Series Review: Primal – Season 2 (2022)

Roughly two years ago, I reviewed the first season of this show. It was one my favorite things I have ever watched. And now season 2 has finally wrapped up, and I’m ready to talk about it. So did it live up to the first one? Let’s find out. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for the end of season 1, as that sets up this season. So you’ve been warned.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Primal” season 2!

Following the capture of his new friend Mira (Laëtitia Eïdo) by some unknown enemies, Spear (Aaron LaPlante) heads out with his trusted dino friend Fang into the vast unknown to find and rescue Mira. Season 2 of “Primal” forgoes the more episodic nature of the first outing for a more overarching story. And while I do miss aspects of the episodic structure, such as the greater variety in creatures, I did still really dig the story here. It’s a fun adventure narrative that tests the mettle of a man on a mission, it also does an excellent job of showing the impact of Spear and Fang’s brutal survival tactics. Like yeah, we do still root for them to succeed, but we also get to see more stuff from the perspective of other characters, and how they react to our heroes. It adds a lot of nuance to proceedings and makes the misadventures of our leads way more compelling and even a little more suspenseful. I also enjoyed how the story explored more cultures. If you’re one of those people who was bothered by the first season’s historically inaccurate premise of “caveman plus dinosaur”, then you’re gonna have a conniption at the amount of historical mixing they do this season. But I like it, because it leads to a lot of fun story and character opportunities. Where the story falters a little bit for me is in the ending, or more specifically the execution of it. I get the idea they’re going for, and it’s not the worst one. But the last minute-ish feels kind of awkward, and bothered me a bit. There is a simple tweak they could’ve done to the script and I wouldn’t have said anything. But as it stands, the very ending here is a little mixed. The overall season on the other hand is fucking great. Fun, scary, compelling, anxiety-inducing, and even heartwarming.

I like the characters in this. Despite (or thanks to) the creator’s penchant for minimal to no (understandable) dialogue, the characters don’t really develop much through words. But they do a good job of humanizing them and making them really compelling through visual storytelling and the actions they take, and it makes them really fun and interesting. And while they don’t get to speak much, I can still say that the voice cast all do a great job with the material/noises they have. Aaron LaPlante Laëtitia Eïdo, Fred Tatasciore, Imari Williams, MyAnna Buring, and more all deliver solid performances.

As with the first season, the music was composed by Tyler Bates and Joanne Higginbottom, and once again they knocked it out of the park. The percussion, brass, strings, and woodwind come together in really fun ways, taking influence from various cultures and exploring various moods in beautiful ways. It’s just stellar stuff that helps elevate the storytelling.

Season 2 of “Primal” had its writing split up between series creator Genndy Tartakovsky, and various other cool people, with directing being handled exclusively by Tartakovsky himself. And yeah, the craft here is just spectacular. The work Genndy and his team did on season 1 was already great, using the medium of animation to great effect. But I think they really outdid themselves here, with more detail in every scene, more dynamic movements, really inventive shots, and some bits that frankly made my jaw drop. You can tell that they really aimed to push themselves and the show further than they had before, and it pays off marvelously. Also, the action’s still bloody as fuck, which might put some off, but I dig it. Really adds weight to this world the characters inhabit.

The show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 97/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.7/10 and is ranked #137 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While the veeeeeery end is awkward and brings it down a little for me, season 2 of “Primal” is still another stellar outing for the violent and contemplative caveman show. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Primal” is a 9.67/10. So it does still get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur…

Movie Review: Scream (2022)

My friends, it is finally here. The reason for my content output the last two weeks. It’s finally here and I can talk about it. And after this, you’ll be free of me rambling about this franchise… until the next inevitable one in 5-10 years. But for now, this is the last one you’ll hear me talk about. So let’s see if it’s another worthy entry in this franchise.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream”, which is also “Scream 5”.

25 years after the original Woodsboro murders, everything is seemingly nice and quiet in the small California town. But this peace is brought to a halt when a new masked murderer starts stalking a group of teens, seemingly with the intention of drawing out the town’s darkest secrets. The story of “5cream” is really strong, and talking about it is difficult. Of course we see a lot of the familiar meta/characters aware of horror tropes stuff come back, but it doesn’t just feel like a retread of what’s come before. While it’s here to poke that sort of fun at horror tropes, it also takes its time to satirize lovingly legacy movies and so-called “elevated horror”, while als taking some absolutely brutal stabs at toxic fandoms. And all of that helps make for a strong, pertinent, funny, tragic, and quite well written satire narrative, while still of course also indulging in a bit of violent carnage. It’s a damn good story that I liked from start to end, but can tell will piss some people off.

The characters in this are all pretty good. Do I think all of them carry the same memorability as some of the cast from the older movies, not quite. But out of the core cast, there’s none that felt like they didn’t belong or like they were outright poorly written. And as for the actors, there’s not a weak link. Of course you have the old trio of Arquette, Campbell, and Cox coming back, all slipping beautifully back into these roles, once again delivering top notch performances. And within the new cast you have people like Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mikey Madison, and more, all great in their respective roles.

This is the first one in the series not to be composed by Marco Beltrami, with Brian Tyler instead taking on that task. And lucky for us, Tyler killed it. His score hearkens back to Beltrami’s scores with a lot of similar musical tricks and stylings, without ever feel like he’s just rehashing what came before. From brash, intense brass to more subtle, emotional tracks, it’s all here, and it all works wonderfully. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and those work well in the movie too.

Unlike previous ones, “Scream 5: The Fifth Screaming” wasn’t written by Kevin Williamson or directed by Wes Craven (R.I.P). Instead writing duties fell on James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, with direction being handled by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who also gave us the wonderful “Ready or Not”). Aaaaand, they knocked it out of the park. The direction here is really suspenseful and intense, never really letting the viewer feel at ease, even during seemingly safe scenes. This really helps keep the whodunnit element relevant and exciting, while also making sure that when Ghostface appears, it actually feels scary. Speaking of the ol’ mouthgaper, Jesus Christ, the kills in this are savage. Not that the other killers in the series weren’t violent psychos, but there’s something about the violence in this that just feels extra mean-spirited and brutal, which does fit with the story and tone of this movie, and helps make el spookerino feel like more of a threat than ever. So yeah… this movie’s well crafted.

At the time of writing, this movie been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

I think it’s pretty clear that I think “Scream: Another Scream” is another fit for the franchise. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ooga booga*. My final score for “Scream” is a 9.76/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Scream the Fifth” is now completed.

Let’s end this on a classic question, because it’s fun and I genuinely wanna know… What’s your favorite scary movie?

Movie Review: The Trip (2021)

Marriage. Should be all about love and support. But sometimes it doesn’t quite go so smoothly. I mean, I’ve never been married, so I wouldn’t know, but I am a very observant man, so I know that not all marriages are perfect. In fact, few are… fuck, got a bit real there… let’s talk about a movie.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Trip”.

While going through a bit of a spat, married couple Lars (Aksel Hennie) and Lisa (Noomi Rapace) decide to take a nice little trip to their cabin for the weekend, both unaware that they both have violent, sinister plans for the other one. In a way it is “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” via “Gerald’s Game”, and I found that to be a really fun premise. It alternates between pitch black comedy and surprisingly tense and uncomfortable thriller quite well, handling both tones quite well and making it all feel like a solid, cohesive whole, while also managing to be quite unpredictable. I do think however that the movie might be slightly longer than it needs to be. If you shaved off five to ten minutes, the pacing would feel way better. As the final product stands, it doesn’t ruin the entire thing, but it does bring it down a little bit. So overall, a solid story, if a little poorly paced at points.

The characters in this are weird, colorful, flawed, unique, and quite entertaining. It’s hard describing them without getting too much into it, but I will say that all of the characters play off of each other well and have some interesting role within the story. And the entire cast is great, in particular our two leads Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace. But the supporting cast is rock solid too, containing people like Atle Antonsen, Christian Rubeck, André Eriksen, Stig Frode Henriksen, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Christian Wibe, and it was okay. Pretty standard thriller stuff, nothing that really sticks out in my mind. Worked well in the moment, but won’t be remembered afterward. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they are all full and help add to the mood of their respective scenes in really fun ways. So yeah, the music overall is pretty good.

“The Trip” (original title: I Onde Dager) was directed and co-written by Tommy Wirkola, and I think he did a great job here. He has this fun, snappy, off-kilter energy that really kept my eyes stuck to the screen, even when the movie dragged its feet a little. You can just tell that he has a lot of fun while crafting a scene, and that really helps keep it fun for the audience. But his style especially shines through in the more action-packed moments, as they are intense, fast, fun, and violent as all hell. If you’re in the mood for some really brutal and well made gore, it can be found here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While its occasionally weird pacing does bring it down a little, “The Trip” is a highly entertaining thriller-comedy that I do recommend. It has a solid story, good characters, fantastic performances, pretty good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Trip” is an 8.01/10. So while it is flawed, I would definitely say it’s worth watching.

My review of “The Trip” is now completed.

And remember, kids: Don’t go on a weekend trip with your significant other if you’re going through something.

Movie Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Hello there, my friends, I hope you’re doing well. So now we’re moving onto the final stretch of the Month of Spooks. Only seven days left. So how are we kicking off this last week then? More zombies? Okie doke, let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Army of the Dead”.

The world has gone to shi- actually, most of the world’s fine for once. Really, Las Vegas is the only place that’s gotten fucked by a zombie outbreak. Anyhow, an enigmatic businessman (Hiroyuki Sanada) has decided to hire a group of mercenaries from all walks of life to bust into the outbreak zone and pull off a daring heist. So yeah, part heist flick, part zombie flick… and I had quite a bit of fun with it. The narrative doesn’t ever really do anything we haven’t seen in either of those sub-genres, but it instead just chooses to do them in a gleeful, bombastic, and sometimes insane way that I had a lot of fun with. Now, I’m not saying that the enjoyment was absolute, because there were a few things holding it back a little. First off, this movie is two and a half hours long, and while it for the most part moves at a clip, there are times where it drags a little. And that dragging comes from the second issue, and that’s some of the more serious drama spread throughout. I don’t mind having serious character drama in my goofy action movies, that can be surprisingly effective, but I just didn’t think it quite worked here. Had they given the script another pass and tried to iron it out more, then maybe. But as it stands, the drama just bogs it down for me a bit. Otherwise, I had fun with this apocalyptic heist story.

The characters in this are… fine? I didn’t necessarily mind them, and a few I did actually kinda like. But on the whole they all feel a little underdeveloped and like they could’ve been a little more fleshed out. But what I can happily say is that the cast itself is great. Dave Bautista is great as the tough yet kind leader, Matthias Schweighöfer is great as the comic relief safe expert, and Hiroyuki Sanada (despite very limited screen time) is as cool as always. The rest of the cast, containing people like Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwicke, Nora Arnezeder, Garret Dillahunt, Raúl Castillo, Tig Notaro, Athena Perample, and more are all great too.

The score for the movie was composed by Tom Holkenborg (AKA Junkie XL), and I enjoyed it. Nice mix of brass and electronics to create a score that hearkens back to more old school films, while still feeling quite contemporary. It’s solid stuff. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I have slightly mixed feelings. Some work well enough and can add a nice bit of fun, but one or two didn’t fully click for me, with one specific track eliciting the biggest eyebrow raise I’ve given in a while. So yeah, the music in this is mostly good.

“Army of the Dead” was shot, directed, produced and co-written by Zack Snyder for Netflix. Aaaaand I think he did a really solid job here. The dude knows how to craft some bombastic, fun action set pieces, and he delivered on that front here. When zombie carnage is going down, Snyder cranks it up to 11. It’s generally well shot, insane, intense, and insanely gory. Speaking of which, I love the gore in this movie, as it’s not only well crafted, but also plentiful and quite creative, making for one hell of a fun time. The only thing I didn’t necessarily enjoy about Snyder’s ways here is his frequent use of shallow focus. I don’t mind shallow focus at all, and there were times where it helped create a nice shot in this movie. But he uses it a bit more than maybe needs to be done, which can be a little distracting at times. For the most part I like what Snyder does with his directing and such here, but that part was a little iffy at times.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.8/10.

While it does have its fair share of flaws, I still had a really fun time with “Army of the Dead”. It has a fun plot, okay characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Army of the Dead” is a 7.99/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth watching.

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

Viva Las Veg- AH, IT’S BITING MY LEG!!!

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 3 (2020)

Took me a bit longer to get around to this than I originally wanted. But now we’re finally here. So let’s talk about this show for a bit. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for season 2… so you have been warned.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 3!

A few months have passed since Dracula’s demise, and everyone’s kind of gone their separate ways. The peace isn’t kept for long however, as the various characters all run into their own share of problems. Trying to break down the narrative of this season in a well-written and concise way without getting into too many spoilers is difficult, as there are about as many threads as a season of “Game of Thrones”. But I’ll do my best. First off we have Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) who find themselves visiting a mysterious village that seemingly holds more secrets than they at first let on. Then you have Alucard (James Callis) adjusting to the solitude of living in Dracula’s castle. Then there’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her fellow vampires scheming to take over the world. And then there’s Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), building his army of night creatures and traveling across the world. But then there’s also the mysterious newcomer Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his schemes. Like I said, there’s a lot, and I didn’t even touch on all of them, either due to spoilers or fear of overextending this section. But believe me when I say that the ten episodes of this season cover A LOT of shit. But despite covering so much, it never gets confusing. This doesn’t mean that all aspects get treated with an equal amount of care and devotion, which at times can make this feel like a little bit of a middle chapter, but I do still find the narrative very engrossing. You get this epic fantasy tale, which also mixes in clever mystery, some gruesomely dark horror, a lot of heart and humor, and even a bit of enjoyable human drama. It’s great stuff, yo.

The characters in this, both old and new are colorful, flawed, layered, fascinating, and highly entertaining. The older ones get a little development, and newer ones do too. All of them are highly interesting and I loved seeing them. And the voice cast is fucking phenomenal, featuring such talented folks as Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Jaime Murray, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Theo James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jason Isaacs, Navid Negahban, Ivana Milisevic, Rila Fukushima, Toro Uchikado, Bill god damn Nighy, and more.

As with the previous two seasons, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris. And he absolutely knocked it out of the god damn park. He manages to cover so much ground with the various tracks in the show. From big bombastic brass, to more subtle strings, to even a bit of really intense synth, the dude did a fantastic job.

All episodes of “Castlevania” season 3 were written by Warren Ellis, with direction being handled by brother Sam and Adam Deats. And not that previous seasons were slouches in the animation department, but fuckin’ hell, the animation this season is the best it’s ever been. In quieter moments it looks really good, but it’s really in action scenes where it shines. Really captures the intensity and insanity that would happen from these battles. The final two episodes especially show this, as they have some of the best battles I’ve seen in animation. It’s one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever watched.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 is another winning batch of episodes for “Castlevania”, giving us more of what I’ve come to love from the show. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 3 is a 9.92/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 3 is now completed

This remains the best video game adaptation.

Series Review: Primal – Season 1 (2019 – 2020)

I’ve made it clear a bunch of times that I am a big fan of animation. Western, Japanese, you name it. I often even think animation has an edge over live action, thanks to not having as many limitations since all the images are completely drawn up, and not shot with some camera. They’re not bound quite to the same rules as an actor on a set. So anyhow, let’s talk about a cartoon.

Ladies and gents… “Primal” season 1!

The story of “Primal” tells the tale of a caveman (Aaron LaPlante) who recently suffered a terrible tragedy, which leads to him teaming up with a carnivorous dinosaur. And we follow this unlikely duo as they learn to work together to survive a dangerous and insanely violent prehistoric world. The narrative in “Primal” is interesting because it’s not really one overarching narrative. It’s really more a series of events in the lives of our two protagonists, a sort of “day in the life” kind of deal. Except instead of being a mundane life, their days involve running from or fighting off hostile creatures. And while this sounds like it could be a little samey, the writers manage to find new and creative and frankly fucked up ways for our heroes to struggle for survival. On top of that, this show has no dialogue. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given who the creator is, but it’s still interesting to see. And I must say that it’s masterfully handled. Even with zero spoken words, everything that needs to be said is beautifully shown purely through visual storytelling of the highest caliber. And the way they use this for the various little stories throughout this season is fantastic. Not a single episode went by where I wasn’t completely invested.

While this doesn’t really have a huge cast of fleshed out character, the few we do get are still great. These are namely the caveman and the dinosaur (credited as Spear and Fang respectively), our main characters. Both stubborn, both tough, but both also capable of being vulnerable and surprisingly complex. Seeing how their bond evolves over the course of the ten episodes is really cool, and I loved every second of that. And while there is no real dialogue, I will still say that Aaron LaPlante’s many shouts and grunts as Spear are terrific. Truly ape-like and cavemanish.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates & Joanne Higginbottom, and I think they did a terrific job with it. They use a lot of familiar brass, percussion, and woodwind stings in ways that really capture the intensity of the prehistoric carnage of this show. However, they do know when to pull it back as well for some decently emotional tracks. It’s just solid stuff.

“Primal” was great for Adult Swim by Genndy Tartakovsky. And if that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, it should be known that he also created “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack”. So yeah, he’s a bit of an animation legend. Speaking of which, how is the animation here? Breathtakingly fantastic. There’s a lot of creative color uses throughout, which when combined with different angles and dynamic movements, makes for one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever seen. This of course also translates into action scenes, which are amazingly well done and also insanely brutal. If you’re in any way squeamish, don’t watch this show, at all. It’s one of the bloodiest, most violent, and least fuck-giving cartoons out there. It even brings some of that nastiness up from a 10 to a 40 in episodes five and seven, the latter of which being one of the most disturbing things I’ve watched in a long time. Hell, even episode 1 is quite upsetting and unforgiving. But yeah, the craft on display here is spectacular… and insanely uncompromising.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10.

While the uncompromising brutality of “Primal” season 1 may put some people off, I for one find it to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great story, good characters, good grunts and screams, great music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Primal” a 9.95/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Primal” season 1 is now completed.

Man, when Genndy was let loose from the shackles of family friendly content, he really went all out.

Series Review: Dracula (2020)

Look, I know that the Month of Spooks is over, so I should logically take a break from horror stuff for a bit. But I’ve been watching this recently, and I have some shit I have to say about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dracula”, the Netflix/BBC adaptation.

Transylvania, the late 1800s. Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) finds himself recounting his less than pleasant stay with Count Dracula (Claes Bang) to a kindly, if sassy nun (Dolly Wells). As we go through the three episodes of this show, we get to see what happened before, during, and after Jonathan’s meeting with this nun. And the narrative in this show is quite fascinating, because it fluctuates wildly in quality… sort of. Episode 1 is honestly fantastic, a scary, fun, and emotionally engaging way to bring us into this new take on a classic tale. Episode 2 isn’t as fantastic, but it’s still a really solid episode of television. Then episode 3 completely shits the bed. There are good ideas within that episode, but the drop in quality is still ridiculously vertical. How do you go from one of the most exciting and electrifying new horror-dramas around to that mess, that quickly? I don’t know. But while that last episode can be classified as bad, what came before is good enough that I can’t give the show/story too much grief. Two thirds being this good has to count for something. And it does. I can still say I liked a lot of the story on display, even if there’s still that one final chunk that tarnished the overall package.

The characters in this are fascinating, because some of them are really fascinating and engaging, and some of them are in episode 3 (I’m being a salty bitch, aren’t I?). Let’s start with the Count himself, played by Danish actor Claes Bang. He is one charismatic motherfucker, manipulating people with his charm, wits, and general presence. And Bang is absolutely amazing in the role. Next is Dolly Wells as Agatha, the nun I mentioned earlier. She has quite a fascinating presence within the narrative that I won’t spoil, because it’s genuinely interesting. But what I can say is that Dolly Wells is great in the role, and has some excellent chemistry with Bang when they get to verbally spar. John Heffernan is great as Jonathan Harker, Morfydd Clark does an okay job as Mina. And we get some great supporting work from people like Sacha Dhawan, Mark Gatiss, Jonathan Aris, and more. Many actors do a really good job, and some aren’t great (guess where they were).

The score for the show was composed by David Arnold and Michael Price, and I think they did a fantastic job with it. That’s right, no shade thrown here, just admiration for good compositions. Their music here is creepy, intense, emotionally charged, and just overall helps add to a lot of scenes throughout the three episodes.

Based on the classic Bram Stoker novel, “Dracula” is a Netflix/BBC collaboration written and created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (who also gave us “Sherlock”). And as discussed before, the writing takes a bit of a dive in that final episode. But leading up to that, this is a well written show. And the directing, split up between Paul McGuigan, Damon Thomas, and Jonny Campbell, is generally great. There’s a good sense of pacing to the directing, no shot or moment lingers too long or too briefly. And when paired with the beautiful cinematography, set design, and visual effects, you get one of the most visually arresting tv shows I’ve had the pleasure of looking at. Speaking of visual stuff: There’s some really brutal and grisly body horror going on throughout this show, and it is awesome. Kudos to the crew for going all out on that.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 70% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

While it does end on a sour note, “Dracula” still has enough good stuff to warrant a recommendation. It has a mixed plot, mixed characters, great performances, great music, and excellent directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dracula” is a 7.12/10. So while it is heavily tarnished by that final episode, I can still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Dracula” is now completed.

One, two, three episodes. Ah-ah-ah!

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 11)

We’re already at the penultimate part of this series. Wowzer. Time flies when you contrive silly reasons for why things are something they’re not. So let’s get into into the main chunk of the post.

So as you can probably tell from the image above, we’re actually talking about an animated feature. It’s “Berserk: Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King”. Mouthful title aside, the movie is an adaptation of a specific part of Kentaro Miura’s legendary manga series “Berserk”. It tells the story of Guts, a lone wolf swordsman who lives only for the mercenary lifestyle. That is until he meets Griffith, the leader of a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk. And early on, Griffith convinces Guts to join the Band, which leads in to character development, friendship, and plot. So what does a hyper violent medieval fantasy anime movie have to do with christmas? Well, let me tell you.

When we meet Guts, he’s a lone wolf, traveling all by himself. He doesn’t have friends, aside from maybe his over-sized sword. But as previously mentioned, that starts to slowly change after he meets and joins Griffith. While he’s reluctant to be part of the band at first, he learns to live with these people… like a family. And as we’ve mentioned in previous posts in this series, family is a pretty important aspect of christmas. So that is my reasoning for “Berserk: Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” is a christmas movie… that familial bond that Guts forms with Griffith and the Band.

And even without the holiday stuff, this is still a decent movie that starts off an interesting arc. Though I can also recommend the 1997 animated tv series if you want something a bit better.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

Keanu fucking Reeves. Started out promisingly in comedies, dramas, and various action flicks. Then around 2008 he kind of dropped off the mainstream map after a few… less than critically well received movies. Then in 2014 he starred in “John Wick”, which gave his career the adrenaline boost it needed. And now he seems to be back on top. And I say, good for him. So let’s talk about his latest flick. Oh, and spoilers for the end of “John Wick: Chapter 2”, because that ties into this… sorry.

Ladies and gentlemen… “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”.

After killing a member of the High Table, the ever tenacious John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is rendered excommunicado, with a 14 million dollar bounty on his head, and must fight for survival as he encounters trouble at every corner. So now we have our constantly moving action story. From a storytelling perspective, these movies aren’t what you’d call “high art”. But I don’t need that. It’s just our hero being relentlessly pursued in an interesting, very comic book-esque world. And that makes for a fun bit of garnish in-between all the shooty-bang-bangs and fisticuffs. The story is present enough that it adds something to the experience, but not so up its own ass that it distracts from everything else. It’s fun.

The characters in this are colorful and pretty interesting. Just like I mentioned with the plot, they feel very much like they’re ripped right out of a comic book. Keanu Reeves of course returns as title character John Wick. A man who lost everything, then is given a new chance, and then shit hits the fan again. He’s endured a lot, and I find him to be a strong and engaging action protagonist that I care about a fair bit. He even gets some decent development here too. And Reeves is really good in the role. And the supporting cast, which includes people like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Asia Kate Dillon, and many more, is pretty fucking good.

As with the previous two movies, the score for “Parabellum” was composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard. And like the previous two movies, this score is awesome. It once again takes the approach of mixing very electronic stuff with some sick rock beats and occasional guitar screeching to make a sound that is distinctly “John Wick”. And it’s just as tense, exciting, badass, and pleasing to my ears as the last two times.

Chad Stahelski returned to direct this third entry in the franchise he helped create. And dude’s direction just gets better with each iteration. A clear focus, wonderful long takes, and a great sense of energy. The cinematography by Dan Laustsen is absolutely breathtaking, with some beautiful use of colors. And let’s talk about the thing we all watch these movies for: The action. Fuck me, it is amazing. It’s real, it’s visceral, it’s fun, it’s violent, it’s clear… it just comes together beautifully. You can see everything that happens, which also let’s you see just how much work has gone into the fucking choreography. There are also some rather creative kills throughout the movie too, and they add even more to it. It’s very well crafted, this movie.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is one of the most impressive action movies of this decade, and I absolutely loved it. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography/action. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is now completed.

You’d think the people constantly coming after John would take a hint that you don’t fuck with the Baba Yaga.

Movie Review: Wolf Creek (2005)

Month of Spooks is continuing. Really, I had nothing better to put there right now… MOVING ON!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to… “Wolf Creek”.

A group of friends (Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips) have decided to do some backpacking in the Australian outback. But their nice vacation soon turns sour when a psychotic killer (John Jarratt) kidnaps them and starts turning their lives into a hellish nightmare. So now we have our outback horror movie plot. And it is actually pretty good. While it sounds like this could be your typical generic slasher plot, it actually subverts expectation a bit. The way they introduce the killer, the way everything happens throughout, it is familiar but still feels different from other movies of a similar style. I will say that it takes almost half the movie for the main plot to get going, but it didn’t bother me here because this is how you do build-up. It doesn’t feel too slow or too boring or too dumb, it feels like a natural progression from fun trip to fucking nightmare. And the way everything here played out I thought was good. Not saying that it’s one of the best horror plots ever, but it did exactly what it had to do.

What I like about the characters here is that I didn’t hate them. As a matter of fact I found myself actually caring about them… yeah, the horror movie meatbags that are propped up to probably get axed off are actually decent characters. While they don’t necessarily have the most distinct personalities (in that way they are quite interchangeable), I still enjoyed them. And I think that’s because the actors are good. Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips… good job, you three. Now, let’s talk about the main event here… John Jarratt as the psychotic Mick Taylor. He’s a charismatic, funny, and even likable man when you first meet him. Then he shows his true colors and he turns into quite the terrifying son of a bitch. And Jarratt is great in the role. Yeah, the performances here are good.

The score for the movie was composed by Frank Tétaz and it was really good. It was dark, eerie, and tense, often adding to the tension of a scene. While I wouldn’t exactly call it memorable, it still gets the job done quite well, it manages to set and then hold a mood pretty damn well. It even manages to add some good drama in certain moments, making me feel a little more invested in the situation.

This movie was written and directed by Greg McLean and I think he did a really good job. His directing is tight and tense, and shot on handheld more often than not, giving the movie a very gritty and documentary-esque feel that adds to the tension of the movie. I also have to mention that this shit is disturbing as fuck. Sure, some of it might be for the sake of having disturbing content in your horror movie, but I didn’t think any of it felt too out of place here. But you do get to see some violent/brutal shit throughout this movie which made me have some strong reactions to it, and I can usually handle violence in movies quite well. So if you’re squeamish in the slightest… yeah, you’ve been warned. As for overall scariness… I wouldn’t call it strictly scary, but it is quite tense and disturbing, which I think is what the movie was going for. And if that’s the case then the movie did it’s job.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 53% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie a thumbs down (ouch). And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10.

While I wouldn’t call “Wolf Creek” a masterpiece, it still did a great job at being a disturbing little horror flick. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *G’day!*. My final score for “Wolf Creek” is a 9,50/10. Which means that it just managed to get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wolf Creek” is now completed.

I feel dirty after watching that. I need a hug.