Movie Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

Oh hi there, I hope you’re doing well. Our journey through the Universal Monsters box set continues. So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wolf Man”.

After he returns to live with his father, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) finds himself on a late night trip with a beautiful woman (Evelyn Ankers). This trip takes a sinister turn however when Talbot has a violent encounter with a wolf. An encounter that would change his life forever. While not the first movie to feature a werewolf, it’s definitely the one that set the standard for that type of story. Several tropes originated from it, and that legacy can’t be ignored. And I enjoyed the narrative here. I don’t necessarily think it’s the most nuanced or even most well told of these Universal monster stories, but I did most certainly enjoy it. The tone is the right balance between the campy monster stuff and something more somber and dramatic. The storytelling hits just the right mark for me. Nothing overly special, but definitely quite enjoyable.

The characters in this have a decent bit of nuance to them, and I found them to be decently entertaining. Lon Chaney Jr. plays Larry Talbot, AKA the man who is a wolf. And he is definitely the most nuanced character here. Seeing his arc, from smooth talking and charismatic man to someone more tragic is genuinely engaging, and Chaney Jr. is fantastic in the role. Next we have Claude Rains (the Invisible Man himself) as John Talbot, the father of our protagonist. A man of god and science, he serves as an interesting dramatic foil in Larry’s development, and makes for an interesting presence. And Rains is great in the role. We also get supporting work from Evelyn Ankers, Maria Ouspenskaya, Warren William, and Bela Lugosi (fuck yeah), and they were all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Charles Previn, Frank Skinner, and Hans J Salter… not often we see a trio of composers, so I’m just gonna let this moment simmer for two seconds. One, two. Okay, how was the score then? Pretty good. It was decently atmospheric and eerie, perfectly complementing the vibe the movie was going for. It’s good.

“The Wolf Man” was directed by a man named George Waggner, and I would say he did a really good job with it. Shots flow nicely into each other, and the man shows here that he haad great skill when it came to create a gothic sense of dread, without making it feel too overbearing in any sense. Speaking of gothic, I love the sets here. Yes, they often look like just that: Sets. But they’ve been coated in this dark, eerie, gothic atmosphere that just makes me so happy.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While not a top tier Universal monster movie, “The Wolf Man” is still a highly enjoyable one. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wolf Man” is an 8.66/10. So I’d say that it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf Man” is now completed.

Of WOOOOOOOOLF, AND MAAAAAAAAAN!

Movie Review: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Our journey through the Universal Monsters blu-ray set  continues, with the first (and only) sequel within it. So let’s put our neck-bolts on and get ready to talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bride of Frankenstein”.

Set immediately after the horrifying events of the first movie, we follow the Monster (Boris Karloff) as he makes a daring escape, trying to just be left in peace. All while the somehow still alive Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) once again is in the business to create life. This movie is a little falsely advertised. The bride does technically exist in this movie, but spoiler alert, she’s barely fuckin’ in it. She only shows up for a minute right at the end, barely playing any role in it. The story leading up to that is excellent, and I don’t mind the bride scene either… but when your movie is named after something that’s only there for a minute, then you kinda fucked up, I feel. It’s like if you took “Fight Club” and named it “The Harassment of Raymond K. Hessel”, yes it happens in the movie, but it’s such a minor element that it’s not worth naming the movie after it. Wow, I spent a lot of time on that one thing… but I guess I can justify that with “the movie is very mismarketed”.  Anyway, the rest of the story is great, they get some excellent drama of the Monster being on the run from the mob of scared people. There is a lot of nuance within the narrative, it is emotionally engaging. But man, that title snafu really bugs me.

The characters in this are colorful (ironic, given the monochrome) and entertaining. Let’s start with Boris Karloff as the Monster. He’s a tender creature, someone who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but is sometimes forced because he’s trying to survive. He has such a beautifully tragic arc in this movie, and Karloff’s performance is fantastic. Colin Clive returns as Dr. Frankenstein, and he’s a little more reserved this time around… and Clive does a good job with his performance. And the supporting cast, containing people like Valerie Hobson, Ernest Theisger, Elsa Lanchester, Dwight Frye, O.P. Heggie, and more, all do quite well in their respective roles. Theeeeeen there’s one cast member I don’t like. That is one Una O’Connor. She was also in “The Invisible Man”, in which she was kinda fun. Here however she doesn’t fit. Her performance doesn’t work with the serious tone of this… and she has a lot of screen time. Do you see the problem with that one? But yeah, one really big sore thumb in an otherwise great cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Franz Waxman, and I think he did a good job with it. It’s fun, it’s decently emotional, and it overall does fit the whole mad science/gothic vibe for it. It just works for this movie pretty well.

The director of the first movie, James Whale, came back to direct “Bride of Frankenstein” as well, and once again his direction is spectacular. This man was very much ahead of his time, giving scenes a lot of exciting camera movements and angles that almost felt ahead of their time. Whale’s direction is electrifying, and when you combine that with the cinematography of John Mescall’s cinematography, you get a movie that is beautiful to look at.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 95/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie even was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Sound.

So yeah, I don’t love “Bride of Frankenstein” as much as most people. It has some flaws within its title-story ratio, and also one painful performance… but it’s still a solid flick. It has a good plot, okay characters, great performances, good music, and great direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *ahem*. My final score for “Bride of Frankenstein” is an 8.11/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Bride of Frankenstein” is now completed.

The film twitter people are gonna kill me for me… and then reanimate me so they can kill me again.

Movie Review: Cronos (1993)

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

Damas y caballeros… “Cronos”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review of “Cronos” is now completed.

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

Movie Review: Dracula (1931)

The Month of Spooks is something I do every year as a celebration of the spookier side of entertainment. However, I have seldom looked back on the REALLY old stuff, the big classics. So this year I sought to change that ever so slightly. This means that every other review you’ll see this month will be of a film from the Universal Monster Classics blu-ray set. So there… variety!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dracula”!

Transylvania. A real estate agent named Renfield (Dwight Frye) finds himself a guest of the enigmatic Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), only to succumb to the Count’s will and become his servant. The two then set out for London, where Dracula will continue his reign of terror. We all know the basic setup for this story, let’s not kid around with that. But how does it hold up in terms of storytelling here? Pretty good, actually (fucking anticlimactic, I know). It’s a simple gothic tale with occasional hints towards more nuance within certain developments, and I like that stuff. I do however have some issues with it. Those issues pertain mainly to the pacing throughout. Sometimes it rushes through parts and sometimes it drags a little. It doesn’t completely break the film in half, but it is noticeable enough that it should be mentioned. But overall it’s still an enjoyable little tale.

The characters in this are fine, they serve the story decently enough. Bela Lugosi plays the titular vampire in this. A silver-tongued, polite gentleman who also occasionally gives people a nibble or two on the neck. I enjoy his presence, he’s a good villain/monster for this story. And Lugosi’s performance is of course great, a wonderful mix of quiet menace and mildly campy flamboyance. The other one I wanna go into some detail with is Dwight Frye as Renfield, the poor fool who becomes Dracula’s pawn. A seemingly decent dude turned madman. He’s probably the most interesting character in this, as we see he’s seemingly both intelligent and crazy, making for a surprisingly nuanced character. And Frye is great in the role, really selling Renfield’s recent insanity in a way that genuinely creeps me out. And the rest of the cast, including people like Helen Chandler, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, and more, all do really well in their respective roles.

What’s fascinating about this movie’s score is that it doesn’t really exist. The movie does use excerpts from one or two stage shows at certain points (mostly notably one from “Swan Lake”), but for the most part this film lacks any real score. But that’s okay. Not every film or scene needs music.

Based on the book of the same name by Bram Stoker, “Dracula” was directed by Tod Browning (with uncredited help from Karl Freund), and I think the craft on display here is terrific. While we’ve seen many homages and parodies and references to the visual style of this movie in tons of other projects, there’s something truly special about seeing this original take on the classic gothic visuals. The visuals in this are fucking breathtaking, from the sets to the lighting to the framing, it all just looks amazing to this day. Sure, some of the effects don’t look as good today, but I think that adds to the charm of it. I just love that old school gothic aesthetic.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.5/10.

While its occasionally wonky pacing drags it down a little, “Dracula” is still a really good gothic horror flick. It has a good store, okay characters, really good performances, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Bleh*. My final score for “Dracula” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying!

My review of “Dracula” is now completed.

Bela Lugosi, legend. Dwight Frye, MVP.

Movie Review: Mulan (1998)

Confession time: I have never actually watched this movie before. I know dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow, blah blah blah. But I then thought that since Disney recently released their live action remake, I might actually give this animated version a go (finally). So let’s get down to business.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulan”.

Fearing that her father might die if he goes to war, young Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) steals his gear and pretends to be a man so she can take his place in the army. We all know the basic setup at this point, even if you haven’t seen this movie. And the way it’s handled here I quite enjoyed. It’s not without fault however. There are parts of the story that I feel they glossed over a bit, kinda rushing through some aspects in an effort to get to the “good stuff”. That’s not to say that the story here is bad, it’s still a fun family adventure without a good message at its core. I just wish it maybe slowed down a little more to let certain moments simmer more. But as it stands, the story and the way it’s told is still quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, fun, and surprisingly nuanced at times. First up is Mulan, title character and very relatable person. While the people around her want her to be a fancy girly-girl to honor her family, even though she’s not like that at all. And to see her development in the movie from somewhat clumsy and insecure to someone a bit more tough and confident, that’s engaging. And Ming-Na Wen does an excellent job voicing Mulan. Next we have Mushu, a guardian dragon who sets out to help Mulan become a hero… even if he’s only doing it for his own gain. He’s mostly there to bring laughs, but I think the filmmakers found a good balance in that and making him a valuable part of certain emotional developments. And while it might seem slightly jarring to put Eddie Murphy in a role like that at first, I must say that he was great in the role. Then you also get supporting work from people like B.D. Wong, James Hong, Harvey Fierstein, Soon-Tek Oh, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, Frank Welker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music of this film is quite good. The main score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s an absolute treat for the ears, creating a lot of emotion through the various tracks, giving us a some great background ambiance. Then you have the songs (’cause you know, Disney) that were done by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel. While I don’t think that all of them are among the upper echelon of Disney musical songs, they still generally work pretty well for the movie. The peak of the tracks is of course “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (sung by Donny Osmond), a most excellent montage song. So yeah, overall this movie has good music.

Based on a Chinese folk legend, “Mulan” was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (with writing credits given to a shitload of people, good grief). And I must say that the craft on display here is absolutely superb. The art style for example takes inspiration from traditional Chinese artwork, and blending it with traditional Disney animation to create an absolutely stunning look for this movie that feels wholly its own. The animation is especially breathtaking in motion, where it shows great fluency that is a treat for the eyes.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

While its storytelling isn’t the best, due to its fast pace, “Mulan” is still another winning movie within the Disney catalogue. It has a good story, good characters, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mulan” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Mulan” is now completed.

Sometimes you just a need a film that can make you smile. This one did that for me.

Movie Review: The Wedding Photographer (2009)

I enjoy a bit of photography. I may not own an actual camera (though I’d really like to), but if I see potential in a spot or situation then I whip out my phone and snap a pic. Even during the Summer, this Swede takes some pictures. Wow, that was a clumsy tie-in to this series of mine… fuck it, it works.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wedding Photographer” (Original title: Bröllopsfotografen).

After the place he works at shuts down, Robin (Björn A. Ling) decides to take this new opportunity to move to Stockholm and pursue his dream of becoming a wedding photographer. And as he starts acquiring work and nestling himself in with some of the finer folks of the city, his life starts changing quite a bit. What at the start just seems like a romantic comedy with a poor goofball in a rich man’s world spin soon turns into more of a satire of class divide and how people might change if they try to look good for the allegedly “fine” people out there. And I found myself very entertained by the narrative. Sure, it’s not the most original premise, I could probably even think of a few films with similar setups, but as per usual it’s the execution that matters. And the execution of the story here is fun and entertaining, with a few decent nuances on occasion. The pacing does drag a little in a few parts, but for the most part I found myself just having a good time with the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, and overall just entertaining. Björn A. Lind (credited here as Björn Starrin) plays Robin, a likable and somewhat ambitious young man hailing from the boonies in the northwest of Sweden. He has a bit of an interesting arc here that I found surprisingly engaging. And Lind is really good in the role. Next we have Kjell Bergqvist as Jonny Björk, a former comedian trying to make it as a more serious actor. He’s the one helping Robin get his foot in the door, and their bond is one of the best parts of the movie. And Bergqvist is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Tuva Novotny, Johannes Brost, Lotta Tejle, Johan Östling, Anastasios Soulis, and many more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the film was composed by Jimmy Lagnefors, and it was okay. A bit charming, a bit dramatic, a bit eclectic. It works for the most part within the various scenes, even if it feels a little weird or eclectic at times.

“The Wedding Photographer” was written, edited, and directed by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a really good job with it. He has a good way of keeping energy up in scenes without making anything feel rushed, creating a vibe that made me really feel part of the experience. I also have to mention the cinematography by Mats Olofsson, because it’s great. A lot of fun long takes, some clever camera movements, it just adds another layer of quality to the storytelling and overall enjoyment.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% audience score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.9/10.

While I think some of the humor will get lost in translation, I highly enjoyed “The Wedding Photographer”. It has a fun plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wedding Photographer” is an 8,44/10. So I’d argue that it can be worth buying.

My review of “The Wedding Photographer” is now completed.

Say cheese.

Movie Review: False Trail (2011)

The Summer of the Swedes continues, this time with the sequel of a film we covered a few weeks back. So that’s fun.

Ladies and gents… “False Trail” (Original title: Jägarna 2).

Stockholm policeman Erik Bäckström (Rolf Lassgård) reluctantly gets called in to help out with a murder investigation in his old hometown in Norrbotten. However, as Erik looks into the case he soon finds that it isn’t as simple as first assumed, all while trying to connect with his estranged nephew (Kim Tjernström). So at first glance it seems like a retread of the first movie. And with it being a 15-years later sequel, you’d be forgiven for not having high expectations. But I’ll be damned, the story here is actually not bad. In fact, I’d say it’s good. It uses a similar blend of police thriller and family drama to the first movie, without ever feeling like a complete retread of it all. It feels like a proper sequel that builds upon the world set up in the first one while also working as its own film. Yes, it ties into the first one a lot, but it recaps enough within its own runtime that would help anyone feel mostly welcome. But yeah, the story here is compelling and dramatic and a little suspenseful too. That said, the pacing does drag a little bit towards the middle and maybe also a little towards the second half, which does drag the experience down a little. But I can still happily say that the narrative here still works quite well.

Much like the story, the characters surprise by having an unexpected amount of depth, making them quite compelling to follow. Rolf Lassgård of course returns as Erik, the big, burly, but sensitive cop returning to his home. We have the layers of the first movie’s setup, while also adding some of the trauma from the end of that one to make for an even more nuanced individual. And Lassgård is fantastic in the role. Next we have Peter Stormare as Torsten, a fellow policeman who lives in the area Erik comes back to. He’s an interesting individual in that you quickly learn that he is one complex son of a bitch. There’s a lot of surprising nuances to him that makes him not only a good character on his own, but also a great foil for Lassgård’s Erik. And Stormare is fantastic in the role. And the supporting cast is great too, with people like Kim Tjernström, Annika Nordin, Lo Kauppi, Eero Milonoff, and more all giving damn good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Johan Söderqvist, and I must say that I might prefer it a bit over the first film’s score. Not that the one in the 1996 film was bad, but the music here relies a little less on the melodramatic sounds of the first one, giving us a score that manages to resonate a bit more, create a much more interesting soundscape.

“False Trail” was directed by Kjell Sundvall, the man behind the 1996 original. And yeah, the dude has stepped up his craft quite a bit. His directing is more intense, being able to create a lot of tension in a scene, all without sacrificing the emotional intimacy that’s so integral to the experience. It helps make for some really investing scenes.

This film has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Pacing issues aside, “False Trail” is a the rare unnecessary sequel that builds upon the first film and makes for another engaging experience. It has a good story, good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “False Trail” is an 8.77/10. So while hampered by those pacing issues, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “False Trail” is now completed.

Crazy bastards did it.

Movie Review: Borg vs. McEnroe (2017)

I took a break from Swedish films for a bit, but now I’m back, ready to continue this Summer of the Swedes thing I’m doing. So let’s go.

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 gents… “Borg vs. McEnroe”.

Famous tennis players Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) have a bit of an ongoing rivalry, both at the top of their game, both well known. And soon this rivalry might come to a head in the 1980 Wimbledon tournament. However, the movie is not just one long tennis match. It jumps back and forth in time a lot, showing us the upbringing of these men, as well as giving us a lot of their issues relating to their present situation. It’s very much a character study of these two complex and honestly fucked up individuals. And for the most part I found myself quite engaged by it, as the writing does give a lot of nuance to proceedings. It’s not a pure “hero/villain” or “adoration of giants” narrative, this shows that none of these guys are perfect. The story does step into a fair bit of the trappings that can be found within the biopic genre, and the pacing can be a little wonky in the first half, but overall I do still think the story works here thanks to some of the nuances within the writing.

The characters in this are layered, and overall just quite interesting. Sverrir Gudnason plays Björn Borg, a seasoned tennis player with multiple world titles under his belt. However, while this skill and fame is something people look up to, he is a much more tragic and meticulous individual, his mind isn’t all joy and tennis wins. I don’t know how else to explain it, the dude’s a fascinating person. And Gudnason is great in the role, giving a very reserved but still nuanced performance. Next is Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe, Borg’s rival. He too carries a lot of emotional baggage, which we do find out about through the movie. And he is quite a compelling character, with LaBeouf giving what might be a career best performance. We also get supporting work from people like Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, Scott Arthur, Ian Blackman, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

Unlike most movies, which have one composer, this one has four. Vladislav Delay, Jon Ekstrand, Carl-John Sevedag, and Johan Struck all contributed in some way to the score here. And despite there being so many names attached to it, the music is surprisingly coherent, giving us an intriguing blend of traditional orchestral elements with some electronic mixing to give it an intriguing and emotionally resonant sound that works pretty well within the movie. There’s also a few licensed tunes used throughout, and they work alright too.

“Borg vs. McEnroe” was directed by Janus Metz, who I think did a really good job with it. He knows how to really get you in the minds of the characters, all without losing the wider scope of the scene around them, giving us a good look at the full situation. This is further helped out by Niels Thastum’s slick cinematography, along with the spectacular editing from Per Kirkegaard and Per Sandholt. In terms of the technical craft, this movie is terrific.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While it does fall into some biopic trappings at times, “Borg vs. McEnroe” is still a damn fine character drama. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, great performances, good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Smacks ball*. My final score for “Borg vs. McEnroe” is an 8,77/10. So it’s certainly worth buying.

My review of “Borg vs. McEnroe” is now completed.

SPORTSBALL, WOO!

Movie Review: The Hunters (1996)

The Summer of the Swedes continues, this time moving a bit further north in the country.

Ladies and gents… “The Hunters” (Original title: Jägarna).

Erik Bäckström (Rolf Lassgård) is a policeman who recently moved from Stockholm to his old home in Norrbotten following his father’s funeral. While there he starts investigating a case of large scale reindeer poaching. And as he investigates it, he soon starts discovering some dark secrets in and around his home. Yes, this sounds like a typical police film with a mildly unique setting. And at times it does feel like that. But then it also throws in its secondary main plot, which is Erik trying to reconcile with his estranged brother (Lennart Jähkel). And that relationship and the drama surrounding it is pretty fucking compelling, often managing to really get in my heart and my head and actually elicit some emotions. And while the main cop plot isn’t the most original or even nuanced (it does feel kinda shallow), it does work pretty well. And while that’s all good, there are a few bits throughout that don’t work too well for me, all falling within the second half of the movie. They don’t break the entire package, but they do bring it down somewhat. Overall though, the story here is quite good.

The characters in this are for the most part surprisingly layered and interesting. Rolf Lassgård might at first seem like “tough cop with a past”, but we do see throughout that he does have a sensitive side to him that helps endear us to him, with Lassgård giving a great performance. Lennart Jähkel as Lassgård’s tragic backwoods brother is fucking excellent. And the rest of the cast, containing people like Jarmo Mäkinen, Tomas Norström, Göran Forsmark, Thomas Hedengran, Editha Domingo, and more, all generally do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Björn Lindh, and it was generally pretty good. It’s often pretty emotional and tends to add to the quality of the movie. Though there are admittedly a few tracks that maybe are a little bit too melodramatic for their own good. But generally the score here is good.

“The Hunters” was written by Kjell Sundvall and Björn Carlström, with Sundvall handling directing. And good god damn, the direction here is great. I am so used to movies here having a very “press record” kind of look. But you can tell that they really gave a fuck about making a well crafted drama here. The cuts are well done, the shot lengths are great, and the atmosphere Sundvall’s direction is just palpable. This is further complemented by the cinematography by Kjell Lagerroos, which is fucking stunning.

While this film doesn’t have too much data on my usual sites, I can still say that it was generally well received. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

While flawed, “The Hunters” still rises above many of its peers in the police drama genre, thanks to the crew actually giving a fuck about being compelling. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hunters” is an 8,76/10. So I’d say it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Hunters” is now completed.

The Swedish word “jäkel” can be translated as “asshole” or other such rude words. Which is funny when there’s such a character in this, played by a man named “Jähkel”.

Movie Review: We Can Be Heroes! (2002)

Time for the Summer of the Swedes to keep going. So what’s on the menu today? A children’s film? Oh fuck.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Can Be Heroes!” (Original title: Bäst i Sverige!).

Marcello (Ariel Petsonk) doesn’t have it easy. He’s bullied by some boys in schools, and his parents (Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson) try to dictate where his life is supposed to go. But when he befriends the new girl in his class (Zamand Hägg), his life starts changing in a few ways. If some of these elements sound familiar, that’s because you’ve seen other movies. But just because this film borrows cliches from other ones doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I’d argue the story here is pretty good, with writing that takes the cliches and uses them in charming and enjoyable ways. There’s a lot of times when our main character has really vivid dreams, both in the middle of the day and during the night, which serve to not only develop him as a character, but also further the plot and also entertain. And it helps make the storytelling here feel fresh and fun. There are one or two moments in the story that maybe don’t fit too much, since they push the suspension of disbelief a bit too much, but overall I really liked the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and at times surprisingly nuanced. Sure, they all might seem like walking cliches at first. But as the story moves on, we see most of them get some decent development that makes them endearing and likable. And the cast, which features people like Ariel Petsonk, Zamand Hägg, Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson, Ralph Carlsson, Pontus Stenshäll, and more, all do pretty well in their respective roles.

The music in this movie is based heavily in a lot of pop tunes, which I guess is used to help add to the overall fun tone of the movie. I’m not saying all of them 100% fit all of the time, but I also don’t think any of the tracks ruin the mood at all. The songs work fine.

“We Can Be Heroes!” was directed and edited by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a damn good job. The way he shoots a scene is energetic and fast-paced, while still allowing for some of the more quiet scenes to nicely simmer. And man, the editing is really good too. Malmros knows when to make perfect cuts and how to nicely transition between reality and Marcello’s dreams. The craft here is really good. And since this is a comedy (despite imdb not acknowledging it), how is the humor? Fucking funny. It’s charming, it’s silly, it’s cute, it’s even a little brash at times… and most of it made me laugh.

On Rotten Tomatoes it exists with no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,8/10.

“We Can Be Heroes!” had a bit of an uphill battle with me, being both from my own home country and a children’s film. But god damn, it managed to win me over. It’s a charming little comedy about finding yourself. It has a good plot, really good characters, really good performances, pretty good music, great directing/editing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Can Be Heroes!” is an 8,89/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying.

My review of “We Can be Heroes!” is now completed.

Things are starting to look up.