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: Mute (2018)

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for quite a long time. The director is one whose movies I’ve enjoyed quite a bit, so a new movie from him is something I of course was hyped about. And now it’s finally out, and I have now seen it. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mute”.

Berlin, 40 years from now. Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) is a mute bartender living a seemingly happy life. But after his girlfriend disappears, he goes on a mission to find out what happened to her, which leads him down the seedy Berlin underground. So is this plot any good? Parts of it are. The problem(s) with this plot is how tonally inconsistent it is. Because at first it seems like it’s just gonna be an emotional and gritty character drama, but then it throws in  bunch of more lighthearted and almost silly scenes featuring a pair of surgeons (Paul Rudd & Justin Theroux) as they go about their lives. Yes, the surgeon stuff is important to the plot, but it’s so tonally different to Leo’s quest. The pacing is also inconsistent. At times it moves at an acceptably slow-ish pace, but then there are times where some unnecessary stuff happens that pulls the pace to a bit of a crawl. Really, the best word I can use to describe the plot of “Mute” is inconsistent. Not necessarily bad (though some bits aren’t that great), just very inconsistent.

The characters in this are (you guessed it) inconsistent. Alexander Skarsgård plays Leo, the mute bartender at the center of this story. He’s clearly a damaged person, and seeing him go through his journey is compelling as he’s a fairly interesting character. I’m also really impressed by Skarsgård’s performance, because he has to convey so much emotion without being able to utter a single word… and the dude kills it in the role. Paul Rudd plays Cactus Bill, one of the two surgeons that are a large part of this story. He’s a dickhead, but he also seem to have some morals (mainly relating to his daughter), so he’s somewhat grounded (even if I don’t always like the character). And Rudd is good in the role. Then we have Justin Theroux as Duck Teddington (best name ever?), the other surgeon. He’s a bit of a hippie that we learn some interesting stuff about through the movie. And he’s one of the reasons for the “tonally inconsistent” things I mentioned before. Theroux is good in the role. Then we get supporting performances in the movie from people like Noel Clarke, Rob Kazinsky, Dominic Monaghan, Seyneb Saleh, Florence Kasumba, and more, most doing a good job (though the characters could use some more work).

The score for the movie was composed by Clint Mansell, and now we finally have something that I can give some high praise to! His score here does take some cues from “Blade Runer” (and a few from “Moon”), but it does enough unique stuff to stand out in a crowd, and ends up being a fucking great score that elevates a lot of scenes in the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work decently in their respective scenes.

This movie was written and directed by Duncan Jones, and this is very clearly a passion project of his. But did he do well? For the most part, sure. The direction here has a nice flow to it, and I was fairly sucked into it. It also helps that Gary Shaw’s cinematography is really fucking gorgeous, this movie has some really great eye candy in it. And any and all visual effects in this look really good.

This movie just came out, but it has already received some less than stellar reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 6% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 36/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,9/10.

“Mute” is a mixed bag. It has a tonally inconsistent plot with some pacing issues and some lackluster character work. But it does also have some good ideas, a few okay characters, great performances, fantastic music, and good direction/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mute” is a 6,31/10. While very flawed, it could still be worth a watch.

My review of “Mute” is now completed.

At least this movie has a really cool easter egg in it…

Series Review: Iron Fist – Season 1 (2017)

The Marvel/Netflix machine has returned to give us another show… so here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Iron Fist”!

Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is a young man that has returned to New York after being gone for 15 years. But as Danny is trying to reconnect with his old friends he soon finds out that an ancient enemy is in New York. So he will have to use his martial arts skills and his mystical “Iron Fist” powers (which he gained during his 15-year long abscence) to try to stop his enemies. And as the plot unravels there are twists and turns throughout, some more obvious than others. And this plot is… fine. The biggest problem with the plot of “Iron Fist” is that it’s trying to be intriguing and deep, but it never reaches those heights. It doesn’t have the tense crime-drama of “Daredevil”, the intriguing detective story of “Jessica Jones”, or the socially relevant tales of “Luke Cage”. I wouldn’t really call the plot here bad, but it just never gripped or intrigued me like any of the previous three shows did. It has it’s moments, but overall it’s a pretty predictable plot.

The characters here are not very deep and not always the most interesting, but I at the same time didn’t hate them. Finn Jones is pretty good as Danny Rand. His performance can feel a little bland at times, but you can at least tell that he’s giving it his all (I blame any shortcomings on the writing). Jessica Henwick plays Colleen Wing, a young woman that Danny befriends in the show and she’s really good. She’s a believable badass. Tom Pelphrey plays Ward, an old friend of Danny’s who works at the company started by Danny and Ward’s parents, and while he is the typical asshole at first, he has a small arc in the show, and that was kind of nice. And Pelphrey gives a pretty good performance. Jessica Stroup plays Ward’s sister, Joy, and she’s good in her role. David Wenham (AKA disount Sean Bean) plays Harold, the father of Ward and Joy, and he does a pretty good job in the show. You can tell that he’s pretty shady and Wenham does a good job portraying that. We also get Rosario Dawson once again playing Claire Temple and she’s awesome as always… not much else I can say about her. Most actors in the cast do a good job.

The score for “Iron Fist” was composed by Trevor Morris and it was actually really solid. Sure, parts of it feature the typical electronic action beats one should expect from action movies/show scores (which I didn’t mind). But there us also a lot of synth used in the score which makes for a really awesome sound and actually elevates a good amount of scenes in the show.

This show was created by Scott Buck and directed by a whole bunch of people. And overall this is a fairly well directed show. Normal conversation scenes look fine, nothing special about them. Now, the fight scenes in this show are quite interesting. Because some of them are quite badass. You get a good look at the combatants and it looks good. Then there are a few scenes which are shot in that close up, quickly cut way which the “Bourne” sequels made so popular. However, the close up, quickly cut, shaky-cam scenes in this show are less “Bourne Ultimatum” and more “Alex Cross”… yeah, that’s not great. But there are still good fights in here too. I also want to mention that the “Iron Fist” effect (the glowy hand) looks pretty great… it’s a simple but cool visual effect.

This show has not been the most well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 18% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 37/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Iron Fist” is a very hit-and-miss show, but overall it’s pretty good. It has an okay plot, okay characters, good performances, great music, and mostly good directing. However it is of course brought down by the plot being relatively weak, the characters not always being the most interesting, and a few of the fights being shaky shits. Time for my final score. *PUNCH!*. My final score for “Iron Fist” is a 7,88/10. So while it’s the weakest of the Marvel/Netflix shows, I’d still say that it’s worth a watch.

My review of “Iron Fist” is now completed.

Right… bring on “The Defenders”!

Series Review: Harper’s Island (2009)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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