Series Review: American Gods – Season 1 (2017)

Adapting a novel into a movie or TV show (or even a video game) can’t be easy. Especially when it’s something so acclaimed and unique, that just puts all kinds of pressure on the people adapting it. And you can’t just make something specifically for the people who have read the source material, but you need to have it be accessible to general audiences too, which just makes the task of adapting it even more difficult.

Ladies and gentlemen… “American Gods” season 1.

After he gets released from prison, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) meets and gets employed by a man who calls himself Wednesday (Ian McShane). And they soon find themselves on a strange road trip which introduces Shadow to a different and more supernatural side of the world. And fucking hell, this show is weird. Some shows are weird just for the sake of being weird, but I feel like “American Gods” has a reason for it’s weirdness. It’s also a show that isn’t clear about it’s motivations and goals at first, which might put some people off, but if you stick with it you’ll learn more and more about the plot, world, and myhtology of the show. And what we get is quite fascinating to follow. I wouldn’t call the plot here flawless, but it’s still pretty fucking good. Weird and patience-demanding, but definitely great.

The characters in this show are all unique, extremely interesting, and really entertaining. Shadow for the most part is just a good guy who has a troubled past, and when he goes on this trip with Wednesday he has a hard time understanding a lot of the shit going on, which makes him quite relatable. And Ricky Whittle is great in the role. Wednesday as a character is kind of a con-man who seems to have some ulterior motive as to why he’s taking Shadow on this journey. And Ian McShane is fucking fantastic in the role. Emily Browning plays Shadow’s wife Laura, and I’m not gonna spoil what her purpose in the show is, but I will say that Browning is great here. Pablo Schreiber plays Mad Sweeney, a literal Leprechaun, and while his accent can be a bit off and on, his overall performance is great. We get Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, a very interesting lady (not saying how), and she’s great in the role. We get Gillian Anderson in a couple episodes as… well, it’s hard to explain without spoiling anything, so I’m just gonna say that she kills it in this show. We even get Crispin Freeman in the show giving a performance that just violates my soul and gets under my skin… yeah, he’s fucking great in a creepy way. Though he appears a surprisingly small amount of times in the show. Still, he really left an impression on me. Then to get through a few more solid ones (because there’s no bad acting here): Bruce Langley, Peter Stormare, Omid Abtahi, Orlando Jones, Cloris Leachman. Yeah, there’s plenty of cool people in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Brian Reitzell and I think he did a terrific job. The tracks take influences from all over, both from various genres and cultures which makes it a joy to listen to. There are a licensed ones as well that are used quite well. Really, this show is filled with great music.

This show was created by Bryan Fuller & Michael Green and is based on a novel by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman. And for those not wondering, no I have not read his novel… though I might have to at some point. But what Fuller & Green managed to create with this show is pretty damn interesting. The directing (from various people) is fantastic, featuring some of the most gorgeous visuals I’ve seen in a TV show. And it’s not just great shots of normal environments and such, oh no. We get some fucking trippy shots/environments too, and it all looks amazing and perfectly fits the weird story that’s on display here. I also want to make very clear that this show is not for kids AT ALL. There’s some incredibly brutal/gory violence here, which I think perfectly fits the stylized world of “American Gods”. There’s also plenty of cursing (all the curse words), and also really graphic nudity and sex. Tits, asses, dicks, vaginas… it’s all there. So if you don’t like really graphic shows, then maybe this isn’t your cup of tea. I also love the dark sense of humor that this show has. I laugh and it probably means that I’m a horrible person… oh well.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10 and is ranked #228 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“American Gods” isn’t for everyone. But I kind of loved it. It has great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “American Gods” season 1 is a 9,77/10. This means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “American Gods” season 1 is now completed.

So. Fucking. Weird.

Movie Review: Justice League Dark (2017)

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I have stated my love for the DC animated movies a whole bunch of times on this blog, so I’m not gonna annoy you with that again. Instead I’m just gonna say this: First review of a 2017 release on this blog… exciting!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Justice League Dark”!

People are going crazy and killing each other because of some supposedly supernatural threat. So Batman (Jason O’Mara) travels to various places to recruit some magic heroes such as John Constantine (Matt Ryan), Zatanna (Camilla Luddington), and Deadman (Nicholas Turturro) to find out what the hell is going on and then find a way to stop it. And from that we get very well paced and entertaining plot. The main plot is a bit standard, but it’s not bad at all, it is in fact very entertaining. My biggest problem comes in the form of a few exposition dump scenes. I get that some of these characters aren’t the most well known and because of that need some establishing, but the ways that they get established contain a lot of exposition, and that brought it down just a bit. Again, the plot overall was good, but those few infodump scenes knocked it down a little for me.

The characters are interesting and really entertaining. Jason O’Mara has in previous projects established himself to be a pretty solid Batman, and in this one it’s no different, he did a really good job. Matt Ryan was awesome as Constantine, but that is something I knew already from the “Constantine” TV show and from his one-episode appearance on “Arrow”. But it was so great having him reprise the role because he is so great as the character. Nicholas Turturro (Sidenote: Brother of John Turturro) was really good as Deadman. Though to be honest, I really knew nothing of the character prior to this. But the performance itself was fun and good. Next we have Camilla Luddington as Zatanna, and she did a really solid job. And I also feel like mentioning that Ray Chase was really good as Etrigan… not much else I can add there. There are also some really good supporting performances from poeple like Jeremy Davies, Rosario Dawson, Jerry O’Connell, Roger Cross, and Enrico Colantoni.

The original score for the movie was composed by Robert J. Kral and I think that what he composed for the movie was good. Nothing mindblowing or even great, but definitely good, fitting the scenes very well.

This movie was directed by Jay Oliva, a DC animation regular. And since this is an animated movie… how is the animation? It’s actually really good, I mean… for a DC animated direct-to-video budget. But while the animation isn’t the most detailed, it flows very well and looks really good, especially in the action scenes. Especially the last big action scene, that stuff looks pretty great. Also, there’s some violent imagery in this movie. I mean, there’s blood, there’s some slightly brutal stuff going on. Not as brutal as maybe “Dredd”, but still pretty violent for this type of movie. So I’d actually argue that the R-rating on this movie is pretty justified, compared to “The Killing Joke”. The language is still PG-13, but the imagery and such is R.

Since this movie just came out and is a direct-to-video feature, it barely has any reception to look at. You know, at least from the sites I use. But I can at least say that on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Justice League Dark” is another solid DC animated movie that I had a lot of fun with. It has a good plot, good characters, great voice acting, good music, really good animation, and some great action. However, I will bring it down a notch because of those infodump scenes… could have been handled a bit smoother. Time for my final score. *Uses magic spell to summon envelope*. My final score for “Justice League Dark” is a 9,12/10. So even though it’s not perfect, I’d still say that it’s worth buying!
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My review of “Justice League Dark” is now completed.

Can we just have Matt Ryan playing every incarnation of John Constantine? Please.

 

 

 

Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

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War. Dirty, brutal, terrible… the is nothing good about it. Of course we have the PMC’s (Private Military Corporations) out there that disagree with me on that, but that is only because war is their only income. Okay, weapon manufacturers will make a few bucks from it as well… but that is not the point. My point is that war is not something that should EVER be glorified. With that said, here is evidence of that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Saving Private Ryan”.

“Saving Private Ryan” is about a squad of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) who after getting through the brutality of Omaha beach get sent further into France to find paratrooper Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Which sounds weird considering Ryan isn’t even part of their squad, but the order came from higher-ups for propaganda purposes. And while that isn’t overly clear in the movie, it is still there… to raise morale (Greedy fucking American military). But even though the basic plot is simple, it is still a thoughtful, brutal and well-written plot that works in every aspect. It is all portrayed in a way where you believe it and just want to see how it unfolds. In otehr words… it is pretty great.

This movie is just full of acting talent everywhere. You can’t go ten minutes without saying “Hey, it’s *insert actor here*!”. But let’s just go on the most important ones. Tom Hanks (as per usual) is great in this movie. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he is a great dramatic actor (Sidenote: Don’t believe me? Go watch “Philadelphia” and then come back). Next up (and the final one I am going to mention) is the character of Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies). Now I hear your collective gasps and I will explain. Yes, Private Ryan is in the title, but he doesn’t show up until the third act of the movie. Instead I will focus on another (probably) young character who got a good amount of focus. Basically Upham is this young guy who have never really killed anyone before and Tom Hanks takes him under his wing(ish). Now I already liked Jeremy Davies as an actor after seeing him in shows like “Justified” and “Constantine”, but I didn’t know he was THIS GREAT as an actor. His character is pretty much a coward through the entire movie and he plays it fantastically. Hell, he plays the character well at all times. And I can mention that all actors in the movie were great. All of them.

The score was done by none other than John Williams. And as you probably know, he is one of the best composers of all time. He has made iconic scores, he has made emotional scores, he is just amazing. And he shows it here as well. Having emotional music when there needs to be emotional music and really intense battle music when there needs to be intense battle music. In other words… hell yeah, John Williams!

It is interesting how this movie was shot. I am not saying it does something incredibly unique like “Birdman”, but it is still a curious case. Spielberg is a director who is known for having very steady direction and camera work in his movies (Sidenote: Don’t believe me? Go watch “Jurassic Park” and “E.T.” and then come back). But in this movie he went for a more handheld style. No, it’s not the same as shaky-cam. I am not explaining the differences here, that is for another time. Anyhow, like I said, “Saving Private Ryan” is a rare example of Steven Spielberg going for a more handheld style. And I like it. It gives the movie a more gritty and realistic style, you feel like a fly on an exploding wall. And to add to that we have some of, if not the most brutal and shocking action scenes of all time. Limbs flying off, heads exploding… this isn’t traditional Spielberg. And while the brutality will be too much for some people to stomach, I feel like it just added to the movie and is part of why it is so great.

This movie is one of the most critically well-received movies ever(ish). On Rotten Tomatoes the movie has a 93% positive rating and is certified “Fresh”. On Metacritic it has the incredible score of 90/100. Roger Ebert also loved it, giving it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #33 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 5 Oscars in the categories of Best Director, Best cinematography, Best sound, Best sound effects editing and Best Film editing. It was also nominated for an additional 6 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Original Screenplay, Best set decoration, Best makeup and Best original dramatic score. 

“Saving Private Ryan” is a brutal, gritty, thoughtful, dark movie filled with terrific performances, a terrific score, great direction/camera work, excellent action scenes and a beautiful ending. Time for my final score. God damn it, Jeff. Where is that son of a bitch? There you are, what took you so l- what the fuck happened to your leg? Nazis shot it off? Well do you have the envelope? Thank you! My final score for “Saving Private Ryan” is a 9,88/10. It does of course get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Saving Private Ryan” is now reviewed.

So much trouble for one guy? Damn…