Series Review: StartUp – Season 1 (2016)

Before we get started with the review itself, I just want to take a second to mention that I think crypto seems like complete fucking bogus. Aaaaand that is all, let’s get into the main thing.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “StartUp” season 1.

When they happen to cross paths for various reasons, a timid banker (Adam Brody), a struggling entrepreneur (Otmara Marrero), and a gangster (Edi Gathegi) team up to try to launch a new form of digital currency, all while a corrupt federal agent (Martin Freeman) lurks around, causing trouble. I found the story of “StartUp” to be pretty enjoyable… but seldom did it go beyond that. There’s a few moments where it perked up a bit more, a few dramatic turns where I was like “Hey… a bit of drama!”. Otherwise it’s sort of just another perfectly enjoyable crime-drama featuring good people and bad people crossing paths in various ways. It’s kinda hard to describe how I felt about the storytelling here, because it doesn’t stick out that much. It’s just sort of there, serving up 10 episodes of not-bad-but-also-not-great story. I wasn’t ever bored, but never did I find myself super engaged either. Like I said, it’s roughly seven hours of alright crime-drama storytelling.

The characters in this are all decently interesting. Not necessarily the deepest ever, but they had enough going on to the point where I found them quite engaging. First off is Nick Talman, a kind-hearted banker who decides to help another one of our leads with her project. He’s arguably one of the blander characters in our cast, but he works as a good buffer to balance out the cast. Plus, Adam Brody gives a really nuanced performance, which does add another layer of depth. Next we have Ronald Dacey, a family man and gangster. He is my favorite character in the show, because he shows a lot of interesting layers, all while having one of the more substantial arcs of the season. And Edi Gathegi is absolutely fantastic in the role. Next we have Izzy Morales, the entrepreneur and hacker who sort of gets the ball rolling on that new digital currency thing. She’s driven, she’s flawed, she’s layered, and she’s just generally a really interesting character, with Otmara Marrero giving a damn good performance. And then we have Phil Rask, our resident bent federal agent. He’s an interesting fella, works really well in terms of writing… so let’s talk performance. Rask is played by Martin Freeman, an actor I like a lot. And when he has to be a little quiet, friendly, vulnerable, that sort of stuff, Freeman’s good, that’s the type of stuff he works for. But he also has a good amount of moments where he has to be menacing and a bit of tough guy, aaaaaand I just don’t believe Freeman in those moments. He is acting his heart out in those moments, which I do have to give kudos to. But he really feels a bit miscast in this role. Like I said, I like Freeman a lot, and he has his moments in this, but on the whole he feels a little off for the part. As for supporting cast, we got people like Tony Plana, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Jared Wofford, Aarony Yoo, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Chris Hajian, and I think he did a good job with it. The score’s mostly based in an electronic, synthesized sound to sort of fit with the whole tech, start-up type setting/story we got, and while it doesn’t necessarily stick out in my mind, I did think it worked well enough for the show. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout the season, and they all work well for their respective scenes.

“StartUp” was created by Ben Ketai, with writing and directing over the season being done by him and various other people. And I think the direction on display here is alright. It does everything it’s supposed to, but never sticks out that much in my mind. Shots are well done and well paced, action beats are handled just fine, it’s just fairly solid craft on the crew’s part. Again, much like the story, it’s well done, but also doesn’t go above and beyond. It’s good.

This show/season has gotten a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 36% positive rating.  On Metacritic the season has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 7.8/10.

While it does stumble a little bit in some regards, season 1 of “StartUp” is still a solid enough crime-drama. It has a pretty good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “StartUp” is a 7.66/10. So I’d say it’s worth watching.

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

“The future of currency”, my ass.

Movie Review: It Comes at Night (2017)

Survival. Something we all experience in our lives on various levels. A lot of us have it very easy, since we have homes and can pay bills to get heat and such in them. Then we have others who live on the streets or out in the woods, struggling to find supplies or shelter to survive. And one day we might all be in that type of situation if we’re unlucky.

Ladies and gentlemen… “It Comes at Night”.

The world has gone to shit. A mysterious threat has made it very hard to live out in the world. To keep himself and his family safe from this threat, a man (Joel Edgerton) has isolated himself and his family in a very secure house in the middle of nowhere. And we follow them as they try to survive. And I know what you’re thinking… sort of. And I want you to take your expectations, and throw them out of the fucking window. This is an unusual little horror plot, relying more on dread, paranoia, and slowly building tension rather than jumps and disturbing imagery. Sure, there is a little bit of disturbing imagery in the movie, but it’s not the focus on this. It’s a slowly burning psychological horror movie, and I thought it was very riveting. from the very first frame I started feeling a great sense of unease. Tense, bleak, dramatic, harrowing. Yeah, this is a great plot. Again, throw those expectations out… this is far from whatever you could imagine.

The characters here are layered, understandable in their motivations, likable, interesting, and I found myself caring about all of them. I’m not gonna go in-depth with all of them, as I feel they’re best experienced, since my explanation of them could ruin the interesting discoveries one might make about them. But I can at least say that every actor here (including people like Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) does a fantastic job, there is no weak link in the cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian McOmber and I think he did a great job. His score is dark, tense, eerie, and helped to create some truly uneasy and even kind of scary moments throughout the film. It’s truly one of those scores that helped elevate the movie.

This movie was written and directed by Trey Edward Shults and I think he did a fantastic job. His direction here is tight tense, and never lets the feeling of unease go away. He makes us feel the same kind of paranoia as the characters in this movie, and that makes it feel a whole lot more immersive. And the cinematography by Drew Daniels is stunning, and makes perfect use of light and darkness to make you feel uneasy and even scared at times. Don’t expect your typical kinds of scariness here, this is a wholly unique type of horror.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

“It Comes at Night” is highly unusual, and I think it’s much better for it. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “It Comes at Night” is a 9,86/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “It Comes at Night” is now completed.

If you’re interested in watching the movie, then don’t watch any trailers. And like I said earlier… throw those expectations out.