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…

Movie Review: Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Going a bit more old school with today’s Month of Spooks entry. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Evil Dead 2”.

After being the only survivor of an attack by a demonic force, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) runs into some strangers. And he has to team up with them to try to survive an absolute fucking onslaught of demons. So now we have our sequel/soft reboot. And fuck me, it’s good. Sure, the plot doesn’t do anything too major in terms of advancing storytelling techniques, but it instead presents some basic ideas and executes them in a way that is both scary and overall really entertaining. It manages to both be suspenseful horror and campy, fun popcorn entertainment.

The characters in this are colorful and entertaining. Bruce Campbell plays Ash Williams, sole survivor and overall main protagonist. He goes through a bit of a surprising arc here, which involves his psyche kinda getting broken by all the batshit insane/horrific things happening to him, and I really found myself caring for him. And Campbell is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, and Ted Raimi, and they all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Joseph LoDuca, and it was good. Like the story, it kind of mixes more suspenseful pieces with more fun, slightly campy tracks, and this blend makes for an enjoyable score that fits the overall mood of the movie. Yeah. Not much else to say there.

“Evil Dead 2” was written by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel, with Raimi handling direction. And Raimi has such a good grasp of how to create a compelling atmosphere, right from scene one I was invested in what was going on, thanks to Raimi’s direction, which manages to create slowly seeping chills while still being highly energetic and fun. I mean, his direction is largely why the first 25-ish minutes genuinely scared me. I also have to give a lot of cred to the team that created the various effects throughout the movie, because they were fucking spectacular. Puppets, makeup, prosthetics, stop motion, liquids… it all looks great, and adds so much to the experience. What is also interesting is that there’s a decent amount of comedy throughout this movie, and that all of it is quite funny, and luckily never clashes with the more horrific elements of the movie.

This movie has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Evil Dead 2” is an absolute blast. It has a really solid plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great writing/directing, fantastic practical effects, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Evil Dead 2” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Evil Dead 2” is now completed.

Groovy.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

And so we come to the end of this review series on the Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies. It’s been fun revisiting this franchise. So let’s talk about the final part!

Ladies and gents… “Spider-Man 3”.

Peter (Tobey Maguire) seems to finally have his life under control. But that soon takes a dark turn when a mysterious space goop enters his life and changes his for the worse. All the while a super-powered petty criminal (Thomas Haden Church) roams the city after having escaped from prison. ALL THE WHILE Peter finds himself in some love triangle drama with Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). ALL THE WHILE his- fuck this. Just… fuck it. There are elements in the plot that are good. But overall, it’s a god damn mess. It has more threads than a spider web, and they are all (for the most part) paper thin. Like I said, there are some nice parts here too, some finely handled dramatic/emotionally charged bits. But they all find themselves tangled up in this scatterbrained web.

The characters here are mixed. Some are nuanced and interesting, and some are Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. The returning core cast of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco are all great in their roles, and do wonders with the material they’re given (which sometimes isn’t great). Rosemary Harris as Aunt May is still the warm, comforting presence she’s always been. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is still an absolute blast to watch. As for new blood, there’s Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman. He’s given a surprising amount of development, and gives a really solid performance. And then we have the aforementioned Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. Look, Grace is not a bad actor, and he actually does a good job playing an absolute slimeball here… but he feels miscast for the character of Eddie Brock. And the stuff they do with the character here… just, no. Overall, decent cast.

Unlike the first two movies, the score in this one wasn’t composed by Danny Elfman. Instead, musical duties were handed over to Christopher Young, who I think did a great job. He incorporates Elfman’s iconic theme wonderfully, while still bringing his own flair to a lot of the other tracks. There are some emotionally charged pieces here that really work well within the movie.

As we’ve pointed out already, “Spider-Man 3” was, like its predecessors directed by Sam Raimi, who I think mostly did a great job here. I say mostly, because compared to the other two, there’s a lot more leaning on CGI for various things in this one. Which also makes some bits look a bit wonky, especially a chase scene early on in the movie. There is cool stuff to it, but overall the green screen effect looks kinda unfinished. And there are a few CGI humans in this movie, and they were a bit distracting. But with all that said, whenever it doesn’t use shit effects, it looks good. The action scenes in this are generally great, with one fight scene some ways into the movie being one of my favorite parts of it.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

So while “Spider-Man 3” is a bit of a let-down compared to the first two, it’s still an enjoyable superhero movie. It has a messy plot with good moments, mostly good characters, really good performances, great music, and good directing/action with only a few wonky effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man 3” is a 6,95/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Spider-Man 3” is now completed.

Bit a downer to end this series on. C’est la vie, je suppose.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

And so my series of reviews of Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies continues!

Ladies and gents… “Spider-Man 2”.

As Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) tries to balance college, work, and being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he runs into even more trouble when scientist Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) becomes the villainous Doc Ock. So now we have our sequel. It’s bigger, but does that make it better? Yes, very much so. It has a lot of themes to balance, and it manages to do that beautifully. At times it’s fun, at times it breaks the viewer’s heart, at times it’s uplifting. It takes all its various themes and creates a web (HA!) that is a perfect representation of Spider-Man and his adventures.

The characters are colorful, flawed, layered, fun, and overall just really interesting. Tobey Maguire reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Seeing his development throughout here is fascinating. Yes, you do get a lot of the charming awkwardness seen in the first movie, but you also get to see a lot of new sides to him that came forward after the events of the first movie, and from things that happen here. And Maguire is great in the role. Alfred Molina plays Otto Octavius, the brilliant scientist who becomes the villain of the story. He’s under constant conflict with himself throughout, making him quite a compelling character. And Molina is great in the role. Kirsten Dunst returns as Mary-Jane Watson, and she gets some decent development throughout. And Dunst is good in the role. James Franco returns as Harry Osborne, who also has some interesting character drama going on, with Franco giving a great performance. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons (still the best), Bill Nunn, Dylan Baker, Daniel Gillies, Donna Murphy, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first movie, the score was composed by Danny Elfman, and he somehow managed to one-up himself. The score here of course brings back a lot of the sweeping heroics of the first, while also adding in a lot of nice little touches that makes it stand out. Really, it’s amazing, one of the best scores of the time. And there’s the odd licensed track used throughout that works quite well too.

As with the first movie (and as mentioned in the opening of this review), this movie was directed by Sam Raimi, who (like Elfman) upped his game. His camptastic sense of energy makes a triumphant return, which makes it electrifying to watch, even in the “slower” scenes. It also adds a lot to the action scenes, which are a blast to watch, thanks to the energetic, visceral feel that Raimi gives to them. There’s one scene in particular that really encapsulates that, and if you’ve seen this movie, then you probably know which one I’m talking about. And to bring up something I mentioned in my previous “Spider-Man” review, the effects in this still hold up. The last one had a lot of rough stuff, but the ones in this one… still so good.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It also got an additional 2 nominations in the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

“Spider-Man 2” is a sequel that takes everything that was good about the first one, and improves on it significantly. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Spider-Man 2” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

Here’s a fun anecdote: As I was (re)watching this, I realized that I actually hadn’t seen this one before. My mind had tricked me into thinking that I had seen it before, when I hadn’t. It’s quite interesting.

Movie Review: Spider-Man (2002)

With “Spider-Man: Far From Home” getting released in July, I thought I would give the Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies a little rewatch/review. I mean, it’s been years since the last time I saw them, so now is a good a time as any to see if they hold up. So here we go with part 1.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Spider-Man”.

After he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, high school student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) starts developing spider-like powers. And he soon has to put them to good use when a crazed villain (Willem Dafoe) starts terrorizing New York. We had gotten a few superhero origins before this, but this really set the standard for how it’s done. Even in movies later on, let’s say “Iron Man” as an example, trace amounts of this movie can be found in the way the origin is done there. So yeah, the plot here is handled well. Not saying it’s perfect. It does have a few minor pacing issues at points, but there’s nothing that completely ruins the experience for me. It is still mostly well paced, with plenty of nuance and a decent exploration of the “Great power, great responsibility” theme. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s emotional, it’s a good “Spider-Man” origin.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, layered, and overall interesting. Tobey Maguire plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He’s a little shy, a little awkward, but also clever, good-hearted, and a fairly relatable character. Seeing his journey from that dork that everyone picks on to a hero is quite fascinating. And Maguire is really good in the role. Kirsten Dunst plays Mary-Jane Watson, Peter’s neighbor and crush. A beautiful young woman with a bad home life, but a good heart. Seeing her and how she is affected by Peter’s life/she affects him is an interesting part of the whole story. And Dunst is really good in the role. Next we have Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. He’s something of a scientist and tries to develop tech that can help the military… but things go a little… awry. Seeing his duality throughout the movie is endlessly entertaining, and Dafoe is the perfect blend of intimidating, emotionally investing, and hammy in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, James Franco, J.K. Simmons (the best), and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, and I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s epic, emotional, sweeping, and balances heroics with smaller stuff, making for one of the most iconic and enjoyable scores in the last 20 years. Seriously still great.

As mentioned in the opening of this review, “Spider-Man” (based on the Marvel character created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko) was directed by Sam Raimi, and I think he did a great job with it. He has a unique sort of energy that makes the movie a whole lot of fun to watch. He also uses a lot of fun camera movements to give the movie a unique look that feels very much in line with the character of Spider-Man. This also translates to the action scenes, which are a lot of fun and are even surprisingly brutal at times. However, to add a negative into all this positivity, there are a lot of effects that don’t hold up. Those are CGI stuff that very much haven’t aged well. It’s not a total deal-breaker, but it is distracting enough to bring the score down a little bit.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. It got 2 Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

While there are aspects of it that has aged a fair bit, “Spider-Man” is still a damn fine superhero movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. What brings it down a bit for me are the occasional pacing issues and often wonky CGI effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man” is an 8,89/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Spider-Man” is now completed.

Two more to go. *thwip*.

My Favorite Scenes: Spider-Man 3 – Birth of Sandman

What’s going on, guys? So today I felt like bringing this fossil back to life. That’s right, I’m not good at updating the “My Favorite Scenes” series, but finally I am doing it. And todya we are talking about a scene from a movie that people really seem to hate. Before we dive into the scene, let me tell you my quick thoughts on the movie; It’s fine. There is a lot wrong with the movie, but I do still enjoy it a pretty good amount. There, I said it, now let’s talk about this scene. Where the movie was not very good at parts, this scene suddenly comes out of nowhere and goes “I am giving you the feels!” (By the way, I personally hate the term “The feels”). In this scene we see Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), after some kind of accident, becoming Sandman. And when you watch this you will most likely believe that he’s not really a bad guy, but a good guy who did something bad. And that is portrayed perfectly through the directing, the visual effects and the beautiful song by composer Christopher Young. I love this scene so much.
Enjoy!