Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 2 (2019)

Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of this show. And now the second one has come to an end over here. So I guess that means I should talk about it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 2.

We once again follow rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his land from opposing forces, new and old. All the while his three kids (Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley) deal with a lot of personal issues of their own, while there’s also stuff going on with the people working for John. So now we have a more “Yellowstone”… in all the ways that entails. On one hand you do get a lot of that epic crime-drama that the show mostly sells itself on, and that shit is insanely compelling, always riding a line of grey morality perfectly, giving us some truly great tv at times. Buuuuuut then it also wallows a bit in family melodrama. At times that stuff doesn’t bother me, as there are points when it’s decently well handled. But then there are times when it sort of just drags the show down, and makes it kinda boring at times. I don’t need the crime-drama stuff all the time, but the family drama here isn’t always that great. So overall the story is pretty good. Flawed, but solid.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Kevin Costner returns as John Dutton, the aging patriarch of this family. He has to come to terms with his own age a bit this season, at the same time as all this crazy shit happens around him, and it’s pretty interesting. And Costner is once again really good in the role. Luke Grimes returns as John’s son Kayce, a father who has to deal with some issues with his wife and son, while also having to manage his new role at his father’s ranch. And while I had slightly mixed feelings about him last season, he kinda grew to become my favorite this time around. And Grimes is really good in the role. Kelly Reilly returns as Beth, John’s take-no-nonsense daughter who often acts as a bit of a wild card, even if she is a bit more restrained this time around due to development from last season. And once again, she’s an interesting character, with Reilly giving a great performance. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s lawyer son, and holy shit, he gets some actual development this season. They made Jamie interesting! And Bentley is great in the role, even if he still constantly scowls like someone shat in his backyard. Cole Hauser returns as Rip, the ranch hand/resident tough guy, and he’s once again great in the role. The stuff with returning antagonists Danny Huston and Gil Birminham is still solid. And new antagonist Neal McDonough, he’s pretty good. We of course also get supporting performances from people like Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith, Hugh Dillon, Ryan Bingham, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” was composed by Brian Tyler. And it was once again good. Tense, emotional, and fitting of the semi-western tone that the show goes for. It’s solid stuff that fits the various scenes it’s used in.  There’s of course also a lot of licensed music used throughout (especially from the band Whiskey Myers). And that music works well enough for the respective scenes they get used in.

The show was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, with Sheridan staying on as writer for all the episodes, but let a bunch of other cool people handle directing. And the craft on display here is generally good. A lot of nice looking shots of the sweeping vistas, some decent looking shots for smaller moments. The directing often elevates the material here, which is what makes some of those melodramatic scenes I mentioned earlier a bit more tolerable. And the direction also helps make some scenes quite suspenseful when needed. ’tis a solidly crafted show.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no overall score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “Yellowstone” reaches some great heights, but wallows enough in some melodramatic lows to still bring it down overall. It has a pretty good plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” is an 8,52/10. So while not perfect, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 2 is now completed.

Cooooooostneeeeeer.

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 2 (2017)

And so we’re here, the final post for the Month of Spooks. And it’s a follow-up to a post I did last year, where I talked about the first season of this show. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fortitude” season 2.

Set some time after the events of season 1, we return to the remote Scandinavian town of Fortitude. And once again, strange things start happening after a body is discovered. So now we have our Arctic antics. And I like the plot here, probably more than the first season. It’s a slow burn mystery-thriller that dips its toe into some macabre themes and scenarios, while still taking the time to make me care about most of the characters, really adding layers to it all that maybe weren’t as strong the first time around. Though while it is an overall stronger story for me with a bit more intrigue and experimentation, it does still have some flaws. While I do love a slow burn, there are some moments here where the pacing outright drags, which of course makes it a little more of a pain to watch. And the ending is a bit… flaccid. Yes, I know there’s a third season, but I feel like the ending here is a bit too sequel-baity, for lack of a better word. But despite these flaws, I still found the story here to be pretty damn solid.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall quite engaging. Most of the cast from season 1, including Richard Dormer, Sienna Guillory, Luke Treadaway, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, , Mia Jexen, Sofie Gråbøl, Alexandra Moen, and more, with their characters getting extra depth, will all those actors firing on all cylinders. Now, for newcomer we have Dennis Quaid (pictured at the top), who plays Michael Lennox, a fisherman who gets involved in the strange shit going on in and around Fortitude. The character is given decent depth, as we learn some interesting stuff about his home life, at the same time as he evolves from the events in the story. And Quaid is pretty good in the role. ’tis a solid cast.

Ben Frost, who did the score for season, returned to do the music this time around too, and I think he really outdid himself. His score here is fucking spectacular, managing to perfectly capture every emotion possible, while still being an overall fitting score for the frozen shithole that is Fortitude. Yes, there are moments where the score lowers itself to some generic horror stings. But when it’s not doing that, it is absolutely fantastic. And the occasional licensed tracks used throughout work pretty well too.

The show was created by Simon Donald, who along with a bunch of other people, wrote the episodes this season, with some other cool people directing. And the craft behind this season is fucking emaculate. The direction manages to create an interesting sense of unease throughout that really makes it a bit more unsettling. And my god, the cinematography this season is absolutely amazing. And I don’t just mean the shots of the frozen vistas around Fortitude, but even a lot of shots indoors look great too. And the effects here are great too, featuring some really impressive practical gore effects, which kinda got under my skin.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists without a score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

Season 2 of “Fortitude” takes what was good about the first season and takes it up to 11, though it is brought down by some pacing issues and a less than satisfying ending. It has a really good plot, good characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Fortitude” is an 8,96/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still worth a watch.

My review of “Fortitude” season 2 is now completed.

So this is it, huh? Well, it’s been a blast doing Month of Spooks.

Movie Review: Constantine: City of Demons (2018)

Two animations in a row? I know, fucking insanity up in this joint. But hey, it’s my blog and my Month of Spooks, so I can do whatever I want. Besides, why wouldn’t I wanna talk about DC’s arguably most well known horror character?

Ladies and gents… “Constantine: City of Demons”.

When his daughter is thrown into a supernaturally induced coma, Chas Chandler (Damien O’Hare) enlists the help of his old mate, John Constantine (Matt Ryan), to hopefully fix this whole situation. And as they look further into the situation, they not only get into new troubles, but old wounds get opened back up too. I thought the story here was good. Leans a bit too heavily on exposition during the first act, but as soon as we get into act two, things aren’t quite so info-dumpy. And I have to admit that I didn’t fully see where this story was going, it managed to throw me for a loop multiple times, telling a narrative that understands the “Hellblazer” mythos and themes, while still making it accessible to anyone unfamiliar with the material. That latter point might be somewhat related to the info-dumping in the first act, which makes it kind of a double-edged sword, but that’s just how shit ends up some times. But yeah… the story’s good, if a bit flawed.

The characters in this are flawed, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Constantine in this is more like in the comics rather than how he’s portrayed in the Keanu Reeves movie. He’s British, snarky, and a bit aloof. And while he’s not quite as morally flexible as he is in the comics, they do nod towards that idea a fair bit throughout this movie, which makes him a bit more interesting. And Matt Ryan (in his fourth appearance) is great in the role. Damien O’Hare as John’s trusted friend Chas Chandler does a great job as the committed and brave, yet slightly impulsive type. And in the supporting cat we got people like Laura Baily, Robin Atkin Downes, Jim Meskimen, Rachel Kimsey, Rick Wasserman, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Kevin Riepl, and it was alright. It is overall a well composed score that worked fine for the movie, but I felt that it might’ve been a little bit on the bland-ish side. It does have some cool chorals that make it stand out a little bit, but for the most part it’s your typical orchestral stuff with occasional synthesizers for effect. Again, not bad, pretty good, but a little bland.

Of course based on the legendary DC/Vertigo Character, “Constantine: City of Demons” was directed by Doug Murphy, who I think did a good job with it. He doesn’t force a lot of needless action or an unnecessarily rapid pace, instead opting for a decent bit of downtime, letting characters breathe and letting the audience take in what’s going on a bit. And even when there is action, it isn’t typical action-action with fists flying all about the place or flashy spells pew-pewing all day long, which I think is a fun change of pace. And the animation carrying it all, I think is good (based on the standards of these lower budget DC animated flicks). There are some minor things that distracted in it, like some of the blood splatter effects, but for the most part the animation looks nice and wonderfully brings out some of the nastier stuff in the DC universe.

This movie has been decently well received. On imdb.com (which is the only site with a clear number), it has a score of 7,4/10.

While it isn’t perfect, “Constantine: City of Demons” is still a very enjoyable take on the titular Hellblazer. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing/animation. Though it is unfortunately brought down a bit by a little too much exposition dumping, and some minor animations niggles. Time for my final score. *Bollocks*. My final score for “Constantine: City of Demons” is an 8,77/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Constantine: City of Demons” is now completed.

“Abraka-fooking-dabra” – John Constantine.

Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

During last year’s Month of Spooks, I reviewed “Night of the Living Dead”. Now in 2019, we’re moving on to its legendary pseudo-sequel. To be honest, I didn’t even plan this sequelization, it just happened. SERENDIPITY, HO!

Brainies and gentleflesh… “Dawn of the Dead”.

The world has gone to shit. Zombies are rapidly taking over everywhere. And in all this chaos we follow a small group of survivors as they seek shelter inside of a shopping mall. It’s a solid enough premise for a zombo flick, and the overall execution of it is damn good too. It works because it’s not only about some people trying to survive, but also because there’s a healthy dose of social satire strewn throughout the movie, giving the movie a bit of an edge over most zombie movies out there. Now, while I praise it for going in a unique direction with its story (for the time), I do have some issues with it, mainly in regards to pacing. It takes a bit for the main part of the plot to get going, and there are then moments throughout where the pacing drags ever so slightly. But for the most part, the plot here moves at a good pace and is overall a well written, fun, and surprisingly nuanced take on the zombie sub-genre.

If you asked me what the characters’ names were, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can see the characters and recognize them, but I have no real clue about who they are beyond “Oh yeah, you’re a guy in this”. Despite this, I found them quite interesting as subjects of this satirical zombo story. The way they interact and handle various situations is quite interesting. And the performances are all quite solid.

The score for the movie was composed by Dario Argento, along with Italian rock group Goblin. And it’s an interesting score. At times big, at times a bit more somber, it is an unusually unpredictable score that overall just really fit the movie well. It often adds to the enjoyment of the various scenes.

Just like with its predecessor, “Dawn of the Dead” was written and directed by George A. Romero, who I think did a solid job with it. You can tell that he’s gained a bit more confidence as a director between movies, as he very cleverly creates a unique mood with his direction, a mood that is often uneasy, but still enjoyable.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

While I don’t necessarily adore it as much as some people, I still think “Dawn of the Dead” is a damn fine movie. It has a really good plot, okay-ish characters, really good performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Though as mentioned earlier, it is brought down a bit by some mild pacing issues. Time for my final score. *Braaaaains*. My final score for “Dawn of the Dead” is an 8,78/10. So while not perfect, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Dawn of the Dead” is now completed.

Yup

Movie Review: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

And the Month of Spooks continues. This time with a strange hybrid. So here we fucking go.

Ladies and gents… “From Dusk Till Dawn”.

A pair of criminals (George Clooney & Quentin Tarantino, yes really) are on the run for some horrible crimes they committed. To stay away from the law, they take refuge in a titty bar somewhere in Mexico. They are however in for a horrible surprise, when they find out that the people at the bar aren’t exactly what they appear to b- vampires, they’re vampires. So now we have our profane crime-thriller/vampire movie. And the story here is fine. Straightforward, but clashing in tones. One moment it’s this Tarantinian crime story, then it’s a family drama, then it’s horror, then it’s a dark comedy. While there are a lot of solid moments here, they don’t necessarily flow that well into each other, creating these tonal clashes. Like I said, there’s a lot of fun moments, and it does entertain in that sense, but the lack of good transitions does distract at times.

The characters in this are decently interesting, if a bit poorly defined at times. George Clooney plays Seth Gecko, one of the two brothers on the run from the law. He’s assertive, strict, bit of a dick, but does at times show a more human side (even if his exterior still screams asshole). He’s clearly the leader of the two, and he’s an interesting character to follow, even if he’s not very likable (which might put some people off). And Clooney is great in the role. Next we have Harvey Keitel as Jacob Fuller, a family man that’s been kidnapped by the Geckos. He’s a former preacher just trying to enjoy a nice trip with his kids, but that of course goes a bit awry. He’s a decently interesting guy, and Keitel is great in the role. Next we have Quentin Tarantino (yes, really) as Richie Gecko, Clooney’s younger brother. He’s a creepy psychopath. That’s all I’ll say, as I don’t wanna get into too much detail. And I honestly think Tarantino is good in this role, it’s probably the best performance I’ve seen from him. We also get supporting work from people like Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, Salma Hayek, Fred Williamson, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Graeme Revell, and it’s good. It’s not too prominent, but when it can be heard, it’s pretty good, creating some decent ambiance. The movie also has a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, a lot of them within the blues-rock genre, which not only fits the movie surprisingly well, but also is right up my alley. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“From Dusk Till Dawn” was written by Quentin Tarantino, and directed by Robert Rodriguez (not the last collaboration between the two). And Jesus heart-staking Christ, it’s obvious form a mile away. Tarantino’s dirty dialogue, Rodriguez’ energetic and oft campy direction, it’s all here in spades, and it gives the movie a nice sense of energy that keeps it from getting boring. It also does add a bit to the action scenes that exist in the movie, which are fun to watch, partly due to the stuff I just mentioned, and partly due to the really solid visual effects that are on display here.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 64% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 48/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

So while “From Dusk Till Dawn” has a fair bit of flaws, I still enjoyed watching it. It has an okay story, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and really good writing/directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “From Dusk Till Dawn” is a 7,56/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s worth renting.

My review of “From Dusk Till Dawn” is now completed.

Daaaark Night. It’s a Daaaark Night. What? It’s a good song. Even the movie knows it.

Series Review: The Strain – Season 1 (2014)

Hey, finally a tv show in the Month of Spooks.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Strain” season 1.

After a plane filled with dead people lands in New York, a mysterious viral outbreak begins, turning people into savage, vampiric creatures. And it’s up to Doctor Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) to find out what the hell is going on. So now we have our horror story. And it’s a good one. Sure, it does lean into some classic vampire tropes, but it also plays around with others to create something that feels fresh and unique in television. Admittedly the first few episodes are a bit on the slow side. They’re not bad, they carry a fair bit of intrigue, but they feel a bit like a drag at times. But when you get past them, and the plot truly gets going, it is an utterly compelling and quite entertaining vampire thriller.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Corey Stoll plays Ephraim Goodweather, a CDC scientist who has to investigate this mysterious viral outbreak. Eph (as he’s called by so many) has a lot of personal flaws and demons in his past, and seeing him have to deal with those in tandem with this intense outbreak makes him an interesting character. And Stoll is great in the roll. Yes, pun intended. Next we have David Bradly as Abraham Setrakian, a mysterious old man who seems to know a lot about what’s going on with this whole situation. We learn a lot about him as the show goes along, and I don’t wanna ruin it (’cause it’s good and should be experienced rather than told). And Bradley is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand, Miguel Gomez, Richard Sammel, Sean Astin, Jonathan Hyde, Ben Hyland, Ruta Gedmintas, Robin Atkin Downes, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Ramin Djawadi (oh sweet), and it’s pretty good (what do you mean “pretty”?). It’s not among Djawadi’s best work, but he still did a really solid job, giving us some decently tense pieces when needed, and some more emotional tracks in others. It’s pretty good.

Based on a series of novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the show was created by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, with writing and directing by them and some other cool people. And the craft in this show is pretty spectacular. The direction creates a fair bit of tension, while still making us feel intimate with the characters. And fuck me sideways, the use of colored lighting in this show is fucking magnificent. Reds, greens, blues, yellows, it is stunning to look at. And the visual effects are pretty great too. Since it is a Del Toro production, there’s a lot of disgusting-looking practical creature effects, with some CG mixed in at times. And god damn, it is so cool to see that here, since it makes everything going on feel more real. It also kind of adds to the horror, as it doesn’t make the scary creatures look all shiny and fake. It’s some creepy stuff.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

Season 1 of “The Strain” may drag a bit at the start, but it ultimately ends up being an effective and highly entertaining vampire thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing/effects/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Strain” is an 8,67/10. So while flawed, I still think it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “The Strain” season 1 is now completed.

David Bradley’s a bit of a badass. Honestly never expected that.

Movie Review: It (2017)

And the Month of Spooks continues! And today we’ll be talking about a Stephen King adaptation. How fun.

Ladies and gentlemen… “It”.

Maine, 1989. A group of outcast kids have to come together during their summer holiday when an evil clown (Bill Skarsgård) starts haunting them and wreaking havoc. So I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, when this story focuses on the drama of the Losers Club (the kids we follow) and their personal issues, that shit is compelling, it is insanely well written and it had me engaged. There’s a lot of nuance to that stuff, and it really adds to it all. But when it focuses on the horror shit… meh. I’ll get into that in more detail later, but for now… this plot is a mostly positive mixed bag.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall really interesting. The kids feel real, I love their camaraderie, and they have great chemistry. Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, and Wyatt Oleff, they play the Losers Club, and they were all fantastic. And then we have Bill Skasgård as Pennywise. I really liked his performance, but I’m not sure if that’s for the reason the filmmakers wanted. They wanted him to be terrifying, and at times he does have a creepy gaze. But for the most part he’s just an absolute fucking ham, and I loved watching it, because I live for hammy shit. But seriously, that was a great, if a bit goofy, performance.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and god damn, it was great. It has many layers to it, and it helps build a strong emotional core that really manipulated me at points. Usually with horror movies, my expectations for the music are often kinda low, so I’m glad the Wallfisch proved my ass wrong by giving us some really stunning tunes. And some decently creepy ones. Good job.

Based on the beloved novel of the same name by Stephen King, “It” was directed by Andy Muschietti, and I think he did a great job. His control of the camera and flow a scene can’t be understated, it was truly some damn good stuff. Even built some decent creepiness to it at times. And the various effects in the movie, both practical and digital, were damn good. Buuuut then we get to the “scary shit”. Yeah, I wasn’t scared by it. And that’s not me being a douche about it, I would’ve loved (for lack of a better word) to have been scared by that stuff. But it never got to me. Like I said, there’s some decently creepy moments throughout, but when it tried to full on scare me, it never really worked. Partly due to the hamtastic Bill Skarsgård, and partly due to some of the audio cues added to certain scares. So the craft here is great… I just wasn’t scared.

This movie has been 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 7,4/10.

While it fails at spooking me, I still think “It” is a damn good movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Boo*. My final score for “It” is an 8,78/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “It” is now completed.

I am so mixed on this movie.

Movie Review: Shelley (2016)

Ladies, gentlemen, and space aliens, it’s finally here. The first review in my yearly blogging thing called THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! *Dramatic music, thunder & lightning, very very frightening*. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Shelley”.

A young Romanian woman named Elena (Cosmina Stratan) has come to Denmark to help a Danish couple (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Peter Christoffersen) out as a maid. Not too long into her service she agrees to become a surrogate mother for them. And it doesn’t take long for her to discover that there might be something strange going on with this pregnancy. So now we have our little horror-drama. And it’s certainly an interesting story. Now, it’s not perfect, there are flaws. It has a little bit of an ambiguous nature, never giving an explanation for what happened. Being ambiguous isn’t necessarily a problem, but I feel like they could’ve fed us a few more bread crumbs so that we could interpret more from it, because this is maybe a little too vague with some stuff. With that said, the stuff we do get though is interesting and is made more engaging thanks to a really cool, off-brand atmosphere. The plot has a lot of flaws, but it’s still pretty interesting.

The characters in this are flawed and decently interesting. Cosmina Stratan plays Elena, the young woman who agrees to carry the baby. She’s charming and energetic, a nice young woman who wants to help people. And seeing her go through the development she goes through here is quite fascinating, making her a decently layered character. And Stratan is really good in the role. Ellen Dorrit Petersen plays Louise, the woman whose child Elena helps to carry. She generally seems like a good person, very friendly, and does everything to make sure Elena (and the baby) is comfortable. And she is decently interesting, with Petersen giving a solid performance. And in the supporting cast we see people like Peter Christoffersen and Björn Andrésen, both doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Martin Dirkov, who I think did a good job with it. It’s not a very melodic score, going more for eerie droning sounds, because that apparently makes stuff spookier. I know that sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t. Like I said, it’s overall a good score, and it works pretty well whenever it’s used within the movie.

“Shelley” was written by Ali Abbasi and Maren Louise Käehne, with Abbasi handling direction. And this is overall a very well crafted movie. Abbasi’s direction really helps conjure a creepy, off-kilter atmosphere which almost gives the movie a sort of dreamlike quality, which at times makes it a little more unsettling. Also makes for some nice shots on occasion.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

While “Shelley” isn’t perfect, it’s still a decently creepy little horror-drama. It has an okay plot, okay characters, really good performances, good music, and really good writing/direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shelley” is a 7,11/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Shelley” is now completed.

Do you think that title is a cute nod to Mary Shelley? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

Movie Review: Ad Astra (2019)

Space, the final frontie- Hold on, this isn’t “Star Trek”. This is something else… so let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ad Astra”.

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) must go on a potentially dangerous mission across the stars to try to uncover the truth behind what happened to his space-traveling father many years ago. And before you get too many assumptions, I have to tell you that this isn’t really that kind of space adventure. Don’t expect “Star Wars”. This is a slowly burning character study that will test the patience of some viewers. That’s not to say that there aren’t exciting bits in this movie, there are. But the more action-packed stuff is less of a priority here, making way for the slow burn drama. And I found it quite engaging. It’s not my favorite space drama, that crown still goes to “Moon”, but I still thought the plot of “Ad Astra” was very good.

There’s really only one character worth talking about here, and that is Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt. He’s shut off his emotional as a response of something that happened in his past. Which makes him a very reserved individual, not letting a lot of people in. And he goes through quite an interesting arc in this movie, making him quite a nuanced character. And Pitt is fantastic in the role. Yes, it’s a very subdued performance, but you can read so much just from eyes. And there are some damn solid supporting players here too.

The score for the movie was composed by Max Richter, and my god, it was fantastic. It often has a very dreamlike quality that perfectly complements Roy’s personal solitude, in combination with the desolation that we call space. Synths, strings, some piano, these are just some of the elements that get blended quite wonderfully to create the mesmerizing score.

“Ad Astra” was written by James Gray and Ethan Gross, with Gray handling direction. Gray’s direction manages to be both sweeping and intimate, really giving us some impressive vistas in combination with the tightness to Pitt’s McBride. His direction manages to generate a decent bit of emotion, making me care. Then it also builds some pretty good suspense in parts. And let’s talk about Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, which is some of the most stunning I have ever seen, taking my breath away at many points. Seriously, the craft in this movie is meticulous.

This movie just came out, so scores may change. But so far it has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Ad Astra” isn’t for everyone… but I thought it was great. It has a really good plot, a really good central character, great performances, fantastic music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Ad Astra” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Ad Astra” is now completed.

Ad Astra is about Brad Astra seeking his Dad Astra. The movie’s not Bad Astra, in fact it’s quite Rad Astra, which makes me very Glad Astra. 

Series Review: Twin Peaks – Season 1 (1990)

Time to finally start clearing this thing from the watchlist.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Twin Peaks” season 1!

When a young woman is found murdered in the quiet mountain town of Twin Peaks, an FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) is called in to try to find out what happened. And as we follow Agent Cooper’s investigation, we find out about the cheating, double-crossing, and other idiosyncrasies going on in the town.  So now we have our little crime series. Now, at first it seems like a relatively average crime story, if a bit quirky. But it doesn’t take long for “Twin Peaks” to show that it doesn’t play by the book too much, blending a whole bunch of genres at once. Now, in a lot of cases (pun intended), switching between different genres like this show does can end up quite poorly. But thanks to the unique atmosphere and writing style of the show, the blend of crime, melodrama, comedy, and mild psychedelia works quite well to give us one of the most uniquely enjoyable plots in a season of television.

The characters in this are quirky, fun, colorful, nuanced, and overall quite interesting. Kyle MacLachlan plays Dale Cooper, the FBI agent brought in to help investigate the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). He’s a highly skilled agent, being able to figure things out about people by simple body language. He’s also quite a charming dude, being one of the most instantly likable characters I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. And MacLachlan is great in the role. I would describe more characters, but with their unique nature, I’d rather not, as they’re all best left experienced. But the supporting cast does include people like Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ray Wise, Sherilyn Fenn, Peggy Lipton, Joan Chen, Michael Horse, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the series was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, and I think he did a really good job with it. It’s moody, suspenseful, emotional, a little meldoramatic, and even at times kinda fucking groovy. Most tracks get reused quite often, which could get old after a while, but the way these tracks are implemented throughout the show makes the recycling work quite well.

“Twin Peaks” was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, with writing and directing by them and a bunch of other cool people. And they manage to create such a unique vibe for the show through these elements. Eerie, warm, fascinating, and even mildly surreal, there’s something about the style that makes it stand out, turning it into quite the intoxicating experience.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100.  And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #54 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Twin Peaks” is pretty fucking good. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Twin Peaks” season is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Twin Peaks” season 1 is now completed.

Agent Cooper, a man after my own heart.