Movie Review: Mudbound (2017)

This movie is a fairly unique case. Mainly because it’s a Netflix original movie that somehow has gotten multiple Oscar nominations. Not saying that it shouldn’t have gotten the nominations, just saying that it’s very interesting. Anyway, let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mudbound”.

Mississippi, the 1940s. We follow the McAllans and the Jacksons, two families who live in close proximity to each other in a farmland. And throughout the movie’s runtime we see them have to deal with everything from the struggle of farming, to racism, to adjusting to life after being in a war. What we have here is a very rich and layered plot. Yes, it’s a fairly lengthy movie, and it does move at a fairly slow pace. But there’s enough payoffs and beautiful nuances to the plot here to make it all feel rewarding. The plot here is emotional, engaging, layered, and at times even disturbing. It’s absolutely fantastic.

The characters here are kind of like the plot in that they are quite layered and interesting. I will however not go too in-depth with each and every character as I feel that they’re best left experienced rather than explained… also, I don’t want to make this post too long and rambly. So here’s just quick overviews of the two central families and their most essential members (essential for the plot, that is). First we have the McAllans, featuring the likes of Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, and Jonathan Banks. They’re a white family who’s lived a relatively easy life until they move out to the Mississippi delta, where they have to start their new farm life. And they all get some really interesting development/moments throughout. Then we have the Jacksons, featuring Mary J. Blige, Jason Mitchell, and Rob Morgan. They’re a black family that kind of has to live with the McAllans, which of course leads to some solid drama throughout. And the Jacksons are an interesting bunch of characters. I will now also say that all the actors in this movie are running on all cylinders, there’s no weak link within the cast, they are all absolutely fantastic in the movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Tamar-Kali, and had I not done that research I would’ve just assumed that the score was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis. The score here is at times reminiscent of the score from “The Assassination of Jesse James” in that it takes a dark, emotionally charged, and even kind of eerie. But it still has a very unique sound and it’s just overall great. And before you ask, the song “Mighty River” by Mary J. Blige is fucking great.

Based on a novel by Hillary Jordan, “Mudbound” was directed by Dee Rees who I think did a great job. Her direction is sweeping and confident, at times feeling like a lot of old school dramas while still feeling new and unique. I also want to talk about Rachel Morrison’s cinematography for a second, because it is fucking amazing. There were a good amount of shots in this movie that made my jaw drop. What’s also cool about it is that none of the shots felt like a “just there to be pretty” type of shot, all of the shots had a purpose while also being pure eye candy. Speaking of images, there’s some disturbing imagery at a couple points in this movie… just thought I’d give you that warning in case you’re a bit sensitive… I don’t judge.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. As previously mentioned, this movie has been nominated for multiple Oscars. Four of them actually, in the categories of Best supporting actress (Blige), Best adapted screenplay, Best cinematography, and Best original song.

“Mudbound” is a big and sweeping drama that shows that Netflix isn’t playing around. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mudbound” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mudbound” is now completed.

I got nothing to put here. This isn’t the kind of movie you joke about afterwards.

Movie Review: Texas Killing Fields (2011)

Murder is bad. Don’t do it.

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 gents… “Texas Killing Fields”.

Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) are a pair of detectives investigating a series of unsolved murders in Texas. So we follow them as they try to untangle this web of who and why. So now we have our crime-drama. And is the plot here any good? The premise is actually quite intriguing, but the execution is quite average. It’s not bad, with the initial setup being good and some pretty solid moments being spread throughout, but overall it doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out from other thrillers out there. I can say though that I wasn’t ever bored… I just never found myself fully invested in the story of this movie. It’s just… fine.

The characters here are surprisingly layered and interesting. Sure, they’re not the deepest ponds in the county, but I was genuinely surprised at how interested I was in them. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Brian Heigh, a New York detective who had been transferred down to Texas to work with them. He’s a tough but caring man, being what you’d probably call “good cop” in an interrogation. And Morgan is great in the role. Sam Worthington plays Mike Souder, a local Texas cop who is Heigh’s partner in this investigation. He’s a bit of a short-fused asshole, and the “bad cop” of the two. And I have to say that Worthington was good in the role. The two also share some okay chemistry, not Riggs & Murtaugh levels of chemistry, but they do work pretty well together. Jessica Chastain plays another detective in this movie, though working in a different precinct, and she’s really good in the role. Chloë Grace Moretz plays a young girl named Ann. She’s neglected by her mom and she in general doesn’t seem to have a great life. But she’s pretty interesting and Moretz is really good in the role. You also get some solid supporting performances from people like Jason Clarke, Annabeth Gish, Sheryl Lee, and Stephen Graham. So yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe and I have mixed feelings about it. There are tracks in it that are very atmospheric, adding to the scenes they’re used in, perfectly fitting the setting. Then there are also tracks that feel out of place, sounding like something you’d hear in an episode of “Justified”. And while that isn’t an inherently bad thing, it just sounds a bit off in this movie. I’ll at least give the score this: It heavily features acoustic guitar, which is something I always enjoy hearing. But yeah, overall the score here is… mixed.

This movie was directed by Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann. And I think she did a pretty good job here. There’s a good amount of solid camera work here, and some overall neat visuals at times. There are also a couple of mediocrely directed moments, mainly stuff that is shot in the dark where you can’t see shit. But for the most part this movie is well directed. There are also like two, small-ish action scenes in the movie and they were okay, not great, not bad. Mann even man(n)ages to get some pretty good suspense out of a couple of scenes in the movie, which is something I didn’t exactly expect. So the directing here is good. Still, I’m a little bit disappointed, mainly because Danny Boyle was supposed to direct it at one point but then dropped out. Oh well, c’est la vie. Good job, Mann.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

While “Texas Killing Fields” isn’t a great movie, it’s still a pretty solid rainy day thriller. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, good music, and good directing. Flaws with the movie are that the plot is just fine, and the music being a bit off at times. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Texas Killing Fields” is a 6,99/10. So while quite flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Texas Killing Fields” is now completed.

Loosely based on real events.

Movie Review: Child 44 (2015)

Adapting a book to a film is a very serious gamble. Sometimes you can  succeed very well and get something as great as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, or you get something as mediocre as “The Hunger Games” (That’s right, I said it). So for you aspiring filmmakers out there want to adapt something into a movie… be careful.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Child 44”.

The Soviet Union, 1953. Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) is a member of the Russian Military police that takes on the the task of investigating a series child murders. And what follows is a tale of betrayal, redemption, and other fancy words. The basic story of this movie is actually really good and could be incredibly compelling… however, the execution of said story in this movie is not that good. I wouldn’t say that it was bad, but you can tell that the movie’s reach exceeds it’s grasp. The people who made this film clearly wanted to make the plot compelling and suspenseful, but in the end it was just kind of… meh. Which is kind of sad, because the ideas they set up here are actually good. The execution on the other hand is not that great. It’s kind of boring. I can appreciate a slowly paced movie, but the pacing in this movie is kind of shit.

The characters in this movie are decently interesting. I wouldn’t say that I was too invested in them, but they weren’t bad. Tom Hardy plays the main character Leo Demidov and actually gave a great performance. I actually did kind of care about his character, but that’s mainly because of Hardy’s great performance. Noomi Rapace played Hardy’s wife in this movie and she was good. Joel Kinnaman plays one of Hardy’s colleague in the movie and he did a really good job. His character was a bit psycho, and Kinnaman portrayed that very well. Gary Oldman is also really good in the movie, even though he doesn’t get to do too much in this. Jason Clarke pops up very briefly in this movie, and he does a really good job even though, like I said, his appearance is rather brief. We also get Fares Fares as another one of Hardy’s colleagues and he gives a really good performance. So yeah… there are a bunch of really solid performances in this movie.

The original score for the movie was composed by Jon Ekstrand and it was pretty good. While it never did anything overly unique/original, it was still well composed and fit the movie fairly well.

This movie was directed by Daniel Espinosa and he did an okay job. The shots for the most part look really good, but I think that’s more thanks to the cinematographer, Oliver Wood. There are a few action scenes in this movie and they are… okay. The main problem with them is that they are too shaky. I know that it works in “Bourne Ultimatum” (also shot by Oliver Wood), but here it just looks bad. Basically when there is no action and people are simply talking or there is some establishing shot, this movie looks great. But when action comes it turns into a shaky, quickly cut mess. Also, remember when I talked about adapting books at the beginning of the review? Yeah, this movie is based on the book of the same name written by Tom Rob Smith.

This movie has not been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 26% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 41/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

“Child 44” is a movie that has glimpses of greatness throughout it’s entire runtime, but ultimately falls flat. It has a meh story, okay characters, great performances, good music, okay directing, and good cinematography. The things that bring it down is an uncompelling plot, characters not being the most compelling, and action scenes being shaky as shit. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Child 44” is a 6,22/10.
So it might be worth a rental.

My review of “Child 44” is now completed.

In Soviet Russia, movie watch you.

 

Movie Review: Everest (2015)

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I like being outdoors and hiking… but I don’t like heights. So with that said, you will never see me go mountain climbing.

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, let’s climb to the top of… “Everest”.

Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) is a man who runs a business of leading expeditions up to the top of Mount Everest. So far it has gone pretty well with his previous expeditions. But when he in 1996 takes a group of people up there, the expedition goes awry because of a storm which results in some pretty terrible things. And from that we get a really interesting drama about people trying to not die. Now I don’t want you to go into this thinking that it’s gonna be a survival flick like “The Grey” where they have to use everything they can find to survive. This is not really as action-packed, but instead focuses on the drama of the climb up and then the climb down. But we don’t only follow Rob and his crew up on the mountain, as we also get to follow the team at base camp led by Helen Wilton (Emily Watson). And like I said, this is a really interesting story with a few decent moments of suspense and emotion. Though there are a few pacing issues occasionally, with a few bits where it rushes a little bit. While not the worst pacing that I’ve ever experienced, it was still noticeable and definitely worth pointing out.

The characters in the movie are for the most part pretty well developed. Sure, a few of them are not the most interesting, and that is a little sad since the movie made such a big deal of them being part of it all. Jason Clarke is terrific in the role of Rob Hall, he is such a likable man who just wants everyone to make and also make sure that everyone has a good time. And he did a great job with his performance. Josh Brolin is great in his role. John Hawkes is great as his character. Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific in his role. Michael Kelly is also really good, as is Emily Watson. Then I also have to mention Sam Worthington. I am generally not a big fan of him in movies, but I think he did a really good job in his role in this movie even if it is a relatively small one. And then there are a whole bunch of other great actors in the movie that I will not mention because I don’t want to be hear all day.

The score for the movie was composed by Dario Marianelli and I think that it is really good. It’s a very inspiring set of tracks that really work for this movie and really helps make this movie feel even bigger. I could actually see myself listening to this during a hike… mostly to make it feel more epic even though it isn’t.

This movie was directed by Icelandish director Baltasar Kormákur and he did a pretty great job with that. This reallt feels like an actual expedition, I really felt like I was there with the people who were climbing and freezing their asses off. I also have to give major props to the cinematographer, Salvatore Totino, because this movie looks absolutely beautiful… and terrifying because I don’t wanna fall into that pit the camera is looking down into. Yeah, this shit looks pretty terrific and real, yo.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 73% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Everest” is a good movie. Sure, parts of the plot are a bit rushed and some of the characters are not as interesting as they should. But the plot overall is good, several of the characters are interesting, the acting is really good, the music is great, the directing is really good, and the cinematography is terrific. Time for my final score. Snow (Hey oh!). My final score for “Everest” is an 8,90/10. So I’d say that it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Everest” is now completed.

Done my fair share of
MOUNTAIN CLIMBING (Mountain Climbing)
Whoa! Its troubles I’ve got ‘em
MOUNTAIN CLIMBING (Mountain Climbing)
Whoa! It’s blues at the bottom!

 

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

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Sequels are probably the one thing (besides shitty horror movies and comedies) that is the most common in our modern movie world. Some are good, some are bad (Cough, cough, Transformers, cough!). And today we are taking a look at the sequel to the excellent “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (Still a mouthful).

APES!…”Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”.

Just so you know, this review will contain some spoilers for “Rise of the…” considering this is a sequel. So if you have not seen that movie yet I suggest you go watch that first and come back when you have done that. Okay, for the rest of you people who had the common sense to watch “Rise of the…” first…let’s go!
The story is set 10 years after the events of the previous movie. The so called “Simian Flu” eradicated most of humanity except for a few who apparently were immune. A few of these were our important (main) characters Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), Ellie (Keri Russell) and Alexander (Kodi Smith-McPhee). On the other side of the spectrum we have the a giant community of apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis). Not only is Caesar the leader of all apes…he is also a husband/father. But of course his leadership is threatened by not only war with the humans (if that would happen) and his servant and “friend” Koba (Toby Kebbell). The humans want to restore power to their town with the help of a nearby dam. Problem is that a giant ape “army” (using the word loosely) between them and the dam. But as Malcolm want to make peace with the apes to work in peace, Dreyfus having some problem with that and Koba having something bad in mind, shit will go down. Now that is kind of the story in a nutshell without spoilers. I am keeping it as simple as possible (which is more difficult than it seems) to not spoil anything. Because this story might have a kind of predictable idea…the execution is strangely more awesome. It is perfectly executed and always keeps you interested (at least in my case). This movie is one that some people have called “boring”…but I disagree. Those people probably expected non-stop action and did not like when there would be good amount of drama. Oh yeah…it is the “Drive” situation again. And once again I love how it turned out and don’t care that there is a good amount of drama. The drama only makes it better…kind of like “Drive” (Comparisons on two different types of movies…jeez).

The characters are portrayed very realistically. They are not as cheesy as in the 1967 original…but also not trying to be too dramatic. All characters are incredibly human (Yes, even the apes). I have never seen a movie where I have seen primates show emotions and make it seem so realistic. That is the only word to describe the characters here really…realistic (Again…yes, even the apes). Malcolm is the guy who only wants peace between humans and apes but also to help humanity survive by getting the dam running. Dreyfus does not have a problem shooting the apes and even talking about it in public. Then we have Caesar…oh my god, give Andy Serkis his fucking Oscar already. I don’t care what the academy thinks about performance capture…give Serkis his god damn Oscar already!

The score is fantastic. A lot of epic tracks are of course in there for the more action-based bits, but it also features some calmer tracks to work with the drama and slower bits. Composer Michael Giacchino did a fantastic job with the soundtrack and has my utmost respect and admiration.

The CGI in this movie is breathtaking…even more so than in the pervious movie. It is so good. I am not kidding, you can look at this movie and your jaw will drop to the floor. I wouldn’t get surprised if it got an Oscar nomination for best Visual Effects. Also, the camera work is fucking magnificent in general. Matt Reeves know how to make a great looking movie and I love that. And if I can be honest for one second, there was a scene in the movie, not saying which…that made me cry. Not like “Oh no…I am crying my eyes out”. More like “I just shed a tear”. If a movie succeeds in doing that, then it does something right.

The recpetion for “Dawn of the…” has been nothing but general praise (Unless you count the few assholes who calls it boring). Rotten Tomatoes has a 91% positive rating with a “Fresh” Certification. Metacritic has 79/100 as score. imdb.com has 8,5/10 as main score and the movie is ranked #155 on the Top 250 list.

I have given my primitive opinions on a few things that this movie has to offer. And now I am willing to hand out my final score. My score for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a 9,70/10 and a recommendation to buy it when it comes out. But wait, with that score also means, *gasp*…the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is now reviewed. I honestly think it is slightly superior to the previous one.

APES! TOGETHER! STRONG!