Movie Review: Scream 2 (1997)

Hi there friends! Let’s continue through this franchise!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Scream 2”.

Two years after the traumatic events in Woodsboro, Sidney (Neve Campbell) has moved a few states over and seems to be doing fine. She’s going to college, she has friends, and she has a sweet, caring boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell). But this nice quiet life will soon be interrupted when a copycat killer starts stalking Sidney and her friends. Much like the first movie, “Scream 2” takes familiar slasher tropes and turns them on their head in fun, sharp-witted ways, while also gleefully embracing them when needed. It’s a story that cleverly plants seeds of doubt about anyone and everyone within. Combine that with the relentless pace and you get a strong narrative that never bores. Do I think it’s as strong as the first movie through? No, not quite. Like I said, it’s strong, but the increased scope of it can make it feel a bit more unfocused than the first at times, which does keep it from being as strong as it could be. But overall it’s still a damn solid, highly entertaining story.

The characters in this are fun, charming, layered, and overall just highly interesting. The ones returning from the first movie have seen major developments since then, and I really like that, as it adds some extra depth and clever character drama to proceedings. And even the new guys are really good too. And I think the entire cast, containing people like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Liev Schreiber, Jerry O’Connell, Jamie Kennedy, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and many more, do fantastic work in this.

As with the first movie, the score for this was composed by Marco Beltrami, who I think did a really good job with it. He very much brings back a lot of the stylings he used within the first movie, and then refines them to make for a more polished and more nuanced sound. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

“Scream 2” was once again written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, and once again the craft is top notch. The direction’s slick, intense, energetic, and a bit more creative with how it frames the action and violence. Speaking of which, my god, there’s some grisly stuff in here. Not that the violence in the first movie was “clean”, but there’s definitely a bigger focus on brutality in this… and I dig it, as it does fit with the whole “sequel = bigger” satire they’re going for. ’tis good shit.

This movie’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While it lacks some of the focus of the first one, “Scream 2” is still a damn good sequel that entertains from start to end. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Scream 2” is an 8.81/10. So while not as strong as the first, it’s still most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Scream 2” is now completed.

2 down, 2 to go.

Movie Review: Nightmare Alley (1947)

With the impending release of Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of this story (super excited for that), I thought it could be fun to watch the first film bearing the title. So without further ado… let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, I’d recommend not walking down… “Nightmare Alley”.

The story follows Stanton “Stan” Carlisle (Tyrone Power), a con man currently working with a traveling carnival. And we follow him as he lies and deceives everyone around him for his own personal gain, and what consequences that brings to his life. It’s an interesting narrative, filled with twists, turns, and good ol’ noir suspense. It’s a fascinating look at a very shady and fascinating man, giving us a fairly nuanced and clever little noir narrative. Its pacing can be a little bit weird at times, sometimes jumping a little too quickly and sometimes dragging its feet. It doesn’t completely break the story, as I’d say it mostly paces itself quite well. And the overall narrative is quite engaging, so it does mostly even itself out.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, layered, and overall just highly interesting. At the enter of our story is Stan Carlisle, a con man and supposed mentalist, always working and scheming to further his own interests. He’s quite a solidly written and engaging lead character, with Tyrone Power giving a great performance in the role. We also get supporting work from Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Mike Mazurki, Taylor Holmes, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Cyril J. Mockridge, and I can’t remember any of it. Nothing sticks out as bad about it, nothing sticks out as good about it… it just doesn’t stick out in any way at all. It’s probably perfectly passable, but man, I wish I had more to say.

Based on the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” was directed by Edmund Goulding, who I think did a damn good job. Do you like seedy, dimly lit sets with very atmospheric shadows draping over the characters? Well, that’s what you get here, and it’s handled to perfection in that regard. It takes the classic noir stylizations and does them beautifully. It’s a solidly crafted film.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

While its pacing can let it down a little, “Nightmare Alley” is still a damn good noir film. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Nightmare Alley” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “Nightmare Alley” is now completed

Is it just me, or is “Tyrone Power” one of the coolest names ever?

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

If you’ve been following me for a few years, you might remember that back when “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came out in 2019, I reviewed all of the Sam Raimi-directed webhead movies. Well, now that we’re getting “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in a few weeks I thought it was a good time to finally talk about the two “Amazing” movies. So today I’ll be reviewing the first one, and then the sequel in like a week. Sound good? Then let’s get into it!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Amazing Spider-Man”.

After he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, high school student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) starts developing spider-like powers… wait a minute, this is how I kicked off my review of the 2002 “Spider-Man” (absolute hack). But yeah, since this is a reboot, it kind of does have a similar setup to what has come before. But despite this, “Amazing Spider-Man” manages to still stand on its own two feet, largely thanks to a slightly more serious and subdued tone. For the first two acts, I genuinely found myself really invested in the storytelling , it’s an enjoyable and emotionally resonant take on a very familiar setup. It does start stumbling towards the last act however, largely due to the villain of this. Again, early scenes of the character getting introduced are really strong… but the further we go on, the more he loses the compelling drama and just sort of devolves into generic villain, which does affect the drama of the narrative a bit. There are still some really good moments in this final act, and even the weaker elements aren’t outright terrible, but it is enough to bring the overall product down for me a little. Again, on the whole it’s a strong story, even though it does stumble a little towards the end.

The characters in this are all pretty solid, generally I find most of them quite compelling. Peter Parker in this isn’t the überdork he’s been in a few other adaptations, but he still carries some of that awkward charm that the character needs, and it’s all beautifully brought to life by Andrew Garfield giving a fantastic performance. Then we have Gwen Stacy, a smart, clever, and fun young woman who also acts as a love interest for Peter, and she’s great, with Emma Stone killing it in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and more, all delivering really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by James Horner, and it was great. Some nicely inspiring and heroic brass, some more somber and emotional pieces, some tense bits involving strings, synths, and some other goodies… it’s just a damn solid score. Horner never missed when he was still around, and this is just further proof of it.

Based on various Marvel Comics, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was directed by Marc Webb, who I swear was chosen for the pun alone. Joking aside (for now), I think he did a damn good job. The direction of this movie has this way of feeling very grounded while still bringing some of the energy of superhero comics to life. But there are also a select few bits that are directed and edited with a bit of a horror vibe, and I really dig it. So on the whole, it’s just a really well crafted film.

This movie has gotten mixed to positive reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While it does stumble in parts, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is still a damn good retelling of the wall-crawler’s origin. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really solid direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Amazing Spider-Man” is now completed.

Well, that’s that for today. *Thwip*.

Movie Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

Well, well, well, look what we have here… someone reading a blog post during the Month of Spooks, ain’t that fun. Anyway, what do we have on the menu today? Wolf stuff? Neat.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Wolf of Snow Hollow”.

When a series of gruesome murders start occurring each full moon in the mountain town of Snow Hollow, the people start speculating that some monster might be on the prowl. Skeptical Officer John Marshall (Jim Cummings) on the other hand is set to prove who might’ve done it, all while trying to care for his teenage daughter (Chloe East) and his ailing father (Robert Forster). “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” mixes elements of procedural cop drama, horror, and dark comedy, and I think it blend together really well. It’s nice and heartwarming, while also being decently suspenseful and even quite funny at times, and I admittedly never really saw where it would ultimately end up. I guess my only issue with it is the short runtime. I am a big proponent of movies that don’t exceed 90 minutes, but here I feel like it hurts the movie a little bit. It makes it feel like it’s rushing through certain sections a bit. Had they had another ten-ish minutes to let certain bits breathe a little more, it would’ve definitely improved it. But as it stands I still enjoyed my time with this story.

The characters in this are all quite colorful, flawed, fun, and pretty nuanced. Jim Cummings (not the Winnie the Pooh one) plays Officer John Marshall, our main protagonist, a troubled man going through a lot of stressful stuff. He’s an interesting character who makes for an excellent lead, with Cummings giving a great performance. Riki Lindhome plays Julia Robson, John’s (much more competent) colleague, and I really like her, she’s a good character, played really well by Lindhome. We also get some damn good supporting work from people like Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Skyler Bible, Will Madden, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Ben Lovett, and I liked it. When things need to be more atmospheric and suspenseful, Lovett gives us some brooding and quite eerie tracks and really helped set the mood nicely. But he also creates these frumpy and kinda bouncy tracks for scenes that are meant to be a bit more comedic. And I think he did a really good job on both styles. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they’re implemented quite well.

“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” was written and directed by its star, Jim Cummings, and I think he did a really good job with it. You can tell that he’s improved a bit as a filmmaker since his debut feature, “Thunder Road”. Not that his direction in that was bad, but there’s a definite step up with this one. It’s kinetic, it’s fun, it’s a bit suspenseful, Cummings just nails it with his direction here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While its brevity does hurt it a bit, I still found “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” to be a really enjoyable little horror-dramedy. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Awoo*. My final score for “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is an 8.45/10. So while it does have flaws, Id’ say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is now completed.

Awoooo, Wolf of Snow Hollow

Movie Review: The Addams Family (1991)

Hello friends, how does another Month of Spooks piece sound to you? Bad? Awesome, let’s go!

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky… “The Addams Family”!

Gomez (Raúl Juliá) and the rest of the Addams family are in for a shock when their long thought dead relative Fester (Christopher Lloyd) shows up on their door step. What they don’t know however is that it’s not actually Fester, but a con man with his sights set to scam the family of all they have. Half heist movie, half Addams antics… and it’s a fun mix. I would’ve been perfectly fine with good ol’ Fester just being good ol’ Fester throughout, but I really enjoyed this spin on the classic characters. It makes for a fun story that contains a surprising amount of good character moments throughout. There’s also a lot of funny stuff throughout, with jokes ranging from very goofy to quite macabre. Now, not all jokes land, there were a handful that didn’t really elicit any reaction at all if I’m gonna be honest. The good jokes still outweigh the meh by quite a bit, but those that didn’t make me laugh still definitely stick out. But overall, I had fun with the story here.

The characters here are creepy and kooky, mysterious and spoo- god damn it, sorry. But I don’t know how else to describe them. They’re all wacky and weird and wonderful, and I love them all. They’re well written and all feel like wonderfully updated interpretation of the classic characters. I also think the cast helps in this department. Raúl Juliá is an amazing Gomez, Anjelica Huston is perfect as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd is terrific as Fester-not-Fester, Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman are adorable and hilarious as Wednesday and Pugsley, Carel Struycken kills it as Lurch, Judith Malina is great as Granny. And the supporting cast of Dan Hedaya, Elizabeth Wilson, Christopher Hart, Dana Ivey, and more are all great too. It’s just a wonderful cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Marc Shaiman, and it was really good. Energetic, bouncy, a little spooky, it’s got everything you could really ask for when it comes to music in a mildly horror-adjacent family fil- Wait, this is PG-13? Oh shit, I guess I can’t call it a family film then… or can I? Anyhow, Shaiman’s score is good.

Based on the comic strips by Charles Addams, “The Addams Family” was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and he did a really solid job. His direction here has this snappy energy that really fits the story and characters and keeps any scene from getting dull. Even when something happens that didn’t cause laughter (despite the clear intentions of the crew), Sonnenfeld’s direction at lest kept me watching. I can also say that I really liked the effects in this. Some great hair and makeup effects are featured throughout, a few fun and unexpected things I don’t wanna spoil, and of course Thing. Some of the compositing in a few moments can look slightly jank, but I think it kind of adds to the charm of it. I just like the way this film’s made.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

“The Addams Family” is a charming and quite funny little caper adventure. It has a good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, really good direction, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Addams Family” is an 8.65/10. So it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Addams Family” is now completed.

*Snap* *Snap*

Movie Review: Triangle (2009)

Hellooooooooo! The spooktacular festivities continue! So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, don’t be square, because this is… “Triangle”.

After a storm strands them during their boating trip, a group of people soon find find a bit of hope when they manage to board a passing yacht. But as they explore the big boat, they find themselves in a situation even worse than they could’ve ever imagined. Talking about the story of “Triangle” without revealing too much is tricky. But I’ll try my best. I find the story of it to be quite interesting, as it takes some of the hallmarks of supernatural/slasher films and twisting it into something that feels fresh and quite unique. It’s tense and unpredictable and quite fun. I’m sorry for the vagueness, but I’d rather someone who’s never heard of it going in as blind about the narrative as possible, as I feel that it’d make for a much better experience. But yeah, it’s really enjoyable.

The characters in this are alright. Development among them is not necessarily equally distributed, but I can at least say that I didn’t hate any of them… okay, one of them was a bit of a bitch, but there were none I just wanted to throw to sharks ASAP. Cast’s really solid too, featuring people like Melissa George, Michael Dorman, Henry Nixon, Liam Hemsworth, Rachael Carpani, and Emma Lung, all delivering really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Christian Henson, and I really liked it. It’s a nice mix of strings, synths, piano, and even some vocals, making for a really eerie and emotionally charged score that really helped in elevating the various scenes it was used in.

“Triangle” was written and directed by one Christoper Smith, and I must say that I think he did a really good job with it. Smith has a really energetic style that gave the movie a decently snappy and tense feel, which kept it from ever getting stale. It was constantly crackling with energy, which really added to the intensity when something needed to happen. I also really like the editing here. Admittedly a few cuts feel a little quick, but most of them work really well in building intensity and a sense of unease. It’s just a solidly crafted film, yo.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

Yeah, “Triangle” is a really enjoyable little horror movie that puts some nice spins on familiar ideas. It has a really good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Triangle” is an 8.87/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying,

My review of “Triangle” is now completed.

I should make a sequel to this and call it “Rhombus”, just for the hell of it.

Movie Review: The Karate Kid (1984)

Your suspicions are correct, I only saw this classic for the first time today. I know, shame on me for being late to the party, yada yada yada. Now, for those who haven’t left me over this horrific revelation… let’s talk about the movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Karate Kid”.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) has just moved to California with his mom (Randee Heller). However, things aren’t just sunshine and palm trees for poor Daniel, as he soon starts getting bullied by a group of karate-proficient bullies. This soon leads him to befriending an older Japanese man (Pat Morita) that may or may not be able to teach Daniel how to defend himself. So you get yourself a bit of an underdog story, a bit of a coming of age story, and a bit of martial arts (and even a few drops of philosophy). It’s a narrative that encompasses a lot of things, and handles most of them with a surprising amount of grace and nuance. This does add a little bit to my main criticism with the film, which is that the runtime really could be felt at times. I wasn’t necessarily bored per se, but let’s just say that those 2+ hours do feelt like 2+ hours. Overall it is a fun story that I found myself pretty engaged with, even if it felt like it dragged at points.

The characters in this are colorful, entertaining, and surprisingly layered. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, the Jersey kid forced over to California. At first he can come off as that typical angsty teen, but soon shows that he is more than that. He’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a good dude who just wants to live his life. And to see that personality get tested through Daniel’s various trials and tribulations is quite interesting, with Macchio giving a great performance. Next we have Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the older man that Daniel befriends and (as you all know) agrees to train. He’s a bit of an eccentric man, which makes him a really entertaining character, with Morita being really good in the role. And I have to say, the chemistry between Macchio and Morita is stellar, and is arguably the best part of the entire movie. We also get supporting work from people like Randee Heller, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Bill Conti, and it was a lot of fun. It has a lot of familiar 1980s cheese to it with big, inspirational brass and what I’d like to call “montage synths”. You know, those kinds of synths that only show up in old underdog stories to serve as some sort of personal growth/montage thing for the character (you’ll know ’em when you hear ’em). Either way, I think his score is a lot of fun and works well for the movie. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used through, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Karate Kid” was directed by John G. Avildsen, and I think he did a good job. Shots have a nice flow to them, and his direction has a certain type of energy that really helps bring you into the scene. He also makes the story feel a bit more grandiose than it is. Because if you think about it, the story itself is relatively small scale, but Avildsen has a way of making it feel quite substantial. I will also say that I enjoy the way he shoots martial arts. It doesn’t show up that much in the film, all things considered, but when it does it’s nicely shot and gets properly shown off.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Morita).

So while it does have some mild pacing issues, “The Karate Kid” is still a highly entertaining coming of age story that I really enjoyed. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Karate Kid” is an 8.60/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “The Karate Kid” is now completed.

You’re the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep you down…

Movie Review: All the Money in the World (2017)

I’m back! To clarify: I took a little break from writing for a little over two weeks because I just didn’t have much energy, but now I’m here again! And hopefully I’ll be able to keep this shit up semi-regularly again. So yeah, let’s goooooo!

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “All the Money in the World”.

Italy, 1973. Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) finds herself in a precarious situation after her son (Charlie Plummer) gets kidnapped one night. And we follow her as she tries anything to save her son, which includes trying to get help from her son’s billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer). So what we have here is part kidnapping thriller and part domestic drama, and for the most part I think it holds up well. The movie jumps between Gail’s struggle with her former father-in-law, and her son being stuck with the kidnappers. And both stories are pretty solid, with one half being a really fascinating character drama, and the other being a tense as hell thriller. The only issue I do have is that the pacing does suffer a little bit towards the middle. It doesn’t break the movie in half, but it does bring it down a little bit.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting and all bounce off of each other quite well. First up is Gail, played by Michelle Williams. A tough, yet also vulnerable woman trying her damndest to just get her son home safe and sound. She is a pretty interesting protagonist to follow, and Williams is great in the role. Next we have Christopher Plummer (R.I.P) as J. Paul Getty, the billionaire whose money the kidnappers want. He’s a stubborn old man who can often come off as a real son of a bitch, which makes him a wonderful counterpoint to Williams’ Gail, making for some interesting drama and character dynamics. And Plummer is just terrific in the role. Then we have Fletcher Chace, Getty’s number one guy. While not the most fleshed out character in the movie, he does make for a nice addition to the cast as a way of briding the gap between characters. And Wahlberg is really good in the role. And Charlie Plummer is an absolute standout as J. Paul Getty III, he is so god damn good in his role. We also get supporting work from people like Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi, Giuseppe Bonifati, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Daniel Permberton, and I thought it was pretty good. It’s not exactly groundbreaking in any way, and I don’t I’m gonna remember it in a week, but overall it did work well within the movie itself, and I think it helped out the various scenes where it could be heard. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work pretty well too.

Based on a book by John Pearson, “All the Money in the World” was directed by Ridley Scott, and I think he did a damn good job with it. He clearly still has such a grip on how to really pull the viewer into a scene. From a basic enough wide shot to bits of action, the man has a masterful grasp of the film. And I don’t think I can go on without mentioning the mad lad’s reshoots. For any cave dwellers that might be unaware, this movie originally starred Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, but after all the sexual assault/harassment allegations against him came out, the studio pulled the movie from a festival. Ridley Scott, being the marvelous jackass that he is just said “Delay the movie a few days and give me some money for reshoots”, after which he pulled in Plummer (and any of the non-predatory actors left) and reshot all the Getty stuff. And the mad son of a bitch pulled it off. So yeah, Scott is a god damn pro.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

While not within the upper echelon of Ridley Scott’s filmography, “All the Money in the World” is still a damn good biographical thriller. It has a really good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “All the Money in the World” is an 8.42/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s worth buying.

My review of “All the Money in the World” is now completed.

Ridley Scott, you glorious madman.

Movie Review: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Hello there, my friends! I hope you’re day is going well. Anyway, it’s once again time for Akira Kurosunday. So let’s chat about this movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Hidden Fortress”.

The story follows Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), two lowly peasants trying to get by. But then one day they get the opportunity of a lifetime when they meet a man and a woman (Toshiro Mifune and Misa Uehara) who promise the pair a bunch of gold in exchange for helping escort them across hostile territory. What the pair o’ peasants don’t know though is that the man and woman may be more than meets the eye. “The Hidden Fortress” is slightly different from the previous Kurosawa flicks we’ve covered so far. It’s not an examination of truth and lies, or a deep dive into the darkness of a man’s soul, or even a four hour epic about different people coming together. This is a more straightforward adventure story, going for less of a deep, nuanced thing, and aiming to be more of a fun affair. And I think it succeeds at that quite well, telling a very entertaining story with enough little turns to make it a little more interesting. I do feel that the pacing isn’t the best in this movie, as it drag a little in parts for me. It doesn’t completely break the experience for me, but it’s noticeable enough to bring it down a little bit. But otherwise I highly enjoyed the story told here.

The characters in this are all colorful and entertaining. First up we have the two peasants, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They have a very fun dynamic, and they help add a lot of comedy throughout the entire movie. And Chiaki and Fujiwara both give really solid performances. And I think it goes without saying how good Toshiro Mifune is in his role. And Misa Uehara does a solid job with her role too. It’s just generally a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think he did a really good job with the music here. It very much fits the fun adventure style that the story is going for. It has enough grandeur to add some weight to proceedings, but it also clearly never goes for anything too serious. It’s just a fun score that works very well for this movie.

As you already figured, “The Hidden Fortress” was directed by Akira Kurosawa, and as per usual he of course knocked it out of the park. This was also his first venture into widescreen filmmaking, and he took full advantage of that fact. He has stuff going on throughout the entire screen, giving us a lot of beautiful wides of both action and stillness. He and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki really outdid themselves here in giving us a lot of breathtaking shots and sequences. Must’ve dented the floor with how many times my jaw dropped.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

While the pacing drags a little bit in parts, I still find “The Hidden Fortress” to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hidden Fortress” is an 8.87/10. So I’d say that it ‘s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Hidden Fortress” is now completed.

Fortress: Hidden
Movie: Very visible.

Movie Review: Rashomon (1950)

Not too long ago I bought a box set featuring six movies from acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. And today I decided to finally start getting through it. And I thought that it could be fun to talk about each movie as I get through them. Sound good? Cool. Let’s do it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rashomon”.

Kyoto, Japan. We follow a group of people as they recount the various perspectives on the tragic events that transpired between a bandit (Toshiro Mifune), a samurai (Masayuki Mori), and the samurai’s wife (Machiko Kyo) that happened in the woods on one fateful day. Perspective is the name of the game within “Rashomon”, as each retelling of the events changes some minor details to make the momentary narrator seem like the better person, which does present some interesting ideas about truth, lies, and how we perceive people telling us about things they’ve seen and done. And the way it’s used within “Rashomon” is actually pretty clever and interesting, often making for really compelling drama. Admittedly it doesn’t always hit bullseye with its various sections, as there are times where the storytelling feels like slightly weaker than in others. But overall I can’t say that there’s anything outright bad in the story of “Rashomon”, as it’s still an ambitious and interesting piece of psychological drama.

The characters in this I found to be pretty interesting. Seeing how they either react to the different retellings or even how they are the one being the teller makes for some interesting character studies that aid the storytelling in really compelling ways. And with actors like Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, and Minoru Chiaki all delivering top notch performances, you get one hell of a compelling cast of characters.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and it’s great. It often plays into the whole unreliable narrator aspect of the story, having this unsettling vibe that helped in putting me on edge whenever it was heard within a scene. But I also appreciate that it isn’t overused. There was a lot of restraint shown in how it was used as sparingly as it did, giving it a much great effect whenever it popped up. It’s just really solid and works very well for the movie.

Based somewhat on a pair of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” was co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. And I don’t think I’m bringing anything new to the table when I say that his direction here is top notch. His framing, his movements, everything about his directing is just superb, adding so much to the storytelling. His direction manages to be big and bold, while also having a lot of subtle nuances to it. It’s just great stuff, yo.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic is has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10 and is ranked #130 on their “Top 250” list. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best art direction. 

So yeah, “Rashomon” is a really good psychological drama that, while not perfect, still manages to engage for its runtime. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Rashomon” is an 8.80/10. So I’d say that it’s most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Rashomon” is now completed.

Feels good finally getting ’round to Kurosawa.