Series Review: Demon Slayer – Season 1 (2019)

I really don’t talk enough about anime on this blog, which is kinda funny, because some of my first (and worst) reviews I did way back in 2014 were anime-related. But since then I haven’t really done much in that realm of entertainment. So maybe it’s time to try to remedy that.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Demon Slayer” season 1.

After most of his family gets killed by demons, Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae) vows to become a demon slayer in order to avenge his dead family, while also trying to cure his sister (Akari Kito) who’s been turned into a demon. And thus we follow Tanjiro as he goes on this journey, training to get stronger, attempting to save people, and meeting all sorts of colorful characters along the way. At first glance, it may seem like typical action-fantasy anime fare, and in a lot of ways, that is what it is. But then we also get a lot of moments that show something deeper, something… humane. For all the magic and monsters and over the top comedy, the show’s story grounds itself by often taking the time to let dramatic beats breathe and simmer, giving a very humane and emotionally charged perspective to the predicaments and stories that Tanjiro finds himself involved in throughout the 26 episode season. And this gives the show a weight that really makes the story of “Demon Slayer” something special. Admittedly I wouldn’t call myself “hooked” by the first few episodes. They’re still quite entertaining, but since they consist of a lot of setup, they do suffer from a tiny bit of good ol’ premiere sickness. Again, they’re still really solid, so it’s not a dealbreaker, just a slight hiccup in what is otherwise a great story.

The characters in this are all fun, colorful, entertaining, and overall just insanely compelling. Much like the story, at first glance they might all cover the typical archetypes found within this kind of anime, but given a bit of time, they start to show more depth, while still being able to embrace some of those classic tropes when needed. I also think the performances in here are spectacular. The cast consists of people like Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kito, Hiro Shimono, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (who plays my favorite character), Takahiro Sakurai, Takumi Yamazaki, and many more, all doing amazingly well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Yuki Kajiura and Go Shiina, and my god, they did an amazing job with it. Sweeping orchestrations, moody strings and pianos, some horror stings, even a bit of rock and techno-infused stuff slips in, and it’s all terrific, adding so much to the show. The opening and ending themes by LiSA (god, that stage name really hates SEO) are also really solid. The music in this show’s just all round great.

Based on the hit manga by Koyoharu Gotouge, “Demon Slayer” was brought to us by the studio Ufotable, and they just knocked it out of the fucking park here. The art pops beautifully, the movement is smooth, the colors look super crisp, and everything just has an insane level of polish that is an absolute joy to behold from start to end. The animation especially comes alive during the action scenes, all of which are dynamic, breathtaking, and very creative. Long story short: This show looks fucking amazing.

This show/season’s been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10, and is ranked #128 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Demon Slayer” is a wonderful fantasy-action anime with plenty of heart. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, great music, and amazing animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Demon Slayer” is a 9.65/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Demon Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

I should try to cover more anime in the future. Get the original intentions back on track… albeit with less terrible writing.

Series Review: Vigil (2021)

I’ve talked about my fair share of British tv shows over the years. And now it’s time to talk about yet another one, let’s gooooo!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Vigil”.

Following a death on board the submarine HMS Vigil, DSI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) gets sent aboard to investigate it. But what starts out as a somewhat death investigation soon turns into a much larger conspiracy involving the Royal Navy and potentially various other, high level sectors. So it’s part mystery, part conspiracy thriller, and then also part melodrama. So let’s break things down a little, starting with the mystery and conspiracy angle. At the off-set it feels fairly grounded, just a standard Beeb cop drama of a death being investigated, and as it goes on it becomes more complex, more improbable, and even a bit silly… and I liked that. It’s a conspiracy thriller right out of Robert Ludlum or or Tom Clancy’s typewriter, and there’s something about those kinds of stories I find quite compelling. It keeps it fun and engaging. Now let’s talk about the third part I alluded to earlier… the melodrama. Interspersed throughout is a backstory involving Amy and her relationship to fellow policewoman Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie). And while a bit of personal drama can add some nice weight to a show like this, it didn’t feel super well implemented in this. There are a few moments involving the two that I don’t mind, but a lot of these scenes of romantic melodrama just don’t feel as naturally baked into the show as they could be. So yeah, the story here is a little bit mixed. Mostly good, but has some things that let it down.

The characters in this are all decently interesting, sporting interesting personalities and mostly having interesting dynamics between each other. But what really makes them stand out is the cast. Every actor in this cast is at the top of their game, bringing the characters to life beautifully. Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans (my personal standout), Paterson Joseph, Stephen Dillane, Daniel Portman, Martin Compston, Adam James, Anjili Mohindra, and more, are all fantastic in this show.

The score for the show was composed by Berenice Scott and Glenn Gregory, and I think it was pretty good. It’s a mostly ambient affair, taking a low-key and almost sneaky approach  to build creeping tension or have you more invested in the personal drama. And I think it works fine, it’s a decent score that works well for the show.

“Vigil” was created for the BBC by Tom Edge, with writing by him, Chandni Lakhani, and Ed Macdonald, and with directing duties split between Isabelle Sieb and James Strong. And I think this show has some strong direction. While the submarine seems waaaay bigger than an actual sub, they still find good ways of making it feel claustrophobic, which adds a little to the suspense in the scenes set down there. But even the ones set on the surface, following the investigations up there are really well helmed with good shots and editing. It’s just a well crafted show.

This show has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While its melodramatic bits drag it down at times, “Vigil” is still a highly enjoyable, if ludicrous, conspiratorial police thriller. It has a fun plot, good characters, fantastic performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Vigil” is a 7.98/10. So while it’s far from perfect, I’d still say it’s worth watching.

My review of “Vigil” is now completed.

We all live in a Vigil submarine…

Series Review: The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

And here we are, my friends. The last post of Month of Spooks 2021. It’s been a fun ride, but it is time to wind down a bit. And to cap it off, we’re ending it the way we started it… with a Mike Flanagan show. So let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Haunting of Hill House”.

The story follows the Crains, a fractured family as they try to confront the haunting memories of what had happened to them in the past. “The Haunting of Hill House” blends a grief-driven family drama with a ghost story, and it is insanely effective. It’s difficult discussing the story and themes and general impact it had on me without delving into spoilers, but I’ll try my best. The spooky stuff is good on its own, it’s solid horror. But what carries my attention is how the family drama and character-driven subplots and the meditation on grief develops throughout, showing how everyone in this family’s been broken by the traumatic events in their past, and how they’re trying to cope with all of that. It’s a very nuanced, tender, and emotionally charged story that hit me in a way that few shows manage, even making me cry multiple times throughout. It’s a beautiful, scary, and sad story that I absolutely adored.

The characters in this are some of the most nuanced and believable I’ve seen in a show. They all feel so real and I found their personal stories and developments extremely engaging and interesting. And for the show we also have a huge cast, with everyone giving top notch performances. So I’m just gonna list them off, because I want to shout them out. So we have Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Lulu Wilson, Victoria Pedretti, Paxton Singleton, Timothy Hutton, Anthony Ruivivar, and many more. It’s just a stellar cast all perfectly playing stellar characters.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, and they absolutely killed it, this might be my favorite work from them. They have this brooding eerie tension at times, and for a lot they go for a more somber, emotionally charged piano style that hit me right in the god damn heart, further amplifying the heartache that this show creates. It’s just excellent stuff.

Based on the novel by Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House” was created, directed, and co-written by Mike “Let’s make sad stuff” Flanagan. Aaaaand, the man just doesn’t fucking miss. His direction here is stellar, building tension when needed, but also letting more dramatic moments breathe just the right amount for maximum emotional investment. I don’t know what to say here about his style that I didn’t mention in my reviews of “Midnight Mass” or “Doctor Sleep“, I can’t really elaborate much beyond it. The dude’s amazing. And Michael Fimognari’s cinematography is beautiful as always. It’s just an insanely well crafted show.

This show 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 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10, and is ranked #132 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is a masterful horror-drama, and a further showcase for why Mike Flanagan is one of the best filmmakers around. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Haunting of Hill House” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Haunting of Hill House” is now completed.

And with that, the Month of Spooks is over. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tears to mop up. God damn it, Flanagan…

Series Review: Midnight Mass (2021)

It’s finally here, friends… THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! That’s right, Oc-fucking-tober, a month of spooktacular content! Yeah, I’m excited. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Midnight Mass”.

“Midnight Mass” follows the residents of Crockett Island, a remote little mound somewhere in America, as strange things start happening around their home following the arrival of a new, charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). This show is at its core a character-driven drama, delving deep into themes of grief, guilt, faith, and past traumas, and I find all of it compelling. The way that this stuff is handled throughout the seven episode run is some of the most nuanced and beautiful storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in any show. This even gives extra weight to the sections which lean more on classic horror, both in terms of thematic depth and  in terms of how much suspense and terror it is able to generate. So yeah, the story here is emotionally resonant, nuanced, unpredictable, scary, and overall just fucking spectacular.

The characters in this show are all very flawed, layered, colorful, and insanely interesting to follow. All of them have some past (or present) trauma going on, and it makes for some incredibly engaging character work. What helps this further is the frankly insane cast, featuring people like Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater (who is the standout for me), Henry Thomas, Kristin Lehman, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and many more, all giving top tier performances.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, who absolutely knocked it out of the park with the music here. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, but I feel like they really outdid themselves here. Of course you do have some traditional horror stings, but there are also a lot of quieter, more emotional pieces throughout the show as well, along with some frankly haunting bits as well. It manages to hit every kind of emotion possible, making for a very engaging soundscape that adds a lot to the show.

“Midnight Mass” was created for Netflix by Mike Flanagan, who also directed and co-wrote all the episodes. And I gotta say, the dude knocked it out of the fucking park with his directing here. Not that Flanagan’s direction has ever been bad, but you can tell that this was a real passion project for him just by how all out he goes with the way his shots flow, how tightly edited it is, and how just how ambitious it can be at times. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Michael Fimognari, which is beautiful and really adds to the storytelling. The special effects in this are all great as well. It’s just an insanely well crafted show that you can tell everyone involved put 250% into. I know that is mathematically illogical (and possibly impossible), but I don’t care, it’s how I feel.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10.

“Midnight Mass” is an absolutely phenomenal horror show that had me glued to the screen from start to end. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midnight Mass” is a 9.94/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midnight Mass” is now completed.

Month of Spooks is off to one hell of a start!

Series Review: Guilt – Season 1 (2019)

Have you ever lied? If you said no, then that’s most certainly a lie, because we’ve all done it at some point. And since you lied to me, doesn’t that make you feel a little guilty? Anyhow, let’s talk about a Scottish tv show.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Guilt” season 1.

While driving home from a party, brothers Max (Mark Bonnar) and Jake (Jamie Sives) accidentally run over an old man, killing him. The two then do their best to cover their tracks and move on with their lives. However, as with most stories, things don’t work out quite so easily. Right off the bat, “Guilt” had me hooked. It had a great setup for a crime-thriller narrative that they then told in an often darkly comedic way. It made for one hell of an engaging watch… for part of it. The first two episodes I thought were genuinely great, starting with its relatively simple premise and building cleverly upon it. But then the remaining two episodes screwed itself a bit by convoluting matters. I get that thriller narratives tends to have a few twists and turns to them, that’s par for the course. But I feel like “Guilt” has a few too many, messing with the tightness and flow of the story. I was still entertained throughout the last two episodes, and there are a few really good moments (including the ending). I just felt that it got a little messier than it needed to. Overall, it’s pretty good.

The characters in this show are colorful, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Mark Bonnar plays Max, the older of the two brothers. A successful lawyer with a snazzy house, snazzy clothes, and an overall snazzy life, it’s interesting seeing what a stressful situation like this does to him. It reveals quite a bit and provides some great character development, with Bonnar being absolutely phenomenal in the role. Next we have Jamie Sives as Jake, the younger of the brother. Normally a quiet record store owner, seeing how he tries to deal with the guilt (HA!) of the whole “Oops, accidental murder” situation is fascinating. And Sives is great in the role. I also want to quickly mention that these two actors work wonderfully together, with the clashing of the characters’ personalities making for some excellent character drama. Anyhow, we also get supporting work from people like Ruth Bradley, Moyo Akandé, Emun Elliott, Sian Brooke, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Arthur Sharpe, and I think he did a pretty good job with it. He has an interesting way of blending traditional thriller cues with some light rock elements, which gives the show a very fun soundscape. There’s also a handful of licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

“Guilt” was created and written by Neil Forsyth, with directing duties handled by one Robert McKillop. And I think they did a really good job on that front. The direction of this show has this really vibrant energy about it that keeps it from ever getting dull, making it feel like it moves along at a clip, which helps keep scenes engaging. Helping further this is Nanu Segal’s terrific cinematography, and some fantastically snappy editing by Nikki McChristie and Colin Monie. It’s just a really well crafted show.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but seems to have no real consensus. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

Despite getting a little tangled in its own twisting web towards the end, season 1 of “Guilt” is still a highly enjoyable batch of episodes. It has a good story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season of “Guilt” is an 8.35/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

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

I love Mark Bonnar, he’s such a good actor.

Series Review: Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness – Season 1 (2021)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the CG-animated “Resident Evil” movies, with “Resident Evil: Damnation” being my favorite of the bunch. So when it was announced that we were getting a new animated series for the franchise, I got excited. And now it’s here, on Netflix, and I watched the entire thing. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness”.

A few years after the outbreak in Raccoon City, we once again meet up Leon Kennedy (Nick Apostolides) and Claire Redfield (Stephanie Panisello) as they’ve moved on to new positions in the world. And we follow them as they look into strange goings on involving bioweapons and horrific drawings, leading them down a dangerous path of horrors and conspiracies. So yeah, the setup treads familiar ground if you’re a fan of this franchise, which is fine, as long as it’s handled in an interesting and enjoyable way. Sadly, that’s not quite what’s going on here. I’m not saying that it’s outright poor, I didn’t dislike the story here. But it’s done in such a dry way, lacking the personality and unique charisma that makes “Resident Evil” into what it is. There is no real suspense, there’s not much (if any) excitement in how it could pan out, there’s not really any sense of fun, and at no point does it feel like it needed to be a “Resident Evil” story. On the whole, it’s a passable thriller narrative for a rainy Sunday, but sadly I never got truly invested in it.

The characters in this are… fine? Much like the case of the story, they lack a lot of personality. Leon is neither the naive optimist of “Resident Evil 2” or the snarky legend of “Resident Evil 4”, he’s just kind of a quiet tough guy who never shows much sign of any charisma.  Nick Apostolides does a good job with the performance, but it just feels slightly underwhelming when the material he has to work with is so… plain. Claire comes close at times of showing off some of the determined charm that I loved in “Resident Evil 2”, but never quiiiiite gets to go the distance on it. At least I can say that Stephanie Panisello does a good job with her performance. The other charaters… again, very plain, doesn’t get much, if any interesting development. They’re just kinda there. At least I can say that the supporting cast, featuring people like Ray Chase, Jona Xiao, Billy Kametz, Brad Venable, and more, all do very well in the roles.

The score for this series was composed by Yugo Kanno, and I think he did a good job with it. It doesn’t necessarily do much to stand out, but it has enough nice little action, horror, and drama flourishes throughout to at least give the show an enjoyable enough soundscape.

Based on the “Resident Evil” game franchise published by Capcom, “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” was created by Hiroyuki Kobayashi, with Eiichiro Hasumi handling direction. And now comes the part where I can finally pile praise upon the show. This show has some spectacular animation. Going for this sort of semi-realistic style can be a gamble, but I think they pulled it off. Character movement is fluid and natural, making me believe each action that happens. And the sheer amount of detail they managed to put in the show is absolutely insane. Individual hairs on characters’ heads, creasing in fabrics, subtle details in metal, there’s just a ridiculous amount of detail in everything throughout this show, which is just mindboggling to me. How can you pull this level of detail off? But yeah, this show is really well animated.

Keep in mind that the show just came out, so these ratings will change over time (not on this blog though, I’m too lazy to edit shit as time goes on). On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 56% positive rating. On Metacritic it currently has no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

So yeah, despite my excitement for it, “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” isn’t quite as enjoyable as I had hoped, with its biggest weakness being a lack of personality and identity. It has an okay plot, mediocre characters, good performances, good music, and terrific animation and direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” is a 6.20/10. So while very flawed, it can at least be worth a watch.

My review of “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” is now completed.

Well, damn…

Series Review: Seis Manos – Season 1 (2019)

Is it time to talk about animation? I believe it’s time to talk about some animation. Hell, I’d say it definitely is time to do that. That’s the perk of running your own blog. No editor who can say “No, you can’t talk about animation now”.

Dames y hombres… “Seis Manos” season 1.

1970s Mexico. When a vicious gangster (Danny Trejo) starts unleashing hell upon the world, a group of varying people get brought together to try to stop him. This motley crew includes some martial artists (Aislinn Derbez and Johnny Cruz), a local cop (Angélica Vale), and an American DEA agent (Mike Colter). “Seis Manos” is fascinating in the sense that it’s a pretty eclectic mix of ideas, inspirations, and styles. On the surface it seems be a mix of crime-drama and martial arts action, but then you also start mixing in stuff like grindhouse, comedy, fantasy, body horror, eastern philosophy, and even elements of Blaxploitation. And then you of course also take the Mexican setting into account, which means a lot of that culture gets mixed into proceedings. So you’d think the storytelling of this show would be an absolute clusterfuck… but no, the crazy songs of bitches pulled it off. While it does lose a little bit of focus towards the end, I do still feel that there’s some really solid storytelling going on here. Yes, it’s eclectic, but that also adds a lot of personality to it, while still being a generally entertaining narrative to follow. It does have a fair bit of emotionally resonant drama, but it also generally serves as a fun and unusual tale that is just plain fun to follow.

The characters in this are of course based on tropes and archetypes we’ve seen before, but we do also see them played around with to a decent extent, making for some enjoyable development. Like the three martial artists Isabela, Jesus, and Silencio. One a tough but loving woman, one a big, lovable goof, and one a dark and quiet man. All three start out with that one detail and get some enjoyable development throughout. Then there’s Garcia, the local police officer who gets tangled up in this insanity. A tough but fair cop trying to prove herself while still staying true to herself. And she’s very interesting too. Then there’s Brister, a fridge of a man working for the DEA, working to take down bad guys. He’s a smart-aleck with a lot of colorful lines and a very “I don’t have time for this shit” kind of attitude, which gets tested at every turn for not only great comedy, but some genuinely interesting character development. And the villain, El Balde, is one vicious motherfucker, making for one hell of an intimidating presence. And the voice cast, containing people like Aislinn Derbez, Jonny Cruz, Mike Colter, Danny Trejo, Angélica Vale, Vic Chao, and more, all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Carl Thiel, and I think he did a really good job with it. Much like with the narrative it complements, the score takes inspiration from many sources. Of course it has some familiar use of strings, keys, and brass for action stuff. But there’s also some traditional Mexican stuff throughout, a little bit of 70s noir-inspired funk, and probably some other specific styles I currently forget. Either way, it’s an interesting mix of sounds that pays off in making for giving the show an interesting soundscape.

“Seis Manos” was created for Netflix by Brad Graeber and Álvaro Rodríguez, with Willis Bulliner handling the directing. It’s also animated by Powerhouse Animation, a studio that I’ve talked about a few times before on this blog (*Shameless* and *Plug*). So as to be expected, I was excited to see how this show would end up looking. And it looks really good. Character designs are charming and fight scenes are kinetic and exciting. While it isn’t Powerhouse’s overall strongest piece of animation, it’s still really well handled, giving us some terrifically directed animation/action to enjoy. Plus, we don’t get much in terms of martial arts animation here in the west, so this show delivering on that was an absolute treat for me.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

While the final act of the story is a little bit lacking in focus, season 1 of “Seis Manos” is still a highly entertaining and refreshingly unique bit of animation. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seis Manos” season 1 is an 8.87/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth watching!

My review of “Seis Manos” season 1 is now completed.

I hope we get a season 2. Or should I say… SEISON!?

Series Review: History of Swear Words – Season 1 (2021)

This is a bit exciting. First 2021 release to be covered on the blog. Are you excited? Because I’m excited. So let’s get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “History of Swear Words”!

Fuck you. Don’t worry, I don’t actually mean that. But it’s an interesting phrase. Especially the first word, “fuck”. Why is it like that? Why do we use it as an expletive? Well, this show seeks to answer that. Every episode sees Nicolas Cage introducing us to a well known swear word. And then various linguist experts and entertainers come in as well to give us facts and opinions on swear words and their etymology. You’d think this premise might be a bit of a one trick pony, something that’ll get old after the first five minutes. But you (and I) would be wrong. They not only manage to keep the funny side of the premise going throughout all six episodes, but it also manages to be incredibly informative about the expletives and even language as a whole. They balance comedy and history really well to create a fun whole that is both really entertaining and surprisingly informative. And it’s also interesting when we get the entertainers coming in and giving their thoughts on each of the six curse words, as it sparks a lot of thoughts and discussions within my own head. Am I saying that this is the most nuanced and perfect documentary series ever? No. But the fact that they manage to keep it feeling fresh and entertaining throughout all six episodes deserves to be commended. By the end I felt both amused and educated. Plus, living legend Nicolas Cage makes for a really good host/presenter, so that’s a great bonus.

One thing I like about the craft behind “History of Swear Words” is just how snappy and energetic it is, despite using a lot of familiar documentary tricks. The editing is fast paced and manages to keep things from feeling stale. It also helps that they use a lot of cute little animations when explaining some of the backstories of the words. Basically the directing, editing, and all that manages to ground the show without sacrificing any of the silliness around the premise, making for a highly enjoyable whole.

At the time of writing (I am an early bird) the show has no real ratings on any of my usual sites. So I’m just gonna attach the links and you can see for yourself how the ratings may evolve over time, because I’m too fucking lazy to edit this shit later down the line. Here’s Rotten Tomatoes. And here’s imdb.

While not a revolutionary piece of media, Netflix’s “History of Swear Words” is still a highly enjoyable little piece of edutainment, featuring interesting facts, plenty of laughs, and living legend Nicolas Cage. Time for my final score. *God damn ahem*. My final score for “History of Swear Words” is an 8.73/10. So I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

My review of “History of Swear Words” is now completed.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUDGe is delicious.

Series Review: Dragon’s Dogma – Season 1 (2020)

I love animation. I love video games. So the two smashed together should be heaven, right? Right? Why are you so quiet?

Ladies and gents… “Dragon’s Dogma” season 1.

Ethan (Greg Chun) lives a nice, relatively quiet life with his wife. This peace doesn’t last however when the entire town is destroyed and Ethan’s heart gets eaten by a giant dragon. Shortly after our hero finds himself resurrected by a mysterious magical lady (Erica Mendez), and vows to find and slay the dragon that ruined his life. It’s a mostly classic fantasy/revenge setup with elements that we’ve seen before. Where it tries to stand out somewhat though is in its storytelling… keyword being tried. The idea with each episode is that as Ethan travels the country in search of the big spooky lizard, he encounters different monsters and situations mirroring the seven deadly sins (which can even be seen in each episode title). And while they have some wonderful ideas for how that will work, I feel like they undercooked this heart steak a bit. While the show’s fast pace keeps it from getting too stale, it does hurt the storytelling. Nothing really gets to simmer. They have interesting developments and ideas within each episode, but I never feel as invested as I could be given the interesting subject matter. So instead of getting the nuanced fantasy narrative that I know the crew’re striving for, we get a story that never reaches its full potential, bar one thing in the final episode.

Where the story does falter… the characters don’t do much to help. I will say that Ethan, our main protagonist, does have some interesting stuff going on. Each episode we see some mild developments on his side, and it does make him a somewhat compelling character. And Greg Chun does a great job with his voice work there. Then we have the pawn (also known as Hannah), the mysterious magical lady I mentioned earlier who resurrected Ethan. She is a little bit of a blank slate, only there to serve as a somewhat logic-driven sidekick to Ethan. There is great potential with her character, but it’s never fully achieved. At least Erica Mendez does a good job with her performance. The rest of the cast aren’t necessarily as great though, because most of them attempt some form of British accent (‘ullo gov’nah), with a majority sadly falling flat on their face.

The score for the show was composed by Tadayoshi Makino, and I think his music here is great. It is of course based in a lot of the brass, strings, and piano we have heard in fantasy before. But Makino puts his own spin on it to some degree, making for a score that is exciting, emotional, and ear candy of the highest degree.

Based on the 2012 video game from Capcom, “Dragon’s Dogma” was animated by studio Sublimation for Netflix, with Shinya Sugai handling direction. Aaaaaand I have mixed feelings. Lookign at the overall shot composition, you can tell that these guys have a good eye, there’s a lot of good “camera” movements and nice ideas for stills. This is however brought down by the studio’s choice to go with a pseudo 3D style of animation. Now, in the few instances I’ve seen this styles pop up in other things, it hasn’t been very good. And while it certainly looks slightly less shit than some other instances of this weird 2D/3D amalgamation, it still doesn’t work. All the characters look lifeless dolls, and movements look really janky. This is almost even worse with some of the creatures in this show, who get these pretty murky textures draped over them, which makes them look really bad. There are moments of good animation however. Fleeting moments of regular, hand-drawn 2D animation. And it’s a shame that these are such brief moments, because those instances look amazing. But overall, the animation here isn’t great.

This show’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a critic rating of 100%, but an audience rating of 50%. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.3/10.

While it has a lot of potential for greatness, Netflix’s “Dragon’s Dogma” sadly doesn’t live up to the potential. It has a mediocre plot, okay characters, good acting, great music, and bad animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dragon’s Dogma” is a 4.89/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Dragon’s Dogma” is now completed.

Hopefully the game’s better…

Series Review: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.