Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Good grief, that title stylization is such a double-edged sword. Looks neat, and is a great piece of wordplay… but god damn, it is a pain to keep in mind when writing it out. Oh well, that’s all the time we’re spending on that, let’s get into the review.

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 gentlemen… “BlacKkKlansman”!

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is a young, black police officer in the 70s. He’s an ambitious young man, looking to make a real difference. And one way he intends to do this is by starting an undercover operations to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with the help of one of his colleagues (Adam Driver). So now we have our quite unique story setup… and good god damn, I loved seeing how it unfolded. What makes it work so well is how impressively they balance tones. On one hand, it’s an undercover cop movie featuring one of the most horrible organizations in the worlds, which is very serious. But then they also acknowledge the bizarreness of a black man making an attempt to enter the Ku Klux Kunts, and have a bit of fun with that idea. So it manages to both put me on the edge of my seat with some of the darker aspects, and have me smiling at some of the more lighthearted and fun moments. It’s also remarkably fast-paced. The movie has a 135 minute runtime, but I never felt that, it moved at a brisk pace that kept it from getting dull. It doesn’t rush through things though, when it needs to slow down and soak in a moment, it does that. But yeah, it’s well paced and well written and highly entertaining.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, colorful, and overall just quite interesting. John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the young cop at the center of this story. He’s smart, highly determined, but also a bit of an underdog considering he’s like the only black officer in the department. And he’s one of the more uniquely compelling protagonists of recent years. And Washington is fantastic in the role. We then have Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, Stallworth’s colleague who joins in on this batshit undercover operation. He’s a bit torn between some various things we learn about him throughout the movie, and it makes him quite fascinating to follow. And Driver is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Michael Buscemi, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Topher Grace, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “BlacKkKlansman” was composed by Terence Blanchard, and it was great. There’s a consistent theme that gets woven throughout various tracks, making for a consistent emotional quality while still giving it a few different spins. There are of course a few unique tracks as well, and they are very good too. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work quite well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has good music.

Based on a book by Ron Stallworth, “BlacKkKlansman” was directed by Spike Lee. And he did a great job, he really brought his A-game here, giving it a fierce energy that makes it stand out among so many movies in recent years. His direction manages to capture the broadness of this whole operation while never sacrificing the intimacy with the characters. And this makes it absolutely electrifying. And Chayse Irvin’s cinematography is stunning, complementing the storytelling wonderfully. There’s also a surprising amount of comedy throughout the movie, and it’s very funny. It helps to digest some of the bizarre and darkly uncomfortable aspects of this story.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best adapted screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best original score, Best director, Best supporting actor (Driver), and Best film editing.

Despite it’s annoying-to-write title, “BlacKkKlansman” is a fantastic and highly unique bio-pic. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing/cinematography, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “BlacKkKlansman” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “BlacKkKlansman” is now completed.

This kind of stuff is why I love movies.

Movie Review: Crawl (2019)

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by crocodilians, potentially due to watching a fair bit of “Crocodile Hunter” as a kid. And possibly also because they’re badass. Either way, it baffles me that we barely get any movies featuring them, at least with decent budgets. So I’m excited to finally get to talk about such a movie.

Ladies and gents… “Crawl”.

When Haley (Kaya Scodelario) goes searching for her dad (Barry Pepper) during a devastating hurricane, she finds herself trapped in their old family home’s crawlspace, not only having to survive the vicious weather, but also a bunch of alligators swimming around. It’s a B-movie premise… but I really liked seeing it unfold. There’s enough self-aware brains within the writing to make it work. It nicely shifts between being a suspenseful monster movie and a decent enough family drama, the balance is just right. I’m not sitting here saying that it’s the greatest storytelling ever put to celluloid. But what I am saying is that it knows what it is, and works with it to create a fun and engaging popcorn thriller that managed to scare, make me feel tense, and invest me in the struggle of the people at the center.

The characters in this, while not the deepest, are written with enough nuance to make the viewer care for them, at least on a surface “I don’t want to see these guys die” level. Kaya Scodelario plays Haley, a young woman with some emotional baggage that affects her relationship to her dad. She’s clever, resourceful, and determined, and makes for an interesting protagonist that I enjoyed following. And Scodelario is great in the role. Next we have Barry Pepper as Dave, Haley’s dad with whom there’s some past issues with. I don’t have much to say, as he’s not as well defined in personality as Haley, but I still found him decently enjoyable/interesting. And Pepper is great in the role. And seriously, when was the last time we saw Barry Pepper in a movie? Dude was in everything for a while, and then he just suddenly wasn’t. Oh well, it was nice to see him show up here.

The score for “Crawl” was composed by Max Aruj & Steffen Thum, and I think they did a pretty good job with it. Some basic emotional strings, some neat horror stings, and a few other things. The score here doesn’t do anything new, but intead does all the familiar things well, creating a solid soundscape for the movie.

“Crawl” was written by brothers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, with Alexandre Aja handling directing duties. And the craft on display here (for its relatively low budget) is pretty damn good. They really manage to create an oppressive atmosphere that helps the movie stand out in both the disaster and monster sub-genres. Even the huge storm is given a real presence that makes it feel far from cheap. Now, let’s talk about the real stars here… the gators. As expected, they’re CGI, because real gators would be too dangerous. But even for CG animals, they work quite well here… for the most part. Their animations are great, really lifelike, which makes them quite intense. Where I have to leave a slight criticism though is the texturing. Yes, they got the general gator appearance right, but it feels like they could’ve used another render or two. But I can also forgive it because of how low the budget was, and because of the presence the overall animations on the gators gave off. Quick warning too: As you probably expect, there’s some gore in this, but it’s also quite vicious. Not just blood for blood’s sake, but some genuine brutality happens. Just putting that out there in case anyone’s a bit squeamish.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

I know it sounds like I shit on it multiple times throughout, but I want to make it very fucking clear that I highly enjoyed “Crawl”. It’s a damn fine monster movie (yes, alligators aren’t monsters, but what else would you call this style of movie?). It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing, effects, and atmosphere. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Crawl” is a 9,57/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Crawl” is now completed.

See you later, alligator…

Series Review: His Dark Materials – Season 1 (2019)

Adapting books is difficult. There’s a risk of alienating old fans if you fuck it up, and there’s a chance of alienating new ones if you just adapt word for word, with no regard for the viewing experience. We’ve covered some good ones, and some bad ones on the blog before… so let’s see where this falls into the spectrum

Ladies and gentlemen… “His Dark Materials” season 1.

Set in an alternate universe England, the story follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a girl looking to find a way to get out of her boring scholastic existence and into some adventure. Well she soon finds her wish coming true when she gets dragged into a big, magical adventure through this mysterious, alternate world. I really enjoyed following the story here. It’s a fresh take on the familiar “child hero” fantasy formula. And unlike so many other such adaptations it manages to balance a generally family friendly approach with a lot of darker moments that dare to challenge younger viewers a bit. It reminds me of the “Harry Potter” movies a bit in that sense. There’s also enough interesting twists in the story to keep me on my toes. The pacing does feel like it slightly drags at times due to how dense with content each episode is, but generally it never full on breaks the show for me. It’s still a really engaging and entertaining story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and overall just interesting. Dafne Keen plays Lyra, our protagonist. She’s clever, crafty, adventurous, and just a really entertaining protagonist that I loved following throughout. And Keen is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Ruth Wilson, Kit Connor, Amir Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariyon Bakare, James Cosmo, and James McAvoy, among many others. And they all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Lorne Balfe, and it is absolutely fantastic. From the beyond catchy main theme, to many of the quieter pieces, to some of the bigger tracks, it is all fantastic. What I also like is that as we switch between a few different settings within the show, Balfe actually plays around a bit with his instrumentation, not only relying on the typical orchestral stuff. So yeah, this show has some great music.

Based on the beloved novels by Philip Pullman, “His Dark Materials” is a co-production between BBC and HBO, written by Jack Thorne, and directed by a bunch of cool people. And the craft here is seriously fantastic. The direction manages to capture the sweeping nature of the epic fantasy story it sets up, while still staying intimate with the characters, bringing us further into the world in a wonderful way. And this show is also proof why HBO should be allowed to help out with the financing of a show, because in terms of sets, effects, props, puppetry, and all such production values, this is one of the most well crafted and expensive-looking shows I have ever witnessed. It is stunning what they’ve made here.

This season/show has generally been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

It’s of course not flawless, but I still kinda loved season of “His Dark Materials”. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing, cinematography, and effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “His Dark Materials” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “His Dark Materials” season 1 is now completed.

I’ve had a weird void in my life since the “Harry Potter movies ended. And this show has kinda filled it for the past two months.

Movie Review: Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

It’s that time of year again… “Star Wars”. The final one… for now. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gents… “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker”.

The remaining members of the Resistance try to pull off a series of daring plans to try to hopefully finally stop the sinister First Order. It’s the concluding chapter to this new trilogy, that also calls back some (read: a lot) to the older movies. And the story as a whole is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s generally a fun, fast-paced space swashbuckler that does give a satisfying enough ending to the entire Skywalker saga, but looking at the overall thing, it feels ever so slightly paper-thin. And while I don’t need my “Star Wars” to be deep mindfucks in their storytelling, I feel like there could’ve been a bit more put into it, since it’s supposed to, you know, cap off the entire fucking series (AGAIN). But as it stands, while the story disappoints a bit, it’s still entertaining, and I thought the overall ending was pretty good.

The characters in this have earned a shitload of good will over the previous two movies, I’ve fallen in love with them, so that went a long way to me following them here. And while one or two might get some decent-ish enough character conflict, there isn’t too much else to say about that stuff. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver make for a compelling hero/villain dynamic at the center. John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are as enjoyable in their sidekick roles again. All other supporting actors do well enough in their supporting roles too.

As with every mainline entry in this franchise, the score was composed by the one and only John Williams. And there’s no way one can complain about it. From the classic motifs, to some of the ones from the previous two movies, to some new (if indistinguishable) stuff… come on, it’s another “Star Wars” score from the one and only John Williams, you all know it’s good.

“The Rise of Skywalker” was directed by J.J. Abrams, who did a damn good job. The guy knows how to bring energy to a scene, he knows how to a fun and exciting action scene. There’s tons of good action in this that either made my jaw drop or just had grinning like an overexcited child. Yes, I am easy to please when it comes to that kind of stuff… especially when it’s handled as well as it is here. The effects are of course fucking spectacular, and not just the CG, there’s a ton of awesome practical creature effects and such. It’s just a joy to look at.

This movie just came out, so there’s not much data out there (and as y’all know, I am too lazy to edit after the fact). So here’s where we’re at now. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 58% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on imdb.com it has no score at all… that’s how early I am.

“Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” may be slightly disappointing, but I still had a good time with it. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” is an 8,45/10. So while very flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” is now completed.

Goodbye for now, Star Wars.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 5)

It’s time for part 5 of this goofy series of mine. More contrivances, here we go. And today we’re actually talking about a movie from my own country for once, I know, my mind is as blown as yours.

Today’s movie is called “A Summer Tale”, directed by Ulf Malmros, and released in 2000. Set in 1958, it follows two kids (Anastasios Soulis and Rebecca Scheja) as they get sent to live with a cantankerous funeral director (Kjell Bergqvist) for the summer. So now… now… now… I hear what you’re thinking. “Markus, you dumb bastard, how the hell are you gonna get a movie with SUMMER in the title to fit within the christmas category?”. Well, my impatient friend, let me sit your ass down and tell you.

When the kids first meet this funeral director, their relationship to him is stale at best, and tense at worst. He’s not abusive and horrible towards them, but he’s not exactly someone I’d wanna send my theoretical kids to. But as one might expect from this setup, these two parties of course start to warm towards each other, all the while the funeral director tries to get a local teacher he has a crush on to go out with him. So while yes, the movie is set during the summer, it’s still all about family and finding love. You know what part of the year is often associated with family and love? Christmas. Everyone always talks about how that holiday should be spent spreading love and being with your family. And since this movie is all about that shit, you’d imagine it could fit within that.
While “A Summer Tale” isn’t one of the greatest movies ever made, I found myself surprisingly entertained by it. It’s a heartwarming little dramedy that made me really care about the characters, all of whom are very well acted by the actors involved (yes, the kids too). It’s a good flick.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Them That Follow (2019)

I hate snakes. They’re the worst. I see a snake on tv or in a movie, I crawl into a ball on the couch. The worst. So let’s talk about a movie featuring them (I’m dumb).

Ladies and gents… “Them That Follow”.

Set within the deep woods of Appalachia, we follow Mara (Alice Englert), a young woman who is the daughter of the local snake-handling preacher (Walton Goggins). She carries a secret with her that, if released into the world, could potentially cause some trouble within her community. So now we have our backwoods story. And while I do have some little niggles with it, I generally thought it was pretty interesting. It’s like a window into this strange, archaic community, presenting them with a surprisingly nuanced view, rather than the typical “These cult-ish people are crazy monsters” angle that often get used within stories featuring similar characters/communities. Yes, we still get shown the angle that these people are ye olde backwoods christians… but it’s never as simple as them just being a cult, there is rarely pure judgment, but rather just observation, which I thought was interesting, especially as the movie went along and more revelations were unleashed. Now, despite this unusually intriguing execution, it’s unfortunately not perfect. It does feel flimsy at times, probably due to the short runtime (circa 95 minutes). Had they had more time, we probably could’ve had it even more fleshed out. But as it stands, it’s still an alright plot that kept me interested throughout.

The characters, while not the deepest in the world, are still pretty engaging. Alice Englert plays Mara, the young woman at the center of the story. She’s probably the deepest one in the story, as she’s highly conflicted about a lot of stuff going on in her life at the time, which makes her a really interesting character to follow. And Englert is really good in the role. Then we have Walton Goggins as her father, preacher Lemuel Childs. He’s a man of god… and nope ropes. He doesn’t get much development as a character, but he’s still quite engaging because Goggins is such an electrifying presence. Then we have Olivia Colman as Hope, a matriarch of sorts within this community. There is some conflict with her later on in the movie, which I won’t spoil in case you wanna watch the movie, but I’ll say that while it’s an okay idea, the overall execution of that is just fine. And while Colman’s southern drawl is somewhat hit-and-miss, her overall performance is great. We also get supporting work from people like Thomas Mann, Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, and Jim Gaffigan, all giving good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Garth Stevenson, and I felt that it was kind of a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s this nice, almost dreamlike thing that fits the southern, spiritual setting, really adding some nice atmosphere to the movie. Buuuut then there are some overbearing horror drones throughout too, and I felt like that took me out of it during those moments. I can tell that Stevenson has a lot of talent, but there are times when they aren’t applied correctly.

“Them That Follow” is the writing/directing debut of duo Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage, and I think they did an okay job with it. They have a way of keeping scenes engaging thanks to a unique sense of energy that may have a slow flow, but still makes sure scenes never get boring. And when they need to get a bit suspenseful, they god damn nail it… except when the aforementioned horror score bits come on, then shit clashes a bit.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

While far from one of the greatest movies ever, I still thought “Them That Follow” was a really good drama. It has a pretty good plot, okay characters, great performances, okay music, and good directing. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by a sometimes shallow plot and poor musical score. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Them That Follow” is a 7,95/10. So while flawed, it’s absolutely worth renting.

My review of “Them That Follow” is now completed.

Damn snakes.

Movie Review: Midsommar (2019)

These kinds of movies are always kind of exciting. You know the ones, the movies that are quite polarizing. A lot of people love them, a lot of people don’t. Those are always the most exciting to watch/talk about, because of this discourse. So let’s chat about this polarizing picture.

Mina damer och herrar… “Midsommar”.

After suffering a terrible tragedy, Dani (Florence Pugh) travels with her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his friends to a remote part of Sweden to take part in a festival. But what seems like a nice, relaxing way of getting away from life and gathering your thoughts, soon turns into something a bit more strange. So now we have our semi-cult horror-drama-thriller story. And here where I think the divide will occur for most people. It’s a slow burning affair, more about exploring certain themes and ideas rather than just up and spooking you. And if you don’t want to sit through that for nearly two and a half hours, then maybe avoid this. As for me, I found this a weirdly enrapturing experience. It’s not something I’ll probably ever watch again, and it’s probably not something I’ll call one of my favorite movies… but it’s a story experience unlike any other I’ve witnessed, and I was drawn in from start to finish.

The characters in this are interesting in the sense that not all of them get too much depth, but I wouldn’t want them to not be included. First up we have Florence Pugh as Dani, the young woman at the center of the story. She has gone through some shit, which has really fucked with her mental state, which we see manifest throughout the movie, which adds a bit to making her a very compelling character. And Pugh is absolutely fantastic in the role (give her an Oscar, you cowards). Jack Reynor plays Christian, Dani’s boyfriend who I have conflicted feelings about, which I think was the movie’s intent, and I found him interesting to have along. And Reynor is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Henrik Norlén, Will Poulter, Isabelle Grill, Liv Mjönes, Hampus Hallberg, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Bobby Krlic, and I’d say it’s good. It’s not something I’d find myself listening to in my free time, but I can’t deny that it’s well composed and fits quite well within the various scenes where you can hear it. It’s an often droning score, almost dreamlike which adds to the eeriness of the movie.

“Midsommar” was written and directed by Ari Aster, who I think did a damn good job with it. His control of scene flow is immaculate, and when combined with the pitch perfect editing and Pawel Pogorzelski’s stunning cinematography, and you got one of the most impressively crafted films of the year. It manages to be otherworldly while still clearly being on our own planet earth.

This movie has gotten mixed reception (but mostly positive from critics). On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“Midsommar” isn’t for everyone… but I certainly thought it was engaging. It has a really good plot, good characters, fantastic performances, good music, and fantastic writing/directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midsommar” is a 9,58/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midsommar” is now completed.

They present the midsummer celebration in the movie as some huge, elaborate event. But the actual celebration here in Sweden is just people getting drunk, eating bland food, and maybe stumbling around a wreath pole.

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.

Movie Review: Knives Out (2019)

I love mysteries. Not in real life though, that shit can be infuriating/scary. But in movies/tv/books/games, the mystery genre is one of my favorites. Who killed the man? Who stole the thing? Who pissed in the cereal? Even the worst ones can still have me entertained due to me having a soft spot for the genre. So anyway, let’s talk about a mystery movie (it’s not a mystery movie jackass, it’s right in the fucking title what movie it is). SILENCE, ME.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Knives Out”.

When famed murder mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies, a private investigator (Daniel Craig) starts looking into the possibility that one of Thrombey’s eccentric relatives might’ve killed him. WHODUNIT!? The goofy spelling/grammar of that word aside, that is the genre we’re dealing with here. It’s a modern whodunit that pays tribute to the classic ones, such as “Murder She Wrote” or “Columbo”, while also putting its own fresh-feeling spin to proceedings. It gives you everything you want in a classic whodunit story, while also subverting it in some really clever ways that I honestly didn’t see coming. There’s also a surprising amount of social commentary throughout. And while I’ve watched things recently with attempts at that which were a bit too hamfisted, I felt like it worked quite well within “Knives Out”, wonderfully integrating into the already solid murder mystery.

The characters here are flawed, colorful, interesting, and buckets of fun. Daniel Craig plays Benoit Blanc, a private investigator that’s been hired to investigate Thrombey’s death. He is skilled, but he’s also a bit quirky. And holy fuck, Daniel Craig… he really hammed it up here, and it made him such a fun presence to watch. Next we have Ana De Armas as a nurse who is heavily involved in the story. And she’s great in the role. And then the rest of the cast is filled out by people like Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, the aforementioned Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Tony Collette, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Lakeith Stanfield, Riki Lindholme, and more… and good god damn, what a solid cast this is.

The score for the movie was composed by Nathan Johnson, and it was a lot of fun. It’s very old school in its approach, often sounding like something you’d hear in an older crime movie/show, due to its often overdramatic strings. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well enough. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“Knives Out” was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who I think did one hell of a job on those fronts. He gives the movie such a distinct energy that keeps it feels electric, keeping any shot or scene from ever feeling boring. That doesn’t mean any part feels rushed though, Johnson lets scenes simmer when needed… but never for too long, giving it just the perfect pacing.

This movie has so far been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

I loved “Knives Out”, it’s a really fun and unique whodunit. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Knives out” is a 9,90/10. So that’s right, it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Knives Out” is completed.

Knives Out, Spoons In.

Series Review: Swamp Thing (2019)

I’ve been waiting for this show to be made available over here for quite a while. And finally, Friday the 8th, we got it. And now that I have finished it, I can finally give my thoughts. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Swamp Thing”.

CDC doctor Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) finds herself traveling back to her old hometown of Marais, Louisiana when some strange viral shit is found coming out of the swamps of that area. And as she continues her investigation of it, she soon finds out that there’s more to these swamps than meets the eye. Secrets, tragic backstories, the horror of the unknown, these are some of the things that are explored throughout the 10 episodes of “Swamp Thing”. I point out the episode count because this show was meant to be 13, but after the very sudden cancellation of the show, they had to reduce it to 10. And while the finished package holds up very well, I could still sense some of those cuts here and there. But the story we get here is still pretty great, creating a surprisingly nuanced journey that scares and emotionally invests in equal measure.

The characters in this are flawed, damaged, layered, and very interesting. Crystal Reed plays Abby Arcane, a CDC doctor with a tragic past, returning to her old home town. She’s determined, good at heart, but is also sometimes haunted by things that happened to her once, and she’s a great protagonist that I loved following. And Reed is great in the role. Next we have Derek Mears as the titular creature. I won’t say much more than saying that he’s an interesting character, and Mears’ performance is really good. Then we have Andy Bean as Alec Holland, a scientist Abby meets when she returns to Marais. He’s a bit eccentric, but a good dude who is pretty interesting. And Bean is really good in the role. Next we have Will Patton as Avery Sunderson, a beloved businessman in Marais… however there’s a bit more to him than meets the eye. And Patton is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Virginia Madsen, Henderson Wade, Maria Sten, Kevin Durand, Ian Ziering, Jennifer Beals, Jeryl Prescott, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Brian Tyler, and it was great. It’s sometimes loud and intimidating, and sometimes more quiet and emotional. There’s also plenty of low, droning BWOOOMs. And while those could be obnoxious in lesser hands, the way they’re used here works quite well, and adds to the uneasy vibe the show clearly wants to go for.

Based on the iconic DC Comics character created by Len Wein, Alan Moore, and Bernie Wrightson, “Swamp Thing” was developed by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden, with writing and directing by them and a whole bunch of other cool people. And I think the craft here is superb. The amount of suspense built is insane, which makes for a horror show that ends up being genuinely scary. I also have to praise the effects in this show, because they’re spectacular. What we get here is a healthy blend of practical effects and CGI. For example, the Swamp Thing suit is completely practical, and looks amazing. The swamps, completely practical (with some possible CG enhancements). Now, with this being both an effects-heavy show and a horror series, that means that there’s plenty of gore throughout. And I mean plenty. And not just gore for the sake of gore, but gore to disturb and shock the viewer. And I mean, it certainly got some “OH MY GOD!” and “HOLY SHIT” out of me as I watched it all unfold. So if you have trouble with insanely violent media… consider yourself warned.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

Despite some of the cut corners made from the episode reduction, “Swamp Thing” is still a damn fine horror-drama. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic effects, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Swamp Thing” is a 9,61/10. So yes, you got that right, it does actually get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Swamp Thing” is now completed.

Can someone please uncancel this?