Series Review: Godless (2017)

A Netflix western miniseries? Yeah, I didn’t need any convincing to watch this. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Godless”.

Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) used to be part of an infamous gang up until he betrayed them. And the gang’s leader, Frank (Jeff Daniels), wants Roy dead for that. So now Roy is hiding out in a town called La Belle, a town run entirely by women. So now we have our western plot. And with this plot they embrace pretty much every western cliché known to man… but they also put some interesting new perspectives on them to make them feel a bit more fresh. There’s a lot of good drama here that I found myself quite invested in while they still gave me some of the classic western plot points. If I had to make a comparison in plot style I’d say that this is part “The Beguiled” and part “Red Dead Redemption”. There’s the women-majority cast of the first, and the violent gang betrayal stuff of the latter. And I think it makes for an interesting mix in this show. Hell, I’d say that it’s great.

The characters here are given a good amount of time to develop and I think they’re interesting. Jack O’Connell plays Roy Goode, the former outlaw hiding out in La Belle. He has the kill-skills from his gang-days, but you can tell that he’s also a good guy who prefers to live quietly and help out. He’s a tragic character and O’Connell is great in the role. Michelle Dockery plays Alice Fletcher, the woman who is responsible for helping/hiding Goode. She’s tough, but she also shows a more vulnerable side during the show, giving her a good amount of layers. And Dockery is great in the role. Then we have Merritt Wever as Mary Agnes, one of the many women of Le Belle. She’s tough as hell, but you can tell that she’s also a sad and damaged character. And Wever is great in the role. Then we have Scott McNairy as Bill McNue, the Sheriff of La Belle and one of very few men there. He’s aging, but he’s still determined to get the job done. And McNairy is great in the role. Then we have Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin, the outlaw in charge that Roy Goode betrayed. What I like about him is that he isn’t just a ruthless asshole kind of outlaw, but he’s given a lot of interesting sides to him. He’s damaged, he’s charismatic, he has a kind heart, but he is also an intimidating outlaw that will shoot you dead if you cross him. And Daniels is absolutely great in the role. The final one I want to go slightly more in-depth with is Whitey Winn, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster. He’s a slightly over-confident young deputy. But they don’t go the route of making his over-confidence turning him into an unlikable idiot (which so many shows/movies do), but they show that it’s a flaw of his. But generally he is a good guy that is worth liking. And Brodie-Sangster is great in the role. And then you can expect some great performances from people like Kim Coates, Samuel Marty, Tantoo Cardinal, Sam Waterston, Christiane Seidel, Erik LaRay Harvey, Jessica Sula, and many more. Seriously, this is an incredibly well acted series.

The score for the show was composed by Carlos Rafael Rivera and it was pretty fucking great. Trumpets, strings, piano, other types of brass… seriously, this is a full-on western score emulating a lot of classic ones and it makes me so happy. And overall it is just fantastic, perfectly fitting the show and often elevating scenes throughout the show.

This show was created by Scott Frank and Steven Soderbergh, with Frank having written and directed all of the episodes. And I think he did a fantastic job with that. His direction here is sweeping, but also tight and focused when it needs to. It has a good sense of flow and style to it, while also managing to create a good amount of tension to it whenever it needs to. And let’s talk about the shooty-bang-bangs (I know they’re called shootouts, but I prefer my phrase for them). They’re badass, fun, exciting, and quite violent. There’s even a decent amount of tension in them, making them even more interesting.

This show just came out but has already been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it (as of writing this) has a score of 8,5/10.

“Godless” is another win for Netflix. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Godless” is a 9,85/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Godless” is now completed.

Part of me wants more. But part of me feels like it should stay a miniseries.

Movie Review: Open Range (2003)

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If you’ve followed my blog for some time then you are probably aware that I love westerns. It’s probably my favorite movie genre. So whenever I get the chance to watch a western, I get excited. I get even more excited when I get to talk about said westerns here on the blog.

Ladies and gents… “Open Range”.

Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) are two men who run a crew that makes sure their cattle gets to graze in the nice, open fields. But at one point they happen to get into trouble with a corrupt Sheriff (James Russo) and the local rancher (Michael Gambon) who happens to be a bit of a kingpin. So to keep this shit short and sweet, they get into trouble with these guys and have to try to stop them/take them out. Pretty standard western stuff, but I have to say that I was surprised at the depth that the plot had. It’s not just some cattle men who also happen to be gunslingers who have to take out some corrupt people, but there are so many more layers to it that I can’t get into because this review is supposed to be spoiler free. There are tons of little elements to the plot of “Open Range” that make it such an engaging watch. Yeah, it’s really good.

The characters in this movie are layered, interesting, and simply entertaining. Robert Duvall is (as we all know) a great actor, and it shows here too. He gives a terrific performance in this movie while also being pretty badass. Kevin Costner also gives a really good performance in this movie. And these two central actors have really good chemistry too, perfectly building off of each other. I’m not saying that you should expect there to be a whole bunch of really funny banter like Riggs and Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon” or Harry and Gay Perry from “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”. I’m simply saying that they work very well together. We also get some really good performances from people like Annette Bening, Diego Luna, Abraham Benrubi, Michael Gambon, and Michael Jeter (R.I.P).

The film’s original score was composed by Michael Kamen (R.I.P) who of course made the music to movies like “Die Hard” and the previously mentioned “Lethal Weapon”. And the music he did for this movie is pretty damn good. Sure, a lot of it sounds like typical western stuff… but that isn’t a bad thing. It sounds great and it really makes the movie feel a lot bigger while also sounding great overall. Also, the song that plays during the end credits, “Holding All My Love For You” by Julianna Raye, is pretty damn good too.

This movie was directed by none other than… *drumroll* Kevin Costner! Yup, one of the stars of this movie also directed it. Not that it’s the first time that it has been done (not even the first for Costner), and it sure as hell isn’t the last either. But to call this movie well directed would be an understatement. Yes, I am saying that this movie looks fucking phenomenal and I was in awe at several shots in the movie. And while there aren’t that many shootouts in this movie, in fact there’s actually only one, really… near the end. And I honestly think that it is absolutely awesome. It goes on for some time too, which is great for me, because western shootouts are fun to witness. And since this goes on for a while and also features a good amount of dudes being gunned down, it will please those who love a good ol’ fashioned shooty-bang-bang session.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Open Range” is a movie that surprised me a pretty good amount. It has a great plot, great characters, great acting, great music, great directing, and an awesome shootout. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “Open Range” is a 9,87/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Open Range” is now done.

Duvall shotgun

Movie Review: Black Hawk Down (2001)

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*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes.

Ladies and gentlemen, we got a… “Black Hawk Down”.

In 1993, a band of American troopers were sent in Mogadishu, Somalia to try to take down a local warlord who is the cause of a civil war. However when one of their Black Hawk choppers crash in the city they have to fight for survival against essentially everyone in the city… or at least a lot of heavily-armed Somalis. And while the story doesn’t have a lot of cultural empathy, it’s still one hell of a ride. What we have here is a really intense war story and how it affects different people in this situation. And it was all very riveting. There is rarely a calm moment in this movie, so when there finally is a bit of calm you never really take it for granted. But I have to say that it was really interesting, intriguing and pretty well handled.

The characters in this movie are nothing to write home about. They are all bland and never really develop at any time. And I know that you might be sitting there like “Come on, they’re in a war, there is no time for character development”. Three words: “Saving Private Ryan”, a war movie that is just as intense but takes the time to develop it’s characters and keep them interesting. The only reason you care for the characters in this movie is because the movie makes you root for them but introducing them in the beginning and making sure you don’t completely hate them. The only one I actually still really cared about was Josh Hartnett’s characters, but that’s really only because he gets the most space out of everyone. That and his performance is pretty great. That is something positive I can say: while the characters are bland and such, the acting is still fucking phenomenal, great work by everyone in the movie.

The score for the movie was composed by the ever so masterful Hans Zimmer. It is tense, emotional, big and badass. I would really say that it perfectly fit a war movie of this size and scope while also working very well musically overall. I also like the good mix of licensed tracks in the movie because they all worked really well in my opinion.

“Black Hawk Down” was directed by Ridley Scott who I am a huge fan of and once again, he delivered. First off, the movie is masterfully shot and directed and never really has any of that terrible shaky-cam bullshit. And the action scenes are very well handled too. They are both masterfully crafted and plentiful, so anyone in need of realistic war-action, look no further. I will just say that at one point there was so much intensity going on that I thought I was gonna get a heart attack from this damn movie. Thankfully the movie felt like quieting down for a bit around that time so I could catch my breath.

This movie was well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10. The movie also won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best film editing and Best sound. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best director and Best cinematography. 

“Black Hawk Down” is a really intense war movie with an engaging plot, bland & uninteresting characters, great acting, great music,  great directing and excellent action. Time for my final score. AAAAAAHHHHH. My final score for “Black Hawk Down” is a 9,38/10. I would say that it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Black Hawk Down” is now completed.

Only the dead have seen the end of war. 

Series Review: Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014)

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For some reason I am very interested in crime-related stories. Whether they are real or not, they just interest me. And I don’t necessarily mean reading about them on the internet, I mean read books, watch movies or TV relating to crime in one way or another. And one type of crime-related thing that I’ve always had a keen interest in is the world of biker gangs. Hells Angels, Bandidos, you name ’em. So then I found out that my parents had started watching a TV-show about a biker gang. So I got pretty interested and started watching with them. And now that it’s over I thought it could be fun to review it for you people (Sidenote: I know it finished fall of 2014, but the last episodes didn’t arrive here in Sweden until 2015).

Sons and daughters… “Sons of Anarchy”.

This show follows a biker gang in the fictional city of Charming, California, but the main focus is on member Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam). And being part of a biker gang like that sounds fine and dandy… except if you recently have become a father like Jax. It also gets more difficult when he has to balance that and being part of a gang that takes part in criminal activities. The club is led by Jax’s stepfather Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) who might be a little bit corrupt in his ways. So throughout the show we get to see Jax struggle with both being part of this criminal gang and being a decent father. Now while what I explain might sound “meh”, it is actually really intriguing. It is a great set up for a great plot and a great execution of said plot. Every season they have new obstacles to face, new enemies to fight and new situations to be part of. I love the plot and execution of the show.

The characters in the show are some of the best I have ever seen. They are both incredibly well-written and incredibly well-acted. Let’s start with our protagonist Jax. I think Charlie Hunnam was the perfect pick for him. Sure, I never questioned it since I had no idea about this show until about 2010/2011. But I think he portrayed the character perfectly. He gets a lot of development throughout the show. From the not too trigger-happy rookie guy to the great leader/killing machine. That is not a spoiler since I didn’t tell you what happened to him! Now I am quickly gonna go through the main members of the club so this doesn’t get too long. Ron Perlman  as Clay is kind of like a more asshole-y version of Hellboy (Fitting since he played Hellboy). Next is Jax’s mother/Clay’s wife Gemma (Katey Sagal). She is a major bitch through the show. but I can’t deny that Sagal plays her pitch perfectly, she was awesome. Filip “Chibs” Telford (Tommy Flanagan) is the Scottish and awesome sort of best friend of everyone in the club. He is loyal, he is badass and he got an awesome accent. Robert “Bobby” Munson (Mark Boone Junior) is the sort of uncle of everyone in the club. He is a big guy with a big heart and knows how to show loyalty towards his close friends/fellow members. Alex “Tig” Trager (Kim Coates)… such a sick little bastard. I am not kidding, he is a sick fucking guy… butthat is what makes him so awesome. Don’t worry, he can be serious and a good man whenever he wants to. And finally we have Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz (Theo Rossi) who is the little guy in the club, but he can kick a lot of ass when he needs to. Every actor is doing a fantastic job in this show and never feel miscast. There are more characters of course, but most of them are sort of back and forth type characters… but they still play big parts. The characters and acting in the show are awesome.

The music in this show is some of the greatest I have heard. Maybe I am just biased considering the majority of the music is rock/metal… but it is still great. The soundtrack is for the most part done by the band “The Forest Rangers”. The badass music fits the badass style of the show. There are also a lot of covers of well-known rock songs such as Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. We of course also have the main theme tune “This life” by The Forest Rangers and Curtis Stigers… I love it. It fits the show perfectly and is a great musical track overall.

This show is very well-directed. For one, you can see the action happen, it isn’t obstructed by shaky-cam (Woohoo!). The show also got a lot of dark humor mixed in every now and then to keep the mood nice and light-hearted if it’s needed. But the humor is often VERY dark, so maybe all people won’t like it. Another warning I might give is that the show is incredibly violent. So if you are squeamish then maybe not have a look… or have a look and see if you can take it. Here is also a little fun fact; Katey Sagal who plays Gemma is married to the creator of the show, Kurt Sutter who shows up in the show a few times as the character Otto. Another fun thing is that in a few episodes we get a cameo from the founder of Hells Angels himself, Sonny Barger… that’s kinda cool to know. I can also admit that this show have made me cry more than once… yeah, good job. I can probably also say that my favorite season might be the final one. Sure, all seasons are fantastically well-paced, but the final season is so suspenseful and great that it just becomes my favorite. So here is a question; If you have seen the show, which season is your favorite? And who is you favorite character? Mine might be either Tig or Chibs… can’t decide.

This is a show with universal critical acclaim. Now I am not able to give you the overall scores of most sites since they divide by season and have no overall score, but I can still link them. Rotten Tomatoes! Here comes Metacritic! And finally we have an overall score on the one and only imdb.com where it has an 8,7/10.

“Sons of Anarchy” got a great story with a great finale, some great characters/performances, amazing music, great directing/camera work, great action and just a great feel throughout. Final score time! My final score for “Sons of Anarchy” is a 9,92/10 which of course grants it… the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Sons of Anarchy” is now reviewed.

Ride into this world…