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…

Movie Review: Last Breath (2019)

Hello and welcome to 2020, friends! To kick it off I decided to review something I haven’t looked at in a while: A documentary. The last time I did was in 2015. I don’t know why it took me this long to get around to it again, but I think we should stop dwelling on that and instead just get into this.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Last Breath”.

“Last Breath” is about a group of men who work with diving in the North Sea, doing maintenance on underwater structures. However, during this one dive, something goes wrong and one of them gets stuck down there with a very limited oxygen supply, forcing his colleagues to find a way to try and save him. The movie is partly interviews with the people who worked on this operation, mixed with recreations of what went on, as well as actual footage from the incident. Now, while this approach is simple and something we’ve seen before in other documentaries, I feel like it still works in this movie’s favor. It’s a simple story of a terrifying situation, so there’s no real need to complicate how it’s told. It’s simple, but effective. They get you invested in the people involved with some quick behind-the-scenes goofing from one of the crew members filming on the ship, and then the main incident happens. Now we have a scary setup that manages to retain good tension throughout the rest of the runtime. Yeah, it’s well told and I was utterly invested from start to end.

The music for the movie was composed by Paul Leonard-Morgan, and before we get to discussing this movie’s music, I just wanna go on a quick sidenote. It is so weird seeing his name again. Don’t think I’ve seen his name attached to a movie since 2012’s “Dredd”. Anyway, back to “Last Breath”. His music is very good. It has a solid mix of emotionally resonant strings, with some electronic flourishes at one or two points. Some might call it emotionally manipulative, I call it good.

“Last Breath” was directed by Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson, and I think they did a good job with it. The way they mix old, real footage with recreations is pretty great, and while they stylistically look different due to differences in technology, they still make the transitions feel natural. And even taking the new footage on its own, it is really well handled. Especially in terms of cinematography, I thought that was fucking stunning. Kudos to Alistair McCormick for those good looking shots. But yeah, the way it all comes together is really well handled.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Last Breath” may be simple in its approach, but it’s still a damn fine documentary that put me on the edge of my seat. It has an interesting story featuring some interesting people, its music is very good, and the way it is shot, edited, and directed is pretty damn great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Last Breath” is a 9,67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Last Breath” is now completed.

Kicking off 2020 on a high note.

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.

Series Review: Watchmen – Season 1 (2019)

That’s right, it’s not just christmas contrivances you’ll get. Regular reviews will show up too, I ain’t forgettin’ my roots. So, let’s talk about a comic book thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Watchmen” season 1!

Set in an alternate version of 2019, “Watchmen” follows a whole bunch of people, as they try to navigate the strange and intense happenings of this world they live in. And that’s pretty much all I’ll say in regards to explaining the core plot, because it’s such a weird and unique experience that if explained further, it would risk kinda ruining it. But I’ll say that the ways it ties into the classic comic book are really neat, and even looking at it without really knowing much (if anything) about the comic, it’s still a highly entertaining and unique journey that has a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and just really interesting. Regina King plays Angela Abar, an undercover police officer who more or less serves as the main protagonist of the story. She’s tough, but she does also have a vulnerable side that makes her feel more human and relatable. And King is great in the role. And that’s all the cast I’ll go into, as some reveals are better left experienced (kinda like the plot). But I can say that the cast is filled out with people like Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Sara Vickers, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett Jr, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and good god damn, they did a phenomenal job with it. They do some tracks that are quite exciting and cool-sounding, while also providing some tracks that are a bit more dramatic and emotional. They have created a score that not only covers every emotion one needs created for a show like this, but also fits the weird and unique style of everything else in the show. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the classic DC Comic by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, “Watchmen” was developed for HBO by Damon Lindelof, who also served as lead writer, while giving directing duties to a whole bunch of other people. And the craft on display here is absolutely superb, creating a world that is familiar (thanks to it technically still being earth), and yet a bit alien, thanks to its awesomely off-kilter tone. The directing is energetic, but also suspenseful, fun, and engaging. The cinematography too is stunning, giving us some great lighting and framing. And with all this said, episode 6… some of the best craft in a tv episode this year, from the shots, to the editing, to the directing… it’s fucking spectacular.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Watchmen” is one of the best new shows of 2019. It has a great plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great writing, directing, cinematography, and editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Watchmen” is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

I know I called this season 1, but I sincerely hope there are no more seasons. This is a perfectly contained package.

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.

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?

Series Review: Mayans M.C. – Season 2 (2019)

That’s right, two posts in one day. A rare occurrence here. But today it happens. Now either this is a blessing or a pain, depending on your point of view. Either way, let’s talk about Hispanic bikers.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mayans M.C.” season 2.

Set several months after the first season, as EZ Reyes (JD Pardo) has a lot of problems to balance. From familial tensions, to problems hitting the club, to the constant antagonistic pressure from federal prosecutor Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon). Secrets are discovered, drama occurs, it’s more “Mayans”. And I thought the plot here was great. There’s a lot of threads going on here, but they never feel like a fucking mess. And seeing it all unfold is quite engaging. Sure, some of its social commentary (while being shit I agree with) can be a bit on the ham-fisted side at times, but it never full on detracts from the overall storytelling of the show.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and overall quite interesting. JD Pardo returns as EZ Reyes, prospect within the Mayans M.C. He deals with a lot of personal shit this season around, after a revelation at the end of the first season. And combining that with some of the stuff happening this season makes for a compelling arc. And Pardo is once really good in the role. Clayton Cardenas returns as his brother, Angel, and he also has a great arc here, with Cardenas giving a great performance. Sarah Bolger returns as Emily, former love of EZ, current love of gangster Miguel Galindo. She’s got a lot going on too. And Bolger is really good in the role. And with supporting work from people like Ray McKinnon, Michael Irby, Danny Pino, Edward James Olmos, Carla Baratta, Richard Cabral, Emilio Rivera, Ada Maris, and many more, you get some damn fine performances rounding out the cast.

Just like with season 1, the score for season 2 was composed by Bob Thiele Jr, and once again it’s great. A lot of guitars, some others strings, overall it manages to create a sound that honor some of the Mexican culture, while also capturing the feel of a gritty biker drama. There’s also plenty of licensed music used throughout, and it all fits very well, while also just in general being pleasing to my ear.

The show was created by Elgin James and Kurt Sutter, with writing and directing by both of them, along with a bunch of other cool people. And the craft here is top notch. There’s a strong vision for how they want the episodes to flow, which comes through both in writing and in camerawork. Season 1 was a strong, decently confident start. Here in season 2, their confidence is clearly a lot higher, which makes their craft feel even stronger. These guys know what the fuck they’re doing, and the way it comes through in the show makes it such a standout in today’s tv.

This season/has show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

Season 2 of “Mayans M.C.” improves on what was set up in the first season, even if some of its social commentary can be slightly clumsy at times. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mayans M.C.” season 2 is a 9,50/10. So while it borders on a lower rating, it still gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mayans M.C.” season is now completed.

’cause a beaten dog never forgets.

Movie Review: Booksmart (2019)

And now we enter the part of the year where I make an attempt at catching up on flicks from earlier in the year. So here we go.

Ladies and gents, are you street smart, or are you… “Booksmart”.

All through high school, best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) have been all about getting good grades. But on the night before graduation, they realize that they could’ve taken time to have a bit of fun too, so they make an attempt at compensating for that on this night. So now we have our coming-of-age comedy setup. And I really enjoyed the plot here. It’s fast-paced, it’s fun, and it manages to balance its tone perfectly. For the most part it is this fairly raunchy comedy, but there are times where it’s also willing to slow down and let its characters breathe a bit, adding some much welcome nuance that you don’t see too often in these kinds of movies.

The characters in “Booksmart” are colorful, flawed, fun, and fairly interesting. Amy and Molly. Best friends. Charming. Slightly awkward. Literature clever. I loved following them, they were really enjoyable protagonists that get a decent amount of development, without losing what made them appealing in the first place. And the performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are great. And while I won’t get in-depth with too many more characters, I will say that there’s a character here, played by Billie Lourd, who is an absolute scene stealer. But we do also get some supporting work from people like Jason Sudeikis, Skyler Gisondo, Jessica Williams, Victoria Ruesga, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music in this, while not necessarily my cup of tea, worked well throughout. There’s plenty of licensed, contemporary music. The kind that youths of today would listen to… probably. “Youths of today”, Jesus shitting Christ, I’m sounding like an old man. My age dysphoria aside, this music works well enough for the movie.

“Booksmart” is the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, and I think she did a really good job with it. A lot of these kinds of movies often run on what I call the “Press record on the camera” style of filmmaking, which means that the movies look bland as shit, having little to no visual effort put in. And while I wouldn’t say this is one of the most well shot movies of all time, the fact that there’s actual effort put into direction and camerawork in this movie  adds so much. And since this is a comedy, let’s talk about the humor. Is it funny? Yeah, I’d say so. It’s often quite raunchy, but not just in a “someone said a sex thing” kind of raunch, but in a lot of surprisingly clever ways. It makes for humor that is both raunchy and funny at the same time, which fits in perfectly with the overall snappiness of the dialogue.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Booksmart” is one of the better comedies in recent years. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, pretty good music, and really good directing. Time for my final *Ahem*. My final score for “Booksmart” is a 9,56/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Booksmart” is now completed.

Well done, Olivia Wilde. Solid debut.