Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 2 (2019)

Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of this show. And now the second one has come to an end over here. So I guess that means I should talk about it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 2.

We once again follow rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his land from opposing forces, new and old. All the while his three kids (Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley) deal with a lot of personal issues of their own, while there’s also stuff going on with the people working for John. So now we have a more “Yellowstone”… in all the ways that entails. On one hand you do get a lot of that epic crime-drama that the show mostly sells itself on, and that shit is insanely compelling, always riding a line of grey morality perfectly, giving us some truly great tv at times. Buuuuuut then it also wallows a bit in family melodrama. At times that stuff doesn’t bother me, as there are points when it’s decently well handled. But then there are times when it sort of just drags the show down, and makes it kinda boring at times. I don’t need the crime-drama stuff all the time, but the family drama here isn’t always that great. So overall the story is pretty good. Flawed, but solid.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Kevin Costner returns as John Dutton, the aging patriarch of this family. He has to come to terms with his own age a bit this season, at the same time as all this crazy shit happens around him, and it’s pretty interesting. And Costner is once again really good in the role. Luke Grimes returns as John’s son Kayce, a father who has to deal with some issues with his wife and son, while also having to manage his new role at his father’s ranch. And while I had slightly mixed feelings about him last season, he kinda grew to become my favorite this time around. And Grimes is really good in the role. Kelly Reilly returns as Beth, John’s take-no-nonsense daughter who often acts as a bit of a wild card, even if she is a bit more restrained this time around due to development from last season. And once again, she’s an interesting character, with Reilly giving a great performance. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s lawyer son, and holy shit, he gets some actual development this season. They made Jamie interesting! And Bentley is great in the role, even if he still constantly scowls like someone shat in his backyard. Cole Hauser returns as Rip, the ranch hand/resident tough guy, and he’s once again great in the role. The stuff with returning antagonists Danny Huston and Gil Birminham is still solid. And new antagonist Neal McDonough, he’s pretty good. We of course also get supporting performances from people like Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith, Hugh Dillon, Ryan Bingham, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” was composed by Brian Tyler. And it was once again good. Tense, emotional, and fitting of the semi-western tone that the show goes for. It’s solid stuff that fits the various scenes it’s used in.  There’s of course also a lot of licensed music used throughout (especially from the band Whiskey Myers). And that music works well enough for the respective scenes they get used in.

The show was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, with Sheridan staying on as writer for all the episodes, but let a bunch of other cool people handle directing. And the craft on display here is generally good. A lot of nice looking shots of the sweeping vistas, some decent looking shots for smaller moments. The directing often elevates the material here, which is what makes some of those melodramatic scenes I mentioned earlier a bit more tolerable. And the direction also helps make some scenes quite suspenseful when needed. ’tis a solidly crafted show.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no overall score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “Yellowstone” reaches some great heights, but wallows enough in some melodramatic lows to still bring it down overall. It has a pretty good plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” is an 8,52/10. So while not perfect, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 2 is now completed.

Cooooooostneeeeeer.

Movie Review: Knives Out (2019)

I love mysteries. Not in real life though, that shit can be infuriating/scary. But in movies/tv/books/games, the mystery genre is one of my favorites. Who killed the man? Who stole the thing? Who pissed in the cereal? Even the worst ones can still have me entertained due to me having a soft spot for the genre. So anyway, let’s talk about a mystery movie (it’s not a mystery movie jackass, it’s right in the fucking title what movie it is). SILENCE, ME.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Knives Out”.

When famed murder mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies, a private investigator (Daniel Craig) starts looking into the possibility that one of Thrombey’s eccentric relatives might’ve killed him. WHODUNIT!? The goofy spelling/grammar of that word aside, that is the genre we’re dealing with here. It’s a modern whodunit that pays tribute to the classic ones, such as “Murder She Wrote” or “Columbo”, while also putting its own fresh-feeling spin to proceedings. It gives you everything you want in a classic whodunit story, while also subverting it in some really clever ways that I honestly didn’t see coming. There’s also a surprising amount of social commentary throughout. And while I’ve watched things recently with attempts at that which were a bit too hamfisted, I felt like it worked quite well within “Knives Out”, wonderfully integrating into the already solid murder mystery.

The characters here are flawed, colorful, interesting, and buckets of fun. Daniel Craig plays Benoit Blanc, a private investigator that’s been hired to investigate Thrombey’s death. He is skilled, but he’s also a bit quirky. And holy fuck, Daniel Craig… he really hammed it up here, and it made him such a fun presence to watch. Next we have Ana De Armas as a nurse who is heavily involved in the story. And she’s great in the role. And then the rest of the cast is filled out by people like Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, the aforementioned Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Tony Collette, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Lakeith Stanfield, Riki Lindholme, and more… and good god damn, what a solid cast this is.

The score for the movie was composed by Nathan Johnson, and it was a lot of fun. It’s very old school in its approach, often sounding like something you’d hear in an older crime movie/show, due to its often overdramatic strings. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well enough. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“Knives Out” was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who I think did one hell of a job on those fronts. He gives the movie such a distinct energy that keeps it feels electric, keeping any shot or scene from ever feeling boring. That doesn’t mean any part feels rushed though, Johnson lets scenes simmer when needed… but never for too long, giving it just the perfect pacing.

This movie has so far been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

I loved “Knives Out”, it’s a really fun and unique whodunit. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Knives out” is a 9,90/10. So that’s right, it does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Knives Out” is completed.

Knives Out, Spoons In.

Series Review: Swamp Thing (2019)

I’ve been waiting for this show to be made available over here for quite a while. And finally, Friday the 8th, we got it. And now that I have finished it, I can finally give my thoughts. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Swamp Thing”.

CDC doctor Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) finds herself traveling back to her old hometown of Marais, Louisiana when some strange viral shit is found coming out of the swamps of that area. And as she continues her investigation of it, she soon finds out that there’s more to these swamps than meets the eye. Secrets, tragic backstories, the horror of the unknown, these are some of the things that are explored throughout the 10 episodes of “Swamp Thing”. I point out the episode count because this show was meant to be 13, but after the very sudden cancellation of the show, they had to reduce it to 10. And while the finished package holds up very well, I could still sense some of those cuts here and there. But the story we get here is still pretty great, creating a surprisingly nuanced journey that scares and emotionally invests in equal measure.

The characters in this are flawed, damaged, layered, and very interesting. Crystal Reed plays Abby Arcane, a CDC doctor with a tragic past, returning to her old home town. She’s determined, good at heart, but is also sometimes haunted by things that happened to her once, and she’s a great protagonist that I loved following. And Reed is great in the role. Next we have Derek Mears as the titular creature. I won’t say much more than saying that he’s an interesting character, and Mears’ performance is really good. Then we have Andy Bean as Alec Holland, a scientist Abby meets when she returns to Marais. He’s a bit eccentric, but a good dude who is pretty interesting. And Bean is really good in the role. Next we have Will Patton as Avery Sunderson, a beloved businessman in Marais… however there’s a bit more to him than meets the eye. And Patton is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Virginia Madsen, Henderson Wade, Maria Sten, Kevin Durand, Ian Ziering, Jennifer Beals, Jeryl Prescott, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Brian Tyler, and it was great. It’s sometimes loud and intimidating, and sometimes more quiet and emotional. There’s also plenty of low, droning BWOOOMs. And while those could be obnoxious in lesser hands, the way they’re used here works quite well, and adds to the uneasy vibe the show clearly wants to go for.

Based on the iconic DC Comics character created by Len Wein, Alan Moore, and Bernie Wrightson, “Swamp Thing” was developed by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden, with writing and directing by them and a whole bunch of other cool people. And I think the craft here is superb. The amount of suspense built is insane, which makes for a horror show that ends up being genuinely scary. I also have to praise the effects in this show, because they’re spectacular. What we get here is a healthy blend of practical effects and CGI. For example, the Swamp Thing suit is completely practical, and looks amazing. The swamps, completely practical (with some possible CG enhancements). Now, with this being both an effects-heavy show and a horror series, that means that there’s plenty of gore throughout. And I mean plenty. And not just gore for the sake of gore, but gore to disturb and shock the viewer. And I mean, it certainly got some “OH MY GOD!” and “HOLY SHIT” out of me as I watched it all unfold. So if you have trouble with insanely violent media… consider yourself warned.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

Despite some of the cut corners made from the episode reduction, “Swamp Thing” is still a damn fine horror-drama. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic effects, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Swamp Thing” is a 9,61/10. So yes, you got that right, it does actually get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Swamp Thing” is now completed.

Can someone please uncancel this?

Series Review: Mayans M.C. – Season 2 (2019)

That’s right, two posts in one day. A rare occurrence here. But today it happens. Now either this is a blessing or a pain, depending on your point of view. Either way, let’s talk about Hispanic bikers.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mayans M.C.” season 2.

Set several months after the first season, as EZ Reyes (JD Pardo) has a lot of problems to balance. From familial tensions, to problems hitting the club, to the constant antagonistic pressure from federal prosecutor Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon). Secrets are discovered, drama occurs, it’s more “Mayans”. And I thought the plot here was great. There’s a lot of threads going on here, but they never feel like a fucking mess. And seeing it all unfold is quite engaging. Sure, some of its social commentary (while being shit I agree with) can be a bit on the ham-fisted side at times, but it never full on detracts from the overall storytelling of the show.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and overall quite interesting. JD Pardo returns as EZ Reyes, prospect within the Mayans M.C. He deals with a lot of personal shit this season around, after a revelation at the end of the first season. And combining that with some of the stuff happening this season makes for a compelling arc. And Pardo is once really good in the role. Clayton Cardenas returns as his brother, Angel, and he also has a great arc here, with Cardenas giving a great performance. Sarah Bolger returns as Emily, former love of EZ, current love of gangster Miguel Galindo. She’s got a lot going on too. And Bolger is really good in the role. And with supporting work from people like Ray McKinnon, Michael Irby, Danny Pino, Edward James Olmos, Carla Baratta, Richard Cabral, Emilio Rivera, Ada Maris, and many more, you get some damn fine performances rounding out the cast.

Just like with season 1, the score for season 2 was composed by Bob Thiele Jr, and once again it’s great. A lot of guitars, some others strings, overall it manages to create a sound that honor some of the Mexican culture, while also capturing the feel of a gritty biker drama. There’s also plenty of licensed music used throughout, and it all fits very well, while also just in general being pleasing to my ear.

The show was created by Elgin James and Kurt Sutter, with writing and directing by both of them, along with a bunch of other cool people. And the craft here is top notch. There’s a strong vision for how they want the episodes to flow, which comes through both in writing and in camerawork. Season 1 was a strong, decently confident start. Here in season 2, their confidence is clearly a lot higher, which makes their craft feel even stronger. These guys know what the fuck they’re doing, and the way it comes through in the show makes it such a standout in today’s tv.

This season/has show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

Season 2 of “Mayans M.C.” improves on what was set up in the first season, even if some of its social commentary can be slightly clumsy at times. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mayans M.C.” season 2 is a 9,50/10. So while it borders on a lower rating, it still gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mayans M.C.” season is now completed.

’cause a beaten dog never forgets.

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 2 (2017)

And so we’re here, the final post for the Month of Spooks. And it’s a follow-up to a post I did last year, where I talked about the first season of this show. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fortitude” season 2.

Set some time after the events of season 1, we return to the remote Scandinavian town of Fortitude. And once again, strange things start happening after a body is discovered. So now we have our Arctic antics. And I like the plot here, probably more than the first season. It’s a slow burn mystery-thriller that dips its toe into some macabre themes and scenarios, while still taking the time to make me care about most of the characters, really adding layers to it all that maybe weren’t as strong the first time around. Though while it is an overall stronger story for me with a bit more intrigue and experimentation, it does still have some flaws. While I do love a slow burn, there are some moments here where the pacing outright drags, which of course makes it a little more of a pain to watch. And the ending is a bit… flaccid. Yes, I know there’s a third season, but I feel like the ending here is a bit too sequel-baity, for lack of a better word. But despite these flaws, I still found the story here to be pretty damn solid.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall quite engaging. Most of the cast from season 1, including Richard Dormer, Sienna Guillory, Luke Treadaway, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, , Mia Jexen, Sofie Gråbøl, Alexandra Moen, and more, with their characters getting extra depth, will all those actors firing on all cylinders. Now, for newcomer we have Dennis Quaid (pictured at the top), who plays Michael Lennox, a fisherman who gets involved in the strange shit going on in and around Fortitude. The character is given decent depth, as we learn some interesting stuff about his home life, at the same time as he evolves from the events in the story. And Quaid is pretty good in the role. ’tis a solid cast.

Ben Frost, who did the score for season, returned to do the music this time around too, and I think he really outdid himself. His score here is fucking spectacular, managing to perfectly capture every emotion possible, while still being an overall fitting score for the frozen shithole that is Fortitude. Yes, there are moments where the score lowers itself to some generic horror stings. But when it’s not doing that, it is absolutely fantastic. And the occasional licensed tracks used throughout work pretty well too.

The show was created by Simon Donald, who along with a bunch of other people, wrote the episodes this season, with some other cool people directing. And the craft behind this season is fucking emaculate. The direction manages to create an interesting sense of unease throughout that really makes it a bit more unsettling. And my god, the cinematography this season is absolutely amazing. And I don’t just mean the shots of the frozen vistas around Fortitude, but even a lot of shots indoors look great too. And the effects here are great too, featuring some really impressive practical gore effects, which kinda got under my skin.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists without a score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

Season 2 of “Fortitude” takes what was good about the first season and takes it up to 11, though it is brought down by some pacing issues and a less than satisfying ending. It has a really good plot, good characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Fortitude” is an 8,96/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still worth a watch.

My review of “Fortitude” season 2 is now completed.

So this is it, huh? Well, it’s been a blast doing Month of Spooks.

Movie Review: Case 39 (2009)

Can you believe that tomorrow is the final day of the Month of Spooks? Time sure flies when you’re having fun. Oh well, it’s not over yet. We still got some shit to talk about. Some shit indeed.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Case 39”.

Social worker Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger) saves a young girl (Jodelle Ferland) from getting killed by her own parents. And after she starts looking out for the girl, she soon starts to realize that there’s more to this situation than meets the eye. And no, that isn’t code for the girl being a Transformer, though that would’ve been fucking rad. No, there’s some… spooky stuff going on. Look, I do admit that there’s some decent ideas throughout, and even one or two moments that I thought were decently clever. But for the most part this is a bland, poorly written, and worst of all, boring story that neither thrills nor chills.

The characters are cliches. They try to give the main character some depth, but they barely reach what they’re grasping for. Renée Zellweger, she tries, god does she try, she tries so much that I’d be willing to call her performance… fine. But she doesn’t get any good material to work with, and I’m not sure about her direction either. Ian McShane isn’t bad in this movie, because it isn’t possible for him to be bad in something… but god damn, he’s drab in this. They somehow made Ian McShane boring. Jodelle Ferland as the kid, she’s okay, even if her direction is a bit… eclectic, at best. Bradley Cooper’s in this, he’s okay. Callum Keith Rennie is fine. Adrian Lester is… fine. Good cast, less than stellar material.

The score by Michl Britsch (great name) isn’t very good. At moments it sound okay actually, but then it takes a turn into somewhat obnoxious. It thinks itself emotional and suspenseful, but just ends up being… not particularly good. I can usually find nice enough things to say about a score, but in this case I am sad to say that I really can’t.

“Case 39” was written by Ray Wright, and directed by Christian Alvart. And I have mixed feelings here (writing is obvious, if you’ve read the previous sections). But in terms of directing, I don’t have one clear opinion. There’s some good camera movements, and you can tell that Alvart isn’t incompetent. But he somehow fails to build suspense, which is, you know, kind of important in a horror movie. What’s worse is that lighting/color correction in this isn’t great, which makes otherwise decent shots come off as a bit.. not great. And any supposedly scary moments, not really that scary.

This movie hasn’t been that well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 21% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 25/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

I think it’s clear by now that I thought “Case 39” was quite bad. It has a plot, bad characters, okay performances, not very good music, bad writing, and meh directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Case 39” is a 2,91/10. So yeah… I’d definitely recommend skipping it.

My review of “Case 39” is now completed.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO MAKE IAN MCSHANE BORING?

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Well that’s a bland as fuck horror title. I mean, there’s no way it could subvert any tropes or expectations within the horror genre. No way. Whatsoever. None. Zero. Nada. Nah. Nuh-uh. N- you see where this is going, aren’t you?

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Cabin in the Woods”.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A group of pesky youngsters travel into the middle of fucking nowhere to stay in a cabin for a weekend. But it doesn’t take too long for their weekend to get ruined by something sinister. Yes, it does indulge a bit in a lot of old school horror tropes… but then it also satirizes them the rest of the time. You can tell that the people crafting the story have a love for the genre and its cliches, but also know when to poke fun of and subvert them. It puts an insanely unique and fun spin on horror that I found really clever and enjoyable.

The characters in this are for the most part walking cliches… but then there are moments where their identities are subverted ever so slightly. The shit they do with these characters is quite fun. And the lead cast, consisting of people like Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams, all do wonders with what they’re given. And in the supporting cast you have people like Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, and Amy Acker, all doing very well in their roles too.

The score for the movie was composed by David Julyan, and I think he did a pretty great job with it. It’s sometimes more subtle and ominous, and sometimes bombastic and thrilling. It’s just a really well composed score that works quite well for the movie. Not much else I can say on that.

“The Cabin in the Woods” was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, and Goddard directing it (this being his debut). And man, they knocked it out of the park with that. While the movie is mostly concerned with pointing at horror tropes and satirizing them, they of course also have to indulge in them a bit, creating some genuinely suspenseful and gruesome scenes that add to the overall experience quite well. There is also a good amount of humor strewn throughout the movie, and it made me laugh… ’tis very funny.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and and fresh certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“The Cabin in the Woods” is fucking rad. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *BOO*. My final score for “The Cabin in the Woods” is a 9,89/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Cabin in the Woods” is now completed.

Hell yeah.

Movie Review: Constantine: City of Demons (2018)

Two animations in a row? I know, fucking insanity up in this joint. But hey, it’s my blog and my Month of Spooks, so I can do whatever I want. Besides, why wouldn’t I wanna talk about DC’s arguably most well known horror character?

Ladies and gents… “Constantine: City of Demons”.

When his daughter is thrown into a supernaturally induced coma, Chas Chandler (Damien O’Hare) enlists the help of his old mate, John Constantine (Matt Ryan), to hopefully fix this whole situation. And as they look further into the situation, they not only get into new troubles, but old wounds get opened back up too. I thought the story here was good. Leans a bit too heavily on exposition during the first act, but as soon as we get into act two, things aren’t quite so info-dumpy. And I have to admit that I didn’t fully see where this story was going, it managed to throw me for a loop multiple times, telling a narrative that understands the “Hellblazer” mythos and themes, while still making it accessible to anyone unfamiliar with the material. That latter point might be somewhat related to the info-dumping in the first act, which makes it kind of a double-edged sword, but that’s just how shit ends up some times. But yeah… the story’s good, if a bit flawed.

The characters in this are flawed, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Constantine in this is more like in the comics rather than how he’s portrayed in the Keanu Reeves movie. He’s British, snarky, and a bit aloof. And while he’s not quite as morally flexible as he is in the comics, they do nod towards that idea a fair bit throughout this movie, which makes him a bit more interesting. And Matt Ryan (in his fourth appearance) is great in the role. Damien O’Hare as John’s trusted friend Chas Chandler does a great job as the committed and brave, yet slightly impulsive type. And in the supporting cat we got people like Laura Baily, Robin Atkin Downes, Jim Meskimen, Rachel Kimsey, Rick Wasserman, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Kevin Riepl, and it was alright. It is overall a well composed score that worked fine for the movie, but I felt that it might’ve been a little bit on the bland-ish side. It does have some cool chorals that make it stand out a little bit, but for the most part it’s your typical orchestral stuff with occasional synthesizers for effect. Again, not bad, pretty good, but a little bland.

Of course based on the legendary DC/Vertigo Character, “Constantine: City of Demons” was directed by Doug Murphy, who I think did a good job with it. He doesn’t force a lot of needless action or an unnecessarily rapid pace, instead opting for a decent bit of downtime, letting characters breathe and letting the audience take in what’s going on a bit. And even when there is action, it isn’t typical action-action with fists flying all about the place or flashy spells pew-pewing all day long, which I think is a fun change of pace. And the animation carrying it all, I think is good (based on the standards of these lower budget DC animated flicks). There are some minor things that distracted in it, like some of the blood splatter effects, but for the most part the animation looks nice and wonderfully brings out some of the nastier stuff in the DC universe.

This movie has been decently well received. On imdb.com (which is the only site with a clear number), it has a score of 7,4/10.

While it isn’t perfect, “Constantine: City of Demons” is still a very enjoyable take on the titular Hellblazer. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing/animation. Though it is unfortunately brought down a bit by a little too much exposition dumping, and some minor animations niggles. Time for my final score. *Bollocks*. My final score for “Constantine: City of Demons” is an 8,77/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Constantine: City of Demons” is now completed.

“Abraka-fooking-dabra” – John Constantine.

Movie Review: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2001)

Well this is a first for the Month of Spooks… animation. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust”.

When a girl (Wendee Lee) is kidnapped by a vampire, her family hires a legendary bounty hunter (Andrew Phlipot) to get her back. The setup is an old school one, but the way they handle it feels fresh. For one, it’s set in the distant future… but it also looks like the old west. This blend of different styles makes for a fun and unique universe. But it’s not just the world building that works about this movie. “Bloodlust” really takes time to weave a surprising amount of nuance throughout, making me really care about what really happens throughout the story, be it larger, epic moments or smaller, intimate drama.

Like with story before them, the characters in this movie have a bit more nuance than expected. At first they can seem like stereotypes. Broody, stern, Hannibal from “A-Team”, asshat. But if one sticks around, the characters get fleshed out quite a bit, making them a hell of a lot more compelling. First up we have D(E,F,G), the titular character at the center of the story. He’s the broody fucker I mentioned before… but he’s also a compassionate, strong-willed, and endearing guy who works to stay on the side of good. And I think Andrew Philpot does a great job with the voice work. Next we have Leila (cue Derek and the Dominos), another bounty hunter searching for the kidnapped girl. Tough, determined, stern, and also has a good heart. And she grows quite a fun rapport with D. She’s voiced by Pamela Adlon, who I think does a damn fine job with it. Wendee Lee does a good job as the kidnapped girl, who we meet multiple times throughout. And the vampire that did said kidnapping, played wonderfully by John Rafter Lee, is quite an interesting antagonist. Again, all the characters are pretty interesting. And the supporting cast is great.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco D’Ambrosio, who did a wonderful job with it. It’s moody and atmospheric, but also big and epic, as well as emotionally charged. It perfectly helps create the vibe the movie is going for, which is has a familiar sense of gothic brood, while still feeling fresh and unique for this movie.

Based on a manga series by Hideyuki Kikuchi, “Bloodlust” was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who I think did a wonderful job with it. His direction manages to keep the energy and pacing up throughout, without making it feel like he’s rushing things. He will let quiet moments simmer a bit, but without accidentally slipping into boredom. And holy fucking shit, the animation is stunning, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the fact that Madhouse was the studio behind it (they make well animated stuff, yo). Combining Kawajiri’s meticulous direction with the animation talents at Madhouse was clever, as it makes for not only some gorgeously detailed wide shots, but also some insanely entertaining action scenes. It also makes it so the few pure horror bits we get become genuinely creepy. So well done, crew.

This movie has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” isn’t just a highly entertaining vampire action movie, but it’s also a surprisingly nuance movie that subverts a fair bit of expectations. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” is a 9,67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” is now completed.

Any time you have a character with single-letter names, I just wanna continue the alphabet after referring to them.
“So what’s the character’s name?”
“D”
“Interesting”
“E, F, G, H, I… “

Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

During last year’s Month of Spooks, I reviewed “Night of the Living Dead”. Now in 2019, we’re moving on to its legendary pseudo-sequel. To be honest, I didn’t even plan this sequelization, it just happened. SERENDIPITY, HO!

Brainies and gentleflesh… “Dawn of the Dead”.

The world has gone to shit. Zombies are rapidly taking over everywhere. And in all this chaos we follow a small group of survivors as they seek shelter inside of a shopping mall. It’s a solid enough premise for a zombo flick, and the overall execution of it is damn good too. It works because it’s not only about some people trying to survive, but also because there’s a healthy dose of social satire strewn throughout the movie, giving the movie a bit of an edge over most zombie movies out there. Now, while I praise it for going in a unique direction with its story (for the time), I do have some issues with it, mainly in regards to pacing. It takes a bit for the main part of the plot to get going, and there are then moments throughout where the pacing drags ever so slightly. But for the most part, the plot here moves at a good pace and is overall a well written, fun, and surprisingly nuanced take on the zombie sub-genre.

If you asked me what the characters’ names were, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can see the characters and recognize them, but I have no real clue about who they are beyond “Oh yeah, you’re a guy in this”. Despite this, I found them quite interesting as subjects of this satirical zombo story. The way they interact and handle various situations is quite interesting. And the performances are all quite solid.

The score for the movie was composed by Dario Argento, along with Italian rock group Goblin. And it’s an interesting score. At times big, at times a bit more somber, it is an unusually unpredictable score that overall just really fit the movie well. It often adds to the enjoyment of the various scenes.

Just like with its predecessor, “Dawn of the Dead” was written and directed by George A. Romero, who I think did a solid job with it. You can tell that he’s gained a bit more confidence as a director between movies, as he very cleverly creates a unique mood with his direction, a mood that is often uneasy, but still enjoyable.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

While I don’t necessarily adore it as much as some people, I still think “Dawn of the Dead” is a damn fine movie. It has a really good plot, okay-ish characters, really good performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Though as mentioned earlier, it is brought down a bit by some mild pacing issues. Time for my final score. *Braaaaains*. My final score for “Dawn of the Dead” is an 8,78/10. So while not perfect, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Dawn of the Dead” is now completed.

Yup