Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 2 (2019)

Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of this show. And now the second one has come to an end over here. So I guess that means I should talk about it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 2.

We once again follow rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his land from opposing forces, new and old. All the while his three kids (Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley) deal with a lot of personal issues of their own, while there’s also stuff going on with the people working for John. So now we have a more “Yellowstone”… in all the ways that entails. On one hand you do get a lot of that epic crime-drama that the show mostly sells itself on, and that shit is insanely compelling, always riding a line of grey morality perfectly, giving us some truly great tv at times. Buuuuuut then it also wallows a bit in family melodrama. At times that stuff doesn’t bother me, as there are points when it’s decently well handled. But then there are times when it sort of just drags the show down, and makes it kinda boring at times. I don’t need the crime-drama stuff all the time, but the family drama here isn’t always that great. So overall the story is pretty good. Flawed, but solid.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Kevin Costner returns as John Dutton, the aging patriarch of this family. He has to come to terms with his own age a bit this season, at the same time as all this crazy shit happens around him, and it’s pretty interesting. And Costner is once again really good in the role. Luke Grimes returns as John’s son Kayce, a father who has to deal with some issues with his wife and son, while also having to manage his new role at his father’s ranch. And while I had slightly mixed feelings about him last season, he kinda grew to become my favorite this time around. And Grimes is really good in the role. Kelly Reilly returns as Beth, John’s take-no-nonsense daughter who often acts as a bit of a wild card, even if she is a bit more restrained this time around due to development from last season. And once again, she’s an interesting character, with Reilly giving a great performance. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s lawyer son, and holy shit, he gets some actual development this season. They made Jamie interesting! And Bentley is great in the role, even if he still constantly scowls like someone shat in his backyard. Cole Hauser returns as Rip, the ranch hand/resident tough guy, and he’s once again great in the role. The stuff with returning antagonists Danny Huston and Gil Birminham is still solid. And new antagonist Neal McDonough, he’s pretty good. We of course also get supporting performances from people like Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith, Hugh Dillon, Ryan Bingham, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” was composed by Brian Tyler. And it was once again good. Tense, emotional, and fitting of the semi-western tone that the show goes for. It’s solid stuff that fits the various scenes it’s used in.  There’s of course also a lot of licensed music used throughout (especially from the band Whiskey Myers). And that music works well enough for the respective scenes they get used in.

The show was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, with Sheridan staying on as writer for all the episodes, but let a bunch of other cool people handle directing. And the craft on display here is generally good. A lot of nice looking shots of the sweeping vistas, some decent looking shots for smaller moments. The directing often elevates the material here, which is what makes some of those melodramatic scenes I mentioned earlier a bit more tolerable. And the direction also helps make some scenes quite suspenseful when needed. ’tis a solidly crafted show.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no overall score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “Yellowstone” reaches some great heights, but wallows enough in some melodramatic lows to still bring it down overall. It has a pretty good plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” is an 8,52/10. So while not perfect, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 2 is now completed.

Cooooooostneeeeeer.

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 1 (2018)

Kevin Costner. What an interesting career this man has had. From being one of the biggest stars of the late 80s/early 90s, to kinda going into obscurity for a while, and then kinda making a comeback in the 2010s. And now he stars on a tv show. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Yellowstone” season 1.

The story follows John Dutton (Kevin Costner), an aging rancher, as he tries to keep his family in check while also dealing with various parties trying to encroach on his land. So now we have our neo-western-drama-thingamabob. And while it does dip a bit much into melodrama at times, I find the story here to be quite interesting, taking some really colorful characters and having them scheming around for the sake of their own or someone else’s success. The pacing does suffer a bit at times, and like I said, there’s a strong stench of melodrama at times. But overall it’s still a highly entertaining plot with some solid drama sprinkled throughout.

The characters in this are flawed, entertaining, surprisingly layered, and overall interesting. Kevin Costner plays John Dutton, the aging patriarch of the Dutton family and owner of the Yellowstone cattle ranch. He has demons of his past he has to deal with while also trying to keep his entire livelihood going with everything going against him at once, making him pretty interesting even though he can be a bit of an ass at times. And Costner is great in the role. Next we have Kelly Reilly as Beth, John’s daughter. She has a lot of issues that she at the start of the series hasn’t gone through, making her kind of a fucking mess. But she also has one of the best arcs in the series. And Reilly is great in the role. Next we have Luke Grimes as Kayce (Kay-see), one of John’s sons. A former Marine, he tries to balance being a Dutton with trying to be a good father and husband, which is quite complicated. And Grimes is really good in the role. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s other son, who also happens to his lawyer. Yes, he’s a little smarmy, but mostly he’s probably the outlier of the family in a sense. And Bentley is good in the role. We also have Cole Hauser as Rip, John’s second hand man, who has to keep the ranch going in the events when John is unavailable. And while I won’t say too much more about Rip, I’ll just say that he’s my favorite character on the show. And Hauser is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Absille, Jefferson White, Ian Bohen, Brecken Merrill, Ryan Bingham, Josh Lucas, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler, and I think he did a great job with it. Obviously taking influence from various westerns, he creates an ambient score that works very well within the show to create a certain mood. The theme he composed for the show is also pretty damn solid. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Created by John Linson and Taylor Sheridan, all episodes this season were written and directed by Sheridan. And the craft here is really solid. Well shot, at times tense, Sheridan does a damn fine job in keeping my eyes stuck to the screen. Ben Richardson’s cinematography is also good.

This show/season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

While season 1 of “Yellowstone” misses the shot in some parts, it’s still a really solid season of television. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good writing/directing/cinematography. Where it falters (as previously mentioned) is in its occasionally dodgy pacing and unnecessarily frequent dips into melodrama. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” is an 8,61/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 1 is now completed.

Movie megastar Kevin Costner doing long-form tv. Still blows my mind.

Movie Review: Eden Lake (2008)

Time for another Month of Spooks review, and this one is of an actual horror movie, I swear. So what’s on the table today? Backwoods stuff? Great…

Ladies and gentlemen… “Eden Lake”.

A nursery school teacher (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) decide to just get away for a bit, and decide to go on a romantic weekend at the remote area known as Eden Lake. But after they confront som loud teenagers, their romantic weekend away soon turns into hell on earth. So now we have our backwoods horror-thriller. And fucking hell, this shit is unrelenting. I mean, it’s utterly compelling and it had me in its grip from start to finish, but it was also quite an uncomfortable watch, which isn’t really a detriment to the movie, but it doesn’t make it very quote, unquote “enjoyable”. I do like that there’s a natural and believable buildup/escalation from the youths just being a simple nuisance, to shit really hitting the fan, adds some nice layering to it, perfectly building up the threat of the movie. The story is dark, bleak, unrelenting, unforgiving, and uncomfortable, and that’s what makes it as solid as it is.

The characters in this… I honestly don’t know what to say. The two mains are fairly likable, they’re not terrible, they’re decently well developed. Kelly Reilly plays Jenny, a teacher who just wanted a nice weekend with her boyfriend. She’s charming, likable, and when push comes to shove, she’s surprisingly tough and clever, but in a realistic and interesting way. And Reilly is absolutely fantastic in the role. Next we have Michael Fassbender as Steve, Jenny’s boyfriend. He’s the kind of guy who loves joking around with his girlfriend, but he’s not a dick. And I found him to be an interesting character to follow in this. And Fassbender is great in the role. And then we have a young Jack O’Connell as Brett, the leader of this gang of miscreants (to put it lightly). He’s a horrible individual, taking pleasure in the suffering of others, being an absolutely unrelenting threat to our two leads. And I found him to be a solid antagonist for the movie. And O’Connell is great in the role. The rest of the cast is rounded out by people like Finn Atkins, Thomas Turgoose, Jumayn Hunter, James Burrows, and Tom Gill, among others, and there is no such thing as a weak performance here, they’re all good.

The score for the movie was composed by David Julyan, and I barely noticed it. I mean, there were moments where I heard it, and in those moments it was good and worked well enough for the scene. But for the most part I never picked up on it… maybe I couldn’t hear it over the racing of my heart. But Julyan usually makes great stuff, and the little I did hear in this was good, so I’ll say that it was good.

“Eden Lake” was written and directed by James Watkins, and I think he did a great job. The level of intensity is impressive, and it had me on the edge of my seat for pretty much all of the runtime. It’s fucking unrelenting, just when you think you’re getting a minute to breathe, it comes right back and fucks with you some more. And that kind of intensity I think works excellently for the movie, and I’d say that it makes it quite scary in that regard. And Christopher Ross’ cinematography is really solid too, creating some pretty damn good looking shots.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

“Eden Lake” is not for everyone. But if you want an intense, uncomfortable, and brutal backwoods thriller, then I highly recommend the movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Eden Lake” is a 9,56/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Eden Lake” is now completed.

Jesus fucking Christ.