Movie Review: White Boy Rick (2018)

Don’t do crimes.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gents… “White Boy Rick”.

Detroit, the 1980s. Teenager Richard Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) comes from a broken home. But soon he finds himself on quite an interesting rise, as he starts getting involved both as an FBI informant and a drug trafficker. So now we have our crime-drama. The premise of it all I find highly intriguing, and there are some decent moments and ideas going on throughout the movie. But looking at the package as a whole, it feels quite underwhelming, with the script, while not bad, feels severely underwritten. The writer’s should’ve probably done another draft or two to truly flesh out a lot of the storytelling, because as it stands, it doesn’t quite reach the dramatic heights it sets out for. And this makes it often feel a lot more boring and uninteresting than one would want a fascinating premise like this to be.

Much like the story, the characters in this story suffer due to the undercooked script. I can see what the team were going for with all of them, but they never quite get far enough to make ’em that compelling. Richie Merritt plays Richard Wershe Jr, the young man at the center of the story. He’s the closest we get to a compelling character, as he gets the biggest arc of the bunch (probably due to his status as “protagonist”). And Merritt is okay in the role. Next we have Matthew McConaughey as Richard Wershe Senior, the father of our main character. He’s a bit of a hick, while also trying to be a decent dad. As said before about other things: Good idea, mediocre execution. At least McConaughey gives a really good performance. We also get supporting work from people like Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Eddie Marsan, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Max Richter, and it was really good. Richter’s a talented composer, and he managed to bring some really compelling synth/piano goodness to the soundscape of this movie. It manages to take scenes that are mediocre at best, and manages to make them alright. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work fine I guess.

“White Boy Rick” was directed by Yann Demange, and I think he did an okay job with it. There are scenes in the movie that I think are really well directed, but then there are also scenes that I feel are a bit drab in execution. Again, it’s kind of a mixed bag in execution, which unfortunately really brings me out of the experience. There are scenes where Demange’s directing truly shines, and I applaud those moments. But there are times where it dips too, which is a shame.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“White Boy Rick” has some decent elements to it, but in the end is a disappointment. It has an undercooked story, less than compelling characters, good performances, really good music, and okay directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “White Boy Rick” is a 4,78/10. So despite some bright spots, I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “White Boy Rick” is now completed.

Mustache McConaughey.

Movie Review: Mimic (1997)

That’s right, more Month of Spooks content. And today it’s from one of my favorite directors. So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mimic”.

A few years ago, a special insect was created to eradicate disease-carrying cockroaches. Now, that action is carrying dark, violent consequences. So now we have our horror story. And I am so mixed about it. I can see the strong vision in it, there’s a lot of clever shit going on with it here. But man, there’s something about it, the way it’s put together that just feels off. And I know exactly what that is, which we will get into later. Again, there’s good stuff going on in the background, but the way it’s cut together… it doesn’t really work.

The characters in this, like the story, have some decent ideas to them, but end up suffering due to how this is cut. You have a stellar cast consisting of people like Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, and Charles S. Dutton… but I didn’t really care so much about their characters on a level other than “Oh hey, that’s an actor I like!”. I can see the foundations for the characters peeking through, and it’s not bad… but again, the final execution fucks with this a bit. So I guess I’ll just say, the performances are very good, but the characters unfortunately suffer.

The score for “Mimic” was composed by Marco Beltrami, and it’s alright. Sometimes it can be slightly overbearing in how it tries be loud and startling. And at other times it’s this low-key and haunting score that adds a very welcome amount of emotional weight to proceedings.

Based on a short story by Donald Wollheim, the movie was written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins, directed by del Toro… and cut to shit by the Weinstein brothers (I told you I’d get around to explaining). Some of del Toro’s vision does shine through at times, which in combination with Dan Laustsen’s cinematography can make for some stunning shots and moments. But if you do a bit of sleuthing on the production of this movie, you’ll find out that there were frequent clashes between del Toro and the producing brothers. While del Toro got to shoot the movie he wanted, thanks to interventions form Mira Sorvino, he had no control of the final cut, which was in the hands of the dumbnamic duo, which is why it feels so weirdly chopped up at times, why it doesn’t quite reach that strong vision that can be spotted in certain moments. Which is a shame, because the little quality that can be gleaned… it’s strong. Fucked over, but strong.

On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,9/10.

I don’t wanna say negative stuff about movies, especially not ones with one of my favorite directors attached to them… but the producers butchered it too much to give a positive review. It has an okay-ish plot, not great characters, really good performances, pretty good music, and really solid directing/cinematography. However, it all gets undone by a poor final cut. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mimic” (the theatrical cut) is a 4,87/10. Saddens me to say that I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “Mimic” (the theatrical cut) is now completed.

Apparently there’s a director’s cut that del Toro released a few years back. Might need to get around to that some day.

Movie Review: The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Before we get into the review itself, I want to apologize for my absence for almost two weeks. First I was busy, and then I got really sick. But now I’m back! Woo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Brothers Grimm”.

Jake (Heath Ledger, R.I.P) and Will (Matt Damon) are a pair of brothers who travel from town to town, defeating demons for the people. And by defeating demons I mean that they set up a fake demon based on local folklore, “defeat it”, and then get paid by the people of those towns. But these dirty rotten scoundrels are about to come face to face with something they never thought they’d run into… a forest filled with actual magical creatures. So now we have our dark fairy tail. And is this plot any good? There’s a lot of good ideas here, but in the end it’s a fucking mess. At times it’s a comedy, at times it’s a horror movie, at times it’s a whimsical fantasy, at times a family drama. It creates an inconsistent and messy blend that doesn’t work.

The characters in this I can see the potential of, but we only ever skim the surface of them. Heath Ledger (May he rest in peace) plays Jake, one of the two titular brothers. He has a love of fairy tales, and often shows signs of believing in them (at least more than his brother). He’s also a little bit of an idiot and a coward. He’s probably the closest we have here to a compelling character. Though that could also be because Heath Ledger is really good in the role. Matt Damon plays Will, the second Grimm brother. He’s more or less the leader of the two, and can be a bit of a jerk at times. And his character is… meh. Damon’s good though. Then we have Peter Stormare as an Italian soldier that the brothers travel with through the movie. He’s a bit of an idiot and chews all the scenery. And yes, Stormare is glorious in the role. Then we have Lena Headey as Angelika, a young hunter that the brothers run into during their quest and eventually join forces with. She’s a no-nonsense badass with a mysterious past, and while that sounds interesting, it’s only surface-level. But Headey is really good in the role. And we get some okay supporting turns from people like Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Monica Bellucci, Richard Ridings, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Dario Marianelli, and I think he did a good job with it. His score is bombastic, emotional, quirky, and even has a bit of a fairy tale feel to it. It somehow elevates the movie above it’s mediocrity. It’s almost too good for whatever the hell is on screen at any given time.

This movie was directed by Terry Gilliam and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, his direction really helps sell the fairy tale style and even builds a lot of atmosphere. But it is devoid of any real tension, despite being part horror flick. And the CGI in this movie, good fucking god… it’s awful. I can usually excuse a little bit of bad CGI, but when you have so many awesome practical sets/costumes/props, the bad CG gets quite distracting, especially when it’s as prominent as it is here.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 38% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,9/10.

While “The Brothers Grimm” has some good things going for it, I’d say it’s a bit too messy to recommend. It has a very messy plot, meh characters, good performances, good music, okay directing, and awful effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Brothers Grimm” is a 4,98/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Brothers Grimm” is now completed.

Feels good to be back.

Movie Review: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

The Month of Spooks continues! So what’s on the menu this time? An adaptation of a classic novel? This’ll be interesting.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”.

Late 18th century. We follow Victor Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh), a brilliant if somewhat unorthodox scientist. One night he manages to create life in the form of a creature (Robert De Niro) made up of many human parts. However the creature soon escapes and swears revenge on his creator. Basically it’s the classic “Frankenstein” story, but with a few smaller twists throughout. And while I love the ideas in “Frankenstein”, and even find some of the newer ideas intriguing, I thought the plot here was kind of bad. It manages to be slow and have some scenes feel slightly rushed at the same time. The tone is also a bit much, taking itself so fucking seriously that it almost becomes silly. I get it, “Frankenstein” is a serious story, but this is almost too serious for it’s own good. The plot here is just… not good.

The characters here are a bit bland. They try to have them be compelling and interesting, but that attempt kind of fails. Kenneth Branagh plays the titular scientist, and I am a little split on his performance. Because at times I think it’s pretty good, and at other times he is very theatrical and comes off as a bit hammy at times. Then we have Robert De Niro as the creature, a character that I actually found myself caring about a bit. A creation, abandoned by his creator, feared by society… that shit is compelling. And aside from like two moments, De Niro plays this very subtly and gives a really good performance. Then we have Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, adopted sister and love interest of Victor Frankenstein. And while she isn’t the most interesting of characters, I thought Bonham Carter gave a good performance. Then we have Tom Hulce as Henry, friend and pseudo-assistant to Frankenstein. And he’s fine in the role. We also get Ian Holm as Frankenstein’s dad, and he doesn’t do much… but Holm is fine in the role. The performances here are fine.

The score for the movie was composed by Patrick Doyle and it’s actually pretty damn good. It’s big, loud, and kind of epic. My problem with it is that it doesn’t exactly fit with the movie. To have a score this great in combination with a movie so sloppy just feels off. Despite the overall quality of the score, it didn’t really help elevate any of the scenes.

This movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh and he did an okay job. His direction has a lot of flair to it, but feels a bit too big for the story it tries to tell. I have a quote from Frank Darabont (who wrote the script for the movie) that basically encapsulates what I mean, but I’m gonna put that at the end of the post so it doesn’t interfere with the semi-flow of it. Anyhow, can I give any praise here? Well, not gonna lie… this movie is visually arresting. The sets, the cinematography, the clothing… it all looks great. And the creature makeup on De Niro? It looks absolutely amazing! As for scares… none. I think I recognized a couple moments that were supposed to be scares, but didn’t come off as scary or creepy or even slightly eerie.

This movie hasn’t been the most well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 39% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert  gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Makeup. 

“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is not very good. It has a bad plot, meh characters, okay performances, great (if out of place) music, and meh directing. Time for my final score. *IT’S ALIVE!*. My final score for “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is a 5,54/10. While not the worst, I’d recommend skipping this one.

My review of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is now completed.

As promised, the quote from Frank Darabont:

I’ve described Frankenstein as the best script I ever wrote and the worst movie I’ve ever seen. That’s how it’s different.

There’s a weird doppleganger effect when I watch the movie. It’s kind of like the movie I wrote, but not at all like the movie I wrote. It has no patience for subtlety. It has no patience for the quiet moments. It has no patience period. It’s big and loud and blunt and rephrased by the director at every possible turn.