Tag Archives: 2002 movies

Fear X (2003) Review

fear-x-2[1]

Fear X

Time: 91 Minutes
Cast:
John Turturro as Harry
Deborah Kara Unger as Kate
Stephen McIntyre as Phil
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Harry Caine (John Turturro) is a mild-mannered mall cop whose pregnant wife is killed in the underground parking lot where he works. It seems it may have been a contract killing, and Harry becomes obsessed with finding out the details. His investigation eventually takes him to a Montana town, where reality becomes unhinged for him, and he remains disturbingly unfazed by the wintry conditions and eccentric characters. In the end, he’s not looking for revenge, just for the reason behind it all.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I knew some things about Fear X going into it. First of all, it was the first English language movie from Drive, Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon director Nicolas Winding Refn, and its an experimental crime thriller starring John Turturro which flopped, causing Refn to direct two sequels to his debut film Pusher. I’ve also noticed it’s been referred to as Refn’s worst movie, so I went in cautiously optimistic. While I think it is quite possibly his worst movie, I still liked it.

MV5BZGI1YTk4MDAtNGE1ZS00MDQ1LTkzNzYtM2RjNjM5YmYzYzgwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_

Fear X is a psychological thriller which initially appears to have a simple plot. It does have a conventional premise about someone looking for the person who killed his wife, however it is definitely not a mainstream movie. Refn takes this premise and applies his own storytelling style to it, subverting the tropes of the revenge thriller. In some ways, you could say that this is a revenge story without the revenge. I like this concept, you get a typical noir film which happens to mix surrealism and murder mystery together, and it is eerie and strange the way it is presented. In fact, many scenes of dialogue and style choices can be compared to David Lynch’s work. It is riveting, tense and unsettling throughout. The film is definitely slow and takes its time, and this will definitely turn some people off from the movie. The atmosphere isn’t strong enough to make this approach work as well as some of Refn’s other slow burners, but I liked the build up over the course of the movie. The other reason a lot of people won’t like this movie is the ambiguity, and in fact it might be too ambiguous for its own good. This is especially in the case of the ending, which really isn’t much of an ending. It leaves you feeling empty and lacks a conventional conclusion. I do admire the decision and it is bold to deliberately leave things without closure and the audience with more questions than before. I also get that it’s deliberately leaving itself to be heavily interpreted. However, I don’t think it quite sticks the landing, and I get people not liking the movie because of the ending.

161YuffywK7aoyjNRoQHle9ZWBV[1]

The acting from everyone is pretty good but really the highlight out of all of them is John Turturro in the lead role of the mall cop who’s trying to find his wife’s killer. Turturro is pretty much a perfect fit in the lead role. He and everyone else don’t have a whole lot to say, much of the acting comes from facial expressions and emoting. However, Turturro gives a really nuanced performance and was a solid casting choice for what Refn was going for.

backdrop-1920

This is another film from Nicolas Winding Refn, and as expected his work on a technical level is great. I expect amazing visuals from his movies and Fear X is no exception. The use of colour is striking, the cinematography is immaculate and it’s shot with a style which would be more prominent in his later movies, especially when it comes to hallway scenes. The sound design is also amazing, complimenting the mood perfectly, helped by the haunting score from Brian Eno. All these elements come together to create an eerie and foreboding atmosphere throughout the entirety of the film.

e85d743fa311aa4549b7f4deed6c09af[1]

I do get why Fear X bombed to a degree, it was a departure from Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous movies, and it is one of his stranger films (which is saying a lot). However it does have some strengths, I liked Refn’s different take on a revenge thriller with all its ambiguity, John Turturro gave a great performance, and it is directed and shot beautifully. At the very least, it did help Refn figure out his filmmaking voice and style. I do think it is worth watching if you liked some of NWR’s other work, but it’s probably best you do so with a good idea of what kind of movie you’re in for.

Die Another Day (2002) Review

james-bond-die-another-day-pierce-brosnan

Die Another Day

Time: 133 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson
Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves
Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost
Rick Yune as Tang Ling Zao
Judi Dench as M
John Cleese as Q
Michael Madsen as Damian Falco
Director: Lee Tamahori

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul, who is funding the development of an international space weapon.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I reached the end of my rewatches of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies with Die Another Day. It is widely known regarded one of the worst Bond movies, if not the worst. However I remember watching it a lot when I was younger, so I was curious whether my opinion would change sharply, or if I’d be more lenient on it. In a way, both happened. I definitely don’t hate it like a lot of people do, I do find parts of it I enjoy, even when most of it is ludicrously silly. However, it’s not a very good movie, it has a ton of issues and easily ranks as one of the worst Bond films.

die-another-day-15th-anniversary

The strangest part of Die Another Day is that it starts off pretty good, at least the first 20 minutes or so. James Bond is on a mission in North Korea, and the opening set piece is entertaining (if darkly lit), and even goes to some dark places. Bond is captured, tortured and interrogated before being released. The opening was new ground for Bond and the tone seemed like it was where Brosnan wanted to take Bond for the longest time. Even with some weird inclusions such as a CGI bullet flying towards the screen in the opening Gunbarrel sequence and the Madonna opening song, it had a good start. You really notice a change from the point where Bond escapes from the hospital by faking a cardiac arrest by lowering his heart rate by will. This dark tone and opportunities from the start of the movie aren’t capitalised on at all, any potential given by the start of the movie fizzles out quickly. MI6 and M initially don’t trust Bond after he’s released, believing him to have given up vital information during the torture. However that doesn’t last for long and soon enough he’s back on a mission with them. The opening being that dark is very strange considering that on the whole it is one of the silliest Bond movies. The plot is straight out of a Roger Moore Bond movie, especially with the inclusion of a solar laser beam being shot out by a diamond encrusted satellite. There’s even a plot point where the main villain played by Toby Stephens (a British white guy) turned out to be a Korean guy who used gene therapy (ironically this isn’t even the most racist moment in Bond’s film history). Being silly isn’t going to bother me, many of the Moore movies are absurd and people mostly gave those a pass. Die Another Day would make for an enjoyable campy Bond movie if they were aiming for that. Unfortunately it is not self aware, in fact it takes itself pretty seriously, which makes things tonally strange. Also despite the very silly things that happens, on the whole it feels strangely dull with not a whole lot of energy. The attempts at humour are bad but somehow also feel low effort, and the plot is rather predictable. So while there are individual moments that are goofy, its not the kind that keeps you endlessly entertained throughout the entire runtime.

Die_Another_Day-773823754-large

The acting is a bit of a mixed bag. Pierce Brosnan has been gradually been improving as James Bond with every subsequent film but his work here is rather disappointing, feeling a little lazy and on autopilot. The opening with the torture in North Korea certainly provided an opportunity for a much darker journey for the character but unfortunately the film didn’t take advantage of that. However I wouldn’t call it a bad performance, Brosnan is still charming and fun to watch, and effortlessly delivers the (mostly cheesy and bad) one-liners written for him. Halle Berry plays the main Bond girl named Jinx. Berry was disappointingly underutilised and forgettable, delivering a rather boring performance and having basically no chemistry with Brosnan. Toby Stephens plays the villain, and the character is rather silly given that his name is Gustav Graves. The character is rather boring, however Stephens seems to be acting so hard to be the villain that he’s kind of entertaining. He is just sneering throughout the last half of the movie as he tries to be menacing, and as that he’s kind of fun to watch. Still, he’s a strong contender for the worst Bond villain. Rosamund Pike is in this movie in an early role for her. While there are issues with the writing of her character, she leaves a strong enough impression (more than Berry or the main villain), and is overall one of the film’s stronger performers. Rick Yune also made for a decent henchman, working better than the main villain too. John Cleese is the new Q after his introduction in The World is Not Enough. He’s decent enough but a bit underutilised, definitely not as memorable or effective as Desmond Llewyn or Ben Whishaw. Michael Madsen is very out of place in this movie as the head of the NSA, and it feels like he should be in a completely different movie, he’s not believable at all in his part.

miranda007_WEBSITE_IMAGE_SIZE_LANDSCAPE

Lee Tamahori is the director of Die Another Day, and in the nicest possible terms, his work is a bit mixed. It’s one of the three Bond movies released in the 2000s, but DAD is the only one which really feels dated and very much in the 2000s. Specifically, the style uses a lot of slow motion and shots being sped up, especially in the action scenes. It’s like it was trying to imitate John Woo’s style from Mission Impossible 2, but even that movie seemed to have some level of energy, while Die Another Day has none. There’s also an overreliance on CGI and green screen, more so than most of the past Bond movies, and the CGI just looks clunky today. The gadgets in the Bond films have never been what you’d call realistic at the best of times, but this film takes it to a new level. The biggest example that everyone points to is an invisible car, and while that is firmly a step into the sci-fi territory, given the other stuff that also happens in the movie I would not call it the most silly part of the movie. The action scenes are ridiculous, there is a chase scene between two cars on ice, and most infamously there’s a scene where Bond windsurfs, making use of horrible green screen and an obvious stunt double. However there’s still fun to be had with some of the action. There’s a fight scene that makes use of multiple laser beams spinning all over the place and its just so absurd and hilarious for it. There’s also a fight scene between Bond and the main villain in their first encounter in a duelling club where they fight with swords, that was entertaining too. The production design is solid, the ice palace in the middle of Iceland particularly makes for a memorable setting for a Bond film, and not necessarily in a bad way. I don’t usually mention Bond songs in reviews but Madonna’s song for Die Another Day is so atrocious I don’t know how it ended up being used. The title sequence actually advances the story showing Bond’s torture, but it feels very out of place that Madonna’s song is played during this. Speaking of Madonna, she has a cameo in this, and somehow is even more out of place than Michael Madsen was, which is rather impressive. There are also some weird song choices, like how they literally needledrop “London Calling” by The Clash as James Bond is travelling to London. However I will give great praise to David Arnold’s score, which is really the only consistently good/great part of the movie.

Die-Another-Day-2002-featured

While I’d say that Die Another Day is definitely one of the worst Bond movies, I don’t dislike it that much, at the very least not as much as other people. It is certainly memorable, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. However it’s just as well that after DAD they rebooted the franchise, and that if anything is the film’s greatest contribution, as it would result in the Daniel Craig Bond era. The most disappointing thing about this movie is that you could swap out the Bond name and it would’ve fitted alongside other generic action flicks around that time. There are certainly some fun moments but the movie on the whole is surprisingly dull. As bad as it is, if you watched the first three Pierce Brosnan Bond films you might as well watch this one too, even just for completion.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Review

halloween_resurrection2

Halloween Resurrection

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] 
Cast:
Busta Rhymes as Freddie Harris
Bianca Kajlich as Sara Moyer
Thomas Ian Nicholas as Bill Woodlake
Ryan Merriman as Myles “Deckard” Barton
Sean Patrick Thomas as Rudy Grimes
Tyra Banks as Nora Winston
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Director: Rick Rosenthal

Six teenagers, who are eager to experience thrills, spend the night in the childhood home of serial killer Michael Myers. But he returns to brutalise them.

full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was the film that brought back the long running horror series by starting over and not continuing on from the previous movies, it had its fair share of issues, but had some good parts to it. One of these was the ending, which seemed to try to end things for good, at least with regards to Michael Myers. However with the movie being successful it was inevitable that it would get a sequel, and that meant yet again bringing back Myers. Almost everyone who has seen the entire series has called this the worst movie in the series, and it is for good reason. The ironically named Halloween: Resurrection killed the franchise for a while. So much of the movie just felt like they gave up, it’s actually quite astounding at times. I didn’t dislike the movie and even had fun with it at points but it’s very much not good.

Halloween - Resurrection - 2002

First of all, what should be talked about is the infamous opening scene. The ending of H20 was easily one of the best moments in the series, with Laurie Strode decapitating Michael Myers, killing him for good. That signalled a conclusive ending but as it turns out they retconned all that. Now, the person that Laurie Strode killed was some paramedic guy that Michael swapped outfits with (and crushing his larynx so he couldn’t speak), so at the ending, Laurie killed that paramedic. Then at the beginning of Resurrection has Laurie at a mental institute (the worst run mental institute I’ve ever seen in a movie I might add). Somehow, it’s an even lazier retcon than what they did in the opening of Halloween 5 to counteract what happened at the end of 4. All of this is delivered with one big exposition dump between random nurses who are there to tell the audience what happened, accompanied by some laughable flashbacks. On top of it just making no sense and making even less sense the more you think about it, it undermines everything that made H20’s ending thrilling and was executed in the worst way. I’d say that this is a spoiler but it’s very early in the movie: in the opening 15 minutes Michael Myers goes to the mental institute and kills Laurie. Then she’s just gone from the rest of the movie. It’s the most disrespectful treatment of a character in the series, and that’s even considering Jamie Lloyd from Halloween 6 (either version of that movie). What makes it worse is that her death has no real impact on the story, it’s not even mentioned in news footage. I guess the filmmakers had to justify Michael Myers having enough time to kill obnoxious teenagers who are in his house, so that’s why they had Laurie killed. Already the movie is off to a bad start and it doesn’t really get better. I could potentially give the beginning a pass if the rest of the movie and its different direction was in itself creative and/or good. It’s not.

szALvaFRJJkXHMoaJWBh7YLDoBD

The rest of the movie is some random 70 minute reality TV/found footage movie, and the plot of the movie really feels more like a parody than an actual Halloween movie. Basically, it focuses on a reality show called Dangertainment run by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks, who set their Halloween night episode inside of the actual Myers house and sends in a cast of college students for the night. If that sounds ridiculously horrible and quite possibly the worst direction to take the movie in, you’d be right, and it’s even worse than that. Plotwise on every level, it’s bad. Looking at the execution, it is made even worse. It is definitely aiming for teen audiences of 2002, and in that it has aged the worst of all the movies. H20 might’ve had a lot of references and was clearly influenced by the 90s, but at least the whole plot didn’t have a pop culture reference a key part of the narrative. There are lots of cameras set up inside the house, as well as cameras on each of the teenagers. It’s worth noting that Resurrection came after the boom of found footage horror like The Blair Witch Project, so that makes sense. The actual concept of found footage being brought into the Halloween series is not necessarily terrible and is at least trying to be something different, it just has to be handled very well. Unfortunately it really doesn’t really handle that potential well at all. Much of the movie’s premise defies logic altogether, in fact that can be said for the whole plot. The fact that people are being killed by Myers in the house and somehow people are remaining oblivious (both in the house and the people with cameras) is just ridiculous. Even though it seems to be aiming more for a creeping atmosphere than H20, with the characters, the dialogue, the bad humour, it doesn’t quite work out. Also, with the last bit of relatability of characters gone with Laurie in the opening scene, it requires some other characters to care about. All the other characters in this movie are bad, this is the first Halloween movie where you actually end up rooting for Michael Myers. With no Laurie Strode, Sam Loomis or Jamie Lloyd, you’ve either got Myers or the new characters, and there’s no way I was going to root for these new people.

res

There are some ridiculous moments, including the finale with Busta Rhymes using kung fu to fight Michael. I had heard some widely disliked scenes involving those two. In fact there are at least three scenes involving Busta Rhymes and Michael Myers in which they treat the latter like a joke, and that’s the point where you know that they’ve given up. With that being said, I’m actually glad those moments are there because I found them hilarious. I was already very much not on board with the movie with the opening scene, and from everything after that I could tell I wasn’t going to like this movie, so those moments were just funny to me. I’d almost say the film is worth watching for the scene where Busta Rhymes in a Michael Myers costume telling off a very confused Michael Myers and telling him to get out the house. That and the way that Busta actually deals with Myers at the end of the movie. There are for sure plenty of hilariously bad moments in this movie that I enjoyed watching. Unfortunately, I can’t really call Resurrection so bad it’s good or anything like that, as those moments are sprinkled into effectively a bad and dull early 2000s slasher film. If you really want to get the most out of these moments, you’d be better off watching individual scenes online. Much of the movie is a bore, and the entire premise treats the plot like a joke. The film even ends with sequel bait, which was puzzling because I don’t know how they could’ve taken a look at what they had created and thought that they would be able to salvage a sequel out of it.  

Halloween-Resurrection-Banner

Then there’s the cast. First the (only) good performance, with Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. She has been vocal about not being pleased with the film or her role in it, that she was basically forced into taking part in the sequence due to contractual obligations in H20. Jamie Lee Curtis plays it like a pro, way better than the other performances in the movie, despite her small screentime. There are many characters introduced, with Busta Rhymes, Sean Patrick Thomas, Katee Sackhoff, Tyra Banks, Thomas Ian Nicholas. The characters are obnoxious and underdeveloped, most of the performances are wooden, and none of them are good. I will say that Busta Rhymes does manage to be at least entertaining in his scenes.

halloween-resurrection-1

Funnily enough, Resurrection director Rick Rosenthal made Halloween 2, which was a decent Halloween movie. I have no idea how 20 years later he managed to end up making this. The direction has problems to say the least, but the weird thing is that there are actually aspects that are decent, though it’s not enough to save the movie. I will say it does seem to get closer to being a horror movie than H20 did. In fact, the production design with the main house as well as some of the look is nicely gritty. I also like some of the way it is shot, especially with the shadows. There are even some attempts at being suspenseful. However, it doesn’t really deliver on any of the scares. The jumpscares are obnoxious, most of the scares in the first half are just pranks from other characters. Michael Myers only sometimes appears in the first half, but I will say that all things considering, his performance and the physicality are good. The mask isn’t that great and is a little too expressive, it really only looks good in darkly lit scenes. Something that you do notice is that some scenes that feature Michael Myers are slowed down, and I think it was done in an attempt to make him look more intimidating but it’s out of place if anything. As previously said, the movie does utilise found (or in this case live) footage, and every so often jumps to those cameras. When the movie cuts to video cameras however, it looks awful. Editing is bad, and some of it makes the scenes look incomprehensible. The score by Danny Lux is actually really effective, one of the better scores for the movie from the past 4 movies at least.

Screen-Shot-2017-01-27-at-9.03.25-AM

Halloween Resurrection is easily the worst movie in the long running Halloween series. It starts off with a borderline insulting opening and doesn’t get better from there with tired horror, bland and annoying characters, and some poor writing. Really, I can only recommend this movie to completionists and people who want to see if the movie really is as bad as everyone has been saying it is. I don’t hate it, and there are actually a couple things here that I liked (in addition to the hilarious moments especially towards the end), but the fact that the filmmakers clearly gave up and the series had ran out of steam just cemented it as the worst.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) Review

1118full-sympathy-for-mr.-vengeance-screenshot

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] 
Cast:
Song Kang-ho as Park Dong-jin
Shin Ha-kyun as Ryu
Bae Doona as Cha Yeong-mia
Director: Park Chan-wook

This is the story of Ryu (Shin Hagyun), a deaf man, and his sister (Lim Ji-Eun), who requires a kidney transplant. Ryu’s boss, Park (Song Kang-ho), has just laid him off, and in order to afford the transplant, Ryu and his girlfriend (Bae Doo-na) develop a plan to kidnap Park’s daughter. Things go horribly wrong, and the situation spirals rapidly into a cycle of violence and revenge.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I knew of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance as being a film from Chan-wook Park, but also the first movie of his unofficial ‘Vengeance trilogy’, which also includes Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. I really didn’t know what to expect going in, I just knew that Song Kang-ho was in it, and I heard that it was quite depressing. That certainly turned out to be the case. While it’s not one of my favourite films from Chan-wook Park, it’s incredibly well made and gripping from beginning to end.

55c824d9a15028c7a276da51378a1c16

I do think that the plot of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is one worth knowing as little as possible about before watching. All you need to know is that it is a revenge movie and concerns someone (with the help of his girlfriend) who was fired from his job, who then decides to kidnap the daughter of his former boss in order to pay for his sister’s kidney transplant. You really should not look into the plot beyond that especially with the turns that the story makes. Something that some people will notice immediately is the rather slow pacing. Everything is built up rather calmly over the course of the movie especially in the first act, but none of that time is wasted at all. That time is used to set up the world and characters of this movie with incredible care and attention. It is quite absorbing and helps create a strong atmosphere as the situation in the plot gets more intense. What you’ll also notice is that the tone is dreary, gritty and overall sad, with almost no moment of happiness. The movie really is a classic Greek tragedy, and a real gut punch of a thriller, flipping the idea of a revenge film on its head. There’s just a large chain of tragic consequences and brutal reactions throughout the entire story, you don’t really know which of the two main characters to really root for. It deals with many subjects and themes that are incredibly heavy and dark that are present throughout the movie. It is certainly less pulpy and energetic than Oldboy, Park’s next movie after Mr. Vengeance, and there isn’t even a clear-cut villain here like there was in that movie. With that said, it still manages to draw you into its characters, story and world, and keeps you intrigued enough to see how everything ends. I really liked the ending and how everything was concluded, and it was as unflinchingly grim as I expected. The only problem I had was a flashback and narration which was used to explain something, when I didn’t think that it was needed. It’s a small thing but it took me out of it because up until that moment, the story did well at letting you understand what was happening with the story without having to spell it out for the audience.

eaVpGRN9lTWzK3b9xnp7X0rT-EDi49Zz8n6nDjxXUds

The acting is truly spectacular from everyone. The two lead roles of Park Dong-jin and Ryu are performed by Song Kang-ho and Shin Ha-kyun respectively, and their work here is truly phenomenal. Both incapsulated their characters so well and made them truly believable and compelling.

MV5BZGY5NjU4NDctYTVhOS00YzNlLWJjMjYtZjE3ZjFlNWM0Nzg4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_

Park Chan-wook is a great director and his work in this movie doesn’t disappoint. While I wouldn’t put this up there with some of his other movies like Oldboy or The Handmaiden, it’s spectacular. The cinematography is stunning, whether it be capturing a brightly coloured room, or a grungy or dirty location. It really fits the tone of the story. The movie can be very gruesome too, don’t expect any exciting action scenes, it’s unflinchingly brutal and hard to watch at times (as intended).

image-w1280

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is not a fun movie in the conventional sense. However it is a great movie for sure, the story is grim and hard to watch but compelling, and the performances are extraordinary, especially from the leads. You do need to go into the movie with the right mindset, but I think it’s worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of Park Chan-wook’s other movies.

Blade 2 (2002) Review

blade-2-wesley-snipes

Blade 2

Time: 117 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
Ron Perlman as Dieter Reinhardt
Leonor Varela as Nyssa Damaskinos
Norman Reedus as Scud
Thomas Kretschmann as Eli Damaskino
Luke Goss as Jared Nomak
Director: Guillermo del Toro

A rare mutation gives birth to a new vampire community called the Reapers, who attack both humans and vampires. Blade (Wesley Snipes), along with an elite vampire force, is asked to wipe out the Reaper’s population.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The first Blade turned out to be quite a success, and nowadays would be considered an underrated comic book movie. There were definitely some noticeable issues, but it seemed like it would be hard to top that with a sequel. Well Blade 2 did that with Guillermo del Toro, which takes the first movie and improves on it in many ways.

3721571-6658408598-blade

Blade 2 definitely benefits from the fact that it doesn’t need to establish much of its universe like the first one did, even though that movie did handle the worldbuilding pretty well. The plot and overall movie is very fast paced, not leaving us with a moment to feel bored. Strangely enough one of the opening scenes started with a recap of the first movie by Wesley Snipes as Blade. It did take me a while to get used to the style, especially in Blade’s first action scene. After that point though, I got used to it. Now the movie is definitely less about the characters, and there’s nothing about Blade’s backstory here. Not that it’s bad but it definitely has a different focus compared to the first movie. It’s a much darker movie too, the first Blade had a dark atmosphere but it was quite cheesy at the same time. There are for sure some entertaining moments and some notable one liners but it’s definitely a different tone. A big part of that is the emphasis on horror, stronger than in the first movie, while remaining very much an action movie. The plot is a lot more focussed, there aren’t many subplots going on, and it’s very straightforward. I wouldn’t say the plot is great or anything, but it’s good enough for this movie.

8GE5fnZUBKHqKnFZtOZrbEDoka3

Wesley Snipes is as usual fantastic as Blade, he’s great at playing him both with the character with the charisma, the fight scenes and in delivering the lines perfectly. It’s hard seeing anyone else play the character. Kris Kristofferson is back as Whistler after he was assumed dead in the last movie. In the first Blade, Whistler got to do a couple things but here he manages to do a lot more, and he’s great. The supporting cast are good too, with the likes of Ron Perlman, Norman Reedus, and Leonor Varela. The villain played by Luke Goss was certainly more scary and threatening than Deacon Frost from the first Blade, but as the character and performance was less memorable. Still, he was different enough as a character to make him a decent antagonist for Blade to go up against.

blade-2-ron-perlman-wesley-snipes[1]

The key reason this movie works so well is director Guillermo del Toro. He added a lot of his own style into the movie, and it really makes it stand apart to the first movie. One of the things that you notice early on is that the lighting and colour really stands out, it’s a stunning movie to watch. The action scenes are also filmed differently, the editing is a lot more fast paced, and I think that’s what took me a while to get used to. After that first action scene though, I really liked them. The CGI is great sometimes, and pretty fake at other times, even looking a bit dated. The CGI especially stands out as being awkward when it’s meant to be representing people fighting. There’s particularly one action scene in front of lights which has moments where Wesley Snipes gets replaced with an animated version of Wesley Snipes, and he just looks really fake and cartoonish. Though this doesn’t take away from the action too much. As I said earlier, Blade 2 leans into the horror aspect a lot more than the first movie. In the first Blade it had some horror aspects, mainly to do with the vampire stuff. Here the vampires are a lot scarier, especially with the additions of the reapers. The monster designs are creative and very well detailed, and pretty much what you can expect from a del Toro movie.

blade-2-cast[1]

Blade 2 is a really entertaining and faced paced action and horror movie, which really works greatly with the addition of Guillermo del Toro as director. The 2 Blade movies are roughly on the same level, stronger in some aspects, weaker in others. All in all, I slighter prefer the second movie, but I highly recommend checking out both movies if you haven’t already.

Minority Report (2002) Review

Predpol-minority-report

Minority Report

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton
Max von Sydow as Director Lamar Burgess
Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer
Samantha Morton as Agatha Lively
Director: Steven Spielberg

It is the near future, a future where murders have become so common, that a system had to be established. This system is called “Precrime”, where 3 physics can predict murders before they happen, allowing police to stop the murders. This system is in production in Washington D.C. where police officer John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has stopped numerous murders in his career. One day, he found out that he is the next person to commit a murder. Now, he is running away from a system he helped become successful, and trying to find out why he was set up to commit murder.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I watched Minority Report for the first time a long time ago and I remembered liking it, but I only remembered a few things about the plot. So I rewatched it and it’s much better than I remember it being, a very smartly made sci-fi movie that is gripping from beginning to end.

Minority-Report-2

Minority Report is a unique sci-fi film that’s very complex, creative and thought-provoking. The story is captivating and the characters are well developed and fleshed out, with a smartly written script that’s so well put together. I loved the world-building and the concept of being able to see and prevent crimes before they occur. In fact, the whole futuristic setting I thought was established and set up very well. It was clearly in the future, yet actually felt like a believable setting. At the same time, the film doesn’t wallow in explaining how everything works in the future. Despite the long runtime, it does get onto the main plot reasonably quick. There are plenty of twists throughout and the story is engaging for every minute. It also does have some interesting themes and moral questions, as you would expect from a movie about seeing possible futures and changing the way things play out. Those elevate the movie from just being a pretty thrilling sci-fi movie. It is also pretty fun and has some entertaining moments, even if the story is quite bleak throughout, Spielberg really does balance the tones quite well. The ending does feel a little too neat and optimistic especially considering the rest of the story. Though it does feel like an ending that you could expect from Spielberg at this point, and I thought it was a decent enough conclusion.

minority_report_2002_52-h_2016

The cast are all great and give everything to their performances. Tom Cruise was great in the lead role of John Anderton, the police officer who goes on the run after finding out that he’s the next person predicted to commit a murder. He does very well with the stunts (yes he runs a lot) but he’s also he’s far more emotional in this role than you would expect. It’s a great performance and possibly one of his best. The supporting cast also do their parts well, including Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Peter Stormare and Max von Sydow.

Minority Report - 2002

Steven Spielberg directed Minority Report and he’s reliable as always. Spielberg is no stranger to the sci-fi genre and uses some of the skills from those past movies to great effect here. I really loved the portrayal of the future. It’s high tech and futuristic as to be expected, yet very grimy and gritty at the same time. The technology was also futuristic yet believable, the portrayal of precrime was also really great and well thought out. Even the personalised advertisements in the background really added a unique aspect to it, yet remaining believable to this world. The cinematography really gives the movie a unique look and neo-norish ambience to it with the use of desaturated colours, high contrasts and lighting, and the production design is great too. The visual effects are generally top notch as to be expected. While there’s a good amount of it here, they’re used to enhance the experience by a great deal while never overshadowing the actual story. The action is great and full of energy, very well choreographed and intense. The editing relentlessly paces the whole narrative and John Williams’ score fits the movie well. In terms of technical flaws, there are some outdated visual effects, though this is the early 2000s so that’s to be expected. Also the glossy cinematography can get a little grating at times, and the movie looks a lot better whenever that look isn’t used.

000043009-2000

Minority Report is a great movie that’s directed excellently, with some commendable performances, and is well written, going way deeper than most sci-fi films at the time. Even looking past its deeper layers, it’s still a gripping, wildly entertaining and thoroughly satisfying experience, and likely one of my favourite films from Steven Spielberg. If you haven’t seen it already, I do think that it is worth watching.

Panic Room (2002) Review

hq6[2]

Panic Room

Time: 112 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Jodie Foster as Meg Altman
Kristen Stewart as Sarah Altman
Forest Whitaker as Burnham
Dwight Yoakam as Raoul
Jared Leto as Junior
Patrick Bauchau as Stephen Altman
Director: David Fincher

Trapped in their New York brownstone’s panic room, a hidden chamber built as a sanctuary in the event of break-ins, newly divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her young daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with three intruders – Burnham (Forest Whitaker), Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) and Junior (Jared Leto) – during a brutal home invasion. But the room itself is the focal point because what the intruders really want is inside it.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Panic Room is generally regarded as one of David Fincher’s weakest movies, but that doesn’t mean it should be disregarded entirely. A tense and well made thriller, it’s likely his most accessible movie, and it’s well worth the watch for sure.

856VMDMA51HC0003[1]

Panic Room as its core is a pretty standard home invasion thriller, with the usual tropes and clichés that you’d expect from it. There’s not much to the story beyond the premise, there’s not really any depth to the characters or plot, and I wouldn’t exactly say its unpredictable or does anything special. Also, some of the characters also make some dumb decisions, although at times they do address some of this, and are a little ahead of the audience when it comes to that. What makes the movie work is that the material is elevated by the acting and the directing. With that said, despite the familiarity and the clichés, the written material with the script from David Koepp is surprisingly stronger than expected. Once the robbers get into the house, it’s tense and has you engaged all the way through to the end. I do have a bit of a complaint with the ending, as in the last scene. I generally liked where the story went, but the final moments of Panic Room feel tact on and don’t really work with the rest of the movie, the probably should’ve cut that last scene or replaced it or something else.

maxresdefault[1]

The talented cast involved are pretty great in their roles. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart do a great job at playing the mother and daughter duo, they are definitely vulnerable yet smart at the same time, and find ways to stay alive through the whole movie. The three thieves played by Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam and Jared Leto all work really well, with each character being quite different from each other. They do fit some familiar villain archetypes that we’ve seen before, but their performances manage to overcome that, making them quite effective antagonists. Whitaker particularly is great, giving this collection of thieves a little more depth.

2we994i[1]

David Fincher’s direction is great as usual, and it was perfect for this thriller, it really encloses you in this house that the movie primarily takes place in for the whole movie. The cinematography is great, typically Fincher-esque, with the dark shadows and the like, all of it worked for this movie. One of the highlight moments of the movie is when it pans around the whole house in seemingly one shot. However it’s not just restricted to that one scenes, there are a number of the camera pans and transitions that really showcase the house and rooms effectively that work seamlessly. Additionally, the score by Howard Shore is quite fitting and raises the tension and keeps it going when it needs to.

attachment[1]

Panic Room is one of David Fincher’s weakest movies, but it is still quite good for what it is. While it’s pretty familiar, the script (despite some faults) is reasonably strong and entertaining throughout, if simple. Additionally, it is elevated by the acting from the great cast, and especially by David Fincher’s fantastic direction, making this an effectively tense thriller. Definitely worth seeing.

Insomnia (2002) Review

insomnia[1]

Insomnia

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Al Pacino as Detective Will Dormer
Robin Williams as Walter Finch
Hilary Swank as Detective Ellie Burr
Maura Tierney as Rachel Clement
Martin Donovan as Detective Hap Eckhart
Nicky Katt as Fred Duggar
Paul Dooley as Chief Charlie Nyback
Director: Christopher Nolan

From acclaimed director Chris Nolan (“Memento”) comes the story of a veteran police detective (Al Pacino) who is sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Forced into a psychological game of cat-and-mouse by the primary suspect (Robin Williams), events escalate and the detective finds his own stability dangerously threatened.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Insomnia is Christopher Nolan’s follow up to Memento, which was the movie that put him on the map as a director to watch. I first saw the 2002 movie some years ago, and I made a more recent rewatch of it to double check what I still thought of it. Although it may pale in comparison to Nolan’s other movies, Insomnia is still quite a good movie, and it’s worth seeing at least once.

insomnia-945566551-large[1]

Insomnia is a remake of the Norwegian movie of the same name from 1997, I haven’t watched the original, but I heard both movies have a similar plot. Knowing Christopher Nolan’s movies now, Insomnia is much less ambitious and twisty in comparison. It’s a pretty standard crime thriller, that has your interest but doesn’t necessarily do something special or unexpected… to a degree. As the film goes on, you find that Insomnia is really a character study that just appears like a standard thriller. It focuses on the lead character played by Pacino and the conflicts within him during this case (no spoilers here), and at a certain point at the end of the first act or so, it really adds another layer that makes things more interesting. It especially leads to some interesting interactions between him and the killer. Despite being a Hollywood remake of a foreign movie, Nolan thankfully keeps the movie subdued, and doesn’t allow it to become too explosive or loud.

MV5BZWQ5NDUyOTktZjExOC00MGNmLTllOTctM2JkZmEyZDM3NWY2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwNzk3NDc@._V1_[1]

Al Pacino plays the lead role of the detective who is sent to investigate the murder case, and I thought he was really convincing. Around this period of time (it was the point after 1995’s Heat), Pacino had been known to be all Shouty Pacino and would be very over the top with his acting. With Insomnia however, outside of some key moments, he gives quite an effectively subtle performance. He plays the flaws, tiredness, moral conflicts and grey area of his character quite well. Robin Williams is in a much darker role than people are used to seeing him in, and it’s one of his finest performances. Both him and Al Pacino really felt equally matched on screen, and their interactions are some of the best scenes of the movie. Hillary Swank also does well in a supporting role as another detective who’s also on the case.

MV5BMjIwODE1Mjc3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTEwNTkxNA@@._V1_SX1471_CR0,0,1471,999_AL_[1]

Christopher Nolan’s direction of Indomnia is pretty solid, it isn’t quite as stylish or special as in some of his other movies, but he still does a good job here. When it comes to the atmospheric elements as well as the psychological aspects, the movie really stands out. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is stunning, and really captures the environment and location excellently. The only fault I have on the technical side is that I think there was some not so great editing towards the last 5-10 minutes of the movie.

DjXHfJXX4AISkrg[1]

I guess you could say that Insomnia is one of Christopher Nolan’s weakest movies, but it’s nonetheless a decent film that’s very wel made. The plot is generally familiar, but even then, it’s an engaging thriller that keeps your attention throughout. Additionally, it’s directed well by Christopher Nolan, and the cast is good, especially the duo for Al Pacino and Robin Williams. For sure worth a watch.

Narc (2002) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains Graphic Violence, Drug Use & Offensive Language
Cast:
Jason Patric as Nick Tellis
Ray Liotta as Henry Oak
Chi McBride as Captain Cheevers
Stacey Farber as Young Kathryn
Alan van Sprang as Michael Calvess
John Ortiz as Octavio Ruiz
Busta Rhymes as Darnell ‘Big D Love’ Beery
Director: Joe Carnahan

Tells the dark story of suspended undercover narcotics officer, Nick Tellis (Jason Patric), who is reluctantly drawn back onto the force to find the truth behind the murder of a young police officer killed in the line of duty. He is teamed with Henry Oak (Ray Liotta), the slain officer’s partner, a rogue cop who will stop at nothing to avenge his friend’s death. As Tellis and Oak unravel the case, the dark underbelly of the narcotics world reveals itself in surprising ways.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I heard a little bit about Narc before going in. All I really knew about it was that it was a crime movie starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta and directed by Joe Carnahan, who also directed Smokin’ Aces and The Grey, both of them being movies that I liked. Narc is also a pretty underrated movie that not a lot of people have seen or know about. It’s not great but if you really like crime dramas and thrillers, I’d say that it is well worth a watch.

Narc is not that long, at around an hour and 40 minutes long but it makes the most of that runtime. This is a familiar cop drama and doesn’t really do anything really new, especially with the pair up with two completely different cops. Nonetheless for what it is, it’s pretty good, and the story is pretty intriguing, and it ties together nicely towards the end. It’s a very bleak and gritty crime thriller and goes all in on that, and I liked it for that. The twists were well handled, you can’t necessarily predict which way the story is going in. Even when I had some vague idea where it might go, certain parts were different from what I expected it to be, especially the ending. I guess if I had some problems outside of the familiarity of the story, the subplots don’t work quite as well, which is mainly Jason Patric’s family life with his wife and baby. It’s a pretty typical thing for a cop drama to focus on, but it feels rather underdeveloped and we only have a few scenes of it to see, so we don’t really care about that aspect as much as I think the movie wanted us to. Though it wasn’t bad, and most of the story was handled well.

There isn’t a huge cast involved, but the acting all around was great. Jason Patric is basically the lead character in the story, an undercover cop returning from suspension after a fatal mistake that he made during a previous case. I haven’t seen Patric in a lot, but he played his role very well. It’s Ray Liotta here who particularly stands out, giving one of his best performances as a really hardened and rough cop. Liotta gives him a lot of depth and elevates the character even further. The two actors are the driving force of the movie, and while the whole younger and more straight laced cop paired with the rough and aggressive veteran cop is something that has been done many times before, Patric and Liotta’s dynamic make it really work. The supporting actors were good as well, from Patric’s wife played by Krista Bridges and even Busta Rhymes was really good.

Joe Carnahan’s direction was quite good, even though I’d say that this isn’t his best movie. At times it feels like Carnahan went a little too much regarding the editing, really stylistic at random points with split screens, montages and the like. But the really rough and messy portrayal of everything fitted the tone of the movie rather well.

Narc is a movie that hasn’t really been noticed by most people and is worth a watch, an overlooked little gem. The story isn’t really anything that special and the movie on the whole is rather familiar, but the performances from Patric and Liotta, as well as Joe Carnahan’s direction, do make it well worth watching.

Gangs of New York (2002) Review

Time: 167 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam Vallon
Daniel Day-Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting
Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane
Jim Broadbent as William “Boss” Tweed
John C. Reilly as Happy Jack Mulraney
Henry Thomas as Johnny Sirocco
Liam Neeson as “Priest” Vallon
Brendan Gleeson as Walter “Monk” McGinn
Director: Martin Scorsese

When his father is killed in New York City, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns in 1863 to hunt down his father’s killer, the ruthless Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis). It’s not easy for Amsterdam as gangs roam a corrupt New York City, with Bill Cutting ruling over everyone.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Gangs of New York was a movie I was curious about re-watching. I remember seeing it many years ago for the first time and liking it, but I didn’t remember a lot about the movie. Whenever I hear about this movie, people seem to either regard it as one of Martin Scorsese’s best movies, or one of his worst. In a lot of my recent reviews where I revisit Scorsese’s filmography, I often talk about how I like the movie more on a second viewing. Gangs of New York is sadly the exception. It’s not a bad movie by any means, I’d even say that it’s rather decent and has a lot going for it, but there are just so many problems that hold it back from being as good as it should’ve and could’ve been.

Gangs of New York is quite ambitious, the idea of the plot and the setting are interesting. The script is written by Jay Cocks, Kenneth Lonergan and Steven Zaillian, and while they are great writers, the writing present in the movie weren’t all that great. There’s a lot of thought put into the gangs and how things are organised in the city, if the movie was focussed a lot more on that it could’ve been even better. However the movie is bogged down with some subplots, mostly focussed on characters that aren’t made to be particularly interesting for the most part. The thing is that you really see potential at points. There are some legitimacy great scenes here, and you can really see what Gangs of New York could’ve been all the way through. The second half still has problems, but it felt a little less messy than the first half, and it focuses up a little more. I think I should probably address the elephant in the room, that being Harvey Weinstein, and all of his interference of the film. Now its not known specifically what changes he made but what we do know is that at an hour was cut out because of him. Some of the weird decisions however I can sort of see him mandating, perhaps in an attempt to be more award friendly (and perhaps that worked, with the movie receiving 10 Oscar nominations, but it still led to a worse movie). If I didn’t know an entire hour was cut out, I’d say that this movie is too long at 2 hours 40 minutes. Most of Scorsese’s longer movies are well paced but this is not one of those cases. With that said, it might’ve actually been better with a longer runtime if it meant a much more complete movie. It really feels like it’s lacking something, it’s a movie that tries so hard to tackle so many themes and to be so many things, but ultimately ends up not being much. On top of that, much of Gangs of New York feels a little too Hollywood, and is a little too grand and operatic for its own good.

If you’re going to watch Gangs of New York for one reason only, it should be for Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, who is outstanding here. This is among his best performances, and knowing Day-Lewis, that’s saying a lot. Any time he was on screen, he made the scenes instantly better. Some people have talked about how Day-Lewis’s performance made everyone else look like they are bad at acting. While I wouldn’t entirely agree, he is working on a totally different level compared to everywhere else in this movie. Gangs of New York marks the first collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio, and as we all know it’s not their last. Though it’s nowhere near his best work, he still gives a solid performance with what is given. However he, like a lot of actors in this movie, have accents that are all over the place, in fact Daniel Day-Lewis and the actual Irish actors are the only people in the cast who don’t have accents that slip up. Still, DiCaprio plays the role reasonably well. Cameron Diaz on the other hand… she doesn’t fair so well. She didn’t fit into the movie well, and I hate to say it but she was rather miscast. In all fairness she wasn’t necessarily terrible, but she did not work in her role. It doesn’t help that the movie focusses so much on a romance between DiCaprio and Diaz, and that just didn’t work at all. Maybe it could’ve worked, but the two actors don’t share any chemistry, and you don’t even see why the two characters would be together. It’s a distraction more than anything. Some of the supporting cast are good, some roles like that played by John C. Reilly could’ve been played by anyone. Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson are among the supporting actors who fare better.

Martin Scorsese’s direction is on showcase in many parts of Gangs of New York. The production design and costumes were handled really well, and the cinematography was really good. This is Scorsese’s most ambitious and large scale movie and you can feel it throughout. I talked much about Weinstein’s interference, and I’m pretty sure that extended to the direction. There are some aspects that don’t work, and I’m just going to assume that he had a part to play in these issues. The editing goes from working really well to being rather choppy, and since this is Thelma Schoonmaker working on the movie, I’m just going to assume that some mandated decisions were made. What comes to mind immediately is the opening battle scene, no idea why it was edited like that. Then there’s the forced narration from Leonardo DiCaprio, definitely one of those instances where the narration doesn’t work at all and is generally used for exposition, though there are some moments that worked fine enough. However there is one aspect that makes me convinced some decisions were mandated by Weinstein. The opening scene features a few notable characters played by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, John C. Reilly and Brendan Gleeson. After the time jump when it shows the return of these characters from the opening sequence, it briefly cuts a flashback to them in that opening scene to remind the audience, even though anyone paying attention to the early portion would be able to recognise them. It really felt out of place, even though its just a small part of a very long movie, it doesn’t seem like a very Scorsese thing to do, and indicates that not all the decisions were made by him.

Gangs of New York for all its potential doesn’t completely work. There’s still a few movies of Martin Scorsese that I consider worse than this one, but this is definitely his most disappointing. Even putting aside some of the studio interference that no doubt affected quite a lot of the movie, the script has a ton of problems, and the movie operates on such a grandiose level that it doesn’t work as well as it could’ve. However it’s not a movie that I’d dismiss outright. Despite some mandated choices that don’t feel like Scorsese, it’s directed well, there are some scenes that are good, it picks up in the second half, and Daniel Day-Lewis gives an extraordinary performance. So I’d still say that it’s worth watching.