Series Review: Castlevania – Season 2 (2018)

I am so excited to write about this. Partly because it’s another Month of Spooks review, and partly because I’ve been looking forward to season 2 of this show for over a year. And now we’re here, ready to talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 2!

Picking up very shortly after the end of season 1, we once again follow Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) on his quest to find and take down Dracula (Graham McTavish). But this time he’s not alone, as he’s joined on this quest by sorceress Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso), as well as Dracula’s own son, Alucard (James Callis). So now we have our vampiric plot. And I thought the plot here was great. The first season already set up a good enough plot/foundation, but it was a bit on the short side with only four episodes. This time we have eight episodes, which means you can let things develop a bit more, which works very well for the show as I found this plot entertaining, compelling, exciting, and just overall really well told. It even managed to tug at my heartstrings a bit. Great stuff.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, really interesting, and also pretty entertaining. First up we have Richard Armitage returning as Trevor Belmont, the last member of the legendary Belmont clan. He’s kind of a sarcastic asshole, but not to a degree where I utterly dislike him, as you can tell that a lot of this comes from his broken life. Also, it’s just entertaining to see him play off of the other characters a bit. And Armitage does a great job with the role. Alejandra Reynoso returns as Sypha, a scholar and sorceress that has joined Trevor on his quest. She’s a tough-as-nails lady that is also smart, charming, and just generally interesting. And despite an accent that is weird and inconsistent, Reynoso does a really good job in the role. Next we have James Callis as Alucard, the half-vampire son of Dracula. He had a good life that then turned to shit after something happened that, and now years later he of course wants to take down his own father. Alucard is a clever, badass, fun, and just overall interesting character that I love seeing at the forefront like this. And Callis is great in the role. And finally have Graham McTavish returning as Dracula, this time having a much more prominent role than in season 1. He’s a tragic figure who has understandable motivations, but extreme methods, and I think he’s one of the most interesting villains in recent years. And McTavish is fantastic in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like Theo James, Peter Stormare, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Emily Swallow, Matt Frewer, Jaime Murray, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris, and it is utterly fantastic. It’s big and bombastic, but it’s also subtle and contemplative. Badass, but also emotional. His score, which utilizes brass, strings, choirs, and sometimes even synth, perfectly fits into each scene and elevates it all to a whole different level.

Based on the classic video game franchise of the same name, and written by Warren Ellis, this might be the most well crafted video game adaptation of all time. It has a lot of fun nods to the games, while still working on its own if you haven’t played them. The animation here is great. The designs look great, and everything just has a crisp quality to them that I like.  And holy shit, the action scenes in this are utterly fantastic, being fast-paced, fun, badass, and brutal as all hell… so much blood. What I was a bit surprised by this season is just how funny it was. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a comedy series in the slightest, but there’s a fair bit of humor spread throughout the season, and I found it all to be really funny without taking away from the darker and more dramatic parts of the show.

The season just came out, and doesn’t have so much data on my usual sites. It exists on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but has no score as of writing this review. But on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

Season 2 of “Castlevania” takes what was good about the first season and ramps it up to fucking 11. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic writing/directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 2 is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Best video game adaptation ever? Damn right, it is.

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

This is a very special review. Some of you might think my reasoning for it is because both “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” are coming out soon, and that could be a valid argument for it, but that is wrong in this case. I am reviewing this movie in honor of a friend who passed away recently. He was a big fan of the Captain, and I thought that this was the best way I could honor him on here. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Captain America: The First Avenger”.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a young man who just wants to serve his country, but isn’t allowed due to his scrawny build. But one day he takes part in a secret government experiment that turns him into a super soldier. And shortly after this he finds himself on the path to taking down Hydra, an evil nazi death cult led by the evil Johann “Red Skull” Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). So now we have our origin story. And I have to say, I found myself more invested in the plot here than I did the first time I watched it. Sure, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like this is the most original or even most well written plot ever, but it’s far from bad… in fact, it’s quite good. On one hand you get a fun WW2 adventure with a sci-fi twist, and on the other you get an inspiring tale of overcoming great adversity despite your limitations. The plot isn’t too deep and complicated, but it makes up for that in how inspiring and entertaining it is.

The characters here are unique, interesting, and entertaining. Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers/Captain America, a young man who’s been picked on most of his life. But despite this he has always stood up to bullies and bad people, always willing to give his life for what he cares about. He’s a truly inspiring character if I’ve ever seen one. And Evans is great in the role. Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, a special agent that Steve works with throughout the movie. She’s tough but she does also have a more vulnerable side, making her feel a bit more layered than some characters with similar setups. And Atwell is great in the role. Then we have Tommy Lee Jones as colonel Chester Phillips, Steve’s superior and a tough but fair military man. And Tommy Lee Jones is very Tommy Lee Jones in the role… AKA really good. Then we have Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt, AKA Red Skull, AKA evil nazi death cult leader, AKA villain. And he’s suitably intimidating in the role, making the character a bit more interesting in the process. The character in itself isn’t very deep, but Weaving’s performance is what makes him so interesting and memorable. So yeah, Weaving is really good. Then we have Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes, Steve’s best friend. You do get a good feel of their friendship and the character is decently interesting. And Stan is really good in the role. And throughout the movie you get some really solid supporting performances from people like Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Kenneth Choi, Richard Armitage, Derek Luke, JJ Feild, and many more. It’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri and I thought it was pretty great. What I like about it is that it aims to capture the feel of inspiration and wonder that comes with Steve’s journey from Brooklyn boy to Captain America. And it does help build some decent tension at times. And in general the score really inspires me to want to go out and do some good. So yeah, the music is great.

The movie was directed by Joe Johnston and I think he did a really good job here. What I like about his direction is that he gives the movie a very retro vibe, often emulating action-adventures of the past. And I think that style really works well for the story and setting. It even bleeds through into the action scenes which are intense, badass, and just a ton of fun.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

While it isn’t necessarily the best MCU film, “Captain America: The First Avenger” is an inspiring and highly entertaining action movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Captain America: The First Avenger” is a 9,60/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Captain America: The First Avenger” is now completed.

Here’s to you, Eric… you are sorely missed. Rest in peace, my friend.

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?

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 1 (2017)

I’ve been anticipating the release of this show for a while. From when the teaser poster and such was released, to when the first trailer dropped, it all seemed like it could be good. Could Netflix bring us a good video game adaptation? Well, let’s find out.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 1!

After his wife gets burned at the stake, Dracula (Graham McTavish) unleashes an army of dark creatures upon the city of Gresit. So when Trevor (Richard Armitage), the last surviving member of the Belmont clan, shows up in town he has to try and save the city from this evil. So now we have our medieval fantasy. And while it’s only four episodes long, they manage to develop the story pretty damn well. They manage to establish backstories without getting too heavy with the exposition. And it actually creates some solid drama at times, giving the world and plot a little extra weight without sacrificing the fun and interesting fantasy elements of the plot. There’s also time dedicated to showing what a bunch of dicks members of the Christian church was at the time. Sure, there were no actual demons back then, but a lot of the bullshit they’re up to here actually happened in real life. So yeah, it’s a surprisingly layered story that stays true to the source material while still making it feel fresh and different.

The characters here are all pretty interesting. Trevor Belmont as a character is kind of an arrogant asshole, but he’s actually given a good reason in the show, so he’s not just an ass for the sake of being an ass. And you can tell that despite his arrogant façade, he is a good person (and badass warrior). And Richard Armitage is great as the character. Dracula doesn’t appear much in the show, but his presence is always felt. I also like that he’s not just a generic evil-doer that just wants to kill people because he’s the villain. They give him good motivation for doing it, making him a much more interesting antagonist. And Graham McTavish (again, despite not showing up a lot) kills it in the role. We also get Matt Frewer as a bishop who’s a huge dick, and Frewer is great in the role. We also get Tony Amendola as an elder that Trevor runs into/befriends, and Amndola is really good in the role. Really, every actor heard in this show does a good job.

The score for the show was composed by Trevor Morris, who also did the score for “Iron Fist” (*cough* read my review *cough*). And while that was good, I think this score is even better. The music in “Castlevania” is dark, eerie, epic, badass, cool, and just overall fits the dark and haunting atmosphere of the show. Morris composed some really solid stuff here.

“Castlevania” was produced by Adi Shankar, animated by Powerhouse animation & Frederator studios, directed by Sam Deats, and written by acclaimed comic book writer Warren Ellis. And it’s, as I’ve made pretty clear, an adaptation of the “Castlevania” video game franchise from Konami. And in terms of animation/direction, this show is very well handled. The animation is beautiful in a dark and haunting way, perfectly helping to create a dark and often eerie atmosphere for this show. The show shines especially in the action scenes which are badass, intense, and quite brutal. And I really mean it when I say brutal, there’s blood and dismemberment in this show. So yeah, this show has some fucked up visuals throughout, which I do think works for the show. Still… don’t bring grandma.

Seeing as this is a pretty niche show that just came out, there’s not much in terms of reception on the sites I tend to use. Keep in mind, i only report the reception as it is at the time of review… I refuse to edit. Anyhow, it does exist on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but it has no critic scores at the time of this review. But it does have a score on imdb.com (based on very few votes at the time), and it is an 8,7/10.

Season 1 of “Castlevania” is one of the best video game adaptations available out right now. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great direction/animation. The only minor flaw I have is that it is so short (four episodes), but it’s not a deal breaker for me. Time for my final score. *Stabs demon*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 1 is a 9,65/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 1 is now completed.

There is a season 2 planned… for 2018… fuck.