Movie Review: First Reformed (2018)

Faith. Something a lot of people struggle with, regardless of which religion it is. And that’s all the religious talk I’m doing today, don’t wanna accidentally start a flame war (you commenters behave now).

Ladies and gentlemen… “First Reformed”.

Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a priest in an old church. And he soon starts struggling with his faith as things around him start crumbling. So now we have our drama. And it’s great. The plot here features a lot of sensitive subjects, which could’ve absolutely gone sideways in the wrong hands. But they are handled beautifully here. It all comes together to create a plot that is haunting, dramatic, layered, and insanely engaging.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, realistic, and just really interesting. First up we have Ethan Hawke as reverend Ernst Toller, the man at the center of this story. He has a very tragic past that kind of comes back to haunt him as he experiences certain things throughout the plot here. Seeing him having to deal with his demons, while also dealing with other people’s problems is really fascinating, and gives him a good bit of development. And Hawke is fantastic in the role. Next we have Amanda Seyfried as Mary, a pregnant woman who comes to seek Toller’s counsel during a stressful time in her life. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that, as the rest of her arc is seen through the movie and I don’t wanna spoil it. But it’s good. And Seyfried is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Cedric the Entertainer, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Williams and it was… fine. It’s just this low droning sound that shows up partway through the movie. While not bad, it feels a bit superfluous. We did fine without it, and suddenly it’s part of a couple scenes. Had it not been there I wouldn’t mind, it would’ve in fact given the general soundscape of the movie a bit more consistency. Again, not bad… just fine.

This movie was written and directed by Paul Schrader, who I think did a fantastic job. His direction is kind of cold and distant while still intimate to the character of reverend Toller. It really helps give the movie a unique feel of unease that I don’t think I’ve experienced elsewhere. I mean, movies have made me feel uneasy before, but not in the same way that “First Reformed” did. What also adds to it is the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. At first it caught me a bit off guard, but I quickly got used to it and thought it worked very well for the movie. And the cinematography by Alexander Dynan is pretty damn solid.

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 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“First Reformed” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it was a fantastic and unique drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, okay music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “First Reformed” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “First Reformed” is now completed.

Amen.

Series Review: Preacher – Season 2 (2017)

Last year a little show called “Preacher” premiered on AMC. Critically speaking it did well, with audiences it did well, so of course a second season would get made. And now it has finally finished, which means that I can finally review it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Preacher” season 2!

After the explosive end of season 1, we find Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) on the road to try to find god… I’m not being metaphorical, they’re seriously trying to find the individual known as god. All while they’re trying to survive being chased by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who wants to kill Jesse. So now we have our plot for the season. And I’d say that it is quite good. It’s not flawless, but it’s strengths definitely outweigh it’s flaws. For the most part you have this weird, fun, and sometimes blasphemous adventure with plenty of fun mythology to it. And at times you get some pretty solid character drama. And it’s filled with a whole bunch of good twists and turns. Now, my only gripe with the plot here is that there are some mild pacing issues in maybe two episodes near the middle. But they’re not that bad… noticeable, but not deal-breaking. So overall I’d say that the plot is really good.

The characters in this are fun, colorful, and just incredibly interesting. But it’s not just the characters being the same throughout, you see them develop more and more over the season while still remaining true to what we were introduced to in season 1. Dominic Cooper returns as Jesse Custer, the troubled preacher with a special ability. Seeing him trying to find god while also dealing with his other demons is quite fascinating, and Cooper is great in the role. Ruth Negga returns as Tulip, Jesse’s girlfriend and partner in crime. She’s as badass as ever while still showing a relatable vulnerability, and Negga is great in the role. Joseph Gilgun is back as Cassidy, the Irish vampire… yeah, he’s as awesome as he was in season 1, still my favorite character in the show. He’s incredibly fun, but he’s also given some good dramatic depth this season which was fun to see. And Gilgun is of course awesome in the role. Graham McTavish returns to play the Saint of Killers, AKA the cowboy we saw every now and then in season 1. Though this time he has an arguably bigger role, and he’s honestly quite awesome. He’s a terrifying villain, an unstoppable badass who will kill Jesse Custer no matter what, and any scenes with him were quite tense. But he was also given some solid dramatic moments too, fleshing out his character a bit more. And McTavish is fantastic in the role. Ian Colletti returns as Eugene/Arseface, and he’s still great in the role. As for new people, there are a whole bunch, including Noah Taylor as… you know what, I’m not gonna spoil it if you haven’t seen it already, because it has to be seen to be believed. That said, he’s great in the role. Then in more supporting roles we have Pip Torrens, Julie Ann Emery, Ronald Guttman, Malcolm Barrett, and Amy Hill. There are more people in the show, but I’m not gonna write up every name that appears in this season. But with that said, every actor did very well in this season.

Like in the first season, the score was composed by Dave Porter, and once again he did a great job. The score is tense, dramatic, and just overall fits the show quite well and elevates a couple of moments throughout. There’s also plenty of licensed music throughout, not only being overall ear-pleasing, but also fitting the scenes they were used in very well.

The show was created by Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg and is based on a series of comics by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (R.I.P). And the show was written/directed by Rogen/Goldberg and a whole bunch of other people. And they all did very well in those departments. The show is directed with plenty of style and energy, making sure to keep most shots interesting. It’s also a visually appealing show. And the action scenes too are quite entertaining. Sure, a couple feel a little bit clunky, but most of them are quite solid… intense, fun, and badass. This show also has plenty of humor in it… admittedly quite dark humor, but humor nonetheless. And I laughed quite a lot throughout the show, both in small chuckles and in loud, gut-busting laughter. I also feel like I have to mention that if you have a problem with copious amounts of blood/gore, then this might not be for you because fucking hell, this is gory. But if you can stomach blood and gore then you might have some fun with it.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Preacher” season 2 is a fucking blast. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great humor. My only issue with it was that an episode or two had some mild pacing issues, but it’s not horrible for me. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “Preacher” season 2 is a 9,52/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

By the way, my friends from the We Have a Hulk podcast interviewed Graham McTavish (The Saint of Killers) a handful of weeks back, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Movie Review: Pilgrimage (2017)

Usually I am for hiking and wandering around in nature. But in this situation I might just stay home. This journey seems a bit… dangerous.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Pilgrimage”.

13th century Ireland. A group of monks have to transport a holy relic across the land. And the further they go, the more dangerous their journey becomes, and the more their alliances are questioned. So that’s our plot. And for the most part I think it is pretty good. It does take an interesting look at faith and how blindly a person is willing to follow it, despite disheartening dangers. My main gripe with the plot is the pacing. Sure, it is a deliberately slow-paced movie, but the first half drags it’s feet quite a lot and borders on boring a whole bunch of times. Then in the second half it picks up a bit, becoming a bit more interesting and moving a bit more steadily. So overall it is pretty good.

The characters for the most part are admittedly kind of uninteresting, but I still felt like I could follow them throughout just fine thanks to the actors. As you probably guessed from the picture at the top, Tom Holland is the star of this movie, and he does a really good job, having to play a young and inexperienced monk that has to go along on this journey. Applause to him as well since he has to speak both English and Gaelic in this movie. We also get Jon Bernthal as a mute with a mysterious past that is following along on this journey. He’s probably the most interesting character since we get clues throughout the movie as to what his past was. And Bernthal is great in the role, despite not really saying anything throughout. We also get Stanley Weber as another monk who’s following along on this journey, and while his character wasn’t the most interesting, I think Weber did a good job here. We also get Richard Armitage as a French knight that our “heroes” meet during the journey, and he’s really good in the role. All the actors do well here.

The score for the movie was composed by Stephen McKeon and it is quite good. It’s atmospheric and really helps to create an uneasy mood throughout the movie. Plus, it has some really cool choral tracks throughout that really elevated certain scenes.

This movie was directed by Brendan Muldowney and I think he did a pretty good job. His direction manages to really sell the 13th century Ireland setting, and the uneasy mood that the plot requires. It also looks quite good, with several shots making me go “Wow”. Now, while this isn’t really an action movie, it does have a couple of action scenes in it. And they are… okay. I wish that they’d have used a steady camera instead of the handheld style that they use in those scenes, would have made them a bit more engaging. But they’re not the worst that I’ve seen. You get what’s going on. You see the hits, you see the blood, even if there’s some shake in the camera.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 69% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,8/10.

“Pilgrimage” is a pretty good adventure/drama. It has a pretty good plot, meh characters, great performances, really good music, and good directing. As previously stated, my problems with this movie come from the pacing in the first half, the characters not being very interesting, and the shake in the action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Pilgrimage” is a 7,99/10. So while quite flawed, I would say that it is worth renting.

My review of “Pilgrimage” is now completed.

Remember that time Spider-Man, Punisher, and Thorin Oakenshield went on a medieval adventure?

Movie Review: Live by Night (2016)

I’m gonna be very frank with y’all: I love Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night”, it’s a fantastic book. So I was both skeptical and excited when I found out that Ben Affleck was directing a movie adaptation of it. Then the trailer was released and it was great, but I still held back any hype because of my love for the source material. Then the reviews started coming out and they were not merciful. So my reservations weren’t exactly lightened by that. And here we are… let’s see if the critics are right.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Live by Night”.

1920s Boston. As the son of a popular and beloved police chief, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) has had a lot to live up to. However, Joe has found himself operating on the other side of the law. So we follow him as he rises from petty robbery to taking on the rum trade in Tampa, Florida. We also see him as he struggles with this life, trying to balance running his business with taking on competitors and other factions who want to do him harm. So now we have our gangster story. And the basic setup is interesting enough, with a few parts in the story giving us some pretty good drama and suspense. But for the most part this plot lacks a lot of the nuance needed to make it great. Especially during the middle when it starts meandering quite a bit. And while I shouldn’t compare this to the book, I do have to mention that the plot here in the movie lacks some of the flair and nuance that it had. So overall the plot here is… fine.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty interesting. While not a physical match to Joe, Ben Affleck is great in the role. He’s a smart, even-tempered, and interesting individual, and Affleck does give a great performance. Chris Messina plays Joe’s friend/partner in crime Dion Bartolo, and he’s a fun and cool guy that I thought was prety interesting. And Messina is great in the role. Sienna Miller plays Emma Gould, a woman that Joe gets involved with, and while her Irish accent if a bit off, her overall performance is pretty good. Chris Cooper plays Irving Figgis, a police chief that Joe has some interactions with throughout the movie. And Cooper is great in the role, getting some of the best dramatic moments in the movie. Elle Fanning plays Cooper’s daugher, Loretta, and she’s great in the role. Brendan Gleeson shows up for a bit in the movie, playing Joe’s father Thomas. And he’s really good in the role. Robert Glenister plays gangster Albert White, and he’s great in the role, giving quite a menacing performance. We also have Zoe Saldana as Graciela Suarez, a Cuban woman that Joe gets involved with down in Tampa, and she’s really good in the movie. Shit, this movie’s filled with solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and it was really good. It really doesn’t do anything unique, and isn’t overall something I’d find myself listening to at any time in the future. But it is overall dramatic, tense, and well composed, fitting the movie very well.

This movie was written and directed by Batman, I mean Ben Affleck. And I think he did a really good job with it. He manages to bring tension and a lot of flair to it which I really enjoyed. And the action scenes in this movie are tense, exciting, and just overall great. I also feel like I have to mention Robert Richardson’s cinematography, holy fuck it is gorgeous. Really, this movie is a visual treat. From a purely technical standpoint this movie is quite great… it’s a few other factors that slightly brings it down (you read them earlier).

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 34% (ouch) positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“Live by Night” is a bit of a disappointment, but it’s still a competently put together gangster flick. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. But it (like I made clear) has some flaws. the plot gets quite meander-y near the second act, and with the plot overall feeling slightly dull. Also, Sienna Miller’s distractingly off Irish accent bugged me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Live by Night” is an 8,21/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d say that it’s worth a rental.

My review of “Live by Night” is now completed.

The movie kept the book’s best dialog exchange at least… kudos for that.

Series Review: American Gods – Season 1 (2017)

Adapting a novel into a movie or TV show (or even a video game) can’t be easy. Especially when it’s something so acclaimed and unique, that just puts all kinds of pressure on the people adapting it. And you can’t just make something specifically for the people who have read the source material, but you need to have it be accessible to general audiences too, which just makes the task of adapting it even more difficult.

Ladies and gentlemen… “American Gods” season 1.

After he gets released from prison, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) meets and gets employed by a man who calls himself Wednesday (Ian McShane). And they soon find themselves on a strange road trip which introduces Shadow to a different and more supernatural side of the world. And fucking hell, this show is weird. Some shows are weird just for the sake of being weird, but I feel like “American Gods” has a reason for it’s weirdness. It’s also a show that isn’t clear about it’s motivations and goals at first, which might put some people off, but if you stick with it you’ll learn more and more about the plot, world, and myhtology of the show. And what we get is quite fascinating to follow. I wouldn’t call the plot here flawless, but it’s still pretty fucking good. Weird and patience-demanding, but definitely great.

The characters in this show are all unique, extremely interesting, and really entertaining. Shadow for the most part is just a good guy who has a troubled past, and when he goes on this trip with Wednesday he has a hard time understanding a lot of the shit going on, which makes him quite relatable. And Ricky Whittle is great in the role. Wednesday as a character is kind of a con-man who seems to have some ulterior motive as to why he’s taking Shadow on this journey. And Ian McShane is fucking fantastic in the role. Emily Browning plays Shadow’s wife Laura, and I’m not gonna spoil what her purpose in the show is, but I will say that Browning is great here. Pablo Schreiber plays Mad Sweeney, a literal Leprechaun, and while his accent can be a bit off and on, his overall performance is great. We get Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, a very interesting lady (not saying how), and she’s great in the role. We get Gillian Anderson in a couple episodes as… well, it’s hard to explain without spoiling anything, so I’m just gonna say that she kills it in this show. We even get Crispin Freeman in the show giving a performance that just violates my soul and gets under my skin… yeah, he’s fucking great in a creepy way. Though he appears a surprisingly small amount of times in the show. Still, he really left an impression on me. Then to get through a few more solid ones (because there’s no bad acting here): Bruce Langley, Peter Stormare, Omid Abtahi, Orlando Jones, Cloris Leachman. Yeah, there’s plenty of cool people in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Brian Reitzell and I think he did a terrific job. The tracks take influences from all over, both from various genres and cultures which makes it a joy to listen to. There are a licensed ones as well that are used quite well. Really, this show is filled with great music.

This show was created by Bryan Fuller & Michael Green and is based on a novel by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman. And for those not wondering, no I have not read his novel… though I might have to at some point. But what Fuller & Green managed to create with this show is pretty damn interesting. The directing (from various people) is fantastic, featuring some of the most gorgeous visuals I’ve seen in a TV show. And it’s not just great shots of normal environments and such, oh no. We get some fucking trippy shots/environments too, and it all looks amazing and perfectly fits the weird story that’s on display here. I also want to make very clear that this show is not for kids AT ALL. There’s some incredibly brutal/gory violence here, which I think perfectly fits the stylized world of “American Gods”. There’s also plenty of cursing (all the curse words), and also really graphic nudity and sex. Tits, asses, dicks, vaginas… it’s all there. So if you don’t like really graphic shows, then maybe this isn’t your cup of tea. I also love the dark sense of humor that this show has. I laugh and it probably means that I’m a horrible person… oh well.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10 and is ranked #228 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“American Gods” isn’t for everyone. But I kind of loved it. It has great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “American Gods” season 1 is a 9,77/10. This means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “American Gods” season 1 is now completed.

So. Fucking. Weird.

Movie Review: Risen (2016)

Religion. A touchy subject that I’m not gonna get into in this post. This is meant as a lighthearted review of a movie that includes religious themes. So if you’re a religious individual, any possible criticisms I might have about this movie isn’t about your religion, it’s about this movie as a movie. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen, he has… “Risen”.

The story follows Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman who is pretty much the right hand man of Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth). And he has been tasked of finding the body of Jesus (Cliff Curtis), because it has disappeared from the tomb that it has been placed in. So we follow Clavius as he, together with his new assistant Lucius (Tom Felton), investigates what happened to Jesus Corpse. And I actually liked the story here… for the most part. The stuff with Clavius investigating the disappearance of Jesus is quite interesting as it gives us a different angle to look at this really old story. I was honestly hooked by the plot of the movie up to a certain point a little after the halfway point. Because then something happens that changes the movie from one thing to something else. I’m not gonna say exactly what it is, but you can probably figure out what it is. And while the second half of the movie isn’t bad, I wasn’t as interested in it as I was with the first half. First half, really good stuff. Second half, meh.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty interesting. Clavius is a skeptic, at least when he hears about Jesus’ disappearance. The followers of Jesus of course thinks he’s risen (roll credits) to once again walk the earth, spreading love and the word of god. But Clavius is a bit more “That doesn’t make sense, I have to get to the bottom of this mystery”. And Joseph Fiennes did a great job in the role. Tom Felton was good as Lucius (“Harry Potter” prequel, anyone?), playing him as the young and slightly naïve guy who follows Clavius no matter what. Peter Firth was great as Pontius Pilate, playing him as a bit of a dick. Really, it’s overall a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Roque Baños, and while it’s nothing terribly original, it’s still quite good. It perfectly fits the setting and just overall works very well for the movie.

This movie was directed by Kevin Reynolds, the man who brought us “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Waterworld”. And I think he did a good job with this movie. The shots look good and everything just flows nicely. There is a little bit of action too, and it’s okay. Surprisingly violent for PG-13. I’ll also give it this, the sets here look pretty great.

This movie has not been the most well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10.

“Risen” presents an interesting spin on the Jesus story, even if it isn’t perfect. It has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. As previously stated, my problem with the movie comes from the second half not being as interesting as the first one. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “Risen” is an 8,76/10. While flawed, I do think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Risen” is now completed.

Joseph Fiennes stars in… CSI: Jesus.

“Far Cry 5” Announcement Trailer!!!

Hello there, my friends. Another trailer has been released and I’m gonna talk about it!

So we have gotten our first trailer for “Far Cry 5”, the seventh installment in Ubisoft’s first person shooter series. And yes, you read that right, the game with a 5 in the title is the seventh one. Because between “Far Cry 4” and this one, we had “Far Cry Primal” which was set 10000 B.C. And after “Far Cry 3” we got a spin-off game called “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon”, which lampooned 80s sci-fi/action movies, going so far as to star Michael Biehn. Now, weird release order aside, let’s talk about the game at hand, “Far Cry 5”. This game will be set in the fictional Hope County, Montana. Which of course means that it’s the first “Far Cry” to be set in the United States. And it seems like the villains of the game will be a group of crazy cultists who forces any person around into their religion. Now, there was a teaser image that was released the other day which sparked some controversy (found at the top of this post). I think the main thing about that controversy is that crazy antagonist(s) of this game seems to be white, “christian”, Americans. To those who say that this is a bad move by Ubisoft, go fuck yourselves, it’s just a game that is about a specific group of people, and not about EVERY white American christian out there. Sorry about that rant, people who have common sense, but I had to get it out there. Now, while this trailer is made to look as cinematic as possible, I can still imagine that the game can and will get as crazy as the trailer makes it out to be. I mean, I have played the shit out of both “Far Cry 3” and “Far Cry 4”, and times could get crazy in both of those. So yeah, this will probably get crazy, especially with gun-crazy Americans who also happen to be religious fanatics thrown into the mix. So I’m quite excited. “Far Cry 5” is set to be released in February of next year.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Far Cry 5”? And have you played any of the previous games? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer!