Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

I was gonna do a joke about a priest walking into a bar, but I couldn’t come up with a good punchline. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Times at the El Royale”.

The late 1960s. On the border between California and Nevada lies the El Royale, a snazzy-looking motel. And on one fateful day, a group of strangers all decide to book rooms there, all of them carrying some secret. And we follow them as they get tangled up in the most insane night of their lives. The plot here jumps around a lot, partly in showing how all the characters got to the El Royale, and partly to show all the different perspectives on certain events that go down at the motel. And this could get messy and convoluted if put in the wrong hands. But I think that it was handled very well here. I like that they really took their time to tell this story. It’s intriguing, suspenseful, fun, pulpy, and just overall entertaining.

The characters here are colorful, unique, layered, flawed, and just overall really interesting. And that’s all you’ll get out of me. I won’t go any more in-depth on any of them, as that would be really tough without accidentally spoiling stuff. So let’s just list the cast. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and it was really good. It does lean into the pulp angle I mentioned earlier, which really helps sell the movie’s vibe while still adding to the sense of tension and drama. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only are they really good on their own, but they also work incredibly well within their respective scenes.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” was written and directed by Drew Goddard, who I think did a great job with it. He gives the movie a very slick style that makes it feel somewhat unique, without sacrificing any of the pulpy suspense that is built up through the story, characters, and music. And the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is pretty stellar, giving us some really great looking shots throughout the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” is something that I can easily tell will polarize audiences. But I thought it was great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9,71/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is now completed.

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…

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Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 4 (2017)

That’s right, another “Line of Duty” review. But don’t worry, it’s the last one… until season 5 makes its way over here.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 4!

AC-12 is back, this time investigating the recent, slightly suspicious actions of a highly decorated detective chief inspector (Thandie Newton). Twists, turns, and “holy shit” abound. Yeah, it’s another season of “Line of Duty”, the edge-of-your-seat police procedural that I still have no way of predicting where it would go each season. The threads brought back from previous seasons are tied wonderfully into some stuff here, and the new plot is great too. Really, there’s not much else that I can say without repeating what I said the last three times I reviewed this show. It’s more “Line of Duty”… and it’s great. Not season 3 great, but still great.

The characters here are as flawed, unique, layered, and interesting as always. To avoid repeating myself, I will not go over the three mains again, as I can’t say anything new about them here without going into potential spoilers. But the three of them (Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar) are still great characters complemented by great performances. So let’s get into the new part of the core cast (for the season), that being Thandie Newton as DCI Roseanne “Roz” Huntley, a tough-as-nails policewoman who’s worked hard to get where she is. Not only is it interesting seeing her dealing with AC-12 and their inquiries, but she also has her own dealings (for lack of a better word) that she tries to handle throughout the six episodes, and that stuff is pretty engaging as well. So yeah, Huntley is an interesting character, and Newton is great in the role. And in the supporting roles we find people like Lee Ingleby, Paul Higgins, Maya Sondhi, Jason Watkins, Scott Reid, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As per the first three seasons, the music here was done by Carly Paradis, and once again it is great. Most of the time it’s a subtle piano piece that sneaks the main theme in a bit, but it does also know when to get a bit more tense, exciting, and loud. It’s probably my favorite iteration of the score so far. It doesn’t do anything overly new or groundbreaking, but it’s probably the most polished and balanced version we’ve gotten so far, and that’s an A+ in my book.

As per usual, all the episodes were written by series creator/showrunner Jed Mercurio, who even took on directing duties for the first two episodes, with John Strickland taking on the remaining four. And like with the score, this is probably the most polished version of the show so far. That’s not to say that they shy away from some of the gritty stuff… ’cause they don’t. It’s just that you can tell that they’ve come a long way since the first season in terms of both budget and storytelling confidence. Remember how I mentioned the “edge-of-your-seat” thing from before? Yeah, that applies to the direction too. In terms of suspense in television, few do it as well as “Line of Duty”.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #158 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

So yeah, as expected, season 4 of “Line of Duty” is fucking great. Great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 4 is a 9,92/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 4 is now completed.

This show is too addictive for my own good.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 2 (2014)

Season 1 got reviewed a few weeks back. Time to finally talk about season 2.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 2!

When a super secret police convoy get attacked by some masked assailants, Arnott (Martin Compston), Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), and the rest of AC-12 have to look into the possibility of someone within the police leaking the convoy’s route. So now we have our plot set up. And while there was nothing wrong with the first season’s plot, it is nowhere as layered, unpredictable, and electrifying as what they got going on here in the sophomore outing. In the first season they were trying to find the show’s voice, but here in season 2 they found it, and they had a lot of confidence in the storytelling. The way it engages through clever drama and really tight suspense makes for one of the best seasons of television I’ve seen in quite some time.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and really interesting. Martin Compston returns as Steve Arnott, the young-ish man working with AC-12 to stop corruption. He is given a good amount of development here, making him even more interesting than he was in the first season, while still keeping the determined nature that made him so engaging to begin with. And Compston is great in the role. Vicky McClure returns as Kate Fleming, AC-12’s resident undercover officer. She gets development here through something in the case that I won’t spoil, but it’s an interesting touch. And McClure is great in the role. Adrian Dunbar returns as Ted Hastings, the likable boss of AC-12. He has some personal problems that he deals with while also trying to be involved in the case, which is quite interesting to see. And Dunbar is really good in the role. We also get Keeley Hawes as Lindsay Denton, a woman/member of the police who is one of the prime suspects of the case, and they do some really interesting stuff with her character throughout the season. And Hawes is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Craig Parkinson, Mark Bonnar, Tony Pitts, Sacha Dhawan, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first season, the score for this was composed by Carly Paradis, and I think that it’s an improvement on the first season’s music. It still has a heavy focus in piano and some strings, but what it improves on is subtlety. Sure, the score is noticeable, but compared to the first season, it never gets overbearing at any point, and just ends up being this emotional powerhouse that makes the show even better than it already was.

The show was created by Jed Mercurio, who also wrote all the episodes here, with direction split between Douglas Mackinnon and Daniel Nettheim. And the craft here is even tighter than in the first season, with plenty more “holy shit” moments throughout, which keeps the show energetic and tense, even in the most subtle and quiet of scenes. A lot of cop shows fail in creating genuine suspense, but season 2 of “Line of Duty” never wavers in that regard.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #165 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 2 of “Line of Duty” takes what was good about the first season and improves on it in every aspect. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 2 is a 9,91/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 2 is now completed.

I can see now why you Brits keep banging on about this show.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 1 (2012)

Sorry that it’s been so long since my last blog post, which was… almost two weeks ago, yikes. I have no good reason for this lack of writing, my laziness has just been awful to me. But now I’m (hopefully) back for semi-regular posting.

Ladies and gents… “Line of Duty” season 1.

After an anti-terrorist operation he’s leading goes awry, Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) gets transferred to a different department, one that focuses on stopping corruption within the police. So we follow him as he deals with some of the aftermath of the fuck-up, while also trying to stop a certain, beloved, potentially corrupt officer within the police. So now we have our plot. And it’s pretty great. It manages to give us plenty of details to create a vivid picture while still hiding an ace up the sleeve in each episode, keeping it suspenseful, unpredictable, and constantly interesting.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and interesting. First up we have Martin Compston as DS Steve Arnott, former anti-terror squad leader, currently member of the anti-corruption department. He’s a man who’s always on the prowl to get the job done… as long as it is by the book, because he’s a good guy who doesn’t fuck around and lie. And I found him to be a solid protagonist. And Compston is great in the role. Next we have Lennie James as Anthony Gates, a highly ranked and beloved officer within the police, and the person that Arnott and crew are investigating. He’s a highly determined, charismatic, and skilled policeman who seems like a good guy, but might also have some skeletons in the closet. And James is great in the role. We also get Vicky McClure as Kate, someone within the police whose allegiance is toyed with a bit. Not in a “is she a villain?” kind of way, but more in a “What’s she playing at?” kind of way, and it makes her quite an interesting part of the cast. And McClure is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Adrian Dunbar, Owen Teale, Neil Morrissey, Craig Parkinson, Gina McKee, Kate Ashfield, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Carly Paradis, and it was good. It leans into a lot of piano, and some strings too, creating a dramatic tone that suits the story and character development on display in the series. Not all tracks hit it out of the park for me, as some of them can feel a little overbearing, but I wouldn’t say that I actively dislike any of them. Overall I’d just say that the music here is really good.

The show was created by Jed Mercurio, who also wrote all the episodes, with directing being split between David Caffrey and Douglas MacKinnon. And this teamwork gives us a show with a very gritty and intense look at the world that the characters inhabit. Which is especially impressive considering how much of this show is spent on some of the more mundane aspects of police work, making it tense and exciting through camerawork and clever writing.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #173 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

The first season of “Line of Duty” is an intense ride that I really enjoyed watching. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 1 is a 9,82/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 1 is now completed.

I’m back.

Movie Review: Mystic River (2003)

I had no real reason to review this movie. It was on tv last night, and that rewatch made me wanna talk about it. So no proper reason. I mean, I could tie it into Eastwood’s new movie “The Mule”, but… nah.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mystic River”.

After one of them suffers a horrific family tragedy, three childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon) find their lives change in some dark, shattering ways. So now we have our crime-drama. And I loved the story here. It’s a slowly burning, somber, and contemplative drama, focusing more on showing what happens within people’s minds after they experience something horrific, rather than a typical murder mystery. This is what I meant with the somber and contemplative. Yes, you do have the murder investigation, but it’s really more of a character drama than a police procedural. And I find it all extremely engaging, gut-wrenching, and incredibly well done.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, damaged, and just overall really interesting. First up we have Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum, a former criminal turned legit businessman. He’s the man who suffered the family tragedy that kicks the plot into gear, and to see him try to deal with it, especially as a former criminal, is quite an interesting journey. And Penn is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle, the second of the main trio. As a boy, something happened to him that changed his life forever. And recent events put some of those memories back into his mind, which really gives him some interesting character development. And Robbins is fantastic in the role. And then we have Kevin Bacon as Sean Devine, a cop and the third of the childhood friends. He’s the one investigating the death of Markum’s family member, while also kind of dealing with a personal thing in the background. He probably has the least interesting arc of all the characters, but I still find him to be quite interesting. And Bacon is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Spencer Treat Clark, John Doman, Tom Guiry, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a good job with it. It’s emotional, it’s a little eerie, and it just works very well within the various scenes that it can be heard. Yeah, it’s good.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (AKA my favorite author), this movie was directed by Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a fantastic job on that front, directing it with an emotional intimacy that brings us close to the characters, while still allowing for a sense of scale to capture every element of this sweeping tale of personal tragedy. He also brings a decent bit of suspense to it, especially at a certain point in the movie which had me fully locked to the screen.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie won two Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Penn) and best supporting actor (Robbins). It also got an additional four nominations in the categories of Best picture, best director, best supporting actress (Harden), and best adapted screenplay.

“Mystic River” is a fantastic crime-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mystic River” is a 9,89/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mystic River” is now completed.

Tragedy hits us all in different ways. Hug your loved ones while you can.

Movie Review: Glass (2019)

What a weird franchise this is. Supernatural drama “Unbreakable” in 2000, turning out to be a superhero origin. Horror movie “Split” in 2017, turning out to be a secret sequel to “Unbreakable”. And now we get the culmination of that entire thing. What a strange and wonderful world we live in.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Glass”.

Ever since his emergence 19 years ago, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has continued to stop bad guys as a cloaked superhero. And as he’s using his abilities to do this, he’ll run in to his old acquaintance Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), as well as the recently emerged Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). It’s really hard to talk about this plot without spoiling stuff, so that’s where I’m leaving it. I will however say, don’t fully expect “Unbreakable”, and don’t expect a big, climactic superhero action movie. It’s like a hybrid of the superhero breakdown stuff from “Unbreakable” and some of the psychological thriller vibes from “Split”. And for the most part I think it’s really solid, I was thoroughly entertained by the plot here and found it really interesting from a storytelling standpoint. Though the attentive reader also noticed the use of “for the most part”, and that does ring true. I really enjoyed where the plot went for most of it, but by the end I felt weirdly unsatisfied. It’s when we get to the final act and the ending. It’s entertaining and pretty well handled, but it felt just a tad off. So yeah, good plot, even if the ending leaves a bit to be desired.

The characters in this are pretty interesting and overall quite entertaining. First up we have James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, the man with 24 personalities living in his noggin, all vying for some time in the spotlight. And like with “Split”, McAvoy has to go between these different personalities, which can be tough for many actors. But McAvoy nails it, sometimes bouncing between them faster than you can “M. Night Shyamalan”. He’s incredible in the role. Next we have Bruce Willis as David Dunn, the seemingly unbreakable (HA) man. Seeing how he’s evolved as a person since last we (fully) saw him is quite interesting, and he does have some decent character development throughout. And Willis is pretty good in the role, you can tell that he’s actually trying to act here, compared to a lot of other things he’s done recently. And we of course also have Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass. It takes a while for him to get going, but when he does, he’s one of the best parts of the group of characters. And Jackson is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with “Split”, the score for “Glass” was composed by West Dylan Thordson, and it was great. It does emulate some of the stuff that James Newton Howard did with “Unbreakable” without making it come off as a ripoff. But it does also have a lot of horror cues, which of course are nods towards “Split”. And the finished product is an emotional, tense, and overall well done score that works very well for the movie.

As you all know by now, “Glass” was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and I think he did a damn fine job on that front. You can tell that he’s gotten most of his groove back, which gives us a lot of fun details throughout that adds to the experience, whether it’s a thing in the background, or the use of colors throughout to symbolize the different characters. This is old school Shyamalan working on a somewhat more ambitious scale than his first few movies, which works quite well here. And the cinematography by Mike Gioulakis (who also worked on “Split”) is pretty damn good too.

This movie just came out, but has so far gotten quite the mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 42/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10 (as of writing).

While it doesn’t stick the landing, “Glass” is still a really well done movie and a decent enough conclusion to this trilogy. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, the ending isn’t the most satisfying, which is what brings the score down a bit. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Glass” is an 8,75/10. So while it is flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Glass” is now completed.

What a strange little trilogy.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 11)

Part 11. The penultimate part. Man, time sure has flown by. It feels like barely any time has gone by, yet we’re already right at the end of this. Anyway, less sentimentality, more profanity.

Can you really talk about christmas movies without ever mentioning Shane Black? He makes movies that aren’t strictly about the holiday, but are set around it. And “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is no different. Released in 2005, the movie follows Harry (Robert Downey Jr.), a no-good shyster pretending to be an actor to evade the law. As he does this he gets to work with a detective (Val Kilmer) to prepare for a role. But soon they find themselves having to solve the complicated murder of a young woman. So now we have our murder mystery that is also a satire of murder mysteries while also being a buddy cop movie of sorts… hmm. And I still think it’s one hell of a fun movie. I saw it for the first time a few years back and loved it… and I still do. The mystery (while a bit convoluted) is quite fascinating, and Downey and Kilmer make for one hell of a double act. They have an infectious chemistry that I loved following from start to finish. All the performances here are great, and Shane Black’s dialog is as razor sharp as ever. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a total blast.

On the eleventh day of christmas, Markus he did laugh, at Val Kilmer asking “Who taught you math!?”.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 6)

Holy shit, we’re already halfway through this silly thing. Time sure flies.

So, today’s thing is technically a tv episode. But if you know anything about the show, you know the episodes all have a feature length runtime. Also, it’s a holiday special, so I can use it. That’s right ladies and gents, today we are talking about “Sherlock” and its holiday special, “The Abominable Bride”. So in this episode, the characters of Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) get sent back in time to the late 19th century… which is the century the characters originated in… even though this iteration of the characters is from the 2000s… but now they’re in the 1800s… which is where they started… this shit will loop on forever, so I better move on before my fucking brain melts. Anyway, it’s the “Sherlock” version of the characters solving a mystery in the 19th century… but it also tries to interweave aspects of the modern day. For the most part I enjoyed “The Abominable Bride”, the parts in which we see Cramplescrunch and Bilbo Baggins doing the 19th century crime solving, that is fun. But when it tries to involve the modern day stuff and try to have a sort of meta narrative, it doesn’t quite work, and just comes off as a bit smug. I love “Sherlock”… the first two seasons at least, haven’t really seen anything past that. But despite my love for the show, I have to look objectively at this and say that it’s just fine. Which makes me sad, because “Sherlock” at its best is some of the best tv ever made. But if you want a decent enough romp featuring some great actors in period garb, you could do far worse than “The Abominable Bride”.

On the sixth day of christmas, Markus he took on, a man saying “elementary, my dear Watson”. 

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

And the 2018 catch-up continues. Admittedly I don’t have a super specific series set up, but catching up on the year’s movies is what one have to do when nearing the end of said year. Enough rambling, let’s shrink.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ant-Man and the Wasp”.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has to once again don the Ant-Man suit, but instead of using it to steal some shit, he has to use his abilities, as well as the assistance of his ally Hope (Evangeline Lilly), to get hold of some tech to try and pull Janet Van Dyne out of the Quantum Realm. But this quest will prove challenging as opposing forces want this technology for their own purposes. So now we have our “Ant-Man” sequel plot. And it’s good, a fun comic book romp. Has a few decent dramatic moments. Not much I can say, it’s just a fun superhero plot. Doesn’t do much, but doesn’t do little either. It’s fast-paced and easy to follow while expanding on a few of the ideas set up in the first movie. It doesn’t do anything special, but it also doesn’t need to. It’s just an easygoing and fun plot.

The characters in this are colorful, interesting, and really entertaining. Paul Rudd of course returns as Scott Lang, the charming ex-con/superhero with a heart of gold. He’s fun, he’s someone I care about, and he is just generally an enjoyable protagonist. And Paul Rudd is great in the role. Next we have Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne/Wasp. She was just sort of a tough sidekick/teacher in the first movie, but here she gets to do a lot more, especially since she now has her own super suit to play with. And she’s quite an enjoyable character to follow. And Lilly is great in the role. Michael Peña returns as Scott’s best friend, Luis, and he’s just as hilarious as he was the first time around. Michael Douglas returns as Dr. Hank Pym, and he’s once again pretty great. Newcomer time! First up, Hannah John-Kamen as “Ghost”, a mysterious new villain with a pretty compelling arc that I won’t say more about here, but I found it to be pretty cool. And John-Kamen is really good in the role. We also get Walton Goggins as some shady black market dealer, and he’s as Goggins-y as ever, and while his character doesn’t have much to actually do, Goggins is really good in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, Abby Ryder Fortson, David Dastmalchian, Randall Park, T.I., Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

Like with the first movie, Christophe Beck did the score for this one. And it’s just as fun and enjoyable as the first time around. It’s bouncy, irreverent, and just overall fits the lighthearted tone that the movie generally goes for. The added use of synth and (for lack of a better word) bouncy percussion really helps keep the pace up. It’s just fun. And there are a few licensed tracks used throughout that work well enough in their respective scenes.

As with the first movie, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” was directed by Peyton Reed and I think he did a good job with it. His directing is fun, fast-paced, and just generally has a certain energy that makes it all quite enjoyable to watch. The action scenes too are quite solid, giving us some good close quarters combat, as well as the shrink/grow superhero stuff we came to see. There’s of course also a lot of comedy throughout this movie, and I found most of it to be quite funny. A few jokes weren’t the best, but none of them made me want to tear my brain out. Some mild nose-wrinkling, some chuckles, a few out loud laughs… yeah, it’s funny.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a fun movie… not one of the best of the year, but an enjoyable romp nonetheless. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, really good directing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is an 8,76/10. So while not perfect, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is now completed.

Baba Yaga…

Movie Review: Game Night (2018)

What’s your favorite game? Not counting video games here, just things that you can easily play with friends on a game night. Charades, Yahtzee, Uno… doesn’t matter. Let me know your favorites.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Game Night”.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) have a weekly tradition of inviting their friends to a game night. One such weekend the group gets invited to a game night by Max’s brother (Kyle Chandler). They find out that he’s planned a bit of a murder mystery themed game night. But soon what should just be a fun evening with friends turns into something a bit crazier than originally expected. So now we have our twisty-turny comedy. And the plot here is pretty good. I appreciate that it tries to do something a bit different than a lot of modern comedies. It takes a really clever idea and has a lot of fun with it. Now, while I’m all for a twisty-turny web, this one twists around a bit much, turning it into a bit of a mess at times. Twist upon twist is fine, but the way it’s done in “Game Night” doesn’t always work, turning it from a clever mystery into a bit of a messtery (see what I did there?). It’s not so bad that it made me angry, but it does take me out of it a little at times. But it’s still a fairly refreshing entry in the world of Hollywood comedies. Good stuff.

The characters in this are all a ton of fun to follow, and they share some solid chemistry. First up we have Jason Bateman as Max, who is a very Jason Bateman-esque type. I can’t put it any other way, if you’ve seen Jason Bateman in a comedy, you know what to expect from him. But it still works, and Bateman does a good job. Next we have Rachel McAdams as Annie, Max’s wife and fellow game night entusiast. She’s not always the brightest bulb in the shed, but she’s always full of glee and is just a ton of fun to follow. And McAdams is fantastic in the role, absolutely the scene stealer. We also get supporting work from people like Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Jesse Plemons, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and it was really good. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a fan of some of Martinez’s older work, but I think it’s genuinely a great score that works really well in adding a surprising amount of suspense and intrigue to the movie. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“Game Night” was written by Mark Perez, and directed by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein, and this trio really outdid themselves here. In terms of the overall craft of the movie, I didn’t expect much. So imagine my surprise when I notice all the clever and engaging camerawork used throughout the movie, especially during one sequence that I will not spoil, but let’s just say that my eyebrows were raised and my jaw was on the floor. And since this is a comedy, you might wanna know if I laughed. So did I? Like a fucking idiot. I didn’t expect this movie to crack me up as much as it did. Some jokes were chuckles, some were loud gut-busters. Yeah, I had a blast with the humor here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Game Night” is one of the biggest surprises of the year. It has a pretty good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, great directing, and hilarious comedy. Though as previously mentioned, my score gets brought down a bit by the plot being a bit convoluted. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Game Night” is an 8,88/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Game Night” is now completed.

I think Uno might be my favorite, purely because of how fun it is to fuck people over.