Movie Review: Upgrade (2018)

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

Ladies and gents… “Upgrade”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review of “Upgrade” is now completed.

That was fun.

Movie Review: Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

It is time. The final part in my little “Ocean’s” trilogy review series. I’ve had fun revisiting this series… for the most part, “Ocean’s Twelve” was a bit rough. But other than that I’ve enjoyed doing this series. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ocean’s Thirteen”.

After one of their own gets screwed over by notorious hotel owner Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Danny (George Clooney), Rusty (Brad Pitt), and the rest of the gang has to pull off another heist as revenge against Bank. So now we have our plot. And it’s pretty refreshing, going back to a focused heist formula like the first movie, making it feel less disjointed than the second one. Here we do get a fun and well paced heist plot. Sure, it lacks the tension-filled thrillride of the first movie, but it never feels boring, and it does have a few decent switcharoos. Overall this plot is good. Not as great as the first, but still a fun time.

I’m not gonna linger too much on the characters here since I covered them all before. But the entire gang, AKA George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Qin Shaobo, Bernie Mac (R.I.P), Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison… they’re all still really good in their respective roles, and they work really well together. Now let’s talk about Al Pacino as new antagonist Willy Bank. He’s a charming jerk who cares more for his ego than anything else. He’s an interesting foe for the gang to go up against. While not quite as intimidating as Terry Benedict, he’s still a fun addition to the cast. And Pacino is really good in the role. Speaking of Terry Benedict, he makes a return in this. Not saying to what capacity, but I found his role in this to be enjoyable, and Andy Garcia once again did a really good job in the role. We do also get a pretty good supporting performance from Ellen Barkin as Bank’s right-hand-woman. Really, it’s a very well acted movie.

David Holmes of course returned to do the music for this, and once again he killed it. His score here is jumpy, energetic, mysterious, and just really fun. It fits the movie perfectly and sometimes even improves upon the experience. There’s also like one or two licensed tracks used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

As with the first two movies, “Ocean’s Thirteen” was shot and directed by Steven Soderbergh. And he once again brought his A-game. His direction is fast and snappy, giving the movie a great sense of energy that keeps it feeling fun. And his cinematography is really good as well. Not much else I can say on that front that I didn’t already cover in a previous review. What I can say is that there’s some really good humor throughout the movie, it got me laughing quite a bit.

This movie has been decently received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 70% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

While not on par with the first movie, “Ocean’s Thirteen” is still a very enjoyable return to form for the crew. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, really good directing/cinematography, and funny humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Ocean’s Thirteen” is an 8,67/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Ocean’s Thirteen” is now completed.

Aaaaand done. The “Ocean’s” review series is now finished.

Movie Review: Blue Ruin (2013)

Revenge is a dish best served cold… wait, that’s “Star Trek”, not indie-thriller… shit.

Ladies and gents… “Blue Ruin”.

Dwight (Macon Blair) has been trying to live a quiet life away from people. But when he hears that a man who had wronged him in the past is about to be released from jail, Dwight intends to get revenge. So now we have our revenge-thriller plot. However, it’s not just about Dwight trying to get revenge on this one person as there’s a lot more that happens throughout, but I don’t wanna say too much about that. What I can say however is that this plot is pretty damn good. It’s tense, it’s dramatic, and it was just really interesting to follow. It takes a couple of interesting turns and I was genuinely invested in this dark journey. It also gives off a feeling of unease from the first few moments and keeps that feeling throughout. So yeah, the plot here is really good.

Most of the characters here aren’t very interesting as they’re not given a lot of development, but I think that’s okay in this case as this focuses on Dwight, who is a very interesting character. Macon Blair is excellent in the role, giving an understated and layered performance. He doesn’t talk a lot in the movie, but you still get a good idea of what is going on in his head thanks to his eyes. He really acts more with his eyes than anything else, and that is pretty cool. And like I said, Blair is excellent here. Amy Hargreaves plays Dwight’s sister, Sam, and she’s really good in the role. Devin Ratray, you know… Buzz from “Home Alone”, plays one of Dwight’s old friends that we meet at one point in the movie, and he’s good in the role. And that’s about all that I’m gonna say about the cast, because I don’t wanna say too much. But let me just put it like this: all actors in the movie do really well in their roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brooke Blair & Will Blair and it is great. It’s dark, eerie, and suspenseful and really helped build a lot of tension in the movie. There were also a bunch of licensed tracks that were used throughout the movie and they worked quite well in their respective scenes. Really, this movie has some great music.

“Blue Ruin” was written, directed, and shot by Jeremy Saulnier and I think he did a great job with all of that. His direction is very tight, keeping everything steady and making you feel like you’re there with Dwight, feeling every second of tension that Saulnier wants you to feel. Because when this movie feels like building up a lot of tension, it fucking delivers. Don’t think a movie has made me feel this tensed up in a while. And the cinematography here is gorgeous, making for some absolutely stunning shots. This movie is also violent. And by violent I mean that there are a couple moments throughout the movie that feature really graphic violence. There aren’t a lot of violent moments in the movie, but when it’s shown it is quite graphic/disturbing. I guess the relatively small amount of violence has a bigger impact than if they’d had a lot of violence throughout. Good on ya, Saulnier and crew.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Blue Ruin” is an excellent thriller. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blue Ruin” is a 9,88/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blue Ruin” is now completed.

Yeah, I got nothing clever to say here. The movie’s just awesome.

Movie Review: In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.

The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.

The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!

The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.

This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.

Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…

Movie Review: The Crow (1994)

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With it being October 30th, AKA mischief night it was more or less mandatory that I would have to watch/review this movie. So here we go… a movie that isn’t horror but still kind of fits into the Month of Spooks!

Ladies and gents… “The Crow”.

Eric Draven (Brandon Lee, R.I.P) is a rock musician. He’s also been dead for one year. But a crow has resurrected him so he can get revenge on the gang that killed both him and his fiancée (Sofia Shinas). And that’s the basic premise for the movie, a revenge story. But it’s not necessarily executed in such a simple way, because it is in fact a surprisingly layered tale of love and justice. It’s a tightly told story  that presents an interesting world while also having some genuinely good emotion behind it.

The characters in the movie are all colorful, interesting, and entertaining. Eric Draven as a character, you understand his thought process, it’s easy to get behind him. He wants justice for what happened to him and his loved one. And Brandon Lee was great in the role, perfectly playing this character in way that’s neither too serious nor silly. He’s genuinely great. Ernie Hudson is also in this movie, playing a cop who was part of the investigation of Eric Draven and his fiancée’s murder, but now serves as a normal street cop. And he is so fun in the role, playing this cool cop who is a bit of a comic relief without ruining the tone of the movie. We also get Rochelle Davis as a young girl named Sarah, who is a friend of Draven. And she was a really entertaining and interesting character that really added something to the movie. Then we also get some really good supporting performances from people like Michael Wincott, David Patrick Kelly, and Tony Todd.

The score for the movie was composed by Graeme Revell and it is some truly haunting stuff. I’m not saying that it’s scary, but it’s definitely giving me the chills. And it perfectly fits the dark and seedy tone of the movie. There are also a lot of songs in the soundtrack by bands like Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, The Cure, and Stone Temple Pilots. And those tracks work pretty well for the movie too.

This movie is based on the comic series by James O’Barr, and I haven’t read the comic so I can’t really tell you if this movie is accurate to it or not… sorry. What I can tell you however is that Alex Proyas did a great job directing this movie, perfectly bringing life to this dark world. What I also really enjoyed about it is that it really looks like a comic book most of the time. Not in the shit way that Ang Lee’s “Hulk” did, but in a way that made me go “This really feels like something from a comic book”. And of course, we can’t get through this review without mentioning how Brandon Lee tragically died on the set of the movie due to a faulty prop gun. Yeah… that happened. And he had very little stuff left to film for the movie, so they apparently had to do some ground-breaking CGI compositing where they took Lee’s face and added it onto his stunt double. Now, if this is true then holy motherfucking shit… I was looking for that stuff (because I had heard about it prior to seeing the film) and I honestly couldn’t tell what was the CG compositing. That’s some impressive shit for 1993/1994. Speaking of cool stuff, the action scenes are pretty badass… just sayin’.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has n 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“The Crow” is a very impressive movie, with a great plot, interesting characters, great acting, great music, great directing, and some awesome effects stuff. Time for my final score. *Crow sound*. My final score for “The Crow” is a 9,85/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Crow” is now completed.

I got nothing clever to put here…