Tag Archives: Don Johnson

Watchmen (2019) TV Review

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Watchmen

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Regina King as Angela Abar/Sister Night
Don Johnson as Judd Crawford
Tim Blake Nelson as Wade Tillman/Looking Glass
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Calvin “Cal” Abar
Andrew Howard as Red Scare
Jacob Ming-Trent as Panda
Tom Mison as Mr. Phillips
Sara Vickers as Ms. Crookshanks
Dylan Schombing as Christopher “Topher” Abar
Louis Gossett Jr. as Will Reeves
Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt
Jean Smart as Laurie Blake
Hong Chau as Lady Trieu
Creator: Damon Lindelof

When masked vigilantes are treated as criminals by government agencies, some band together to start a mutiny while others aim to stop it before it yields chaos.

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I had heard about HBO’s Watchmen for some time, and I’ve been meaning to watch it. I read the graphic novel, and I’m a big fan of the Zack Snyder movie. It was hard to imagine what a follow up to the graphic novel would look like. The end result was not what I expected at all, and yet was more than welcome. HBO’s Watchmen is incredibly bold and ambitious, incredible on just about all fronts, and is one of my favourite TV shows in recent years.

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I’ll do my best to talk about the show without spoiling anything. First of all, something to address is the source material itself. HBO’s Watchmen is a sequel to Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen. If you read the original graphic novel, then you’re all set for this show. If you haven’t, I’d recommend reading it. However if you really aren’t into reading comic books or graphic novels, the simplest alternate way to get up to speed thoroughly would be to check out the 2009 movie (director’s cut preferably), and afterwards looking up the differences between that and the novel, especially with the ending. The reason why I say this is that despite much of HBO’s Watchmen’s story being standalone, the world it exists in is very specific and strange. So it really pays to have some level of familiarity with it, not to mention many major aspects of the plot from the original story are significant parts here. Now you could go into it completely blind and still enjoy it, but having that background definitely adds something to the show. With all that being said, HBO’s Watchmen still manages to be a standalone story. It’s in tune with the nature of the original comic, it’s very much in that world and there are a couple of characters from the original Watchmen story who make appearances. However, it is its own thing and doesn’t just ride off the success of the source material.

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The writing throughout the show was great, I was riveted throughout all 9 episodes. There are fully realised characters with depth and motivations, the dialogue is great, and the plotlines were fascinating. Before going into the show, I did hear about how Watchmen started slow and how some people had to persist through it before it hooked them. I wouldn’t say that its that slow, the early episodes are establishing the characters and with setting up the overarching mysteries and questions of the show. I was intrigued with the characters and plotlines, and I was satisfied with the answers that were given at the end of the story. With that said, some parts of the show might be confusing for the most part, but by the end everything becomes clear. Some of the structures of the episodes can be disjointed with regards to the narrative, but I found that the risks actually worked quite well. It clearly has no interest in pleasing a mainstream audience, and really commits to the strangeness, which I’m glad they did. The sociopolitical commentary, thought provoking themes and the connections to real life events were quite effective and notable aspects of the show. The original Watchmen story was a take on American exceptionalism, the show carries almost a similar take, this time on white nationalism. It spends time investigating America’s racist heritage and handles relevant real-life issues like racism, white nationalism and generational trauma, and I thought it handled it well. It’s not subtle at all, but I loved it for that. This show even opens with the Tulsa Massacre of the early 1920s, an event that some Americans today didn’t learn about until they watched the show. If there’s any problems I have, it’s just that there are some characters that I liked that I would’ve liked to have seen more of, specifically Tim Blake Nelson’s Looking Glass, and Jean Smart’s Laurie Blake. Each of them have an episode more focusing on them and they really shine, especially Looking Glass, who I found one of the best characters of the show. However it’s not really their stories, so it’s not too much of a flaw. So far, another season hasn’t been announced for Watchmen, but honestly I though it ended quite well and I’m not sure where they’d go from here if they were to continue the season. I’m satisfied with the point they ended the show on.

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The cast are all great, every character is memorable and the casting for each was perfect. Regina King plays the lead character, and she’s incredible in her part from beginning to end. She conveys an incredible amount of emotion and energy into her performance. It’s not just her though, the likes of Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson and Hong Chau are all exceptional in their roles.

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Each of the episodes are directed very well. The cinematography is great and visually stunning, and this show is full of impressive and memorable shots. The use of colour is particularly great, some of the shots are definitely inspired by the framing of some panels in the original graphic novel. All of the show is well made but one of the stand out episodes was episode 6, which is a flashback episode. Not going to give too much away but there are so many stylistic choices made which was outstanding and added a lot . It’s not really an action show, but the moments of action are directed quite well. One of the most standout elements of the show on a technical level is the electronic score from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, which is extraordinary and heightens many of the show’s best moments. The pair have composed plenty of outstanding scores for movies and tv, but this has to be one of their best works to date.

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HBO’s Watchmen is fantastic, audacious and gripping from beginning to end. The cast are perfect on their parts, the writing is fantastic, and it’s an incredible continuation of the Watchmen source material. I’d recommend doing whatever you need to do to get up to speed with the original story and jump right into this show as soon as you can. It’s one of the best pieces of live action comic book media I’ve ever seen.

Knives Out (2019) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc
Chris Evans as Hugh “Ransom” Drysdale
Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera
Jamie Lee Curtis as Linda Drysdale
Michael Shannon as Walter “Walt” Thrombey
Don Johnson as Richard Drysdale
Toni Collette as Joni Thrombey
Lakeith Stanfield as Detective Lieutenant Elliot
Katherine Langford as Megan “Meg” Thrombey
Jaeden Martell as Jacob Thrombey
Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey
Noah Segan as Trooper Wagner
Director: Rian Johnson

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.

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Knives Out was one of my most anticipated films of 2019. I’m always interested in seeing what writer/director Rian Johnson does next, and with him going from Star Wars to a much smaller movie and especially a whodunit, I was already on board. However, you add on top of that an insane cast that includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon and more, and I’m absolutely going to be excited for it. Knives Out is not only one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the year, it’s one of the best films from the year too.

Rian Johnson’s script is nothing short of fantastic. Talking about how and why much of it works so well is quite difficult without revealing important things, so don’t go in knowing too much. Even the non spoilerish aspects are best experienced for yourself. Thankfully the trailers do a good job at not revealing too much about the movie beyond the premise and setup. What I can say is that Knives Out is quite different from what you’d initially expect it to be at first. What Johnson did with the noire genre in Brick, he does with the whodunit here, modernising it, and adding some twists on it. I will need to watch it again to see if much of the reveals still hold up, but on first viewing I’m more than satisfied with where he took the story and characters. I genuinely was surprised at some of the twists that happened. It’s also a hilarious movie, with some great and memorable dialogue. At 2 hours and 10 minutes long, it has your attention from start to finish. Early on I can see people wondering where this movie is going. However, at a certain point, I think most audiences are going to be locked into the plot.

As previously mentioned, the cast is massive and they played their roles really well. Daniel Craig is instantly iconic as Detective Benoit Blanc, a private detective investigating the murder. His performance is definitely over the top, especially with the southern accent, he’s playing on detectives like Hercule Poriot. With this and Logan Lucky, Craig has been really showing that he has a solid comedic side to him that we don’t get to see often. There have been talks about having more movies featuring the character of Blanc, and I’d definitely like to see that. However one of the biggest surprises is that Craig isn’t even the main character. When I say that Knives Out is Ana de Armas’s movie, I’m not just saying that because she steals much of the movie, even though she does that. Her character of Marta is at the centre of the film, and without revealing too much of the movie, she’s ultimately Knives Out’s secret weapon, she’s going to take a lot of people by surprise. The cast making up the rich family at the centre of the mystery with Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell and Christopher Plummer are all great, and have plenty of moments to show off. They work well at both the dramatic and comedic parts. Some of them get to do more than others, like Martell out of them is really only noticed in a few scenes, but the rest of them do well to make themselves known. Out of them however, I’d say that Evans is the standout. Plummer as the murder victim at the centre doesn’t get a massive amount of screentime but he’s nonetheless a major part and is a presence felt throughout. Additionally Lakeith Stanfield and Noah Segan also work well in supporting roles as a detective and a police officer investing the murder along with Blanc, though I did want to see a little more from Stanfield.

Rian Johnson’s direction is still on point, and he’s got a fantastic handle on the whole film. When the first trailers came out from Knives Out, I noticed some people commenting that it looks like a tv show rather than an actual film. I can say that sitting in a theatre and watching the movie begin, that couldn’t be further from the truth, it was stunning to look at. It’s very much stylised, and like with Johnson’s debut with Brick, it throws back to the movies of the same genre that its clearly inspired by (in Knives Out’s case that of course being the whodunit).

With Knives Out, Rian Johnson shows once again that he’s one of the most unique and exciting filmmakers working together. It’s very well directed, and the script is outstanding, with some effective twists, fleshed out characters, and is much more than what you’d expect it to be at first. Add on top of that a fantastic cast who perform excellently (highlights being Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas and Chris Evans), and you have one of the best (and most entertaining) movies of the year. Definitely don’t miss it at the cinema.

Dragged Across Concrete (2019) Review

Time: 159 Minutes
Cast:
Mel Gibson as Brett Ridgeman
Vince Vaughn as Anthony Lurasetti
Tory Kittles as Henry Johns
Michael Jai White as Biscuit
Jennifer Carpenter as Kelly Summer
Laurie Holden as Melanie Ridgeman
Fred Melamed as Mr. Edmington
Udo Kier as Friedrich
Thomas Kretschmann as Lorentz Vogelmann
Don Johnson as Chief Lt. Calvert
Director: S. Craig Zahler

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE follows two police detectives (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics is leaked to the media. With little money and no options, the embittered policemen descend into the criminal underworld and find more than they wanted waiting in the shadows.

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I haven’t seen any of S. Craig Zahler’s other movies with Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, but I’ve definitely heard of them and have been meaning to get around to them for some time. I also heard about some controversial Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn movie that was being made, and it turns out it’s this movie, didn’t learn until recently that Zahler actually directed it. I heard it was some crime drama, but beyond that and the cast involved, I didn’t really know much about it. Dragged Across Concrete like its title suggests is a grim crime thriller, written, directed and performed exceptionally, and it’s one of my favourites of 2019 thus far.

Dragged Across Concrete boasts a sharply great script from director S. Craig Zahler, from the slowly paced storytelling to the effective dialogue. As I start, I think I should address the elephant in the room, or at least one of them. Ever since the premise of Dragged Across Concrete has been announced, people had been declaring this a MAGA pandering and all around bigoted movie. Given my very apparent praise for this movie already, you could probably already tell that I don’t agree with this. Almost everyone in the movie is not what we’d call ‘a good person’, and definitely not the recently suspended main characters, who are looking for ‘compensation’ after abusing their power as police officers. Sure the movie doesn’t exactly tell you that what they are doing is bad, but it certainly doesn’t endorse the main characters’ actions either, it just shows what they are and give some insight why they’re doing them. The characters are fully developed, fleshed out and feel real, especially the lead characters. People are going to have different opinions about the majority of them, but generally I think we can all agree that they are flawed yet human, with their own lives to lead that we get to have a glimpse at. They are still in the grey area of morality as they have both good and bad aspects to them. Really the only flat out ‘pure evil’ characters in the film that aren’t shown to have any redeeming qualities whatsoever are the dangerous masked men led by Thomas Kretschmann who appear, create chaos and kill people excessively. We don’t really get to learn about these particular characters or why they are how they are, but they are quite intimidating when they are on screen. It is a very bleak movie, the world these characters inhabit just feels unpleasant, the tone borders on nihilism, and as I said many of the characters are hard to root for. It’s generally easy for me to watch these kinds of movies (in fact I kind of love watching them) but I do know that some will find this to be a tough watch. There is one character who’s introduced, and their purpose is ultimately used for shock value (no spoilers), and while people will be split on that, I thought it worked well for the movie. Dragged Across Concrete is quite long at 2 hours 40 minutes, so you really need to be prepared for that. Although I was invested for much of the movie, I feel like it could’ve been cut out a good 10-15 minutes. Much of the movie takes its time, but it feels purposeful and not necessarily self indulgent. It builds up the personality of the characters and the world that they inhabit. Despite some of the more slower pacing throughout, it all comes together at the end to conclude very well.

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are the lead characters, and they were both great in their roles. Now this is Mel Gibson, and while there’s certainly going to be some people who have issues with him even in this movie (understandably), I almost feel like his casting here was a deliberate choice. Gibson generally delivers and this is no exception, this is one of his best performances, if not his best. Although I haven’t seen Vaughn’s other dramatic work like in True Detective or Brawl in Cell Block 99 (another Zahler film), I can say that he’s a great dramatic actor and he was really good here. Gibson and Vaughn are very easy to buy as two cops who have been partnered with each other for a while, and their dynamic was really great. The rest of the supporting cast further grounds the movie with Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson all doing well with their performances, no matter how brief they may be.

Again, this is the first movie I’m seeing from S. Craig Zahler, and I can say that he’s great at what he does, it’s a really great looking movie. I’ve heard that his other movies are considerably more violent, but he handles the violence well here. The violence flashes rather quickly on screen and doesn’t happen as much as you think it would be, but when it’s present it feels grisly and realistic, it’s not overplayed but the impact is still there nonetheless.

Dragged Across Concrete won’t work for everyone, it’s very long, it can be a hard watch, and it’s likely to provoke some people. However I thought that it was a generally well made movie, from the cast (particularly Gibson and Vaughn), to the direction and the story, it’s one of my favourite movies of 2019 thus far. I definitely want to see Zahler’s other movies now, he’s already proven with Dragged Across Concrete that he’s a really great filmmaker, and I’d love to see what he makes next.