Movie Review: Cronos (1993)

More spooky content coming your way. And this one kind of fits within a Month of Spooks tradition. For multiple years now, I’ve covered a movie from this director. And this is the only one of his movie’s I had not seen yet. So yeah, this is exciting for me.

Damas y caballeros… “Cronos”.

The story follows Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi), an antique dealer who one day comes across a strange device. And when he activates this device, it does something to him, something that starts turning him into something… not very human. So to put it bluntly, this is a different take on vampire mythology. And I found it to be quite enjoyable. Like with most other movies by this director, “Cronos” focuses more on the heart and humanity of the situation, leaning in towards the emotional spectrum of it all. And I found myself quite engaged by that. The only parts that didn’t fully click for me is the central antagonist, who is an old, sickly man (Claudio Brook) seeking eternal life. I don’t mind that cliché being used in a story, as I think it has some merit. But the way it’s used here feels a little undercooked. If a little more time had been spent with the antagonist, allowing us to get to know him more, then maybe I had been a little kinder to that aspect of the narrative. Or hell, maybe it could’ve been dropped to focus more on the antique dealer’s transformation and personal plight. But you know what? As it stands, I do still enjoy the narrative and its very charming narrative, as it does have cool ideas and plenty of heart.

The characters in this I find decently interesting and entertaining. Federico Luppi plays Jesús Gris, the antique dealer who goes through this strange vampiric transformation. He’s a kind, warmhearted man who lives mainly to take care of his wife and his granddaughter. And that’s where a lot of his personal conflict lies, between the rising bloodlust of his transformation and simply wanting to care for those he loves. And it’s quite the interesting character arc, with Federico Luppi giving a fantastic performance. Claudio Brook as the old man seeking the eternal life gives a solid performance, though as previously stated, I wish there maybe was a little more to him as a character. And then there’s Ron fucking Perlman as Angel, the old man’s nephew, a tough guy/charismatic dick. And he makes up for some of the old man’s shortcomings purely by the virtue of Ron Perlman being fucking awesome. And in supporting roles we see people like Margarita Isabel, Tamara Shanath, and Daniel Giménez Cacho, who all give really solid performances.

The score for the film was composed by Javier Álvarez, and I think he did a good job. It’s pretty unique for a horror score, going for a weirdly charming and quaint vibe that I guess is to catch the vibe of the quiet life our protagonist lived before the device. And I do think this unique soundscape works to the film’s advantage.

“Cronos” is the feature film debut of one Guillermo del Toro. And talk about starting your career with a bang. Even in this first feature, while not perfect in its construction, del Toro’s style shines through brilliantly. The tone and style we enjoy in his later movies is very much here, just on a smaller, slightly less refined scale. And that I think largely helps the movie stand out a lot. He knows how to bring us close to the characters, to feel intimate with their situation. And when you mix that with Guillermo Navarro’s beautiful cinematography, you get some of the most impressive craft I’ve seen for such a small, low budget feature debut.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While not my favorite of del Toro’s movies, “Cronos” is still a highly entertaining and impressive little movie. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. *Ahem*. My final score for “Cronos” is an 8.32/10. So while flawed, Is till think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Cronos” is now completed.

So now I’ve seen all of del Toro’s films. Whoa.

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 3 (1998 – 1999)

Yes, that’s right, still rewatching and reviewing all seasons of this show… mom and I just forget to keep watching every now and then, which is why it’s been so long between the previous “Buffy” review and this one. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3.

After disappearing during the summer post season 2, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) returns once again to her loved ones in Sunnydale, all of them of course a bit peeved that she bolted without much of a word. And as we follow Buffy trying to get back in to the swing of slayer things AND earn back the trust of those she loves, a new slayer named Faith (Eliza Dushku) arrives in town and ends up stirring some stuff up. All the while the city’s affable mayor (Harry Groener) plots sinister things in the shadows. As with the previous seasons, the episodes here are a mix of one-off monster plots, main story, and whatever else the writers came up with. And the blend of these elements feels stronger than ever. Yes, there are moments and episodes that are somewhat weaker than others, as with any 20+ episode series, but compared to the first two seasons, there’s fewer of those dud moments in my opinion. The storyline here is more ambitious, the schlock a bit more fun, the consequences of characters’ actions a bit more impactful. It’s just overall the strongest in terms of storytelling (so far).

The characters are just as well written, nuanced, flawed, colorful, and interesting as they’ve always been, with their various dynamics being tested at every turn to great effect, creating engaging drama and character development. The returning main cast of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anthony Head, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Seth Green, and Kristine Sutherland are all terrific and all get moments to shine. Newcomer Eliza Dushku kills it as Faith, this new slayer in town who is a bit of a wild card, helping create some wonderful tension in the show. Harry Groener is wonderful as the town’s mayor/season’s main antagonist, playing him as this super friendly and clean (both literally and metaphorically) guy who also happens to be involved in some shady shit. And all other actors that appear this season are all great too.

As with season 2, the score for season 3 was composed by Christophe Beck, who in his previous outing already gave us a huge step up in the show’s background music. And yet the crazy motherfucker stepped it up even further this time around. The instrumentation is crisper and more playful, giving us a lot of interesting melodies and a unique soundscape that is perfectly fitting for this show. There’s also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and they all work well in their respective scenes.

Season 3 of “Buffy” was written and directed by a whole bunch of talented people, all doing (for the most part) great work in their departments. Effects (for the most part) are improved, pacing holds up way better, and the cinematography generally is quite pleasing. The crew knew how to keep things exciting, intimate, or suspenseful in any given scene, showing how they’ve evolved since that rocky first season.

This show/season has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a user score of 7.6/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is another step up for the show, giving us another stellar set of episodes. The story is great, the characters are great, the performances are fantastic, the music’s great, and the directing/cinematography is great. Time for my final score. *Bleh, I am vampire*. My final score for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3 is a 9.94/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3 is now completed.

Just kidding, by the way, I’m not actually a vampire… too much of a recluse to be bitten.

Movie Review: Let the Right One In (2008)

Good afternoon, my friends. Or good whatever-fucking-time-it-is-when-you-read-this. Either way, time for another Summer of the Swedes entry.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Let the Right One In” (Original title: Låt den rätte komma in).

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) doesn’t have it easy. He tries to just live his life, which is made harder at every turn by some other boys who bully him. But one day on a chilly winter night, he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a weird and mysterious girl that he soon starts befriending, which will change his life in a major way. Initial setup sounds a tad similar to “We Can Be Heroes!”, which I reviewed a week or so ago. But in execution it’s very different. Instead of being a lighthearted and funny story about outcasts who learn to follow their dreams, this is a slowly burning, somber affair that incorporates elements of existentialism and of course also the supernatural. And I found it to be utterly fucking engaging. Some people might hate the slow pace of it, in combination with the lack of scares (since it’s technically a horror movie)… but for me it just really clicked in an emotionally engaging way.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, and overall just really interesting. Something about the characters here just feels real to me, at least more so than many movies I’ve seen recently. And while some of the kid actors here aren’t necessarily great, they do still sell their performances pretty well. Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Patrik Rydmark, they all do well. And the adult actors like Per Ragnar and Karin Bergquist all do really well in their roles. It’s a well rounded cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Johan Söderqvist, and I think he did a really good job with it. It’s a somber affair, helping create this electrifying, almost dreamlike vibe for the movie. It helps create a deeper emotional connection between the viewer, really adding a lot to the atmosphere of the movie.

Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the script for “Let the Right One In” was written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, with Tomas Alfredson serving as director. The craft here is generally really good. Alfredson really knows how to make scenes feel both warmly engaging and weirdly unsettling. He also knows what to show, when to show it, and how long to show it. There is some genuinely disturbing imagery at times, and Alfredson does an excellent job in its usage. And the cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is really good as well, giving the movie a unique and stunning look that adds so much to the atmosphere.

This film has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Let the Right One In” is an excellent little horror-drama. It has a great plot, great characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Let the Right One In” is a 9,78/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Let the Right One In” is now completed.

Finally, a great movie in this series of mine.

Movie Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

The Month of Spooks continues! So what is the theme today? Vampires again… cool.

Ladies and gentlemen… “What We Do in the Shadows”!

Wellington, New Zealand. We follow a documentary team as they document the lives of three vampires (Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh) who share an apartment. And really, it’s just a look into what these guys do in their everyday lives. From cleaning the apartment to going out on the town… it’s just the mundane lives of some vampires. And I thought it was a good plot. It’s a fairly simple mockumentary that just has a fun sequence of events that we get to follow. Seeing what supernatural creatures are up to in modern day society is a fascinating idea, and it was really fun and interesting to follow here.

The characters in this are all unique, quirky, slightly incompetent, and just incredibly fun. And I’m gonna keep all of this fairly vague because the characters and their “arcs” are best experienced rather than being told to you. Jemaine Clement plays Vladislav, a ladies man and the oldest of the main trio. And I’m not gonna say more other than that Clement is great in the role. Taika Waititi plays Viago, a somewhat naive and good-hearted vampire. And Waititi is great in the role. Then we have Jonny Brugh as Deacon, the youngest of the three, and the bad boy of the group. And Brugh is great in the role. And then we get a whole bunch of solid supporting performances from people like Cori Gonzales-Macuer, Ben Fransham, Jackie ven Beek, Rhys Darby, and more.

This movie doesn’t exactly have a typical score, but instead has various songs done by a group called Plan 9. I’m not exactly sure how their contributions work, but I can say that the music in this movie works very well, helping to elevate the silly and off-kilter mood that they clearly want to convey in this movie. And it’s all quite a bit of fun.

This movie was written and directed by both Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi. And they did a really good job. I think the mockumentary approach was the perfect one for this movie, especially since they were working on a fairly small budget (as far as I know). But sometimes you got to work with your limitations, and they did a great job with that. And since this is a comedy, let’s talk about the humor. It is absolutely hilarious, I laughed throughout it all. Some chuckles, but mainly loud laughs like an idiot. They manage to blend dark humor with an overall silly style to make some of the funniest humor this decade.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“What We Do in the Shadows” is one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in recent years. It has a good plot, great characters, good music, really good directing, and great comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “What We Do in the Shadows” is a 9,89/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “What We Do in the Shadows” is now completed.

I don’t have anything clever to put here…

Movie Review: Van Helsing (2004)

The Month of Spooks continues. And what’s this? An adventure movie featuring classic monsters? That’s cool. I mean, how could it possibly go wrong?

Ladies and gentlemen… “Van Helsing”.

The story follows legendary monster hunter Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) as he travels to Transylvania with a friar named Carl (David Wenham). Why are they traveling to Transylvania? Obviously they’re traveling there to kill Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). So now we have our adventure plot featuring classic monsters. And is it any good? No… it’s bad. There’s no point in the plot where I’m even remotely interested in what is happening. They have a fun idea that could make for a fun little easy-breezy adventure plot. But it somehow manages to be both paper-thin and convoluted at the same time. It’s also duller than dishwater, fucking boring. And the tone is inconsistent, at best. The plot here is bad. I’m not gonna try to put it in a more elaborate way… it’s bad.

The characters have motivations (sort of)… but I never found myself giving a single shit about any of them. Hugh Jackman plays the titular Van Helsing, monster hunter extraordinaire. He has an okay motivation for what he does (sort of), but it never plays into the plot in any significant way, so I could never care about it. And Hugh Jackman… I love Hugh Jackman, but he’s not very good in this. Kate Beckinsale plays a woman that Van Helsing runs into pretty early on, and she’s somehow important to it all because she’s related to some big shot person. It was mentioned like twice and it was so poorly delivered that it never stuck to my mind. She’s supposed to be a badass lady, which is something I like seeing in a movie… but here she comes off as more of a lucky idiot, an idiot savant as it’s usually called. And her attempt at an accent here? Nope, no good. Beckinsale is bad in this. David Wenham plays Carl, the friar that is joining Van Helsing on this journey. He’s meant as a comic relief, but he never really says anything funny. Wenham is… okay in the role. Richard Roxburgh plays Dracula in this and his performance is awful… but in the right way. The performance has more ham than a Christmas buffet, and it made me laugh. It doesn’t really give the movie any points, but it at least made some scenes easier to get through than others. There are talented actors in this, but none of them are particularly good in it.

The score for the movie was composed by Alan Silvestri and it is pretty good. Here’s why it doesn’t work though… the overall quality of everything else is so low that this epic and booming score doesn’t quite match up with what’s happening on screen. It just feels off.

This movie was directed by Stephen Sommers and he did a meh job. It feels so bland and uninteresting that nothing about what I was seeing interested me. The action too has a sever lack of tension… and impact… and fun… it’s fucking boring. There’s also an overload of shitty CG. And to those giving the “Well, it was the early 2000s” argument”: The final “Lord of the Rings” movie came out the year before and the CG in that looks amazing. There was also an overload of it. Sure, there were a few props, costumes, and sets that looked pretty good, but they rarely got as much focus as the terrible computer effects.

This movie hasn’t been particularly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 23% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 35/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars (Wut?). And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“Van Helsing” is bad… just bad. It has a bad plot, bad characters, bad performances, okay music, and bad directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Van Helsing” is a 4,32/10. I didn’t like it and I would recommend skipping it.

My review of “Van Helsing” is now completed.

*Annoyed groan*