12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 5)

Well hello there! Thanks for coming. Sit down and relax while I jabber on about today’s film.

Earlier today I was thinking, “What should I do today?”, as I wanted to be slightly more creative with today’s pick. Then I thought “I should do a Harry Potter movie!”, as most of those flicks have a part set around the holiday. Then it came down to which one I would do. And in the end I decided to pick my favorite out of the bunch, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. It’s time for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to do his third year at Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry. But of course he can’t just have a “normal” school year for once, as he has to look out for Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a killer who has escaped from Azkaban prison. And you know the usual shenanigans that happen, Harry questions things, Snape (Alan Rickman) looks angry, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is secretly a dick, and Harry and his friends end up in some dangerous situations. But they put some nice twists on these things here with the inclusion of certain revelations regarding the past of Harry’s parents, as well as the looming horror of the Dementors. It stands out thanks to one of the more engaging plots in the series, combined with the confident and stunning direction of Alfonso Cuarón. And while this movie doesn’t go “Happy Christmas” as blatantly as some of the other ones, it does have a bit set in a very snowy Hogsmeade, and it all just gives me a very christmas-y vibe. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” works both for christmas-y and casual viewing.

On the fifth day of christmas, Markus brings to you, an actual good film, woohoo!

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 1 (2015)

I am aware that I’m kind of stretching it a bit here in terms of the Month of Spooks, but there are aspects of this show that kind of work for it. Also, I kind of cheated with “Mindhunter” last year, so I think I’m allowed this one this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to… “Fortitude”.

On the edge of the arctic circle lies the town of Fortitude, a frozen place with a small population. A town that has been safe for as long as it’s existed. But the peace of Fortitude is disturbed when a violent crime occurs. So now we have our cold as hell thriller. And it’s good. It has an eerie feel to it that makes it stand out from other crime-thrillers out there, and the mysteries it sets up throughout the season are quite intriguing. I was sometimes taken out of the show a bit though. While it is fairly grounded most of the time, there are occasions when it suddenly requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. Now, aside from some of those moments, this is an engaging, chilling (HA!), and overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, interesting, and mostly all feel pretty realistic. I will however not go in-depth about them because the cast here is so big that we’d be here all god damn day, and none of us want that. But I can say that the cast is pretty impressive. Including people like Richard Dormer, Nicholas Pinnock, Alexandra Moen, Luke Treadaway, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Sofia Gråbøl, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Darren Boyd, Mia Jexen, Christopher Eccleston, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Ben Frost, and I think he did a really good job with it. His music has a way of capturing the feel of this frozen and remote location. It’s eerie, it’s suspense-building, it’s emotional, it just works incredibly well for the show. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes too.

“Fortitude” was created by Simon Donald, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people, and I think what they created here is really interesting. For one, it’s a pretty unique location for a show. A remote town in one of the coldest parts of the world, perfect setting for this kind of show. And thanks to the directing and some frankly gorgeous cinematography, they really capture the feel of the location perfectly. They also build a lot of suspense with it, and even capture some imagery that is kind of horror-esque in how graphic and disturbing it is.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While not perfect, “Fortitude” still serves up a nice, cold mystery. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, the score if brought down a bit by the show expecting you to really bend your suspension of disbelief. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Fortitude” season 1 is an 8,91/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s definitely still worth watching.

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

It still kind of works as horror.

Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

The frontier. A wild, unpredictable, and untameable part of our world. As beautiful as it is dangerous. Something that Taylor Sheridan seemingly likes to explore in his scripts.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wind River”.

Set in the cold mountains and forests of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) as she has to investigate the death of a young woman with the help of a local tracker (Jeremy Renner). So now we have our murder mystery that isn’t just a murder mystery. Yes, the investigation is a big focus of the movie, but the plot is also largely about the exploration of this place and the people who live there. Like with the two previous movies written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water”), it sets up one basic plot, and then gives it a few extra layers to explore certain themes. So what we get here is a deep, suspenseful, emotional, haunting, and just overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are all layered, interesting, and feel quite real. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, the tracker tasked with helping out in this investigation. He’s a skilled hunter with a tragic past that gets explored in a very interesting way through the movie. And Renner is fantastic in the role, playing the character with a very understated sadness and intensity, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner. She’s a bit of a fish out of water in this, as she’s not used to the cold, unforgiving frontier. This doesn’t make her useless, as she shows herself as quite capable through the movie. She’s tough, but she also does have a more vulnerable side, which gives her some layers (which is important to have out in the cold). And Olsen is really good in the role. Next we have Gil Birmingham as the father of the dead girl. While we don’t get too many details on him as a character, seeing him in pain and trying to cope with his daughter’s death is utterly heartbreaking and makes him an interesting enough character. And Birmingham is great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from Graham Greene, Julia Jones, Martin Sensmeier, Hugh Dillon, Eric Lange, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and if you’ve read any other reviews of mine where they’ve been the listed composers, you should suspect that I loved their score for this. It’s eerie, dark, emotional, and haunting, perfectly capturing the feel of the area, while also working very well for the murder mystery plot of the movie. I am slightly biased towards their music, but I do genuinely think their compositions for this movie are fantastic.

As I’ve not so subtly alluded to, this movie was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. I already liked the other movies he’s written, so I was curious to see how he’d do at directing. And I have to say that I am quite impressed. His direction is manages to be sweeping and ambitious, while still tight and intimate with the characters/situations. He also manages to build a lot of suspense throughout, especially during the final act where that tension escalates to a whole new level. But none of it ever feels Hollywood-ized, which feels quite fresh in our modern world. And the cinematography by Ben Richardson is pretty great.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Wind River” is a fantastic little drama, and another great showcase for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wind River” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wind River” is now completed.

We’re going back to the wild frontier…

12 Films of Christmas (Part 5)

Time for part 5 of my 12 Films of Christmas series. And what better option now that the snow is here.

Snow. Magic. Rankin/Bass. That’s right, today we’re talking about 1969’s tv special “Frosty the Snowman”. When a magician’s hat lands on a snowman, it makes the snowman come to life. This snowman (Jackie Vernon) then goes on an adventure with some children to find the north pole so he doesn’t melt. All while the magician (Billy De Wolfe) is chasing them to get his seemingly magic hat back (’cause he’s a greedy fucker who just wants money). So is this any good? I think that if I was five or six years old, I would love this. But watching it for the first time as a 20-year old… yeah, it’s not great. It’s okay. The animation, while a bit awkward at times, is pretty good. Rankin/Bass clearly put effort into turning this classic christmas song into a 25-minute long short. I’m sure at least one person reading this might have nostalgic feelings for it. But I personally think it’s just okay. If you have a young child, then you could put this on and he/she would probably be entertained by it.

What are your thoughts on “Frosty the Snowman”? Is this something you’re nostalgic for? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: 30 Days of Night (2007)

And here it is, the final review for the Month of Spooks. I’ve had a lot of fun talking about horror stuff this month, and I hope you guys have enjoyed it as well. Now, let’s get into this thing… which is another vampire movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “30 Days of Night”.

Barrow, Alaska. Once every year it gets covered in complete darkness for 30 days. Only this year it will be a bit more problematic than usual since a group of vampires enter the town to kill every last person in Barrow. And we follow Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) as he tries to keep a small group of people alive. So now we have our survival horror movie. And I say survival horror because it’s not so much about Eben and the other trying to find a way to kill all the vampires, but it’s rather about them just trying to survive until the sun rises once again. And it’s actually quite enthralling, based solely on the never-ending tension. Good plot.

The characters here are all flawed and all get some kind of good development throughout the movie. Josh Hartnett plays Eben Oleson, Barrow’s Sheriff and our main character for this story. He’s a recently divorced man trying to just live an okay life… which of course gets interrupted because motherfucking vampires decide to come to town. And I have to say, this is the best I’ve ever seen Josh Hartnett, he’s actually kind of great in this movie. Melissa George plays Stella, Eben’s ex-wife. She is a fire marshall who wants to get out of Barrow during this dark time, but that gets interrupted by a couple of things. And Melissa George is great in the role. Tough, but not a brash idiot. Danny Huston plays Marlow, the leader of the vampires. He doesn’t say a lot, at least not in a language any of us mere humans understands. But he gives a terrifying performance, and he has a very intimidating presence. So yeah, Huston is great. Mark Rendall plays Jake, Eben’s younger brother. He’s not as brave as his brother, but he is willing to help out when shit gets tough. And Rendall is really good in the role. Then we have Ben Foster as a strange man… I’m not trying to be funny, he is credited as “The Stranger”. But he is a crazy weirdo, which is probably the type of character that Ben Foster does best. And as you could expect, he’s really entertaining in the role. This movie knew how to use it’s Ben Foster. And in further supporting roles we have people like Mark Boone Junior, Manu Bennett, Amber Sainsbury, and more… all doing well in the movie.

The score was composed by Brian Reitzell and it was pretty damn good. It’s eerie, droning, intense, exciting, emotional, and just overall fit the movie very well, often elevating certain moments throughout. ’tis a good one.

This movie was directed by David Slade and is based on a comic book series written by Steve Niles. And while I haven’t read Niles’ comics, I think Slade did a mostly great job with his direction here. It is intense and never really gives you a moment to feel relaxed or safe. His direction makes you feel like there could be a vampire or ten around the corner, which I really appreciated. The only thing I don’t like about the directing is that during the action scenes the camera movement/editing goes from steady and smooth to really shaky. Sure, I had a good idea of what the hell was going on during the action scenes, but there were moments where the shakiness got quite distracting and a little bit disorienting. For the most part it wasn’t too bad, but in some parts it was shakier than a chihuahua trying not to shit itself in a blizzard. Again, doesn’t take away too much for me, but it is worth noting. I do have to mention that there’s plenty of blood and gore here, so if you like that stuff in your movies, then you are in for a treat. But if you’re squeamish, there is your warning. Anyway, the visual effects/makeup look awesome. As for scares, it has a handful, but I feel like the tension and feel of unease is this movie’s strong suit rather than any straight-up scares.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“30 Days of Night” is flawed, but it is an overall good vampire movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and mostly good directing. My only flaw(s) with the movie come in the form of those really shaky action bits. Time for my final score. *RAWR!*. My final score for “30 Days of Night” is an 8,99/10. While flawed, I’d say that it is definitely worth buying.

My review of “30 Days of Night” is now completed.

There is apparently a comic that crosses this over with “The X-Files”, and I kind of want to read that. Also, wouldn’t the basic idea of this movie make for an awesome video game?

12 Songs of Christmas (Part 5)

Hi there guys and welcome to the 5th part of “12 Songs of Christmas”. So let us quit it with the introductions and move on to the music.

Since christmas is a time of year that is most often associated with snow, I deemed it only appropriate to choose the Frank Sinatra classic “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”. It is a song that really wants to say that snow can be a nice thing. Sure, the lyrics basically tells us that Frank and his loved one are kind of snowed in. But they make the best of the situation to spend some time together with a nice fire, some popcorn and other things. So therefore, I think this is a song that sends a decent message out to the people. So that’s a good reason to like this song. The biggest reason however is Sinatra’s voice which as always is absolutely magical.
Enjoy!