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: Gladiator (2000)

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History is something that has always interested me. I don’t know why shit that happened a long time ago is so interesting to me… it just kinda is. And that means historical movies should interest me more than anything, right? Well that might be true in some cases. But then there are shit historical movies as well. The movie we are taking a look at now is sort of a historical movie. It isn’t really a historical movie in the sense of it following a real historical figure, but rather is set in a time period which is now considered history.

Boys and girls… “Gladiator”.

This movie follows Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe). He is a great general who have won many battles. Why is that important? Because it is part of his character and because it plays into the story. After one battle he is betrayed by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the emperor’s corrupt son. He got Maximus’ son and wife killed and got Maximus imprisoned. After a little while he gets bought by a guy and is turned into a gladiator in the great arena together with a bunch of other guys, including a black man named Juba (Djimon Hounsou). And through the movie we get to see how he goes from low ranking gladiator to what I like to refer to as “Mr. Big Cheese”. And seeing this story/journey unfold throughout the movie is pretty fucking awesome. Not only does it show the battles Maximus goes through to get higher rank, but it also shows the political intrigues brewing beneath it all… and that is to me very interesting. So yeah, the story in both idea and execution was excellent.

The characters all have different personalities and those personalities are easy to see and they are very well-written. I don’t really have too much more to say there otehr than the fact that I was very interested in the character of Maximus Decimus Meridius. I am not saying I can relate to the guy, but I am saying I really found him interesting and intriguing. Also, all characters in this movie are incredibly well-acted. The actors do a tremendous job filling the shoes (or sandals in this case) of these characters.

The music really did help sell the time period. Not only because it really had the ambience that would be needed to sell it, but also because it had some pretty epic tracks. And while I can’t list them on the top of my head I can at least say that I loved it.

Ridley Scott, you are a magnificent magnificent filmmaker! This movie looks amazing! The camera work is fantastic in both just regular scenes and action scenes. Sure, there is a little bit of shaky-cam during the action scenes but not enough that it bothered me. Ridley Scott made a very good looking movie. Also, the kid who plays a (sort of) key part in the story was not too bad either. You probably think I should have mentioned that in the “Characters/Actors” segment, but I didn’t because I felt it fit better here on “General Stuff”.

Time to see how the movie did among the movie sites and critics! On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it got the average 64/100. Roger Ebert didn’t seem to like this movie too much since he gave it 2/4 stars saying:

“It employs depression as a substitute for personality, and believes that if characters are bitter and morose enough, we won’t notice how dull they are.”

On imdb.com this movie has a score of 8,5/10 and is ranked #47 on the “Top 250” list. This movie also won 5 Oscars (Best picture, Best Leading Actor, Best Costume Design, Best sound, Best Visual Effects). It was also nominated for an additional 7 Oscars (Best supporting actor, best director, Best screenplay directly for screen, Best cinematography, Best film editing, Best original score, Best set decoration).

I have given my thoughts about a few things on “Gladiator”. This movie has an interesting story, great acting, fantastic music, great action scenes, interesting characters and one of the best endings in movie history. Time for the final score. My final score for “Gladiator” is a 9,62/10 which grants it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Gladiator” is finally reviewed.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?