Movie Review: Last Breath (2019)

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

Ladies and gentlemen… “Last Breath”.

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

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

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

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

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

My review of “Last Breath” is now completed.

Kicking off 2020 on a high note.

Movie Review: Arlington Road (1999)

The 90s. Now, while that isn’t the most relevant thing to this movie, I just wanna take a second to mention what a great decade that was for film. Especially thrillers, as we got so many interesting and varied kinds of thrillers out of the decade. Let’s just give a nod or a clap for the thrillers of the 90s.

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

Shortly after history professor Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) starts getting acquainted with his neighbors after an accident involving their son, he starts suspecting that there’s something a bit off with them. And we follow Michael as he investigates them to see what they may be hiding. And I must say that I really enjoyed this plot. Sure, there were a couple moments of “Really, movie?” throughout. You know, those types of conveniences that are a bit more noticeable than others? Yeah, a couple too many here, bringing the plot down a little bit. But other than those moments I thought the plot was great, filled with excellent suspense, highly engaging drama, and just a great sense of intrigue.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and quite interesting. First up we have Jeff Bridges as Michael Faraday, the aforementioned history teacher who starts suspecting his neighbors. We find out early on that he lost his wife a while before the events of the movie, which still haunts him a little bit, which may or may not add to his paranoia throughout. And he’s quite a complex character. And Bridges is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Oliver Lang, the father in the family he suspects. He’s a charming, fun, and just overall cool guy… and he may or may not be hiding something. He’s quite an interesting character. And Robbins is great in the role. And that’s all I’ll go in-depth about, since if I say more it could potentially ruin some stuff. But I can mention that in the supporting cast we see people like Joan Cusack, Spencer Treat Clark, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, and Mason Gamble, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Angelo Badalamenti (with some additional tracks done by musical duo Tomandandy), and it was good. I didn’t notice it too frequently, and when I did it ranged from really good to kinda meh. Not saying any of it’s bad, since I do think all the tracks working fairly well for their respective scenes, just that I won’t find myself listening to it any time soon.

The movie was directed by Mark Pellington, and I think he did a damn good job. His direction is tight and suspenseful, often playing around with the main character’s sense of paranoia. He also plays around a lot with lighting, making for a bit of fun watching. There’s also some excellent use of the Dutch tilt in a couple scenes, perfectly encapsulating what is going on the character’s head. Really well done.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While not perfect, “Arlington Road” is still a really solid conspiracy thriller. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing. A previously mentioned, I do think there are moments throughout the plot that bring it down a little bit. Not enough to ruin it, but enough to bring the score down a little. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Arlington Road” is an 8,90/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Arlington Road” is now completed.

One more clap for 90s thrillers, they deserve it.

Movie Review: Carlito’s Way (1993)

Today’s lesson (which is a repeat of an older lesson): Crime. Don’t commit crimes. Committing crimes is bad. This has been your lesson/PSA for the day.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Carlito’s Way”.

After serving five years in prison, Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is attempting to sort of reboot his life, escape his old criminal ways and become a good citizen. But that is quite hard when he feels pressure from various people around him. So now we have our crime-drama. And I was quite engrossed by the plot here. On one hand, it subverted my expectations. When it started out, I thought it would go one way, but then it took some turns that I really didn’t expect. And it’s overall a tense and dramatic plot that I found myself quite invested in throughout the entire runtime. It’s more of a character-driven drama rather than a typical gangster-story (though there are elements of that too at times), and I found it to be a damn fine plot.

The characters in this are quite interesting. Sure, a decent amount of them don’t get the most amount of depth, but I found them all working well enough within the movie. Al Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, the man in the title who has some trouble leading a legitimate life. At first he just seems like a smug and charismatic gangster who might go back to his old ways ASAP, but those layers quickly get peeled back and we see that he really means to go legit, to be a good man. And he gets some interesting development throughout. And Pacino is great in the role. Then we have Sean Penn as David, Carlito’s sleazy lawyer. And when I say sleazy I mean that he’s a somewhat dorky, coked out, jerk. And it’s interesting to see him and his interactions with Carlito. And Penn is really good in the role. Then we have Penelope Ann Miller as Gail, an old flame of Carlito, and his love interest for the movie. She’s a highly driven dancer who is a bit split when it comes to Carlito. She is also an important part of Carlito’s arc. And Miller is really good in the role. We also get some really solid supporting turns from people like James Rebhorn, Luis Guzmán, John Leguizamo, Viggo Mortensen, John Ortiz, and more. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Patrick Doyle, and it was really good. What we have here is an emotional, tense, and just overall well composed. It’s a score that fits the movie very well, and often helps elevate a lot of scenes throughout. Not saying that the scenes were bad in general, just that the music added something extra to them. There were also a couple licensed tracks used throughout, and they worked well within their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Brian De Palma, and he of course did a great job (what else did you expect?). His directing here is tight and intimate while also making it feel a bit bigger than it is. However, compared to “Scarface”, the other De Palma/Pacino crime movie, it’s quite subdued in it’s approach. There is certainly a little bit of action in this, but it’s not quite as extreme as in “Scarface”. Yeah, it’s violent, but it isn’t quite as insane as the stuff in “Scarface”, relying more on pure tension rather than the coked out insanity of that other movie. Speaking of which, De Palma manages to bring out a lot of tension throughout this movie, making you actually kind of fear for Carlito and what might happen.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Carlito’s Way” is a great crime drama. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Carlito’s Way” is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Carlito’s Way” is now completed.

Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa’ gozar, mulata

12 Films of Christmas (Part 11)

We are at the penultimate part of this silly series of mine. Have you enjoyed reading these? Because I’ve enjoyed writing them and would like to hear from you what you think. Anyhow, let’s get into the main event here.

Some say it’s not a christmas movie. And to those I say stop arguing against the truth… “Die Hard” is a christmas movie! John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a New York cop who has traveled to Los Angeles to see his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and kids for christmas. However his visit gets a bit more troublesome when a group of terrorists led by the charismatic Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) attack the christmas party that John has found himself at. So now John has to take out these terrorists with nothing but a gun and his wits. And yeah, I fucking love “Die Hard”. Directed by John McTiernan, this 1988 movie is a masterpiece of action filmmaking. It’s exciting and tense, while still having a sense of fun to it. The movie has an almost claustrophobic feeling with John sneaking around in vents and elevator shafts around the Nakatomi building, trying to find a way to stop these terrorists. It’s also nice to watch a movie where Bruce Willis actually gives a shit about acting. His performance here is great as the beat and somewhat bitter New York cop who gets dragged into such a tense and scary situation, making for some really entertaining scenes. And rest in peace Alan Rickman, you were great as Hans Gruber, sir. One of the best movie villains of all time. Blood, cursing, guns, explosions, fun and interesting characters… “Die Hard” is an action classic and one of the greatest christmas movies ever.

What are your thoughts about “Die Hard”? And what’s your favorite of the sequels? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Yippe-ki-yay, motherfucker… I mean, have a good one!

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

I know that I’m late with watching/reviewing this, but hey… Better late than never. So shut up… let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Blade Runner 2049”!

Set 30 years after the first movie, we follow a Blade Runner named K (Ryan Gosling) as he works a case. And during this case he stumbles upon a really old secret that will lead him onto a dangerous quest to find former Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and hopefully get some answers. And once again we have a deep plot that at first just sets up an intriguing mystery, but soon also starts to ask questions about humanity and what makes you human or not… like the first movie. But while it does pose some of the same questions as the original, it isn’t really anything like it. Sure, it’s a familiar story with some similar themes, but it mostly does it’s own things, feeling like a proper, expansive continuation rather than a retread of the first movie. I should also mention that it is quite slow-paced, which will put some people off. But for me it worked, taking it’s time to develop the story and it’s developments. The plot here is unpredictable, tense, emotional, philosophical, filled with twists and turns, and I absolutely loved it.

The characters are layered, flawed, and really interesting. Also, forgive me if I’m a bit brief with some of these descriptions as I don’t wanna spoil too much. Ryan Gosling plays K, our protagonist.  Like Deckard before him, he’s a Blade Runner, and while Blade Running he stumbles upon the plot. Within the first couple minutes you get a good feeling that he is a bit of a troubled man, and he goes through a lot of emotions through the movie as he learns more and more. And Gosling is great in the role. Robin Wright plays K’s boss, a tough and smart lady. And Wright is great in the role. Ana de Armas plays Joi, the girlfriend of K. She’s a likable and kind-hearted lady that we quickly learn something interesting about. And de Armas is really good in the role. Then let’s talk about Harrison god damn Ford who returns in this as Rick Deckard. When we meet him you can tell that he’s damaged on the inside after stuff that’s happened in his life (both during “Blade Runner” and between both the movies). He’s grumpy, troubled, and tired. And I have to say that Harrison Ford was great in the role, giving one of his best performances ever. Jared Leto plays Niander Wallace, the menacing creator of the newest Replicants. He’s our villain who is suitably weird and menacing, and Leto is really good in the role. Really, all actors in this movie range from really good to great, brief appearance or lengthy role. ’tis a very well acted movie.

The score was composed by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch and it is absolutely amazing. It manages to emulate the stuff that Vangelis composed back in 1982, while also doing enough things differently to make it stand out. Yes, the synth sounds are still there, but there are also a whole bunch of modern touches to it as well, making it a very epic, emotional, tense, and exciting score that is a feast for the ears. Also, there are a couple of licensed tracks used throughout (which came as a surprise), and they were used well in their respective scenes. Yeah, this movie had some solid music.

Ridley Scott was supposed to originally direct this, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. So instead Denis Velleneuve took over the reins. And holy crap, he did a fantastic job. His directing here (as with most of his movies) is sweeping, taut, suspenseful, and thought-provoking. And let’s not draw this out for too long, Roger Deakins’ cinematography is absolutely fucking spectacular, and if he doesn’t win the Oscar for Best cinematography, then I will get furious and stomp around the house (too lazy to riot). Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking at. And the mix of practical effects and CGI here is seamless, it all blends together so well that I never questioned what I was looking at. This feels like “Blade Runner” while still updating it a bit. And for those wondering if there’s any action here: There are a couple of action scenes, but they’re few and far between. That said, when they happen they are awesome. Violent and hard-hitting, but awesome.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,5/10 and is ranked #61 on the “Top 250” list.

“Blade Runner 2049” exceeded all my expectations (which were decently high), and turned out to be one of the best sequels of all time. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/visual effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blade Runner 2049” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blade Runner 2049” is now completed.

This further cements my mantra “Villeneuve can do no wrong”.

Movie Review: Sinister (2012)

And the Month of Spooks rolls on. Aaaaand we’re back to creepy house stuff. So let’s just jump into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sinister”.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime author who moves into a new house with his family. And while searching through the house he stumbles upon a box of super 8 reels. When he decides to watch them for research he finds out that they feature the gruesome murders of various people. And shortly thereafter some strange things start happening around the house. You could say that these occurrences are… sinister (HA!). Puns aside, this is a good plot. It’s a slowly burning horror movie that has an interesting enough idea and manages to do some interesting things with it. Sure, the plot features various horror cliches throughout, but it does them well enough that I didn’t mind. The plot is tense and at times quite disturbing. The only things about it that I don’t like is the very final moment of the film. I’m not gonna spoil what it is in case you’re someone who wants to watch the movie, and to be honest it didn’t ruin anything for me. But it felt a bit out of place compared to the rest of the movie. But yeah, overall this is a tense, interesting, and kind of disturbing plot.

The characters in this feel real and interesting and I found myself actually caring about them. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt (a combination of Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt), the author looking for his next big hit. Seeing him go through all this horrifying shit is part fascinating and part terrifying, because we do really get to know him and even care about him, which makes it scary when he’s put at risk. And Ethan Hawke (as usual) is great in the role. Then we have Juliet Rylance as Oswalt’s wife, Tracy. She’s a loving and caring wife who only gets mad at her husband because his obsession with these cases makes him act strange, putting pressure on the family. And Rylance is really good in the role. Then we have James Ransone as a police deputy who helps Oswalt with the investigation, getting some inside info for him. But unlike other deputies in horror flicks (Like Dewey in “Scream”), he isn’t an idiot… just a bit starstruck. He’s clever, he’s charming, and Ransone is really good in the movie. Then we have Clare Foley and Michael Hall D’Addario as Oswalt’s kids. Both actors are good in their roles. Yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young and it was great. It was weird, eerie, dark, creepy, atmospheric, and just overall well composed, more often than not helping to elevate the tension of a scene. Really, the music was great. I wouldn’t listen to it while riding the bus or sitting alone in my room, but it was great.

This movie was directed by Scott Derrickson (who later went on to make “Doctor Strange”) and I think he did a great job. His directing is tight, claustrophobic, and incredibly tense. And while there are some jumpscares in this movie, it doesn’t rely on them (unlike a lot of modern horror flicks). Also, they are genuine and feel earned. And since this is a horror movie, let’s talk scariness level. Fuck me, this movie was terrifying. Like I said, the movie builds a lot of tension, and then puts in a few genuinely scary jumpscares. It also features some horrifying imagery that will stay in my head for days. I felt genuinely terrified throughout the movie. Real fear, real dread. Good job, crew.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

Guys, “Sinister” is fucking terrifying. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great/horrifying direction. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “Sinister” is a 9,65/10. So it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Sinister” is now completed.

Sinister purpose, knockin’ at your door…

Movie Review: Blue Ruin (2013)

Revenge is a dish best served cold… wait, that’s “Star Trek”, not indie-thriller… shit.

Ladies and gents… “Blue Ruin”.

Dwight (Macon Blair) has been trying to live a quiet life away from people. But when he hears that a man who had wronged him in the past is about to be released from jail, Dwight intends to get revenge. So now we have our revenge-thriller plot. However, it’s not just about Dwight trying to get revenge on this one person as there’s a lot more that happens throughout, but I don’t wanna say too much about that. What I can say however is that this plot is pretty damn good. It’s tense, it’s dramatic, and it was just really interesting to follow. It takes a couple of interesting turns and I was genuinely invested in this dark journey. It also gives off a feeling of unease from the first few moments and keeps that feeling throughout. So yeah, the plot here is really good.

Most of the characters here aren’t very interesting as they’re not given a lot of development, but I think that’s okay in this case as this focuses on Dwight, who is a very interesting character. Macon Blair is excellent in the role, giving an understated and layered performance. He doesn’t talk a lot in the movie, but you still get a good idea of what is going on in his head thanks to his eyes. He really acts more with his eyes than anything else, and that is pretty cool. And like I said, Blair is excellent here. Amy Hargreaves plays Dwight’s sister, Sam, and she’s really good in the role. Devin Ratray, you know… Buzz from “Home Alone”, plays one of Dwight’s old friends that we meet at one point in the movie, and he’s good in the role. And that’s about all that I’m gonna say about the cast, because I don’t wanna say too much. But let me just put it like this: all actors in the movie do really well in their roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brooke Blair & Will Blair and it is great. It’s dark, eerie, and suspenseful and really helped build a lot of tension in the movie. There were also a bunch of licensed tracks that were used throughout the movie and they worked quite well in their respective scenes. Really, this movie has some great music.

“Blue Ruin” was written, directed, and shot by Jeremy Saulnier and I think he did a great job with all of that. His direction is very tight, keeping everything steady and making you feel like you’re there with Dwight, feeling every second of tension that Saulnier wants you to feel. Because when this movie feels like building up a lot of tension, it fucking delivers. Don’t think a movie has made me feel this tensed up in a while. And the cinematography here is gorgeous, making for some absolutely stunning shots. This movie is also violent. And by violent I mean that there are a couple moments throughout the movie that feature really graphic violence. There aren’t a lot of violent moments in the movie, but when it’s shown it is quite graphic/disturbing. I guess the relatively small amount of violence has a bigger impact than if they’d had a lot of violence throughout. Good on ya, Saulnier and crew.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Blue Ruin” is an excellent thriller. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blue Ruin” is a 9,88/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blue Ruin” is now completed.

Yeah, I got nothing clever to say here. The movie’s just awesome.

Movie Review: Baby Driver (2017)

VROOM! VROOM VROOM! What? That’s what cars sound like… don’t fucking judge.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, right now I got to tell you about the fabulous, most groovy… “Baby Driver”!

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man who also happens to be one hell of a getaway driver. And after being brought in by his boss (Kevin Spacey) he finds himself having to take part in a heist that is seemingly doomed to fail. So now we have our heist plot. And I thought it was pretty great. Now, it’s not just about this guy pulling heists with a couple other people. It’s really about this guy and how he deals with falling in love, while dealing with this dangerous situation. And it’s so well handled, because it’s presented both as a fun, fast-paced action flick and a tense thriller. There’s also a surprising amount of drama in here that works very well. And it’s just an incredibly well handled plot.

The characters here are fun, unique, and really interesting. Baby, like I said, is a young and highly skilled getaway driver. What I didn’t mention though is that he uses his personal playlists to keep him moving in life. He also has a lot of layers to him, with us getting to see most sides of him. The cold and calculating driver, the traumatized young man, the music loving fun dude… he’s just a really interesting character. And Ansel Elgort is great in the role. Lily James plays Debbie, a waitress that Baby meets and falls in love with. And Lily James is really good in the role. I also have to mention that I actually bought into their romance. It was cute. Kevin spacey plays Baby’s boss, Doc, and he’s great in the role… it’s Kevin fucking Spacey, what else did you expect? Jon Hamm (aside from being unnecessarily handsome) plays Buddy, one of Baby’s colleagues (for lack of a better word), and he’s a tough and charming man. And Hamm was great in the role. Eiza Gonzáles plays Darling, Buddy’s wife and partner in crime (HA!). A tough, fun, and sexy lady. And Gonzáles was really good in the role. Jamie Foxx plays Bats, another one of Baby’s colleagues. He’s kind of a psychotic asshole, and he was quite a cool character. And Jamie Foxx was great in the role. We also got to see Jon Bernthal, CJ Jones, Lanny Joon, and Flea in supporting roles in the movie, and they were all great. It’s overall a really well acted movie.

The score for the movie (yes, there was a score) was composed by Steven Price. It wasn’t too prominent in the movie (as we’ll talk about in a second), but when it was used it was used very well to build up tension and such. Now, onto the real meat of the music. And by that I mean, let’s talk about the soundtrack. ’cause this movie uses a lot of licensed tracks used throughout. Not only are most of those songs fucking great, but they also play very integral parts in the filmmaking itself. Really, they are used absolutely perfectly in the movie.

This movie was written and directed by Edgar Wright and I think he did a fantastic job here. His directing is slick, fast-paced, and really tense, perfectly suiting the plot he wanted to tell. Which brings us to the music. The directing and editing perfectly matches the music. It’s almost like a musical in how the music is used in combination with the directing and editing. I mean, the action scenes here are absolutely fantastic. Not only because they are like 99% practical, but because they are timed to the beats of the songs, which is really fun to see. Gunshots, cars drifting around, jumps, everything is choreographed to match the music. But the quieter moments too are often done to work with the music. The amount of love and care that went into the craft of this is astonishing and gives me hope for the movie industry. Must’ve been a pain if an actor or stunt person missed a beat and had to redo it.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10 and is ranked #183 on the “Top 250” list.

“Baby Driver” is one of the coolest and most exciting action movies to come out in recent years. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/choreography/editing. Time for my final score. *Vroom*. My final score for “Baby Driver” is a 9,90/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Baby Driver” is now completed.

Your move, action movies.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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So now we’re moving forward in my series of reviews leading up to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. So let’s stop with this intro and just get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”!

After having blown his horrible uncle’s horrible sister into a human balloon, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) goes back to Hogwarts. But everyone in the wizarding world is a bit on edge at the moment, because convicted killer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has somehow escaped from Azkaban prison and is presumably out and about to find Harry and do somethign terrible. And this of course also brings out the Dementors, the guardians of Azkaban. And from that we get a plot that further develops this world that’s been built up over the previous two movies, and gives us even more knowledge on the pasts of everyone. There are some truly interesting developments going on here that truly adds layers of the already established world, while also giving us a compelling stand-alone mystery. And I absolutely loved it. It was invested the whole way through thanks to those great developments and the overall great pacing of the movie.

The characters in the movie are just as great as in the previous movies, if maybe even better. With all the revelations happening we see Harry developing even more as a character, as he no longer takes any shit from anyone. And Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in the movie is truly great, with him having to show a lot of different emotions throughout the story. Rupert Grint is great, Emma Watson’s great, Alan Rickman (R.I.P) is great. Basically, any returning cast member is great. So let’s talk about some new additions, such as Michael Gambon now playing Dumbledore instead of Richard Harris (R.I.P). And I honestly think he does a really good job here, probably even surpassing Harris. Then we also have David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And he does a great job too. Gary Oldman as Sirius… fantastic, but there could never be any doubt about that. It’s Gary fucking Oldman. Every actor in this movie does a great job!

The one and only John WIlliams once again provided the score, and it might the best so far. Some of the tracks create the same level of inspiring awe that could be gathered from the scores of the previous two movies, but then we also have some tracks that are outright chilling and haunting. Don’t believe me? Listen to the track “Apparition on the Train” and tell that it’s not a chilling piece of music. Yeah, the music in this one is fucking fantastic.

This is the first “Harry Potter” movie not directed by Chris Columbus (still not trying to rediscover America), instead the reins were handed over to Alfonso Cuarón. And while I thought Columbus did a really good job, Cuarón knocked it out of the god damn park! This is a magnificently directed movie, giving us some real eye candy. For example: Throughout the movie we get some of Cuarón’s signature single-take shots, which look great. Combining his direction with the editing of hte movie also makes it really suspenseful, and even a bit scary. Not only are the designs of the Dementors scary, but the way that some scenes play out/are directed actually kind of scared me. The imagery presented combined with editing, sound effects, and music made for a tense and kind of scary watch. So this can technically be put in the Month of Spooks. Two birds, one stone. And of course, the visual effects in the movie are absolutely terrific, perfectly holding up 12 years later… holy shit, this movie is 12 years old!

This movie 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 82/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects. 

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is one of those rare cases where the third movie in a series happens to be better than the first two. It has a fantastic story, great characters, great acting, fantastic music, fantastic directing, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. *EXPECTO PATRONUM!*. My final score for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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My review of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is now completed.

It’s a shame Cuarón didn’t diect any more HP movies…

Series Review: Harper’s Island (2009)

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So now we are taking the next step in the Month of Spooks. And by next step I of course mean “yeah, here’s a new post for you or whatever”. And before we get into it, I just wanna mention something. I remember that there was a lot of hype when this show came out/was airing, at least here in Sweden, so that’s kind of why I decided to do it here. Anyhow, backstory over… time to review.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to… “Harper’s Island”.

Harper’s Island, a small island located not too far from Seattle. The island was the location where a series of gruesome murders happened seven years prior to the start of the series. Henry (Christopher Gorham) and Trish (Katie Cassidy), two attractive, young people, in love and about now about to get married on this island, feeling that it’s safe. However, weird stuff starts happening on the island. People start disappearing and even dying. And I’m not gonna say more than that, because I want my reviews to be as spoiler-free as possible. But yeah, now we have a bit of an Agatha Christie style mystery that also takes influence from various horror flicks. The way I’d describe the story is as a combination of “And Then There Were None” and “Friday the 13th”. Which actually is a pretty cool idea for a show. However, the plot doesn’t feel as engaging as that… at least not at first. The first 4-5 episodes are a bit meh, not bad just… meh. Then from episode 6 and forward we get a pretty suspenseful and surprisingly engaging show. I mean, there are still some dumb moments every now and then throughout the good episodes, but they are at least much more interesting in terms of plot. We get some decent twists through those episodes as well which add to the mystery, which I actually enjoyed. And I actually didn’t see a good amount of them coming, which I applaud. Yeah, interesting idea that takes a while to become truly good/engaging.

The characters in the show are pretty much walking clichés. Or at least they are at first. But as the show goes on and more and more shit starts going down, they really begin developing as characters. I really started caring about the people I had no real interest in at the start. And the acting in the show was really good as well. I mean, with people like Christopher Gorham, Katie Cassidy, Elaine Cassidy (no relation to Katie), Harry Hamlin, and Jim Beaver, the acting would of course be really good. Not the best ever, but definitely good.

The music for the show was composed by David Lawrence, and while some bits take cues from typcial horror sounds, the overall score helps build tension in the show and actually sounds really good overall. There are also a decent amount of licensed tracks in the show as well, most of them being modern pop-rock stuff that I never cared much for. The tracks never detracted from the show, but I wasn’t a huge fan of them either. And I swear, during a scene in a bar very early on in the show I swear I could hear a cheap knock-off of AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. I promise, there were several cues in that background music that were so close to “Back in Black” without being “Back in Black”. I don’t know, it’s just weird.

Not gonna lie, this show has a surprising amount of graphic/brutal imagery for a show that ran on CBS. Seriously, you get to see some decently gnarly stuff in this show. Also, when the show finally decides to give us some legitimately tense sequences, it does. There are scenes from episodes 6 and forward (the good episodes) that really gives us some pretty tense moments. I was really feeling the suspense in those scenes and I was really surprised at that because the first few episodes are pretty soapy and mediocre, with the occasional bit of gnarly imagery. Speaking of imagery, one fun thing I noticed was that in an episode we get a good look at a bottle of scotch, labeled “Robert McLachlan”. If you¨pay attention when the credits roll early on in the episodes, you will see that Robert McLachlan is the show’s cinematographer… so that’s a pretty fun easter egg. There are also plenty of scenes that pay homage to classic horror movies, so keep an eye out for those. I’ll also warn you, the dialog in the show is pretty amateurish… so prepare to not be impressed by that.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Harper’s Island” is by no means a perfect show. But it is definitely very entertaining. IT has a pretty good plot, pretty good characters, really good acting, good music, good directing, and some really tense sequences. However it is dragged down a bit by those mediocre first few episodes and from some mediocre dialog. Time for my final score. BOO! My final score for “Harper’s Island” is an 8,45/10. So while quite a bit from perfect, it’s still worth watching.
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My review of “Harper’s Island” is now completed.

A neat little package if you want some chills a cold fall evening.