Series Review: A Christmas Carol (2019)

I guess we gotta cover something christmas-related since the holidays are upon us. And lucky for me, we just got a new christmas mini-series to talk about. Yay.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) is an anti-social, greedy businessman who’s made his success on the misery of others for years. But one night right before christmas day, three spirits come to visit him to try to make him realize the fault of his ways. Everybody knows the setup for this story, question with each adaptation tends to instead come down to execution. And the execution in this series is not great. It’s a really dark, bleak, and edgy take on the classic story that is honestly stretched way too long. Sure, three episodes don’t sound like much. But when each episode is just under 60 minutes long and tries to then stretch a 110 page book out to that runtime, it just feels like it drags its ass. Plus, while the darker take sounds interesting on paper, it just doesn’t work, often taking me out of it. Even the supposedly heartwarming bits leave me feeling cold. The story’s just off for me.

The characters in this you know the basic dynamics of. But they also get given a somewhat darker edge to them that just makes things feel a little off at times. Guy Pearce of course plays the ultimate douchebag that is Ebenezer Scrooge. Anti-social, greedy, douchey… he’s just the worst. And Pearce is great in the role. You get Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, and he’s of course great. Joe Alwyn does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit. Lenny Rush who plays Tiny Tim does a really good job. Andy Serkis as the ghost of christmas past rides the line between intimidating and hammy wonderfully. Really, all actors here brought their A-game, even if the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The score for the series was composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran. It was okay. Nothing too memorable, nothing that ruined the series, but also didn’t improve it. It’s just kinda there. Moving on.

Based on the classic book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was brought to us by Steven Knight, with Nick Murphy serving as director. And while the show felt a bit lackluster in the story and character departments, it excels in the production parts. The sets are immaculate, the costumes neat, and the cinematography by Si Bell was gorgeous. You can tell that so much love and care was put into how the world was crafted.

This show hasn’t been too well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Despite having some things strewn throughout, 2019’s “A Christmas Carol” is ultimately not a great adaptation. The story isn’t very good, the characters are meh, the performances are great, the music is meh, and the directing, cinematography, and sets are great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Christmas Carol” is a 4,65/10. So despite some good stuff, I’d still recommend skipping it.

My review of “A Christmas Carol” is now completed.

If someone disagrees with me, they better use “humbug”.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 5 (2019)

During the first quarter of this year, I started getting into this show thanks to recommendations from friends (some of you might remember all the reviews I posted). And now the fifth season has come to a close, after finally premiering a few weeks ago. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 5!

After a secret police transport carrying very valuable amounts of contraband is hijacked, it is suspected that the capers had help from the inside. So it’s up to Arnott (Martin Compston), Fleming (Vicky McClure), and the rest of AC-12 to investigate this case, leading them down one of their most complicated and dangerous cases yet. So now we have our “Line of Duty” continuation. As per usual, it gives us a new situation to follow while also building on the overall mythos of the show. And like with previous seasons, this makes for some truly anxiety-inducing television that electrifies from start to finish. I’d even argue that this is the most suspenseful and unpredictable of the seasons, especially since it really starts toying with our beloved leads in ways that we haven’t really seen before. And while the show has put me on the edge of my seat before, it’s never made me feel this glued to the proceedings. So I’d argue the story/events of this season is some of the best yet.

The characters here are nuanced, flawed, unique, and just overall incredibly interesting. Martin Compston and Vicky McClure returns as Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming, our two main leads for the show, and they’re just as interesting as ever, both in investigating the case and also in some of their personal stuff. And both actors are once again great. Adrian Dunbar returns as Ted Hastings, head of AC-12, who deals with a lot more personal turmoil than usual, which really gives him a lot of new and intriguing development that we only caught glimpses of before, making him a real standout this season. And Dunbar is great in the role. New to the show this season is Stephen Graham, who plays John, the apparent leader of the gang that stole the contraband. He’s tough, ruthless, but there’s also a humanity behind his eyes that makes him a bit more compelling than your common thug. And the stuff they do with him this season is great. And Graham is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Taj Atwal, Tomi May, Rochenda Sandall, Anna Maxwell Martin, Polly Walker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with previous season, the music here was composed by Carly Paradis, who absolutely outdid herself. She’s come a long way from the slightly overbearing tunes of the first season, to the stuff we got here. There are layers, to her music, and it’s often subtly helping build the emotion of the scenes, making for a really nuanced and kinda beautiful score. It’s the best music we’ve gotten out of the show.

As with the previous seasons, all episodes this season were written by series creator Jed Mercurio, and directing by John Strickland (episodes 1 – 4) and Susan Tully (episode 5 & 6). And the craft on display is as tight as one expects from “Line of Duty” at this point. This show is no stranger to suspense, but the way it managed to make me clench every part of my body this season is quite unparalleled. Even in some of the more “quiet” conversation or interrogation scenes it is some of the most electrifying direction I’ve seen in a tv show.

This show/season 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 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #137 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

I’m gonna be honest, season 5 of “Line of Duty” is my favorite season of the show so far, it’s fucking perfect. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 5 is a 10/10. So it of course gets a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 5 is now completed.

God damn, I adore this show.

Movie Review: Hellboy (2019)

It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s two “Hellboy” movies from the mid to late 2000s. They’re fun, character-driven, action movies filled with solid performances. So when a reboot was announced, I got scared. Then set pics came out, and I got less scared. And now I finally watched it. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gents… “Hellboy”… the rebootification.

When an evil blood witch (Milla Jovovich) is about to return, it’s up to Hellboy (David Harbour) and his allies to try to stop her. So now we have our plot. And it’s quite a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s an apocalyptic horror-fantasy, and on the other it’s a lighthearted monster romp, and it just clashes. Now, movies can switch between different tones and still work, we’ve seen it so many times. But “Hellboy” doesn’t have the flow to hold it up. Every tonal shift feels so sudden and unwarranted. And even if you take the scenes in on their own, they’re often so blandly written that I just didn’t give much of a shit. And that’s not how I want it. I want to give a shit, I wanted this to be a great story. But as it stands, it’s not great.

The characters in this are, like the story, a bit of a mixed bag. I see the potential in them, but they flip-flop around a bit much. Are they goofy comic action movie characters or are they broody soap opera ones? Both apparently. David Harbour plays the titular horned hero, a demon summoned from the depths of hell, raised to stop evil. He’s a bit of a jerk, but he’s also sometimes a decent enough dude. Seeing him learn more about himself is interesting, even if, as said before, he flip-flops a little bit. But I do think Harbour is good in the role, doing his best with the material he’s given. Next we have Ian McShane as Al Sweareng- I mean Professor Broom, Hellboy’s adoptive father. The reason I made that little joke was because in terms of writing, he feels like a watered down version of Al Swearengen from “Deadwood”.  I love “Deadwood”, but you can’t make everything “Deadwood” just because Ian McShane’s in it. Oh well, at least it’s an enjoyable performance. And Milla Jovovich plays Nimue, the Blood Queen, the movie’s main antagonist of the movie, and she’s fine in the role. Again, subpar material. We also get supporting work from people like Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane, Stephen Graham, Thomas Haden Church, and more, all doing either okay or very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and it was alright. It’s not exactly memorable, but it’s overall well composed. A lot of BWOOOOOM, some emotional strings, and some electronic enhancements, making a decently passable score. Then there are also a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and I swear, it feels like they went through several of my spotify playlists to pick out some of those tracks. Some of the tracks work fine in their respective scenes, and some are… meh.

Based on the critically acclaimed comics by Mike Mignola, this movie was directed by Neil Marshall, and I think he did an alright job with it. You can tell that he put a lot of work into shot composition and making sure scenes could flow decently well, making for occasionally fun action beats. But then the shit hits the fan again. The editing is really weird, making for some awkward cuts and moments. And let’s talk effects. Most of them are pretty good, both the practical and CG. But then we get to the blood and gore. I don’t mind that shit in a movie, it can be kinda fun or intense. But here it looks like someone tried rendering raspberry jam on a Windows 98, which really took me out of it when I started enjoying parts of the action scenes.

This movie has not been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 17% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 31/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

I really wanted to like this movie, and it does admittedly have its moments. But in the end “Hellboy” (The Rebootification) is not really a good movie. It has a janky plot, meh characters, good performances, okay music, okay direction, and bad editing/blood effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hellboy” (The Rebootification) is a 4,87/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “Hellboy” (The Rebootification) is now completed.

You make me sad, movie.

Movie Review: Texas Killing Fields (2011)

Murder is bad. Don’t do it.

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… “Texas Killing Fields”.

Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) are a pair of detectives investigating a series of unsolved murders in Texas. So we follow them as they try to untangle this web of who and why. So now we have our crime-drama. And is the plot here any good? The premise is actually quite intriguing, but the execution is quite average. It’s not bad, with the initial setup being good and some pretty solid moments being spread throughout, but overall it doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out from other thrillers out there. I can say though that I wasn’t ever bored… I just never found myself fully invested in the story of this movie. It’s just… fine.

The characters here are surprisingly layered and interesting. Sure, they’re not the deepest ponds in the county, but I was genuinely surprised at how interested I was in them. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Brian Heigh, a New York detective who had been transferred down to Texas to work with them. He’s a tough but caring man, being what you’d probably call “good cop” in an interrogation. And Morgan is great in the role. Sam Worthington plays Mike Souder, a local Texas cop who is Heigh’s partner in this investigation. He’s a bit of a short-fused asshole, and the “bad cop” of the two. And I have to say that Worthington was good in the role. The two also share some okay chemistry, not Riggs & Murtaugh levels of chemistry, but they do work pretty well together. Jessica Chastain plays another detective in this movie, though working in a different precinct, and she’s really good in the role. Chloë Grace Moretz plays a young girl named Ann. She’s neglected by her mom and she in general doesn’t seem to have a great life. But she’s pretty interesting and Moretz is really good in the role. You also get some solid supporting performances from people like Jason Clarke, Annabeth Gish, Sheryl Lee, and Stephen Graham. So yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe and I have mixed feelings about it. There are tracks in it that are very atmospheric, adding to the scenes they’re used in, perfectly fitting the setting. Then there are also tracks that feel out of place, sounding like something you’d hear in an episode of “Justified”. And while that isn’t an inherently bad thing, it just sounds a bit off in this movie. I’ll at least give the score this: It heavily features acoustic guitar, which is something I always enjoy hearing. But yeah, overall the score here is… mixed.

This movie was directed by Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann. And I think she did a pretty good job here. There’s a good amount of solid camera work here, and some overall neat visuals at times. There are also a couple of mediocrely directed moments, mainly stuff that is shot in the dark where you can’t see shit. But for the most part this movie is well directed. There are also like two, small-ish action scenes in the movie and they were okay, not great, not bad. Mann even man(n)ages to get some pretty good suspense out of a couple of scenes in the movie, which is something I didn’t exactly expect. So the directing here is good. Still, I’m a little bit disappointed, mainly because Danny Boyle was supposed to direct it at one point but then dropped out. Oh well, c’est la vie. Good job, Mann.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

While “Texas Killing Fields” isn’t a great movie, it’s still a pretty solid rainy day thriller. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, good music, and good directing. Flaws with the movie are that the plot is just fine, and the music being a bit off at times. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Texas Killing Fields” is a 6,99/10. So while quite flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Texas Killing Fields” is now completed.

Loosely based on real events.

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Guys, we have finally reached the end of my “Pirates of the Caribbean” review series. If you’ve somehow missed my reviews of the previous three movie then I suggest you go read them. And if you didn’t miss the reviews, I suggest you go read them anyway. Still, I’ve had fun reviewing these movies for you guys, and I hope you’ve enjoyed me reviewing them for you. Now, without further ado… let’s get into the final review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”.

Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) is back. And after he runs into an old flame named Angelica (Penélope Cruz), he soon finds himself at the mercy of legendary pirate Edward “Blackbeard” Teach (Ian McShane). So now team Jackbeard goes on a quest to find the legendary fountain of youth. Oh, and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), now working for the English government, is also out to find it because why the fuck not. So now we have a more simple and straightforward narrative, at least for a “Pirates” movie. However, I never found myself invested in the story of this movie. There wasn’t any point where I found myself interested in what happened. I just followed along saying “This isn’t bad… but it isn’t great either”. I’ll give it this at least: Since this is the shortest movie in the series (around 2 hours 10 minutes, dicounting end credits), the plot never feels poorly paced. It’s not bloated like “At World’s End”, but it’s also not as interesting as “Curse of the Black Pearl”. The plot is here is just… fine.

The characters here are for the most part kind of bland, but there are a few decently interesting ones. Johnny Depp of course returns as Jack Sparrow and even though he’s still almost a parody of the OG appearance of Sparrow, he’s still good in the role. Kevin McNally returns as Gibbs and he was once again good in the role. Geoffrey Rush once again played Barbossa and he once again killed it even though he wasn’t allowed to be quite as crazy as in the previous movies. Now onto the new ones because most of the old cast seem to have disappeared. Penélope Cruz plays Angelica, an old flame of Jack’s and she’s actually a decently interesting character. She’s tough, she’s clever, and she’s just fun. And Cruz is great in the role. She and Depp even share some pretty good chemistry here, the banter between them is actually somewhat fun. Ian McShane plays Blackbeard, a menacing pirate captain who isn’t afraid to kill you if you cross him in the slightest. And McShane just kills it, he gave a commanding performance that just stole the show. Sam Claflin plays Philip, a man who strongly believes in god, and while his character is incredibly bland, Claflin does a pretty good job here. Stephen Graham plays Scrum, a man on Blackbeard’s crew, and while his character isn’t the most interesting, Graham is great in the role. Really, overall it’s a well acted movie.

Like in the previous two movies, the score for this movie was composed by Hans Zimmer and it was really good. Some tracks were the typical big, fun, “Pirates” music. But there were also some tracks where Zimmer took help from Mexican music dup Rodrigo y Gabriela, and that made for some pretty great tracks. The use of their guitars within the score was just awesome, I loved it. So overall the score here is really good and it works well for the movie.

This is the first “Pirates” movie to not be directed by Gore Verbinski. Instead it was directed by Rob Marshall and I think he did a pretty good job. The shots look fine, and scenes have an okay flow to them. What is a shame is that when Verbinski was at the helm of the series he gave us some gor(e)geous movies that were visually interesting (to say that least). Marshall on the other hand doesn’t really bring that, this movie isn’t as interesting to look at. It doesn’t look bad, it just looks… dull. Speaking of dull, the action scenes here are dull. They are okay, but nowhere near as fun and cool as in the previous movies. I’ll say this though: the visual effects here are great. I have no bigger comment about them, I just thought I’d say that they look great… moving on!

This movie hasn’t been that well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 32% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 45/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is an okay movie. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, great music, okay directing, and really good visual effects. My problems with the movie is that the plot isn’t very interesting, a lot of characters here are quite bland and uninteresting, and it’s just not very interesting to look at. Time for my final score. *Yarr*. My final score for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is a 6,45/10. While not great, I’d still say that it might be worth a rental.

My review of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is now completed.

There, my “Pirates” review series is over. Thanks for reading and thanks for interacting. Have a good one.

Movie Review: Snatch (2000)

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If you remember from a while back, I did a review of a crazy caper anime by the name of “Baccano!”. You might also remember that I gave it a pretty damn good score. So I gotta admit, crazy stuff involving robbery and heists are something I like. Another good example is the movie “Heat”. While not being crazy per se, “Heat” was still a heist movie and one that I liked pretty much. So since this is a crazy caper, or as the Rolling Stone calls it; “A Rock ’em Sock ’em caper with energy to spare”. So what did this young but enthusiastic reviewer think of it?

Dear Readers…Snatch.

The story of Snatch is set in England (For the majority of the movie) and follows several connecting stories that have different characters that all have one thing in common…a big diamond. Sure, not all of the characters knows about this supposedly “worth a shit-ton of money” diamond. But it is the one thing connecting all the stories in the end. But to take it from the different perspectives that meet up at one point or another…There is first the men Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy (Stephen Graham) who wants to make some money through betting in illegal underground boxing matches. That is how they meet the underdog/pro Mickey O’Neil (Brad Pitt) who you can barely understand anything from by his strange accent (So watch with subtitles so you can know what the hell is going on). Mickey also happens to be (hope I don’t offend anyone) a gipsy (even though he dresses really nicely, sorry if I offend anyone). Look, this movie got so many characters with separate stories that I don’t really feel like going through them all, because A. That would involve spoilers. And B. Too many to go through, this review would get too long. But as the story unfolds I got highly entertained by the fact that something is always happening in this movie, like in every Guy Ritchie movie. This movie never really stops, something is always happening with so much energy that it never gets dull (And I fucking love that).

Like I said before, there are too many characters to go through, so I am not gonna go through them all. But I can however say that they are all flawed, but awesome. They are all highly entertaining to watch evdn if they only get like 5 minutes of screen-time or if you can’t understand a damn thing they’re saying (Damn you, Brad Pitt). There are so many interesting situations that these characters go through that they always stay interesting. One more thing to mention character-wise is that a lot of these characters are either pyscho-mobsters or upright douchebags. Just warning you.

The music in Snatch is just…just…Snatch. Okay, it is fucking awesome. It is just the perfect kind of music for this kind of crazy bullshit. The songs fit their respective placements…perfectly. For example, there is a scene where Irish (I think it’s Irish) Brad Pitt is in a boxing match and they playing “F***in’ in The Bushes” by Oasis and it just works so damn well.

Like I said before, this movie is made with the same energy as every Guy Ritchie movie ever…without going too much over-the-fucking-top. Guy Ritchie movies have so much spare energy that you never get bored by the movie. Another thing you see in this movie like every Guy Ritchie movie ever is the fact that there is a nice dosage of comedy in the damn movie. Just take a look at the “Sherlock Holmes” movies starring Robert Downey Jr. Those movie have a lot of great comedy and are directed by the lovely Mr. Ritchie. Another fun thing to mention is the fact that the opening credits highly resemble the opening credits of Baccano! That is because for that part, the director of Baccano! used Snatch as inspiration (Oh come on you haters, it’s clearly visible).

The reception for Snatch was actually pretty good. It got a 73% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave it a 2/4 stars, here is a quote from him:

“What am I to say of ‘Snatch’, Ritchie’s new film, which follows the ‘Lock, Stock’ formula so slavishly it could be like a new arrangement of the same song?”

It got an 8,4/10 on imdb and ranks #91 on their Top 250 list.

Based on the young but enthusiastic reviewers opinions on “Snatch” via story, characters, music, other opinions and acting (which I never mention, but what the hell?), Snatch gets a 9,23/10. This movie is well deserved a watch by any movie lover or for anyone who at least like Guy Ritchie movies/crazy capers.

I reviewed Snatch, I’m done here now.

See you, friends.

P.S. If you have a movie I should watch/review, feel free to suggest it to me. I like suggestions.