Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 1 (1997)

Oh hello there. So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this show. Well, frankly, it’s because I’ve been a fan of it for quite a while, but it’s been years since I actually properly watched it. So my mother and I recently sat ourselves down with the DVD box set and started a rewatch. And that made me think “Hey, maybe I could talk about each season on my blog as we get through them”. So that’s what we’re gonna do for however many months this’ll take. I’ve been looking for a long-term thing to do on this blog (like the Mangoldathon I did in 2017), so this might be a decent one for now. Anyhow, let’s get on with it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1.

After she gets kicked out of her old school, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) moves to a small town called Sunnydale to start over. However, things aren’t just classes, boys, and parties, as the town lies upon an ancient secret called the Hellmouth, which brings all kinds of demonic bullshit to the area. And since Buffy is the Slayer, a young woman chosen to fight off demons, it is up to her, with the help of her new mentor (Anthony Head) and friends (Nichols Brendon, Alyson Hannigan) to deal with any demonic threats terrorizing Sunnydale, including the sinister vampire lord known as the Master (Mark Metcalf). The story here is a weird roller coaster. When it focuses on main stuff regarding Buffy’s development as a Slayer, and the Master’s plan to take over the world, it can be quite interesting, as the creators put their own unique spin on vampire mythology that still honors the traditions set by older adaptations. But then there’s also a fair bit of filler throughout, which is very hit-and-miss. From the really dumb “I, Robot, You, Jane” to the surprisingly high concept “Nightmares”, you can feel that they hadn’t quite found their footing/voice yet. This does not dismiss the entire season as outright bad though, despite its tonal and stylistic inconsistencies. It just means the road is rocky, but is filled with enjoyable and sometimes even compelling highlights (see the aforementioned “Nightmares”). So overall the story stuff here is… fine.

Where the plot may falter at times, the characters make up for it thanks to being interesting and entertaining. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Buffy, the titular teenage vampire slayer. Like every girl her age, she doesn’t want all this responsibility of having to save the world, but is of course begrudgingly drawn into it because it’s the right thing to do, and she’s a good person and all that. And seeing her duty vs. desire sides clash creates some interesting dynamics for her. And Gellar is really good in the role. Nicholas Brendon plays Xander, one of Buffy’s new friends. He’s a bit of a dork, but also knows when to stand up for those that need it. He gets a tiny bit of development this season, but not enough to make him as good as he could be, though he is still an enjoyable presence who I wouldn’t trade for anything. And Brendon is really good in the role. Next we have Alyson Hannigan as Willow, Buffy’s other friend. A shy, slightly timid nerd, she’s the brains of the main trio, but it’s also clear that she has a tougher side to her somewhere deep down. And Hannigan is really good in the role. Anthony Head as Giles, the mentor/Watcher is great, bringing a sort of father figure presence to the group. Charisma Carpenter plays a mean girl at the school, and she kills it in that role. Mark Metcalf is deliciously villainous and campy as the evil Master. And there’s a lot of other supporting characters/actors I could talk about, but I won’t, but they’re all good.

The score for the season was composed by Walter Murphy, and I know the show at this point ran on a ham sandwich budget, but jeez Louise, it sounds bad. Not like “Resident Evil” director’s cut bad, but it’s not great. They have fun ideas for some action/horror tunes throughout, but due to its weird synth-pretending-to-be-orchestra sound, it often falters. But then we also get a few piano-based pieces throughout, and those sound great. So I’m weirdly split on it, because parts sound less than stellar, and others sound really good. Oh, and the main theme by rock band Nerf Herder is pretty good too.

Based on the movie of the same name, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was created for the WB network by Joss Whedon, who also wrote and directed some of the episodes, with some help on other episodes by other cool people. And here’s where I have a lot of praise for the show. It’s pretty well known that season 1 of “Buffy” was running on a ham sandwich budget, which can often break a lot of shows. But the crew really push every penny to its absolute god damn limit. Yes, some of the effects look a bit… not great, but for the most part the crew does wonders with the few means they have of creating monsters, eerie sets, and vampire slaying tools. There’s even some decent shot composition every now and then.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

While it’s a little rocky throughout, season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a solid start to the show. It has an okay plot, really good characters, great performances, meh music, and good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 7,80/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

Nice to have another blog series going.

Movie Review: Booksmart (2019)

And now we enter the part of the year where I make an attempt at catching up on flicks from earlier in the year. So here we go.

Ladies and gents, are you street smart, or are you… “Booksmart”.

All through high school, best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) have been all about getting good grades. But on the night before graduation, they realize that they could’ve taken time to have a bit of fun too, so they make an attempt at compensating for that on this night. So now we have our coming-of-age comedy setup. And I really enjoyed the plot here. It’s fast-paced, it’s fun, and it manages to balance its tone perfectly. For the most part it is this fairly raunchy comedy, but there are times where it’s also willing to slow down and let its characters breathe a bit, adding some much welcome nuance that you don’t see too often in these kinds of movies.

The characters in “Booksmart” are colorful, flawed, fun, and fairly interesting. Amy and Molly. Best friends. Charming. Slightly awkward. Literature clever. I loved following them, they were really enjoyable protagonists that get a decent amount of development, without losing what made them appealing in the first place. And the performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are great. And while I won’t get in-depth with too many more characters, I will say that there’s a character here, played by Billie Lourd, who is an absolute scene stealer. But we do also get some supporting work from people like Jason Sudeikis, Skyler Gisondo, Jessica Williams, Victoria Ruesga, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music in this, while not necessarily my cup of tea, worked well throughout. There’s plenty of licensed, contemporary music. The kind that youths of today would listen to… probably. “Youths of today”, Jesus shitting Christ, I’m sounding like an old man. My age dysphoria aside, this music works well enough for the movie.

“Booksmart” is the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, and I think she did a really good job with it. A lot of these kinds of movies often run on what I call the “Press record on the camera” style of filmmaking, which means that the movies look bland as shit, having little to no visual effort put in. And while I wouldn’t say this is one of the most well shot movies of all time, the fact that there’s actual effort put into direction and camerawork in this movie  adds so much. And since this is a comedy, let’s talk about the humor. Is it funny? Yeah, I’d say so. It’s often quite raunchy, but not just in a “someone said a sex thing” kind of raunch, but in a lot of surprisingly clever ways. It makes for humor that is both raunchy and funny at the same time, which fits in perfectly with the overall snappiness of the dialogue.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Booksmart” is one of the better comedies in recent years. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, pretty good music, and really good directing. Time for my final *Ahem*. My final score for “Booksmart” is a 9,56/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Booksmart” is now completed.

Well done, Olivia Wilde. Solid debut.

Movie Review: Brick (2006)

With the recent commercial success of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, I thought it was time for me to go back and have a look at Rian Johnson’s directorial debut. Before lightsabers, before time travel, before cooking meth with Walter White… it’s the very beginning of his film career.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Brick”.

After his ex-girlfriend disappears, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) pushes himself into an underworld high school crime ring, so he can investigate and find out what the hell actually happened to her. So now we have our movie. And the plot here is pretty good. It pays a lot of homage to classic noir, having a densely written plot that has a good amount of twists and turns. And I was for the most part intrigued by it all. My flaw with it is that there were parts where the pacing maybe dragged a little. I get that noir movies do that, but there’s a difference between intriguingly slow-paced and just slowly slow-paced. There are honestly moments where it got a little boring. But for the most part I found the plot to be an interesting mystery. It’s pretty good.

To be quite honest, I didn’t fully engage with all of the characters here. I only really felt like I was engaged with one character, and the other ones just were there, being part of the story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Brendan, the young man at the center of this story. He is a bit of a loner, but he’s also clever and a bit of a smart-ass. And I found his character to be quite interesting. And Gordon-Levitt was great in the role. As for the other characters, I didn’t find them engaging (as I mentioned before). But I didn’t dislike them either, as I still found them entertaining in some way. And all the performances from people like Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner, Noah Fleiss, Matt O’Leary, Richard Roundtree, and Meagan Good were all solid.

The score for the movie was composed by Nathan Johnson and it was really good. It’s weird and often hearkens back to classic film noir scores, without totally ripping off those older scores. It has a unique sound that elevates the movie and often adds a weird sense of unease to the movie.

As I alluded to in the beginning of this review, “Brick” was written and directed by Rian Johnson. And for a low budget directorial debut, I think he did a damn fine job here. It’s nicely framed and everything has a nice flow to it. his direction also has a bit of a dreamlike quality to it, making the situations portrayed on screen feel a bit more tense and uneasy. This was an early sign of Johnson’s talent as a director. Steve Yedlin’s cinematography is also quite good.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

Rian Johnson’s “Brick” is a really good movie and showed audiences that this man is talented. It has a pretty good plot, okay-ish characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. But as previously mentioned, there are some pacing issues, and I didn’t feel engaged with several of the characters. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Brick” is an 8,60/10. So while it is flawed, I’d still say that it is worth buying.

My review of “Brick” is now completed.

Do you reckon we could build a house using this movie?

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, rebooted often like no one can. Now with Marvel, he tries again. And have to fight the Batman. Look out… here comes the Reboot-Man.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.

Set two months after “Civil War”, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back in New York, just trying to live his double life as a high school student and as Spider-Man. He also wants to prove himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to show that he too can be an Avenger. And as Peter is dealing with school, romance, and helping the community out as Spidey, a villain not called The Vulture (Michael Keaton) starts making a lot of trouble. And Peter sees this as the opportunity to really prove himself to Tony. So now we have our coming-of-age superhero movie. And I thought the plot here was great. You not only have the fast-paced parts of Spidey trying to figure who this Birdman (HA!) is and how he could stop him, but you also have slower moments developing the story of Peter Parker and how he deals with everything in his life. And I thought this was all really well handled. I felt invested in the plot, it really managed to have a good blend of superhero adventure and a John Hughes-ish coming-of-age dramedy. It was great.

The characters in this are fun, entertaining, and really interesting. Tom Holland showed in “Civil War” that he could be a really good Spidey (and Peter Parker), but his screen time was limited. Now that he has a full movie he really got the opportunity to show what he could do, and it paid off. Holland is fantastic as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, showing both the relatable and dorky side known as Peter Parker, and the fun/cool hero that is Spider-Man. He does the one thing the two previous actors couldn’t: Perfectly portray both sides of the character. Michael Keaton as The Vulture was great. Usually the MCU has villains that are passable at best, but they really managed to make him interesting. They give him a backstory and some understandable motivation which just makes him so much more interesting than most of teh generic MCU villains. And Michael Keaton is fantastic in the role. Jacob Batalon plays Peter’s best friend Ned in this movie and he’s funny and charming. And Batalon is really good in the role, sharing some great chemistry with Holland. Marisa Tomei as Aunt May was great, she was fun and I really believed her as a mother figure to Peter. Robert Downey Jr. isn’t in the movie much, and when he is there he doesn’t steal the spotlight. He acts as a sort of mentor to Peter and gave us both some funny lines and some okay drama at times. And I don’t think I have to mention that he was great here… dude’s been doing this since 2008. Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson… yeah, he was great. I never thought he could play an asshole, based on his performance and overall appearance in “Grand Budapest Hotel”, but he played an asshole very well in this. Also, welcome back Happy Hogan! That’s right, Jon Favreau returned to play Tony’s assistant, this time acting more as Peter’s supervisor, and he was great. Alright, quickfire round of this movie’s great actors: Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Angourie Rice, Michael Chernus, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr. Wow, that’s a lot of names. And there are more, but I don’t want to spoil them here in case you don’t already know about them.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and can we just take a second to talk about this man… or machine as I’m inclined to believe that he is. He puts out like 50 billion scores a year… Jesus fucking Christ, man, take a break! Anyhow, his score for this movie was really good. It’s the usual big/fun superhero action stuff, but there are also tracks for smaller scenes throughout and that too sounds really good. There are also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout this movie. And not only are they overall really good, but they are used very well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Jon Watts, the man behind the very small but still really good “Cop Car”. And I think he did a great job directing this movie. His directing here has a lot of energy and charm to it, making for a pretty fast-paced and fun watch. And the shots do look really good. And the action scenes are pretty clever and really fun, and even a little more violent than I thought they’d be. And I don’t mean violent in the Marvel/Netflix way, but it packed a bit more punch than I was expecting. There’s also a lot of comedy in this movie and I laughed a lot. From simple chuckles to full on belly laughter, this movie brought the laughs. It’s also filled with fun easter eggs and references, both to the MCU and other properties, so have fun discovering them all.

This movie just came out, but it has so far been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the best “Spider-Man” movie we’ve gotten since 2004. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, great directing, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Thwip!*. My final score for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Spidey is good again… I’m so happy!