Movie Review: Borg vs. McEnroe (2017)

I took a break from Swedish films for a bit, but now I’m back, ready to continue this Summer of the Swedes thing I’m doing. So let’s go.

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 gents… “Borg vs. McEnroe”.

Famous tennis players Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) have a bit of an ongoing rivalry, both at the top of their game, both well known. And soon this rivalry might come to a head in the 1980 Wimbledon tournament. However, the movie is not just one long tennis match. It jumps back and forth in time a lot, showing us the upbringing of these men, as well as giving us a lot of their issues relating to their present situation. It’s very much a character study of these two complex and honestly fucked up individuals. And for the most part I found myself quite engaged by it, as the writing does give a lot of nuance to proceedings. It’s not a pure “hero/villain” or “adoration of giants” narrative, this shows that none of these guys are perfect. The story does step into a fair bit of the trappings that can be found within the biopic genre, and the pacing can be a little wonky in the first half, but overall I do still think the story works here thanks to some of the nuances within the writing.

The characters in this are layered, and overall just quite interesting. Sverrir Gudnason plays Björn Borg, a seasoned tennis player with multiple world titles under his belt. However, while this skill and fame is something people look up to, he is a much more tragic and meticulous individual, his mind isn’t all joy and tennis wins. I don’t know how else to explain it, the dude’s a fascinating person. And Gudnason is great in the role, giving a very reserved but still nuanced performance. Next is Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe, Borg’s rival. He too carries a lot of emotional baggage, which we do find out about through the movie. And he is quite a compelling character, with LaBeouf giving what might be a career best performance. We also get supporting work from people like Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, Scott Arthur, Ian Blackman, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

Unlike most movies, which have one composer, this one has four. Vladislav Delay, Jon Ekstrand, Carl-John Sevedag, and Johan Struck all contributed in some way to the score here. And despite there being so many names attached to it, the music is surprisingly coherent, giving us an intriguing blend of traditional orchestral elements with some electronic mixing to give it an intriguing and emotionally resonant sound that works pretty well within the movie. There’s also a few licensed tunes used throughout, and they work alright too.

“Borg vs. McEnroe” was directed by Janus Metz, who I think did a really good job with it. He knows how to really get you in the minds of the characters, all without losing the wider scope of the scene around them, giving us a good look at the full situation. This is further helped out by Niels Thastum’s slick cinematography, along with the spectacular editing from Per Kirkegaard and Per Sandholt. In terms of the technical craft, this movie is terrific.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While it does fall into some biopic trappings at times, “Borg vs. McEnroe” is still a damn fine character drama. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, great performances, good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Smacks ball*. My final score for “Borg vs. McEnroe” is an 8,77/10. So it’s certainly worth buying.

My review of “Borg vs. McEnroe” is now completed.

SPORTSBALL, WOO!

Movie Review: Constantine (2005)

So what’s on the Month of Spooks meny today? Spooky comic book adaptation? Neat.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Constantine”.

The story follows John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a private detective handling cases of the supernatural kind, as he helps an LAPD detective (Rachel Weisz) try to prove that her sister’s death wasn’t a normal suicide, but something more sinister. All while John is dealing with the recent news that he has a really severe case of lung cancer. So now we have our spooky detective story. And it’s good. Not perfect, but good. Overall it’s a very well paced story that never feels like it drags, but there is kind of a weird disconnect between the plots of the movie. It’s clear that they used the “Dangerous Habits” story arc from the comics as basis, but then added the cop with the dead sister plot onto it because I guess they needed a more movie-esque aspect in the plot. And the two sometimes tie into each other okay, but a lot of the time they don’t fully gel. Both plots on their own are really good, but putting them together like that doesn’t fully work. But overall, pretty good stuff.

The characters in this get some decent development and are all pretty interesting. First up we have Keanu Reeves (whoa) as the titular hellblazer. He’s a sarcastic jerk who doesn’t let anyone get close, for reasons we shall not disclose, but it’s some good stuff. He’s quite a departure from the comics, but I still found him to be an entertaining and interesting character. And Reeves is really good in the role. Next we have Rachel Weisz as Angela Dodson, the detective that Constantine decides to help. She’s tough as hell without it coming off as forced or unrealistic. She feels a bit more real. And Weisz is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Tilda Swinton, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Peter Stormare, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Tyler (with some additions by Klaus Badelt) and I think he did a great job with it. The score takes influences from a couple cultures as well as taking inspiration from a couple different genres such as horror and action. And it creates a really interesting sound that elevates the various scenes where music can be heard.

Based on the “Hellblazer” comics by DC/Vertigo, this movie was directed by Francis Lawrence, and I think he did a really good job with that. While elements of the story and character have trouble capturing the vibe of the comic, his direction gets closer to capturing that feel… if it was turned up to 11 that is, but that’s slightly besides the point. But I do like the slightly gothic vibe this thing has, which often manages to add some creep factor to it all. And the cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is pretty great too, giving us some damn fine looking shots throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 46% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 50/100. Roger Ebert gave it 1,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

While not necessarily a great representation of its source material, “Constantine” is still a damn good supernatural action thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by elements in the story feeling somewhat disjointed. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Constantine” is an 8,94/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Constantine” is now completed.

Whoa.

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

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Guys, we are finally here… the final part in my series of “Indiana Jones” reviews. I apologize for it being a bit later than expected though. I had planned to release it on Monday, but I got really sick so I wasn’t able to do anything. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday I chose to just relax and recover from the rest of it. But now I am feeling well and ready to review the movie for you… so let’s end this damn series, already.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.

Indy (Harrison Ford) is back aaaand he’s old. This time he goes on an adventure where he has to find the mysterious Crystal Skull. On this adventure he has teamed up with a young man named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) to do this. He is also always in the sights of a bunch of Soviet soldiers (No Nazis? That’s kinda refreshing) and their dangerous leader, Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). And the plot in this movie is, it is… it’s… I don’t know what to say. There is a MacGuffin… but there are also a few small twists on the “Formulana Jones” as I’ve decided to call it. I don’t know how to talk about the plot anymroe without going into spoilers… it’s kind of weird. I can say that I didn’t enjoy the plot as much as in the previous three films, but I didn’t think it was offensively bad either.

Where the plot might lack some in enjoyment for me, I think the characters almost make up for it. Harrison Ford is still great as Indy, even though it had been almost 20 years (Jesus tapdancing Christ) since he had played the character last time. He gives a really good performance as Indy, even managing to portray that Indy had aged quite a bit. He also still has that awesome smirk that I just love. I know that Shia LaBeouf is made fun of a lot these days for being… weird (to put it gently), he isn’t too bad in this movie overall. His performance is just fine, it’s the writing he got that isn’t really too great… it’s not very good. If only they had written him a little better, I wouldn’t have any problem with him at all. Cate Blanchet: beautiful woman, great actress… odd villain. I’m not saying that she’s a bad choice, au contraire, I love the idea. Her performance is still good, and she works fine as the villain I guess, even though I don’t find her particularly intimidating like Toht in “Raiders” or the Kali Ma guy in “Temple”. Then we also get some good supporting roles too, such as that of Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Karen Allen (welcome back). Jim Broadbent is also in this movie.

The score for this movie was just like in the previous three, composed by the one and only John Williams. And again, it is great. Let’s face it, John Williams is a masteful composer of music for films, and the “Indiana Jones” movie have some of his best tunes ever… even if I think his best song might be the “Jurassic Park” theme, but that is a story for another day… NEXT PART.

Steven Spielberg decided to come back to direct this fourth installment of the franchise and I guess he did a good job. I mean, his direction overall was pretty good, it’s Steven fucking Spielberg we’re talking about… but there is a thing that prevents me from appreciating it as much as I should… This movie looks fake as shit. CGI here, CGI there, CGI EVERYWHERE! There is also a shit-ton of green screen, not very well implemented if you ask. It all looks so artificial that I was actually groaning when I watched the movie. Sure, some of teh visual effects looks fine… but a lot of shit just looks… BLEH! Sure, there are a few actual sets in the movie as well, and they look terrific… props to the people who put those together. But the action in the movie (while ridiculous) is actually pretty good. Ford still gets to kick a bit of ass in the movie, and LaBeouf gets to have some fun himself… except for that “Tarzan” bit… *Shivers*. But there’s also some pretty good humor in the movie to help try to balance it out… *under breath* god damn it, Lucas…

This movie has certainly gotten some mixed reception by people and critics alike. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 78% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The story is averagely enjoyable, the characters/acting I enjoyed, the music is great, the directing is, but the CGI/green screen isn’t that great… at least the action and humor is pretty good. Time for my final score. *DUN DU DUN DUUUUN*. My final score for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a 7,45/10. While not one of the better movies in the series, I’d still say that it’s worth a rental.
Rent it

My review of “Indiana Jones and the Kingomd of the Crystal Skull” is now done.

I still have one more “Indiana Jones” related post planned in the future, so look forward to that. Other than that… I am done with these movies (on my blog, that is).

 

Movie Review: Fury (2014)

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War is ugly. Sure, some people get hailed as heroes, but that is only to glorificate it to make more people join the army/navy. And when the war advertisements are done, the “heroes” get thrown away like another bag of trash. There is nothing beautiful or great about war, it is all dirt, blood and loss of humanity. Now that I got that mini-rant out of the way I will have to admit that war movies are pretty cool. So here we have a war movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fury”.

So what is this movie about? Well it is about a squad of soldiers (Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf) led by soldier “Wardaddy” (Brad Pitt) who are tasked to get an American Sherman-tank through enemy lines and kill some nazis. At the same time it is about rookie soldier Norman (Lerman) getting thrown into all this shit and trying to live with it all and learn to fight. And with that, I was pretty impressed with the story of the movie. Not that it was anything special per se, but I still liked that it was constantly moving and also that it didn’t try to be something overly emotional or complex. And when I say it was constantly moving I was slightly lying considering there is one scene about halfway into the movie that slows everything down a little bit. Not that I hated the scene or anything, I just felt like it broke the pace a little bit. Otherwise I liked the story.

The characters… fucking hell! If you count away Logan Lerman for a second, everyone in the tank are assholes. Except for Logan Lerman who is a good guy in the movie, I will also mention that this is the best I have ever seen from him. I can also mention that Jon Bernthal wasn’t an asshole in the movie… he was even lower than that! He was the biggest dickhead ever and no one ever stopped him during his dickhead shenanigans. But I do have to mention that Bernthal played him very well. And of course, Brad Pitt as “Wardaddy”… he was great. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt is always great… or at least good. And yes, even “Actual Cannibal” Shia LaBeouf is also great in it. He may have been up to some really weird shit, but at least he has proven that he got acting chops. And Michael Peña was great too, but I knew that after seeing “End of Watch” (Sidenote: “End of Watch” was directed by David Ayer who also directed this).

The score by Steven Price really helps catch the intensity of the story and the war. It also helps set the mood during any scenes that it’s part of. It really gives a lot of emotion and power to the movie.

This movie features some of the most intense action scenes that I have ever seen. Seeing the tank fight other tanks and German soldiers was not only brutal but also really badass. The movie is also directed in such a way where you feel like you’re part of the crew and like you’re in the tank with them while they’re blowing nazis up. IT is also fun seeing that this movie is beautifully shot with steady shots, wide shots and not any shaky found-footage like “End of Watch” (Sidenote: Don’t misunderstand that, I love “End of Watch”).

People seemed to really like this movie. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Fury” is a movie featuring a good story, great acting, really good writing, great direction and really intense action scenes. The only negative about the movie is that one scene near the halfway point that breaks pace. Time for my final score. Jeff, get me the envelope! Someone in the way? Kill him! It is a kid? Well I don’t care if it’s a baby with a butter knife in one hand and momma’s left titty in the other, you kill it. *Five minutes goes by* You got it? Good! Sorry about that, guys. My final score for “Fury” is a 9,58/10. It is pretty great and will get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “Fury” is completed.

Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.