Series Review: Hap and Leonard – Season 3 (2018)

Some of you may or may not remember that I started watching/reviewing this show in the second half of last year. And I quite liked those first two seasons. So now we’re here, season 3 all wrapped up. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hap and Leonard: The Two Bear Mambo”.

When their friend/lawyer Florida (Tiffany Mack) goes missing, Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael K. Williams) get sent to investigate what happened to her. Only problem is that to do this they have to travel to Grovetown, a tightly knit community that doesn’t take too kindly to people of color (and their sympathizers). So now we have our plot. And I think that it’s pretty damn good. What I like about “Hap and Leonard” as a show in general is that it can discuss serious and difficult subject matter, while still being able to have a fun and pulpy tone throughout, and this season is no exception. “The Two Bear Mambo” (this season’s subtitle) deals with a lot of heavy themes like racism and corruption, while still giving us the fun buddy crime-drama that one expects from the show. It’s a tense and layered plot that I really enjoyed following.

The characters in this are layered, unique, and quite interesting. James Purefoy returns as Hap Collins, the east Texas worker with a penchant for southern ladies. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s a good man and quite an entertaining character. I also like how they explores his psyche throughout the season, with a lot of it dealing with his fear over maybe losing Florida. And Purefoy is great in the role. Then we have Michael K. Williams as Leonard Pine, the black, gay, Vietnam vet best friend of Hap. He’s tough, but he’s also charming, and has some demons of his own to battle, and I really like him as a character. And Williams is of course great in the role. I also feel like I once again have to compliment the chemistry between Purefoy and Williams, because it’s fantastic. Then we have Tiffany Mack as Florida Grange, lawyer and former love interest of Hap. While we get less of her this season than in the previous one, we do still get some solid stuff with her. She’s a badass. And Mack is really good in the role. Then we get supporting turns from people like Cranston Johnson, Andrew Dice Clay, Evan Gamble, Corbin Bernsen, Laura Allen, Jesse C. Boyd, Douglas M. Griffin, Sydney Wease, Louis Gossett Jr, Pat Healy, and more. All doing very well in their respective roles. ’tis a well acted season.

As with the previous two seasons, the score was composed by Jeff Grace, and once again he knocked it out of the park. His score helps build a lot of suspense, while also letting some tracks capture the fun, swamp-noir style of the show (thanks to some good guitar tracks). There’s also a good amount of licensed tracks used throughout, and they all work very well within their respective scenes. A lot of good music here.

Based on a series of novels by Joe R. Lansdale, the show was created by Jim Mickle & Nick Damici (and written/directed by them and a bunch of other cool people). And while I haven’t read the books, I still feel like this is a very well realized world that they’ve created here. And the directing is really good, with a lot of tightly directed scenes that build a decent amount of tension. There’s also a few action throughout the season, and they’re quite entertaining. The show’s signature dark humor also makes a welcome return, and it made me laugh.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Hap and Leonard: The Two Bear Mambo” is another solid season of this quirky little show. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hap and Leonard: The Two Bear Mambo” is a 9,80/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Hap and Leonard: The Two Bear Mambo” is now completed.

Ass needs some kickin’.

Series Review: Altered Carbon – Season 1 (2018)

So it’s a new sci-fi series? From Netflix? Sign me up!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Altered Carbon” season 1.

In the future people have found a way to sort of cheat death by transferring their consciousness from one body to another. Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is a man who gets to experience this as he’s brought back to life in a new body. And soon he’s hired to solve the murder of a very wealthy businessman (James Purefoy). And as Kovacs begins investigating this murder he soon notices just how deep and twisty this whole thing gets. So now we have our cyberpunk story. And is it any good? Yeah, it really is. Not only is it a complex whodunnit with plenty of twists and turns, but it’s also a journey of identity and life. I mean, with people more or less being able to cheat death, it’s got to lead to some interesting questions. And these explorations are quite interesting, and meshes quite well with this cerebral murder mystery. The only flaw I have with it is that it can get a little bit meander-y at times. For the most part it has a good focus on what the hell it’s doing, but there are times where the pacing meandered a bit too much. Luckily these meander-y bits aren’t too frequent, so it doesn’t kill it to much for me. So overall this is a really solid plot.

The characters here are layered, flawed, damaged, and just overall quite interesting. Joel Kinnaman plays Takeshi Kovacs, the cool guy at the center of this story. We learn quite a lot about Kovacs and his backstory throughout the season, and we see him get some decent development as it moves forward. And Kinnaman is great in the role. Martha Higareda plays Kristin Ortega, a cop that Kovacs runs into throughout the season. She’s a tough, take-no-nonsense kind of character that still shows a fair bit of vulnerability throughout, adding to her layers. And Higareda is really good in the role. Then we have James Purefoy as Laurens Bancroft, the very wealthy businessman whose murder Kovacs has to solve. And I hear you asking “How could Purefoy get any acting/character development if he’s dead?”. Simple: His consciousness got put in a new body. He is the one that hired Kovacs to solve his murder. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s something you learn very early in the first episode. Either way, his character is slightly weird and seems a bit shady and is just an interesting addition to the cast. And Purefoy is good in the role. Then we have Ato Essandoh as Vernon Elliot, a man that Kovacs runs into throughout the plot (and kind of starts working with). He’s damaged and has some things in his past that clearly trouble him, but he isn’t some broody and overly serious character, he feels fairly realistic. And Essandoh is great in the role. And the final one I want to go slightly in-depth with is Chris Conner as Poe. Poe is the manager of the hotel that Kovacs stays at throughout the season. While he is intended as a slightly less serious character than the others (often having a lot of funny moments), he still works well dramatically speaking. And Conner is really good in the role. As for the other characters in the show, they are interesting in some way, but I don’t wanna ruin it for you. But I can say that we get some really good supporting work from people like Kristin Lehman, Hiro Kanagawa, Antonio Marziale, Tamara Taylor, Adam Busch, Matt Frewer, Cliff Chamberlain, Will Yun Lee, and many more.

The score for “Altered Carbon” was composed by Jeff Russo, the man who also did the music for “Fargo” and “Legion” (two awesome shows). And once again he has killed it with the music. Sure, it clearly takes inspiration from “Blade Runner” (which we’ll get back to in a bit), but it still does enough differently to feel fresh. It’s tense, emotional, and just overall great. There are also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout the season and they work quite well within their scenes, improving said scenes quite a bit. So yeah… this show has good music.

Based on a novel by Richard K. Morgan, this show was created by Laeta Kalogridis and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And in terms of direction this show is excellent. The direction here is stylish and sweeping, but still tight and tense. And now we get to the bit that I alluded to before… visually speaking this has a lot of similarities to “Blade Runner”. At least when we see the skyline or follow the characters on the streets, it all looks a lot like Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. That said, I’m not bothered by it since that seems to be the general aesthetic of cyberpunk fiction. And I just generally like it… it shows that a lot of time and love went into crafting this show. That and an obvious fuckload of money. You can really tell that Netflix went balls out with the budget, wanting to make this as extravagant as possible. The props, sets, and CGI are all absolutely fantastic. My breath was taken away at a lot of the visuals here. And the action scenes in this are all really good. They’re tense, badass, and really well choreographed. From shootouts, to melee combat, to a chase or two… the action here is really good. Oh, and violent… really violent… many gallons of blood. So if you’re squeamish you might have have a hard time watching this. There’s also a lot of nudity. So if you hate naked people, don’t watch this. But yeah, this show has some good production value.

The show just came out, but it has already pretty good reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10.

“Altered Carbon” isn’t for everyone, but I sure as shit liked it. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography/action/effects. Sure, the pace meanders a little bit at times, but it’s not too bad. Time for my final score. *Pew*. My final score for “Altered Carbon” season 1 is a 9,52/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Altered Carbon” season 1 is now completed.

“Blade Runner? Never heard of it!”

Series Review: Hap and Leonard – Season 2 (2017)

About a month ago I reviewed the first season of this show, and I thought it was quite good. Not perfect, but definitely a good season of television. And now I am finally reviewing season 2 (which aired in the spring on this year). So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Hap and Leonard” season 2.

Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael Kenneth Williams) are back, though this time they are not looking for money. This time they instead find the remains of a dead child underneath Leonard’s floorboards. The two then report this find to the police (as you should) only to find themselves under investigation for committing the crime, despite them being innocent. But hope is not completely gone as Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack), a lawyer, comes in to try to help ’em out. So then the plot follows our heroes as they try to find the actual culprit while also dealing with corrupt lawmen. And immediately we can see that this season goes for a more serious and less cartoonish plot compared to the first season. And the season we have here is more quiet and serious. It brilliantly manages to tackle dramatic topics like racism, corruption, and child murder without sacrificing the offbeat and unique feel that the first season set up. It perfectly manages to balance a serious drama with an entertaining and pulpy world. And the pacing is much better compared to the first season, moving at a much more steady and focused pace. So yeah, the plot here is pretty great.

The characters are unique, entertaining, colorful, and just really interesting. James Purefoy of course returns as Hap Collins, the well-meaning worker who sometimes takes a wrong step (which makes him a flawed and interesting character). And Purefoy is great in the role, getting to show a somewhat wider range of emotions this season… his southern accent is also a bit more consistent here, so that’s nice. Michael Kenneth Williams returns as Leonard Pine, the black, gay, Vietnam veteran. He’s a troubled man who gets to endure a whole bunch of various problems throughout the season. And Williams is of course great in the role. And the chemistry between our two leads? It’s great, it’s very entertaining and feels genuine. Tiffany Mack plays Florida Grange, the lawyer who comes to Hap and Leonard’s aid and becomes their most important ally this season. She’s tough, smart, sexy, and fun, making for a refreshing presence in this show. We also get Cranston Johnson as a police detective that is investigating this case that our dynamic duo have gotten themselves involved in, and he’s great in the role. I also have to mention Irma P. Hall as MeMaw, the elderly woman that Hap and Leonard find themselves with every now and then throughout the season. She’s so much fun and one of the best things about the season. Overall the season is filled with good performances.

Like the first season, the score here was composed by Jeff Grace, and it’s once again great. It often manages to add a lot of emotion, excitement, or tension to a scene, really showing Grace’s talent/versatility as a composer. It’s great and works very well for the season/show. There are also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they work quite well.

If you forgot or just didn’t read my season 1 review, “Hap and Leonard” was created by Jim Mickle & Nick Damici and is based on a series of novels by Joe R. Lansdale. And it was written/directed by a whole bunch of people (including Mickle/Damici/Lansdale). And in season 1 they made such a well defined world that felt lived in. And with this season they improved on it, deepening the stories of the area they’re in as well as the backstories/relationships of everyone there. The shots look good and the direction in this season just has a really nice flow to it, having some nice energy to it while still keeping it feel real and lived in. And even though there are some heavy dramatic moments this season, they don’t skimp on the black humor. There’s quite a bit of humor here and it made me laugh.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists but has no score. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Hap and Leonard” season 2 takes everything that was good about the first season and improving on it quite a bit. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Y’all*. My final score for “Hap and Leonard” season 2 is a 9,82/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Hap and Leonard” season 2 is now completed.

Mucho mojo.

Series Review: Hap and Leonard – Season 1 (2016)

Adapting books to screen is really difficult. Doesn’t matter if it’s movies, TV, or video games… there’s nothing easy about adapting books. So I have some respect for the people atempting it even if it seems like something that would be impossible to translate to screen.

Ladies and gents… “Hap and Leonard” season 1.

Texas, late 1980s. We follow Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael Kenneth Williams), two best friends. One day a woman named Trudy (Christina Hendricks), who turns out to be Hap’s old flame, shows up. The main reason why she’s there is because she wants their help (or at least Hap’s) to find some money that have been more or less lost for years. So now we have our caper. And it’s quite a good one. It has a very offbeat feel which makes it stand out compared to a lot of other crime shows of a similar nature. It’s also fairly unpredictable, suspenseful, and overall enjoyable. The only flaw I have is that the pacing in the first few episodes wavers a bit. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s definitely worth pointing out. So overall I’d say that the plot here is really good, with a few pacing issues mildly hurting it.

The characters here are fun, interesting, and very entertaining. Hap is this ex-con trying to live a quiet life, but his plans takes a bit of a turn when Trudy comes to town(?). And James Purefoy is really good in the role. Leonard is a black, openly gay, Vietnam vet, trying to life a quiet enough life, working, and hanging out with his best friend. And Michael Kenneth Williams is great in the role. Purefoy and Williams share a very likable chemistry, their banter and general dialog feels natural. Trudy, as previously mentioned, is an old girlfriend of Hap and it basically the reason for the plot happening. She’s sexy, smart, and pretty tough. And Christina Hendricks is really good in the role. Bill Sage plays a man named Howard, this hippie-esque character that is involved in finding this lost money. And Sage is really good in the role. We also have Jimmi Simpson and Pollyanna McIntosh as this crazy couple that shows up in town(?) and starts causing trouble. They’re a total wild card in this and they’re quite fun. Jimmi Simpson especialy, he totally stole every scene he was in. But both he and McIntosh were great in their roles. Really, this is overall a very well acted season of TV.

The score for the series was composed by Jeff Grace, and I think he did a great job here. This is another example of his versatility as a composer. He’s done the music for a couple movies that I’ve covered on this blog before, so I already knew that he could tackle several genres, making something that totally fits the piece of media he composes it for. And “Hap and Leonard” is no exception, he made a score that in some tracks works well for the rural Texas setting, and some tracks that fit the crime-drama side of things. And it all sounds great. There are also some licensed tracks use throughout the seaosn, and they’re used quite well. So yeah, this season has some great music.

This show is based on a series of novels by author Joe R. Lansdale, and was created by Jim Mickle & Nick Damici. Now, if those two names sound familiar, then you’ve been on my blog before. I’ve talked about movies they’ve been involved in (“Stake Land”, “Cold in July”, “Late Phases”) on this blog. Anyway, they also wrote the episodes, and Mickle directed a couple of episodes. And overall it is a very well directed show. The direction is tight and really helps make it feel fresh and tense. It’s also a good looking show. The show also has an element of dark humor to it that I think really helped it out quite a bit. Also, beware of bloody violence… just thought I’d mention that in case any reader out there is squeamish.

This show/season ha been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Hap and Leonard” season 1 is a fun bit of crime television. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. My only flaws with the season are those previously mentioned pacing issues, but even they aren’t too bad. Time for my final score. *Y’all*. My final score for “Hap and Leonard” season 1 is a 9,11/10. So while slightly flawed, I’d say that you should watch it!

My review of “Hap and Leonard” season 1 is now completed.

If you’re looking for a binge-worthy show, this is it. Not only is it good, but it’s only six episodes, so it’s easy to binge through!

Movie Review: High-Rise (2015)

Dystopias. Something explored in many books and movies. Some more accurate to current society than others. Well, today’s feature presentation is a dystopian story. So let’s go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “High-Rise”.

Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) is a physiologist who has just moved in to a huge, high-tech high-rise. And everyone there seems to have it pretty damn good. However everyone’s perfect lives soon spin out of control and everything starts going to absolute shit. And while it’s a really interesting series of events, I feel like there’s no actual reason for it all to be happening. I am all for odd and interesting plots that dare to go to unique places, but I also want there to be some reason bhind the events that transpire. Like I said, the stuff that happens in the movie is really interesting and can even be a little disturbing at times, but there’s no reason for stuff happening. I was seriously sitting there thinking, “Alright, this is some interesting stuff… but why is it even happening?”. And I am 100% sure that I didn’t miss anything that triggered the downfall of the high-rise society… shit just happened, with no real reason for it. So to summarize my rambling: The plot features an incredibly interesting series of events that has no real reason or focus behind it.

The characters are a bit like the plot, it was interesting seeing them go through all this shit, but I never really cared about any of them. Tom Hiddleston gives a great performance as Doctor Robert Laing, going from a pretty normal and sane individual to a more… odd man. Jeremy Irons plays the owner/architect of the high-rise and he’s great. Sienna Miller is also great. Luke Evans plays a filmmaker here and he is pretty great. Elizabeth Moss is also great in the movie. James Purefoy was also really good here. So the characters are not the most compelling, but they are interesting to follow and they are also very well acted.

The score was composed by Clint Mansell and it is fantastic! It’s weird, it’s eerie, it’s dramatic, and it just pleases my ears quite a bit. I am not surprised by this though, since Clint Mansell composed the scores for “Requiem for a Dream” and “Moon”, and I love the scores in those movies… he’s just fucking great at his job. What I also thought was pretty interesting about the music was that this movie has a weird fascination with ABBA’s song “S.O.S”. Just thought it was interesting how it popped at two times in the movie in two very different styles.

This movie was directed by Ben Wheatley and I think he did a really good job. The scenes always feel a bit off, but in a good way. I really felt like this wasn’t our world, it was something much weirder and much more unpredictable. And from a visual standpoint, this movie looks fucking great. There are plenty of great shots in this movie and even when the shot isn’t awesome (in lack of a better word) this movie still looks really good. Something fun to mention is that this movie is based on the book of the same written by J.G. Ballard, released in 1975. Now, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say if this is a faithful adaptation or not… all I can say is that the book thing was a fun little bit of trivia to add. That said, if you’ve read the book then please tell me if it’s any good and/or if this is a good adaptation of it.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

“High-Rise” is a pretty interesting dystopian drama. It has a pretty good plot, okay characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing. However it is very flawed since I felt like there was no real reason for the plot to happen and I didn’t find the characters especially compelling. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “High-Rise” is an 8,57/10. So even though it is quite flawed I’d say that it is worth buying.

My review of “High-Rise” is now completed.

So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me, S.O.S…