Tag Archives: Drama

Bad Guys, Korean Drama Series (2014)

I love watching Korean dramaseries, but for some reason I am always running behind with reviews for these. It usually takes me a bit of time to finish them too, and that is not because I don’t enjoy them. On the contrary I absolutely love them, but as always there are only so many hours in a day, and you can only watch one thing at a time. For people who might be unfamiliair with Korean dramas let me give a small introduction for you. (I have done this before so feel free to skip this part and continue to read the next paragraph). Still here? Okay then. Korean dramaseries are tv series that usually contain around 20 episodes and cover a wide range of topics. Romance, historical period pieces, crime, even science fiction is entering the range of titles on offer. The great thing is that these are selfcontained stories, so there is never the risk of a series getting cancelled and leaving unfinished threads. Although there are a few exceptions of dramas getting a second season if it is succesful. One of these is the 2014 crimedrama Bad Guys.

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Well, I did warn you that this series could get bloody right?

In Bad Guys we meet up with detective Oh Gu-tak who has a nickname: Mad Dog. He certainly seems to live up to his reputation as he doesn’t shy away from using pretty excessive measures to catch criminals. But you can’t really blame him as years back his only daughter was murdered by a brutal serial killer. Since then he has been living with guilt and certainly isn’t the same man that he used to be. When a series of new murders take place in his district, Oh Gu-tak comes up with an unorthodox plan to capture the killer. He enlists the help of three dangerous criminals that are currently residing in prison. One is a psychopath and serial killer himself, the other a former mob boss, and the final member of Oh Gu-tak’s new crimefighting squad is a hired hit-man that never made a mistake, but eventually turned himself in. The person who eventually ends up catching the criminal, will get his sentence reduced. Things are not as easy as it seems though. Everyone has a very hard time getting along, but there also seems to be a tie that connects these four people together. A tie rooted in a very dark past and that might have very dire consequences…..

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He did not get the nickname Mad Dog for nothing.

This crimedrama is a very dark and bloody show, and honestly that is how I like them. Where the series at first starts off as a show that seems to focus itself on catching a different criminal in each episode, we soon get a storyline that branches out and carries on throughout the course of the series. The plot is very clever and it’s nice to continually try to find new pieces of the story and figure out what is going on.  It also contains quite a bit of action, featuring carchases and impressive fight scenes that have a blockbuster movie quality to them. This being a crime story it contains some very dark material at times, and there are a few brutal scenes, but it never goes too far or becomes to explicit to watch.

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I am not kidding, this guy wears this expression the entire series. Even his hair seems to agree with him.

The real highlight of this show however are the actors. The level of performances that are given in this show are really off the charts, and truly worth the watch. Detective Oh Gu-tak is played by Kim Sang-joong and he is very impressive to say the least. This is the first time I have seem him in a show or movie, but the way he portrays this quite frankly frightening character is astonishing. His grief and trauma over the death of his daughter really come to the fore in his performance and makes him so fascinating to watch. Ma Dong-seok who people might recognise from Train to Busan, plays the former mobster Pak Un-seol. His character provides some of the much needed comic relief in what is otherwise a very dark series. He gives another solid performance and certainly became one of my favorite characters of the show.

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You would almost think that this guy is a vampire…..

The most human character and the one with the highest level of charisma is the hired hit-man Jung Tae-soo. He is pretty much the only one that really struggles with the deeds that he has done, and his background story is the one that got to me the most. Ofcourse I am not going to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that it’s pretty touching. The last member of the band of misfits is psychopath Lee Jung-moon, played by Park Hae-jin. Quite frankly this guy gave me the creeps. His continually stoic expression throughout the series seriously was unnerving, but it was a terrific and very chilling role. We also have a female police detective called Yoo Mi-young played by Kang Ye-won. Quite frankly she is the only one that I did not really like in this series. I found her character to be pretty boring and not really fitting the rest of the high caliber acting that was done in this series.

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This is the Korean version of Spanish bullfighting.

This 11 episode series was a delight to watch. With the exception of a few moments in later episodes, this was a well paced series that had a really interesting plot, solid performances and a great atmosphere. Bad Guys is getting a second season, but sadly with an entirely different cast of characters. Which I think is a real shame as the cast for this show was simply put amazing. If you like crime dramas or serial killer stories and have yet to experience your first Korean dramaseries, this might be your perfect way to start. If you are looking for a way to watch this drama legally and for free you can check out the website Viki. This series together with scores of others can be found there in high quality, and there is a drama on that site for everyone.

I give Bad Guys a 8 out of 10 score.

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Rambo: First Blood, American movie (1982)

Yes people, my 80’s bingewatch is continuing. I don’t know what it is these days, but I seem to be living more in the past than in the present. Maybe I am actually experiencing a severe case of midlife crisis. Either that, or I am just getting old. For all you animelovers out there, and yes I am still one of them, rest assured there will be some animecontent coming out later this week. But for now, it’s time to revisit one of the greatest action heroes of all time: John Rambo. Portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, who I still consider to be one of best action stars to walk the face of this planet, Rambo is an icon and became a part of our culture. Just think of all the times his name has been mentioned in other movies or tv series. Together with Rocky, Rambo is just a terrific character that has captured the hearts and minds of action movielovers everywhere.

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The things you find in Christmas trees these days.

First Blood tells the story of the former Vietnam veteran John Rambo. At the beginning of the movie he is trying to get in touch with a former army buddy of his, with which he served in ‘Nam. He is shocked to find out his friend has died from cancer. Stricken with grief, Rambo sets out on foot not really caring where he ends up. Soon he arrives in a small town called Hope and comes across the local sheriff a man called Will Teasle. Now he really doesn’t take kindly to a stranger entering his quiet town, and firmly tells him to hit the road again. When John refuses, he is taken into custody even though he hasn’t done anything. But Will is about to find out that a war is going to take place in his small town. A war caused by a man named John Rambo. And when he is done, you can certainly count on one thing that will definitely be needed: a good supply of body bags….

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Such a stupid move to take him in. You can see he is wearing green right? Ever hear of the Hulk?

Now if you have actually never heard of this movie, seriously where have you been? Just kidding here of course. Rambo is one of the 80’s best action films and I honestly can’t count the number of times that I have seen this movie. We could all argue about the amount of macho type characters and testosterone this movie contains (and it certainly does contain that, no argument there), but at the heart is a story about prejudice. Here we have a man that has been a credit to his country, awarded with countless awards, and he gets accosted by the local sheriff just because of the way he looks. Also it teaches us what war can really do to a man or a woman. I have never been in a war, nor do I hope to ever be in one, but only if you experienced those horrors can you really imagine what it must be like. There is a gutwrenching scene at the end of the movie where John cries his eyes out telling his former commanding officer about what happened to him in Vietnam. And it really is hard to watch this iron warrior break up like that. War, seriously what is it good for?

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Easy Rider: the Next Generation.

 

The performances in this film are excellent. Stallone was born to play this part, a role he would reprise three times after this movie. Even though he does some horrible things in this film, you get where his anger is coming from, and you certainly feel sympathy for his character. And that is all because of the humanity that Stallone brings with him through his acting. Sheriff Will Teasle is played by the highly underrated actor Brian Dennehy. Will is a dispacable man, but in the end you do feel for him, as through his ignorance he gets way more than he ever imagined would happen to his town. It’s a terrific role and one that Brian pulls off incredibly well. And last but not least we have Colonel Trautman, Rambo’s commanding officer in Vietnam, played by the sadly departed actor Richard Crenna. Trautman acts as Rambo’s father figure, and pretty much the only man that Rambo has respect for. Crenna does a terrific job in portraying this commanding role, and you would almost believe that he was a real soldier.

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Man, seriously who drives like that?

The review would not be complete without mentioning the amazing score of Jerry Goldsmith. It adds another layer to what is already a terrific movie, and the theme for Rambo is one that will stick in your head for the remainder of the day, whenever you hear it. This movie is now 35 years old, and you would think it was made yesterday. With some fabulous action scenes, great and very memorable characters, and a story that does also make you think about the futility of some things, this is 80’s action moviemaking at it’s best. It will probably not please everyone, but if you are an action adrenaline junkie and have yet to watch this one, you will be in for a treat. And otherwise it’s a great movie to revisit and to relive the golden 80’s.

I give Rambo:First Blood a 9 out of 10 score.

 

The War for the Planet of the Apes, American movie (2017)

After reviewing Kong Skull Island earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to do another review that featured monkeys, or apes if you prefer. Honestly it is just a coincidence that these reviews are coming out in the same week, as I saw this film quite a while ago. It’s just one of those posts that for some reason I did not get around to earlier. In 1968 the original movie was first released starring Charlton Heston, and it is considered by many to be a science fiction cult classic. And of course it was inevitable that Hollywood at one point would remake this. The first attempt dates back to 2001, and was directed by Tim Burton. Starring Mark Wahlberg, it certainly wasn’t a bad film, but it also can’t be considered a very good one either. However in 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released. The first movie that would be the start of a new trilogy was a terrific film. It featured amazing special effects that for a change served in telling the story, instead of being the driving force of the movie.

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Hmm, I wonder who the human is in this picture. 

Three years later the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came out, and it was another amazing film. Again featuring ground breaking special effects, a heartwarming story, and plenty of action, it was a great follow up to the first movie. And now we have the War for the Planet of the Apes, which draws the trilogy to a close. In this third and final film, Caesar together with his family and the rest of his band of apes, tries to live peacefully in a secluded forest. This peace is shattered however when a ruthless human colonel attacks the camp of the apes. After suffering a terrible loss Caesar, together with a few of his most trusted friends, sets out on a path of revenge. In the middle of the quest they stumble across a young human girl who they eventually befriend and decide to bring along on their journey. Their path brings them ever closer to the colonel. Unbeknownst to them however this man has drawn his own plans, and they spell complete and utter doom for the remainder of the apes…..

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Kids these days like Teddy-apes more than Teddy-bears. 

Let me not keep you any further in suspense: War for the Planet of the Apes was a worthy end to a fantastic movie trilogy and then some. With a title that has the word war in it, you would expect a movie that has explosions, loads of action and other stuff like that in it. It’s all the more surprising however that this movie turned out very differently than I expected. This is not an action extravaganza, but more a very thoughtful drama set in a truly believable post apocalyptic science fiction world. We go along with Caesar and his friends on a journey that makes us question our own humanity at times. The apes were definitely possessed of more kindness, than the humans that were in this film. In fact, besides the young girl, there is not a single human character that you can relate to. Which is a good thing, because it’s the apes that you want to grow attached to in this movie. And they are brought to life in hyper realistic computer effects, that make the apes look completely real and lifelike.

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Haha, I am not worried you will miss me anyway. 

The main character Caesar is again played by Andy Serkis, who already did such amazing work playing as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings saga. Even though his face is completely hidden by computer effects, Caesar almost feels like a human, and that is mostly because of the amazing work of this actor. The colonel is played by veteran actor Woody Harrelson. His character is pretty much as far from being human as one can be, which is funny considering he is almost the only human being you get to see in this picture. At least as far as the bigger roles go that is. Harrelson creates a truly loathsome character, that you will grow to hate throughout this film. And that of course is a credit to the acting skills of Woody.

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Hey, come over here. Did you hear that joke about the monkey and the human? 

War for the Planet of the Apes is a movie that I label as a must see picture. I would even go so far as to call this closing installment the best part of the entire trilogy. Some people may at times feel the movie is moving along too slow. I was never bored for one second though. All the scenes that were in the film were created with a single purpose in mind: to make us truly feel for a group of apes and see them in the same light as normal human actors. And I would say the film certainly succeeded in that mission. The movie is a truly beautiful film to look at, with amazing special effects, and a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful tale as well. I highly recommend this movie. Even if you don’t regularly like science fiction I think you might still enjoy watching this one. Only if you are expecting an action fest it might be wise to avoid this one, for this is most certainly not an action oriented film.

I give War for the Planet of the Apes a 9 out of 10 score.

A Company Man, Korean movie (2012)

Yes everyone I am back, and my vacation has finally started. In the coming days, I will try and catch up with some of the posts I have missed out on, as well as write some reviews of my own. And what better way to kick off a vacation from work, with a movie about work. Well, sort of. Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate my job or anything like that, but it is not my lifelong ambition either so to speak. And I guess the same can be said for most people that have a day job. If you happen to be one of those lucky few that are an exception to this rule, congratulations on that great achievement. But before this post is turning into a job interview let me start by telling you what this movie is about.

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Just another day at the office. 

In A Company Man, we are introduced to Heyong-do, a man who seems to love his job. Wearing a suit and tie, he always turns up in time for his work at the seemingly normal company he is employed by. But the company is a front for an entirely different kind of business namely that of assassinations. Heyong-do is one of the hitmen, and one of the company’s best. Never before has he failed a mission, and it looks like he has no conscience whatsoever. But then he meets up with the single mother of one of his co-workers, and falls in love. This is the beginning of the end for him. Because of his intense feelings he really wants to change his ways, and quit being the stonecold assassin that he has been all his life. When he begins to spare certain people that he was supposed to kill, the company wants to get rid of him. But not by laying him off. No they have a much more permanent solution in mind….

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Hitman by day, houseman by night…gotta keep those shirts clean. 

This is one of those great Korean actionthrillers that I really love to watch. Although actionthriller seems to be too harsh a word for it. There certainly is action, I won’t deny that, but at the heart of it is also a pretty heartbreaking drama, and a truly great story to boot. A movie such as this stands or falls with the performance of it’s lead actor, and luckily the casting for this one was perfect. So Ji-sub portrays the role of Heyong-do in a terrific way. His natural charm makes sure that you instantly care for this character, even despite the horrific job he is carrying out. Both in the drama and action scenes So manages to deliver a believable role, and he is one of the best reasons for watching this film. But actress Lee Mi-yeon, who plays his love interest also does a great job. Their on screen chemistry works very well, and in scenes that could normally have turned into something very mushy, they both manage to avoid that altogether.

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So…tell me, what makes a good cup of tea? 

For the actionlovers out there this film offers just enough to satisfy. As mentioned even though you can classify this as an action thriller it isn’t the overall theme of the movie. So do not expect an action sequence every minute, as you will be really disappointed. The movie is shot and directed beautifully with a terrific final shoot out scene, that is one of the highlights of this movie. I have tried to find some things that I did not like about this film, but I honestly could not find them. This is just a solid Korean movie, that is truly worth seeing. With great performances by the cast, and a story that provides enough drama and action, I highly recommend this movie. So, as Heyong-do mentions at one point in the film: “The work day is over ” . And so is this review.

I give A Company Man a 9 out of 10 score.

Dunkirk, American/Uk/French/Dutch movie (2017)

When a new year is about to start, I always enjoy looking at the things that will be coming out in that year for television and the big screen. And every year there are a few movies that you are looking forward to even more than others. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing a five minute preview for the movie Dunkirk in the cinema. It was shown right before Star Wars Rogue One, and I dare say that it got my blood pumping more than Rogue One ever did. Made by my favorite director Christopher Nolan, it would be a departure from his usual films. Known for movies such as the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, this would be his first outing in the war movie genre. Ever since that first taste of the film, Dunkirk became the movie that I really got excited for the most this year. I saw the film last night and it is with a heavy heart that I have to say I was definitely disappointed by it.

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Don’t worry, I am covering my face for the rest of the movie.

Dunkirk is based on a true story that took place at the beginning of World War II. A large group of allied soldiers become trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Cut off from their allies, and surrounded by German forces, the situation looks very grim for these troops. But then a call goes out and a fleet is assembled with the mission to try and evacuate as much of the trapped forces as they can. But it is not a fleet of navy vessels that is sent out, but instead a group of non combatants with fishing boats, pleasure crafts, and more vessels like those. But with German bombers flying overhead, it is an intensely dangerous job to attempt any kind of rescue. Much less by people who are not trained in war at all. Will the mission succeed, or is the insane plan doomed from the start?

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Yeah, no need to look up in the sky, it’s definitely going to rain today.

Dunkirk is a brilliant movie from a technical point of view. The story that unfolds is covered by three different major threads that are interwoven together. One deals with the battle on the ground, another with the fight at the sea, and the last one tells the story of the dogfights high up in the air. What this movie manages to do is create an intense atmosphere of true desperation. The audience is thrust right into the middle of the action, and right from the start you feel the horror and fear these people must have felt throughout these terrible events. The camerawork and sounds created for the film are amazing and at times totally breathtaking. Never before has the sound of bullets sounded more terrifying than what you hear in this movie. All the effects and action you see in this movie are real and it really shows. Not once during the film did I have a moment where I thought that things looked fake. It all looked very realistic and that was another thing this movie did right.

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I believe I can fly….

But for all it’s technical brilliance, there was one very important thing that this movie lacked, and that was the human element. All of the characters this movie focussed on might as well have been extras in this film. There was no background on them, no kind of emotional depth, absolutely nothing at all that could make you relate to them. And that for me made the movie a disappointment. When you look back in history to movies such as Saving Private Ryan or the more recent Hacksaw Ridge, you felt for the characters that you watched. They were real people, and because of that you cared what happened to them. In this film, not once did I feel like that. All of them are just pretty much faceless people that are needed to move the story forward, but that’s about it.

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Come on in, the water is great.

That’s why it is also very hard to talk about the performances in this movie. Tom Hardy, one of my favorite current actors plays a fighter pilot, that spents most of the film covered by a flightmask. It reminded me of his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. But Bane was a very interesting character and even though the character he plays in this movie is truly a hero, it was just simply not an impressive role. The one person that at least managed to put a bit of depth in his character was actor Mark Rylance. Rylance plays the role of one of the men that heeds the call for the rescue attempt, and together with his son Peter and a teenage boy called George heads out to sea. Mark certainly played the most interesting character from the film, and he is also the one that at least gets a chance to act. The rest of the cast are simply forgettable, not because of their acting, but because they have almost no dialogue to speak off.

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Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane no it’s erm….never mind…

Dunkirk could have been an absolute masterpiece. If Nolan had spent more time focussing on creating characters that you could actually relate to, this film would really have been a classic. Instead we now have a warmovie that is cold but still incredibly tense and with a gripping atmosphere. It certainly wasn’t a waste of my movieticket, and I still enjoyed it enough to recommend the movie to you. It deserves to be seen in the cinema, as this movie was truly made for a big screen showing. Just don’t expect to be moved by this movie in the way the true classics of the past were able to do.

I give Dunkirk a 7 out of 10 score.

Party of Five season 1, American tv series (1994/1995)

Teenage highschool dramaseries have been gracing television screens for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up I loved watching shows like Beverly Hills 90210, and yes I know how sappy those series at times can be. But I don’t know, they were just easy to watch, and had subjects in them that pretty much everyone who went to school can relate to in one way or another. Now that I am older it’s sometimes nice to revisit those old series. Call it a trip down memorylane or, god forbid, a midlife crisis, but some of those shows are still a lot of fun. There was a series that has always stood out amongst all of them though. And to simply call it yet another teenage drama is really selling it short. Because Party of Five, the show that I am talking about, is really so much more than that.

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Yeah, now you can still laugh, it won’t be long before someone will chase you with a knife.

Party of Five deals with five siblings living together in a house, after the tragic death of their parents in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Charlie Salinger is the older brother, and pretty much in charge of everything, but that certainly isn’t an easy task. Charlie is not one of the most responsible people of the world, but he tries to do his best in a very difficult situation. Than there is Bailey, the younger brother who always tries to do the right thing, even at the cost of himself sometimes. Julia Salinger is the older sister, who can be a bit rebellious at times, but also has a heart of gold. And then there is Claudia, the youngest sister, who is trying to become one of the best violin players of the world. And to complete the party of five we have baby brother Owen, who everyone adores, but ofcourse is a handful. The first season deals with all of them coming to grips with the hard life after the death of their parents, and getting along with each other.

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Is it really that hard to believe that I was in Lost and she was in Scream? 

Now, I can already see the frowns starting to pop up all over on your heads. Yes, I know this sounds like a very sad story, and how this is probably one of those seriously tearjerking series. But you could not be more wrong. Party of Five was once described as “The best show you are not watching”. Throughout it’s runtime the series always struggled to stay on the air because of failing ratings. And that was mainly because this was not your typical teenage show. For one thing the acting was absolutely amazing. Matthew Fox, who most of you might know from the succesful television series Lost, plays the role of Charlie. And he does that in an incredible way. Charlie is a character that has really got some serious flaws. You may even hate him at times, but it makes him all the more human, and you really can feel for him at so many points throughout the show.

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You don’t have to argue about it: I really WAS in Scream. 

But the rest of the cast is amazing as well. Bailey, played by Scott Wolf is a character that has a natural charisma, and one that I myself could understand and relate to the most. He always tries to see the best in people, and goes out of his way to help them, but usually ends up being disappointed because of that. Scott has a very natural and believable way of acting, which helps you like the character even more. Julia is played by a young Neve Campbell, and she was always an incredible actress right from the start. It’s honestly pretty sad that her career never took off as much, as was believed at the time. Finally Claudia, played by Lacey Chabert, is just one of those characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. She has an innocence to her, and not a bad bone in her body, even though she can sometimes really be a brat. But you pretty much forgive her for acting up like that at times.

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That boat behind us really looks out of place. 

Throughout it’s first season run, the Salingers have to deal with a lot of issues and emotions. There are laughs, tears, and scary moments as well, all blended together in a fantastic mix. The stories in pretty much all of the episodes are written very well, and deal with many more things than only teenage romances. And that was one of the show’s greatest strengths. There are some very mature themes in the show, that were there right from the start of this series. Yes, there are some very heavy moments in Party of Five as well, not going to lie to you there, but it never becomes to oppressive. Certainly not in this first season, which also had some very good humor in it too. I can’t recommend Party of Five enough. If you have never seen this show, try it out, and I dare you not to bingewatch it after seeing five minutes of it. And for those of you that have seen it, it’s great to revisit it for a bit of nostalgia, or a midlife crisis. Whatever takes your fancy.

I give Party of Five season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

It comes at night, American movie (2017)

If there is one thing that is pretty much a fact in life, it is that nothing lasts forever. For one thing we all know that humanity will one day cease to exist. We don’t know yet how that will happen, but there are endless scenarios for that. And ofcourse we all know that a lot of these have been featured in movies. Now I for one am a huge fan of post apocalyptic movies, and no that does not mean that I want the world to end. I may at times be crazy, but I am sure as hell not that crazy. I particularly love the genre, because it usually features ordinary men and women that are put into situations that will see them having to overcome impossible odds. And in order to do so change the ways they usually did things in the life before the apocalypse. The movie I am about to review falls into the post apocalyptic genre, but really tries to take things in a completely different direction than is usually the case.

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So..like, does anybody know any good jokes?

The only thing that is clear at the beginning of the movie is that there is some kind of plague going around, that is probably responsible for wiping out most of humanity. We meet up with Paul a man that lives together with his wife Sarah and their teenage son Travis in a secluded house in the forest. They are pretty much cut off from everything, and only have each other to depend on. However the situation is beginning to look more grim every day, especially considering that their food is running out. One night they hear noises in the house, and they find that someone is trying to break in. The man responsible for that act is called Will, and at first Paul is very suspicious of him. Will tells them that the house looked abandoned from the outside, and that he was only trying to find some water for his own family. After a while, Paul reluctantly agrees to take Will and his family in. At first things are going well, and the two families are living amicably together. But as time passes by, a mutual distrust is beginning to take root. Is everyone telling the truth? Is everyone free of the disease? As suspicions grow, the tension begins to increase with every passing day with very dire consequences…..

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This man was left out as an extra for The Walking Dead and he is still frustrated about that. 

This is a movie that can be decribed as a psychological horror movie. It certainly has it’s flaws, which I will adress shortly. But it also does a lot of things right. For one thing it is highly original. When I first heard the description for this film, my first thought was “Oh, it’s another one of those kind of movies”. I expected either zombies or large abandoned cities where pockets of humanity still lived. But that really wasn’t the case. Almost the entire movie took place in one single location, and as such you run the risk of it becoming very boring. But I wasn’t bored for one minute. It tells the story of what happens to people when a situation like this would present itself, and it did so in a very realistic way. Here we have a movie that explores the human psyche, and how one changes when it comes to protecting family, instead of going along a well trodden path like zombies or stuff like that. And that was what made it all the more chilling.

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This is taking off road driving to a whole new level…

The cast consisted of pretty much unknown actors with the exception of Joel Edgerton, who played the role of Paul. Joel did a great job in my opinion of playing the desperate but also slightly paranoid father, who’s only thought is to protect his family. He puts enough emotion in the role to make it very believable and certain decisions he makes are tough, but most of the times you can relate to them. And that is mostly because of his acting. The film does leave you with a lot of questions at the end. And that is one of it’s biggest flaws. Quite a few things are left wide open at the end of the movie, and that can be a bit frustrating. It also is a pretty bleak and quite depressing film. A movie such as this is hard to recommend and it definitely won’t be for everyone. It is a type of horror that can crawl under your skin, and it certainly did that for me, but there will also be people who will experience it differently.

I give It comes at Night a 8 out of 10 score.

Merantau, Indonesian movie (2009)

I was introduced to the martial arts movie genre, by watching old Jackie Chan movies. Really, the guy is amazing, and whether or not you like his movies, I don’t think anyone can dispute his skills. Pretty much every martial arts movie I watched in those early days, had it’s origins in Hong Kong. However as my interest in those movies grew, I slowly began to discover that there were other countries that also made some very high quality martial arts films. Indonesia is one of those countries, and it turned the genre upside down with the phenomenal movies The Raid, and The Raid 2. The star from those two films is a man named Iko Uwais. One of the things I tend to do when I really like something is to find out as much as I can about it, or in this case the actor. To my surprise Netflix had one of Iko’s earlier movies on offer, and it turned out to be a hidden gem.

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Take it to the bridge….

In Merantau, Iko plays the role of the young man Yuda who is an expert in Silat, a form of martial arts. Yuda lives with his mother and his older brother in the peaceful  countryside. One day however Yuda leaves his home to go on his Merantau, which can best be described as a kind of journey to seek out experience and succes. His plan is to teach Silat to the children of Jakarta, and become a better man by doing so. When he arrives in the city, he soon discovers that things are very different from the countryside. What’s more while enjoying a relatively peaceful meal, his wallet gets stolen by a young boy. Yuda gives chase, and manages to catch the would be thief. Not long after the boy’s sister, Astri, appears who is found arguing with her boss Johnny. When Astri is struck in the face by Johnny, Yuda comes to her aid. From this point on things are beginning to go very wrong. A ruthless human trafficker called Ratger, will stop at nothing to get Astri back, and the only one standing in his way is Yuda. But Yuda finds himself outnumbered as Ratger has an enormous amount of henchmen at his disposal, that soon give chase. Will Yuda be able to save Astri, or will his efforts be in vain?

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Don’t look into his eyes unless you want to be brainwashed. 

This movie is a fine example of a film that I expected absolutely nothing from, but which turned out to be an enormous surprise. I thought this would be a fairly standard action flick, with maybe one or two good fight scenes, but not much more on offer. I was completely wrong. The biggest surprise to me in this film, was the amount of touching moments it contained. Yes, this is an actionmovie, but the story itself, while nothing really unique, contains some genuine heart. This is in part because of the amazing chemistry between the two lead actors. Iko really shows that besides martial arts he can also act and his scenes with Sisca Jessica who plays Astri, are some of the best parts of this film. The villain of this movie is played by Danish actor Mads Koudal, and he does a great job in portraying a pretty psychotic human trafficker.

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She does have a second eye beneath her hair, no worries. 

But ofcourse a martial arts movie stands or falls with it’s fight sequences, and it is also in this department that it truly shines. We have some seriously amazing fight choreagraphy on display here, and it is hard to pick a favorite scene. Iko sometimes seems to be made of rubber the way he manages to twist his body in almost impossible positions. With all the positive things on offer the movie does lose a bit of credibility near the end. There is one scene in an elevator that really goes way over the top, and is completely unbelievable. But that one scene wasn’t enough to spoil the film though. For everyone who is a fan of martial arts movies, and wants to experience something slightly different from what this genre usually has to offer, I recommend seeing this one. It is a high speed train ride that never lets up, but also doesn’t forget to put some heart into the storyline.

I give Merantau a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Lone Survivor, American Movie (2013)

Choices. In your life you will make quite a few of them. Most of these will be very small. For instance will I take the salad today, or am I going for the hamburger? But there are also choices that will have a lot more impact. A decision that you will look at from every angle in order to see what impact it might have on your life. If you are like me, hopefully those choices how ever hard they might be, will not involve life or death situations. Unfortunately though, there are also people in this world that come face to face with these kind of things on pretty much a daily basis. The movie Lone Survivor deals with the consequences of just such a life or death choice.

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Some people take Call of Duty just way too seriously.

Lone Survivor is based on a true story. A group of American soldiers is tasked with the capture or kill of the high profile Taliban leader Ahmed Shah. This man is responsible for the killing of a number of American soldiers, as well as local villagers that were aiding the American forces. A four man SEAL team including teamleader Michael Murphy is inserted in the region where Ahmed is supposed to reside. When the group is beginning to near their target, an old man and two children accidentally stumble across the soldiers. From this point on the SEALs are faced with a terrible choice: they either let them go and risk discovery, or kill them and make sure the mission can be accomplished. With the group divided on what to do, time is running out and with every second that passes they are in more danger. The ultimate decision lies with Michael, but whatever he finally chooses to do, it will be a choice that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

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The things you find in Christmas trees these days.

The strength of this film is definitely the story. Really, ask yourself the same question, what would you do when faced with a situation like this? Even if you make the choice that might be the morally correct one, it may end up costing you your life, and the lives of your team mates. It is a really terrible dilemma, and one that is presented in terrific way in this film. A movie like this could fall into the trap of becoming a commercial for the American warmachine, but it thankfully avoids doing that. It shows both sides of the conflict, without passing judgement on what is right or wrong. The fact that this movie is based on a true story, makes it only more powerful and realistic.

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Sometimes you just want to take a break from it all.

The cast that was assembled for this movie does an awesome job. We have Mark Wahlberg, who plays the role of Marcus Luttrell, the soldier that feels the strongest about not killing the old man and children. Wahlberg is no stranger to action roles, and this movie certainly has plenty of action sequences, but he can also act. And that he certainly did in this movie, a role I found to be one of his best to date. Actor Ben Foster, who seems to have a different look for every movie he appears in, portrays the role of Matthew Axelson. Now Matthew has the exact opposite opinion of the situation, that Marcus has. This allows for a couple of great verbal exchanges between the two characters, and those serve as some of the best scenes from the movie. The two other team mates are played by Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch, both of whom also do an excellent job. But it is both Wahlberg and Foster that really carry this movie.

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Okay…now you have made me mad: I’m calling Optimus Prime.

This review would not be complete without the mention of the incredible action sequences that are featured in this movie. There is a gunfight scene that I found to be one of the best that I have ever seen put to film. I kid you not. The stuntwork that is carried out in this movie often had me wondering how on Earth they managed to achieve it without people getting hurt or killed. It is really impressive, and only makes the movie even better than it already is. But it is ultimately the story that makes this film so good. When the endcredits finally roll, it will remain in your mind, and have you thinking about the morality of certain things. Lone Survivor is an excellent movie and one I highly recommend for actionlovers that also enjoy watching a well written storyline.

I give Lone Survivor a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Kids on the slope, Anime tv series (2012)

One of the more fun things that I have experienced lately is doing watch-a-longs for animeseries that are featured on other blogs. It all started with the incredible Your lie in April, that I watched because of the rewatch feature over on Weekend Otaku’s blog. Not only was the series itself worth it, what made it an even better experience was sharing thoughts on each episode with Weekend Otaku and other bloggers. And so it was that I was delighted that another blog that I have always had a high respect for, started a watch-a-long as well. I’m talking about Hazelyn who has an absolutely wonderful blog called Archi Anime. If you are not yet following her, please stop reading, subscribe, and then come back here. Just kidding ofcourse, but trust me when I say that her blog is amazing, has seriously cool features on anime, and some truly unique things you don’t find on other blogs. All very good reasons to subscribe I would say. The watch-a-long she organised was for the delightful animeseries Kids on the slope.

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That is one way of getting someone to shut up. 

Kids on the slope tells the story of Kaoru Nishimi, a student and classical pianist that has never been fully confident in his own abilities. He has moved around quite a lot in his young life and as such has never really fitted in. Having just arrived at a new highschool, he fully expects to have yet another year in which he will experience lonelyness and being bullied. But then he meets the bad boy of the school Sentaro Kawabuchi. The two of them could not be more different, but still an unlikely friendship between the two of them begins to take shape. Even though Kaoru is mainly a classical musician, Sentaro introduces him to the world of jazz music. From this point forward things begin to change in Kaoru’s life. But when he falls in love with the beautiful class president Ritsuko Mukae, who is also a good friend of Sentaro, tensions begin to mount. Will his newly found first real friendship end in disaster?

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Stay way from me or these sticks will hurt you, I’m not kidding around. 

Kids on the slope is a beautiful and heartwarming anime, that I highly enjoyed. It is the story that really drives this series, and themes like friendship, love and music all blend together in a terrific cocktail. I’m not even a big fan of jazz music, but you can’t help but get excited when Kaoru and Sentaro play together. It has resulted in a few great scenes that for these alone make the series well worth the watch. But it are themes like friendship and lonelyness that are really handled incredibly well in this show. Even though there are some pretty dark moments in this anime, these are always alternated with some great feel good scenes. The animation style and setting for the series was quite unique. It was almost dreamlike, and at times even felt a bit like watching a very old but also highly modern animeseries. One only has to look at some of the screenshots that I have provided to see what I mean.

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I love watermelon as well, but this seems like overkill.

The characters of this series are kind of a mixed bunch. Kaoru, the main character, is someone you will have a love/hate relationship with. There are certain actions that he takes that will have you fuming with rage, and at other times you can’t help but feel sympathy for him. The kindhearted Ritsuko is definitely not without her flaws, but she is very important to the story. Sentaro however is the one that I liked the most. Pretty much every scene he appears in was fantastic. His at times very angry attitude, hides a truly kindhearted soul, that cares deeply for his friends. All in all it was wonderful to see the relationship develop between these three characters.

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Piano vs drums, not sure if that is such a good idea. 

This anime certainly won’t be for everyone. For one thing certain episodes did feel kind of slow, and there are a few moments in this series that were a bit confusing. But these events were definitely not enough to spoil the overall appeal of this one. The way the story is eventually wrapped up, is one of the best endings for an animeseries that I have seen to date. I really had a great time watching this rather unique anime and highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great feelgood story. Last but not least I want to thank Hazelyn for bringing Kids on the slope to everyone’s attention and organising this great watch-a-long.

I give Kids on the slope a 8 out of 10 score.