who wrote this show also wrote the “Hangover” sequels and some of the later “Scary Movie” entries.

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Series Review: Barry – Season 2 (2019)

Reviewed season 1 a few weeks back (ahem ahem). So it’s reasonable to think that I should tackle the second season now that it too has come to a close. Well, here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Barry” season 2.

Set a few weeks after the events of the first season, we follow Barry (Bill Hader) as he tries to get on with his life as an aspiring actor, while the consequences of his previous actions start creeping up to haunt him. Season 1 took a concept that I wasn’t entirely sure about and managed to make something great out of it. So how would they follow that up? By upping their game tenfold. That’s right, the second season of “Barry” manages to take the dark, yet somewhat quirky ideas of the first season and elevate them in ways I didn’t think possible. It manages to be fun, heartbreaking, suspenseful, exciting, and just overall a damn concise season of television. Great stuff.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, colorful, fun, and overall just really interesting. Bill Hader of course returns as the titular hitman-turned-actor. In this season we get to see a lot of his old demons come up. Combined with a lot of his more current issues, and it gives him a lot of really engaging character development. And Hader is fantastic in the role. Sarah Goldberg returns as Sally, Barry’s girlfriend and acting partner. She goes through a bit of personal conflict throughout the season, and it’s quite engaging. And Goldberg is great in the role. And we get supporting work from people like Henry Winkler, Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, John Pirrucello, Michael Irby, Patricia Fa’asua, Daniel Bernhardt, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the music was composed by David Wingo, and it’s great. Suspense-building, emotional, dramatic, and just overall well composed, working well for the various scenes it’s found in. There’s also the occasional licensed track here and there, and they work alright in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, with those two writing most of the episodes. And the craft here is pretty spectacular. Not only did they up their game in terms of storytelling, but they also went all in when it came to direction and cinematography as well. The first season wasn’t bad in that regard, but there’s a notable leap here, created a visually arresting show that also keeps the viewer on edge throughout most of the runtime.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

Season 1 of “Barry” was great. And somehow, season 2 is even better. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Barry” is a 9,94/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Barry” season 2 is now completed.

Crazy motherfuckers somehow did it.

Series Review: Barry – Season 1 (2018)

Don’t kill people. It’s bad. I mean, for most of us, that goes without saying, but some people don’t have that as their default setting. Killing, bad. Okay, let’s talk tv.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Barry” season 1.

Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) is a former Marine who’s been working as a hitman for years. However, while hired to do a job in Los Angeles, he finds himself drawn to a local acting class. And we follow him as he tries to lead this double life as both a hitman and a shitty actor. And I know what you’re thinking, because I too thought so when I heard about it. This sounds like something right out of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, and like it wouldn’t work as a full series. But god damn it, this show proved me fucking wrong. “Barry” is one of the most uniquely compelling shows in recent years. It’s a serious story within a comedic premise, deftly blending a dark crime-drama with its funny setup, surprising me at every turn with how good the storytelling is.

The characters in this show are unique, colorful, fun, layered, and really interesting. Bill Hader plays Barry, the titular hitman (hitular? titman?) who finds a new hobby in life. He’s a guy who’s been through a lot of shit, and seeing how that affects his actions throughout the show is really engaging. And Bill Hader is fantastic in the role, showing that he’s not only hilarious, but also an excellent dramatic performer. We also get supporting work from people like Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Goldberg, Henry Winkler, John Pirrucello, Paula Newsome, D’Arcy Carden, Glenn Fleshler, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by David Wingo, and it’s pretty great. It’s sometimes droning, and sometimes on synths, it helps create an uneasy and emotionally investing mood that helps elevate the already excellent storytelling. And the occasional use of licensed music works quite well too.

“Barry” was created for HBO by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, with them handling writing for most of the episodes, with Hader even directing a few episodes. And the craft here is really solid. The camerawork is methodical, feeling more like a high-budget thriller than a comedy. And this does add a lot to the show, giving it a tension-filled edge that makes it stand out. And as this show is still technically a comedy, I should briefly talk about the humor, right? Well, here we go… it’s funny. Sometimes silly, sometimes dark, sometimes mildly satirical, I laughed at it all.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

Season 1 of “Barry” took all my expectations, shot them in the head, and threw them in a ditch and showed just how fucking good it is. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Barry” is a 9,91/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Barry” season 1 is now done.

If “Barry” is a taco, then the shell is made of comedy, and the filling is made out of drama. Shut up, my metaphors are great.

Movie Review: You Don’t Know Jack (2010)

Oh dear. How do I make a fun intro to this? I mean, I don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t because of the heavy subject matter… but I like making fun intros. What a dilemma.

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… “You Don’t Know Jack”.

The story follows Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), a highly controversial doctor. Why is he controversial? Because he advocates (and leads) for the service of assisted suicide for the terminally ill or severely disabled who no longer want to suffer. So the story is about Kevorkian helping his patients while also fighting the legal battle to have what he’s doing be legal… I told you the themes in this were heavy. But in presentation they’re not overbearingly heavy to just make you depressed every minute of the movie. Not saying that it’s exactly a lighthearted movie, but it knows how to find a tone that emphasizes the drama while keeping it relatively easy to watch. And yeah, the plot here has a lo of nuance and balances tone very well, but it also has some trouble with pacing. I get it, Kevorkian had a long career, and this isn’t a fast-paced action movie, but there are times when the pacing drags a bit. It doesn’t ruin the plot, but it does pull it down a bit in my book. Still, the plot here is good.

The characters in this are colorful, layered, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian, the man at the center of the story advocating for assisted suicide. He’s a passionate and highly determined man, doing everything in his power to let people (as he puts it) have the choice to suffer or not. He’s also kinda quirky, but it never clashes with his dramatic struggle, as it shows that there’s many sides to him (like with most people). And Pacino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Cotter Smith, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

There wasn’t a lot of music composed for this movie, but the little there is was done by Marcelo Zarvos, and the music was good… not much else I can say there. The use of licensed music worked pretty well in the movie too. Yeah, not much else can be said.

Based on the life of actual doctor Jack Kevorkian, this movie was written by Adam Mazer, and directed by Barry Levinson. And their work together was really good. Admittedly the camerawork leaves a little to be desired, as the tv movie constraints really show at times here. But the overall direction here is still good, getting close and intimate with the characters and their struggles in a wonderful way.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

While not perfect, “You Don’t Know Jack” is still a really engrossing movie that should spark some interesting discussion. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and good writing/directing. As previously stated, it does suffer a bit in pacing and camerawork (but nothing major). Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “You Don’t Know Jack” is an 8,82/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “You Don’t Know Jack” is now completed.

I have nothing that’s really related to the movie to end on, so let’s just share one of the most profound quotes of all time. “Hoo-ah” – Al Pacino.

Series Review: Westworld – Season 1 (2016)

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It is no secret at this point that I love westerns, I’ve stated it a few too many times on this blog… and on twitter… and in real life. So I always get a bit excited when a new western gets announced. Movie, TV show… doesn’t matter, just give me a western.

Sirs and ma’ams, welcome to… “Westworld”.

Welcome to “Westworld” (roll credits), a giant theme park made to resemble the old west. This park is filled artificial beings called “hosts”, and if you’re in the park you can practically do whatever you want to them. Kill, beat up, fuck… any of it. And everything it seems to be going pretty well here. However, things soon seem to be going a little bit haywire. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that because there’s a lot of things going on here and I don’t really wana spoil any of it. But I will say that the plot is intriguing, dramatic, and overall really entertaining. And it gets even deeper and more mind-blowing as the season goes on. And I fucking loved it.

The characters in this show are all very interesting and get more and more layers as the season went on. And the actors they got for the show portrayed it all very well. To try to stay as spoiler-free as possible I’m just gonna list some of the main players in the show because they were all great and talking more in depth about them might acidentally spoil some stuff. But we did get some great acting from Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Jimmi Simpson, Ben Barnes, Luke Hemsworth, Rodrigo Santoro, and Angela Sarafyan… among a fuckload of other actors that did great work here!

The music in the show was composed by Ramin Djawadi and he gave us some pretty damn great tracks, The main theme is of course a standout for me, it is absolutely fantastic. And the rest of his original tunes were pretty damn great too. Exciting, hanting, and dramatic are just a few of the words I’d use to describe it. What I also kind of enjoyed is that there were some musical covers in the show that I didn’t expect. I’m not gonna say what they are, but you will most likely go “Hey, I know that song!” when you hear it. I know I did.

This show was brought to us by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (Nolan’s wife), and was co-produced by J.J. Abrams. And what they have given us here is pretty great. The writing is superb and the directing is just as great. The shots look fantastic and scenes flow very well. And whenever there’s a bit of action it is exciting and badass. I also wanna add that this is an HBO series, so expect lots of violence and nudity. If you have a problem with those things then you might not have a great time with this show. Though I’m sure most people that read my blog aren’t really wimps like that. Also, fun fact: This show is based on an old movie that was written and directed by Michael Crichton (the brain behind “Jurassic Park”).

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100.  And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,2/10 and is ranked #16 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

All I can say is that “Westworld” is a fucking amazing show. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great writing, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!* My final score for “Westworld” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Westworld” season 1 is now completed.

Wait… HOW LONG UNTIL SEASON 2!? 2018!?