Series Review: S.W.A.T – Season 1 (2017 – 2018)

Fuck, there’s a lot of reboots these days. I mean, rebooting stuff is nothing new, but it’s almost gone overboard in the last ten years. Oh well, nothing we can do about it. So let’s talk about one of them.

Ladies and gentlemen… “S.W.A.T” season 1.

When his former sergeant is involved in a scandalous shooting, Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore) gets promoted to leader for his own S.W.A.T team. So we follow him as he tries to lead this team, stop crimes in Los Angeles, and at times also deal with personal problems. So now we have our cop procedural. And that’s all I can say really. It’s another case of the week cop drama. But I still liked it a fair bit. Partly because I have a soft spot for these cop procedurals, and partly because they put just enough effort into the writing to actually make me kinda care. Not so much about the A-plot (the case), as those are fairly standard cop-action stuff (which I enjoy), but the B-plots are often what hooks me, as they help develop the characters a bit. So yeah, the plot here is alright.

The characters here sometimes fall into archetypes, but then they’re pulled out of that pit and actually given enough development and personality to feel like proper characters. Shemar Moore plays Hondo (which is a nickname, but I can’t be bothered with the quotations all the time), newly appointed team leader of the main S.W.A.T team. He’s a kid from the hood who grew up to try to help his community, to be a good cop. And while he can be portrayed as perfect action man at times (damn his handsome face, damn it), he does get some decent development throughout that makes him an interesting lead. And Moore is great in the role. Next we have Stephanie Sigman as Jessica Cortez, captain of S.W.A.T and secret love interest of Hondo. She’s a tough and determined lady who’s trying to be taken seriously, as a high ranking woman in law enforcement. She’s an okay character. And Sigman is really good in the role. Next we have Alex Russell as Jim Street (actual name), a cocky kid and recent S.W.A.T graduate who is a bit of a punk at the start. But a we go on he gets more development and turns to one of the better characters on the show. And Russell is really good in the role. We also get performances from people like Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Jay Harrington, David Lim, Patrick St. Esprit, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Robert Duncan, and it was fine. It’s kinda bland and forgettable, but it never detracts from a scene, while also rarely ever adding anything. It’s fine, it works decently well. Though I do have to admit, the updated version of that old theme is awesome.

Based on the 1975 series by Robert Hamner and Rick Husky, this new version was developed by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Shawn Ryan, and while I can’t compare this to that old one (as I haven’t seen it), I can at least say that the craft behind this new one is fine, slightly above average. There’s enough grit to keep it from being completely dull. In terms of action, it can be a mixed bag. At times it’s quite enjoyable, and a few times it’s bad because of bad editing and shot composition (guess it all depends on who’s behind the camera). But when it’s at it’s best, it can be quite enjoyable. It may be another CBS police procedural, but there’s enough talent and brains in here to make it stand out a little bit.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 45/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

While it often falls back on police procedural clichés, I still find season 1 of “S.W.A.T” to be a really enjoyable little series that gives me some decent entertainment. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing. Though as previously mentioned, the plot is rarely anything special, the music is a bit forgettable, and the directing at a few points wasn’t great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “S.W.A.T” is a 7,13/10. So while quite flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “S.W.A.T” season 1 is now completed.

At least the theme song is pretty awesome…

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Academy Award 2019: Music Nominees

Well hello there. Around this time last year, I teamed up with some really cool people to cover that year’s Academy Award nominees. And we decided to do it again, splitting the nominees between us and discussing it on our blogs. And just like last year, I am covering the music nominees, because I’ve barely seen anything nominated for an Oscar this year, and these categories are the only ones I can do from my room for free in a perfectly legal manner. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Best Original Score
Let’s start with the scores first. No real reason, just seems reasonable. But before we get into that, we have a comment here from the lovely Maddy of FiveThreeNinety regarding what she considers a major snub:

HOW First Man was not even nominated baffles to me the point of not being able to see the actual contenders. I was convinced that was a sure win.
Thank you, Maddy. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Now, on with the nominees!

Black Panther – Ludwid Göransson

First up we have the score for Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther”, which I haven’t seen yet. I know, weird. Still, any thoughts on the movie itself do not matter, it’s what the music is like that matters. And not gonna lie, from what I’ve heard, the score by Ludwig Göransson is pretty stellar, mixing the typical superhero brass with a lot of African percussion and woodwind, and even a little bit of interesting electronica to create one of the more unique scores within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

BlackkKlansman – Terence Blanchard

Next up is the score from the latest Spike Lee joint, “BlacKkKlansman” (that stylization really fucks up my flow). A true story about a black police detective infiltrating the KKK. So what does Blanchard bring in for the music? Well, he gives us a score that mixes somber string work, march percussion, and even a little bit of blues guitar, creating an absolutely stunning sound that seeps into the soul and just creates a sense of dread. Yeah, it’s a good one.

Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman

From composer Marc Shaiman we have the score for “Mary Poppins Returns”, the sequel to the 1964 musical classic. And it’s a fairly standard score here. Not bad in the slightest, it’s just that we’ve heard this kind of stuff before in Disney movies for god knows how long. The sung songs are a lot of fun, and the main score is easy on the ears, so the music here is just a bit of good ol’ crowd pleasing.

Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat

Next up, we have the score for Wes Anderson stop motion film “Isle of Dogs”, composed by one of my favorites, Alexandre Desplat. Mixing in a lot of Asian percussion and chorals mixed in with the occasional regular brass, strings, and piano, it makes for a fun and quirky sound that also has a nice emotional undertone.

If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell

Next up we have Nicholas Britell’s score for “If Beale Street Could Talk”, Barry Jenkins’ movie based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name. And holy fuck, this score hits hard. Somber strings, emotional piano pieces, and a general sense of sadness makes it a stunning feast for the ears. But you know what it reminds me of at times? Nick Cave’s score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (still a mouthful), which has a similar sound. That’s not saying that “Beale Street” doesn’t stand out musically, because it really does.

And here’s a comment from Martin of Through the Silver Screen:

“Re-teaming with Barry Jenkins after his Oscar nominated work in Moonlight, Nicholas Britell did it again creating a score that was both beautiful and melancholic, capturing the joy and despair of the main characters beautifully. But by far one of the biggest snubs here was for Justin Hurwitz’s First Man score, which had it been nominated would surely have come back down to earth to win the statue. Ludwig Göransson’s wonderful work for Black Panther is also very much worthy of the gong, as it was grounded in the beauty of the continent of Africa.”

And here’s one from Nathan:

Best Original Score’s real winner (Justin Hurwitz’s First Man) inexplicably missed an Oscar nomination but Nicholas Britell’s If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous, brooding composition that enriches the film’s tenderly melancholic exploration and portrait of love. It should, and probably will, win but faces stiff competition from Black Panther.

Biggest chance of winning: Isle of Dogs.
My pick: BlacKkKlansman.

Best Original Song
And now we move on to the second half of this post, the part where we talk about the best original song nominees. So let’s do it.

All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar/Sza – Black Panther

Man, “Black Panther”, raking in the nominations. So here we have “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (apparently pronounced Sizza). I’m not the biggest fan of the style of music that this is, but I do also think that this sounds quite good and I can see why it was nominated. So yeah, it’s pretty good.

The Place Where Lost Things Go – Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns

Remember how I said that the sung songs were the better part of the “Mary Poppins Returns” music? This still applies, because this is beautiful. The minimalist composition gives it a nice emotional tone, the lyrics are beautiful, and Emily Blunt’s singing is stunning and it really reaches into my heart. So yeah, this song is very good.

I’ll Fight – Jennifer Hudson – RBG

Not every day a documentary has a best original song. But “RBG”, a documentary about supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had it, and it’s the kind of grand, sweeping, soulful pop tune that you’d hear everywhere a few years ago. And I like thos kinds of tunes, so this kind of appeals to me. Is it the best example of this kind of song? No. But is it still a strong contender? Hell yeah.

When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings – Tim Blake Nelson/Willie Watson – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

In 2018, the Coen brothers gave us anthology western “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”, and that movie gave us this song. The singing for Nelson and Watson is stunning and just fits the whole quirky western singing. The small amount of instruments also gives it a small intimate feeling that just works so well for the story told in the song. It’s a charming little song that I kinda love.

Shallow – Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born

How many versions of “A Star is Born” do we have now? 46? What, only five? Okay. Anyway, this version stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and people apparently like it a lot. And this song, “Shallow” is the song from it that got an Oscar nomination. So is it good? Very. I like this sort of ballad bordering a little on rock, pop, and country, as it makes it stand out with this nice blend of the three. And “Shallow” is a damn good example of it. And now, a comment from Maddy again:

If a Star is Born doesn’t win, I will shave my head. It is one of the best original songs for film in years, and that’s saying something looking at the past few winners.

We also just got in another comment, this from Martin of Through the Silver Screen:

“Though I love “All the Stars”, nothing is stopping Lady Gaga here. Given that the Best Actress statue will likely be out of her reach, this is one award Gaga will be deservedly holding at the end of the night. The moment in ASIB when she sings “Shallow” with Cooper in the film, just sends chills down my spine. Incredible.”

And here’s a comment from Nathan:

We’re not far from the Shallow now, where Lady Gaga will ascend to the stage to collect the award for A Star Is Born. You can’t really argue against it – it’s a fantastic, stadium-worthy song – despite my personal belief that Always Remember Us This Way is the movie’s crowning achievement. I’d be equally happy for Mary Poppins Returns’ The Place Where Lost Things Go to take it on the night, although A Cover Is Not The Book or Can You Imagine That? would have taken its place on my personal ballot.

Biggest chance of winning: Shallow.
My pick: When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings.

So now we’ve gotten through all the music nominations, and I gave some of my thoughts on them. But I’d also love to hear from you guys. What are your thoughts on the music nominees for the Academy Award of 2019? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.

The cool people I collaborated with:

Plain, Simple Tom

Through the Silver Screen

FiveThreeNinety

Perks of Being Nath (who also hosted our friend Ryan, because Ryan doesn’t do his own blogging anymore).

And that’s it. Have a good one.

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Happy valentines day, my friends. Hope you’re showing the love today. Whether for your significant other, your friends, your relatives, your pet, it doesn’t matter. Just show some love. Anyway, since it’s the day of lovey-dovey bullshit, let’s talk about a romance movie of sorts.

Ladies and gents… “The Adjustment Bureau”.

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a congressman in the state of New York. One day he meets professional dancer Elise (Emily Blunt) and starts falling in love with her. But their relationship gets halted at every turn by a mysterious organization hellbent on keeping them apart. So now David has to try to outsmart them and take control of his own destiny. And I thought the plot here was… fine. It has a damn good concept, and I did enjoy the chain of events along with some of the fairly unique world building they did throughout. It did however never fully grab me. It felt like they only really scraped the surface of the idea to try to appeal to the broadest audience possible. It’s like if “Dark City” was a bit bland. So overall, the plot here is fine, if a bit toothless.

The characters in this I found to be decently enjoyable. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a congressman with dreams of moving up in the political world, but can’t quite do that while dealing with this whole Elise situation. And we see him get some decent development throughout as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on. And Damon is great in the role. Emily Blunt plays Elise, the woman that Norris meets and falls in love with. She’s a tough, charming, and overall pretty interesting lady that I liked following a bit in the movie. And Blunt is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like John Slattery, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for this movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was fine. It was a bit bland, while still being decently enjoyable to listen to in the background of the film. I guess it worked well enough for the various scenes throughout the movie, even though it didn’t bring any real oomph to it.

Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (why am I not surprised), this movie was written and directed by George Nolfi, who I think did a pretty good job. His direction gives the movie a decent bit of energy and helps it from feeling stale. Sure, the plot is a bit so-and-so, but the directing is still good enough to slightly elevate it.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 71% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

While it has its fair share of flaws, “The Adjustment Bureau” is still a fairly enjoyable little romantic thriller. It has a fine plot, pretty good characters, great performances, fine music, and good directing. Though as previously mentioned, the plot didn’t really stick with me, and the music didn’t really bring anything for me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Adjustment Bureau” is a 7,87/10. So while it is flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Adjustment Bureau” is now completed.

Nothing like stories of forbidden love.

Movie Review: The Godfather Part III (1990)

Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finish this damn trilogy. I watched and reviewed the first part all the way back in 2015. Then in April of last year I finally got to Part 2. And now, nearly four years after that first one, we wrap it all up. So here we fuckin’ go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part III”.

The year is 1979. An aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is working to fully go legitimate, after all the sins in his past. But that turns out to be more difficult than anticipated as he has to deal with the other families, as well as reluctantly take his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia) under his wing. So now we have our third and final “Godfather” story. And god damn, is it a mixed bag. I was actually quite invested at first, as the story they present towards the first act of the film is reminiscent of the other films in the series, and presents a compelling narrative around lineage, atoning, and the various other themes one would expect from the franchise at this point. Then shit hits the fan and it all gets quite uninteresting for a while. It’s not awful, but it’s just kinda boring and mediocrely written. Then towards the end it kinda picks up again. The entire thing is kind of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are mostly quite good. There’s one or two that I just had trouble giving a shit about. I just went “Oh yeah, you’re here too, I guess” any time I saw one of them. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, head of the Corleone family. He’s a lot older now, getting tired of all the shit going on around him. And he’s still probably the most compelling character in this whole thing. And Pacino is great in the role. Next we have Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, Michael’s nephew and now protegé. He’s a bit of a hothead who often gets into trouble, but still wants to really impress his uncle, showing that he can be useful. And aside from one subplot that is just… wrong, he actually has a good arc here. And Garcia is great in the role. We also get Eli Wallach as Don Albotello, a fellow Godfather and generally interesting man with an interesting little plot of his own here. And Wallach is great in the role. Next we have Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone, Michael’s daughter. She has a character arc in this that is weird, uncomfortable, and not the most well written, making her a character I didn’t care for that much. And Coppola isn’t very good in the role… at all. We also see the return of Talia Shire and Diane Keaton, both doing very well in their roles. We also get supporting work from people like Bridget Fonda, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Raf Vallone, Franc, D’Ambrosio, and many more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Carmine Coppola, and it was quite good. IT has that intimate and emotional style of the previous “Godfather” scores without just sounding like the exact same thing being used. It has its own flourishes, and I liked most of them. What I don’t get is the frequent use of a mouth harp. Is this a movie about an Italian-American crime family, or is it about a wacky clan of hillbillies? Other than the weird use of a mouth harp, the music here is damn good.

“The Godfather Part III” is as expected from the title, the third part in the “Godfather” series based on Mario Puzo’s book of the same name. But unlike the last two, this had no real source material, so it was written from scratch by Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. And while the writing leaves a bit to be desired at times, Coppola’s direction is still (mostly) as tight as ever, giving us an intimate, engaging, and suspenseful look into this world. And the cinematography by Gordon Willis is quite good too, giving us some real eye candy throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (Garcia), Best Director, Best cinematography, Best set decoration, Best film editing, and Best original song.

“The Godfather Part III” is a bit of a disappointing end to this trilogy, but it’s overall an enjoyable crime-drama. It has an okay plot, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, the movie suffers due to a large chunk of the plot being uninteresting, a few uninteresting characters, and one distractingly bad performance from a major player. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part III” is a 7,87/10. So while heavily flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Godfather Part III” is now completed.

Sometimes the mighty fall. But then they give it one last push.

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.

Series Review: The Looming Tower (2018)

I don’t have anything clever to say here. Usually I do, but there’s nothing I can think of here. This show deals with some sensitive stuff, so it’s hard to make up an intro that is fun. So let’s just get into it, I guess.

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 show… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Looming Tower”.

Set in the late 90s, we follow people from both the FBI and the CIA as they both try to stop the rising threat that is the Al-Qaeda. But their inability to cooperate makes the process a lot more troublesome than it could be. So now we have our historical counter-terrorism drama. And let’s make it clear right now, this isn’t counter-terrorism in the Jack Ryan sense where there’s a bunch of thrilling action scenes. This is a slow burning drama all about investigating and bureaucracy and arguing and such. And I found it all utterly compelling, thanks to calculated writing that prefers to take the realistic and relatively mundane path to its goal, compared to so many counter-terrorism stories, which tend to go for the thrilling sensationalist route. But yeah, I really liked the plot here.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, interesting, and fairly realistic. First up we have Jeff Daniels as John O’Neill, an FBI agent keen on stopping Al-Qaeda the right way (arrest, court, all that jazz). And while he generally tries to be a good guy, he does have some skeletons in his closet shown throughout that make him quite compelling. And Daniels is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tahar Rahim as Ali Soufan, a new agent within the FBI who gets assigned to work with O’Neill in finding and stopping the various Al-Qaeda members who may exist. And he has some god development throughout that makes him quite interesting. And Rahim is great in the role. And we get supporting performances from people like Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alec Baldwin, Ella Rae Peck, Jamie Neumann, Louis Cancelmi, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Will Bates, who I think did a damn solid job. It goes for a relatively downplayed and somber style. You won’t hear big, tense brass in this to highten the tension of a scene, instead the pieces are smaller, more intimate, almost droning at times to sort of help capture that realistic/slow burning counter-terrorism style that the show’s going for. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on a book by Lawrence Wright, the show was created by Dan Futterman, Alex Gibney, and Lawrence Wright himself, with writing and directing by a whole bunch of people. And the craft here is really tight, giving us close and intimate examinations of all the various situations while also giving us the sweeping storytelling of everything leading up to 9/11. The directing gets in close with the characters and really made me feel like a fly on the wall in these situations, I was fully immersed thanks to the tight work of the crew. And the way the show occasionally splices in real life news footage is pretty damn good.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

“The Looming Tower” is a compelling counter-terrorism drama. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Looming Tower” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Looming Tower” is now completed.

You know what’s a little funny? I made a comment about this not being Jack Ryan-esque in style, but Alec Baldwin (who once played Jack Ryan) is in the show.

Movie Review: Upgrade (2018)

Can I just take a second out of this review to talk about release schedules? Because everyone got this movie in the cinemas at some point in 2018… but I didn’t, and then I had to wait until today to be able to see it at home? It’s not the first time I’ve gotten screwed liked this. I wanted to watch it, but my local cinema was like “Nope, sorry, not showing it… you dick”… okay, they didn’t directly say that, but that’s what it felt like with “Upgrade” and various other movies. Seriously, screw release schedules some times.

Ladies and gents… “Upgrade”.

After his wife is killed and he gets paralyzed, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) accepts an offer to get an experimental surgery that would let him walk again. But soon he finds out that he’s able to do more than that, which he will use to find the people responsible for his misery. So now we have our cyberpunk revenge thriller. And it’s good. I mean, the opening isn’t the most inspired, in a lot of ways it’s just kind of bland. But after that generic opening, the plot just gets better and better and I think it becomes quite unique for a revenge thriller. It’s not one of the greatest plots ever, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and has enough little twists and turns to keep it fresh. So yeah, it’s a good plot.

The characters in this are… fine? Most of them are kind of underdeveloped. For some of the bad guys, I can accept that, as it gives them a sort of video game boss battle quality, which I enjoyed about them. But others that the movie expects me to care about… nope. Anyway, Logan Marshall-Green plays Grey, the average Joe who receives the title to become a badass. And he’s honestly quite a fleshed out character, as he’s given quite a bit of development throughout. And Marshall-Green is great in the role… mostly. At the start he’s bland and average, but like the plot, when shit gets going, he becomes great in the role. Next we have Betty Gabriel as the detective working the case of Grey’s dead wife. And where the movie expects us to give a damn about her… I didn’t, her character isn’t interesting enough in her writing for me to care. But Gabriel is pretty good in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Simon Maiden, Harrison Gilbertson, Melanie Vallejo, Benedict Hardie, Christopher Kirby, and more, all doing pretty well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Palmer and I thought it was really good. It somehow sounds like a mix between typical cyberpunk stuff (“Blade Runner”, “Deux Ex”, etc.) and a couple different horror scores. And the mix, while familiar, feels unique and gives the most an eerie and interesting vibe that I liked quite a bit.

Based on nothing at all, this movie was written by Leigh Whannell, and I think he did a great job here. While the opening (as previously stated) is a bit boring, his direction gives the movie a certain energy that makes it kind of a joy to watch. He finds ways of really engaging the viewer with little details. But it’s in the action scenes where the directing and cinematography truly shines, because holy fucking shit, the action scenes in this movie are fantastic. They’re fast, energetic, and have some of the most clever and unique camera movements I’ve ever seen. There are a couple fights in this movie that honestly kinda blew my mind. There’s also a surprising amount of humor throughout the movie, and none of it feels intrusive, rather just adding to the movie’s fun factor.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Upgrade” is a really good revenge action-thriller. It has a good plot, meh characters, really good performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously stated, the start of the movie isn’t great, and I don’t really care about most of the characters. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Upgrade” is an 8,72/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Upgrade” is now completed.

That was fun.

Movie Review: The Death of Superman (2018)

One of the most recurring things on this here blog (except for lame jokes and personal opinions) is my constant support of animated movies based on DC Comics. And while it’s been a while since my last post on one, my adoration for the franchise hasn’t faded in the slightest. So seeing as this will be my last review of the year, we might as well make it one about this recurring theme.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Death of Superman”.

When a mysterious new threat arrives on earth, Superman (Jerry O’Connell), as well as the other Justice League members), as to step up to stop it before it can destroy us all. I thought the plot was good here. It’s straightforward, yet somewhat nuanced. I wouldn’t call it the deepest plot in this franchise, but there’s enough little details to keep it from just being another “Let’s beat up the bad guy plot”. It’s about Supes coming to terms with his relationship with Lois (Rebecca Romijn) and if he should come out of the closet, in regards to his dual identity. And the stuff around this new threat (who we all know is Doomsday, but I digress) has a natural sense of escalation that also works well enough for the plot.

The characters in this are fine, they are all enjoyable and work pretty well in the story. Jerry O’Connell reprises his role as Clark Kent/Superman. He’s charming, he’s likable, and he’s just generally a good guy (as Superman should be), while still struggling with some minor conflicts while also having to deal with the bigger conflict of a giant murder-alien from who knows where. And it made me care about him a bit more. And O’Connell does a really good job voicing him. Rebecca Romijn plays Lois Lane, the tough, but believable reporter who seems to have some relationship issues with Clark. And I think she’s a pretty interesting character here. And Romijn does a really good job voicing her. Next we have Rainn Wilson (yes, really) as Lex Luthor (I’m serious), the brilliant businessman with a great intellect, but a bit of an arrogance problem. Not saying much more there, you know who Lex is. But what I will say is that Wilson is really good in the role. Then we get supporting performances from people like Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Jason O’Mara, Christopher Gorham, Shemar Moore, Matt Lanter, Nyambi Nyambi, Rocky Carroll, Patrick Fabian, Paul Eiding, Jennifer Hale, Charles Halford, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the majority of these DC animated features, the score was composed by Frederik Wiedmann, and as per usual, it is pretty great. It is grandiose, it is epic, but it is also emotional and intimate, creating a sound that perfectly complements the life of Clark Kent. This guy never disappoints.

The movie was directed by Jake Castorena and DC animation veteran Sam Liu. And the direction here is fine, there is a decent flow to the scenes, nothing feels too rushed or too slow. And the animation here is pretty good. In quiet dialog-driven scenes, it looks fine, not much to write home about. But it’s in the action scenes where the animation comes to life and shows just how talented the people working on these movies are. These are fast, brutal, and at one point even kinda breathtaking. So yeah, the animation here is good.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While not my favorite movie in this current line of DC animated movies, “The Death of Superman” is still a highly enjoyable and somewhat touching superhero romp. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Death of Superman” is an 8,80/10. So it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Death of Superman” is now completed.

And that’s that for 2018. See ya next year.

Movie Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

Can people just stop being cockwaffles? Not saying that you reading this specifically are one, but this movie did remind me that true cockwaffles exist, and I don’t like that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”.

When she is caught getting intimate with another girl, high school student Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) gets sent to a gay conversion therapy center to “get fixed”. So then we follow her as she tries to get through each day while also befriending some of the other youths who live at the center. And I kinda loved the plot here. It’s a nuanced and well written story of someone coming to terms with who she is while others try to change her because she’s different. But what really surprised me about the plot here is just how restrained it ends up being. It doesn’t show the center as this hellhole like some other pieces of media might. It’s shown in a way that takes a stance, while not portraying any of the people working there as absolute monsters. It kinda makes it feels a bit more realistic and nuanced in a way. And it really helped in making this quite an engaging plot.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, interesting, and fairly realistic. Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cameron, the titular girl who gets sent to this center. And what I like about her performance is that she is kind of conflicted in the movie. She does believe that she did nothing wrong, but the councilors at the center also do kind of get a bit to her, making her question herself a bit, and it makes for some interesting character development. And Moretz is great in the role. Next we have Sasha Lane as Jane, another girl at the center that Cameron starts to befriend. She’s more of the rebellious type who bides her time at the center, but secretly smokes pot and is very much against the center. And she’s quite an interesting part of the cast for some of that. And Lane is great in the role. Next we have John Gallagher Jr. as Rick, one of the councilors at the center trying to convert these kids. And like I said in the plot section, he’s not exactly portrayed as evil, per se. Yes, the whole gay conversion thing is fucking dumb, but he’s portrayed more as this kind-hearted and charming guy who just wants what’s best for these kids, and he’s just an interesting contrast to the many “BEING GAY IS NOT GOOD!” characters we’ve seen over the years. And Gallagher is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Dalton Harrod, Emily Skeggs, Quinn Shepherd, Forrest Goodluck, Marin Ireland, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Julian Wass, and I thought it was pretty great. It uses a fair bit of synth, but does also dip in with the occasional stringed instrument. It has a way of sounding dreamlike while also kind of real and grounded. I don’t know how to fully explain it really, it just works incredibly well for the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, and they work well in their respective scenes.

Based on a novel by Emily M. Danforth, the movie was writen by Desiree Akhavan & Cecilia Frugiuele. And it was also directed by Akhavan, who I think did a great job with it. From a visual standpoint the movie is fairly standard, but the control that Akhavan has over each scene, guiding us through every moment with a very confident yet delicate hand.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” deals with a lot of sensitive themes, and handles them beautifully. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is a 9,71/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is now completed.

Just to remind y’all… don’t be a homophobic cockwaffle.

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

What really is there to say about Spider-Man at this point? He’s one of the most well known, beloved, and profitable superheroes of all time. You all know who he is, so nothing really has to be said, I am excited to talk about this different take on the franchise.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is just your average guy, except for the fact that he’s been bitten by a strange spider and has received Spider-Man-ish powers. And at the same time as he’s trying to get the hang of these new abilities, he discovers that Spider-people from other dimensions have shown up. So now Miles has to team up with his inter-dimensional namesakes to save the multiverse. And I absolutely loved the story here. It’s a fast-paced and fun comic book adventure that flies by fast than you can say “thwip”. It manages to be a good origin for this character that a lot of mainstream audience members might not know anything about, while also presenting a big multiverse adventure that should please a lot of comic book fans. But even amidst the fast-paced insanity, it knows when to slow down a bit and let the dramatic moments simmer a bit, making this whole ordeal a bit more engaging. So yeah, this is a great plot.

The characters in this are colorful, unique, fun, and just really interesting. Shameik Moore plays Miles Morales, this average guy who has a bit of trouble fitting into his current life. And when the Spider stuff comes into his life it forces him to evolve a bit as a person, and the development Miles gets is quite interesting. And Moore does a really good job voicing him. Jake Johnson plays Peter Parker, a cynical slob who’s also god damn Spider-Man. Not gonna say how he got there, but it’s funny and interesting, and he too gets some good development here. And Johnson does a really good job in the role. Next we have Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, another interesting character who gets some decent development. And Steinfeld does a great job voicing the character. We also get supporting performances from people like Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, LIev Schreiber, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Kimiko Glenn, Kathryn Hahn, Chris Pine, and MANY more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Daniel Pemberton, and I think he did a great job. While there of course is a lot of the heroic orchestral stuff throughout, Pemberton also mixed in stuff from hiphop, electronica, jazz, and even rock to create a sound that is both familiar and unique, which gives the movie its own sound. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and while I personally wouldn’t find myself listening to them on my own time, I thought they worked very well within the movie.

So this is an animated movie, and I seriously loved the animation here. At first some of it might look like it’s missing frames, but it didn’t take too long for me to get over that. And from that point on I got to experience one of the most visually stunning things ever. I don’t even know how to fully explain it, it’s just like someone put a fucking comic into a machine that would make the panels fully animated. It’s colorful, it’s fluid, it’s stylish, it’s unique, and it’s just some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at. Which also makes for some truly amazing action scenes. The movie also has a lot of comedy throughout, and all of it made me laugh, this is absolutely hilarious. Some of it subtle dialog, some of it broad slapstick, and some in-between stuff.

This movie just came out, but it has already been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #30 on the “Top 250” list.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is an absolutely magical movie, filled with great stuff for both comic book fans and casual movie goers. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, amazing animation/action, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a 9,90/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is now completed.

2018 is a great year to be a Spidey-fan.