Movie Review: Ad Astra (2019)

Space, the final frontie- Hold on, this isn’t “Star Trek”. This is something else… so let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ad Astra”.

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) must go on a potentially dangerous mission across the stars to try to uncover the truth behind what happened to his space-traveling father many years ago. And before you get too many assumptions, I have to tell you that this isn’t really that kind of space adventure. Don’t expect “Star Wars”. This is a slowly burning character study that will test the patience of some viewers. That’s not to say that there aren’t exciting bits in this movie, there are. But the more action-packed stuff is less of a priority here, making way for the slow burn drama. And I found it quite engaging. It’s not my favorite space drama, that crown still goes to “Moon”, but I still thought the plot of “Ad Astra” was very good.

There’s really only one character worth talking about here, and that is Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt. He’s shut off his emotional as a response of something that happened in his past. Which makes him a very reserved individual, not letting a lot of people in. And he goes through quite an interesting arc in this movie, making him quite a nuanced character. And Pitt is fantastic in the role. Yes, it’s a very subdued performance, but you can read so much just from eyes. And there are some damn solid supporting players here too.

The score for the movie was composed by Max Richter, and my god, it was fantastic. It often has a very dreamlike quality that perfectly complements Roy’s personal solitude, in combination with the desolation that we call space. Synths, strings, some piano, these are just some of the elements that get blended quite wonderfully to create the mesmerizing score.

“Ad Astra” was written by James Gray and Ethan Gross, with Gray handling direction. Gray’s direction manages to be both sweeping and intimate, really giving us some impressive vistas in combination with the tightness to Pitt’s McBride. His direction manages to generate a decent bit of emotion, making me care. Then it also builds some pretty good suspense in parts. And let’s talk about Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, which is some of the most stunning I have ever seen, taking my breath away at many points. Seriously, the craft in this movie is meticulous.

This movie just came out, so scores may change. But so far it has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Ad Astra” isn’t for everyone… but I thought it was great. It has a really good plot, a really good central character, great performances, fantastic music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Ad Astra” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Ad Astra” is now completed.

Ad Astra is about Brad Astra seeking his Dad Astra. The movie’s not Bad Astra, in fact it’s quite Rad Astra, which makes me very Glad Astra. 

Movie Review: Hope Springs (2012)

Marriage. A bond between a man and a woman. Or a man and a man. Or a woman and a woman. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s a bond, connecting to people (sometimes out of love, sometimes because of horrible shit) in a more powerful way. But even the happiest of marriages can show cracks, especially after a really long time. Let’s explore that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hope Springs”.

Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married for a long time. And while they have a nice and easy daily routine, Kay feels like their marriage has gotten a bit stale. So she books tickets for them to go to intensive couples therapy to see if she can’t fix their situation a bit. Stories about sexless marriages isn’t anything new, and the plot here doesn’t do anything new or totally unpredictable. Overall I’d call it… fine. It’s breezy and enjoyable enough, with only a few moments of melodrama that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. It’s a harmless enough plot that I’d call fine.

The characters in this aren’t the deepest, but I also don’t hate them. They’re fine. Meryl Streep plays Kay, the one of the two who gets the plot started, the one that feels like something’s off about the marriage. She loves her husband, but she wants things to be less… dry. She easily gets emotional, and it’s a bit hit or miss for me throughout. But I can safely say that Meryl Streep is great. Tommy Lee Jones plays Arnold, the Tommy Lee Jones-ian grouch who seems to be perfectly fine with the dry and sexless marriage that he’s part of. And it’s interesting to see him get some decent character development here. And Jones is really good in the role. Then we have Steve Carell as Doctor Feld, the therapist that Kay and Arnold see during their little vacation. You can tell that he’s actually interested in what’s going on, and he seems like he genuinely likes helping people. He mainly serves as a plot device to get the Kay’s and Arnold’s plot moving forward, but he’s also an enjoyable presence. And Carell is really good in the role.

The score for the movie was composed by Theodore Shapiro and it was fine… I think. I almost never really noticed it. I could at times kind of hear it, but those tracks felt more like fodder rather than any actual mood-setter. Then there’s also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout and I have mixed feelings. While the songs themselves were pretty good, the way they were used was a bit… sledgehammer-y. Like they used songs “appropriate to the situation”, meaning lyrics exactly explaining what was going on with the characters, things we could’ve picked up on without the “YOU HEAR THIS SHIT, WE SO CLEVER!” use of music. So the music in this movie overall is… fine.

This movie was directed by David Frankel, and he did a pretty good job. Like I said about the plot, it’s quite fun and breezy, and there’s no shot that lingers too long. And the camerawork in general is fine. There are also some jokes here that are fine. I never laughed out loud, but there were a bunch of chuckles throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10.

While “Hope Springs” is far from a great movie, it’s still an enjoyable enough little romcom. It has an okay plot, okay characters, really good performances, okay music, good directing, and okay comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hope Springs” is a 6,23/10. While very flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Hope Springs” is now completed.

Seen better, seen worse.

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

This is a very special review. Some of you might think my reasoning for it is because both “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” are coming out soon, and that could be a valid argument for it, but that is wrong in this case. I am reviewing this movie in honor of a friend who passed away recently. He was a big fan of the Captain, and I thought that this was the best way I could honor him on here. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Captain America: The First Avenger”.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a young man who just wants to serve his country, but isn’t allowed due to his scrawny build. But one day he takes part in a secret government experiment that turns him into a super soldier. And shortly after this he finds himself on the path to taking down Hydra, an evil nazi death cult led by the evil Johann “Red Skull” Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). So now we have our origin story. And I have to say, I found myself more invested in the plot here than I did the first time I watched it. Sure, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like this is the most original or even most well written plot ever, but it’s far from bad… in fact, it’s quite good. On one hand you get a fun WW2 adventure with a sci-fi twist, and on the other you get an inspiring tale of overcoming great adversity despite your limitations. The plot isn’t too deep and complicated, but it makes up for that in how inspiring and entertaining it is.

The characters here are unique, interesting, and entertaining. Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers/Captain America, a young man who’s been picked on most of his life. But despite this he has always stood up to bullies and bad people, always willing to give his life for what he cares about. He’s a truly inspiring character if I’ve ever seen one. And Evans is great in the role. Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, a special agent that Steve works with throughout the movie. She’s tough but she does also have a more vulnerable side, making her feel a bit more layered than some characters with similar setups. And Atwell is great in the role. Then we have Tommy Lee Jones as colonel Chester Phillips, Steve’s superior and a tough but fair military man. And Tommy Lee Jones is very Tommy Lee Jones in the role… AKA really good. Then we have Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt, AKA Red Skull, AKA evil nazi death cult leader, AKA villain. And he’s suitably intimidating in the role, making the character a bit more interesting in the process. The character in itself isn’t very deep, but Weaving’s performance is what makes him so interesting and memorable. So yeah, Weaving is really good. Then we have Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes, Steve’s best friend. You do get a good feel of their friendship and the character is decently interesting. And Stan is really good in the role. And throughout the movie you get some really solid supporting performances from people like Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Kenneth Choi, Richard Armitage, Derek Luke, JJ Feild, and many more. It’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri and I thought it was pretty great. What I like about it is that it aims to capture the feel of inspiration and wonder that comes with Steve’s journey from Brooklyn boy to Captain America. And it does help build some decent tension at times. And in general the score really inspires me to want to go out and do some good. So yeah, the music is great.

The movie was directed by Joe Johnston and I think he did a really good job here. What I like about his direction is that he gives the movie a very retro vibe, often emulating action-adventures of the past. And I think that style really works well for the story and setting. It even bleeds through into the action scenes which are intense, badass, and just a ton of fun.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

While it isn’t necessarily the best MCU film, “Captain America: The First Avenger” is an inspiring and highly entertaining action movie. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Captain America: The First Avenger” is a 9,60/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Captain America: The First Avenger” is now completed.

Here’s to you, Eric… you are sorely missed. Rest in peace, my friend.

Movie Review: The Homesman (2014)

Something something, Markus likes westerns.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Homesman”.

After three women goes mad from living very tough lives they have to be transported to Iowa. So a woman named Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) volunteers to take on this daunting task. However, she soon realizes that she might not be able to do this alone, so she employs a low-life drifter named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to help her out. So now we have our western-drama. And I’d say that it’s an interesting plot. It’s very serious and and at times even a bit disturbing, and overall it is very well told. My main issue with it is the first half which meanders quite a bit. I get that this is a simple road movie set during the old west, but even I feel like it doesn’t get very far plot-wise during that first half (a little less than half to be a bit more fair, but shut up). But when we get into the second half the plot picks up a bit more and I found myself really invested in the journey. And just to be clear: The first half isn’t bad… just a little bit too slow… a little bit.

The characters in this are layered and interesting. Hilary Swank is great as Mary Bee Cuddy, giving a vulnerable yet determined performance. Tommy Lee Jones is great as George Briggs, playing him as a kind of pathetic but still tough and semi-honorable man. Then we have the three crazy ladies (that is what they are, shut up), played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Sonja Richter. And they’re all great in their respective roles. They don’t say a lot, but they give great performances nonetheless. Then there are a bunch of good supporting performances throughout from people like Evan Jones, William Fichtner, John Lithgow, James Spader (his Irish accent isn’t very good), Jesse Plemons, Tim Blake Nelson, and Meryl Streep. Most of these actors aren’t in the movie for very long, but when they are… they’re good.

The score for the movie was composed by Marco Beltrami and it was really good. It was very dramatic and emotional, often adding to the quality of the various scenes in here. Sure, a lot of the music sound like stuff we’ve heard in other western-dramas, but that doesn’t make the music any worse… ’cause it’s really good.

This movie was directed by Tommy Lee Jones and I think that he did a really good job. The movie is directed with a lot of confidence which makes for an investing watch. It’s also a really good looking movie, having a bleak style that doesn’t feel too depressing and sad. I also feel like I should mention that this isn’t an action packed western. It’s a slow drama, with very few shots being fired. Just thought I’d mention that.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“The Homesman” is a really solid western-drama. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. My main problem with the movie is that first half which meanders a bit too much. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Homesman” is an 8,84/10. So while it is flawed I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Homesman” is now completed.

Sloooooow burn.

Movie Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

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People… we’re finally here! The long awaited release/review of the fifth “Bourne” movie. As some if not most of you may know, this has been my most antipcipated movie of the year. And with that I reviewed every movie in this franchise (I highly recommend you checking them out #ShamelessPlug) over the past few months, had a lot of fun doing that. But now it’s time… the main act, the reason we are here, the other synonymous phrase that could be put here!

Ladies and gentlemen, you know his name… “Jason Bourne”!

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been in hiding since the end of “Bourne Ultimatum”. But now he has to come out of hiding to be able to find out more about his past. While all of this is going on, there is a plot by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) to use a new social media platform to monitor people in the name of “national security”. So there’s kind of a debate going on throughout the movie on freedom vs. safety. And while the whole social media thing felt a bit weird and slightly out of place at first, I eventually bought into it and thought it kind of worked for the movie. There’s also another assassin (Vincent Cassel) going after Bourne. Yeah, this guy seems to have a bit of a grudge towards our hero. And that bit was really interesting. As for the rest of the plot, it’s really good, it’s always interesting seeing Jason trying to figure out more about who he is and why he is the way he is. It’s tense, interesting, and dramatic. I really enjoyed it.

This movie proves to us that Matt Damon still got it. He kicks so much ass in this movie and his performance overall is fantastic even though he doesn’t say too much (which is fine). Tommy Lee Jones may be and old man in a suit… but he’s my old man in a suit. Yeah, his performance was fine. Alicia Vikander plays a sort of computer tech working for the CIA, and she was really good in the movie. Julia Stiles returns as Nicky and she’s good in the movie, not much to really say there. Vincent Cassel as the CIA assassin, or “Asset” as they call him (New game: Take a shot anytime anyone in any of these movies say the word “asset”, you’ll be drunk before the movie is over). Yeah, he was badass, pretty intimidating, and his performance was good. Riz Ahmed did a fine job with his performance, and so did Ato Essandoh.

The music was once again composed by John Powell (Sidenote: This time with some help from David Buckley). And there’s really nothing to complain about, I thought it was really good and really worked in the movie. And since this is a “Bourne” movie, let’s talk about this movie’s version of Moby’s “Extreme Ways”. While not my favorite version of the song, I still thought it was very good.

“Jason Bourne” was directed by none other than the great Paul Greengrass, the man who directed “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum”. And once again he brought his shaky, but still visually interesting style. So you know that when action happens, it’s badass. And yeah, the action in the movie is really badass and really awesome. There are two scenes in particular that are great. One is at the end (don’t worry, no spoilers), and is so amazing. The other one is a really tense and awesome chase set during a riot, as seen in all the trailers. Yeah, I really enjoyed how this movie was directed.

Keep in mind that this movie just came out, so any scores on these sites might change. Anyhow… On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 56% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

While not my favorite in the series, I still really enjoyed “Jason Bourne”. I found the plot investing, the characters interesting, the acting really good, the music great, teh directing really good, and the action so awesome. Time for my final score. BOURNE TO BE WILD! My final score for “Jason Bourne” is a 9,75/10. So yeah… it of course gets the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Jason Bourne” is now completed.

Extreme ways are back again
Extreme places I didn’t know
I broke everything new again
Everything that I’d owned
I threw it out the windows, came along
Extreme ways I know move apart
The colors of my sea
Perfect color me

 

We got a new “Jason Bourne” trailer

Hello there, time to talk trailers (alliteration is fun). More specifically, let’s talk a trailer that I’ve known about for a few days that I’ve been waiting for with a lot of anticipation. If you didn’t check the title, this is the new trailer for the upcoming movie “Jason Bourne” which honestly might be my most anticipated movie of the year, has been that for a while actually. And now we got our first “real” trailer for it if we don’t count the Super Bowl trailer. While I’m not a big fan of it just using the character’s name as the title, I am still really looking forward to it… so let’s discuss this shit.

This trailer did kind of what the Super Bowl trailer did by keeping the plot really vague. However we do get a slightly bigger idea of what the plot might be about thanks to this trailer. But still, I am not very good at analyzing stuff, so please don’t be surpised if my “analysis” disappoints you. So from what can be gathered from the trailer, Jason (Matt Damon) is coming out of hiding. My theory is that Nicky (Julia Stiles) has convinced him to do that, but it’s difficult to say anything precise about it. It also seems like Vincent Cassel will be playing some hitman of some kind and from what I can gather, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. We also get some clips of badass action that looks really intense. Also, Tommy Lee Jones… can never go wrong there. “Jason Bourne” is set to come out in late July of this year.
So what do you think? Are you looking forward to this movie? Are you a fan of the previous installments? Leave your answers in the comments. Also, look forward to my review of “The Bourne Supremacy” coming soon.
Have a good one!

Bourne 5 trailer is finally here

How are you doing, guys? As you know, I rarely talk about trailers unless it is for something I am really excited about. And holy shit, who knew the Super bowl could deliver something good?
That’s right, at long last we have finally gotten a trailer for the upcoming “Bourne” movie which I have taken to calling “Bourne Untitled”. But it seems like I have to stop with that now because apparently the movie might be called “Jason Bourne” (Meh). This is a trailer I have been waiting for more than any other trailer. I am a huge fan of the “Bourne” franchise, having seen all the movies, read the original three books by Robert Ludlum and also having played the video game “The Bourne Conspiracy”. But that’s not important, because none of those things are this new trailer. So in this we see Jason (Matt Damon) still kind of being in hiding, apparently taking part in some sort of fight club (call Brad Pitt!). And then he must come out of hiding again when something happens. It’s difficult to say exactly what the movie is about, but I honestly don’t mind that because I don’t want to have everything spoiled by a fucking trailer. But this movie looks just as intense as the previous entries, and that’s awesome. Matt Damon of course returns as Jason Bourne, Julia Stiles returns as Nicky, the operator who’s been an on-and-off ally of Jason’s. We also get the return of Paul Greengrass as director, Greengrass is the man responsible for giving us “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”, so it’s great to know he’s directing this. But we’ll also get some new faces for the franchise including Toomy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Alicia Vikander and Riz Ahmed. So yeah… this looks pretty awesome.
Enjoy!